Cary O'Dell - Alumni | CMCMA | SIU

Southern Illinois University



Cary O'Dell

Radio and Television, 1992

Author, Archive Director of the

Library of Congress

Although I grew up in the more “northern” section of the state—Galesburg, to be exact--Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is a family legacy.  Both my grandfather and grandmother attended SIUC, as did my father, two of my aunts, and my older brother.  In more recent years, my niece and nephew have also graduated from SIUC.

I was a student at Southern from 1988 to 1992.  During that time, I earned a Bachelor’s in Radio –Television and also a second Bachelor’s in English.  I also completed my Master’s in the R-T department in a program then called “Telecommunications.”

My Master’s thesis became the template for my first book, “Women Pioneers in Television” (McFarland, 1997).

I put the finishing touches on that book while at my first job post-SIUC, when I was the Archives Director at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.

Since then, I have moved to the east coast and have worked for the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and the Library of American Broadcasting.  Currently, I am with the Library of Congress.

I am the author of three books—the aforementioned “Women Pioneers” as well as “June Cleaver Was a Feminist:  Reconsidering the Female Characters of Early Television” (McFarland, 2013).  In between these, I got to write a book about the great newspaperwoman and great SIUC booster, Virginia Marmaduke.  I met The Duchess, as Virginia was known, during my SIUC years.  What a dame!  What a lady!  What a life!  We remained friends until her passing in 2001, the same year that “Virginia Marmaduke:  A Journey in Print from Carbondale to Chicago” was published by Arcadia.

As of this writing, I’m writing about another SIUC icon.  I’m working on a book about the city’s “Bucky Dome,” the unique dome home in Carbondale that was the residence of Buckminster Fuller and his wife from 1960 until around 1971.  It will be a full history of this unique and legendary structure including its massive restoration efforts.

Along with the education, I’m quite grateful to SIUC for introducing me to these two extraordinary people.