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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
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Library will get hospital’s archives


OGDENSBURG — It was St. Lawrence County’s first hospital, opening as the city hospital in 1885.

It sponsored a namesake nursing school in 1902 that educated and trained angels of mercy until its closing in 1968.

Through the years, it has expanded, added the Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center and been renamed.

Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, formerly the A. Barton Hepburn Hospital, has documented enough history for its archival information to be placed in a proper and safe place.

Its rich history will be moved from an upstairs room at the offices of the Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center Foundation, 503 Mansion Ave., to the cellar vault at Ogdensburg Public Library, 312 Washington St. What will be moved are boxes full of papers, photographs, newspaper clippings and other vintage materials.

Its move is fitting.

“It’s about the hospital as a whole,” said Foundation Executive Director Cindy R. Clusen. “The hospital has a long history.”

Library Executive Director Wayne L, Miller agrees.

“As a librarian and former archivist, I know that these unique materials are invaluable to the library and the community,” he said. “These types of materials are the most important the library owns in cultural, if not dollar, terms.”

And, with a little help from a much-used tool of modern commerce, that importance has at least once extended beyond Ogdensburg.

“Locally important materials have often been disbursed far and wide,” Mr. Miller said. “One of the diplomas collected by Claxton-Hepburn was a nursing school diploma from 1932 purchased via eBay. It’s wonderful that this has been repatriated and will now be preserved in our archives.”

Preservation isn’t the Foundation’s area of expertise.

“They (the documents) need to be placed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes,” Ms. Clusen said.

That, and more, the library can do.

“The archives will be placed in our vault along with our other archives,” Mr. Miller said. “Materials already in our collections include letters and other manuscript, business records, City records, photographs and negatives, rare books and artifacts found locally or collected by local people including arrow heads and pottery shards.”

Public access to the archives will be conditional.

“They will be available for public use within the library, by appointment and under supervision to assure the security and integrity of the materials,” Mr. Miller said. “The timing of when these materials will be fully accessible depends upon help from volunteers working under the supervision of our archivist, Linda Marshall, to process them.”

Mr. Miller said an appreciation for archival materials often falls victim to unwitting ignorance, eBay notwithstanding.

“One of my biggest fears is the loss of such materials to improper care and storage by well meaning private owners,” he said. “The only thing worse is when an unknowing caretaker throws such things out as trash without giving an archivist the opportunity to evaluate it for possible collecting and preservation.”

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