Librarian Ruth Edmonds Hill was born on March 5, 1925 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to William and Florence Edmonds. She attended Reed School and Central Junior High School in Pittsfield, and graduated from Pittsfield High School. Edmonds received her B.S. degree in biological sciences from Massachusetts State College in 1946, and her B.S. in library science from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts in 1949. She went on to obtain her certificate in theatre librarianship from Columbia University School of Library Science in New York.
Edmonds Hill worked at Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield in 1943 and then in 1947, in the catalog department at Massachusetts State College. Edmonds Hill served as a cataloger at Bennington College and then became a reference librarian at the Baker Library at Harvard Business School. She later became a cataloger for the New York Academy of Medicine and was promoted to head of cataloging at Yale University. She also served as a cataloger at Berkshire Community College, a librarian at the Widener Library at Harvard University and at The Louis Agassiz Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University
In 1976, Edmonds Hill joined the Schlesinger Library staff at Radcliffe College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She served as the audiovisual and oral history coordinator, and later as oral history coordinator, overseeing the library’s projects for forty-two years. The oral history exhibition and book projects supervised by her include: Black Women Oral History project in 1977, capturing the lives and stories of women of African descent; Women in Government Oral History project from 1981-1983; The Women of Courage: An Exhibition of Photographs book and traveling exhibition, in 1984; Cambodian American Women’s Oral History project, from 1987 to 1993; Latina Women’s Oral History project, in 1989; Tully Crenshaw Feminist Oral History project from 1990-1993, conducted by and with past officers and members of the National Organization for Women (NOW); Chinese American Women Oral History project, in 1990; and Oral History of Radcliffe College project, from 1998 to 1999.
In 2000, Edmonds Hill joined The Oral History Review as an editorial board member. In 2004, she was named honorary member of the board of trustees for Samuel Harrison Society, an organization dedicated to preserving the homestead and history of her great, grandfather Reverend Harrison, pastor of the Second Congregational Church in Pittsfield and of Sanford Street Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. Edmonds Hill served as chair of the Oral History Association and committee member of Nonprint Format Award Committee. She also sat on the admissions committee for fellowships of the Cambridge Arts Council.
She was the recipient of numerous honors, awards and acknowledgements including the Harvey A. Kantor Memorial Award from New England Association of Oral History, the Lucy Miller Mitchell Heritage Award from Psi Omega Chapter, the Alpha Kappa Alpha and Greater Boston YMCA Black Achievers Awards. Edmonds Hill received the Harvard Hero Award from Harvard University in 2017.
Ruth Edmonds Hill was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 13, 2018.