This year is New Jersey’s 350th anniversary. It was in 1664 that the Duke of York acquired this land located between the Delaware River and the Atlantic Ocean, and named it after the Isle of Jersey. On January 18th,the Newark Public Library will commemorate this important anniversary. Additionally, they will honor the memory of John T. Cunningham, a historian who dedicated his life to writing about the history of New Jersey and a true friend in so many ways to the Newark Public Library.
Cunningham died in 2012 at the age of 96. His first book about New Jersey was published in 1953, and many more followed. After his death, Cunningham’s family generously donated his papers to the Newark Public Library. These materials are now housed in the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center.
New Jersey’s early colonial history is similar to New York’s. Like New York, the area was first colonized by Dutch settlers around 1613. The colony was called New Netherland, and included parts of modern-day New York and New Jersey. In 1660, the town of Bergen became the first established town in the New Jersey portion of New Netherland. Today, it is a large city named Jersey City.
By 1664, the British had claimed the entire region and had driven the Dutch out. New Netherland was renamed New Jersey and New Amsterdam was renamed New York. Although King Charles originally gave the region to his brother, the Duke of York, eventually, he decided to divide the region and gave the land between the Hudson and Delaware River (New Jersey) to two of his friends, Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley of Stratton.
Carteret and Berkeley began attracting people to the area by offering land and guaranteeing religious freedom. In return for the land, the settlers were supposed to pay a yearly tax called a quitrent. The quitrents proved hard to collect, which prompted the sale of the land to the Quakers in 1673. Upon the sale, New Jersey was divided in West Jersey and East Jersey. However, by 1702, the two divisions were united as the royal colony of New Jersey.
The New Jersey Center for the Book will host their inaugural event for 2014, recognizing New Jersey’s 350th anniversary, with Essex County storytellers, the Mythmakers start the day with “350 Years of New Jersey History in Music and Story” at 11:00 a.m. This folkloric journey spanning New Jersey’s history from the original Lenape people, through the Dutch, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and into the 21st century will be presented through stories and music. Children will delight in tales such as “Lenape Rainbow Crow” and ”The Battle of Trenton” and in songs such as ”Yankee Doodle,” ”Free at Last,” and Thomas Edison’s first recording, ”My Name is Mr. Phonograph,” accompanied by the banjo, lyre, bodhran, and musical washboard.
Award winning children’s author, Trinka Hakes Noble, will be on hand to talk about her books. Her most recent, The Legend of the Jersey Devil, is a spellbinding tale about the origins of this mythic creature thought to live in the mysterious Pine Barrens. In Ms. Noble’s 2012 book, The
People of Twelve
Coalport sketching will be on display
George A. Bradshaw. Coalport, Trenton, 1885, c. 1930. Etching. Special Collections Division, Newark Public Library.
Interspersed throughout this exhibit are quotes from Cunningham’s books. Each one is used to illustrate a different era of the state’s history. Images and works of art are from the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center and the Special Collections of the Newark Public Library.
Tours of the exhibit will be offered.
Newark through the Ages, a talk by Elizabeth Del Tufo, longtime Newark resident, popular city tour guide, and President of Newark’s Preservation and Landmarks Committee. Following her talk, the New Jersey Center for the Book will showcase twelve award–winning public library programs they have selected for 2014 that will salute the state’s 350th anniversary.
All of the events will take place at Newark’s Main Library at 5 Washington Street and are free and open to the public. For more information call 973‐733‐7800.