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Explore Local History at Your Library

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Explore Local History at Your Library

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant allows the County Library System to host myriad historical programs and events

Somerset County is lush with history, a history that unfolds from the influential to the scandalous. For example, from December 1778 to June 1779, General George Washington made the Wallace House in Somerville his Winter headquarters. In 1842, tracks of the first railway, the Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad, were extended into Somerville. And in September 1922, Reverend Edward W. Hall and Eleanor Mills were found murdered in a field in Somerset, launching Somerset County’s most notorious court case.

In partnership with the NEH, Somerset County’s municipal and county libraries will be collecting, cataloging, and preserving the collective memories of Somerset County residents while also hosting programs to highlight the rich history of the County.

“These thirteen programs – offered through mid-2019 – will offer unique perspectives on how our community maintained its memories amid multiple transformations. From several presentations, we will learn how Somerset County of yesteryear has been preserved in various mediums from land title records to genealogical documents to the product of its early photographers. An architectural historian will illuminate what clues of the past remain in our contemporary landscapes, while a librarian will show us what local structures no longer exist but are remembered through library’s historical postcard collection,” said Ken Kaufman, SCLSNJ adult services librarian.

Continued Kaufman, “In addition to past efforts, we will have archivists and conservators guiding us on becoming our own preservationists with tips on saving our family letters, photos, textiles, and recipes for the next generation.”

Nineteenth-Century New Jersey Photographers
April 10, 7-8:30 p.m.; SCLSNJ’s Hillsborough Library branch, located at 379 South Branch Road in Hillsborough
Monmouth County archivist Gary D. Saretzky will profile the photographers who were active in New Jersey before 1900, with a focus on those who lived or worked in Somerset County.

Colonial New Jersey from Contact to Revolution
May 8, 7-8:30 p.m.; SCLSNJ’s Bound Brook Memorial Library branch, located at 402 East High Street in Bound Brook
Dr. J. Mercantini will talk about the history of New Jersey and will focus on Somerset County’s role in the Crossroads of the American Revolution.

The Fiddle in America: A History and Demonstration
June 9, 1-2:30 p.m.; SCLSNJ’s Mary Jacobs Memorial Library branch, located at 64 Washington Street in Rocky Hill
Dr. Matthew Backes explores the origins and history of American fiddle music, covering a range of styles and modes of expression. Program funded by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities

How to Preserve and Create Meaningful Food Memories
June 21, 7-8:30 p.m.; Franklin Township Public Library, located at 485 DeMott Lane in Somerset
Learn ways to beautifully document and preserve recipes, photographs, cooking knowledge and more using technology and creativity. Vanessa Young is a writer, recipe developer, and educator focused on the intersection of food and culture. Register via the
events calendar at or by phone at 732-873-8700.

Postcards from the Edge of Somerset County
July 18, 7-8:30 p.m.; SCLSNJ’s North Plainfield Memorial Library branch, located at 6 Rockview Avenue in North Plainfield
Mary Nelson, local history librarian at SCLSNJ’s Bound Brook Memorial Library, will present a slideshow of historic postcards from the library’s collection.

Learning New Jersey…One Building at a Time
September 17, 2018 7-8 p.m.; SCLSNJ’s Bridgewater Library branch, located at 1 Vogt Drive in Bridgewater
In New Jersey we are surrounded by unique and historically significant landscapes. This program will be presented by Dr. Gabrielle Esperdy, Ph.D. Program funded by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Preserving your Family’s Treasures
September 25, 7-8:30 p.m.; SCLSNJ’s Mary Jacobs Memorial Library branch, located at 64 Washington Street in Rocky Hill
Learn the best ways to preserve old photos, letters, maps, and other items typically found in boxes in the attic or basement. This program will be presented by Deb Schiff, local history librarian at Chester Library.

Owning New Jersey: From Homestead to Home Depot — Land Use in Somerset County
October 16, 7-8:30 p.m.; SCLSNJ’s Bridgewater Library branch, located at 1 Vogt Drive in Bridgewater
Forensic land title expert Joseph A. Grabas, will discuss the development of land acquisition, ownership, and development from 1664 to date in Somerset County.

Preserving the Fabrics of Your Life: Taking Care of Historic Textiles
November 10, 2-3:30 p.m.; SCLSNJ’s Manville Library branch, located at 100 South 10th Avenue in Manville
Learn what to look for when examining old fabric pieces and the appropriate ways to preserve these textiles with Susan Jerome, textile conservator from the University of Rhode Island.

Registration for these events is requested. Visit to learn more.

The following community organizations will be partnering with SCLSNJ through the course of this eighteen-month project: The Board of Chosen Freeholders, Somerset County; The Courier News/; the Franklin Township Public Library; the New Jersey Council for the Humanities; and Somerset County Historical Society

The Somerset County Library System of New Jersey Common Heritage initiative has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these Library programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

By | 2018-03-01T09:28:29+00:00 February 28th, 2018|SCLSNJ News|
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