HSP and PPL Host “Open Archive” in Conjunction with World War II Exhibition

On January 23, 2020 at 6:30 pm, the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) and Princeton Public Library (PPL) will host an “Open Archive” program, displaying real historical materials related to the World War II home front experience in Princeton. This pop-up display is presented in conjunction with the panel exhibition, World War II on the Princeton Home Front, running in the Princeton Room at the Public Library through February 6, 2020.

The panel exhibition investigates the major home front activities of civil defense, foreign relief, and rationing, showcasing reproductions of archival materials from HSP’s collection. In so doing, the display sheds light on the local debates at the time about foreign intervention, the extent to which civil liberties should be limited to ensure safety, and the value of democracy as a system of government, conversations that reverberate in American society today.

“Visiting the exhibit is a wonderful way to learn about important local history and contemplate significant questions about contemporary issues as well. The Open Archive on January 23 provides a special opportunity to interact with historical materials and discuss with other attendees and HSP’s experts,” said Hannah Schmidl, PPL’s Public Humanities Coordinator.

The January 23, 2020 Open Archive program will enable visitors to view and explore the “real” documents featured in the panel exhibition, in addition to other materials that highlight the home front experience in Princeton during World War II. HSP and PPL regularly present “Open Archives,” which are pop-up opportunities for members of the community to come face-to-face with the contents of HSP’s vast collection, and to engage in conversation with other participants about what they observe.

“Our Open Archive series at PPL allows attendees to interact with archival documents and artifacts from the HSP collection without the barrier of glass cases. People get to really see the documents up close,” said Stephanie Schwartz, Curator of Collections and Research at the Historical Society. “It will certainly add an extra layer of meaning to their experience of the panel exhibition.”

While the Open Archive event is one-night-only, the Princeton Room exhibition is open to the public during the Library’s open hours, seven days a week, whenever another program is not scheduled in the Princeton Room.

HSP Acquires Collection of Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Oral Histories

Historical Society of Princeton Acquires I Hear My People Singing Collection of Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Oral Histories

In April, Kathryn (Kitsi) Watterson transferred to the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) the research materials, notes, and oral histories of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, collected during the twenty-year development process for her 2017 book, I Hear My People Singing: Voices of African American Princeton. This gift was made with the endorsement of community advisers and coordinators, Henry F. (Hank) Pannell, Penelope S. Edwards-Carter and the late Clyde  (Buster) Thomas, as well as interviewees and former Princeton University students, who contributed to the project.

“I am grateful that the stories in this book, from people who have witnessed the barriers and racist assumptions erected to bar their progress, will be more widely available now,” said author Kathryn Watterson. “Their words provide a window into the inner strength and ingenuity of a people who built families, institutions and a vital community life, despite the pernicious injustices they faced. I also appreciate that this collection reveals the creative process involved, from the oral history project we began in 1999—when Hank Pannell told me that if we didn’t get these stories now, it would be too late—to all of the work, love, and spirit embodied in this book.” 

The collection consists of over 60 oral history interviews on 88 video and cassette tapes, as well as transcriptions, photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, maps, census records, historical documents, and drafts of the book.

The collection joins nearly five hundred existing oral histories in HSP’s collection, including oral histories conducted with members of Princeton’s African American community for the seminal A Community Remembers: African American Life in Princeton exhibition at HSP in 1996. The material from Watterson also supplements existing HSP collections that document African American life, such as a time capsule from the Witherspoon School for Colored Children, records related to African American social clubs, and artifacts from African American-owned businesses in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, among many other items.

“We are honored to steward this significant collection,” said Stephanie Schwartz, HSP’s Curator of Collections and Research. “Oral histories are vitally important local history research tools, often filling in the gaps where written historical records are silent, which commonly occurs when it comes to the histories of marginalized communities.” She added, “We’re particularly excited that we have grant funding in hand from the New Jersey Historical Commission to immediately digitize the voices recorded on these vulnerable cassette tapes, ensuring that they are preserved.”

“I feel it is, and felt it was, important to preserve the history of the Princeton African-American community,” said adviser and coordinator, Penelope S. Edwards-Carter. “The community was shrinking when the project started and is rapidly disappearing. We’re happy that this digitalization by the HSP means that family members and descendants will be able to access these materials for genealogical research.”

Project originator and adviser Hank Pannell said, “I’m glad that people can learn about this wonderful neighborhood and all the great people who lived here and took care of each other. I couldn’t be happier about these stories being available for the future—especially for lessons they teach about living, respecting each other, and being human.”

I Hear My People Singing: Voices of African American Princeton was published by the Princeton University Press in 2017 to much acclaim. In vivid first-person accounts, the book shines light on slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow racism as lived and confronted by African Americans in a Northern town through the past three and a half centuries. In 2018, the book won the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance Author Award for Popular Non-Fiction.

This collection is now open for researchers to access by appointment with the Historical Society’s research staff. Research appointments can be requested via a form on www.princetonhistory.org.

“We hope that, once we digitize the oral history recordings, they will be available to people in several locations,” said Schwartz. “Our priority is to make these recollections, in the singularly evocative voices of the people who personally experienced this history, as widely and easily accessible as possible.”

Historical Society of Princeton Presents 2019 House Tour

The Historical Society of Princeton is pleased to present its 18th annual House Tour from 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturday, November 2, 2019. This signature fall event celebrates significant architecture and design in the homes of HSP’s supportive community. This year’s Tour features six unique homes, each one a distinct example of its own time and style. Visitors will marvel in the modifications, redesigns, furnishings, salvaged materials, and architectural features during a self-guided tour of the homes throughout the day.

This year’s Tour will feature:

Manor House at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart (pictured): Perhaps one of the most intricate homes designed by prolific Princeton architect, Rolf Bauhan, the Manor House was constructed for Mr. and Mrs. Thomas S. Dignan and completed around 1930. Mrs. Dignan’s family owned the Ward Baking Company, makers of Wonder Bread. Bauhan’s largest residential project, Manor House showcases his characteristic attention to detail, from stained glass representing Arthurian legends to complex plasterwork, carved wood detail, and decorative copper downspouts. The original 1930s kitchen, with antique dishwasher, remains preserved. Manor House’s expansive grounds retain a walled garden with stone gazebos and a groundskeeper’s cottage.

56 Balcort Drive: This imaginative renovation extended what was once a 1,600-square-foot pattern-book house, built in the 1930s by a carpenter for the Matthews Construction Company, into a sizable modern home respectful of the original’s Dutch Colonial style. Original features of the cottage, such as fireplaces, a staircase, and cabinetry, dot the expanded home, with pre-war fixtures and other salvaged antiques added throughout. The rare tiger maple and typhoon green granite kitchen was featured in the Wall Street Journal. A nature walk winds under large American Elms through the thoughtfully landscaped grounds.

211 Winant Road: This stunning Tudor Revival home was constructed for Moses Taylor Pyne’s mother, Albertina. Pyne, a noted philanthropist and owner of Drumthwacket, engaged his favored architect, Raleigh Gildersleeve, to design the house, which was completed around 1900. In the century that followed, the grand home fell into disrepair. The current owners completed a top-to-bottom renovation by architect David Abelow, a protégé of I.M. Pei, opening up the structure to give the home an urban, loft-like feel while still retaining the appropriate grandeur. The original brick walls and Carnegie steel beams are exposed and juxtaposed with formal plasterwork. A striking three-story glass and metal main stair illuminates the space. Extraordinary attention-to-detail distinguishes this mansion’s not-to-be-missed rescue story.

6 Highland Road: This modern house serves as the design laboratory of interior designer Katie Eastridge. The house forms part of the unique Province Hill neighborhood, which was developed by Richard Dickson and designed by Short and Ford in the late 1970’s with empty nesters in mind. The original home, which features a dramatic central fireplace and tall angled ceilings, has been completely reimagined by Katie Eastridge in her signature exuberant style. The highly edited interior blends Katie’s personal collections (some from her childhood home) with her own furniture design and rare, authentic specimens of mid-century modern design. 

29 Cleveland Lane: This classic Tudor-style home was one of the earliest residences on Cleveland Lane, a street carved out of the former Morven Tract enclave. The home recently enjoyed a top-to-bottom renovation by Baxter Construction, installing a gleaming new kitchen and bathrooms and faithfully upgrading period hardware, including turn-of-the-century knobs and push-button light switches. Works by local artists decorate the walls of this house that seamlessly blends the traditional with the modern. A new bluestone patio graces the backyard next to an original shed built out of the argillite stone used in Princeton University’s collegiate gothic buildings.

17 Maclean Street: This traditional house nestled in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, built around 1880, encloses a jewelbox of whimsical design. A recent addition and renovation led by Material Design Build and Steven S. Cohen, Architect P.C. created a colorful new kitchen, master bath, and treehouse library space. Eclectic furnishings and exposed wood salvaged from the original home, as well as the former SAVE animal shelter and a high school gymnasium’s bleachers, add accents throughout the house. The backyard features an array of fruit trees and sizable home garden.

“Princeton’s uniqueness and historicity as a town is grounded in its remarkable built environment,” said HSP Executive Director, Izzy Kasdin. “This year’s Tour provides a window into the variety of twentieth-century architecture in Princeton and the varied revivalist and modern styles that defined that period. We’re so pleased to be able to recognize homeowners who steward this legacy of magnificent architecture in Princeton. The House Tour is always an enjoyable and enriching experience for all involved!”

New this year, the Historical Society will be offering a pre-House Tour lecture to ground the visitors’ architectural history experience during the Tour. On October 24 at 7 pm, author/historian Clifford Zink will offer “Rolf Bauhan’s Architectural Legacy,” an exploration of the renowned local architect who was behind the Manor House at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart and over 100 other local revivalist buildings.

Advance tickets for the Tour are $45 for HSP members and $50 for non-members. All tickets purchased the day of the tour are $50. Proceeds help fund the Historical Society’s core history education activities throughout the year, including collections stewardship, exhibitions, public programs, and co-curricular support for schools.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.princetonhistory.org or call 609.921.6748 x106. On the day of the event, tickets will not be available at any of the houses on the Tour. Tickets can be purchased online during the tour, and emailed confirmations can be shown at the check-in tables at the houses. On the day of the tour, tickets can also be purchased from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at Updike Farmstead, 354 Quaker Road. From 9:30 am to 2 pm, tickets will also be available for purchase at Princeton’s municipal building, 400 Witherspoon Street.

Lead Sponsors Charles Schwab and Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty generously support this event.

Reviving New Jersey’s Hard Cider Heritage

On October 10, the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) welcomes writer/educator Fran McManus for a talk on New Jersey cider, past and present. The program will take place at 7:00 PM in the historic barn on the Society’s six-acre site, Updike Farmstead, at 354 Quaker Road.

Apple-picking is a popular fall activity, but few may realize the significant history of apples in the “Garden State.” New Jersey colonists started planting apple orchards in the 17th century, providing not just fruit to eat, but also to make cider, the favored alcoholic drink of the day. By the end of the colonial period, Newark Cider was renowned, and even fueled a thriving industry in counterfeit champagne.

The evening will include a sampling of New Jersey’s own Ironbound Hard Cider. Named for the historic Newark neighborhood, Ironbound Hard Cider is crafted by Jersey Cider Works, and made with fresh-pressed apples sourced from orchards in NJ and nearby states. The company’s mission is to restore Jersey cider to its former glory.

“Hard cider has become very popular in recent years,” said Eve Mandel, Director of Programs and Visitor Services. “We’re thrilled to partner with Ironbound to share this story, and taste two varieties of their cider!”

Tickets are $10, and are available on HSP’s website, www.princetonhistory.org. The program is held in conjunction with the Garden State History Garden exhibition at Updike Farmstead. 21 and over only.

 

Time-Traveling Fun at HistoryFest on October 6

HistoryFest: Time Travel through Princeton
October 6, 2019
1:00 – 4:00 PM
Free

Join us for the third annual HistoryFest, a free exploration of Princeton history for the whole family! Visitors will travel through four centuries of Princeton history, with hands-on activities and presentations showing the town’s changes over time. Children will receive a “Time Travel Passport” to be stamped at each station. A slide-show presentation featuring vivid images from HSP’s photograph collection, Princeton: Then and Now, will be offered at 3:00 PM.

 

Historical Society Completes Five-Year-Long Collections Review

Culminating a five-year collections planning and review process, on August 26, 2019, the Historical Society of Princeton’s (HSP) Board of Trustees approved items from HSP’s objects collection for deaccession, upon the recommendation of HSP’s Collections Committee. HSP retained and improved use, access, and interpretive strategy for the majority of its vast collection as part of this process.

As per field-wide best practices, HSP periodically reviews its holdings, a process that includes determining which items truly support HSP’s mission and which items are not relevant. HSP has reviewed and deaccessioned material several times over the course of its history, in 1978, 1997, and 2004.

Starting in 2014, HSP began its most recent collections review, an extremely thorough look at each and every three-dimensional artifact in HSP’s possession, of which there are approximately 3,000. HSP’s extensive archival holdings, including 35,000 historic photographs, over 800 manuscript collections, and 2,000 maps and architectural drawings, were not part of this artifact review.

As part of this process, HSP reunited objects with records, improved the documentation of objects in its collections database, repackaged holdings according to conservation standards, extensively researched objects to confirm their provenance, and identified 487 items that do not support HSP’s mission, which were recommended for deaccession. Each item was reviewed three times in the last three years. HSP has retained the majority of its collection.

Consistent with established best practices, deaccessioned objects deemed suitable will be offered to other cultural institutions, while others will be sold at a well-advertised public auction. Some will be retained at HSP as handling objects to be used for educational programs. All proceeds generated by the auction sale will be restricted for the direct care of HSP’s important remaining collection.

From its inception in 1938, the Historical Society of Princeton has actively collected museum and reference materials relevant to Princeton or of general historical interest as part of its history education and stewardship mission. Over time, a substantial and important collection of over 100,000 items was established, consisting of artifacts, maps, architectural drawings, archival manuscript materials, photographs, newspapers, and reference books.

“HSP’s collections create tangible links between the past and present, allowing community members to come face-to-face with Princeton’s story. Nothing is more educationally powerful than this encounter. It’s what makes museum collections so essential,” said Stephanie Schwartz, HSP’s Curator of Collections and Research. “As a history organization, we always prioritize strategies to more effectively bring our exciting and important collections to the public, through school curricula, public programs, exhibitions, and more.”

As with all professional museum institutions, a formal, Board-adopted Collections Management Policy governs all collections practice at HSP. This policy aligns with all best practices, industry standards, and American Alliance of Museums guidelines. Within its Collections Management Policy, HSP outlines its criteria for the acquisition and deaccession of museum materials. Primarily, items in HSP’s holdings must document the history of the Princeton area or its role in state or national history. The deaccessioned items did not meet HSP’s collecting criteria, largely because they lacked sufficient connections to Princeton history.

“Deaccessioning is a healthy process that is part of the natural life cycle of a museum collection,” said Dan Scheid, HSP’s Vice President of Collections. “This review process has positioned our collection to be the best possible historical resource for the Princeton community, and has allowed the Historical Society to ensure it focuses on preserving, interpreting, and sharing the collections that are truly meaningful to the Princeton community.”

Rago Auctions will sponsor the public auction of deaccessioned items designated for sale on October 4. More details about this event will be released soon.

Travel Back to the 80s at HSP’s Concert Under the Stars

The Historical Society of Princeton will host its eighth annual Concert Under the Stars fundraiser on Saturday, June 8, 2019, from 6:30 – 10:00 PM at Updike Farmstead. This year’s event will feature a vivacious live performance by The Breakfast Club on the mainstage. The Gerry Rosenthal Trio will open the event on the farmhouse porch.

The Breakfast Club is the longest running, most recognized 1980’s tribute band in the United States. Formed in 1993, The Breakfast Club’s mission is to embody the enigmatic, creative, and buoyant spirit of the music and live performances of the original MTV generation. Members of The Breakfast Club have shared the stage with numerous music legends, including Whitesnake, The Romantics, Poison, Drivin’n’Cryin’, Hootie and the Blowfish, White Lion, The Smithereens, Edwin McCain, and many others.

The Gerry Rosenthal Trio, formed in Jersey City, NJ in 2015, features Gerry Rosenthal on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Jack Breslin on upright bass, and Sean-David Cunningham on violin. Gerry’s songs fall directly into the Americana/Folk/Singer-songwriter category, with comparisons to Mumford and Sons, Punch Brothers, and Ben Folds, rounded out with three-part harmony and improvised instrumental and solos sections. The Trio released an EP in April 2019 entitled “First.”

“This year’s artists bring exciting talent and flair, as well as some of your favorite tunes, to the always-fun Concert Under the Stars,” said Jud Henderson, a long-standing member of the Concert Committee. “They’ll keep guests entertained all evening!”

Baxter Construction, Charles Schwab, PNC Wealth Management, Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty, MacLean Agency, and Kale’s Nursery & Landscape Service are all major event sponsors. Jammin’ Crepes will serve a farm-to-table dinner menu. Local craft beers and a selection of wines will be available.

“This year’s Concert will, as always, be a fantastic night with delicious local food and drink, fabulous upbeat music, and an unparalleled historic setting – a true celebration of this remarkable town,” said HSP Executive Director, Izzy Kasdin.

Concert Committee members Tracy Sipprelle and Debora Haines describe the event as “the kick-off-to-summer party, with a casual blue jeans and boots vibe.”

Net proceeds from the Concert Under the Stars support the Society’s mission of history education, provided via collections stewardship, exhibitions, public programs, and co-curricular support for schools to the Princeton community and beyond. In so doing, HSP enhances community vitality and builds historical literacy, cornerstones of healthy civic culture.

Tickets to this unique benefit event are available online at www.princetonhistory.org, or by phone: (609) 921-6748 x106.

HSP to Host Grand Opening for Garden State History Garden

The Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) will hold a family-friendly opening event on Sunday, May 19, between 1:00 and 4:00 PM, unveiling a brand-new exhibition in the Sipprelle Unity Garden at Updike Farmstead, the Garden State History Garden. Coinciding with National Public Gardens week, this event is free and open to the public.

The Garden State History Garden creates a living, growing display of Princeton and New Jersey’s agricultural history. The HSP mobile app will offer multimedia content to interpret the local agricultural histories represented by crops in each bed of the 520-square-foot organic garden at Updike Farmstead. These stories include farming during wartime, gentleman farmers, and the Poor Farm workhouse in northern Princeton, among many others. Visitors will be able to listen to narratives and explore photographs and documents from HSP’s collection within the app as they wander through the beds of the garden.

“Support from the Church & Dwight Employee Giving Fund was instrumental in transforming our beautiful 21-bed organic garden into a heritage-rich (as well as a fruit and veggie-rich!) space,” said Izzy Kasdin, Executive Director of the Historical Society of Princeton. “Agriculture is core to the historical identity of Princeton, and sparks important discussion about land use, food security, and the environment today. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to tell those stories here at Updike Farmstead, in view of one of the last remaining in-tact historic farms in Princeton.”

At 2:00, a screening of “Farming in New Jersey’s Millstone Valley: Past and Present,” will take place in the Wojciechowicz Barn. Produced by the Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition of Rocky Hill, in association with the Van Harlingen Historical Society of Montgomery, the 35-minute video documentary describes the 300-year agricultural history of the area, culminating with the local farm-to-table movement. MVP Coalition President Brad Fay will introduce the film, and a panel discussion will follow, featuring Fay, Terhune Orchards’ Pam Mount, and Tessa Lowinske Desmond, a Princeton University research scholar in the Program in American Studies. 

Ongoing activities during the day include a garden craft for children, a scavenger hunt around the property, and time to explore the garden and newly-launched app content. Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch or snack to enjoy on the property.

HSP Nears Completion of Collections Review

From its inception in 1938, the Historical Society of Princeton has actively collected museum and reference materials relevant to Princeton or of general historical interest. Over time, a substantial and important collection of over 100,000 items was established, consisting of artifacts, maps, architectural drawings, archival manuscript materials, photographs, newspapers, and reference books. This collection is at the heart of all HSP’s core programs, with many of these items aiding in our mission of bringing the remarkable history of Princeton, NJ to life for diverse audiences.

“HSP’s collections create tangible links between the past and present, allowing community members to come face-to-face with Princeton’s story. Nothing is more educationally powerful than this encounter. It’s what makes museum collections so essential,” said Izzy Kasdin, HSP’s Executive Director. “As a history organization, we always prioritize strategies to more effectively to bring our exciting and important collections to the public, through school curricula, public programs, exhibitions, and more.”

As per field-wide best practices, HSP periodically reviews its holdings, a process that includes determining which objects truly support HSP’s mission and which objects are not relevant.

Starting in 2014, HSP began its most recent collections review, an extremely thorough look at each and every three-dimensional artifact in HSP’s possession, of which there are approximately 3,000. As part of this process, HSP reunited objects with records, improved the documentation of objects in our collections database, repackaged holdings according to conservation standards, and identified approximately 500 objects that do not support HSP’s mission and will be recommended for deaccession. HSP will retain the vast majority of its collection.

“Deaccessioning is a healthy process that is part of the natural life cycle of a museum collection,” said Stephanie Schwartz, HSP’s Curator of Collections and Research. “Most of the objects being considered for deaccession were acquired decades ago and have not been displayed or used in any way for many years.”

As with all professional museum institutions, a formal, Board-adopted Collections Management Policy governs all collections practice at HSP. This policy aligns with all best practices, industry standards, and American Alliance of Museums guidelines. Within its Collections Management Policy, HSP outlines its general criteria for the acquisition and deaccession of museum materials. Primarily, items in HSP’s holdings must document the history of the Princeton area or its role in state or national history.

Despite the good intentions of HSP and its many generous donors over time, there are some items that do not meet HSP’s collecting criteria, largely because they lack sufficient connections to Princeton history.  HSP has been researching these objects extensively to confirm that there is no compelling reason for them to be in HSP’s collection; each item has been reviewed three times over the last five years as part of this process.

“This review process has positioned our collection to be the best possible historical resource for the Princeton community, and has allowed the Historical Society to ensure it focuses on preserving, interpreting, and sharing the collections that are truly meaningful to the Princeton community,” said Dan Scheid, HSP’s Vice President of Collections.

In May of this year, objects recommended for deaccession will be presented to HSP’s Collection Committee and Board of Trustees; upon final approval, these objects will no longer be a part of the museum collection.

Consistent with established best practices, deaccessioned objects deemed suitable will be offered to other cultural institutions, while others will be sold at a well-advertised public auction. All proceeds generated by the auction sale will be restricted for the direct care of HSP’s important collections.

Second Annual Building Princeton LEGO Event at Updike Farmstead

Sunday, April 14, 2019
2:00 – 4:00 PM

 After last year’s sold-out event, the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) is excited to host its second annual Building Princeton on Sunday, April 14 in the Wojciechowicz Barn at HSP’s Updike Farmstead.

Designed to increase awareness of the town’s rich architectural heritage, Building Princeton, led by Building Blocks Workshops, uses 70,000 LEGO bricks. Teams each receive a photograph and story of a historic building, which they build within the 2-hour program. When the models are finished, they are placed on a 30-foot map of Princeton, providing an amazing aerial view of the town. This program, with adults and children working together, is ideal for children ages 8-12, but all ages are welcome to participate.

At the conclusion of the program each family receives a copy of “The Princeton Architectural Treasure Hunt Map” and are encouraged to go out as a family and find the real buildings.

“Understanding buildings and their stories helps us forge deeper connections to our communities, and we’re so thrilled to offer an experiential, interdisciplinary program that accomplishes this,” said HSP’s Executive Director, Izzy Kasdin.

This event is made possible by generous community sponsors Adams Rental, jaZams, McCaffrey’s Supermarkets, and Pinneo Construction.

Tickets are $35 per team (up to four people with at least 1 adult). Pre-registration is encouraged, as space is limited. Registration is available online at www.princetonhistory.org.