This is the fifth post in our new There’s an Archivist for That! series, which features examples of archivists working in places you might not expect. To continue this new series, COPA member Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist at Iowa State University, brings you an interview with Steve Hausfeld, manager of the Nationwide Library and History & Archives Center.
Steve Hausfeld is Manager of the Nationwide Insurance History & Archives Center and Library, which is part of the Marketing, Customer Insights & Analytics team. Steve came to Nationwide in 2006 as corporate archivist to reestablish the heritage management initiative for Nationwide. Steve holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University (1995), Master of English with Public History Certificate from Wright State University (1998), and a Master of Science in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University (2010). Steve lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Lisa and two children, Carter and Sydney.
RS: How did you get your gig?
SH: Prior to joining Nationwide, I held positions that focused on managing corporate/organizational archives. I started my career in 1998 with a consultancy, The History Factory, managing the archives of corporate and association clients. This was great experience for a young archivist; I learned that organizations have significant archival collections, which opened my eyes to the potential for a career outside of a more traditional archives institution. I learned how to manage large archival collections, work with clients, and communicate the value archives and heritage can create for an organization. Following that, I started the archives for a government-owned corporation, The Export-Import Bank of the United States. This not only gave me insight into working for the federal government, but also introduced me to special libraries, which I hadn’t experienced before. These were the skills needed to come to Nationwide Insurance and restart the archives and heritage program.
RS: Tell us about your organization.
SH: Nationwide Insurance is a Fortune® 68 company headquartered in Columbus, OH with major offices in Des Moines, IA; Harleysville, PA; Scottsdale, AZ; Brea, CA; San Antonio, TX; and Gainesville, FL. Nationwide is a mutual insurance and financial services company, meaning we report to our policyholders, not shareholders. Nationwide was founded in 1926 by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation to help Ohio farmers save money insuring their vehicles. Our original name was Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. We have over 34,000 employees nationally with about 11,000 in the Columbus area.
RS: Describe your collections.
SH: The Nationwide History & Archives Center holds historical records, photographs, artifacts and memorabilia for the entire Nationwide enterprise. Our records range in date from the mid-18th century through to present. Nationwide has acquired dozens of companies over the years; our collections reflect the breadth of these companies. For example, we have the original charter of the first life insurance company in America (the Presbyterian Ministers’ Fund) established in 1759. We also collect modern digital records such as the newly redesigned Nationwide website preserved through Archive-IT. The collection is managed by myself along with two other full-time archivists, Mandy Jennings and Sadie Chen.
RS: What are some challenges unique to your collections?
SH: My team and I often joke about the challenge of making insurance and financial services history interesting. Fortunately, our associates are very engaged with Nationwide and our history. Most recently, our biggest challenge has been to make the case for expanding the Nationwide History & Archives Center. Two years ago, I began having conversations with key stakeholders to build support for the expansion idea after space became available. Our storage space was maxed-out and we were acquiring collections from a couple large subsidiaries. Additionally, we had over 1,500 associates through on tours per year; and our art collection (which we oversee) needed improved storage.
These conversations resulted in approval for the expansion, which came in the summer of 2017. Construction was completed in February and our grand re-opening was held April 11, 2018. This expansion was a huge “win” and a demonstration of support for our mission. Looking forward, with the significant investment made by the company, we must continue to demonstrate our value to the organization. I see this as a huge opportunity, because I have a great team and our employees are so engaged in the work we’re doing.
RS: What is the favorite part of your job?
First, I love working with my archives team. I can’t imagine working with people more passionate about their work and Nationwide’s heritage than Mandy and Sadie. Second, I really enjoy meeting with associates and telling them stories about our history. Whether I’m leading tours or giving talks at team meetings, I enjoy engaging associates with stories about our heritage. And finally, I like diving into our history to answer research questions that connect our past successes to business decisions today.
Stay tuned for future posts in the “There’s an Archivist for That!” series, featuring stories on archivists working in places you might not expect. If you know of an archivist who fits this description or are yourself an archivist who fits this description, the editors would love to hear from you—share in the comments below or contact email@example.com to be interviewed for ArchivesAWARE!