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Department of State

New Jersey Historical Commission

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Lt. Governor and Secretary of State
Newark Community Union Project march. Newark, NJ, 1965. Doug Eldridge Collection.

Media Projects

Around and About New Jersey | New Jersey Legacy | Radio Programs | Folklife Documentaries | Videos

Around and About New Jersey

A co-production of NJN Public Television and the New Jersey Historical Commission produced in the early 1990s. All videos are available online. The NJ Historical Commission continually works to update its website with new educational materials in New Jersey history.
(Intended for use in grades K through 4).


Howell Living History Farm

At the Howell Living History Farm in Mercer County, farming is done as it was at the turn of the twentieth century. The staff shows how sheep were sheared and demonstrates horsedrawn farm equipment.


Silk City

At the Paterson Museum, Jack De Stefano demonstrates the operation of a power loom and describes the working conditions of women and children in the Paterson mills. At Castle and the Botto House, students see how the owners and the workers lived differently.


The Lenape Indian Village at Waterloo

John Kraft conducts a tour of a reconstructed Lenape Indian village and demonstrates how the Lenape built houses, cultivated fields, raised children, cooked, hunted, and fished. He explains how the Lenape way of life changed when Europeans arrived.


The Still Family Reunion

At this African American reunion, stories are told about Charity Still and her sons, James, William and Peter. Charity ran away from slavery in Maryland to join her husband in New Jersey. James was a self-trained doctor, William worked on the Underground Railroad, and Peter purchased his own and his family's freedom.


Thomas A. Edison National Historic Site

Park Ranger Ben Bolger conducts a tour of Thomas Edison's West Orange research laboratories. Students learn how three of Edison's inventions; the electric light, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera changed the way we live, work, and play.


The Statehouse Tour

In the home of our state government, Karen Polling discusses the meaning of democracy and representative government. By visiting the General Assembly, the Senate Chambers, and the Governor's Outer Office, students learn how a bill becomes a law.


Morristown National Historic Park

George Washington brought his army to Morristown twice during the Revolutionary War: first, in January 1777, after he crossed the Delaware and defeated the British at the battles of Trenton and Princeton, and again in December 1779. The winter of 1779-80 was one of the worst of the century, but Washington managed to quiet the complaints of the soldiers and hold the army together.


Roosevelt, N.J.

Roosevelt, N.J. was founded by the federal government during the Great Depression as a way to resettle in the countryside Jewish immigrant garment workers living in the slums of New York City. The program focuses on the mural in the Roosevelt Elementary School painted by the famous artist Ben Shahn, which links the history of the town to the history of Jewish immigration to America. Teacher Ilene Levine guides a fourth-grade class through oral history interviews with Bernarda Bryson Shahn, Ben Shahn's widow, and Augusta Chasan, one of the first settlers in the town. Art teacher Rita Williams has the students paint their own versions of the mural.

New Jersey Legacy

New Jersey Legacy Teachers Guide
New Jersey Legacy Guide

The goals of New Jersey Legacy are to reach a broad audience with high-quality television programs about New Jersey history. To place New Jersey history in the context of American and world history; to show how a knowledge of the past helps us understand the present; To incorporate women’s history, African–American history, ethnic history, and labor history into the study of New Jersey history. All videos are available online. The NJ Historical Commission continually works to update its website with new educational materials in New Jersey history.

A co-production of the NJN Public Television and the NJ Historical Commission (intended for use in middle and high schools)


Fortunes in Furs

For centuries, the Lenape Indians lived on the land that would become New Jersey. However, their way of life began to change in 1609 when Henry Hudson explored the Atlantic shoreline. Anticipating potential fortunes from the fur trade, the Dutch established the colony of New Netherland. They soon came into conflict with the Lenape, and then with the English and the Swedes, who also sought control of the region.


The Two New Jerseys

After the English conquest of New Netherland, King Charles II of Britain granted the former Dutch territories to his brother James, Duke of York, who divided the colony into New York and New Jersey. James gave New Jersey to his friends, John, Lord Berkeley, and Sir George Carteret, who sold their shares to other investors, known as proprietors. In 1676, the colony was divided into East and West Jersey. From the outset, the two New Jerseys were beset with problems. In 1702, the proprietors asked the crown to take over the government, reuniting New Jersey.


Royal Rule and Religious Revival

The reunion of East and West Jersey did not solve New Jersey's problem. New Jersey still shared a governor with New York, and the governor aroused the ire of many New Jerseyans. Additionally, land ownership continued to be disputed, resulting in widespread rioting. At the same time, a religious revival, known as the Great Awakening, spread throughout the British colonies, resulting in the founding of Rutgers and Princeton universities. In challenging established church authorities, the revival helped pave the road to the American Revolution.


The Republican Rebellion

New Jersey was the Crossroads of the American Revolution, being strategically located between the British military headquarters in New York City and the Continental Congress sitting in Philadelphia. New Jersey's role in the American Revolution begins with the protests against the Stamp Act and other British imperial measures, includes the passage of New Jersey's first state constitution of 1775, and Washington's stunning victories over the British in the battles of Trenton and Princeton, and concludes with the effects of the Revolution on women and blacks.


Monopolies and Mechanics

Alexander Hamilton's vision of a manufacturing center at the Falls of the Passaic River lays the groundwork for the founding of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures in Paterson in 1791. To encourage internal improvements New Jersey chartered corporations and the granted of transportation monopolies to steamboat and railroad companies. The so-called Market Revolution resulted in a fissure in the unified world of masters, journeymen and apprentices of the colonial period. It changed home-life as well as work-life, resulting in a new definition of women's roles.


Vistas of Democracy

The American Revolution unleashed a flurry of new ideas about freedom and equality. But not everyone in the early nineteenth century enjoyed these rights. While women and free blacks who owned property could vote under New Jersey's 1776 constitution, that right was taken away from them in 1807. African Americans and Quakers helped slaves from the South escape through New Jersey on the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War, the women's movement split over the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U. S. Constitution, which guaranteed the right to vote to African American men, but not to women.


A State of Many Nations

New Jersey had been ethnically and religiously diverse since colonial times. However, the colonial religious denominations were almost all Protestant. In the early nineteenth century immigration shifted to Germany and Ireland, and many of these newcomers were Catholics. Middle-class reformers attempted to "Americanize" the German and Irish immigrants by promoting temperance and using the newly created public schools to make the immigrants into good Americans (meaning, Protestants). In response, the Germans and Irish created their own parochial schools and requested the state to provide funding.


Technology in the Garden

In 1876, Thomas Alva Edison opened his so-called “invention factory” on a hill in Menlo Park overlooking the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks. Between 1876 and 1882 Edison filed more than 300 patents, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the electric light. There were, however, social implications for technological development. When Paterson broad-silk manufacturer Henry Doherty increased the work assignments from two to four looms, his weavers went on strike with the support of the radical Industrial Workers of the World.


The Progressive Banner

In the gubernatorial election of 1910 the Democratic Party nominated the president of Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson. As governor, Wilson proposed reforms, including direct primary elections, banning of ballot box stuffing, an authority to regulate public utilities, and a workmen's compensation act. The period also witnessed a Great Migration of African Americans from the South to industrial northern cities like Newark and a successful campaign to gain the right to vote for women led by Alice Paul from Mt. Laurel.


The Suburban State

The second half of the twentieth century witnessed a major shift in political power in New Jersey from a coalition of rural Republicans and urban Democrats to the suburbs. The new state constitution of 1947 established a powerful Supreme Court, which became a flashpoint on the issues of school funding and discriminatory zoning.


The series was co-produced by the New Jersey Historical Commission and NJN Public Television.

Radio Programs

  • To order any of the programs listed below, contact the New Jersey Historical Commission, PO Box 305 Trenton, NJ 08625-0305 or call 609-292-6062.
    Please note: Passaic on Strike! is Only Available Online. To listen to any of the programs listed below free online, click here: Talking History
  • The Life and Times of Frank Hague - Radio Program
    The Life and Times of Frank Hague
    Narrated by Malachy McCourt, written & produced by David Steven Cohen & Marty Goldensohn.

    He was the mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, for thirty years, 1917 to 1947. A working-class hero, a Progressive reformer, a dictator-American style, in high collar and spats, he was the ultimate Irish political boss. He could put a turkey on your Thanksgiving table, your brother-in-law on the police force, and your vote in FDR’s column. He could also put his hand in your pocket.

    It is a tale of an America that no longer exits, a time of rough and tumble politics, the days before media packaged candidates, when a street kid could rise from the slums to walk the halls of power.

    2001. A co-production of the New Jersey Historical Commission and NJN Public Radio 60-minute.CD, $6.00 ppd.
  • Coming From India - Radio Program
    Coming From India
    Narrated by Chitra Ragavan, written & produced by David Steven Cohen & Marty Goldensohn.

    This documentary takes us into the East Indian community in New Jersey, which ranks third in Asian-Indian population after California and New York. We visit a Punjabi history and language class at a Sikh Sunday school; an ethnic jewelry store in an Indian-American business district; a Muslim-Indian quawalli concert in the finished basement of a spacious, suburban home; and a religious service in a warehouse converted into an ornately decorated Hindu temple.

    The program closes in a fast-food restaurant, where four high school students discuss the generation gap between Indian-American teenagers and their parents.

    A coproduction of the New Jersey Historical Commission and NJN Radio. 1998. C-60 audiocassette. Libraries, $2.50 ppd; all other, $4.00 ppd.
  • Seabrook at War - Radio Program
    Seabrook at War
    Written & produced by David Steven Cohen & Marty Goldensohn

    Narrated by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., this program recounts the World War II history of the gigantic Cumberland County agricultural enterprise that employed thousands of German prisoners of war, people of Japanese descent from American detention camps, and war refugees recruited from European displaced-persons camps.

    The story is told though interviews with many of those workers as well as members of the Seabrook family, that owned the company. It was a coproduction of the New Jersey Historical Commission and public radio station WWFM.

    A co-production of the New Jersey Historical Commission and NJN Radio.1995. C-60 audiocassette. Libraries, $2.50 ppd.; all others, $4.00 ppd.
  • America, The Dream of My Life - Radio Program
    America, The Dream of My Life
    Written by Marty Goldensohn, directed by Charles Potter, & narrated by Eli Wallach.

    Part 1- “The Unbroken Chain”
    Part 2 - “Lost Places”
    Part 3 - “America is a Man's World Too”

    Three half-hour radio documentaries about the immigrant experience, coproduced by WBGO and the New Jersey Historical Commission during the hundredth-anniversary year of the opening of Ellis Island.

    The programs feature professional actors, who bring to life some of the stories that were collected from immigrants during the 1930s by fieldworkers of the Federal Writers' Project.

    1992. Set of 2 C-60 audio cassettes: $2.50 for libraries and media centers; $6.50 for individuals.
  • Passaic on Strike! - Radio Program
    Passaic on Strike!
    Featuring Philip Bosco and Alison Fraser

    In 1926, 16 thousand woolworkers in Passaic, New Jersey, walked out after their meager wages were cut 10%. It was a long strike - nearly a year - and it caught the attention of intellectuals and activists nationwide. Over the harsh winter of 1926, Passaic became a battleground, not just between workers and bosses, but between the traditional trade unions and a renegade organizer in the American Communist Party, who envisioned a militant, industrial union for all workers.

    The program has ten parts -- Part I: The Battleground; Part II: Vera and Albert; Part III: Strike! Strike!; Part IV: The Strike Bulletin; Part V: Workers' Relief; Part VI: The Silent Movie; Part VII: Strike Strategy; Part VIII: The Riot Act; Part IX: Enter the AFL; Part X: The Final Chapter. 2004. A co-production of the New Jersey Historical Commission and NJN Public Radio.

    1992. Set of 2 C-60 audio cassettes: $2.50 for libraries and media centers; $6.50 for individuals.

Folklife Documentaries


  • Paul Robeson Video
    Paul Robeson Chautauqua

    The Commission has videotaped the chautauqua (a dramatic impersonation of a historical figure) it inaugurated in 1997 as a project to commemorate the centennial of Paul Robeson's birth (April 9, 1898). The videotape is available as a curriculum resource in three different versions for the elementary, middle, and high schools. The videos feature the professional actor Marvin Jefferson as Paul Robeson.

    • Paul Robeson: Singer, is designed for fourth-grade students and focuses on Robeson's career as a major interpreter of the folk songs of many cultures. (20 minutes)
    • Paul Robeson: Scholar-Athlete, prepared for middle school students, concentrates on Robeson's days at Rutgers University where his academic record and athletic achievements remain legendary. (24 minutes)
    • Paul Robeson: Political Activist, is for high school students and highlights Robeson's role as the politically engaged artist. The programs were taped before audiences of Newark public school students, some of whom ask the Robeson chautauquan (Marvin Jefferson) questions. (27 minutes)

    Given the broad and rich nature of Robeson's life, the three videos expose students to such fields as history, geography, music, languages, philosophy, and political science. The videos' content will help to achieve the state Department of Education's core curriculum standards for United States and New Jersey history. A teacher's guide accompanies each video.

    The videos were made possible by generous grants from the Hite Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

    This video co-produced by NJN Public Television and the New Jersey Historical Commission, is designed for use by New Jersey students in the elementary, middle, and high schools.
    Cost: $10.00 ppd. per video (including teacher's guide). Checks should be payable to "Treasurer, State of New Jersey." Order from Publications, NJ Historical Commission, PO Box 305, Trenton 08625-0305; (609) 292-6062, fax 633-8168.
  • Fannie Lou Hammer Video
    Fannie Lou Hamer in Atlantic City

    During the summer of 1964 Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) appeared at the Democratic National Convention, which was held in Atlantic City.

    Before the convention’s Credentials Committee, Mrs. Hamer, representing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, offered testimony that sought to prevent the seating of the all-white segregationist Mississippi delegation.

    This video co-produced by NJN Public Television and the New Jersey Historical Commission, is designed for use by New Jersey students in the elementary, middle, and high schools.



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