Tuesday, April 21, 2015

News from the West Virginia Caucus: Archival Challenges in West Virginia

The West Virginia Caucus of MARAC has always been the smallest in membership of the caucuses in our region.  There are several reasons for this, in my opinion, and the purpose of this article is to explore some of the challenges that have kept our membership small and to throw out some possible solutions for discussion.  The geography of the Mountain State, the presence of only a handful of large academic institutions, small federal offices or agencies outside of the federal court system, few large municipalities and a small State Archives and History Department are all contributors to the low density of archival practitioners in the state.
In the past year (2014 – 2015), the Preservation Roundtable of the West Virginia Library Association has presented two archives-oriented sessions at the WVLA’s Spring ‘Fling’ Conference.  The first was a workshop in April of 2014 which focused on the identification and preservation of photographic images that might be found in (or be donated to) small academic or public libraries.  This workshop attracted a relatively small number of participants, but received great reviews.  The second session was this month and was entitled “What do you do when it is not a book?” and focused on very basic archival principals and methods to deal with small manuscript collections which, again, can be found in smaller libraries.  This session was very popular, having 25 attendees, many who stayed after the session to get more information.
The popularity of these sessions has reinforced my personal belief that there are librarians of all stripes in the Mountain State that deal with archival and manuscript collections on a daily basis.  Most of these librarians and their staffs have had little training on applying the best practices to deal with preservation, organizing and providing access to their ‘hidden treasures’.  My ‘plan of action’ to improve this situation is very simple – use the forum of the WVLA Preservation Roundtable to continue to provide pertinent archival workshops, informational sessions, and outreach to the librarians of West Virginia. 
So… I am throwing out the challenge to the MARAC members of the WV Caucus to send me ideas, suggestions for workshops, volunteer to present a session at a future WVLA conference, or tell me that I am ‘full of ramps’!  Based on our recent successes, my sense is that there is a definite need for this type of professional outreach to the librarians of West Virginia and that we, the professional archivists and records managers of MARAC, have the knowledge, expertise, and determination to make this succeed!

Nat DeBruin
West Virginia Caucus Representative




   

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Call for Submissions: Arline Custer Memorial Award


DEADLINE: July 31, 2015


Arline Custer Memorial Award
 
Presented by the MARAC Arline Custer Memorial Award Committee, this award honors the memory of Arline Custer (1909-1975), MARAC member and editor of the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections.
 
Eligibility
 
The Arline Custer Memorial Award recognizes the best books and articles written or compiled by individuals and institutions in the MARAC region – the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
 
Works under consideration include, but are not limited to, monographs, popular narratives, reference works and exhibition catalogs using archival sources.
 
Individuals or institutions may submit up to two works published between July 2014 and June 2015.
 
Evaluation
 
Works must be relevant to the general public as well as the archival community. They also should be original and well-researched using available sources. In addition, they should be clearly presented, well-written and organized. Visual materials, if used, should be appropriate to the text.
 
Preference will be given to works by archivists.
 
Award

Up to two awards may be given, with a maximum value of $200.00 for books and $100.00 for articles. The 2015 awards will be announced at the Fall 2015 Conference in Roanoke, Virginia.
 
How to submit an entry
 
Please send two copies of each submission with a letter of nomination to the Senior Co-chair of the Arline Custer Memorial Award Committee:
 
Tammy L. Hamilton
Hershey Community Archives
63 West Chocolate Avenue
Hershey, PA 17033
Email: thamilton@hersheyarchives.org
 
Entries must be received by July 31, 2015.
 
For additional information about this award and a list of previous award winners, see the Arline Custer Memorial Award website:

http://www.marac.info/arline-custer-memorial-award

Thursday, April 2, 2015

News from the New Jersey Caucus: Rails on the Sand


Bryan J. Dickerson, Township Archivist
Township of Brick (New Jersey Caucus)

For sixty-five years, the Pennsylvania Railroad serviced the transportation needs of residents and visitors to Ocean County, New Jersey’s northern barrier island.   While the physical remains of that rail line have long since disappeared, some traces of its existence remain in the documents of the Township of Brick, New Jersey.    

Ocean County’s northern barrier island stretches some twenty miles from Bay Head south to Island Beach State Park. This island includes the municipalities of Mantoloking, Lavallette, Seaside Park, Seaside Heights and sections of Brick Township, Toms River Township and Berkeley Township. Brick Township’s section comprises 1.9 miles of the barrier island.  

On 24 September 1880, the Philadelphia and Long Branch Railway Company was formed to construct a rail line to service the northern barrier island. Construction was begun from Whiting in January 1881. A 7,000-foot trestle bridge with a 181-foot swing span was constructed to carry the rail line over Barnegat Bay to the barrier island. By July 1881, the section to Seaside Park was completed and the following month, the remaining 11.5 mile stretch north to Bay Head was completed. In Bay Head, the line connected with the New York and Long Branch Railroad, thus providing passengers with rail access all the way north to New York. On 3 November 1883, the company merged with the Pemberton and Sea Shore Railroad Company to form the Philadelphia and Long Branch Railroad Company.  

The new Philadelphia and Long Branch Railroad Company was operated under the auspices of the massive Pennsylvania Railroad Company conglomerate. Rail stations were established at Bay Head, Mantoloking, Normandy Beach, Lavallette, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. Rail access spurred commercial and residential development on the northern barrier island and brought tourists to vacation at the various hotels and resorts which sprang up.  

On 25 February 1915, the Philadelphia and Long Branch Railroad Company was merged with two other lines to form the Pennsylvania and Atlantic Railroad Company. This railroad operated on the barrier island until December 1946 when a fire seriously damaged the bridge over the Barnegat Bay. Rail service was discontinued and the company received approval from the Interstate Commerce Commission to abandon the rail line. In the late 1940s / early 1950s, the tracks were torn up and the right of way was acquired by the State of New Jersey.  Today, the southbound lanes of NJ State Highway 35 run along the old railroad right of way.  

Even though the railroad tracks have long since disappeared into history, traces of the Philadelphia & Long Branch / Pennsylvania & Atlantic Railroad may be found in records preserved by the Township of Brick. These records include Tax records, Township Committee records and land use records.

The Pennsylvania Railroad was mentioned numerous times in the Tax Collector’s records. These records date back to 1907 and are preserved by both the Tax Collector’s Office and the Township Archives. The railroad was mentioned in two ways. First, taxes were assessed and collected for the railroad’s land holdings for its tracks. For example, in the 1923 Tax Collection Duplicate, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s land was assessed at $15,800.00, for which the company paid $791 in taxes to the Township of Brick.  

The Pennsylvania Railroad was also used to describe the location of properties in the Tax Assessment records. For example, the 1949 Tax Assessment records described one particular undeveloped property owned by C. J. Kupper as being west of the Pennsylvania Railroad by Ellis Tide Pond.

References to the Pennsylvania Railroad do not appear in the Tax records after 1952. 

Surprisingly, the Pennsylvania Railroad was barely mentioned in the minutes of Township Committee meetings. One such mention occurred on October 17th, 1945. On that date, the Township Committee adopted a Resolution authorizing Tax Sale Certificate No. 13 in the amount of $3,240.06 to Charles J. Kupper. The properties in question were described as being east and west of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The third important group of records which document the Pennsylvania Railroad in Brick Township is land use records. Filed Map B-66 for the Ocean Heights section showed the railroad’s right of way. This map was accepted by the Township Committee on September 10, 1925. Another map from 1925, Filed Map C-185, showed the railroad’s right of way adjacent to Ellis Tide Pond. Accepted by the Township Committee on August 3, 1925, Filed Map C-185 recorded the right of way as being sixty-six feet wide.

Filed Map D-173 for the South Mantoloking section also showed the Pennsylvania Railroad right of way as it existed in September 1945. In the accompanying images, the railroad right of way ran north-south across the top of the filed map and passed close by Swamp Cove. The 2013 Tax Map for this section shows how this area looks today. Note that the old Pennsylvania Railroad right of way is now occupied by the southbound lanes of State Highway 35.  

The approximate end of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s association with Brick Township can also be dated using the Township’s land use records. Approved by the Township Committee on September 2nd, 1953, Filed Map B-39 for the Mantoloking Dunes section depicted the railroad right of way but labeled it as “Former Railroad” suggesting that the rails had been removed.

Further evidence that the Pennsylvania Railroad was no longer operating on the northern barrier island was provided in the Township Committee Meeting Minutes for August 19, 1953. At that meeting, the Township Committee adopted a Resolution at the request of the Ocean County Freeholders urging the construction of twenty State Highway projects to alleviate “terrific traffic problems” in Ocean County. Project No. 7 on this list was “Construction of a highway on the 
former Pennsylvania Railroad from Seaside Heights to Bay Head.” This Resolution was sent to New Jersey Governor Alfred E. Driscoll, the State Highway Department and Ocean County’s state legislators for action.

For sixty-five years, the Philadelphia and Long Branch, and the Pennsylvania Railroads brought passengers and freight to and from the northern barrier island of Ocean County. Even though the physical remains of the railroad have long since disappeared, documentary evidence of this important railroad can still be found preserved in the records of the Township of Brick.  

Note on Sources: The basic history of the Philadelphia and Long Branch and Pennsylvania and Atlantic Railroads was provided by The Pennsylvania Railroad Company:  Corporate, Financial and Construction – History of Lines Owned, Operated and Controlled to December 31, 1945.  Volume IV – Affiliate Lines, Miscellaneous Company and General Index. (NY: Coverdale & Colpitts – Consulting Engineers, 1947) George H. Burgess and Miles C. Kennedy Centennial History of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company 1846 to 1946.  (Philadelphia PA:  Pennsylvania Railroad Company, 1949), and Howard W. Schotter, The Growth and Development of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company:  A Review of the Charter and Annual Reports of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company 1846 to 1927 Inclusive. (Philadelphia PA: Press of Allen, Lane and Scott, 1927).

News from the New Jersey Caucus: Monmouth County Archives



Gary D. Saretzky, Archivist

The Monmouth County Archives has recently added a tenth online searchable database to its webpage, Naturalizations, 1907-1991. More than 29,000 naturalizations performed in Monmouth County are included: http://co.monmouth.nj.us/NaturalizationNewer.aspx

Also recently posted is the 89 page illustrated catalog for the current exhibit, "The Civil War: New Jersey in Focus," at http://co.monmouth.nj.us/documents/9/Civil%20War%20Catalog.pdf  The exhibit will continue to be on view until Summer 2015.

Two videos, each nearly an hour long, from the last Archives and History Day, October 11, 2014, are now available at http://co.monmouth.nj.us/NaturalizationNewer.aspx  One is the plenary session, including Niquole Primiani, New Jersey Historical Commission, on the NJ350 website; Jane Clayton Award presentation by County Clerk M. Claire French to Jack and Angel Jeandron; Freeholder Lilian Burry; movie on the history of the Monmouth County Library featuring Library Board Chair Renee Swartz; Roger McDonough Award presentation by Ron Becker to Janet Reimer; and Barbara Carver Smith Award presentation by Monmouth Genealogy Society President Linda Wilson to Richard Veit (and Cynthia Kiefer in absentia). The other video is of the featured speaker, Joe Becton, who presented a spirited program on Civil War Music accompanied by Antoine  Watts.

This year's Archives & History Day at the Monmouth County Library will be on October 3 with keynote speaker Professor Melissa Ziobro of Monmouth University. She is the former archivist and historian of Fort Monmouth, The theme for the annual exhibit will be the 1910-1920 era in New Jersey, a decade that included memorable and influential events such as World War I (which led to the establishment of what became Fort Monmouth), the sinkings of the Titanic and Lusitania, woman's suffrage movement, developments in air and auto transportation, huge explosions of munitions depots, and many others that involved New Jersey residents. The exhibit will open on October 1. For more information: http://co.monmouth.nj.us/page.aspx?ID=126