Railroads had a pervasive presence and an immense social, economic, cultural, and technological influence in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century New Jersey. Then as now, most people in New Jersey were within earshot, at least, of the sound of a train. Railroads likewise engendered a distinctive nomenclature, some of which have entered popular parlance ("derailed," "off-track," "build up a head of steam," "train of thought," "train wreck," and "end of the line"), and also influenced visual imagery. It is significant that one of the first feature films, The Great Train Robbery (1903), was actually shot in New Jersey. Many railroad-related problems familiar to the nineteenth-century public persist today: fare increases, service disruptions, accidents, noise, and government regulation. But aside from their many problems, railroads were a key element in the development of the state and the nation. Go to the exhibit
When Chinese immigration began with the California Gold Rush it was in many cases welcomed. By the 1870s, however, the United States experienced the rise of anti-Chinese movements, mostly originating in California, but growing to receive national support. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred laborers of the Chinese race from entering the United States (merchants and students were exempted). During Chinese Exclusion, which lasted until 1943 - and was not fully abolished until 1965 - Chinese immigrants adopted numerous tactics to circumvent what they felt were racially discriminatory laws. The exhibit, which was on display at Rutgers' Asian American Cultural Center from May to September 2011, sheds light on the history of Chinese immigration to New Jersey under the Exclusion laws, and provides a space to reflect upon and contemplate what the best approaches to the creation of immigration laws and policies are today. Go to the exhibit
In his 1968 book Crossroads U.S.A., U.S. Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr. (D-NJ) argued for a vision of America that encompassed social justice, expanded educational and economic opportunity, environmentalism, and urban improvement as national goals. As pursued by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and their congressional allies, including Williams, this liberal vision has been referred to as the Great Society, a term taken from a 1964 speech by President Johnson.
This digital exhibition considers the goals of the Great Society as exemplified by the Senate career of Harrison Williams and, from another angle, it places Williams's legislative efforts in the context of the liberal vision held by many Americans in the 1960s and 1970s. Go to the exhibit
John Milton was born in 1608 to a century of revolution - in politics, in print media, in science and the arts. By the time he died in 1674, Britain had experienced the governments of three different Stuart monarchs, the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, and a few short-lived experiments in republican government. In the midst of this turbulent period, governmental controls on printing varied considerably, with the most profound release of censorship occurring in 1640-41, at the onset of the English Civil War, a war between Puritans and Anglicans, and between Parliamentarians and Royalists. But control of the press occurred during the wars and the Interregnum, and in part because of these political changes, the written word took an extraordinarily wide variety of forms, from short poems hand-written on a single manuscript leaf to printed treatises, from broadsides and incendiary pamphlets costing a few pennies to massive bound folios. Go to the exhibit
Although the battlefields were miles from its borders, the bitter struggles of the American Civil War (1861-1865) had a profound effect on New Jersey. New Jersey supplied over 88,000 men to the Union armies, and was represented in every major battle. 6,082 enlisted men and 218 officers lost their lives in the course of the war. In addition, many civilians--both men and women--traveled to the battlefields to volunteer in whatever way was needed. At home, the war caused political divisions, economic dislocations, and much hardship for those left behind. The metaphor of struggle, both ideological as well as amongst soldiers, describes the effort of the citizens of each state, including New Jersey, to understand the constitutional ideals of statehood and nationhood in terms of their own lives. As well as telling the stories of the soldiers who left the Garden State to fight for the Union, this exhibition explores the political and social context of the conflict in New Jersey. Go to the exhibit