Category Archives: Blog

Films, Films, Films! Movies at the Museum this Fall!

This fall, the Hoboken Museum will be open after hours as a screening room for a number of films series catering to a wide variety of tastes. Whether your interest is in WWI-themed films or fun films for kids, vintage footage of Hoboken a hundred years ago or contemporary documentaries from independent filmmakers, we are offering an alternative to the same old TV routine.

WWI Friday Feature Film Series: This Friday, Sept. 15, the 1971 cult classic “Johnny Got His Gun” kicks off a new WWI-themed Friday Feature Film Series, starting at 7 pm. The film, by black-listed screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, deals with the aftermath of World War I, and features Timothy Bottoms as a wounded doughboy, with a supporting cast of Jason Robards, Donald Sutherland, Kathy Fields, Marsha Hunt and Diane Varsi. Tickets to the series are $10 for each film, $5 for members, and include light refreshments.

Other films scheduled later in the fall are the 1925 silent film “The Big Parade,” on October 13, and “Wings,” a silent film from 1927, starring Clara Bow and featuring Gary Cooper in one of his first screen roles, on November 3. 

WWI Centennial Lecture Series: Sunday, Sept. 17, at 4 pm,  the Museum’s World War I Centennial Lecture Series continues with a presentation by Collections Manager Rand Hoppe of documentary film footage shot in and around Hoboken during World War I, 1917 – 1919. The footage brings to life the experience of being in a port of embarkation during America’s first modern war. (Pictured at right, a group of Red Cross volunteers, who helped prepare the soldiers for embarkation, marches through Hudson Park (now Stevens Park).

Advance reservations are strongly encouraged for this popular series. Sign up by clicking the button below. Admission will be collected at the door, lectures are $10 ($5 for members). The lecture series is funded by a special project grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

The Black Maria Film Festival returns on Wednesday, Sept. 20, for a four-part monthly series of documentary film programs from the 2017 Festival Collection. Black Maria Executive Director Jane Steuerwald will host the custom-curated programs, and lead a discussion with the audience.

Doors open at 6:30 pm, and the films will screen at 7 pm, each lasting about an hour. Admission is a suggested $5 donation, which includes light refreshments. Each month, an award-winning one-hour documentary film from the Black Maria’s Global Insights collection will be presented, thanks to the support of the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs and Tourism. The second program is Wednesday, Oct. 18, the third is Wed., Nov. 29, and the final session is Wed., Dec. 13.

Program 1 features “Truth Has Fallen,” by Sheila Sofian, a film about three innocent people who were convicted for murders they did not commit. Using innovative painting-on-glass animation, the film examines their cases and sheds light on weaknesses in the United States justice system.

Now in its 36th consecutive year, the Black Maria Film Festival focuses on diverse short films – narrative, experimental, animation, and documentary – including those, which address issues and struggles within contemporary society such as the environment, public health, race and class, family, sustainability, and more. 

Kids Night at the Museum! In the early planning stages is a film series aimed at kids, too! Starting Friday, Oct. 27, Education Curator Maria Lara will host a “Kids Night at the Museum” on three Fridays this fall, from 6 – 9 p.m., each with a different film, along with activities and exhibition-related games.

— Melissa Abernathy, Communications & Volunteers

Sign Up in Advance for New WWI Lecture Series!

On April 6, 1917, the same day the U.S. entered “The Great War” on the side of Britain and her allies, it also seized Hoboken’s German-owned shipping piers and vessels. Almost overnight, Hoboken became a military town, as hundreds of officers and thousands of enlisted men took residence here to facilitate the logistics of the Embarkation Service. With an additional 14,000 civilian employees, they would oversee the transit of an estimated two million American servicemen to Europe—and then the soldiers’ return—from 1917 through 1919. Near the end of the war, General John Pershing rallied the troops for a swift conclusion to the war with the rallying cry, “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken.”

We are pleased to invite the community to learn more about the impact of the war effort on Hoboken and the state of New Jersey, in a series of talks and tours by guest historians and Museum staff.  Topics range from the history of Fort Dix to New Jersey’s “Farmerettes,” to the songs that rallied the homefront.

Because the first series was so popular, and due to limited seating, we are asking guests to sign up in advance for these talks and tours. Reservations buttons will be posted for each talk on the Calendar page. Admission for each lecture is $10 per lecture ($5 for members), and $20 for bus tours ($10 for members), which will be collected at the door.

  • August 27, 4 pm:  From Here to Over There: the WWI Legacy of Fort Dix, NJ, by Jamien Parks, veteran and historian for the United States Air Force, currently assigned to the 621st Contingency Response Wing (621 CRW), Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL). ($10/$5 for members)
  • September 10, 1 pm – Doughboy Monuments of Hudson County, Part I, a bus tour of WWI monuments narrated by historian Erik L. Burro. Seating is limited. ($20/$10 for members)
  • September 17, 4 pmHoboken in WWI Documentary Films! A screening of WWI era documentary footage from the Library of Congress, introduced by Hoboken Museum Collections Manager Rand Hoppe. ($10/$5 for members)
  • October 1, 4 pm Sabotage at Black Tom, by author and historian Jules Witcover. ($10/$5 for members)
  • October 8, 4 pm – The Patriot Farmerette: Woman’s Land Army in New Jersey, by author and historian Elaine Weiss. ($10/$5 for members)
  • October 15, 1 pmDoughboy Monuments of Hudson County, Part II, narrated by historian Erik L. Burro. Seating is limited. ($20/$10 for members)
  • November 5, 4 pm – Camp Merritt, An American Portal to the Great War, by author and historian Harold Bartholf. ($10/$5 for members)
  • November 19, 4 pm –Who Was Major General David C. Shanks? by Hoboken Museum Director Robert Foster. ($10/$5 for members)
  • December 3, 4 pm – “Jungle of Weeds” to War: Fort Monmouth and WWI, by Monmouth University professor Melissa Ziobro, who is command historian for Fort Monmouth. ($10/$5 for members)
  • December 10, 4 pm – Over There: Songs That Rallied the Homefront, presented by musicologist Lois Dilivio and Hoboken Museum Program Manager Eileen Lynch. ($10/$5 for members)

The series is supported by a Special Project Grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

— Melissa Abernathy, Communications & Volunteers

Life in Hoboken in “The Great War”

You’re invited to join the Hoboken Museum this Sunday, August 6 from 2 – 5 pm, for a free opening reception for “World War I Centennial, 1917-2017: Heaven, Hell or Hoboken.” 
WWI Reenactors at monument in Elysian Park, Hoboken, 2017
WWI reenactors at Elysian Park monument (Photo by Raymond Smith)

Our special guests for the opening reception include WWII veterans Vinnie Wassman, who will recite the WWI-era poem, “On Flanders Fields,” and Jack O’Brien, who will play period tunes on fife with  Barbara Dabbinet. Brandon English, a WWI reenactor who lives in Hoboken (pictured at right at the WWI monument in Elysian Park), will also be there in a period-style uniform to talk about his research into the doughboy experience.
The exhibit will evoke life in Hoboken during the Great War through artifacts of local Hoboken residents who fought or volunteered on the homefront, plus silent films of soldiers gathered at the Hoboken port and vintage government war posters, on loan from the Jersey City Free Public Library, that were designed to boost local draft registration, and urge those on the “home front” to purchase war bonds, conserve resources, and help with the war effort. Hoboken’s actual 1917-1918 draft registration book, measuring 3 ft by 4 ft, will be on display, on loan from the city of Hoboken. We will also have replicas of the lists of registered enemy aliens and draft dodgers and deserters, as well as a vintage, hand-cranked Victrola on display will play songs from the era, as well! 
Personal photographs, letters, uniforms, and commemorative items reveal the unique contributions and perspectives of Hobokenites, including Mrs. Frank R. Markey, who worked with the Red Cross assisting soldiers, and Peter G. Spinetto, who regularly wrote postcards from training camp and the fields of war in France to his large family on the city’s west side. They will be displayed along with the doughboy’s helmet, adorned on the interior brim with the names of places he traveled to, as well as the photographs he sent to his loved ones back home. 
Starting in late August, a series of talks and tours will accompany the exhibit, illuminating the history of New Jersey training camps at Fort Dix and Fort Monmouth, a bus tour of local WWI monuments, and films and music of the era, among other topics. 

— Melissa Abernathy, Communications & Volunteers

Explore Your Inner Artist!

On July 8, at the first of three art workshops, four intrepid artists showed up with a passion to create. One student said she wanted to take her art to the next level, another knew she would learn how to draw better and another brought his child to have a fun time together.

The subject matter for the first workshop was a flower arrangement, and students would learn to work with tempera paint. As many painters do, we began the class with a warm-up exercise, drawing leaves in pencil, then a sunflower. Then we drew with charcoal and did a quick study of the still life subject of flowers we would soon paint.

Every student received a canvas board to paint on and we learned about creating a painting palette. One student was so excited to be able to match the green color of the table fabric exactly. The finished works were suitable for framing!

These workshops are open for all, from beginner to experienced artists. I hope you will join us July 22, from 2 – 4 pm for our watercolor painting workshop. Click here to learn more and sign up.

The third and final workshop is August 26, where we’ll use pastels. Click here to learn more and sign up for that session.

The more art one does, the better it gets, and you feel good. See you in art class soon!

— Bill Curran, Museum Associate

Photography and Art Kick Off Summer Enrichment Programs

The Museum’s Summer Enrichment program kicked off with a program inspired by the recent exhibition of photographs by Michael Flanagan in “Hoboken People and Places: 1976 – 1994,” one of five new and exciting Summer Camp programs designed for children ages 4-5, and 6-9 years old.

On June 26, 2017 the first group of summer campers were welcomed into the Museum for “Photography and Art Camp,” which aimed to teach children about historical figures from Hoboken who contributed to the arts. Lessons included an introduction to photography, the use of a camera, and learning about prominent Hoboken photographers, Dorothea Lange and Alfred Stieglitz, designed to introduce campers to the world of portrait and landscape photography. On the third day of camp, campers learned about Weehawken resident John Marin, who used the New York City skyline as an inspiration for his abstract work.

After many lessons, it was time to experience the art scene in Hoboken today, so campers enjoyed a proper Hoboken gallery crawl. Ricardo Roig of Roig Gallery (pictured at left) and Pablo Godoy of Right Angle Framing welcomed us to their spaces for discussion and observation. Museum associate and artist Bill Curran then hosted a workshop on painting with watercolors.

On the final day of camp, the budding artists hosted their family and friends in the Museum for a gallery opening of their work. (See image at right from the Gallery Opening.) Children were excited to display their best photographs and artwork for everyone to admire.

“As the Museum Education Curator, it was important for me to teach children how to view the world through an artistic lens. Taking walks through different parts of Hoboken really inspired campers to closely observe the beautiful scenery this city has to offer. It was fascinating to see these emerging artists using their cameras to take photographs of Hoboken people and places.”

Session 2, “Junior Firefighters Day Camp,” starts Monday, July 10, and is fully booked. There are a few spaces available in Sessions 3, 4, and 5. Click here to learn more.

— Maria Lara, Education Curator

A Farewell to Flanagan’s Hoboken

This Sunday, July 2, the Museum wraps up our exhibition of photographs by Michael Flanagan, “Hoboken People and Places, 1976 – 1994.” Popular not only with people who have lived in the Mile Square City since the 1970s, the exhibit has fascinated newer arrivals and visitors with its beautiful, unsentimental views of Hoboken from three decades ago, on the verge of its transformation from a working-class, industrial city into a largely upscale residential community peopled with young professionals.

The gifted photographer had an eye for telling details: the quirky window displays that made each mom-and-pop shop unique; the character etched into the faces of the de facto “mayors” of different blocks; the exuberance of Hoboken’s most colorful official Mayor, Tom Vezzetti; the graffiti-covered equipment on the city’s neglected playgrounds; the stark remnants of Hoboken’s once-bustling shipping piers; the signs of the wrenching gentrification that transformed Hoboken, including the burned-out shells of apartment buildings that would be converted to condos, and portraits of the people and buildings that make Hoboken such an interesting place to live.

Museum staff members pitched in by helping to plan programs inspired by the time period covered in the exhibition:

  • Education Curator Maria Lara hosted a weekly film screening in April featuring Nora Jacobson’s documentaries, culminating with an evening of Q&A with the filmmaker.
  • Museum Associate Bill Curran led a walking tour of Michael Flanagan’s Hoboken, visiting sites he photographed to compare how much — or how little — they’ve changed.
  • Planning and Development Associate Jennifer O’Callaghan rounded up members of the “Ambassadors” youth baseball team, the pride of Hoboken for their success in the Sandy Koufax league, who also took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the USSR in 1988.
  • Collections Manager Rand Hoppe, a board member for the Hoboken Shelter, moderated a discussion of the ongoing challenges facing homeless Hobokenites with the Shelter’s president Mark Singleton and executive director Jaclyn Cherubini.
  • My own distinct honor was working with activist Helen Manogue on squeezing into a 40-minute presentation her 30 years accomplishments as leader of the Hoboken Environment Committee and Quality of Life Coalition. Without her vision, tireless efforts and formidable powers of persuasion, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy Hoboken’s breathtaking waterfront, clean air, and the largely preserved 19th century charm of its streetscape.

Membership and Development Associate Eileen Lynch, meanwhile, hosted the first part of our World War I centennial lecture series, “Heaven, Hell or Hoboken,” and is busy planning a second lecture series to accompany our next exhibition, “World War I Centennial: Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken,opening August 6. It will focus on the transformation of Hoboken and its residents after the U.S. entered World War I and converted the city into the main port of embarkation for the U.S Expeditionary Forces destined for Europe. More on that soon.

For now, you have just one week left to enjoy time-traveling back to the 1970s-80s through the lens of Michael Flanagan. We are open six days a week, until 7 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you can’t make it, we are offering a commemorative book of featured photographs in our gift shop!

— Melissa Abernathy, Communications & Volunteer Manager

Baseball and Hoboken – A Brief History

On June 19, 1846, Hoboken’s Elysian Fields hosted the first recorded baseball match played by recognizably modern rules. The New York Nine defeated Alexander Cartwright’s Knickerbocker squad in a game reported in New York newspapers. According to many baseball historians, this event marked the birth of modern baseball.

At the time, “base ball” clubs had been largely chased out of Manhattan by real estate development and rules enacted to protect buildings against broken windows. Just a short ferry ride across the Hudson, however, Col. John Stevens invited sports clubs of all types to use his Elysian Fields, a grass-covered field stretching roughly from present-day 9th to 12th Streets from Washington Street to the river’s edge.

In an article from the Hoboken Museum’s 1998 historical magazine, Nicholas Acocella explains the significance of the game and Alexander Cartwright’s contributions to America’ pastime. Click here to view a PDF of the article.

In 2012, the Hoboken Historical Museum encouraged a group of dedicated amateur baseball and softball players to form a vintage base ball club, now called the 1859 Hoboken Base Ball Club. They play other vintage base ball clubs from the area from April through October. Visit the team’s website to learn more and find out when they’re playing nearby.

— Melissa Abernathy, Communications & Volunteer Manager

Welcome to our New, Improved Website

Welcome to the Hoboken Historical Museum’s new website and blog! It’s been completely revamped, thanks to a generous grant of $28,788 from the NJ Cultural Trust through its 2016 Institutional and Financial Stabilization Grant program.

Working with the talented Carrie Chatterson Studio, the Museum convened a committee to review the site’s layout and identify the areas that Museum members and the general public need to access the most to prioritize navigation to that content. The new website design also offers a new mobile device-friendly interface to reach a wider audience via smartphones and tablets.

The project included setting up a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system for managing the growing archive of video, audio and photographic files from the Museum’s historical exhibits and related events. We will be adding of this content to the website for those who can’t attend in person and for future audiences researching Hoboken and New Jersey history.

We hope you find the site easy to navigate, and loaded with interesting content to explore. Let us know if you have any suggestions for improvement at pr @

— Melissa Abernathy, Communications & Volunteer Manager


An Uncommon Photograph

Photograph of a woman taken by Charles W. Day, Hoboken, ca. 1896-1898. 2015.015.0020

The woman in this charming photo wears what is probably an ethnic German-style dress. She is believed to have been a member of the Sanntrock family of Hoboken. The round cut print of her is mounted diagonally on a small (3-3/4″ square) decorative mount with a scalloped edge. Uncommon because of its mount as well as the man who took the photo. We have only a handful of photos done by Charles W. Day who operated a studio here for about three years. The photo is from a group of 26 photographs donated by the Steinhaus Sisters of Long Island, N.Y., in memory of the Sanntrock Family. The Sanntrocks and relatives are the subjects of this lot, many of which were from 19th C. or early 20th C. Hoboken photographers. To see them all in our online catalog, enter keywords: sanntrock family OR 2015.015.* The Sanntrocks include first and second generation German-Americans and the group relects their heritage in dress and demeanor as well as locations that the photographs came from.