Paper Work

Tara Hurt

“I love the documents that connect people to a place,” says Tara Ludlow Hurt. “We need to understand our past to move forward as well-educated human beings.”

As the university archivist and head of archives and special collections at Eastern Connecticut State University, just down the road from UConn, Tara Ludlow Hurt ’94 (CLAS) does the dirty work of rescuing and maintaining decades- and centuries-old documents for posterity. Since her hiring in 2001, she has helped the town of Windham rescue countless treasured records and artifacts from the trash bin.

“People come into museums, people come into libraries, people come into town halls and they think, all the records are just here. But it takes so much to get them there, to have them be cleaned, preserved, and made accessible,” Hurt says. “I kind of like that behind-the-scenes mystery of it — it was dirty in a box and now it’s here for you to research with. And as we digitize, it’s not just available for local people, now everyone in the world can see all of it.”

For researchers and historians, something as mundane as a tax document can tell a whole story. But Hurt loves the variety, especially discovering things that would stop anyone in their tracks. While processing one collection at Eastern, Hurt found a letter written by Mary Todd Lincoln.

“She had come to Willimantic. It was only a thank-you, but still — Mary Todd Lincoln wrote that!” Hurt says. “In and of itself, it’s just a little note. But if you think about the time she did it, she was here. Those are the ones that really get me.”

By Julie (Stagis) Bartucca ’10 (BUS, CLAS), ’19 MBA
Photo by Peter Morenus


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