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Hudson's Legacy


No, I'm not referring to Henry Hudson and his quadricentennial of "discovering" Manhattan and the river that's named after him. I'm speaking of Alice Hudson, Chief of the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, who retires this week after a long and glorious career at NYPL. She's someone who impacted many lives, leaving behind a shining legacy that will continue to glow for years.

 1623561. New York Public Library Map of the city of New-York / ... Digital ID: 434947. New York Public Library

I'll particularly miss Alice's wry humor. I still chuckle when I recall her telling me that she first wanted to title her upcoming exhibition (Mapping New York's Shoreline 1609-2009) "Hudson on Hudson." You could always count on her to tell it like it is. Her professional dedication was always so obvious and so inspiring. A former student told me once that,when talking about a favorite topic related to maps or map librarianship, she'd light up with a very physical incandescence. She's taught a generation of new and aspiring map librarians, counceled collectors, helped grateful general readers, and always looked after the Mercator Society. In addition to her many contributions to NYPL, I seem to recollect that she won a very prestigious librarian award some years ago...

 1558545. New York Public Library

Alice's teaching is only one facet of her many abilities. Her leadership proved invaluable in important endeavors, as when she welcomed the world of K-12 teachers and students to the Map Division, and incorporated their interests into her show and tells and exhibition work, demonstrating how there could be a place for these constituents in a research library. There are many reasons why the NYPL Map Division is one of the top ten in the world, and Alice has everything to do with them. Another facet of her professionalism is her fierce devotion to public service. Having reached a point where she could forgivably build an ivory tower to lock herself in with major projects, she never lost the understanding that helping people directly is most important of all.

 1562465. New York Public Library

Well, I'd better wind down now or Alice will get a swelled head. And the halo will fall off! C'mpn folks, let's get serious and use this post as the social networking tool it is. I think Alice is fabulous, her legacy is intact, and she'll be missed like crazy. Other comments?


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Paula, I agree with

Paula, I agree with everything you have so eloquently said about Alice Hudson! What has impressed me most about Alice is her extraordinary intelligence combined with a down-to-earth demeanor. She is a great teacher and presenter to any group whether young or old, ordinary or distinguished. And her work with individual authors and researchers is legendary. Alice has done a tremendous service to Map librarianship and to NYPL. She and the Map Division are truly one of the great gems of this institution! I will miss her and the chocolates!

Inspired by your wonderful

Inspired by your wonderful post, I decided to post my feelings about another long time NYPL librarian, Marie Zwanziger who recently retired from the Langauge & Literature Dept at the Mid Manhattan Library. Marie's skill and devotion to her work will be hard to repeat. She is greatly missed in our dept.

I paid my first visit to the

I paid my first visit to the Royal Geographical Society in London the other week. It was a twenty-minute stop, a flick, a copy, but the chap with the faint Scottish accent was extremely helpful. All were. But him in particular. He mentioned the much admired Ms. Hudson, and lamented how I could have found what I was looking for at the NYPL, where a wonderful friend and colleague had, unfortunately retired. "They would have known." Now I know her name, I should pop in tomorrow with gravitas on my enquiry, and remember to do so. Thanks for publishing this tributary note.


Someone please forward to Alice Hudson. She probably knows about this map, but it would be a shame if she doesn't get to see the map 1775 Brooklyn shoreline covered with tide mill pools. It is in the Brooklyn Historical Society show- Jasper Danekers SP???

Thank You!

Just a belated thanks to Paula and others who were so kind to speak well of me! So much of who I am, and who I was, at NYPL,had to do with mentors, especially library mentors, who guided me from elementary school to graduate library school,-- and to the Map Division itself, and colleagues across the Research Libraries, from 1970 forward. Not to mention parents who celebrated reading, education, and, most especially, public service. Continuing my mapnerdiness, I am now working on a directory of pre-1900 NYC mapmakers. Some 1000 names will eventually be on the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division website.

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