New virtual exhibit explores the role of women in shaping the history of Morris County

In celebration of Women’s History Month we welcome everyone to visit our new virtual exhibition, “The Legacy of Women in Morris County”, which highlights the achievements of veterans, suffragists, physicians and nurses, educators, artists, and philanthropists throughout the 20th century. As changing social norms intersected with new economic and political challenges, women assumed new roles in the workplace and in their community. This is the first of many planned online exhibits that will accompany our onsite displays once the J.M. Kirby Gallery reopens.

Call for Submissions: Morristown & Morris Township Quarantine Experience

The North Jersey History and Genealogy Center, Morristown and Morris Township Library, would like to know how residents of Morristown and Morris Township have handled being quarantined or self-isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This unique time is worth preserving in writing so that we can help future generations understand how to handle a quarantine and what it is like for us being quarantined in 2020.  

Please tell us in 1500 words or less what being quarantined has been like for you. We would like to know:

  1. What has surprised you the most during this quarantine?
  2. What is your biggest fear?
  3. Have there been any positive impacts of this quarantine?
  4. What is the most difficult part of the quarantine?
  5. What are your hopes for the future when this quarantine is over? And how have those hopes changed from before this quarantine began?

 

Please let us know if you are willing to be contacted by the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center well after the quarantine is over.

All submissions must include your first and last name, age, other information including occupation, level of education completed, and whether you reside in the Town or Township. Please email your submission to njhgc@jfpl.org as an attachment or via USPS to North Jersey History and Genealogy Center, Morristown and Morris Township Library, 1 Miller Rd., Morristown, NJ 07960.

 

* Only send this work if in agreement that Morristown and Morris Township Library has permission to share the words with the public as part of the historical record and no benefit, financial or otherwise, is given or implied for the submitted material.

Originally Published April 10th, 2020

Online sources for Educators, Students, and Parents

With students and educators returning to the classroom both remotely and in-person this semester, they face renewed pressure to create innovative lesson material and locate sources for projects. The North Jersey History & Genealogy Center has made a variety of sources available both online and in our distanced reading room.

Online Sources

Materials include content for projects on topics as varied as the history of scientific discovery and engineering, retail and economic development, war, and land use and development. The History Center’s collections are particularly strong in telling the stories of local families, churches, philanthropic organizations, and businesses. They also document the changing roles of racial, ethnic, & religious groups.

Our collections tell the nation’s story through photographs and postcards, family papers, maps, historic newspapers, artifacts, and various ephemera. Materials document the breadth of New Jersey’s history; some predate the founding of the United States back to the colonial era.

Among the more than 10,000 items available online, the Historic Photograph Collection and Curtiss Photo Collection are some of the most frequently referenced resources. It includes documentation of agricultural development, and suburban growth in Morris County; commerce, manufacturing, retail, and labor; as well as education and medicine.

Online collections also depict the range of Morristown and Morris Township housing, from Gilded Age estates to modest 19th century apartments and modern suburban homes; in addition to commemorative events and monuments; extreme weather events; agricultural life; and the construction of municipal services such as libraries, water treatment, fire, police, and sanitation.

A recently digitized collection of oral histories allows over forty longtime Irish and African American residents tell their own experiences of living and working in Morristown, Morris Township, and the surrounding communities.

Our Historic Postcard Collection depicts many of the county’s historic sites, local businesses such as hotels and taverns, hospitals and schools, transportation systems ranging from canals to trolley lines, and some of the amusement parks and recreational facilities that no longer exist.

Onsite resources

The History & Genealogy Center Reading Room recently reopened to the public by appointment, and staff are available to assist visitors and supervise the handling of the collections. Appointments are limited to two parties at a time to encourage distancing and individuals are asked to limit their visit to two hours. Staff will retrieve all materials, which are placed in quarantine between use.

Onsite resources include over 60,000 published books and family histories, as well as state, county, and local histories. Archival materials consist of personal letters, diaries, scrapbooks; church and government documents, and records of local businesses and organizations. Visitors have access to historic newspapers from Morris County dating from 1798 to the present, as well as 10,000 maps depicting the County, New Jersey, and the United States.

Our selection of genealogy databases provide access to federal census records, immigration and naturalization information, military records, national historic newspapers, Revolutionary and Civil War era documents, city directories, agricultural and industrial schedules, Native American census rolls, and obituaries. Morristown and Township residents can access several databases from home with their Library Cards including HeritageQuest, MyHeritage,  and ProQuest Historic Newspapers – U.S. Northeast Edition.

The reading room is accessible by appointment, and due to reduced capacity guidelines researchers are encouraged to schedule their time slot well in advance. We also offer remote research assistance for those unable to visit in person and have temporarily waived research fees throughout the pandemic; however due to the volume of requests please allow two to four weeks for a response.

NJHGC Reading Room reopens to researchers

We are now taking appointments for onsite research visits at njhgc@jfpl.org and 973.538.3473. Before contacting us, please visit our online catalog and finding aids to create a list of materials you would like to consult so we can prepare for your visit.  For those unable to visit us in person, we have temporarily waived fees for Remote Research requests for individuals.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, our hours and policies have changed, and they are outlined in the Plan Your Visit section of our site. All visits must be scheduled in advance (walk in appointments are not allowed) since we are limited to two researchers in the reading room at a time. All items are quarantined for 72 hours after each use, and the Library has also enacted enhanced cleaning and social distancing practices. You may refer to the Library’s main page for the most up to date information on our operations and hours.

First Look: the Frederick Curtiss Historic Photograph Collection

One of our most frequently visited collections is a set of 10,000 photographs depicting the people, places, and various events around Morris County during the first three decades of the 20th century. Who was Frederick Venton Curtiss and what led him to document so many neighborhoods and individuals in and around town? Archivist Jeff Moy offers some insight in this brief video, and the entire four-part series can be found on our YouTube playlist.

The NJH&GC now subscribes to Proquest’s Historical Newspapers

The North Jersey History & Genealogy Center now subscribes to Proquest’s Historical Newspapers, including several New Jersey historical newspapers and New York’s Daily News from 1920-2009.

Research leading issues and events, such as the U.S. Civil War, immigration, westward expansion, industrial developments, race relations, and World War I and II; to international, local and regional politics, society, arts, culture, business, and sports. ProQuest Historical Newspapers reveal the day-to-day news coverage to researchers and historical explorers, providing invaluable insights and information to users from a wide range of subjects.

We expect more newspapers to be added to this collection in time.

Fall Exhibition Depicts the Mid-Century Rise of Morris County

Poster of a country scene that says "Morris County" "The county of the future"

 Our new exhibit, The Changing Landscape of Morris County is now on view in the F.M. Kirby Gallery on the second floor through the end of 2019. Visitors will see Morris County’s rapid growth during the 20th century as residential suburban developments and corporate parks arose from the harsh economic realities of the Great Depression and sacrifices of World War II.

 

As the federal government and private banks worked to make affordable housing and college education available to returning veterans, Morris County quickly evolved from the pastoral summer retreat of New York City’s elites to one of the state’s most affluent middle class enclaves. Abundant undeveloped land, easy access to multiple transportation networks, and proximity to major Mid-Atlantic metropolises spurred extraordinary residential and commercial development within the region. 

 

The exhibit traces the changing prospects of downtown businesses as consumers followed retailers to modern shopping malls, as well as the massive investment in transportation infrastructure that connected neighboring markets and cities from the 1950s through the 1970s. Visitors will also see how some Gilded Age estates found a second life as businesses and schools, and how fears of overdevelopment led community members to oppose the destruction of both historic sites and natural resources. 

 

2018 Third Annual Library Photo Contest Awards Winner: Luke Gong

Statues at night in front of Charles Schwab building

Charles Schwab from statues on the Morristown Green, by Luke Gong
The life size statue, “The French Are Coming”, commemorates the meeting of General George Washington and Colonel Alexander Hamilton with the Marquis de Lafayette on May 10, 1780.

The North Jersey History & Genealogy Center invited interested persons to enter our third photo contest to celebrate our community through the art of photography, and contribute to the Library’s local history picture collection. All 2018 contest entries were to feature a clearly identifiable image of an interior or exterior place of business in Morristown or Morris Township.

The award was based on artistic excellence and historical value. Congratulations, Luke!

New Online Reading

Book cover of "Setting up Our Own City" by Cheryl C. TurkingtonYou can now read Setting up Our Own City online. An oral history project by Cheryl C. Turkington with interviews by Helen Baker Conover, Setting up Our Own City traces the history of the African-American community in Morristown, New Jersey.  It explores how the African American community lived, worked, worshipped, celebrated and sustained itself, and the lives of men and women who quietly created a vibrant African-American middle class in Morris County. The material for this story was woven together through numerous interviews and the resources of the North Jersey History & Genealogy Center. Includes index.

 

Recently Processed Collections

Auchincloss and Schnell Family Papers, 1835 – ca.1987.

Image of photograph of woman next to a letter she wrote.
Correspondence from Queen Elisabeth of Belgium to Jean Schnell regarding her donation for World War I relief work, 1918

 Personal papers and genealogical information from two New York and New Jersey families and their work in the publishing and engineering fields.


DeChiara Family Papers, 1905 – 2005.

Personal and business papers of the head of urban renewal responsible for planning Morristown’s Headquarters Plaza redevelopment project.


Home Garden Club of Morristown

Administrative and working papers of Club activities, programs, and community beautification projects.


Morris County Political Ephemera Collection, 1844 – 2018

Political campaign flyers, constituent communications, and political pins from Morristown, state, and national elections.