To mark the 50th anniversary of the New Jersey Historical Commission (NJHC) and emphasize the significant work of history organizations and programs across the state, we asked our FY2017 and FY2018 grant recipients to submit a short narrative and photos describing the impact of NJHC funding. Each week until the end of our fiscal year in June, we will post a spotlight featuring the responses of our grant recipients. Whether NJHC support contributed to general operating, a brand new exhibit, an engaging education program or the restoration of a historic object, it’s truly amazing to see what New Jersey history organizations, libraries, and individuals have to offer.
This week we spotlight the Montclair History Center!
This narrative was presented by Montclair History Center Executive Director, Jane Eliasof, at the NJHC’s 50th Anniversary Meeting on December 4, 2017:
“For 45 years from 1920 to 1965, the Israel Crane House (c1796) had Montclair’s segregated African American YWCA, a significant part of the lives of Montclair’s African American community. In 1965, when the house became a museum, the early preservationists chose to focus on the story of Israel Crane, a prominent Montclair businessman in the early 19th century. In 2014, we reinterpreted the house to tell the complete story of the house through the eyes of the people who lived, worked, and played there – the Crane family, their enslaved workers and domestic servants, the boarders who stayed at the YWCA, the women and girls who worked and played there, and the early preservationists who saved the house from demolition in 1965. Our programs have expanded accordingly. During public tours, we share the history of the YWCA women, talk about “hidden” discrimination in the north in the 20th century, and discuss the women’s strength and determination in the midst of it. We created a documentary on the YWCA, field public programs on Montclair’s African American history, host an annual the Price of Liberty film/discussion series on Civil rights and race; welcome high school students on a field trip that explores Black history using primary and secondary documents, and have an in-class curriculum on de facto segregation in the north available on our website. Our programs and tours provide a safe venue for open, honest discussion about race – so very important today. The New Jersey Historical Commission has supported this initiative since its inception. For that, we are grateful!”
For questions about NJHC Grantee Spotlights, please contact Greer Luce, Communications Officer, at 609-633-0776 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New Jersey Historical Commission (NJHC) is a state agency dedicated to the advancement of public knowledge and preservation of New Jersey history. Established by law in 1967, its work is founded on the fundamental belief that an understanding of our shared heritage is essential to sustaining a cohesive and robust democracy.