By: Michele DiPasquale
The Morris County Heritage Commission celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and offers special programs to highlight relevant aspects of Morris County’s compelling history. The programs will include topics that celebrate and recognize much of Morris County’s rich history.
For history buffs, The Morris County Heritage Commission is a fountain of riveting information. It is the Heritage Commission that designates points and places of relevant history by providing the site markers to honor historical locations, much of which date as far back as the 18th century. The Historic Site Markers are those familiar dark red signs with white lettering seen frequently throughout Morris County, marking locations of historical interest. The historic site marker program has been in place since 1975. For those interested in the process of site marking, there is information available to read about the guidelines for marker placement on their website.
It’s fascinating to look up some of the site markers on the site, which is crammed with relevant, engrossing historical facts and points of interest scattered throughout Morris County.
“The Commission is also charged with conserving and preserving materials in the County archives,” explained Peg Shultz, Director of Archives and Heritage Affairs.
When asked what makes Ms. Shultz and her colleagues passionate about Morris County’s history, Shultz explained that the staff, as well as volunteer members at MCHC, hold degrees in history.
“Exploring, understanding, teaching and appreciating the county’s history and heritage shows us how the past has shaped who we are today, as a community and society,” she said.
“The Commission does this through caring for the County Archives, which holds rare documents related to the county from as early as the 18th century, offering public programming in a variety of Best Practices workshops which cover things like Long Range Plans and grant writing skills, along with programs on a wide array of topics central to Morris County and New Jersey history,” Shultz explained.
For those wondering what the process of getting something site marked is all about, Shultz recommended going to the website and searching for Marker Guidelines.
“And then, an applicant should read over the guidelines, call or come into the office to discuss the application and process. If the site meets the criteria, a member of the staff will assist with the application. The final application that will be presented to the members of the commission for consideration will consist of the application form and materials supporting their request,” Shultz said.
The MCHC’s new online virtual exhibits program will enhance topics presented in the displays at the County Courthouse and Cultural Center and provide a new way to learn about Morris County history.
Furthermore, The Morris County Heritage Commission publishes a series of tour brochures featuring a brief history of each town in the county with photographs and notes on its historical sites. These Historic Highlights brochures have been completed for about two-thirds of the county’s 39 municipalities.
The MCHC offers historically rich publications and books, covering such topics as colonial and revolutionary Morris County, Morris County and the Civil War, Historic Sites of Morris County, and the Slavery Debate in Revolutionary Morris County.
Funding for historic preservation is available from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund. The Morris County Heritage Commission is located at 30 East Hanover Avenue, Whippany, at the Morris County Library.