Historian Charles Cummings Impact on Newark

As a part of our "Newark at a Crossroads" series, taped at NJIT, Dr. Timothy Crist, President of the Board of Trustees at Newark Public Library, discusses the late historian Charles Cummings and his lasting effect on the city of Newark.

10/3/2016 #1901






"We are joined by Doctor Timothy J. Crist, president of the board of trustees at an extraordinary institution, the Newark Public Library. Good to see you Tim. It's good to be here Steve. The Newark Public Library, how important is this great place in connection with this great city celebrating its 35th anniversary? You know Steve, it's an anchor institution. We have our main library downtown, with seven branches through the community. We've been here for more than 125 years, and we're still serving Newarkers in the same way we've done through that entire time. You know, over one thousand Newarkers come in every week, looking for help to find a job. Over ten thousand visit the main library and the branches every week, and we do have these terrific resources to help Newarkers make better... make their lives better. Let's make sure we... we're gonna put up the Newark Public Library information, but I want to talk about this. This is an extraordinary publication, it's called "Knowing Newark: Selected Star Ledger Columns" by Charles F. Cummings. Cummings. For those who don't know Charles Cummings, Charles Cummings, we can say he was the Newark Historian, but that doesn't even do justice to who Charles was. There he is, we're looking at Charles' picture right there. So, for those of us who were at... in school at Rutgers University, couldn't get through without Charles Cummings, helped us through so many graduate term papers, essays, whatever it was, you'd go into the New Jersey reference room, it was Charles Cummings. He was an extraordinary guy. He wrote a Star Ledger column for many  many years on the history of Newark. That's right, called "Knowing Newark" for ten years, over five hundred columns. Describe why Charles was so special. Charles knew Newark, he collected the stories, and he wanted to tell the stories, and he helped everybody. He helped you as a student, he helped Philip Roth when he was writing his novels. Philip Roth called him "a great hero" and in a quiet way, hew was. He worked in the library for more than 40 years, always in the New Jersey room, always learning more about Newark's history, always helping people discover it for themselves. Why put these columns together? Well, with the 350th anniversary of Newark, we wanted to several things at the library to help the city celebrate. We put on an exhibit that's still up, that records the history of the city, we've hosted Guy Sterling's monthly conversations with leading Newarkers, but we wanted to do something lasting, something that people could turn to after this celebration year..."