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Continuing Exhibit: The People of New Jersey

"Circle of Joyous Women, Diwali (Festival of Lights)," photo by Tony Velez at Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar-Purushottam Swaminarayan Temple, Edison, NJ. October 2003.

The rich history of immigration in New Jersey is celebrated in a traveling exhibition, currently on display in the Special Collections and University Archives' gallery in Alexander Library, on the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus. The People of New Jersey: Their Enduring Journey, created by the Newark Public Library and curated by Charles F. Cummings, features photographs and documents reflecting the past and present of the over one hundred ethnic groups which constitute New Jersey's population.

The Rutgers staging of this exhibition, curated by Fernanda Perrone, incorporates elements from Rutgers University Libraries' Special Collections and University Archives. The exhibition includes a 1682 "proprietary tract," an early example of advertising literature designed to attract settlers to New Jersey. In an 1850 letter, dictated because she probably could not read or write, Irish servant Mary Garvey expresses the hope that her mother will be able to join her in the United States in the spring, and recommends provisions for the journey, including salt heron, fresh eggs, potatoes, and "a good warm shawl." Also represented in the exhibition are communities founded by twentieth century Eastern- European Jewish immigrants, such as Jersey Homesteads--today the Borough of Roosevelt--which was founded in 1936 as an agro-industrial cooperative specifically designed for Jewish garment workers from New York City.

Special Collections and University Archives recently acquired materials documenting the Belarusan community based in South River. Featured in the exhibition is a traditional costume from Palesye in Southern Belarus, loaned by Mrs. Nadja Zaprudnik. Members of the Seabrook Buddhist Temple Women's Auxiliary also loaned traditional Japanese-style crafts, including intricately-folded dolls and parasols made from cigarette wrappers, and flowers made from nylon stockings, for the exhibition.

This exhibition is part of the yearlong statewide project, Transcultural New Jersey: An Arts and Education Initiative, designed to provide insight into the state's diverse population, foster cross- cultural dialogue and understanding, and impact curriculum development and education. Transcultural New Jersey was developed by Rutgers University's Office of the Associate Vice President for Academic and Public Partnerships in the Arts & Humanities and the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum in partnership with New Jersey Network (NJN) Public Television. It is supported by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Rutgers University. The exhibition schedule and additional information are available at <>.

The exhibition will be on display in the Special Collections and University Archives Gallery on the lower level of the Alexander Library at 169 College Avenue in New Brunswick until June 30, 2005. Gallery hours are 9:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday and 1:00 to 5:00 on Saturday. For more information, please call Fernanda Perrone at 732/932-7006 x363 or at

Posted January 24, 2004