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!

Research From Home: New Databases at the NJH&GC

(A Morristown & Township Library Card is needed to access from home)

America’s Genealogy Bank is an online collection created for genealogists
containing historical newspapers, books, pamphlets, genealogies, and more
than 23 million obituaries.

Jewishdata.com is an extensive archive to help people study Jewish history and genealogy. Includes Jewish cemetery and immigration documents, and a number of information-rich books.

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.

The Henry W. Pilch Collection, ca.1724-1986.

The North Jersey History & Genealogy Center is pleased to announce that it has opened the Henry W. Pilch Collection to researchers. The papers contain extensive documentation of land usage within the state from the early 18th through the 20th centuries that Pilch collected in the course of his law practice. In addition to tracing property ownership throughout Morris County and Northern New Jersey, the records follow the family histories of numerous prominent and longtime residents.

Henry’s lifelong interest in history and genealogy resulted in countless hours conducting research in the Morristown & Morris Township Library’s local history department, to which he donated his notes and legal papers in 1987; they consist of over 310,000 pages of family and town histories, along with a vast collection of maps, deeds, mortgages, and surveys.

The papers illustrate centuries of residential development, agricultural use, as well as the acquisition of land for public infrastructure needs. The records are particularly valuable to genealogists, homeowners and businesses owners, and scholars of state and local history.

Archivist Jeffrey Moy began processing the collection in 2014 and completed its arrangement and description in May 2018. Related collections include hundreds of historic and hand-reproduced maps that Pilch had previously donated, along with a group of records from the Minton and Day law firm. The finding aid to the Henry W. Pilch Collection may be found online and the papers are available in the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center during normal Library hours.

2017 Photo Contest Winners

Our photo contest challenged anyone with a passion for photography to capture images of Morristown and Morris Township and share them with the library. In response, we received many excellent submissions portraying numerous places of interest in our community.

Here are the winning photos for our 2017 contest, and our 2016 contest.

The North Jersey History and Genealogy Center invited interested persons to enter our second photograph contest to celebrate our local history through the art of photography. More details for our 2018 contest will be announced soon!

Winners of the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center’s 2017 Photograph Contest

First Place – Morristown Views

View from Fort Nonsense Looking East
by Thomas Conroy

Honorable Mention – Morristown Views

Cannon at Fort Nonsense
by Luke Gong

First Place – Morris Township Views

“Whippany Farms” House and Gardens at Frelinghuysen Arboretum
by Swapna Penugonda

Honorable Mention – Morris Township Views


Fosterfields in Winter
by Mia Mutascio

Winners of the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center’s 2016 Inaugural Photograph Contest

First Place


Aerial View of Morristown, by R.J. Meyer

Second Place


Cattano and Speedwell Clash, by Stefan Glut

Third Place


Speedwell Dam, Morristown N.J., by Meredith Ross

Honorable Mention


Churchyard at the Presbyterian Church of Morristown, by Jayme Siegel Harvey

Honorable Mention

 Tractor at Fosterfields, Morris Township, by Luke Gong

Check out our local history articles in The Morristown Green.com!

Here you can find posts written by the NJH&GC staff about interesting and often lesser known historical places, people and events of the Morris area, using the History Center’s extensive research materials. This is an ongoing collaboration with The Morristown Green.com, so check back often.  We encourage you to use our history library to research any aspect of the Morris area’s past.

Newark Evening News Preservation

The North Jersey History and Genealogy Center announces that many reels of the early years of the Newark Evening News will be offsite, beginning July 24, 2018, for a preservation project for an undetermined length of time.  The reels date from September 1, 1883 to September 10, 1918.  Anyone interested in viewing those reels or getting copies of articles from those dates should contact the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center by calling 973-538-3473 or by e-mailing us at njhgc@jfpl.org.  We apologize for any inconvenience this project may cause but assure users that the end goal will be worth the wait.