Made in Newark
Cultivating Industrial Arts and Civic Identity in the Progressive Era
Publication Year: 2010
This is the story of experimental exhibitions in the library and the founding of the Newark Museum Associationùa project in which cultural literacy was intertwined with civics and consumption. Local artisans demonstrated crafts, connecting the cultural institution to the department store, school, and factory, all of which invoked the ideal of municipal patriotism. Today, as cultural institutions reappraise their relevance, Made in Newark explores precedents for contemporary debates over the ways the library and museum engage communities, define heritage in a multicultural era, and add value to the economy.
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This inquiry began while I was working as an educator in the Brooklyn Museum, where talented and generous curators, conservators, volunteers, and colleagues taught me to appreciate the rich historical layers of that cultural institution. I focused my research while in pursuit of a degree at the Bard Graduate Center, where my advisors, Kenneth Ames, Pat Kirkham, and Amy Ogata, improved my wordsmithing immeasurably and...
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Describing Newark, the director of its Free Public Library, John Cotton Dana (1856–1929), called it a “suburb” of New York City, “our great metropolis.”1 His ambivalent characterization of his community as an “industrial suburb” divulged equal amounts of pride and deprecation. In library exhibitions and bookplates, he represented the city’s industrious character in grand mythical terms antithetical to its actual chaos: he made the colossus picturesque (figure...
Chapter One: The Engine of Culture
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The Newark Public Library celebrated mechanized newspaper production in terms similar to those of Frank Lloyd Wright’s rhapsodic lecture, decreeing the press the modern paradigm of social engineering if not control.1 Dana played a central role in romanticizing the press, its seemingly limitless reach and its powers of persuasion, and saw it similarly as a reformer’s tool—a way...
Chapter Two: The Business of Culture
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The Newark Library created its own magazine to fill the breach between poetry and industry. The pages were a business-to-business forum and a research center connecting the city’s tiers and types of entrepreneurs and manufacturers: all of Newark’s publications and production statistics were filed in an index. To abet the reform of industry, the institution created this objective and nonpartisan system and developed it across branch libraries and...
Chapter Three: The Virtues of Industry
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“Industry” was a Progressive-era keyword that served specific local political ends. Often it was a term that signaled aspirations, and, like the industrial suburb, it was contingent. Having welcomed reformers of many stripes to use the Newark Public Library and Museum as a forum for civic improvement, the institution abetted the proliferation of distinct and different uses of the term...
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1. Hugo B. Froehlich Memorial Art Education Window, 1927, Newark Museum. Manufactured by J. and R. Lamb Studios, designed by Katharine Lamb Tait, New York, N.Y. Glass, lead; 64 × 35 in. Gift of the Manual Training Teachers of Newark, 1927. Collection of the Newark Museum (27.1451). Originally located in the stairwell of the 1926 building, the window was restored recently and now is currently installed in the 1989 extension. Not a portrait of Froehlich, it is a...
Chapter Four: Molding and Modeling Civic Consumption: Clay Industries of New Jersey, 1915
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In February and March 1915, the Newark Museum Association exhibited recently made vases and tiles—the new vogue in “art pottery”—alongside bricks, terracotta, toilets, and old pitchers and teapots, and interpreted the display as a triumphant saga. As in The Craftsman, the pots represented the vitality of American manufacturing and were symbols of social transformation...
Chapter Five: Weaving the New into the Old: Textile Industries of New Jersey, 1916
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In February 1916, when the Newark Museum opened Textile Industries of New Jersey exhibition, the display of silk tapestry and felt hats, hand-embroidered shirts, and machine-knit socks realized John Dewey’s claim that “you can concentrate the history of all mankind into the evolution of the flax, cotton, and wool fibers into clothing.”1 Among Progressive educators, textiles...
Chapter Six: A Parade of Civic Virtue
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To commemorate the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Newark’s founding in 1916, there was an eight-month outpouring of mass spectacles, including a three-day music festival, an industrial exposition, a pageant, the dedication of three new civic monuments, and numerous celebratory rallies, dinners, athletic events, and parades. Drumming up excitement in The Newarker in 1915, Dana encouraged participation as a way “you get more out...
Conclusion: The Industrious Citizen
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Newark’s statues of the inventor Seth Boyden and of the entrepreneurial Puritan sculpted by Gutzon Borglum convey idealized views of work. Although hard to read today, in 1916 these images of industrious forbears suggested the many ways the city was a mystical workshop capable of liberating citizens and remaking them. The librarian pedaling to her job or the stockboy...
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Page Count: 322
Illustrations: 77 illustrations. 12 color and 65 black and white halftones
Publication Year: 2010