authoritative source on
early churches of New Jersey
We've created a database and photographic inventory on more than half
the 18th & 19th century churches in the state and add to it each month.
We welcome and solicit all contributions and suggestions from our visitors.
to use this site
Respond to readers' queries
Consult the database
Annotate the database
Upload a photo
Suggest a church for inclusion
List of churches, by county
Links to related sites
apprenticeship in documenting local history
in photography and local history?
You can help preserve
a record of the at-risk architecture of the 20s, 30s and 40s that
is fast disappearing. If you are interested in the 19th century (or
there's still a myriad of things (RR stations, hotels, city halls,
taverns, and schools) that have not been photographed or inventoried.
Projects can be as large as my endeavor to create a photographic inventory
of all the 18th and 19th century churches in the state, or as small
as the truss bridges of Hunterdon county, for example. Whereas a
few scattered photos of a site, especially if undocumented as to date,
valuable to subsequent historians, an attempt to inventory the built
environment and document it, may be of considerable significance.
of our architectural heritage has already been lost, and too
much that was never adequately documented. As David mcCulloch said,
"Ignorance of history is a form of ingratitude." Over the
several years I have been working on this project, more than
churches have burned or been so altered as to be unrecognizable—and
there was no one with sufficient interest to document the building
before it was razed. That's not only ingratitude, but an insult.
the suggestion of several friends who know my work as an educator
as well as photographer, I've thought about developing an online
apprenticeship in photographing, documenting, and publishing
aspects of our architectural heritage.
You can read much more about what an online apprenticeship is at
my e-Learning website [http://www.wiredseminars.com]
but in brief, it is an extended series of assignments—instruction,
coaching, collaboration with peers, and consultation, organized
around a series of tasks and projects—all conducted online via
the Internet. We use email, instant messaging and collaboration software
to enable participants to discuss and show their work, get suggestions
and feedback from others, and learn their craft, whether that be as
a photographer, a researcher or a writer. We can't turn anyone into
an Ansel Adams or John McCullouch, but we can assist you in becoming
quite competent from a documentary perspective if not necessarily an
I can tell you there is an immense satisfaction in seeing your work
reach a broader audience, and knowing that future generations will
of the things I've noticed about many church websites, local histories,
and other publications issued in commemoration of a church's
200th anniversary, is how poor the photography is, how little documentation
there is of important events, and the almost total failure to relate
anything happening within the congregation to outside events. One church,
whose building plans were interrupted for several years during the
1870s, made no mention of the financial Panic of 1873, which caused
business and personal failures throughout the country. Another failed
to mention that more than half the Sons of Liberty who organized
to protest the Stamp Act in 1765 were from their congregation. A
little bit of research can put those events into perspective. A third
ran the minister out because of his inveterate opposition to slavery—they
preferred he "stick to Christ and Him crucified."
One doesn't have to be a history major to make a valuable contribution;
indeed, I am not. I majored in economics and the behavioral sciences.
But you do have to have an interest in history and some awareness that
significant events in the history of a local institution, like a suspension
in construction, usually can be traced to a cause or movement of larger
Unless you live in Virginia or New England, or in one of the historically
important colonial cities like Charleston or Newport, the architectural
heritage of your region has probably been overlooked and undervalued—and
that's not just true of architecture. Any locale where few of the
country's major architects built their "great" buildings
is likely overlooked. But part of the reason for the neglect is that
there is a dearth of local and regional information about our buildings,
compared to what is available for New England, Virginia, New York,
and even Delaware! I can't tell you how many of the local historical
societies I speak to have no inventories of significant regional
architecture because no one thought it was important or made any
effort to pull together those materials.
Fortunately, the most valuable
resource we have is free—our local
It may not be gathered or organized, but "locals" know
where things are and why they're there instead of some place else,
often what really happened. So
we don't have to have advanced degrees or substantial funding to
carry out some of the local projects
that I have discussed with people over the last several years. A
camera, some film, and a practiced eye is enough to start.
To take your interest to the next level, the kind of apprenticeship
I have in mind would be a productive move. At this point, I am simply
trying to determine if there is any interest in such a program. Here
are the particulars as I see them at this moment:
The apprenticeship/seminar would last for 6-8 weeks, include
6 or 7 topics, each built around a specific task or mini-project.
About a third of the activities would be devoted to photographing
the subject of your project, a third to research
and other documentation of what you can find, and a third to the
material, including a website, a blog, and cd-rom, as well as traditional
would communicate with each other and with the instructor/coach
(me) frequently by email, instant messaging, and a collaborative
workspace that is like a high-powered bulletin board.
Everyone would be expected
to discuss their projects, pose questions and problems,
and volunteer from their own experience. We expect a high level of
so if you cannot spare several hours per week to
photograph, research, write, and think about these tasks, the apprenticeship
not for you.
this is an online seminar, my experience is that most participants
will have only modest computer savvy. If you
are a regular
email and can attach a file to a message, that is sufficient
to handle every aspect of the seminar.
apprenticeship will be limited to 12 participants. Given the
substantial amount of time
I expect to spend communicating,
and coaching participants on their projects, photography,
research and writing, it is not possible to work closely with more
that. (I have a full-time
job that requires at least 60 hours a week, so my commitment
to this will siphon some hours from other projects.)
software we'll be using is free, shareware, or trial versions, so
no investment in the tools, but the
of the seminar is $395. I've found that if participants
don't pay something for a seminar, they don't value it. I will be
responsible for setting up the collaborative workspace and for all
participants in downloading and installing the software
tools (such as instant
messaging) we will be using for the seminar.
don't need to live in New Jersey or have an interest in Jersey history.
One of the advantages of distance learning
can be anywhere they have access to an Internet connection.
I'd be delighted if someone wanted to take on a project
Jersey Churchscape but for their own county or state.
is what I'd like to know (you can simply fill in this section and
email it back to me at email@example.com):
1. What is the level of your interest: ( ) high ( ) moderate ( ) low
Please indicate the topics of most interest (check as many
as you want):
( ) photographing structures or activities
( ) researching local history, including structures, people, customs or activities
( ) writing about local history, people, customs, and activities
( ) preparing and organizing materials for presentation or publication
( ) preparing a website or blog to share your work on local history
3. When you would be prepared to begin (assuming you are interested):
( ) in the late spring--say about May
( ) sometime in the summer
( ) after September