ORDINARY NEW JERSEYANS MAKE HISTORY IN THE NEW JERSEY HISTORICAL SOCIETY’S 160TH ANNIVERSARY EXHIBIT
For the countless famous people who left an indelible mark on New Jersey, there are countless others whose stories people don’t know -- trolley drivers, midwives, honeymooners and housewives who have left behind seemingly “ordinary” things that help to tell the story of how the state and nation have changed.
From an 1870s dress and bustle cover to a colorful festival costume worn in the 1994 Domincan Day parade in Paterson, from a rare glass paperweight made by a South Jersey glass blower in the early 1900s to a marionette made by a West Orange art teacher in the mid 1950s -- the exhibition opening at The New Jersey Historical Society on Saturday, October 15, 2005 Transit Drivers, Honeymooners, Midwives: Collecting and Telling New Jersey Stories - Celebrating NJHS’ 160th Anniversary, brings New Jersey history to life through objects and documents from the Historical Society’s museum and library collections and through them tell stories that reveal how seemingly ordinary people make an impact on New Jersey.
The exhibition will preview on Friday, October 14th during the Historical Society’s 160th Anniversary Gala and will open to the public the following day, Saturday, October 15. A public reception celebrating the exhibition will also be held on Thursday, November 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Historical Society, 52 Park Place, Newark, New Jersey.
Since 1845, the Historical Society, a museum, library and archives, which is the oldest statewide cultural institution in New Jersey, has been collecting, protecting and exploring objects – and their stories – from New Jersey and, through them, bringing history to life.
With this interactive anniversary exhibition, the Historical Society is seeking to encourage an understanding of how each person’s story can help tell New Jersey’s – and the country’s – history.
Diaries, receipts, ledger books, letters, scrapbooks, clothing, household items, tools, souvenirs – all contribute to the history of New Jersey – and the exhibit will also explain what the Historical Society collects, how it acquires collections, how it takes care of its collections and how visitors can be part of the New Jersey story.
The New Jersey Historical Society’s museum and library collections predate its founding in 1845, starting with objects and stories about the Lenape, the state’s earliest residents and the colonial settlers of the state, and coming all the way through to present times.
In this anniversary exhibit, however, visitors will “meet” New Jerseyans who lived during the 160 year lifetime of The New Jersey Historical Society and discover through their stories how to be part of documenting the state’s past and present. The New Jerseyans that visitors to the Historical Society will “meet” include:
Ralph Barbe, who worked in the glass industry in southern New Jersey making functional and decorative objects when New Jersey was one of the places the Industrial Revolution called “home,” and where factories sprung up wherever there were resources, good transportation and power sources – like Millville, NJ.
Sergeant Stephen Flaherty, who left Trenton in 1895 to join a New Jersey regiment that became a part of the Fifth Army Corps and was sent to Cuba during the Spanish-American War and kept a journal of his adventures that include significant moments in battles of the war and battles against Yellow Fever and other diseases.
L. Gardner, a farmer who joined with others in the Denville Farmers’ Club to discuss the latest in local farm experiments and scientific thought in the late 1850s, and whose minutes tell the story about changing farming practices.
Mary Paraboschi Giacomini, of Newark, one of the first licensed midwives in the state, who worked in New Jersey from the 1920s through the 1970s and whose story helps explore the changing nature of childbirth and midwifery in the state.
Rosetta Lee, who moved to Newark from Georgia in 1916, attended the Montgomery Street School, where she was taught by the only two African American teachers in the entire city, and who answered the call to become “Missionary Extraordinaire,” dedicating her life to helping those less fortunate in New Jersey and abroad.
Jerry Leopaldi, of Verona, social activist, originator of a cable tv community production, The Good News Show, and entrepreneur who established the NJ chapter of the “52 Association” aimed to assist war veterans, mainly from Viet Nam, with recreational and job training opportunities, and acted on the saying, “Think Globally, Act Locally.”
Emily Lillie, a 17-year old Newarker in 1872 who did many of the same things teens do now -- go shopping, attend parties, club meetings, school, art lessons, and visiting friends – except that she kept a written record of her daily life, while today’s teenagers type theirs into a computer and post them on the Inernet in weblogs or ‘blogs.
Virgil Markle, a Highway Engineer and Land Surveyor based in Red Bank in the 1920s and 30s, who helped design some of the first “bypass” highways in New Jersey, so vacationers could get to the Jersey Shore without slowing down for every small town along the road.
Fortunato and Adriana Ocello, of Passaic, whose honeymoon photos and souvenirs from the mid-1950s paint a picture of Atlantic City at a time when many others in the nation could also afford to “escape” on vacations due to post-war prosperity.
Peter P. O’Fake, a free black man, born and raised in Newark, who in the early 1800s started successful businesses, including a dancing academy, and whose notable achievements include being the first documented African American conductor leading a white orchestra.
Mary Philbrook, of Jersey City and Newark, who became the first woman lawyer in New Jersey in 1895, and after breaking this gender barrier and becoming an attorney, fought for more gender equality in the state.
Paul Edwin Reeves, who drove public transit vehicles -- horse-pulled trolleys, electric streetcars and later buses that shared the road with cars – in New Brunswick between between 1918 and the 1950s, and experienced constant change on city streets, as well as in the labor movement.
Mary Rogers, a housewife and mother in East Orange whose household experiences throughout the 1940s and 1950s reflect on the dramatic changes of New Jersey home life before, during and after World War II.
John Toth, who worked for the New Jersey State Police in Burlington and Mercer Counties between 1954 and 1963 and became an “expert” on giving polygraph examinations, with the results of one of his tests used in the first trial in NJ to admit this kind of evidence.
Ruth Trappan, whose progressive teaching methods during her career as Art Director for West Orange schools from 1929 to 1964 signaled a new philosophy towards education in America's schools.
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