NJSAA Award Winners, Meetings, Free Lecture, and More News...

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The New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance (NJSAA) is pleased to make the following announcements:

Meeting and Awards Presentation 10/21:

Join the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance remotely on Thursday, October 21st. Our business meeting will begin at 3 pm, followed by presentations at 4:15 pm from our recent award winners. Register in advance to receive the zoom link: https://tinyurl.com/2e64u8sa. Award winners presenting on their work (live and via pre-recorded remarks) are as follows:

NJSAA Teaching Awards:

Elementary – Michael Ryan, Cliffside Park School #3 & #4

College - Jimmy Sweet/Rutgers University (American Studies)

Archives - Christie Lutz and Caryn Radick/ Rutgers University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives

NJSAA McDonough Librarianship Award:

Dr. Fernanda Perrone, Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University

NJSAA Maxine Lurie Distinguished Service Award:

Richard Waldron

See more about these award winners here.

Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan Talk, "Vagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic," 11/9

Join the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance remotely for a special evening lecture on Tuesday, November 9th at 7pm. We welcome Rutgers University professor Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan who will discuss her book, "Vagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic" (New York University Press, 2019).

Please register for the meeting in advance: https://go.rutgers.edu/Vagrants

In early America, poor migrants – consisting of everyone from work-seekers, unhoused people, and runaway enslaved people – populated the roads, streets, and public markets. Poor migrants, the laws designed to curtail their movements, and the people charged with managing them, were central to shaping the role of the state, contemporary conceptions of community, class and labor status, the spread of disease, and punishment. This lecture will explore the subsistence activities of people experiencing poverty and homelessness in this period and the ways in which local and state authorities criminalized their efforts to survive.

Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan is Assistant Teaching Professor and Coordinator of Public History in the History Department at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. She is co-chairing the New Jersey Historical Commission’s Advisory Council on the state’s semi-quincentennial commemoration, and recently received the Commission’s Award of Recognition for Outstanding Service to Public Knowledge and Preservation of the History of New Jersey.

Mappen Student Research Grant Award Winners:

The Mappen Student Research Grant supports work on any aspect of New Jersey studies. This $300 grant is open to both high school and college students (undergraduate and graduate). Selection criteria included originality of the work, the project’s relevance to the New Jersey Studies community and/or to the community in New Jersey on which the project focuses, and the project’s research design: feasibility, objectives, outline of major topics, plan of work, public access, and archiving plans.

Three $300 awards were made this October:

James Bronico (undergraduate student, NJIT)

Based on letters, deeds, and an old hand drawn map, it is believed that the US Army had a fort/encampment in the area of Green Brook Park, and James plans to help the Plainfield Historical Society try to confirm its existence and locate any remains. 

Ryan Radice (graduate student, Monmouth University)

Radice is researching the same site within Green Brook Park and parts of the surrounding neighborhood in present-day Plainfield, New Jersey, which was a site of great military importance that spanned two conflicts: the American Revolution and the Quasi-War. 

Paulie Wenger (graduate student, Rowan University)

Paulie is working on a thesis titled “Black Summer: Piracy, Commodore Perry, and Sensationalism in the Summer of 1860.” It focuses on the trials of a man named Jackalow from 1860-1863 that took place in Trenton and Washington, D.C.

The grant is named in honor of Marc Mappen, former executive director of the New Jersey Historical Commission and a legend in the field of New Jersey studies. Mr. Mappen died on Sunday, January 6, 2019 “having spent most of his life, and a great deal of his energy, working on and promoting the history of the state. He was the author of numerous articles and books, a frequent speaker who delighted in telling humorous offbeat stories about people and places, a public scholar and servant, and good friend to a great many people.” You can read more about Marc here

Mappen Student Research Grant applications are accepted in October and March. See more about the application process here.

Questions can be addressed to Melissa Ziobro, Chair, NJSAA Mappen Student Research Grant Committee, mziobro@monmouth.edu

Paul A. Stellhorn Undergraduate Paper Award Winners:

This award was established in 2004 to honor Paul A. Stellhorn (1947-2001), who was a distinguished historian and public servant who worked for the New Jersey Historical Commission, the New Jersey Committee (now Council) for the Humanities, and the Newark Public Library. An especially active and effective member of the New Jersey history community, he did much to expand the audience for New Jersey history and was an effective advocate for public history and a vigorous supporter of scholarship and publication about the state’s history. As a program officer and a grants administrator he helped many of our present historians and humanities scholars to achieve their goals, whether as scholars, history agency personnel, or educators. He earned a Ph.D. in American History from Rutgers University with a dissertation about Newark during the era of the Great Depression. He was the author or editor of many works about New Jersey’s past, especially about its urban history.

The 2021 award winner was Emily Borowski of Rutgers University, for her paper, "Eugenics in New Jersey: How the New Jersey State Village for Epileptics Perpetuated Eugenics throughout the State."

See more about the award here


Organized in 1992, the NJSAA promotes the teaching of New Jersey studies, collaboration on projects, and sharing of materials. Membership to the NJSAA is $5.00 for one year, $15.00 for three years. See more, to include information on donating to initiatives such as the ones discussed above, here.