Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Alice M. Hughes, Unknown Librarian

The postcard above is one of 25 postcards that are part of the Alice M. Hughes postcard collection which is now part of my library postcard collection. I came across the collection of postcards by chance at a local postcard show. Collectively the 25 postcards tell a story about the library career of Miss Hughes. This particular card was mailed to Miss Hughes on September 19, 1905 at the Public Library in Pierre, South Dakota. The Pierre Public Library opened in a new building funded by Andrew Carnegie on March 10, 1905 so Miss Hughes may have been the library's first director. A history of the South Dakota Library Association indicates that she was an early member of the Association which was established in 1904. The collection of postcards follows Miss Hughes to the Bellefonte Academy Library in Bellefonte, PA (1909-1910) to the Sandusky Library Association Library in Sandusky, OH (1911) to the San Louis Obispo Public Library in California (1915-1916), and finally to the Fremont Public Library in Nebraska (1922). Obviously, the postcards don't tell the whole story of Miss Hughes' library career, but they are artifacts that connect us to a person who shared our profession many decades ago. A Google search provides a few more clues about her career, but not a whole lot. Regretfully, none of the libraries that she worked at have basic library histories that list their former librarians/directors. Alice M. Hughes of Merrill, WI is mentioned in a couple of documents as voluntarily cataloging the collection of the newly established Shawano, WI Public Library in 1900. From the messages on the postcards it is obvious that Miss Hughes collected library postcards and the group of postcards that I have may have only been part of a larger collection. Because of her collection, she is no longer an unknown librarian. The picture side of the postcard shows the Ohio State Library in Columbus, Ohio and includes a message from a friend.
Note: This post was also the Library Cover Story for December, 2009 for the Library History Buff website.

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