Dorothy Rosenberg was born on November 16, 1920. She began working after high school in the retail business from 1938 to 1944 before beginning a series of clerical jobs, one of which was part time for an accountant. In 1950, she began her federal career, working at the Department of Interior in a variety of offices, including the Office of the Secretary.
She came to the Smithsonian Institution in 1959 as the Administrative Officer to Assistant Secretary James Bradley. She remained in that position until 1970, when Bradley became Undersecretary. She remained with Bradley, working as his Administrative Officer until 1971, when she became the Administrative Officer to Assistant Secretary Robert A. Brooks. Her duties under both Bradley and Brooks included acting as liaison to the Board of Regents, a duty she brought with her into the position of Executive Assistant to Secretary S. Dillon Ripley in 1973. This job also included management of the Office of the Secretary. She remained in that position until her retirement on January 11, 1980.
She was awarded the Secretary's Gold Medal for Exceptional Service at the September 16, 1979, dinner of the Board of Regents. The next day, the Regents adopted a resolution regretting Rosenberg's decision to retire, citing her "exceptional soundness of judgment, resourcefulness, devotion to ideals of the Institution and, above all, unfailing graciousness."
After her retirement, she remained a part-time contract employee, as a consultant to Secretaries Ripley and Robert McCormick Adams. Her major project was preparing a history of the Board of Regents, which was to include a summary of Board of Regents' activities and a collection of biographical notes on the Regents. This research material forms the bulk of this collection of her papers. She was also engaged in other projects, mostly dealing with the history and administrative structure of the Institution. Although her work on the Board of Regents project formally ended in 1984, she remained a consultant to Secretary Adams until 1986 and a volunteer with the Smithsonian National Associates until the late 1980s.