New Jersey Room
Hidden in plain sight at Library of the Chathams is a very special and rare treasure. The New Jersey Room, positioned near the fireplace in the main lobby, holds a wealth of information about The Chathams, Morris County, and New Jersey.
Originally stocked by The Chatham Historical Society with Chatham memorabilia, it has since become a more general repository of valuable and irreplaceable books, maps, photos, and yearbooks (both Chatham and Chatham Township). Browsing through the collection can take one on an exciting journey to the past. A creative pastime in bygone years was for people to make a commonplace book, a kind of scrapbook of information about anything that interested the writers – legal data, medical remedies, and thoughts on diverse subjects. The New Jersey Room collection possesses such a book entitled A Common Place Book, Upon the Plan Recommended and Practised By John Locke, Esq. One of the entries in this book, under the heading Politicks, is:
Ques. What dangers must have given rise to government?
Ans. Dangers arising from wild beasts and then men.
Other books that compel one to pause and read a few pages are Anecdotes Of The life Of The Right Honorable William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, and another with the more sensational title of Murder Along The Musconetcong: a Tale of Jersey Justice By Ruth Trask Farrow. It tells the story of the Castner murders which, in 1843, were called the crime of the century.
Working with both The Chatham Historical Society and The Chatham Township Historical Society, Library staff has recently collaborated on improving the atmosphere in the room to better preserve very old materials. In the same project, the windows were covered with protection from UVA rays to prevent fading.
Although the Room is always locked, the group has (put into use) general rules on the use of the room and its materials, such as requesting patrons to leave their car keys at the reference desk in order to gain admittance, no photocopying without the permission of the Reference Staff, and no removals from the Room.
Staff at the Reference Desk will provide instructions and access to the New Jersey Room during regular library hours.