Donna Marcia Wells (1953-2009) was the Prints and Photographs Librarian at Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center from 1993 until June 2009, when she left the University to pursue a variety of independent professional interests. Before going to Howard University she was the assistant archivist for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, having previously served as archivist for Gallaudet University, where she also taught museum studies, and worked as a photo librarian at the Library of Congress. She earned a M.L.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland, College Park, a B. A. in art history from Hampton University, and she was A.B.D. in the Department of History at Howard University.
Ms. Wells devoted her career to the care and interpretation of African American collections and to the preservation of Washington, D.C. history. She lectured frequently and conducted workshops on the care of photographs for general audiences. Her lectures on photographic history incorporated a unique approach, fusing the role of African Americans as subject, creator and critic of images. Not a photographer herself, she was an active member of the Exposure Group African American Photographers Association and the FotoCraft Camera Club, serving as consultant for their public programs and as a resource for the archiving of their work. She served on the city's Emancipation Celebration Commission and on the Historical Records Advisory Review Board. She was a board member of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and had served on the program committee of the D.C. Historical Studies Conference since 1995.
She wrote reviews and articles on photography and photographers, including Protecting Your Image, which was published in Essence magazine in 1999. Ms. Wells co-authored with Thomas C. Battle, MSRCs director, the highly-acclaimed Legacy: Treasures of Black History, published by National Geographic in 2006. Legacy showcases the many photographs, books and documents in Moorland's collections that had never been published in book form, representing a visually exciting exploration of the Black experience and its impact on our nation. Legacy received the Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Award from the American Library Association's Black Caucus (BCALA) and the Arline Custer Memorial Award from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC).