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. 

 

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.