Shonnie Finnegan is University Archivist Emerita for the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB). For thirty years, from 1967-1997, she was instrumental in the development of the University Archives by collecting the earliest records of UB, as well as many of the important papers of former faculty, staff, and students. She also played a pivotal role in documenting the role of women by capturing their history on campus and throughout the region.
It was during her tenure as University Archivist that Shonnie first became involved with Martin House, as she puts it, “quite by chance.” During the 1970s, the University Archives was located in the Martin House which was owned by UB. It was then that she began collecting the original plans and drawings, photographs, artifacts, and taped oral history that eventually provided virtually all the historic documentation used in the restoration, interpretation, and promotion of the Martin House. Shonnie had the pleasure of working with UB colleague Jack Quinan, Martin House Curator Emeritus, on the acquisition of much of this material.
She was also an active participant in the “Friends of the Darwin D. Martin House” group and other early volunteer efforts that raised awareness of the architectural masterpiece that was seriously endangered at the time.
Today, Shonnie shares her expertise as a valuable member of the Martin House Collections Committee, where she provides professional advice and guidance on the history of the house and the care of its collections.
What are some of the highlights of your involvement with Martin House? It was “unforgettable for me personally just being there for so many years, handling all the original images, and engaging with so many Frank Lloyd Wright fans and scholars over the years and then living to see all that has now been accomplished in the restoration!”
What are some of your professional accomplishments? “I had the honor of holding leadership roles in the national and statewide archival profession and served for many years on the Board of Managers of the Buffalo History Museum.”
Is there anything more that you’d like to tell us about yourself? “I am a native of Washington DC, moved to Buffalo in the mid-1960s, raised three daughters who live and work in the area, and hold fond memories of visiting the Martin House over the past fifty years. I am also a frequent visitor to local museums, theaters, and concert halls.”
Bravo, Shonnie. As a lover of the city and the arts, we thank you for your tireless commitment to preserving local history and most of all for dedicating your time and talent to Martin House.
Interested in hearing about volunteer opportunities at the Martin House?