Thursday, August 30, 2012

Special Exhibits: WANJ

If you stopped by Washington's Headquarters Museum this summer, you had the unique opportunity to see an exhibit featuring the Park's founding legislative partner, the Washington Association of New Jersey (WANJ).

Ranger John Hazel put together this temporary exhibit highlighting artifacts and documents from the Washington Association of New Jersey archives.

Special exhibits are part of our ongoing effort to share park treasures with the public and give interns, volunteers, and staff the occasion to curate presentations based on their research interests.

John Hazel prepares exhibit cases.

John Hazel delves into the WANJ archives.

As part of an interpretive program, Ranger Hazel poured over hundreds of archival documents in preparation for a stand alone exhibit.  What he uncovered was a unique preservation story.

Hazel delved into the archives with an interest in the history of WANJ's role in historic preservation and its (pre-Park) caretaker story. He was also interested in finding minutes rumored to confirm a WANJ visit by Woodrow Wilson.

He was interested to trace the documentary history of the Washington Association of New Jersey, its transfer to and partnership with the first National Historical Park in the Park Service, and its continuing legacy. As a Park Ranger and guide, Hazel was particularly interested in the role of the Ford Mansion's caretaker. His research led him to Charles King and Patrick Glancy who as caretakers patrolled the property, maintained the grounds and historic structure, and lived on-site.  "These men were maintaining the grounds like our current maintenance division or patrolling and locking up buildings like our law enforcement rangers," Hazel remarked. Early caretakers had a very all-inclusive role.

Hazel also helped authenticate the Woodrow Wilson visit story by tracking down the meeting minutes and transcription of Wilson's presentation. This was an exceptionally exciting find. Wilson addressed WANJ when he was the President of Princeton University, prior to serving as Governor of New Jersey and later President of the United States.  According to correspondence and meeting notes, Wilson addressed the Washington Association on the occasion of Washington's Birthday.  A note that accompanies the stenographer's transcription notes that Wilson did not want this extemporaneous address published because he was not convinced the transcription was accurate. Below is Wilson's letter to Henry Pitney and the first page of the stenographer's notes recording Wilson's address.

Wilson's 1902 letter of acceptance to address WANJ.
This letter was written while Wilson was serving as President of Princeton University (prior to serving as Governor of New Jersey and later US President).

Wilson's address to the Washington Association, February 23, 1903, as recorded by the stenographer. This transcription likely reflects the gist of the address delivered. 

Some other surprising discoveries included the 1934 General Management Plan which demonstrated interest in the natural and cultural resources at Jockey Hollow. Two proposals stood out; a proposal to have interpretive rangers live at the Wick House and a proposal for an educational wild flowers trail.

Founding members: William van Vleck Lidegerwood, Theodore Randolph, Nathaniel Halsted, and George Halsey.

Various commemorative pins.

The badge of Patrick Glancy reads "Washington Association of New Jersey Police."

Check signed by Edward D. Halsey.

This is Ranger Hazel's third special exhibit since 2008. His current exhibit, now featured at the Headquarters Museum, features coins and Continental and colonial currency.

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