Tag Archives: hoboken

The Big Move: Discoveries while Temporarily Relocating Our History Collection

3 Apr

You may have noticed some changes in the local history department this month! If you’ve been up on the second floor, you’ve likely seen that the cages in the Sinatra Room are all empty for the time being. Don’t worry, we’re not getting rid of the history collection – we’re just boxing it all up to keep it safe during some renovations to the building! I couldn’t be more excited about it because I love when historic buildings are restored. It follows along with my field’s mission of historic preservation – I can’t imagine any archivist would be upset about this, even when they have to pack fifty boxes worth of books up to temporarily put them in storage. That admittedly was a lot of work, but it was incredibly important that I did so both to protect the collection and learn more about what we had in that cabinet. I only started working here in May of 2018, so familiarizing myself with the collection has been one of my top priorities, and the best way to do that is to work with it hands-on and see each item myself. This process, naturally, has led to some pretty cool finds, and I’d like to share those with you this month.

We’ll start with some actual library history: before card catalogues existed, how did patrons know what the library’s holdings were? Those holdings were printed in actual catalogue books! A few of those books belonging to our very own Hoboken Public Library have survived in our collection, and once they’re unpacked again you’ll be able to view them here. The especially interesting part is that they’re not just in English – due to Hoboken’s large German-speaking population around the turn of the century, we have a German-language catalogue of the library’s holdings as well!

Or maybe you’re more like me and you have an overly-specific, undergraduate degree in a four-year period in American history. If that’s the case – or if you’re just into the American Civil War – we have a two-volume set of books that provides a complete listing of every New Jersey soldier who served during the conflict by unit. I immediately utilized these upon finding them to look up the records of the individual soldier who had been the subject of my undergraduate thesis at Gettysburg College, where I minored in Civil War Era Studies.  This is a particularly amazing research resource and I fully intend to digitize it completely once the collection is resettled.

Civil War NJ

Baseball history? Yeah, we’ve got plenty of that!

BookofBaseball

New Jersey history? Check!

Houses NJ

You name it, we might just have it if it is relevant to Hoboken or New Jersey history!

When I packed everything up, I made a full inventory of exactly what we have in the book collection, which you’ll hopefully be able to find on our website within the next few months as I reorganize everything after we’re done with the second floor renovations. There’ll hopefully be something on that list that piques your interest – and as long as you make an appointment to view it, you can take a look at it in person! In the meantime, thanks for being patient with us as we temporarily store everything to keep it safe! (I apologize for any noise I made in the reading room as I was packing boxes.) We’ll be back to normal soon, so stay tuned for more history!   And of course even if some of our physical items are in storage, you can still access some of our collection online.

Written by:
Steph Diorio
Local History Librarian/Archivist at the Hoboken Public Library

Diplomacy and Baseball: A Peak inside HPL’s Vertical Files

25 Jan

This is the first in a series of monthly blog posts that give insight into Hoboken History by taking a look at materials in our History Collection.

Ambassadors profiles.jpg

Image Courtesy of the Jersey Journal

In the summer of 1988, a group of teenage boys from Hoboken was tasked with a very important diplomatic mission. The boys, all 14 and 15 years old, were members of a baseball team traveling to the Soviet Union to play the game abroad and hopefully improve relations between Soviet and American youth. The team, renamed the Hoboken Ambassadors for the trip, embarked on a multi-city tour of the Soviet Union, playing multiple Soviet teams (usually made up of players several years older than them), exploring the country, and eating unusual foods, and the entire journey was dutifully reported day by day in both the Jersey Journal and Hudson Dispatch.

Baseball in the Soviet Union wasn’t the most fun part of the trip – the Ambassadors went undefeated against players who were physically stronger and older than they were, but lacked the baseball experience that they had – but the boys reported that they greatly enjoyed meeting the people in the three cities they stopped at on their whirlwind tour, Moscow, Kiev, and Tblisi. This was perhaps the actual most important part of their trip, as they were serving as cultural envoys for the United States at a crucial time in the history of the Cold War (Perestroika was well underway and Reagan’s “tear down this wall” speech had occurred approximately one year before the tour). The Ambassadors all spoke to how meaningful the trip was for them and how friendly and accommodating the Soviets they met were, although there were definitely some things left to be desired: second baseman Rickey Huggins stated the first thing he wanted to do upon arriving home was “going to White Castle,” whilst infielder/pitcher Blair Degaeta Jr. planned to “go to Biggie’s and order a cheesesteak and fries.”

The Hoboken Ambassadors vertical file has been completely digitized and, along with 286 other subject files, can be found on the Hoboken Public Library website. To read the Ambassadors’ entire story chronologically, go here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1W1t2Nnk4oLsC9lGNpa2eVk4L8j_60nvo/view

If you’re more interested in other historical subjects, all 287 vertical files can be perused at your leisure here: https://hobokenlibrary.org/history-collection/hoboken-vertical-files/

Hoboken Library cardholders can also access full back issues of new and older newspapers online including the Jersey Journal from NewsBank.

Love Baseball?  Stop by the library on Saturday, January 26 at noon, for A Society for American Baseball Research Meet Greet and Lecture.

Written By:
Steph Diorio
Local History Librarian/Archivist

Steph loves writing and talking about the collections under her care, so feel free to ask her to talk about any of the historical materials at the library and setup a research appointment.

%d bloggers like this: