Domestic Life

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Like women everywhere, New Jersey women have been central to the largely overlooked work of household laborer and bearer of children. This has been true for Lenape women, early colonists, enslaved African American women, women in the growing middle class of the 19th century women, working class and immigrant women, and modern 20th century women. Whether working unpaid for her family, working as a domestic servant for pay or room and board, or supervising others in the care and management of the home, women have generally been assigned the major responsibility for domestic concerns. This includes food production, cleaning, laundry, the manufacture or procurement of clothing and household equipment, childcare, and nursing of children and adults. Each house in New Jersey, whether the home of a public figure, a wealthy socialite, a factory worker, or a farm wife, whether from the colonial period or post World War II suburbia, is a document of women’s domestic lives. Houses inform us about the technology the homemaker had or did not have to assist with household labor. The arrangement of its spaces tells much about family activity and structure. Its location tells about the relationship of the individual family to the surrounding community or neighborhood. Its architecture and interior design speaks to the cultural sensibilities and building technology of its time period.

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    Pahaquarra Archaeological Site

    Of the many documented archaeological sites within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, several excavated during the 1960s and early 1970s by Dr. Herbert Kraft of Seton Hall University have provided important information concerning the lifeways of the Lenape (Delaware) Indians at the time of contact with Euro-Americans.

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    The Miller-Cory House Museum

    Established as a museum in 1972, The Miller-Cory House interprets farm life in the “west fields” of Elizabethtown from 1740 through 1820.

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    The Bridget Smith House

    Bridget Lockman and her husband, John Smith, immigrated from Ireland in the 1850s following the Irish Potato Famine. They settled in Mine Hill with other Irish immigrant iron mine workers in a section then known as Irishtown. By the time Bridget purchased this double house in 1879 for $300, John had been killed in a local mining accident.

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    Fosterfields Living Historical Farm

    Fosterfields Living Historical Farm, a working historic farm run by the Morris County Park Commission, is open to the public for self-guided tours April through October. The former owner of the farm, Caroline Foster, gave the property to the Morris County Park Commission upon her death.

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    Historic Walnford

    Four generations of Waln/Meirs women have left a legacy at Historic Walnford, a 36-acre historic district in the heart of Crosswicks Creek Park, part of the Monmouth County Park System. Elizabeth Armitt Waln married Richard Waln in 1760 and moved to Upper Freehold in 1774.

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    Historic Morven

    Morven is well known for its association with several important historical figures and events in New Jersey history. Poet Annis Boudinot Stockton, who lived at Morven from the 1750s through the 1790s, was considered one of the most cultured, literary and patriotic women of the Revolutionary period.

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    Howell Living History Farm

    The Howell Living History Farm depicts family farm life during the first years of the 20th century where both crops and livestock were raised for livelihood.

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    Ann Cooper Whitall House

    Revolutionary War heroine and diarist Ann Cooper Whitall lived in this brick home on the banks of the Delaware River with her husband, James, and their nine children. On October 22, 1777, British ships occupied the waters of the Delaware River, and local residents of the towns along the river were urged to leave their homes to find a safe haven.

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    Bamberger’s Department Store

    Bamberger’s Department Store helped to change the way the public, especially women did their shopping. Before the advent of the large department store in the early 20th century, women would have to visit several specialty shops to find all their household needs.

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    Glenmont: Edison National Historic Site

    Glenmont became the domain of Mina Miller Edison, Thomas Edison’s second wife, when they married in 1886. Mina preferred the title of “home executive,” and she ran Glenmont efficiently like a small business.