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“Mother Jones in Heaven,” Amanda Hurley Presentation to Highlight Annual Friends of the Modern School Gathering on September 15

August 31, 2018
Mother Jones in heaven performance

This year’s gathering features a musical theater performance of Mother Jones In Heaven. Photo credit:

The annual Meeting of the Friends of the Modern School will feature with a musical theater performance followed by a speaker and refreshments. The 46th annual gathering will be held from noon to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 15, 2018 in the Remigo U. Pane Room in the Alexander Library. There is a $20 entrance fee to cover the cost of the presentations and refreshments. All are welcome, but advance registration is encouraged.

This year’s gathering features Vivian Nesbitt in the musical theater performance of Mother Jones In Heaven. The show includes musical accompaniment by John Dillon in Si Kahn’s one-woman musical about the infamous labor organizer famed for her tireless efforts on behalf of the rights of the working class. Feared, revered, and lauded in song and story, Mother Jones was “the grandmother of all agitators.” At a time when issues that unions stand for, like safe working conditions, fair pay and equal rights are under attack, the play stands as a reminder that the fight is far from over.

The program will also include a talk by Amanda Kolson Hurley on her research into radical suburbs, which includes the Stelton Ferrer Colony. Amanda is a writer who focuses on architecture and urban issues. She is a senior editor at CityLab, the city-focused publication of The Atlantic. Her writing has appeared in Architectural Record, Foreign Policy, Wallpaper, The American Scholar, and the Washington Post, among other publications. She won the Sarah Booth Conroy Prize for architectural journalism in 2017. Her forthcoming book, Radical Suburbs, will be released in April 2019. Hurley lives with her family in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The Friends of the Modern School was founded in 1973 to preserve the memory of the Modern School, an anarchist community located in the North Stelton Area of Piscataway Township that provided students an alternative education based on the principles of Spanish educator and activist Francisco Ferrer. Its inaugural meeting was held at Rutgers and featured a keynote by historian Paul Avrich, who authored The Modern School Movement: Anarchism and Education in the United States (Princeton University Press, 1980).

Around the same time, the Modern School Collection in Special Collections and University Archives was established, and additional material is donated to the collection at each meeting of the Friends. Now the largest extant archival collection about Modern Schools, the Modern School Collection contains the official records of the Modern School of Stelton in addition to items donated by the school’s students and teachers, spanning the period from about 1880 to 1974.