Francis X. Blouin Jr. was director of the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan from 1981 to 2013. He continued his work as a professor of history and professor in the School of Information until his retirement in 2018. He arrived at U-M in 1974 and shortly thereafter completed a PhD in history at the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty in 1978 to develop a program in archival administration. In that role he has pushed the intellectual as well as administrative boundaries of the idea of archives. He has done extensive work in understanding archives in an international context.
From 1984 to 2004 he led an effort to do a complete inventory and catalog of the archives of the Vatican. This work was published as Vatican Archives: An Inventory and Guide to Historical Documentation of the Holy See (Oxford University Press, 1998) with a supplement published in 2004. This project was funded by a series of grants from the Getty Grant Program, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Lilly Endowment and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
From 1998 to 2013 he led an ongoing exchange between the University of Michigan and the State Archives Administration of China. In 2001 he and William Rosenberg, a colleague in the department of history, led a year-long interdisciplinary seminar on “Archives, Documentation, and Institutions of Social Memory.” The proceedings were published by the University of Michigan Press in 2006.
Recently he and Rosenberg published their own study, Processing the Past: Contesting Authority in History and the Archives published by Oxford University Press in 2011. He has served on a number of boards and commissions, most notably the Council for Library and Information Resources and the State of Michigan Historical Records Board.