History of the NJSAA

The New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance (NJSAA) has evolved from a small group teachers of New Jersey studies that began to meet in the spring of 1992.

Since the fall of 1993 the Alliance has presented or cosponsored a number of conferences to introduce people to New Jersey studies. In the spring of 1994 the Alliance and the New Jersey Council for the Social Studies sponsored a daylong conference on the humanities as applied to New Jersey subjects. The following year the Alliance cooperated with Rutgers University Libraries to present a series on New Jersey and World War II. It worked with the Park Service/Organization of American Historians on a Thomas Edison Sesqucentennial Conference (1997), and with Rutgers-Camden for another on Walt Whitman (1998). In these endeavors the Alliance has received generous support form both the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

Alliance members have presented sessions at the New Jersey Education Association conventions (1995 and 1999), New Jersey Council for the Social Studies (1997), and the New Jersey History Issues Convention (1998) to help teachers learn about materials to teach New Jersey studies. In 1998-1999 it organized a New Jersey Studies Film Festival, which was held at a variety of venues around the state.

The Alliance also worked with the New Jersey County Cultural and Historic Agencies to present a series of county studies programs to introduce teachers to the historic resources of the counties. Programs were held in Ocean, Camden, Gloucester, and Atlantic counties, along with related sessions in Bergen and Morris counties.

In addition, the Alliance has been a co-sponsor of the annual New Jersey History Issues Convention every year since its inception. It has co-sponsored the Archives and History Day celebration held in October at the Monmouth County Library in Manalapan since 1996. It has also co-sponsored the National History Day held in the spring at William Paterson University. In 1995 and 1996 it co-sponsored the programs for teachers of the Walter Edge Foran Institute held at Morven.

Alliance members have participated in efforts to stregthen the teaching of New Jersey studies in the schools. Claribel Young (Georgian Court College) chaired the History Issues Convention's committee on History in the Schools. Both Harriet Sepinwall (College of Saint Elizabeth) and Maxine N. Lurie (Seton Hall University) have testified about the needs of New Jersey studies, especially New Jersey history education, before the Task Force on New Jersey History when it held public meetings.

Most recently, the group partnered with New Jersey Caucus of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), New Jersey Council for History Education, Monmouth County Archives, New Jersey State Archives, United Methodist Church Archives, Seton Hall University School of Education & History Department (Fall 2001) on a series of workshops designed to bring teachers into area archives. It was called "History Need Not Be Dull: Bringing the Past to Life Using Primary Source Documents and Local Historic Sites," and done with the assistance of a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission. Sessions were held at five locations in the state: Seton Hall University, Monmouth County Library, Drew University, New Jersey State Archives, and NJEA Convention. The program has continued with sessions held at the New Jersey Historical Society in 2002, and the Monmouth County Historical Association in 2003.