Acorn Hall Exhibit Pays Tribute To Morris County WWI Contributions

By: J.L. Shively

A new exhibit featured throughout Acorn Hall opened on Sun., Feb. 19 in recognition of the 100th Anniversary of the United States entry into World War I which took place on April 6, 1917.

The exhibit is entitled “1917: World War, Women’s Rights, and Weaponry Sciences,” and will be on display at the Morris County Historical Society’s Headquarters, the historic Acorn Hall until June.  

“We wanted to incorporate as many aspects of what was going on in 1917 as possible,” said Nicole Rizzuto, curator of Exhibits and Research with MCHS.  

There was much more going on than just the war in that year.

“The year was the impetus of decision,” Rizzuto states, while elaborating on the fact that U.S. entrance into the war sparked many other movements which had already been smoldering.

The inspiration behind the exhibit therefore is not only the war but focuses on local women’s rights movements and Morris County contributions to weaponry sciences which helped aide the U.S. in strategic movements of the war.  

According to a press release “the exhibit honors the men and women who gave their lives during the war, highlights the culture clash of women seeking recognition as equals and the right to vote, and features the tremendous advances in weaponry science credited to the work of men and women at Picatinny Arsenal and throughout Morris County.”

Alison Turnbull Hopkins is a local suffragette who is featured at Acorn Hall at this time.  Hopkins was an outspoken woman imprisoned for picketing at the White House for a woman’s rights.

Another woman who is featured at the exhibit for different heroics includes Amabel Scharss Roberts who was the first U.S. nurse to die overseas during WWI.  Roberts was a nurse from Madison.  

Along with other period appropriate clothing the exhibit features artifacts from WWI throughout every room of Acorn Hall.

A WWI uniform is on display including camp material on loan from the Butler Museum and Historical Committee.  A pop tent is featured along with a medical bag from the MCHS collection.

The idea behind the exhibit with a mixture of war artifacts intermixed with everyday items is meant to show “how different things affected different aspects of people’s lives,” states Rizzuto.   

To showcase Morris County’s contribution to the war effort when it came to weaponry Acorn Hall has dedicated space to Hudson Maxim, who worked on smokeless gunpowder and other technology advances the country needed to win WWI.

There is also a photo of Dr. Guy Otis Brewster, whose Brewster-Heller Armor was a first attempt at making bullet proof vests.  The photo shows Brewster demonstrating at Picatinny Arsenal.  

“I’m really excited about it [the exhibit],” states Rizzuto, who has done extensive research on these subjects.  She goes on to explain that this exhibit, “shows how much Morris County impacted the rest of the world.”  Rizzuto explains how easy it is for locals to forget just how much local history can impact the world.  

The exhibit can be viewed while Acorn Hall is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Group tours of eight or more can be arranged by reservation.  

Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors $3 for students and free for children under the age of 12 and for MCHS members.  

For more information about Acorn Hall or the exhibit or to reserve a group tour contact MCHS at 973-267-3465 or visit the website at  


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