Cornell Cares Day at the Trenton Free Public Library
Wendy Nardi, Curator of the Trentoniana Collection at the Trenton Free Public Library in New Jersey, hosted Cornell Cares Day at the Library on Academy Street in Trenton last Saturday, January 5th. Cornell alumni from the Cornell Club of Central New Jersey, mixed with some spouses, current students and siblings, spent several hours researching the collected papers of Trenton Librarian Howard Hughes. Hughes (not the eccentric millionaire) was the longest serving librarian in the history of the Trenton Free Public Library.
Ms. Nardi’s mission was simple: she needed to cull through the decades of Hughes’ correspondence in the Library’s archives, searching for letters that established the provenance of any of the manuscripts or paintings that are part of the Trentoniana Collection, a extensive collection of artifacts related to the history of Trenton.
Cornell volunteers bent to the task at the long reading table in the Trentoniana room. There were letters requesting days off, letters reminding patrons that certain books were overdue; letters offering positions; letters regretting that a position was not available; letters thanking authors on a job well done; and sometimes the very letters that related to those very items that Ms. Nardi needed.
Some volunteers hit ‘pay dirt’ – some did not, but all bent to the task intently, reviewing the almost daily trove of correspondence from decades past that reflected this prolific figure in Trenton’s history.
The day began with Wendy (in the dark jacket on the right below) telling the volunteers what kinds of letters she was searching for. Then volunteers set to work on their boxes of dated correspondence. The room got quiet quickly, almost like they were re-taking the SAT.
When one of the research ‘staff’ found an item of interest it was brought to Ms. Nardi for an appraisal.