Announcing two new books on John Cotton Dana and the Newark Museum

November 15, 2010 at 4:38 pm 1 comment

 Blog written by Dr. William Peniston, Newark Museum Librarian

On Thursday, November 18 at 4 pm meet author Carol G. Duncan, who will be signing her book "A Matter of Class" during the Holiday Shopping Spree.

A Matter of Class: John Cotton Dana, Progressive Reform, and the Newark Museum

  by Carol G. Duncan (Periscope Publishing, 2010).

This highly original book tracks Dana’s career from its beginnings in the Denver Public Library to his move back East, where he met stiff opposition to his plans for a “museum of service” — his term for the alternative museum he envisioned. Using her incomparable knowledge of the history of museums, Carol G. Duncan, Professor Emerita of Art History at Ramapo College of New Jersey, assesses Dana’s conflicts with influential supporters of the arts, first in Springfield, Massachusetts, and then, for almost three decades in Newark, New Jersey.

 No previous book has reconstructed Dana’s role in the Progressive Movement or been more perceptive about his fiery personality and vision of modernity. A Matter of Class is, as well, an astute guide to the social and political agendas still mixed into the public offerings of our museums and libraries.

Made in Newark: Cultivating Industrial Arts and Civic Identity in the Progressive Era by Ezra Shales (Rutgers University Press, 2010).

In this book, Ezra Shales, who teaches at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, describes a turbulent industrial city at the

Ezra Shales, author of "Made in Newark: Cultivating Industrial Arts and Civic Identity in the Progressive Era" will speak and sign copies of the book on Friday, November 19 at 4 pm. This event takes place during the Holiday Shopping Spree.

dawn of the twentieth century and the ways it inspired the library’s and the museum’s outspoken director, John Cotton Dana, to collaborate with industrialists, social workers, and educators, on experimental exhibitions in which cultural literacy was intertwined with civics and consumption. Local artisans demonstrated crafts, connecting the cultural institution to the department store, school, and factory, all of which invoked the ideal of municipal patriotism. Today, as cultural institutions reappraise their relevance, Made in Newark explores precedents for contemporary debates over the ways the library and museum engage communities, define heritage in a multicultural era, and add value to the economy.

Both authors will be speaking and signing books during the Newark Museum’s Holiday Shopping Spree, November 17 through 21, 2011.

To learn more about the Newark Museum, visit


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Adam  |  November 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I study in a library that faces the old Wiss building and thing about from time to time. . I wonder what happened to the Newark that made things. Did it disappear piece by piece? I think about the main character is Roth’s American Pastoral who owns and runs a lady’s leather glove factory. Sometimes it feels like Newark is like one of the cities in Mesopotamia – archeologists can dig layers down showing that various civilizations lived here. What will my kids find and think about today’s Newark? What will we leave.


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