The Tomlinson Family Newspaper Collection is now available

Ernest H. Tomlinson published the first issue of the Daily Record in 1900 with his wife, Mary Balderston Tomlinson. During those initial years, they operated from a small one-story wood frame building. At the time, Morristown only had weekly local newspapers so when the Tomlinsons provided daily news, entertainment, and sports coverage to the town’s merchants, retailers, and residents, their publication flourished.

“Last residential building on Morris Street. Newspaper boys huddle for warmth at The Daily Record building on a frigid winter day”, December 18, 1920. (NJHGC photo).

 

A few years later, the Daily Record moved to a larger stone building on 55 Park Place opposite the Morristown Green where the news staff operated from for over 70 years. As the newspaper grew, Ernest hired additional employees and Mary assumed greater managerial control; both possessed years of journalism experience reporting on significant events in turn-of-the-century Trenton where they honed their skills covering the bustling industrial city and state capital.

The Daily Record building as it appeared in 1942. The private residence next door — visible in the 1920 photo above — has long departed. (NJHGC photo).

Over the following decades, the Daily Record stayed in the Tomlinson Family with Mary and Ernest’s son, Norman, learning all aspects of the newspaper business when he was not in school until eventually taking over in 1919; his son, Norman, Jr. began working there in 1954 and assumed the role of Editor-Publisher in 1970, continuing in that role for twenty years. Amidst strong ad revenue and regional coverage that comprised much of Morris County, the Tomlinson family left the newspaper business in 1989 when they sold the Daily Record to Gannett.

Norman Tomlinson, Jr. graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law school before passing the New Jersey Bar in 1954, but decided against entering law in favor of joining the Daily Record as general manager. (NJHGC collections).

The collection consists of several special editions of the newspaper, as well as three copies of unrelated publications, one artifact, and a commemorative booklet published for the Daily Record’s 75th anniversary in 1975. Other materials include anniversary editions as well as a special United States Bicentennial issue that details numerous historic Morris County sites and events pertaining to the American war for independence. A finding aid to the collection is available here, and individuals interested in accessing it should contact the History Center.

 

The Ezekiel Smith Family Papers are now open for research

After moving from Sterling, New York to Waterloo, New Jersey in 1790, thirty-nine year old Ezekiel Smith and his wife Amey Johannah Mowry Smith purchased a large parcel of land and established what became a successful multi-generational family farm. Ezekiel and Amey’s great-grandson, Amzi George Smith (1877-1966) continued the family tradition by farming land that he owned in Mount Olive with his wife Emma Linabury Ort Smith as they raised eight children.

John Ort and his brother-in-law, Amzi G. Smith, ca.1900.
Amzi and Emma Smith’s farmhouse in Mount Olive, NJ, ca.1940.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The collection includes a small but varied series of records created by several generations of Smiths that consist of property deeds, account books, correspondence, and ephemera. Photographs comprise the bulk of the materials, and they include both individual prints and photo albums. In addition to formal portraits, many images depict the Smith Family farm, as well as special events, such as Amzi and Emma Smith’s 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries.

Amzi and Emma Smith, ca1946.

Individuals interested in accessing the Smith Family Papers should consult the finding aid and contact the History Center to make an appointment for the Reading Room.

Morristown High School yearbooks available online

Our early Morristown High School yearbooks can now be viewed online! The History and Genealogy Center staff are continually adding items to our digital collections page, which includes thousands of scanned historic photographs, postcards, maps, and artwork; and we are glad to have begun including the yearbook collection in this online resource.
The portrait of senior, Zella A. Sturges, in the 1910 Morristown High School yearbook, which noted her nickname and knowledge of the Bible.
Use the search bar to find individuals and learn what classes and clubs were available 100 years ago. The first group of yearbooks, 1910-1923, are online now. Additional years will be digitized and made available on an annual basis.
Senior, Daniel C. Jensen’s page in the 1910 yearbook. This edition of “The Cobbonian” listed the nicknames, favorite quotes, pastimes, or hobbies of its graduating students.
Physical copies of the yearbooks can always be viewed in the History Center Reading Room during normal Library hours. As with requesting to use our other archival and research material, we ask that you contact us in advance so that staff have ample time to retrieve the collection items from storage.
Morristown High School juniors, photographed in 1910.

Blue Gate Farm papers now open to researchers

The Blue Gate Farm papers trace the history of several prominent Morris County, New Jersey families who lived near the fourteen-acre Blue Gate Farm. Included in the collection are correspondence, business records, photographs, and ephemera belonging to the Vail, Ford, Miller, Lawson, and McEwan families. Materials date from 1839 to 1971.

                

The records contain correspondence and other material from Stephen Vail’s family who made important advances during America’s early industrial age. The McEwan papers include information on Whippany’s papermaking industry, as well as personal and business correspondence and information on the family’s genealogy. A third series contains the majority of the photographic material related to Blue Gate Farm, in addition to various ephemera that includes two souvenir booklets from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Individuals interested in accessing the Blue Gate Farm papers should consult the finding aid and contact the History Center to make an appointment for the Reading Room.

New exhibition highlights life in 1920s Morris County.

Our first onsite exhibit in three years explores life in New Jersey during the exuberant 1920s. The Twenties: Big Business, Pleasure-seeking, and Daily Life in Morris County, 1920-1930, is on view in the F.M. Kirby Gallery of the Morristown & Morris Township Library through December 2022.

The exhibit explores the role of local governments as they attempted to enforce unpopular Prohibition laws while battling corrupt officials, and traces the growing influence of corporatism on local businesses and economic activity. An explosion of automobile ownership affected not only the daily lives of residents but also profoundly changed the character of neighborhoods and downtowns, just as an emergent middle class resulted in a residential building boom and greater discretionary income.

The twenties also witnessed a rising Black middle class and entrepreneurial working class in Morris County that exercised its newfound economic strength by starting successful businesses and constructing new homes. More women enjoyed new careers and less domestic drudgery thanks to labor-saving devices and smaller families, and residents enjoyed a rash of new entertainment choices, thanks to the many fads, films, and radio programs of the era.

In conducting research for the project, staff utilized original documents, newspapers, and photographs from the collections of the North Jersey History & Genealogy Center. The exhibition is on view in the second floor gallery through the end of the year. Two related talks are planned for this summer and fall, as well as on online version of the exhibit that will live on the History Center’s site.

Local History in the News: Articles Written by the North Jersey History & Genealogy Center Staff

Bastille Day protest with Julia Hurlbut leading the first group of marchers. Iris Calderhead of Kansas at right waiting for mobs to attack pickets so she can order out new banners, July 14,1917. Library of Congress photograph.
Local history is abundant within the Morristown community. The Morristown Green, the historic park that served as an encampment for George Washington in 1777, also serves as the name for Morristown’s local news site.
 

North Jersey History & Genealogy staff regularly publish articles highlighting aspects of the region’s history, particularly that of Morristown, Morris Township, and Morris County. Content is drawn from our collections and covers the individuals, families, businesses, and organizations that lived and worked in our state from the 17th through the 20th centuries. 

Created in partnership with local news site, MorristownGreen.com, past articles explored how local residents responded in times of war and national crisis, detailed individual participation in historic events, or just attempted to earn a living and better themselves and their community.
 
Most recently, the History Center staff highlighted Morristown’s Early African American History through the lenses of longtime residents John and Clara Watson Pinkman. This year, they also highlighted Morris Township’s architectural changes – such as present-day Columbia Park’s beginnings as Cedar Court.
 
The archive of these posts can be found here. Check back regularly to learn more about the history of the region, as well as articles that coincide with the exhibits organized by History Center staff and more.
 
The History Center actively collects material that documents the history of the people, places, and organizations that have made their home in New Jersey. In addition to assisting researchers and genealogists in our reading room, we regularly offer public programs, create exhibits, and make our collections available online

Municipal Records of Morris Township and Morristown open to researchers

A multiyear effort to preserve and catalog the municipal records of both Morris Township and Morristown has concluded and the materials are now open to users. Morris Township’s history dates back to the English settlement’s founding in 1715 and includes its trajectory from an agrarian village to the center of Morris County’s commercial, manufacturing, and residential development.

Hillside Fire Department engine, with officers and driver, in Morris Township, New Jersey, September 1, 1924.

The Morris Township collection traces municipal government activities from 1837-1997, with the bulk of the materials spanning from 1940-1970. Records include resolutions, ordinances, and budgets related to various activities of the Township Committee. They also consist of materials from the Board of Adjustment, Planning Board, Finance Board, and Police Department. A full description of the papers and their contents may be found here.

Selection of notices and ordinances passed by the Town Council of Morristown, New Jersey, 1874.

Morristown was carved out from Morris Township in the waning days of the Civil War, and its records contain some of the oldest documentation of local governance in the county. Among the materials are information from the Town Clerk, Finance and Building departments, Public Works, Board of Health, and Police and Fire departments. The records span from 1763-1982, with the bulk covering the period between 1865-1970. A detailed description and inventory of the collection can be found here.

A large crowd gathered in front of Morristown’s Municipal Building for an event, July 9, 1927.

Interested users may call ahead (973.538.3473) or e-mail the History Center (njhgc@mmt.mainlib.org) to request an appointment. When placing a request for materials please specify the item’s full title as listed in the finding aid, as well as the box and folder number.

Morristown Blueprints Collection Open for Research

The North Jersey History & Genealogy Center has opened the Morristown Building and Construction Blueprints and Records Collection to researchers. These records contain building designs for local businesses and homes, and related documentation submitted to town hall between 1909 and 1959. Some records include entire drawing sets depicting companies, retail storefronts, private residences, schools, and houses of worship, while others may only contain simple hand-drawn sketches for a new home patio, garage, or kitchen addition. As a whole, the collection offers a unique snapshot of Morristown’s development during the first five decades of the 20th century.

   

The collections consists of nearly 1,000 sets of blueprints, diazotypes, sketches, tracings, and other documents that comprised the permit application process for each property. Town officials reviewed drawings submitted for new construction, as well as significant alteration to existing structures, which often included detailed building elevations and floorplans. Each set typically specified the project’s location and owner (or builder), permit number, date, and often the lot and block number.

     

These materials will be of interest to the owners of the homes, businesses, and organizations that currently occupy the land. The records may also be useful to genealogists, town officials, as well as those studying the history of zoning laws, business trends, suburban development, architectural history and land use. Archivist, Jeffrey Moy began processing this collection with Archives Assistant, Tara Schaberg prior to 2020, but disruptions related to the Covid-19 pandemic halted work until late 2021.

Users must call ahead (973-538-3473) or e-mail (njhgc@mmt.mainlib.org) the History Center to request access to this collection so that staff have adequate time to retrieve material from storage. When requesting a set of drawings, please specify both the Drawer/Box and Folder number in addition to the full title cited in the finding aid.

Recapture Family Images: Thursday, November 18, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

A one day scanning event at the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center

Preserve your family photos! Turn your photos, negatives or slides into printable image files.

Do you have special family photographs that you need scanned? The NJH&GC will scan your photos, negatives, or 35 mm slides in high resolution–for free! Using our high quality photo and slide scanner, we will scan your photos on the spot and transfer them to your USB drive. Also, if you have faded color photos, we will do our best to restore them to their original color.

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Please e-mail us at njhgc@mmt.mainlib.org or call us at 973-538-3473 to reserve your session time.

LIMIT: 7 SCANS PER PERSON.

Read more Recapture Family Images: Thursday, November 18, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Gone But Not Forgotten: Marion Orr Harris, a friend of the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center

The Morristown and Morris Township Library and its North Jersey History and Genealogy Center is saddened to learn of the passing of Marion Ohr Harris. Marion generously provided financial support of numerous history and genealogy programs and services for quite some time. She also routinely donated historic preservation and genealogy newsletters from a wide number of societies from across the region. As a retiree, Marion compiled “Genealogy Gleanings”, highlights from the many genealogy newsletters and websites she keenly read, for The Morris Area Genealogy Society and gave The North Jersey History and Genealogy Center copies.

Marion also organized and co-sponsored with the library a lecture series titled, Protecting Natural and Historic Places during the spring and summer of 2016, which culminated in a day long symposium at Morristown National Historical Park’s Washington’s Headquarters Museum, titled Industrial History of Northwest New Jersey. Then in 2019 she sponsored a “Break Through Your Brick Walls” day at the library at which genealogists could meet one on one with professional genealogists for tips.

The staff of The Morristown and Morris Township Library, especially The North Jersey History and Genealogy Center, will be forever grateful for Marion’s support and offer our heartfelt condolences to her son David.

Read more Gone But Not Forgotten: Marion Orr Harris, a friend of the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center