Paul Stellhorn biography

Paul A. Stellhorn: An Appreciation

Paul A. Stellhorn (1947-2001) was a distinguished historian and public servant with a love of the humanities and New Jersey’s libraries, and especially the Newark Public Library. He held a Ph.D. in American History from Rutgers University with a specialty in urban history, and wrote a well-regarded thesis “Boom, Bust and Boosterism,” which chronicled Newark Politics from the 1920s to 1941. The project began his connection with Newark, a city for which he cared deeply and in which he worked and lived for much of his life.

Paul’s was a friendly and familiar face in libraries and archives throughout the Garden State, and he was an especially active member of the New Jersey history community. Over a distinguished career, Dr. Stellhorn was associated with a number of organizations, including the New Jersey Historical Commission, where he served as Director of Research, and the New Jersey Committee (now Council) for the Humanities, where he was Assistant Director. In these positions, he developed a statewide reputation as a program officer and grants administrator, and many historians and humanities scholars working today received his generous aid and assistance in mounting public programs and undertaking a wide range of original research efforts. At the time of his death, he was Assistant Director for Development for the Newark Public Library.

Stellhorn had a very public persona. He organized and led many workshops on grant writing for the New Jersey Library Association, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, and similar organizations. Paul also taught history and urban studies at Rutgers University and Kean University, and gave his time freely to such activities as the annual History Day competition at William Paterson University, for which he served as a judge.

He was a scholar of great ability. He served for many years as book review editor of New Jersey History, and co-edited New Jersey Newspapers, 1765 to 1970, with William C. Wright (New Jersey Historical Commission, 1977), long recognized as an indispensable resource in state history. His other edited volumes included Planned and Utopian Experiments: Four New Jersey Towns (New Jersey Historical Commission, 1980), and numerous additional New Jersey Historical Commission publications such as the Ethnic Heritage of the Jewish Community in Farmingdale, the essential Governors of New Jersey: 1664-1974; Biographical Essays (with Michael Birkner, New Jersey Historical Commission, 1982). With Mark Lender and Charles Cummings, he co-authored a history of the Newark law firm of McCarter & English; and at the time of his death, he had just begun another major project with Lender on the history of the federal courts. Few figures were as familiar as Paul Stellhorn to a wider circle of professional colleagues and scholars across New Jersey.

He was a man of wide interests outside of his profession. Over the years, he was variously an avid and enthusiastic collector of books, architectural drawings, coins, and the stamps of the Caribbean. He loved film, and he was an informed and delightful conversationalist. Most of all, he prized his friends—of which, fortunately, there were ma