Project History.

The Newark (N.J.) Archives Project (NAP) was first envisioned by the Newark History Society in 2005, and the first steps were taken in 2006, when a mini-grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission funded the creation of a prospectus, defining the scope, requirements, and potential of the project. The prospectus was written by Consulting Archivist Mimi Bowling, who continues as a consultant to the project. After several years devoted to fund-raising and the negotiation of a cooperative agreement with Rutgers University-Newark, a two-year pilot phase of the project was launched in November 2010. This first phase, in which collections were surveyed at five major archives in the City of Newark, was successfully completed. The project continues, co-sponsored by the Newark History Society and the John Cotton Dana Library and the Institute for Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience, both at Rutgers University-Newark, where the project is based. Project Director is Dr. Gail Malmgreen, who was staff archivist and subsequently Associate Head for Archival Collections at New York University's Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives from 1990 to 2010. She oversees one part-time professional archivist and a team of interns and student assistants.

Mission of the Project.

The Newark Archives Project will identify and describe Newark-related archival materials, not only in Newark and Essex County, but in New Jersey and New York, and ultimately throughout the United States. Only collections that are readily accessible to researchers will be surveyed. The project makes use of existing finding-aids (both electronic and paper), inventories and indexes, and examines original materials as time and resources permit. In almost all cases, collections located in Newark and in nearby repositories are surveyed in the original. The project's goal is to facilitate access to primary materials that are in many cases little-known or unknown to researchers, for a wide constituency of researchers that includes historians, government officials, genealogists, teachers, students from grade school to graduate school, urban planners and architects, exhibit curators, documentary filmmakers, and others. When appropriate the project also assists participating repositories to enhance existing descriptions and to set priorities for processing and preservation. We have regularly advised on current archival standards and best practices. The project has developed a fully searchable database of information on primary source materials (personal papers, organizational records, photographs, audio and film collections, posters, and printed ephemera) about Newark and its complex and significant history. The database, which generates collection-level records compatible with MARC and Encoded Archival Description was designed and customized for our use by the Technical Services staff of Rutgers University Libraries.

Support for the Project:

Our work is supported by grants from the New Jersey Historical Commission, the Prudential Insurance Company, PSE&G, Edison Properties Charitable Trust of Newark, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and a number of individual donors. Financial and in-kind support has also been provided by the Newark History Society and Rutgers University.

Accomplishments to Date.

In keeping with the plan outlined in the Pilot Project prospectus, our initial focus was on records within the City of Newark itself. Under the Pilot Project surveys were completed at the New Jersey Historical Society, the Newark Museum Library and Archives, the City of Newark Archives, the Newark Public Library, and the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark. The steadily growing database has already been enthusiastically received in demonstration sessions with faculty, students, and Project Advisors. The project's discoveries have been exciting. Hitherto un-cataloged collections at the New Jersey Historical Society included World War I letters, the papers of several African-American families, business records of Newark manufacturers and banks, and the records of two entertainment impresarios. At the City of Newark Archives, project staff found municipal records dating from 1790, records of slavery in Newark, and several collections of early photographs. The survey of the Newark Public Library has already yielded un-cataloged Civil War letters, arts collections, and material on the politics of Black Power and urban renewal.

Future of the Project.

The project is proceeding to survey small and little-known private archives in Newark and major archives in Essex County and state-wide (including the Barringer High School Archives, the Fire Department Historical Association Archive, the Jewish Historical Society of Metro-West, the Walsh Library at Seton Hall University, the New Jersey State Library at Trenton, Special Collections at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Drew University Libraries, and Princeton University Libraries. Surveys of the New York metropolitan region, Washington, D.C., and other locations will follow.

Illustration Credits/Captions:

Home Page: Souvenir Folder of Postcards, Cover. Donald Karp Postcard Collection, Newark Public Library.
Repository List Page: Reading Room, Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark. Photo by Gail Malmgreen.
Search the Collections Page: Family Photographs. William Hunter Maxwell Collection, New Jersey Historical Society.
Resources Page: Volumes of 19th-Century Municipal Records. City of Newark Archives and Records Management Center.
Project Overview Page: Tintypes, ca.1860s? Cyrus Durand Chapman Collection, Newark Public Library.
Contact Us Page: World War II Era Greeting Cards, ca. 1944-1945. World War II-MacBrayne Collection, Newark Public Library.