More Interviews with this Narrator
Norma Hart was instrumental in shaping the Hudson Area Library. She came to the library as a volunteer in the 1960s and has continued to have an active role for the past fifty years.
Her grandparents moved from Brooklyn to the town of Stottville, New York after WWI to open a boarding house called the Belair Hotel. Her grandfather was a butcher by trade. Her grandmother was French, and a wonderful cook. The hotel was used for summer boarders. During winters, workers from the Juilliard Woolen Mills took up residence.
Norma moved from New York City to Stuyvesant Falls when she was five years old. Her father came up on weekends, until he passed away. Her mother remarried a gentleman in Claverack, and they all relocated to Spook Rock Road.
Norma attended Hudson High School. In this interview, she recounts life at Hudson High School, the various after-school programs and clubs, and her active involvement in theater. She recalls watching basketball games, in which Hudson High School rivaled Saint Mary’s Academy at the Hudson Armory. While growing up, there were no public libraries.
After high school, Norma attended business school. She later moved to New York City and became head receptionist for McCurrach, a prestigious tie company located on Fifth Avenue. She recounts Salvador Dali designing a line of ties.
She met her husband, Gerard Hart, at a dance. He proposed to her before being drafted overseas for war. He was in the service, followed by officer’s training school. When he became second lieutenant, they were married at Saint Mary’s Church in Hudson. She moved all over the United States with her husband, until he went overseas. He retired as a lieutenant colonel and they settled back in Hudson, but continued to travel substantially throughout their lives.
Norma began volunteering at the Hudson Area Library in the 1960s. She had a deep passion for working with children. In the early years, she started a summer program in an effort to increase children’s reading. Children would receive a t-shirt if they read ten books.
In this interview, Norma details the history of the Hudson Area Library building at 400 State Street. It was originally built in 1818 as the almshouse for the city of Hudson. It later became an insane asylum, under Dr. Samuel White. Prior to the library, it was an orphanage called the Hudson Orphan Asylum. When the State mandated that the orphans go into foster homes, the Children’s Home of Columbia County gave the building and grounds to the Board of Education of the Public School System of Hudson with the stipulation that the library be developed in the building.
Norma and her Husband, Gerard Hart, (then president of the Alliance Club and a member of the Board of Trustees) were instrumental in building the History Room in the Hudson Area Library. In the beginning, the History Room consisted of a cabinet in the hall, which was a holdover from the orphanage. Gerard convinced members of the Alliance Club to donate funds to create and furnish a secure room for a larger historical collection. Once the History Room was designed and secure, the collection grew substantially.
In this interview, Norma remembers several pillars of the community and members of the library who greatly supported the library throughout the years. Volunteers like Doctor Levine, Doctor Gold, Margaret Hill, Victor Meyers, and Charles Witham, the former president of the Board of Trustees.
Norma worked at the Hudson Area Library for thirty years, but has been involved for over 50 years. In this interview, she discusses in detail the various transformations that took place that have made the library what it is today. She also describes the varying changes that have taken place in Hudson that have directly impacted the library. Towards the end of the interview, she expresses enthusiasm for the library’s pending move to the Hudson Armory.
Suzanne Snider is a research-based artist currently immersed in the worlds of sound, writing and experimental education. She is the founder/director of Oral History Summer School, a hands-on oral history training program that spans the realms (and motives) of advocacy, media-making and art and is the co-founder (with Allison Lichter) of the Trauma and Journalism Work Group, which supports journalists reporting on trauma and violence. Her recent oral history workshops have brought her into collaboration with the National Public Housing Museum, the National Library of Kosovo and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, among others. She has taught oral history at Columbia University’s Oral History Masters Program and New York University and is currently a Part-Time Associate Professor at the New School’s School of Media Studies.