Benjamin Franklin once described New Jersey as “a barrel tapped at both ends” because of our location between the two imposing metropolises of Philadelphia and New York City. We’re the Crossroads of the American Revolution for that very same reason. Forget the six degrees of separation, chances are good that every important event or person in U.S. history can be linked back to Jersey in about 3 or 4. We’ve been divided into East and West, and over whether we call it pork roll or Taylor ham. We’ve been the punchline to countless jokes, our politicians are loud-mouths and our taxes are high, but we’ve birthed many of the greatest musicians, actors, inventors, and humanitarians. Our roads might be congested, but we can boast some of the best beaches, mountains, and even water falls, and we don’t have to pump our own gas. Oh, and we even have our very own Jersey Devil.
March 2015 had been designated as the month of the New Jersey Caucus, but we stepped aside for announcements related to the Boston meeting. Now that it’s quiet, we’ll take the next few days to tell you about us and some of the things our members are doing.
New Jersey has a strong and active caucus of 108 members. We present our Innovative Archives Award to an organization that has furthered the cause of archives and history in the state, and we co-sponsor the Paul Stellhorn Award which recognizes exceptional undergraduate papers in New Jersey history. The caucus chair sits on the boards of the History & Preservation Section of the New Jersey Library Association, the Advocates for New Jersey History, and the newly created New Jersey Cultural Alliance for Response. The members that comprise the caucus are seen as vital participants in the state’s library, history, and archival communities.
Our biggest contribution is the Caucus Archival Projects Evaluation Service (CAPES) Program that just celebrated its 25th year. Funded by grants from the New Jersey Historical Commission, CAPES has provided free professional care and guidance to small to mid-size repositories of archives, historical records, and manuscript collections. Consultants assess and recommend improvements that will guide institutions’ strategic vision in setting goals, program priorities, and budgeting. CAPES consultations collectively have helped to raise the standard of archives preservation and access in smaller institutions in New Jersey through the more than 450 surveys that have been completed.
Recently, the CAPES Advisory Committee has been working with the New Jersey Association of Museums to establish the Artifact Assessment Program (AAP) which will do the same thing for artifacts that CAPES does for archival items.
At the New Jersey Forum at Kean University in November 2014, CAPES was presented with a Special 25th Anniversary Award. In the photo are three of the founding members of the CAPES program, Karl Niederer, Maxine Lurie, and Richard Waldron, with NJHC executive director Sara Cureton (in red), and current CAPES coordinator Frederic Pachman (on right).
We are a busy caucus and we look forward to welcoming MARAC back to New Jersey in Spring 2017. Meanwhile, keep up with all the things our members do via our MARAC web page (which we are currently updating): http://www.marac.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=84
and our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/814182725289902/