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Local History, Genealogy & Special Collections Programs
Check the Library's Event Calendar for all upcoming Library programs

Join the Local History, Genealogy & Special Collections Department staff for our upcoming virtual programs. Attendees of the live programs will have the opportunity to ask questions. All programs are FREE and require registration. Please sign up for the Library's e-newsletter to learn about all of our services and programs. View our previously recorded programs on the Library's Local History YouTube playlist. ALL PROGRAMS CONTINUE TO BE VIRTUAL VIA ZOOM. ASL Interpretation is available upon request; please contact us four weeks (or more) in advance to ensure this service can be provided.

The Library’s Local History Department is supported, in part, by a general operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. The Drake House Museum is supported, in part, by a general operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State, administered by the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, Department of Parks and Recreation. Both are supported, in part, by 2022 HEART (History, Education, Arts Reaching Thousands) Grants from the Union County Board of County Commissioners.

Is there a topic or speaker you would like us to present, please let us know!

Special Program:

Black Lives Matter: A Fight For Change
Saturday, August 13, 2022, at 11:30am in the Anne Louise Davis Gallery
Presented by Kalani Jimenez-Mackson

No registration. This is an in-person event and will not be recorded.

In this program, Kalani “Afrolombian” Jimenez-Mackson will explain the importance of photojournalism and its ability to control our narratives with the truth. Photojournalism techniques, philosophy, and process will be the main topics in this exploration of image and photography. Through imagery and words, the audience will step back and look at a moment in United States history when immense civil unrest takes place during the worst global pandemic in recent time.

Mr. Jimenez-Mackson's "A Fight for Change” photograph series documents the Plainfield Anti-Violence Protest led by the Plainfield Anti-Violence Coalition (PAVC) on June 6, 2020.  Other series in the collection are the George Floyd Newark March organized by Peoples Organization for Progress (POP) that took place on May 30, 2020; the BLM Scotch Plains March organized by the Black Student Union (BSU) alumni association of Scotch Plains Fanwood High school on June 4, 2020; the Edison March for Injustice on June 8, 2020; and the Justice for Maurice Gordon march in Clark on July 4, 2020. The photograph exhibit will run from August 13 to October 8 in the Anne Louise Davis Gallery.

This arts education program is supported, in part, by a 2022 History, Education, Arts Reaching Thousands (HEART) Grant from the Union County Board of Commissioners.

Kalani Jimenez-Mackson has been working in the world of music videos and narratives for the past seven years. He has made efforts to break the line that is reality and fiction with a naturalistic approach and kinetic energy through the camera. His approach to image has become more of a spiritual practice where preservation of the people, places and things that find their way in front of the lens have become just as important as the quality itself.


Library Genealogy Club:

The Trifecta: The Secret Sauce of Researching the Formerly Enslaved
Saturday, September 3, 2022, at 10:30am via Zoom
Presented by Nicka Smith

Register Here

Genealogists and family historians alike have spent decades looking for a tried and true method for unearthing slaveholders of those enslaved prior to 1865. Learn how three crucial record sets (Civil War Pensions, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and Probates/Successions) can become just the wrecking ball needed to obliterate brick walls related to slavery.

There will be time at the end for Q&A.

Nicka Smith is a host, consultant, and documentarian with more than 20 years of experience as a genealogist. She has extensive experience in researching the enslaved and their communities and is an expert in genealogy research in the Mississippi Delta. Nicka has diverse and varied experience in media with a background in audio, video, and written communications. She’s appeared on the TODAY Show, CNN, MSNBC, an Emmy winning episode of Who Do You Think You Are and has been interviewed by Oakland Tribune, Andscape (The Undefeated), National Geographic, and TIME. She is the host of BlackProGen LIVE, an innovative web show with more than 130 episodes focused on people of color genealogy and family history. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, a member of two lineage societies (Sons and Daughters of the Middle Passage (SDUSMP), National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)), and more. Learn more about Nicka here.

2022 Upcoming Programs - All Programs Are FREE
Programs are Co-hosted with the Plainfield Historical Society / Drake House Museum
View Past Recordings / View Library Calendar
Date Programs: Please be aware the pending programs below may change. Not all presenters allow program recording.
Learn More & Register
Aug 6
10:30am to noon
So, You Want to Join the DAR? Daughters of the American Revolution: Hereditary Society / Presented by Mary Ellen Rogan Recording Available Soon
Aug 13
11:30am to 12:30pm
Photojournalsim: Black Lives Matter, A Fight For Change / Presented by Kalani Jimenez-Mackson
This is an in-person event and will not be recorded.
No registration required
Sep 3
10:30am to noon
The Trifecta: The Secret Sauce of Researching the Formerly Enslaved / Presented by Nicka Sewell-Smith Register Here
Sep 10
10:30am to noon
Medicinal Plants of the Civil War / Presented by Lesley Parness Register Here
Oct. 8
10:30am to noon
Introduction to Hispanic Heritage Genealogy / Presented by Irisneri Alicea Flores Register Here
Nov. 5
10:30am to noon
Questioning the Questions of the US Census / Presented by Karen Gaffney
This is a grant-funded NJCH-Public Scholars Program
Register Here
Dec 10
10:30am to noon
Untold Stories of the American Revolution / Presented by Richard Bell Register Here
  * We try to record and post all of our virtual programs. Recordings are posted to our YouTube playlist. Not all speakers permit recordings.  


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