sept30jc Library Photo History Fair

Party like its 1664! – History Buffs Dust off Archives and Host History Fair to celebrate NJ’s 350th Birthday


By Sally Deering

Chances are if you moved to Hoboken, Jersey City or any one of Hudson’s 13 cities and towns, you may not know much about where you live – the highs, the lows, the skeletons in the closet.

On Sat, Oct. 18th, from 10 am to 4 pm, New Jersey City University (NJCU) and the Hudson County History Advocates team up for an all-day birthday bash to celebrate New Jersey’s 350th (1664-2014) with displays from over 50 Hudson County organizations and cultural groups, documentary films by local filmmakers, talks by authors who penned books about New Jersey’s Who’s Who and ‘Who Was’, vintage photos and postcards, antique appraisals (just like “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS) and a treasure hunt and goody bags for kids.

In addition, the history fair will have an “Ask Granny” family history workshop led by the Hudson County Genealogical and Historical Society.

All this packed into one day to give locals, whether newbies or long-time residents, the opportunity to learn more about this wild and crazy place called Hudson County.

Carmela Karnoutsos, Professor Emeritus at New Jersey City University is one of the event planners, along with Robert Foster, Executive Director of the Hoboken Historical Museum.

“The History Fair is part of a state-wide initiative to celebrate New Jersey’s heritage and all it brings to people today,” Karnoutsos says. “It’s an opportunity to educate the public about the state, the individual communities, and the people who work in history at the local level. Here in Hudson, we have a number of people who help preserve Hudson County’s history on an ongoing basis.”


Several authors will give talks about their books and New Jersey history.

American Dictators by Steven Hart  Steve Hart’s talk may be of special interest to fans of the HBO hit series ‘BOARDWALK EMPIRE’. Hart is the author of American Dictators: Frank Hague, Nucky Johnson, and the Perfection of the Urban Political Machine, and will give a talk about the former Jersey City mayor and other colorful Jerseyians. Hart also wrote The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder and the Construction of America’s First Superhighway (The New Press, 2007).

Joseph G. Bilby, author of 350 Years of New Jersey History, From Stuyvesant to Sandy (with James M. Madden and Harry Ziegler) will share insights about his research of New Jersey. Bilby is Assistant Curator of the New Jersey National Guard and Militia Museum in Sea Girt, and columnist for The Civil War News.

 Holly Metz of Hoboken will speak about her book Killing the Poormaster: A Saga of Poverty, Corruption, and Murder in the Great Depression (Lawrence Hill Books). Metz has written extensively on legal, cultural, and social issues for the American Bar Association and for publications including The Progressive, Labor History, Metropolis, and The New York Times.

Architectural historian John Gomez, author of Legendary Locals of Jersey City (Arcadia Publishing 2014) will give a talk. Gomez holds a Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation from Columbia University, and is the founder of the non-profit Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy. In 2012, he established the Historic Preservation Network, an online portal for architectural and preservation history, theory, discovery, discussion and discourse.

Neal Brunson, author of “AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN JERSEY CITY” will give a talk about the African American urban experience. Brunson is the director of the Afro-American Museum in Jersey City.


underground rr map Photo by Samcpherson.blogspot.comFour documentary films about Hudson-living promise to be a highlight. The documentary “Hidden Footsteps,” narrated by former mayor Glenn D. Cunningham and produced by Arnold McKinnon in 1991 will be shown. The film is the result of Cunningham’s statewide research to trace the beginnings of African slavery in Jersey City, the status of slaves under New Jersey’s brand of abolition, the use of the Jersey City waterfront for the Underground Railroad, and the city’s role in the Civil War.

NJCU professor Jane Steuerwald will introduce two video documentaries by students of the NJCU Media Arts Department: “Jersey City: 24 Hours in Public Places” an exploration of the diverse cultural, historic, gritty, and eccentric places in Jersey City, and “Immigrant Stories in Film and Video” which tells nine immigrants’ personal stories.

The screenings will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

The Embankment Preservation Coalition will present “Jersey City: Soft Focus,” a film produced and directed by Vance Stevens, about America’s Bicentennial. The film tells the story of the Hudson area from glaciers to European settlement, and through the 1970s, using photos, film clips and animation. It covers the area’s industry, immigrant populations and colorful leaders.


A huge treat at the History Fair will be highlights from the vintage postcard collection of Cynthia Harris, a researcher and archivist at the New Jersey Room of the JC Free Public Library. Harris will also give a talk and share insights into Hudson’s past illustrated by postcards from the early 20th century.


It takes a village to put together an event this big, and the groups participating in the History Fair include the Afro American Historic and Genealogical Society, Bayonne Historical Society, Inc., County of Hudson Board of Chosen Freeholders, Free Public Library/Cultural Center of Bayonne, Friends of Liberty State Park, Friends of Loew’s Theatre, George Washington Society, Historic Preservation Network, Hoboken Historical Museum, Hudson County Genealogical & Historical Society, Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, Jersey City Parks Coalition, Joyce-Herbert VFW Post 226 Veterans Museum, Photographer Leon Yost, Lincoln Association of Jersey City, NJCU Dept. of History, NJCU: Past and Present Project, NJCU Office of Admissions, Old Bergen Reformed Church, Project Greenville, Provident Savings Bank Foundation, Richard La Rovere Historic Art Prints, South Greenville Neighborhood Assn., Stevens Institute of Technology, Thomas A. Edison Media Arts Consortium, and the West Side Community Alliance.

The History Fair is just one of many events happening state-wide all year long to celebrate New Jersey’s 350th birthday. To find other Jersey celebrations, go to

 If you go:

Sat, Oct. 18, 10 am-4pm

Hudson County History Fair

New Jersey City University (NJCU)

Gilligan Student Union Building

2039 Kennedy Boulevard

Free Admission and Free Parking

For more info:



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