Exploring the collections of the Mercantile Library:

Celebrating National Volunteer Week
The Mercantile Library has a long history of support from generous volunteers. Among these are the Mercantile Library Docents who have dedicated thousands of hours to research, training, providing tours and supporting Library events since the program was formed in 2008. Docents have been described as the front line of museum hospitality and ambassadors of the galleries, and certainly the Mercantile docents are both of these and more. Through their monthly training and independent research they create informative and enjoyable tours that introduce our visitors to the Mercantile’s broad collections. Among their most favorite objects, used by nearly each of them on their tours, are Harriet Hosmer’s Beatrice Cenci marble sculpture and Chester Harding’s life-size Portrait of William Clark.
Harriet Hosmer, Beatrice Cenci,  marble, 1856. 
Collection of the St. Louis Mercantile Library Art Museum
Chester Harding (1792-1866), William Clark as Governor of the Territory of Missouri, oil on canvas, 1820. Collection of the St. Louis Mercantile Library Art Museum
Over the past year our docents faced the additional challenge of preparing for the Mercantile’s comprehensive 175th anniversary exhibition with solely remote training – not even seeing the exhibition objects until a month before tours became available. As always, they rose to that challenge with determination and a fair bit of humor.  I am very grateful to these enthusiastic Mercantile Library docents for all they do on behalf of the Library: Rebekah Berkowitz, Roman Beuc, Tom Castrop, Ed Fehlig, Susan Fehlig, Susan Kottler, Anne Leners, Tom Reh, and Bill True.
--Julie Dunn-Morton, Curator of Art
Docent-led tour with Anne Leners, in front of William Clark by Harding.
The volunteers of the Pott Waterways Library are critical to fulfilling our mission of preserving and interpreting national waterways history. They assist in processing new and existing collections, cataloging and researching objects, digitizing materials to make accessible on our digital library, and they also help create finding aids, research guides, and much more. One of our volunteers, Captain Jim Blum, has long been a supporter and member of the library. Captain Blum recently finished processing a collection of letters and diaries belonging to Captain Enos B. Moore. Moore spent his life piloting steamboats on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, a calling he shared with Captain Blum. The E.B. Moore collection preserves a turbulent time in US and river history, the years leading up to and through the Civil War. His letters and diaries reference struggling banks and the difficult financial atmosphere, the infamous blockade at Cairo, the price of trade commodities, and the effects of the developing war on Moore and his fellow riverboat captains. Thanks to the tireless work and dedication of Captain Blum, these letters are being made available to researchers around the world through our digital library.

--Sara Hodge, Herman T. Pott National Inland 
Waterways Library Curator
Photograph of Captain Jim Blum reading the Moore letters and recording notes about key events, dates, places, and names. This information is used to create records on our digital library.
Moore pocket diaries with daily logs ranging from 1855 to 1865. From the collections of the Pott Waterways Library, St. Louis Mercantile Library.
The volunteers of the Barriger Collection have been working on the William J. and Helen S. Dixon Collection of the Mercantile Library since its arrival.  Recently, before the COVID crisis began, the volunteers, Michael Caramanna and Ron Goldfeder, were working on cataloging and organizing the collection's paper ephemera and documents. These items had arrived in the summer of 2019 and required some reorganization and rehousing in archival-safe containers.
 
Some of the material was found to be significant and interesting enough to get into the scanning queue almost immediately after arrival and can now be found on the Missouri Digital Library. You can view these items here
 
--Nick Fry, Barriger Railroad Library Curator
Barriger Library volunteer Ron Goldfeder sorts out railroad timetables and paper ephemera from the William J. and Helen S. Dixon Collection.
To the Mercantile Library's docents and volunteers - Thank You for all your hard work and dedication!
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