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The E-Sylum (10/20/2013)

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Dave Ginsburg submitted this item about research on the U.S. Mints at the Newark Public Library. Thanks! -Editor

For the past several years I've been interested in learning more about mint operations and mint personnel. In the past, I've mostly relied on the various partial lists of mint officers that are in a number of books until I found the Senate Executive Journal on the Library of Congress' website (and elsewhere), which lists the dates prospective Mint officers names were submitted for confirmation and when they were confirmed (or not). Then, a few years ago, I happened upon the Register of all Officers and Agents of the United States (frequently referred to as the Official Register). The Official Register, which has been published in alternate years since 1817, names, as its title indicates, the officers and agents of the United States - Ambassadors, Army officers, postmasters, etc., but especially Mint officers!

Since my interest is primarily in the branch mints, I started accumulating copies of the relevant pages with the volume for 1839, which lists only the officers of each mint. In 1841 the Official Register begins to list some of the clerks as well as the officers and then in 1873 the Official Register begins to list what looks like every employee in each mint! This practice continues until the 1907 edition, which only lists the more senior employees and then, in 1911, the Official Register begins listing only the superintendent. Also, at a certain point, the Official Register splits into two volumes, with Volume Two dedicated to Post Office employees only.

(Perhaps I'm the last researcher in the world to learn about the Official Register, but just in case I'm not and because I'm such a nice person, I thought I'd share.)

Eventually, I tracked down almost all of the editions of the Official Register through HathiTrust (which was mentioned a few weeks ago and hopefully you've memorized the address by now), but I couldn't find 1851, 1895 or 1901 (also 1861 and 1863, but for my purposes, I didn't need them).

Since I work only about six blocks from the Science, Industry and Business Library of the New York Public Library I recently checked with them for the missing copies. As you can imagine, they had some hard copies, but they did have everything on microfiche - all in the bowels of the closed stacks of the main Library at 42nd St.

So I gamely put in a request and they sent a clerk into the depths of the closed stacks to retrieve the microfiche for me. Unfortunately, the microfiche isn't well labeled and the clerk just grabbed the first inch or so off the stack and brought it. A week later I was able to get to SIBL and look at the microfiche. A quick consultation with the reference librarian and the clerk revealed the problem - so I asked for the next inch!

The second batch included 1851, but getting to 1895 and 1901 promised to be a longer process. Also, the microfiche was white-on-black, which is hard on my eyes, so I decided to try an alternate route to find the hard copies.

I called my local library and the reference librarian mentioned that the Newark Public Library is a government documents depository.

I then spoke to the Newark government documents librarian, who promised to get the two volumes I needed (1895 and 1901) and send them up to the reference desk, where I would be able to look at them and make copies. She said that the volumes were the originals and very fragile.

So, last Saturday afternoon I drove the handful of miles to the Newark Library.

Newark Public Library I used to work in Newark (in the very early '90's), but had forgotten how beautiful the original library building is. Here's the Library's "About" page:

The interior of the central area of the first floor is all marble, with a three-story atrium and a beautiful skylight. There's also a very nice mural on one wall on the second floor. After admiring the interior, I made my way to the reference desk and the two librarians on duty handed me the two volumes - the right years and the right volumes!

They really were the original volumes and fragile isn't the word for them - the covers were separated and I had to blow the paper fragments off the glass plate of the copier each time I made a copy. Plus, the volumes were huge! They were 8 1/2" x 11" and at least four inches thick - they were a lot to manhandle onto and off the copier, as I didn't want to damage them any more than necessary. But, a half hour later or so, I had my copies!

I have to say, I really bless Google and digitization now!

So, for anyone who's near Newark, I highly recommend the Newark Public Library - you can park in the parking lot of the Newark Museum, which is just down the street and visit both in one afternoon! Also, if you have a research question, don't forget to call your local library - the reference librarian will probably relish the challenge!

By the way, back in the July 15, 2007 edition of the E-Sylum, Bob Merchant posted a query about identifying the Chief Coiners of the Philadelphia Mint. I hope he's answered his question in the intervening six years, but, if not, this should do it

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: U.S. MINT CHIEF COINER REFERENCE SOUGHT (

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