Museum of Early Trades and Crafts

craftsDo you remember sitting in a classroom in any one of your history courses when you were young? Was it Western European History that did it for you? Eastern and Asian Cultural History? For me, it was American History all the way. The foundation of a country born of revolution still fascinates me to this day. From the earliest settlements in Jamestown to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, there are stories that are the stuff of legend. And much of that history happened right here in New Jersey. Indeed, there would have been no United States of America without the bravery of our local militia and the battles that were fought in Monmouth and Trenton and across the river from New York. Thankfully, we no longer need to sit in school to get a detailed glimpse of what transpired long ago, when cries of freedom were not just hollow words spoken by ambitious politicians angling for the next election. There is a place you can go where history in all its glory unfolds before you. That place is the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts in Madison.

The mission of the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts is to enhance the understanding and appreciation of America’s past by presenting and interpreting the history, culture and lives of ordinary people through educational programs, through preservation and stewardship of our collection, and through exhibition and demonstration of the trades and crafts practiced in New Jersey from its earliest settlement.

To give you an example, here is a typical Exhibit:
This exhibit explores the experiences of New Jersey residents during the American Revolution, and  how their lives were affected by the war.
The New York City based British campaigned across New Jersey, capturing Philadelphia only to be pushed back by the Continental Army. The Continental Army kept winter quarters three times in New Jersey, while both fleeing and pursuing the British across the state. New Jersey residents saw their  towns switch from Loyalist to Patriot control repeatedly, and were exposed to military life throughout the war. Regardless of political affiliation, New Jerseyans endured many of the same harsh conditions:  destruction of property, lack of winter supplies, and extended militia service. Conditions were even more perilous in  ‘neutral territory,’ the no-man’s land of Bergen County and other shoreline communities that could not be held by the contained large  populations of warring Loyalists and Patriots. In these regions, the Revolutionary War resembled a civil war more than an international war.

Some events to look forward to this month:
April 13, 2014 at 2 PM
With No Means of Support to Subsist On: Wealth & Poverty in Revolutionary Monmouth County, NJ
Presented by Michael Adelberg
Explore the degree to which the economic landscape changed in New Jersey after the Revolutionary War.

April 27, 2014 at 2 PM
Cook Like a Soldier
Presented by Carolina Capehart
Join food historian Capehart as she digs into a soldier’s diet during the Revolutionary
War.  Learn about the typical daily rations, what soldiers received and ate, how it was cooked and how it has changed over time.

April 12th, 2014 from 1 PM – 3 PM
Family Fun Day
Join us at the Museum for lots of family fun and craft activity.  Family Fun Day is
held every 2nd Saturday of the month. Advance registration recommended.

The Museum of Early Trades & Crafts is housed in the James Library building, built 1899-1900 to house the Madison Public Library.

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