Deborra Richardson is Chair and Chief Archivist, for the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution (2005 – present) where the Diary resides.
Before becoming the Chair, Richardson served as assistant chair for the Archives Center (1997–2004) and archives specialist with the Duke Ellington Collection at the Smithsonian Institution (1990–1997). She has worked in the archival profession at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (Howard University, Washington, DC) as a music manuscript librarian (1980–1988). She was graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Howard University and a Master of Library Science from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her working experience has included archival management, African American collections, African American music collections, and music or manuscript collections in library, archival, or museum settings. Her professional activities include arts and cultural program planning and she has made presentations at and performed leadership roles in music, library, and archival organizations (i.e. the Association of Recorded Sound Collections; The Duke Ellington Society, the DC Archives Caucus; the Mid Atlantic Regional Archival Conference, Music Library Assn, National History Day; the Society for American Music, the Society for Ethnomusicology). She has published articles and made presentations concerning African American music and collections and archival management issues. Her publication, Ulysses Kay: a Bio-Bibliography, was co-authored with Constance Hobson and published by Greenwood Press in 1994. She has been active in organizations that use the arts as a revitalization tool. She has been a member of the Smithsonian Institution Archives and Special Collections Council since 1997 and served as vice chair and chair between 2008 and 2009. She participated in the 2009 Archives Leadership Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Services, sponsored by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and currently serves on the governing board of the Society of American Archivists.