Morris County Historical Society’s recently completed $1.5 million Exterior Restoration of Acorn Hall illustrates our commitment to the preservation and promotion of Morris County’s rich history. The Society operates Acorn Hall as a historic house museum, produces exhibitions on local history, and provides public programming on Morris County history.
Designed by Dempsey:
The Creations of a Morristown Irish Dressmaker
February 4 – July 14, 2024
Mrs. R.F. (Catherine) Dempsey (1850-1931) in many ways broke the pattern of a turn-of-the-century dressmaker. Her longevity alone was unusual, with a career that spanned at least 40 years, marriage, and children. Like many of her local colleagues though, she was the daughter of Irish immigrants. At a time when dressmaking was the 3rd-largest occupation for women and a rare opportunity at female entrepreneurship, she designed and created dresses for Morristown’s well-to-do ladies out of her home, labeling her work to mark it as her own. One of the best-represented local dressmakers in museum collections today, six of her elegant creations form this exhibit.
Morris County Through the Lens of Time:
A Photographic Journey by Xiomáro
July 9, 2023 – January 7, 2024
From the iconic to the little-known, Morris County is brimming with historic sites that spark the imagination. In this landmark exhibit, nationally acclaimed photographer Xiomáro captures eight of the county’s historic sites from new, exciting angles: “With my camera, I can compose a deeper view and understanding of these sites that cannot be seen in a tour or fully appreciated in a history book.” Through the never-before-seen works on display – shot especially for this exhibit – the artist explores the beauty to be found in the mundane and the poignant traces left behind by generations past. Artifacts generously provided by each site’s stewards will complement the powerful images as a tangible connection to the diverse histories reflected in Xiomáro’s lens.
Morris County Historical Society at Acorn Hall
National Park Service at Morristown National Historical Park
Ayres/Knuth Farm Foundation, Denville
Canal Society of New Jersey
The Friends Meeting House and Cemetery Association, Randolph
Mount Tabor Historical Society
Orchard Street Cemetery Gatehouse Historical Association, Dover
Funding for this exhibit generously provided by MorrisArts.
The Morristown Sewing School:
Students, Teachers & Their Shared Community
February 12 – July 2, 2023
This little-known and little-recorded facet of Morris County history was run on a volunteer basis by some of the most prominent women in Morristown throughout the 1880s. On Saturdays mornings, the school taught local young girls, most the daughters of tradesmen, practical sewing skills from darning to hemming. However, despite over 500 students attending between November 1879 and May 1889, little documentation on the school exists. What is known comes predominantly from two years of research based on the 45 teachers books donated to MCHS in 2018. Fortuitously, the books are a gold mine of information and with their assistance, the 47 known students and their 60 teachers were traced via the census and other records, providing fascinating insight into two very distinct strata of Morristown society.
From the Waist Up:
Bodices, Vests & Jackets, 1840-1920
April 3, 2022-January 29, 2023
This exhibit features nearly 50 never-before-seen bodices, vests, jackets, and shirtwaists (1840-1920) from skillfully handmade garments to those crafted by renowned European fashion houses. Presented in two phases, Spring/Summer styles on display through early August. Fall/Winter fashions will be highlighted beginning in September 2022.
Women frequently kept several bodices to match a particular skirt, such as a casual bodice for daytime and formal bodice for evening. Skirts also often received much more wear, and as pieces were handed down the generations, the bodice alone was preserved. Special-occasion attire for men such as silk vests and military dress uniforms were also often left comparatively untouched by the passage of time.
Alongside these remarkable fashions, From the Waist Up, will highlight a wide assortment of accessories from within MCHS’s collection including hats, hair pieces, watches, cufflinks, fans, purses, and jewelry that were all necessary to complete a look.
A Storied Past:
History That Made Morris County
March 29, 2021-February 13, 2022
2021 is a landmark year for MCHS, representing both the 75th anniversary of our incorporation and the 50th anniversary of Mary Crane Hone’s donation of Acorn Hall. To celebrate these milestones, A Storied Past will highlight Morris County’s vibrant history as told through the remarkable objects and images preserved within our collections and archives.
Cut from Different Cloth:
Material Gains in Women's Opportunities
September 2020-January 2021
Between 1870 and 1930 a radical shift in women’s employment was spurred by developments in education, industrialization, and new technologies. In continuation of our celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the second phase of MCHS’s women’s exhibit, Cut from Different Cloth, explores these decades when women first entered the workforce en masse and carved out their own niches in it.
Plan Your Visit
MCHS Office: Mon-Fri 8am-4pm
Acorn Hall Museum: Sun 1pm-4pm
Tues., Wed. & Thurs. 11am-4pm
Become an Intern
The Morris County Historical Society hosts a volunteer internship program for high school and college students.
Become a Volunteer
The programs and activities of the Morris County Historical Society would not be possible without the time and talents of our volunteers.
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New & Events
by Anne Motto, F.M. Kirby Curator of Collections February 20, 2024 Fifty years after his father toured the UK’s Lake District, John Hone IV (1844-1915) traveled much of the American […]
by Anne Motto, F.M. Kirby Curator of Collections February 13, 2024 In 1905, more dressmakers than ever were operating in Morristown. Often working out of their home and sometimes in […]