Sunday, November 4, 2012

THERESA L. BLUMBERG (1876?-1927)

I have written several posts about the Library’s allowing aged and infirm librarians to continue working since they had no pensions to support themselves during retirement.  Theresa Blumberg was another example of this paternalistic approach when she became sick in her early forties, and the Library arranged to pay for her medical care and hospitalization.

Blumberg was born in Russia and came to the US in the mid-1880s.

She began working at the East Broadway Branch of the Aguilar Free Library Society (AFLS) in 1894.  She remained there when the AFLS consolidated with NYPL in March 1903.  Around the same time, Blumberg resigned to become the Librarian at the University Settlement House on the Lower East Side.  In January 1904 that library was also absorbed by NYPL, and Blumberg remained in charge until it was replaced by the new Rivington Street Branch in June 1905.  She also served as head of the Jackson Square and Tremont branches until 1917 when she was put on sick leave.

In 1914, the Library’s doctor suspected that Theresa Blumberg had tuberculosis.  In 1915, the Library excused her for an excess of 459 hours sick leave, and two years later her illness forced her to enter a sanitarium.  Blumberg’s brother was able to give her $800, and the Library put her on half pay ($60/month) with the money coming from by the Draper Fund, which the Director could draw upon to aid employees in need of assistance.

Blumberg was well enough to return to NYPL in 1919.  A year later she was made Acting Branch Librarian of the Bloomingdale Branch and then headed the Fort Washington Branch, 1921-1923. 

In 1923 Blumberg again became ill with TB.  Her brother also had TB and no longer had financial resources to assist her.  She was placed in a sanitarium at Saranac Lake at a cost was $125/month.  This was initially paid by contributions from Trustees and others formerly associated with the AFLS.  In 1924 the Draper Fund was again tapped to pay her expenses.

Theresa Blumberg never returned to work and died in June 1927.

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