Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Volunteer Rockstars

Our Park simply could not accomplish what we do without the generosity and time of volunteers in parks (or VIPs). At Morristown, you'll find our volunteers engaged in all kinds of activities and programming: from trail maintenance and gardening, to historic house tours and trades demonstrations, to research and internships.

olunteer Park Passes were issued to nine volunteers who donated 250 hours over a three year period. While eight volunteers donated over 201.6 hours in 2016 to receive the NPS Centennial Challenge Award.

Today we'd like to honor two fine volunteers who have achieved some volunteering milestones. Wick House volunteer, Anne, was awarded her VIP Pass and Headquarters' guide and trail maintenance crewman, Steve, was awarded his NPS Centennial Challenge Award.

Thank you for your dedication and service.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Meet Josh Knighten

The cultural resources division would like to welcome Rowan University senior, Josh Knighten. A history major and nature enthusiast, Knighten will be preparing an exhibit featuring the work of John James Audubon. His work will focus primarily on our 1840 edition of Audubon's Birds Folio (Vol 1), Audubon's research, and the condition and composition of nineteenth-century rare books.

To satisfy his explorer and early American history curiosities, Josh will also be helping preserve our outdoor campus by extending his services with trail maintenance on parts of our twenty-seven miles of historic trail.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Meet Morgan Haller

We've got some new faces in cultural resources this semester. Meet Centenary University senior, Morgan Haller. Ms. Haller is a history and communications major interested in the American War for Independence and those who participated. She enjoys researching everything from spy rings to battle tactics, but her favorite person to read up on is the Marquis de Lafayette.

This spring, Morgan will be offering her expertise researching some of our underutilized art collections. She will be focusing on the paintings exhibited in the front hall of the museum (which includes an 1860 Edward Kranich), preparing artifact descriptions, and brochures. Morgan will also continue our study of Theodosia Ford. She'll be sharing her research journey on the blog, so stay tuned!


Friday, January 27, 2017

Curator Pfister on The Legacy of John Jay

Volume XXXVIII, No 4, 2016

Among his many talents, Dr. Jude Pfister is a scholar of Supreme Court history. His most recent contribution to the Supreme Court Historical Society Quarterly, "The Legacy of John Jay," can be found in the current volume.  Here Pfister discusses Jay's achievements as a co-author of The Federalist Papers, the first Chief Justice, his governorship in New York, work as the President of the Continental Congress, and negotiation of the Paris Peace Treaty (1783), among other formative accomplishments.

To read the article, click HERE.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Illuminating Hidden Gems

Some of you may be aware, but our own Dr. Sarah Minegar, Archivist/Museum Educator, has a wonderful article in the current NJ Studies Journal. Sarah looks at the seemingly contradictory juxtaposition of a National Historical Park (Morristown) , with its "history in a box" approach to the past, paired with a first-rate, but forgotten, research library (also Morristown), with its total approach to the past. 

We are also very proud to point out that another Morristown NHP staff member, Steven Elliott, a PhD candidate at Temple, has an article and a book review in the current issue. Steven's article looks at "how and why the Continental Army decided to place the bulk of its forces in northern New Jersey for two consecutive winters during the war."

Click HERE to see the current issue.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Winter Visitor Services Hours

Morristown, NJ – Beginning on January 1, 2017, the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center building will be closed. The building will reopen on Saturday, February 11, 2017. During that same period, the Washington’s Headquarters Museum and the Ford Mansion will only be open on Saturdays and Sundays.

Please note that the grounds of the entire park will remain open seven days per week along with the restroom facilities at the Jockey Hollow area, per park hours listed at www.nps.gov/morr.

These closures will not affect currently scheduled education programs.                                                                                                                                                                                              

Monday, December 12, 2016

Morristown by the Numbers

⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫

Troops Strength


December 1779 total Present and Fit for Duty [able to fight] – 10,785

December 1779 total Present and Fit and Present Sick – 11,788

Total Deaths December 1779 to May 1780 - 96

Valley Forge 1777-1778 had 1478 deaths

Total Desertions Dec. to May - 974

A desertion rate of about 10%. Normal desertion rate during war was 25%

Total Discharges Dec to May - 2610

This would be soldiers whose enlistments had expired.

Total Enlistments Dec to May – 748

Total of troops sent away to other locations before encampment ends - 2530

1815 men of the Maryland line and artillery depart in April to reinforce southern army.

715 men of the NY Brigade leave in June for NY Frontier.

Total Troop Left in June 1780 - 5578

Total Troops Lost from December 1779 to June 1780 - 6210

Includes deaths, desertions, discharges and troops sent to other locations.

Subtract the 748 enlistments then overall loss is 5462

Provision return, May 2, 1777, Capt. George Bush

Men and Huts Jockey Hollow 1779-1780

The army’s peak number of men in Morristown was in December 1779. In December:

there were 10,785 men present and fit for duty they would have required 1039 huts.

But if you include soldiers who were present but also sick, there were a total of 11,788 men.

11,788 men would have required 1131 huts.




LWS70-100, provisions request for 

beef and potatoes. Attribited to the 2nd NJ (1777).
  • A group of six men, known as a “Mess” shared a tent and a kettle for cooking their food.
  • Each hut held 12 men [two messes], who cooked, ate and slept in their hut.
  • Each hut was built by the 12 men who lived in it.
  • On average it took 9 to 14 days to build a hut.
  • General Orders required the huts to be 14 feet wide and 16 feet long, six ½ feet high at the eves and built in a straight line with the other huts. Huts that did not meet this standard were to be torn down.

  • Regiments, Brigades and Divisions varied greatly in the number of men and number of huts they built. Looking at the December 1779 when the army was at is largest [during this encampment], here are the numbers of men who were present a fit for duty.
  • The smallest regiment was the 1st Canadian Regt, with 115 men and approximately 12 huts.
  • The largest regiment was the 6th Connecticut Regt. with 411 men and approx. 37 huts.
  • The smallest brigade was Hand’s with 739 men and approximately 71 huts.
  • The largest brigade was the 2nd Connecticut Brigade with 1237 men and approx. 114 huts.
  • The smallest division [2 brigades] was Hand’s and NJ with 1760 men and approx.. 101 huts.
  • The largest division was the Connecticut Line with 2273 men and approx. 212 huts.

Land Used for Camps

The area of One Brigade was supposed to be:
320 yards across the front,
100 yards deep plus a 40 yard parade ground.
A total of 32,000 square yards or 6.61 acres.
Archaeology done at the site of the Second Connecticut Brigade showed a slightly larger area, with a total area of 7.3 acres. Not surprising since this was the largest brigade.

If you use an average of 7 acres for a brigade and multiply it by 11 brigades:
The entire camp took up 77 acres of land just for the camp areas. Trees removed for hut construction and firewood would have cleared much more land.

How Much Wood?

At a minimum a soldier’s hut probably used two cords of firewood a month during the winter weather for a total of 12 cords during the winter. Multiply 1112 huts by 12 cords, then during the winter encampment the army burned 13,344 cords of wood. A brigade probably needed at least 1125 cords of firewood for a winter encampment of approximately 6 months. If you multiply 1125 cords times 11 brigades then the army burned 12,375 cords of wood during the encampment. Between firewood and wood used for building huts and other needs, the army used well over 30,300 cords of wood during the 1779-1780 Morristown encampment.


Sinews of Independence: Monthly Strength Reports of the Continental Army, by Charles H. Lesser, University of Chicago Press, 1976

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799,
Volume 17 October 21, 1779-February 9, 1780, edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, printed May, 1937, United States Government Printing Office, Washington

The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. Volume V, 1 November 1779-31 May 1780.
Richard K. Showman, editor, Robert E. McCarthy, Senior Associate Editor, Dennis M. Conrad and E. Wayne Carp, Associate Editors, c. 1989 The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, Published for the Rhode Island Historical Society

Regulations For The Order and Discipline Of The Troops Of The United States. Part I. [Von Steuben], Philadelphia, Printed by Styner and Cist, in Second-street, 1779

“Forty Years of Archaeological Research at Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, New Jersey” by Edward S. Rutsch and Kim M. Peters, Historical Archaeology, Vol. 11, 1977

A Survey of the Historical Archaeology of Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, New Jersey, by Edward S. Rutsch and Kim M. Peters, Historic Conservation and Interpretation, Inc., 17 Van Houten Street, Paterson, N.J., for U.S. Dept. of Interior, National Park Service, Professional Services Contract No. CX-2000-4-0029, Archaeological Investigations and Excavations, Morristown National Historical Park, New Jersey, 1976

“Excavations in the First Brigade Site, Connecticut Division Area, Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J.”, J, Duncan Campbell, 1963, January 8, 1964

“Hutsite Survey, Stark’s Brigade, Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N. J., by J. Duncan Campbell, NER-968, NER-950-321 Supp.

Laws of the Royal Colony of New Jersey, 1760-1769, New Jersey Archives, Third series, Vol. IV, compiled by Bernard Bush, Bureau of Archives and History, New Jersey State Library, c. 1982

Laws of the Royal Colony of New Jersey, 1770-1775, New Jersey Archives, Third series, Vol. V, compiled by Bernard Bush, Division of Archives and Records, New Jersey State Library, c. 1986

Quartering, Disciplining, and Supplying the Army at Morristown, 1779-1780 , by George J. Svejda, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Washington, D.C., National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Virginia, February 23, 1970

Summer Soldiers: A Survey and Index of Revolutionary War Courts-Martial, by James C. Neagles, Ancestry Incorporated, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1986

 This Blog Post by Park Ranger, Eric Oslen.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Holly Walk Returns to Morristown!

Saturday, December 3 & Sunday, December 4
11:00 am to 4:00 pm

A long-standing and beloved tradition in Morris County is the historic house tour known as "Holly Walk".  With one admission ticket visitors can tour five local sites which will be decorated for the holidays.  

New this year, the event has been expanded from one to two days, and will be held Saturday and Sunday, December 3 and 4 from 11 am to 4 pm.

Participating sites for Holly Walk include: 

Acorn Hall, the Ford Mansion,
Macculloch Hall, the Schuyler-Hamilton House and the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms.  

Each location has been planned special Holly Walk programming just for this weekend. Additionally, their gift shops will be stocked with unique items for holiday shoppers.  

Advanced sale tickets cost $30 and are available at morristourism.org and at the Morris County Tourism Bureau office, 6 Court Street, Morristown, until Friday, December 2nd.  During the weekend of the event the ticket price will rise to $35. Children 12 and under are free.

For more information, please visit the Morris County Tourism Bureau website.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

An Artist Among Us

When you ask Ranger Kevin Hanley to build you a teaching tool, he delivers...in fact, he creates a work of art.

As part of our Primary Source Seminar programming, we often explain antiquated concepts of paper making and printing processes that can be difficult to conceptualize without the help of visual aids. We enlisted the services of Mr. Hanley, an expert in miniature model building, to help us create a 1:10 scale model of a Gutenberg printing press. We had hoped for something basic to demonstrate the general setup and components, but Kevin, being the master craftsman he is, created an intricate model that features even the miniature type, ink balls, footstep, printed text, and stacks of pressed pages! The craftsmanship and attention to detail are truly impressive.

                        Thank you, Kevin! 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Cursive Learning Curve & Future Historians' Dilemma

Booker T. Washington manuscript, LWS Collection.
I taught high school for a couple of years before going into museum work and the number one apprehension my students had about the SAT; the one sentence academic oath that they are required to complete in cursive before commencing the exam! The curse of CURSIVE!

If English Secretary hand eventually fell out of use, it might not come as such a surprise that as the need for technology literacy increases, the instructional time for manual practices like cursive may decrease.  In my own experience working with teachers, I have been informed it’s not only on the decline, in some schools cursive is no longer part of the curriculum.

After recovering from my instinctual cringe, I took some time to ponder my own cursive journey and the implications for such a bold change. Was I shocked simply because I was witnessing a break with tradition? 

I asked myself...

When was the last time I was instructed in/evaluated on my script?  Third grade

How accurate/precise was my cursive? Not very (I kind of just connect regular letters, and heck if I have ever properly written an upper case Q.)

Does my version of cursive speed up my handwriting or note taking ability? Maybe?

Does it seem to help me remember my notes?  Handwriting certainly seems to be connected to my own cognition, but I can’t verify cursive does anything. I usually take notes in a mix of cursive, print, and graphic organizers.

Does my knowledge of cursive letter forms help me decipher others’ handwriting? Yes, but each hand takes time to get used to. As handwriting degrades, script can sometime increase that challenge.

I wasn’t very reassured by my own checkered use of cursive, so I decided to think more about the bigger picture implications for a curriculum that doesn’t include it. 

What are cognitive scientists and learning theorists saying about cursive?

As it turns out, not very much. It seems the emphasis on cursive in a “post-quill-age” is steeped more in folklore and tradition than any hard scientific fact. According to Philip Ball’s recent article “Cursive Handwriting and Other Education Myths,” the case for cursive over manuscript (or non joined letters) is waning and is probably why educators are seeing it missing from the Common Core Standards, among other things.The New York Times education debate has featured a lot in support of handwriting, but not cursive. And Chronicle of Higher Education has delved into this matter on more than one occasion, most recently bidding it adieu.  
So while no conclusive evidence points to cursive being imperative to our cognitive function, save for situational learning applications (as in the case of dyslexia reading strategies)...

What does cutting cursive mean for us? 

Archival Ambassadors alum
Two things:

1. An unprecedented disconnect/communication gap between young people and their living ancestors; a sudden drop in a writing convention that makes it difficult or impossible for young people to read materials created by their (often still living) relatives.

2. A learning curve for students of history and the need for universities and museums to provide paleography training in modern cursive.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Preservation 101: How Light and Humidity Impact Paper

We have been spending a lot of time on this Queen Elizabeth I document, and I bet you are wondering....if this manuscript is such a big deal, why is it squirreled away in some archival basement?

                                Excellent question!

The short answer...

This particular document is delicate and has some significant conservation needs. It is sensitive to light and handling (it did just celebrate its 440th birthday after all).

The longer answer

While this manuscript may be susceptible to exposure, we regularly utilize authentic collection items in our teaching and museum programs; Primary Source Seminar, Archival Ambassadors, Teacher Ranger Teacher, and our internship program to name several. And when we aren’t working with the “real deal,” we are bringing folks close to that experience through our digital and hands-on exhibits.


Decoding Shakespeare's Monarch quill and manuscript station, 
at Washington's Headquarters unit.

But while we’re on the topic of conservation needs, let’s take a look at what is going on with our 1576 Elizabeth I.

They say hindsight is 20/20 and that seems to be exceptionally true in the field of preservation. As new advances in preservation science come about, collections managers work hard to care for our most valuable historical treasures. We often shudder at the interventions earlier generations of historians made, prior to our contemporary understanding of the properties the of paper, ink, and adhesive acidity; the dangers of permanent stabilizing or alteration measures; and the inherent value of historical context and provenance.

Today we are going to explore how light and humidity impact paper, while also examining the particular preservation concerns of this 1576 manuscript.

A collections manager’s number one enemy: the environment !

We work hard to keep artifacts stable by minimizing the risks incurred from exposure to ultraviolet light and fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity. Read more about our field standards here.

When paper artifacts are exposed to spikes and dips in temperature and humidity over time, they are susceptible to warping, tearing, brittleness, creping, foxing, or mold blooms. Inks may flake, transfer, or erode paper. And certain dank climates provide the optimal environment for pests, like silverfish and boreing insects like moths and beetles (colloquially known as bookworms).


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Understanding Regnal Years

"1576. the Eightenth yeer of our Raigne" 

The designation of a regnal year is a way to count the years of a monarch's reign. The first regnal year began on the day of the monarch's accession to the throne, the day on which they were formally crowned. For example, Queen Elizabeth I was crowned on November 17, 1558. Her first regnal year spanned the dates November 17, 1558 - November 16, 1559. Her second regnal year began on November 17, 1559.

We might wonder why it might be important to associate a date with the regnal year of a monarch.  Sometimes when transcribing older documents, we might have to borrow Sherlock Holmes' deerstalker hat, and become a manuscript detective, following the clues in the document. Often, documents sustain damage over time, and the date may be blurred or truncated. We could even possibly find a document with no date, and only a reference to the year in the reign of the monarch in which the document was written.

There was a convention used in documents that designated the regnal year of the monarch as a form of dating the documents. Very often, both an actual date and a regnal year were used. For example, Queen Elizabeth I (who ruled from 1558 - 1603) might have written a document dated "December 1, 1568, in the eleventh year of our reign". However, a document might only have the regnal year, and no date, e.g., "in the eleventh year of our reign".  Consulting a regnal year chart could narrow down the possible date of the document in question.

An interesting example of a monarch's regnal year designation being out of sync with his actual years of reign is the example of King Charles II. King Charles I, father of Charles II, was executed on January 30, 1649. The monarchy was overthrown, and a Council of State was established in February, 1649. After Charles was defeated by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, he left England and went to the Continent. When he came back to England, he was proclaimed king on May 5, 1660, and came to London on May 29, 1660.  Instead of declaring that date as the start of his first regnal year, he dated the beginning of his first regnal year to January 30, 1649, the date of the execution of his father, King Charles I. He always considered his reign to have begun then, even though he did not take the throne until May, 1660, in his 12th regnal year. For example, if you see a document signed by King Charles II on May 1, 1663, it will say "in the 15th year of our reign".

A Handbook of Dates, regnal year chart

A regnal year chart is an invaluable tool in any document detective's toolkit. It can allow the transcriber to place the creation of the document within a more narrow timeframe, allowing historians to better interpret the piece within the framework of known historical events.

A Handbook of Dates, regnal year chart
Morristown National Historical Park has in its collection a document signed by Queen Elizabeth I in June of 1576. The document concerns the importation of gold bullion into England. Although the document doesn't appear to be written by Queen Elizabeth I, it was signed by her. Court scribes usually wrote the body of official documents. The document ends with "in this the eightenth yeer of our Raign", which would date her first regnal year to the year 1558. After the death of her sister, Queen Mary (often referred to as "Bloody Mary"), Elizabeth ascended the throne on November 17, 1558.

Guide to Regnal Years

Jones, Michael. A Handbook of Dates: For Students of British History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2004 reprint.


  • Preservation 101: How Light and Humidity Impact Paper
  • The Cursive Learning Curve & Future Historians' Dilemma

This blog post by Morristown NHP volunteer researcher and transcriptionist, Cynthia N.