A Storied Past
History That Made Morris County
March 29, 2021-February 13, 2022
To celebrate MCHS’s 75th anniversary, explore the 300 years of history preserved within our archives and collections as the objects, documents, and photographs on display weave together a fascinating story of life in the county from 17th-century Dutch settlement to military service in the Vietnam War.
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 operated on a volunteer basis by some of the most prominent women in Morristown throughout the 1880s. On Saturday 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 teacher’s books donated to MCHS in 2018. Fortuitously, the books are gold mine of information and with their assistance, the 487 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
Featuring nearly 100 never-before-seen bodices, vests, jackets, and shirtwaists from within MCHS’s extensive costume collection, this exhibit also included hundreds of accessories from hats to hair pieces, watches, fans, purses, and jewelry that completed a look. Presented in two phases: spring/summer and fall/winter fashions.
Cut from Different Cloth:
The Art of Women's Handwork, 1865-1925
To honor the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 2020, MCHS presents the exhibition series Cut from Different Cloth exploring various facets of women’s history. The first exhibition, The Art of Women’s Handwork, 1865-1925, delves into the evolution of women’s role as a home-based, family clothier with the advent and availability of the sewing machine. From seamstresses to piece workers, garment maker, and factory workers, occupations open to women during the Industrial Revolution often revolved around the needle, and machine sewing changed both the nature and perception of handwork.
These trailblazing female craftswomen brought both changes in the workforce, and legislation that guided their professions. Tragedies such as the fires at Wolf Muslin Undergarment Factory and Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, as well as the radium poisoning at Radium Luminous Materials Corp., poignantly illustrate how women workers shaped workplace safety in their increasingly modern manufacturing world.
Cut from Different Cloth:
Material Gains in Women's Opportunities, 1870-1930
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.
Up in Smoke:
Northern NJ's Worst Man Made Disasters, 1910-1989
October 2019-March 2020
Join Morris County Historical Society as we feature some of the worst man-made disasters northern NJ has ever witnessed, including catastrophic explosions to national legislation-changing fires. Up In Smoke includes events still considered the worst in US history, as well as others that spurred significant and sweeping changes in workplace and first responder safety. Since first responders don’t stop at county lines, Up In Smoke highlights six disasters from Morris County and seven from contiguous counties.
Through this exhibit, which opened during Fire Prevention Week, 2019, MCHS honors our first responders who continue to keep us safe and answer the call each and every day.