History

MOMENTS IN CENTENARY HISTORY

This month in Centenary History:

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On June 17, 1886, the first edition of The Chronicle was published.

From the Commencement Chronicle: “Colleges have their ‘Annuals’ and ‘Bric-a-Brac’, why not a Ladies’ College and Preparatory School its publication?”

The Chronicle was the first student publication of Centenary University, then Centenary Collegiate Institute. It included the student essays, both academic and humorous, as well as the news and gossip of Centenary. The Chronicle was printed on and off throughout the 1880s, 1890s, and very early 1900s.

 

On June 8, 1946, Art Professor Gilberta D. Goodwin unveiled a portrait of President Whitney, the first in a series of paintings undertaken in preparation for Centenary’s 75th anniversary. The unveiling was part of a surprise ceremony during Commencement. The paintings have been displayed all over campus and in the President’s House, and many of Goodwin’s works are currently housed in the Taylor Memorial Library Archives.

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President Whitney portrait 1

Above: Goodwin working on Whitney’s portrait

Right: A close-up of President Whitney’s finished portrait

 

On June 29th, 1953, The Taylor Memorial Library and Reeves Recreation Building began construction. The two buildings were dedicated in October 1954. We very much miss our library right now, and can’t wait to get back on campus!

groundbreaking, likely 1953

Groundbreaking, 1953

GOOD BYE SENIORS

Centenary is having a virtual commencement on May 9th. We may not be celebrating with our students in person, but we still congratulate them on their successes and wish them the best in their future endeavors!

Dance, mid 1930s

Centenary Junior College Dance, mid 1930s

To the class of 1936:

“We say good bye to the Seniors in dignified robes of black,
But we are sure it won’t be long before they’ll all come back.

The time does pass so quickly and some of us will see
Bette the great man-hater with a babe upon her knee.

Now Janie, our Navy woman, with the fleet at her front door,
Margie, the letter carrier, with a million dollars or more.
And Mo with her one and only in a car of splashy red,
And Dotty, our smartest dresser, shopping with her Ed.

Looking once more in the future I’m afraid I cannot see,
What the rest of friends will be doing after they leave C.J.C.

But we know they will all be successes in their own individual ways,
And we send them off with best wishes for a future of happy days.”

-Pat Pattison

 

 

THE DORM ROOM BEAUTIES

[This guest post has been brought to you by Jillian Pullis and Dr. Lisa Mastrangelo’s Advanced Composition Class. Students in this class work closely with archival staff and items, allowing them to practice their writing and research skills, as well as learning more about their university. It’s a wonderful partnership that we look forward to and occasionally we ask one or two students to share their work on our blog. This paper in particular was impressive because we, the Archives staff, see this photograph often and wonder about the students in the picture. Pullis’ research has identified these girls and we now know a little more about this dorm room candid. We are grateful she accepted our offer of being included in the blog, and hope you enjoy learning how she investigated the visual clues this picture held to deduce its content. No edits have been made to this document, and the student’s work is shown in its entirety.]

img001The picture that I am investigating is two young ladies laying on their dorm room beds at Centenary College. Investigating this photo allowed me to turn into an archivist for a few weeks. I had to depend on my historical sources to find information, describe my findings, and provide accurate sources to allow others to find this information. As an archivist, I had to analyze my photo and find any clues that could help me date it. I also had to try and organize the information I found and communicate it in a way that would make sense. Although, in this case I was just following the steps of what an archivist would do, I was able to put my evidence together to find the year the photo was taken. By following the steps of an archivist and investigating the image, I found my photo is from the year 1957.

In the photo, the two girls laying on their dorm room beds are similar in which they both have short hair, long white socks, and plaid skirts. The way the beds are positioned directly up against each other is either trying to portray that the girls must be extremely close, and they sleep that way each night, or the photo is posed and trying to give off a  “come here and find your best friend” vibe.  On the walls, the girls have a poster and a sorority paddle hanging on the wall. These two things play a huge part in helping me date this photo. The girls also have a book – shelf with multiple copies of the same books, perfectly placed. I found this to be further evidence that this photo could be staged. The room also has two windows with matching curtains.

Centenary College was a junior college for women from 1940 to 1976. In the dorm room the girls have a Dartmouth Winter Carnival Poster hanging on the wall. On the corner of the poster it is dated February 3-5, 1956. I was able to find the exact poster on the Dartmouth Archive site. I contacted Morgan Swan, Ph.D., M.L.I.S. who is the Special Collection Education and Outreach Librarian at Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College. Morgan said, “During the early to mid 20th century, Dartmouth’s Winter Carnival was a nationally prominent event that required an invitation to attend if you weren’t already a student there. Many college students at women’s colleges all over New England (and NY and NJ) would often be invited to come as the dates of Dartmouth men.” He additionally added that it was popular for Centenary college girls to travel to Dartmouth on the train and enjoy the fun weekend in the snow. Before this email, I  had to keep in mind that just because the poster was dated and on the wall was not enough to convince me the girls were there. It could have just been a decoration or a gift to the girls.  I was very excited when I read this email because it proved to me that I was on the right track with the year.

In the dorm room the girls have a sorority paddle hanging from the wall. The paddle  was dated 1958. This led me to look at the yearbook sorority pictures from the years around 1958. This finding played a huge part in helping me identify these girls in the yearbook. I was able to find the sorority picture in the Hack yearbook of 1957. By looking at the Hack yearbook, I was able to name these two girls as Gail Zabriskie and Leslie VanNess Bush. I examined every single picture in the Hack yearbook 1957. I was able to reassure myself of a few things by looking at these pictures. In my dorm room photo and the yearbook photo of the girls, they have the same windows and curtains. I did not think this was enough to be 100% sure, as maybe Centenary provided each room with the same curtains. By looking at every picture in the yearbook I was able to find that almost every single bedroom shot with the windows in the back had different curtains. Not one of the photos had the same curtains that my two girls had. I also believed that this photo was staged by how the beds were positioned and how neatly the room was set. By looking at the other yearbook pictures I found that almost every room had tables and chairs in between the beds. No matter how close you are with someone I did not find one other photo with beds positioned that closely. It was a huge find being able to find these girls names and find information about them.

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 11.37.04 AMGail Zabriskie and Leslie VanNess Bush were both on the Orientation Committee, Guild, Student Activity, Psychology Club, and Theta Epsilon Nu. Gail Zabriskie was the President and Leslie VanNess Bush was the Vice President of student activities. They were next to each other in the yearbook and it had a picture of the two girls together. The girls were standing next to each other smiling in front of a window. The picture in the yearbook had the same windows and curtains as the picture I was examining. This was all found in the Hack yearbook in the year 1957. It could be possible that every room had the same curtains and window set up, but I found the similarities to be significant. The girls were also in a lot of the same clubs and very involved on campus so it would make sense that they would be asked to stage a photo to promote Centenary and portray it as finding your best friend.

Leslie VanNess Bush was sporting short and curly hair in her yearbook picture as well as the dorm room picture. This was very popular in the 1950s that was inspired by some prominent women. Beauty Launchpad explained,  “Many actresses and female singers of the 1950s, including Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Eartha Kitt, favored this shorter, slightly less voluminous version of the classic bouffant. Perfectly curled and coiffed hair was the signature of this look, though great care was taken to make hair appear to be naturally curly.” Gail Zabriskie can be found in both photos with her short brown Pixie Cut. The pixie cut started becoming popular in the late 1950s and really took off in the 1960s. Beauty Launchpad added, “Audrey Hepburn’s closely-cropped hair in the popular film Roman Holiday began a trend of super short hair coupled with soft, wispy bangs that remains popular today.” I was very reluctant to find out that the hairstyles of the two girls matched up well with what was popular during the year that I found.

In todays’ world of social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram, it is so easy to just swipe by a photo in seconds. We often will not even look at most pictures that pop up on our feeds, and if we are it is followed by a quick “like”. Examining archived photos requires the person to really look at every detail. When you think you have found all the clues, you should look again. By doing this I was able to find the key component on the sorority paddle to identify the women in my picture. If I did not room in on the paddle, I would have never seen the date and most likely would not have found the girls names.

 

Works Cited

 

“Dorm Room ; 1957” Photo. Archives and Special Collections,

Taylor Memorial Library. Centenary University

 

The Hack. 1957. The Taylor Memorial Library,

Centenary University

 

“Hair Through History: 9 Memorable Hairstyles of the 1950s.” Beauty Launchpad, 24 Oct. 2019, www.beautylaunchpad.com/hair-through-history-9-memorable-hairstyles-1950s.

Swan, Morgan. “Feb 3-5, 1956 Dartmouth Winter Carnival .” Feb 3-5, 1956 Dartmouth Winter Carnival , 25 Feb. 2020.

LIBRARY PESTS

From Spilled Ink, May 23rd, 1936

The first hint you have of her presence as you industriously look up material for your term paper, is an inane giggle, quickly smothered, followed by a swift series of semi-squelched snickers. This is ruthlessly repeated. You look up angrily and glare at her – a young person industriously – too industriously – perusing a page of the large Webster’s dictionary. She, of course, doesn’t venture to look up, and your justified glare is pitifully wasted. You go on with your interrupted work.
As soon as she thinks her untimely eruption is forgotten, you hear a cautious “Ssssss-.” Evidently the bit of information which caused the outburst is too choice not to be shared. Nothing happens, however. A louder “Ssssss-” in a suppressed stage whisper is heard. All your glaring is of no avail; she will not deign to look in your direction. Then you sigh with relief. She is leaving. You settle down to work.
But, alas, she returns; and oh, agony, she is followed by three friends. Three of them! They approach the dictionary. Our first acquaintance, giggling reminiscently, points to a certain spot on the fateful page, and watches the faces of her friends expectantly. She is rewarded. Gales of girlish laughter peal gently forth and permeate the room. The unappreciative stare of the librarian reaches its goal, and guilty silence results. Your stare still goes unnoticed – you’ll have to practice withering looks. At any rate silence finally prevails. Three cheers for the librarian!
But don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. Quiet giggles are slyly resumed. You look hopefully at the librarian; she is busy, oblivious.
Way down deep inside you begin hypocritically to wonder what the cause of all the merriment can be. Craning your neck, you make a mental note of the page at which the dictionary is open, secretly resolving to peruse the page when the pests have departed. But they do not depart. Gusty giggles continue to gush forth from the interested reader of the dictionary.
You groan, slam your book, quickly glare defiantly around at anyone who might object to your slamming it, and stamp out of the room – no term paper done, time wasted, and still ignorant of the laughter-provoking word.

-Dorothy Foulds, Page Editor for the Spilled Ink, class of 1936.

 

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We will never know if Dorothy learned of the offending word.

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The Spilled Ink Board industriously working on their term papers, perhaps?

A FIRE and NEW SCHOOLS and SMALLPOX, OH MY!

After the retirement of our first President, Rev. Dr. George Whitney, the institution went through challenging times. The second President, Dr. Ferguson, spent five years improving the campus, programs, and social life of the school, but most of his hard work was invalidated by the Great Fire of 1899. While the Board of Trustees debated over rebuilding the school or abandoning its efforts, a new president was elected and the C.C.I. Day School carried on with the business of educating. With the decision made to rebuild, Charles W. McCormick, third President of Centenary Collegiate Institute, was given the demanding task of returning Centenary to its former glory.

Dr. McCormick in TGYCharles Wesley McCormick was born in New Prospect, NJ on December 14th, 1856. He graduated from Wyoming Seminary, Wesleyan University in 1881 (he received both his B.A and M.A there), Syracuse University in 1897 (D.D), and New York University in 1898 (PhD). He married Edith C. Mirteenes in Port Jervis, NY on October 5th, 1881. As an ordained Methodist Episcopal minister, he led many congregations in the New York and New Jersey area, coming to Hackettstown in 1898 (Who’s Who in New England). The following year he was hired to teach English and History at Centenary Collegiate Institute. He also held duties equivalent to a Vice-President and was in charge of the institute on occasions when the President was away. McCormick was a dedicated educator whose election into the faculty was hailed by both students and townspeople alike.

President McCormick portraitOn June 1, 1900, the position of Centenary Collegiate Institute President was officially passed on to Charles Wesley McCormick. He immediately began helping with fundraising efforts and working with the Building Committee. September 23rd, 1901 saw the opening day for the New C.C.I., although the new building wasn’t fully complete yet. Students worked “amid the din of saws and the pounding of hammers” (Custard, 93). Dr. McCormick also saw to it that a Sub-Preparatory program was added to the curriculum, so that in addition to the 4 literary courses the school offered, there was a preliminary year of instruction for those students who required it. He also improved cultural subjects, like art. Students at the time enjoyed rich academic, athletic, and social lives. According to his daughter, Josephine McCormick, “they had weekly socials (no dancing, of course), picnics, hay rides, and in winter skating on the canal. There were literary programs and debates. There was a good football team, fair baseball and track teams. Tennis courts were used by both girls and boys” (Custard, 95).

Dr. McCormick’s presidency was short, lasting from 1900 to 1902. During those two years, he dealt with challenge after challenge. After the 1899 fire, many students found places in other schools and chose not to return to Centenary. McCormick focused much of his time to raising money for the rebuilding of Centenary and on reaching out to potential new students. Then, over the Christmas break, Hackettstown was hit by a smallpox outbreak. Students were told to stay home. After six weeks, the school was allowed to reopen, but again several students did not return. Ending the 1902 school year with a substantial debt, Dr. McCormick found himself very discouraged. He felt his talents lay with teaching and governing, and with no expectation of doing either, he requested to be released from his contract to take another appointment. His contract ran until July 10, 1902, but he was permitted to leave April 1, 1902.

After he left Centenary, he returned to the ministry and again led several different congregations in the area. His ties to Centenary remained strong, though, and his daughter Josephine attended and graduated from Centenary Collegiate Institute in 1913.

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Dr. McCormick authored a small book with uplifting passages for shut-ins, aptly entitled “Little Messages for Shut-In Folk”. Sadly, Charles Wesley McCormick passed away shortly after this book was published, on October 19, 1920, in East Orange, New Jersey (“General Necrology in 1920”).

 

Custard, Leila Roberta. Through Golden Years: 1867 – 1943. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1947. Print.

“General Necrology in 1920.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Almanac. Vol. 2, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1921, p 451.

Hack Yearbook, C.C.I. 1913.

“Little Messages for Shut-In Folk.” The Methodist Quarterly Review. Vol. 69, No. 1, Smith & Lamar Agents, 1921. Also the author of a small book with uplifting passages for shut-ins. LINK LINK 2

Who’s Who in New England, edited by Albert Nelson Marquis, A.N. Marquis & Company, 1909.

 

 

 

 

LIBRARY NEWSLETTERS AND INFORMATION

The library has started publishing a newsletter we’re calling Unshelved – in it you’ll find information about events at the library, projects and initiatives we’re working on, and features on the staff and library work-study students you may meet here at Taylor Memorial Library.

newsletter headerMany public and academic libraries have newsletters, magazines, or pamphlets that talk about library happenings, and over the years we have seen our fair share of them!

library handbooks1Early informational handouts came in the form of library handbooks, which served as an introduction to the library. The 1955 Taylor Memorial Library Handbook includes a foreword that states, “before you have spent many days at Centenary you will find that this building is the center of many of your activities. If you are willing to devote a short time to becoming acquainted with its resources and arrangement, you will be able to find quickly and efficiently the material you wish.” These handbooks were published for several years, and included a description of the main areas of the library, a guide to using the card catalog and finding books, articles, and other library materials, and finally, a summary of library services and policies. As new library instruction programs were developed that took over many of these roles, we began printing different pamphlets that focused on specific library services. At one time, this library had several pamphlets on services and resources that included requesting an item from interlibrary loan, using specific databases, and on library policies.

library instruction menu snippetLibrary instruction programs are now more commonplace than ever; we actually offer several different types of instruction that range from a simple drop in visit to introduce library resources and services, to resource overviews that go in-depth on citations, plagiarism, researching, and other library skills. The need for a printed library handbook is largely non-existent, but in its absence, we’ve developed new ways of imparting information to our communities.

Over the past ten years, the library has created many different versions of a newsletter. Six years ago we published Shelf Talk, which talked about new library acquisitions and library events. The first version of Shelf Talk was created by a work study student named Sarah Malcolm. She delivered a new issue every month and dedicated a lot of her time at TML to the success of the newsletter. After her graduation from Centenary, we had difficulty selecting another work study who could focus on Shelf Talk with as much enthusiasm and talent as Sarah, and decided to put the newsletter on hiatus. Shortly afterwards, library assistant Jack Wooldridge ‘adopted’ Shelf Talk and created several issues. Unfortunately, with his departure, Shelf Talk was ‘shelved’ once again.

The idea to revisit Shelf Talk was always in the back of our minds, so the library staff decided to try a different type of newsletter. Instead of book reviews and new acquisitions, we are focusing on the events and initiatives of the library. With this new incarnation, we are hoping to show our community who we are and encourage people to learn more about the library – not just what we have, but what we do. Libraries have always adapted with the times, and Taylor Memorial Library is no stranger to that! We’re always experimenting with different ways of reaching out to our patrons, and we hope they enjoy learning more about the people behind the circulation desk!

spring 2020_online

To read the digital version, complete with clickable links, go here!

FERGUSON’S FIVE YEAR FRENZY

After Centenary’s first president, the Rev. Dr. G. H. Whitney retired, the Board of Trustees selected Wilbert P. Ferguson as his successor. Whereas Dr. Whitney was a Centenary institution for over a quarter of a century,  unfortunately Dr. Ferguson would only remain at the school until 1900, a mere five years.

Ferguson 3

Ferguson became Centenary’s second president in 1895. He seemed well suited for the position, having earned  “a reputation as a ‘hustler’ ” during his time as a member of the New York East Methodist Conference (Custard, 71). Centenary’s Trustees thought he would be the perfect man to take the reins and steer Centenary Collegiate Institute towards even greater heights, and he entered this new role with bold ideas.

President Ferguson was eager to boost the school’s enrollment. He closed the Ladies’ College and rearranged the school’s main courses, expanding the Commercial Department and introducing the Department of English Literature. Students with fewer than 7 cuts from class and a final grade above 75 no longer had to sit for final exams.

Athletics became a major feature of student life, starting with the addition of an Athletics Director in 1896 (see Athletics). The grounds behind the Main Building were transformed into a running track, baseball diamond, football field, tennis courts, and croquet and quoit grounds.

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Very small and unfortunately pixelated views of Athletic Fields as seen from the old Main Building. From the 1896 Course Catalog of C.C.I.

 

The Hackettstonian April 1899

Cover of the April 1899 Hackettstonian

Another new addition for Centenary Collegiate Institute was a student publication called The Hackettstonian. This magazine, published monthly, included original stories, essays, and poems by students and faculty, editorials, news and joke items, and information about alumni.

 

Dr. Ferguson’s five year term was coming to a close when the Main Building was razed by fire on October 31, 1899. The timing of his resignation was unfortunate. While it implied he was abandoning the school in its greatest time of need, this was far from the truth. He had always planned to move on after his single term and followed through, submitting his resignation in January of 1900. Ferguson split his remaining time at C.C.I between his presidency and a new position in Newark until a new president could be found. On June 1, 1900, the position of Centenary Collegiate Institute President was passed on to Charles Wesley McCormick, who had arrived at the institution the year before as a teacher of English and History.

The momentum the school had gained in Dr. Ferguson’s five years as president was dimmed by the fire but was not lost. The Hackettstonian and the school’s enthusiasm for Athletics were both back in full force once the institution was rebuilt, and Ferguson’s early ambition to boost enrollment had been an invigorating force that continued to move the school forward, long after Ferguson’s departure.

 

THE GREAT FIRE – repost

The original Centenary Collegiate Institute main building.

The original Centenary Collegiate Institute main building.

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Centenary Collegiate Institute would prove to be a critical year for the school, testing the dedication and determination of every member of Centenary’s community. Shortly after midnight on the morning of October 31st, 1899, a fire started that demolished the main building, leaving students and staff without dormitories, classrooms, or possessions.

THE FIRE

The origin of the fire is unknown, but was attributed to the spontaneous combustion of painters’ supplies stored too close to a boiler room in the basement. A night watchman discovered the fire but was unable to fight the flames by himself. He alerted Mr. Terrill, the College’s bookkeeper, and brother-in-law to current president, Dr. Wilbert P. Ferguson. The two men rushed from Mr. Terrill’s room on the fourth floor back down to the basement, accompanied by three professors who had detected the faint smell of smoke. The men, seeing the basement engulfed in flames, abandoned their idea of putting the fire out themselves, and quickly created a plan for rousing the building’s sleeping occupants. One went to notify the president’s family, another to the teachers in the ladies’ halls, the third to the teachers in the men’s halls, the fourth to the servant’s hall, and the last ran to summon the fire department.

Within minutes all were awake and exiting the building. The ladies were assembled and organized by their heroic preceptress, Mrs. Hoag, and Mrs. Ferguson, the President’s wife. At some point the ladies were sent across campus to the gentlemen’s gymnasium, where Mrs. Hoag called attendance from memory. The professors visited the gentlemen’s halls until they were certain that every young man had escaped. There were no casualties and no serious injuries, save for one young man with weak lungs who suffered minor smoke inhalation.

THE BUILDING, ENGULFED

At 2 a.m. the bell in the clock tower tolled for the last time, falling to the ground after the final chime. By 4 a.m. the destruction was complete. Nothing remained of the building but sections of brick wall. Two gymnasiums, the chemical laboratory, the barn, and the icehouse survived, as they were located across campus. The fire department, town citizens, and C.C.I. students and staff tried valiantly to put out the fire, but the flames traveled through a pipe organ shaft and empty stairwells, consuming the chapel and library. Soon after the whole building was ablaze. Every student, professor, and employee lost some of their possessions, and many lost everything but their bedclothes. That morning the building lay in ruins. Students and staff assembled in the Methodist Church, where they were given permission to go home.

AFTERMATH, INTERIOR

THE RUINS OF C.C.I.

All seemed lost, but the Board of Trustees and President were not willing to give up on Centenary easily. As early as November 7th, announcements were sent out that the school would continue its Fall Term. Classes reopened on November 20th. Local hotels and resorts offered their facilities to the Institute, and C.C.I. gratefully accepted the hospitality of the citizens of Hackettstown. Private homes were turned into dormitories and classrooms. Each home was dubbed a hall, and to tell them apart, each hall was given a professor’s name. The chapels on Main Street offered space for meals and recitation. Life continued at C.C.I. in unfamiliar settings, but it continued nonetheless. A class of forty-three graduated that year.

After the year concluded, the Board of Trustees and Dr. Whitney again began the daunting task of fundraising to rebuild Centenary. A new president, Dr. Charles W. McCormick, was inaugurated, and plans were set in motion to reformat the Institute as a day school until construction could be completed. All other departments were shut down in order to focus on the College Preparatory program. A hall was rented in town for recitations, and students boarded with private families. The day school only had two teachers, Miss Hannah Voorhees and Professor Hammond, who each taught eight classes a day.

Funds were raised to begin the construction of a new Institute, and the cornerstone for the new building was laid on December 1, 1900. The college reopened on September 23, 1901, although the chapel and recitation rooms were still under construction. The new structure was completed before the end of 1901, and Centenary was off and running once again.

CENTENARY COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE NEW MAIN BUILDING

The new Centenary Collegiate Institute main building, with dormitories in separate buildings on either side of the school.

 

 

THE MORRIS CANAL

As much as we’d like it to, summer vacation doesn’t last forever! Now that our students are back on campus, we’ve put away our summer projects and started getting back into the groove of the semester, and that includes jabbering on about the history of Centenary University!

On October 9th, the library will be hosting a talk on the Morris Canal given by Tim Roth, Vice President of the Canal Society of NJ. The Morris Canal, a system of waterways that traversed New Jersey from the Delaware River in Phillipsburg to the west, to Newark and later, the Hudson River in Jersey City to the east. Its purpose was to carry loads of coal and iron across the state to New York. The system utilized existing bodies of water, manmade waterways, locks, and water-controlled inclined planes. The Canal was in existence from 1824 to 1924, and in that time it was a place of commerce, travel, and recreation for those who enjoyed walking the towpaths (paths that mules walked as they tugged Canal boats along) or ice-skating in the winter months.

In Hackettstown, the Morris Canal crossed High Street and Hope Street (now Route 46), and ran parallel to Buck Hill, Grand Avenue, and Rockport Road before meandering to Route 57 in Port Colden.

1880s-1890s Hackettstown overlay Morris Canal

This picture was taken from Centenary Collegiate Institute between 1883 and 1895. The view looks to the Northwest, towards Great Meadows. In the center is Buck Hill, or Malvern Hill, as stated by the caption on the back of the photograph. The blue line shows the path of the Morris Canal. By the 1870s, the Canal was seeing less and less use due to new railroads and highway systems.

page from The Story of CCI

From the booklet “The Story of C.C.I.”, c. 1910-1930

Professor Leila Custard’s Through Golden Years recalls the Morris Canal as a place for students to go skating and hiking. The Canal, only 5 blocks from the school, was a welcome retreat for students.

There is so much fascinating history about the Morris Canal – the water-powered inclined planes used rails and cables to pull boats up and down hills in a way similar to how a roller coaster pulls trains up to the first peak on a coaster’s track. The Canal is also why there are landlocked towns and municipalities with ‘Port’ in their names (Port Murray, Port Colden, Port Morris) – they were ports on the Morris Canal!

We will be learning all about its construction, use, and its second life as a Greenway for hiking on October 9th at 7 pm in the Library. We’d love to see you there! (For info on the talk, please call us at 908-852-1400, ext. 2345) If you’d like to learn more about the Canal but can’t make it to the talk, come check out one of the several books we have on the topic!

 

Custard, Leila Roberta. Through Golden Years: 1867 -1943. New York: Lewis
Historical Publishing Company, Inc, 1947. Print.

Goller, Robert R. The Morris Canal: Across New Jersey by Water and Rail. Charleston, Arcadia Publishing, 1999. Print.

Kalata, Barbara N. A Hundred Years, A Hundred Miles. Morristown, Morris County Historical Society, 1983. Print.

Veit, Richard F. The Old Canals of New Jersey. Little Falls, New Jersey Geological Press, 1963. Print.

 

THE FILM LIBRARIANS CONFERENCE

This post is going to be different from the majority of posts on this blog – we don’t usually discuss things using personal pronouns or even really identify ourselves. The archives is supposed to be the focus of the blog. However, I (Wendi) plan on telling you all about an amazing conference I went to in Los Angeles called Documenting Cinema: Film Librarians Conference 2019, and to do so, I need to talk like me.

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My dumb face not caring that my face looks dumb.

I first heard about the conference from a classmate at Syracuse University, where I am getting my MLIS. My classmate works, in some capacity, for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She encouraged the class to apply for a travel grant to attend this year’s conference, and, having a deep love of cinema (especially the Golden Age of Hollywood), I immediately memorized the website. I ended up winning one of the travel grants, meaning my travel to and from Los Angeles was paid for, as was the attendance fee for the entire conference.

 

The Film Librarians Conference (FLC) was held over the course of three days at the Academy’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Studies in Hollywood, CA. The conference itself lasted two days, followed by one day of optional tours. Every session was fascinating and taught me something about archival techniques or practices, film history, and current projects from archivists, museums, libraries, and guilds around the world. Although every session is memorable, there were four that I wanted to highlight. These sessions either helped me identify paths to follow in TML’s archival journey, were just super cool, or both.

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Also super cool? This view down a hallway at the Pickford Center.

Of Pigs and Pixie Dust: Tailoring Descriptive Vocabularies for Disney Animation Artwork

In this session, the presenter explained the process by which the Walt Disney Animation Research Library created a list of terms to use for organizing, cataloging, and identifying items. There were two main categories: work type and keyword. I was fascinated to learn what other practices were out there, as TML doesn’t have any system as comprehensive or refined yet. We’re definitely not there yet, but I’m hoping we’ll be making some headway soon. This presentation gave me ideas on how to approach naming conventions, something I was admittedly stuck on.

 

Providing Access to Media Related Collections: Dictabelts, Posters, and Paperwork

We got to hear actual dictabelt recordings from Rod Serling in this session! I wrote this in my notes and I’ll repeat it here: SO COOL. The process to digitize these recordings is expensive and, if the items have not been maintained properly, difficult or impossible. We also learned about the digitization of movie posters. I saw what happens when items were not stored properly, were folded or bent, or held together with paperclips. I shudder to think of how many items we have in our archives that are combined with paperclips or identified with post-it notes. The first thing I did when I got back to work was start advocating for the expulsion of paperclips in favor of sheets of interleaving and clamshell boxes, both of which we have, neither of which we use to the fullest.

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This picture is small but mighty.

Archiving, Advocacy, and Collaborations: Preserving Guild Histories

Four different unions described their collections, archival methods, and collaborative efforts to continue preserving their history. It was very cool to see perspectives from different entities, how they differed and how they were the same.

Filmmakers Roundtable Discussion

This was another great opportunity to hear different perspectives from five people who work in different areas of filmmaking: production design, still photography, composing, and costume design. Unfortunately, one of the participants was unable to make it to the conference, but the remaining five did a great job at explaining their processes and systems! It was interesting to hear how each one maintains a personal work archive (and if they’re even allowed to!). We also had showings of library-related movies: I watched The Music Man, sang to every song, and laughed along with the rest of the audience. It was a singular movie-going experience that I want to replicate again and again.

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An impossibly blue sky above the Margaret Herrick Library.

Tour: Margaret Herrick Library and Paramount Pictures Studio

The last day I signed up for a tour of the Margaret Herrick Library, the host of the FLC, and Paramount Pictures. We were given the chance to wander around, look at everything they had out, and asking employees a bunch of archives-related questions. I saw where and how their items were stored, got to ask about their periodicals and archival boxes, and took way too many pictures. I used up all the space on my phone, but it was worth it. Then I had to delete photos to make space for the Paramount Pictures tour. I didn’t really need those pictures from my sister’s wedding, right?

 

After the library, we went to Paramount Pictures. We got a tour of the lots and their archives. I learned about the types of projects they work on, and got to see some of the items in different stages of cataloging and preservation. We went into one of the film vaults where they keep every version (I repeat, EVERY version) of a movie or show – theatrical cut, director’s cut, shortened-for-tv cuts, foreign language cuts… It’s staggering. After I found Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I was content to go on to the next room. We went through several rooms that housed memorabilia from films (props, costumes, jewelry) as well as photographs, musical scores (including the score for the horse head scene from The Godfather), ads, periodicals, etc., and we learned about what each member of the staff does, their major projects, and their favorite parts of the job.

I am so lucky to have had the chance to see these pieces and hear these stories – Attending the Film Librarians Conference was one of the highlights of my year (maybe of my life) and I am so eager to start putting some of my new knowledge to good use!