Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chief of Cultural Resources Dr. Jude Pfister has recently published Morris County's Acorn Hall with The History Press. This book, as Dr. Pfister explains, "is a biography of a home, in this case, Acorn Hall, and the five generations who lived there." The book takes into account the wider Morristown and Morris County story which is intimately connected with Acorn Hall through the Morris County Historical Society. The book also traces the role Morristown NHP played in the transition of Acorn Hall into the historical site we all can visit and enjoy today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thanks, Cub Scouts Pack 513-Den 3

On Monday evening, despite threatening skies, five cub scouts and their den leader and scoutmaster spent an hour and a half picking up litter in the woods, along the road and fire roads/trails at Fort Nonsense. The crew scoured the 35 acres for cans, bottles, and household trash. Several bags of litter were removed (see white bags in photo- another completely full bag of litter was left at the bottom of the hill).  

Great work boys!  Thanks for helping make Fort Nonsense a clean and safe place for visitors and wildlife alike. 

Jockey Hollow Reenactment May 16th and 17th

Discover what life was like for a Continental Soldier in Jockey Hollow during the Spring of 1780.

Please be our guest as the Continental Army encampment comes to life! Join us the weekend of May 16th and 17th as soldiers, their wives and their children return to Jockey Hollow for our Encampment Weekend. It's an event full of activities for the whole family.

Activities Include:

* Cooking Demonstrations

* Children's Drill and Games

* Soldier Camp Life

* Musket and Cannon Demonstrations

* Military Drill

* Best part is that all activities are free!

For more information and a schedule of events call 973-543-4030 or visit

10:00AM - 5:00PM
May 16 and 17, 2015

Jockey Hollow
580 Tempe Wick Road (approx.)
Morristown, New Jersey 07960

Monday, May 11, 2015

Wick House Will Close for the Summer

Wick House Chimney & Fireplace Rehabilitation to Begin: Historic Building Will Close for the Summer

Morristown, NJ – Morristown National Historical Park’s circa 1750 Wick House will close for the summer on May 20th, 2015, in order to conduct much-needed rehabilitation work on its chimney and fireplace. All of Jockey Hollow and the grounds around the Wick House, including the Wick Garden, will remain open to the public during the rehabilitation. Safety zones will be set up in the area immediate surrounding the house to ensure visitors’ safety.

The New England and Long Island inspired style house belonged to Henry Wick, the biggest landowner in Morristown, whose property included approximately 1400 acres. At least four brigades of the Continental Army, and possibly parts of two other brigades, camped on Wick’s land during the winter of 1779-1780. The troops cut down at least 600 acres of Wick’s trees to build their huts and to use as firewood. Wick also allowed Major General Arthur St. Clair to rent rooms in his home during the encampment.

The home remained a private residence until 1933, when Morristown National Historical Park was created and the house was donated to the new park. From 1934-1935, the National Park Service restored the house as a New Deal, Public Works Administration project.

Morristown National Historical Park preserves, protects, and commemorates the landscapes, structures, features, and museum collections of the Continental Army winter encampments, the headquarters of General George Washington, and related Revolutionary War sites at Morristown, New Jersey for the benefit and inspiration of the public. Morristown NHP also represents a continuum of our nation’s efforts to protect our common heritage: as the very first “national historical park”, the park was also established to commemorate, preserve, and memorialize American history and heritage

Monday, April 27, 2015

SCHS Quarterly: John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson

Curator Jude Pfister's talk at the John Marshall house in January 2015 has been published in the Quarterly of the Supreme Court Historical Society. The talk was adapted from Dr. Pfister's 2014 book America Writes Its History.

click to enlarge images

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Small Talk: Miniature Books & Tiny Libraries

Join archivist Sarah Minegar as she explores the art of miniature bookmaking, this Wednesday, April 8, at the Morris Museum. This talk will feature one of Morristown National Historical Parks’ tiniest treasures, an 1896 printing of A Letter from Galileo to Madame Christina di Lorena that measures just under one inch.

Find out more HERE.

Friday, April 3, 2015


NEW YORK In advance of next year's National Park Service Centennial, the Park Service and the National Park Foundation kicked off a nationwide campaign to encourage people to learn about and connect with the 407 national parks by launching a one-of-a-kind interactive installation that invites them to share their stories about their favorite parks and discover new parks and public lands they might want to visit.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will join National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, National Park Foundation Interim President Dan Wenk and Centennial Ambassador Bella Thorne to unveil a musical installation and the Find Your Park Virtual View Kiosks, which will connect people in New York City and several other cities to national parks across the country over the coming weeks. This marks the beginning of the Find Your Park campaign to educate people about and connect them to their national parks in preparation for next year's National Park Service Centennial celebration.

“When the National Park System was created in 1916, no one would have imagined that technology could someday enable schoolchildren in New York to explore parks thousands of miles away with the touch of a button,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “While we never want a virtual experience to replace a genuine connection, we are hopeful the display will provide a gateway that inspires people to visit their parks and fall in love with the beauty, history and culture that make up our national parks and public lands.”

“National parks offer a variety of experiences for visitors, and the Find Your Park Virtual View Tour invites more Americans to stop and see what new opportunities await when they engage with national parks and the programs offered by the National Park Service,” said Director Jarvis. “There are diverse parks and historic sites across the nation, and with each stop on the Find Your Park Virtual View Tour, we’re connecting them with more Americans than ever before. Tap the screen and within seconds you’ll be speaking with a ranger or park visitor at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming or at Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia and exploring what the park has to offer in real-time.”

“Technology is a great way for my generation to connect with national parks,” Bella Thorne said. “I can’t believe that this tour makes it possible for me to stand in the middle of New York City and talk to a park ranger at Golden Gate National Recreation Area! It is a great reminder that national parks, near and far, can touch our lives every day.”

The Find Your Park installation gives visitors the opportunity to experience all 407 national parks in an interactive one-minute musical rotation. It uses audio, visual, and geo-location elements to inspire a new generation to discover the breadth of the national parks and the work of the National Park Service. To complement the installation and further demonstrate that it is easier than ever to Find Your Park, Find Your Park Virtual View Kiosks will be stationed at the launch event to connect visitors directly to National Park Service staff, influencers and park-goers at national parks across the country.

The Find Your Park Virtual View Kiosks will be available to the public at the North Flatiron Plaza in New York City on April 2 and April 3 and then will embark on a nationwide tour, giving others across the U.S. the chance to experience and connect with our national parks in a special way.

Everyone is encouraged to find their parks and share their stories on, which will feature an interactive story gallery with inspirational stories from the general public, National Park Service employees, and celebrity Centennial Ambassadors Bill Nye (scientist), Bella Thorne (TV and film actress), Roselyn Sanchez (TV and film actress), Terrence J. (TV personality) and Mary Lambert (singer/songwriter and LGBT advocate). Those who share their stories on and opt into The Centennial Project contest will be entered for a chance to have their submission brought to life by one of the celebrity Centennial Ambassadors as part of the centennial celebration in 2016.

Also on is a searchable list of ideas for ways to find your park, including in-park and digital activities. Content will be socialized with #FindYourPark, and will act as a hub for the public to share their park stories and inspire each other.

Find Your Park Virtual View Tour Schedule

  • April 2-3:
  • North Flatiron Plaza (New York, NY)
  • April 9-10:
  • El Pueblo de Los √Āngeles Historical Monument (Los Angeles, CA)
  • April 16-17:
  • National Mall and Memorial Parks (Washington, DC)

The Find Your Park Virtual View Tour was produced by GREY NY – the agency that also developed and implemented the integrated Find Your Park campaign. Find Your Park includes a stream of programs, exhibits, events, promotions and public activities throughout 2015 and 2016 that will encourage everyone to find their park. As a holistic marketing campaign, Find Your Park includes broadcast, print, digital, outdoor and radio creative featuring arresting visuals of the national parks, as well as public relations, influencer and social media efforts.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Building the Huts: Myth, Memory, and Archaeology at Morristown

Since Morristown NHP was first created in 1933, the question of how best to present and interpret the story of the 1779–1780 winter encampment has been debated and discussed on and off for nearly that entire time. Most visitors however, have no idea of the discussions and debates which led to what they see today. Should this matter? Or, should visitors simply take at face value, without question, the information presented to them, be it visual, written, or spoken? What most visitors perceive is a seamless line from archaeology, to study, to rebuilding, to interpretation. However, things aren’t always as simple as they seem.

Curator, Jude Pfister discusses the struggles of historical interpretation in the recent issue of Garden State Legacy. His article, "Building the Huts: Myth, Memory, and Archaeology at Morristown," looks at how what we see today was influenced by what our NPS forebears thought we should see, and by what modern scientific archaeology can tell us we should see. As with most elements of historical interpretation, emphasis areas and nuanced appreciation or rejection of history, often depend upon one’s perspective.

Read more HERE.

Building the Huts, Jude M. Pfister, D.Litt. | Issue 27 March 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Successful Birthday Celebration

George and Martha Washington stand in the front hallway of the Ford Mansion,
where the Washington’s stayed over 235 years ago. NPS photo.

Morristown National Historical Park celebrated George Washington’s birthday by inviting the Continental Army and George and Martha Washington back to Morristown over President’s Day weekend.

On Saturday, February 21st, and Sunday, February 22nd, reenactors from the 2nd New Jersey Regiment portrayed Continental soldiers and officers at the Wick House, which became a military headquarters during the winter of 1779-1780. Visitors learned what it was like during the “Hard Winter” as well as the roles that officers, soldiers, and civilians played during the Jockey Hollow Encampment.

Also on Sunday, America’s founding couple, George and Martha Washington, returned to Morristown, 235 years after they spent the hard winter of 1779-1780 at the Theodosia Ford Mansion. This free program, which was given in cooperation with the Jacobus Vanderveer House & Museum in Bedminster, New Jersey, was funded by a grant from the Anne L. and George H. Clapp Charitable and Educational Trust.

Re-enactors portraying George and Martha Washington reminisced about that challenging time in American history and provided a first-hand account of the anxieties associated with the discomforts of that winter, as well as their much larger, shared task of keeping the spirits of the American ideal from falling victim to a winter which nearly stopped the Army in its tracks.

This entry by Vanessa Smiley, Chief of Interpretation.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

George and Martha Washington Return to Morristown

Joint Program with the Jacobus Vanderveer House & Museum
3 pm, Sunday, February 22, 2015

Morristown, NJ – America’s founding couple, George and Martha Washington, will return to Morristown, New Jersey, 235 years after they spent the hard winter of 1779-1780 at the Theodosia Ford Mansion.

Re-enactors portraying George and Martha Washington will reminisce about that challenging time in American history during a presentation Sunday, February 22nd from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. at Morristown National Historical Park’s Washington’s Headquarters Museum, 30 Washington Place, Morristown, New Jersey. The free program, hosted by Morristown National Historical Park in cooperation with the Jacobus Vanderveer House & Museum in Bedminster, is funded by a grant from the Anne L. and George H. Clapp Charitable and Educational Trust.

“It is widely acknowledged that George Washington slept just about everywhere during the Revolution. Most people don’t realize, however, that his wife, Martha, also spent many a night away from Mount Vernon with her husband at winter encampments,” observed Jude Pfister, D. Litt., Chief of Cultural Resources, Morristown National Historical Park. “That was, indeed, the case at the Morristown 1779-1780 encampment.”

George and Martha Washington will give attendees a first-hand account of the anxieties associated with the discomforts of that winter, as well as their much larger, shared task of keeping the spirits of the American ideal from falling victim to a winter which nearly stopped the Army in its tracks.

The program is free of charge, but registration is suggested.  Register online at:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Featured Artifact: Secret Compartments

Hollywood spins enticing tales of family secrets and hidden treasures, but what if your heirlooms really do have a story to tell? Several pieces in our eighteenth-century furniture collection are not what they seem.  In fact, these desks and cabinets cleverly disguise hidden compartments. Today we will take a look at three different examples, demonstrating various degrees of craftsmanship.

example 1

Pictured here is the upper half of a flat-top highboy. It appears to house six drawers, but only the bottom two drawers function. The remaining four are false fronts which decorate an upper storage "trunk."

The hinged molding opens to reveal a large storage area. The upper portion featured here would rest atop a lower cabinet of similar height, so accessing the upper compartment would likely require a stool of some sort.

example 2

As the previous example, pictured here is the upper half of a flat-top highboy. This Queen-Anne style piece is far more ornate, featuring brass pulls and locks on each drawer.  The hidden compartment is also more clever than the first.

A entire drawer is concealed behind the cornice molding. This would have made an ideal hiding place for important documents.

example 3

This final piece might be compared to an antique safe deposit box. Not only does this drop-front desk feature a locking front panel, it includes two layers of secure compartments.

Even decorative elements slide out to reveal hiding spots.

The most intriguing feature, however, is the "secret passageway" that opens to a set of interior drawers. Like an intricate puzzle, the entire center structure may be carefully lifted out to reveal additional storage compartments. The skilled craftsman that assembled this piece was careful to create the illusion that the center drawers were permanently fixed and were as deep as those that flanked either side--preventing the untrained eye from the suspicion that the center unit might be acting as a false front.

Unfortunately our investigation did not reveal any treasures, but perhaps we still have pieces in our collection that are keeping secrets!

This blog post by Sarah Minegar.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bullying, Etiquette, and Family Honor in the Late-Eighteenth Century

Occasionally the museum staff come across a manuscript or artifact that feels so personal and relevant that we can't help but pour over it. This was certainly the case with a document written by New Jerseyan Edward Fleming to one Gabriel Ludlow, dated 1783.

LWS 756, b61,  f 65

This three-page letter, written from one concerned father to another, details how Fleming's son was bullied and he (the senior Fleming) personally insulted by Ludlow's son. In light of all of the recent anti-bullying advocacy, this document felt particularly resonant.

Let's take a closer look.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thanks Flat Rangers from Ortis and Canales Elementary Schools

This summer some very important Flat Rangers from Ortis and Canales Elementary Schools participated in a special detail mission, ordered by Park Service director John Jarvis. These Flat Rangers worked all summer and fall preparing artifacts for rehousing, in preparation for a new gallery space called the Discover History Center.

At the beginning of the summer, this gallery space was filled to the brim with museum collections. Now that is has been cleaned, we can begin making construction plans for the learning center. Pictured here are the Ortis Flat Rangers after a long day.

All of those museum artifacts had to be carefully relocated to other storage areas in the museum. Here Canales Flat Rangers move an historic sofa to its new home. Read more about this sofa here.

This was no small project. It was a several-month-long endeavor, consisting of lots of planning and precision work. Thanks to Museum Specialist, Joni Rowe, for leading the team.

For their service and dedication, each of these Flat Rangers
has been deputized, Morristown Junior Park Ranger!

Congrats and thank you!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dr. Jude Pfister to Speak at John Marshall House

Thursday, January 22, 2015, 6:00-8:00 p.m. 

The John Marshall House invites you to hear the story of how the first biography of George Washington written by Chief Justice, John Marshall caused political strife in the new republic. “Marshall on Washington: A Political Discourse” An evening lecture by Jude Pfister, author of the new book America Writes Its History.

Book signings and reception in cellar.

Candlelight tour of The John Marshall House.

Ticketed event.

Click HERE to register.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Morristown National Historical Park's Winter Visitor Services

Morristown, NJ – Beginning on January 4, 2015, the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center building will be closed. The building will reopen on February 18, 2015. During that same period, the Washington’s Headquarters Museum and the Ford Mansion will only be open on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Please note that the grounds of the entire park will remain open seven days per week along with the restroom facilities at the Jockey Hollow area, per park hours listed at

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Artifact: A Comparative Study of State Constitutions by William Loughton Smith, 1796

MORR 11820

The decade of the 1790s was a period of true experimentation for the United States. The new Constitution, barely a decade old, was put to the test on a seemingly daily basis. With so much debate and disputation at the highest levels of government, what was the “average” American to do in order to learn about the political workings of the country; in essence, how to learn about and study what today we call civics?

In 1795, a South Carolina congressman (serving from 1789-1799), William Loughton Smith (1758-1812), devised a plan to produce a primer of sorts on the United States Constitution compared with the various state constitutions. Smith was well prepared for writing a tutorial for the “average” American. He had studied in England and Europe, and was prepared for law at the prestigious Middle Temple in London (part of the Inns of Court).

The result of Smith’s efforts, A Comparative View of the Constitutions of the Several States with Each other, and with that of the United States…, was published in 1796 in Philadelphia by John Thompson. The book, dedicated to the “People of the United States,” had numerous foldout charts which show the various activities of government and how they differed from state to state.

As a physical artifact itself, the book is quite typical of the period. While probably out of reach financially for the “average” American, it was nonetheless a beautiful piece of workmanship and would have made a handsome addition to any personal library. The book is bound in half-leather (meaning leather on the spine and at the four corners) with marbled exterior boards.

The copy featured, catalog number MORR 11820, is from the extensive Lloyd W. Smith archival and rare book collection at Morristown. It represents one of the first popular guides to American government, which became very prolific—and cheaper—during the nineteenth century; and indeed are still available today in numerous formats.

This blog post by Jude Pfister, Curator.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Featured Manuscript: The Examination of John Morrison (Part Three)

Hi. Welcome to the final installment of this three-part document analysis series. Today's focus is on document interpretation and the research that follows.

Review Step One: Observation <<<

Review Step Two: Interrogation <<<


Once a document has been thoroughly interrogated, you can move on to the interpretation and research stages of document analysis. These two stages go hand in hand as they build upon one another. As you critique your evidence, you will find more directions to take your research and the more you research the more evidence you will find.

Historical interpretation, however, is not always an easy or straight-forward task. As Victoria Bissell Brown and Timothy Shannon point out in "Principles for Interpretation," as you begin interpreting sources it is important to remember:

       Sources are incomplete. You will never have all the sources for any single moment, and no single source can tell the whole story.

       Sources have limits to what they can tell you. You must consider what you can and cannot logically conclude from a source.

       Sources have biases which must be accounted for. Do not dismiss the source’s bias or adopt it in your interpretation. Instead, identify the bias and use it as evidence of one viewpoint.

       Sources can conflict. Never hide or dismiss sources that complicate or contradict your interpretation. Either revise your interpretation or explain why conflicting evidence does not alter your interpretation.

LWS 4031

Scholarly interpretation of primary sources, based on evidence and inquiry, is the foundation of good historical research. As scholars evaluate evidence, make generalizations, and synthesize numerous recources, they begin forming conclusions. These conclusions may culminate in the creation of a secondary source, such as an article, commentary, or book. Many of the history textbooks you read in school examine numerous primary sources and offer broad interpretations of historical events.

Now that we have practiced observation and interrogation, review manuscript
LWS 4031 again and prepare your own interpretation.

Q. What recources, primary and secondary, will you utilize? How will you determine which sources are credible?

Sources Used:

Examination of John Morrison, July 28, 1800, [Morrison, John. Recorded by John Battoone, Joseph March, and Andrew Bell], LWS 4031-1, box 249, Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, New Jersey.
Brown, Victoria Bissell“ and Timothy J. Shannon. “Principles for Interpretation” Going to the Source: The Bedford Reader In American History. Vol 1: To 1877. Second Edition. Front Matter. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2008.

This blog series by Sarah Minegar, Archivist and Museum Educator.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Manuscript: The Examination of John Morrison (Part Two)

Welcome back to Part Two of the document analysis series. We will continue our research where we left off.

Review Step One: Observation <<<


Let's jump right in.

LWS 4031

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Featured Manuscript: The Examination of John Morrison (Part One)

LWS 4031
This month's featured manuscript is the examination of one John Morrison, dated July 28, 1800. Though succinct, this short document is packed with interesting information, making it the perfect candidate for a document anaylsis activity. This three-part blog series takes a step-by-step look at this court record and shares some guidelines for manuscript observation, interrogation, and interpretation.


Effective and meaningful primary source investigation requires patience. You can begin piecing the story together by searching for clues. 

To start, try to determine the document type and look for any special markings, as those provide you with information regarding the relevance of an individual manuscript.  Sometimes it is necessary to read large portions of the document in order to determine the type. This is not always an easy process as the script or printing can pose legibility issues. Manuscripts written in foreign languages often further complicate the transcription and interpretation process.

Let's try a few document analysis activities...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Morristown NHP to Begin Off-Season Hours

Morristown, NJ – Beginning on November 1, 2014, Morristown NHP will begin its off-season hours of operation for visitor services as follows:

Washington's Headquarters Museum
Monday and Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday through Sunday – 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day

Ford Mansion
Monday and Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday through Sunday – tour times at 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm
Tours are limited to 20 visitors per tour. You can purchase tickets at Washington's Headquarters Museum. All tickets are first come first served, no reservations.
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day

Jockey Hollow Visitor Center
Monday and Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday through Sunday – 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day

Wick House
Monday and Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday through Sunday – 9:30 am to 12 Noon and 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day

Please note that the grounds of the park will remain open 7 days per week along with the restroom facilities at the Jockey Hollow area (Visitor Center and New York Brigade Comfort Station) per park hours listed at

For more information about the park, please call 973-539-2016 ext. 210 or visit our website at

PHOTO Sarah Minegar/NPS