Center to Preserve Jewish Farming History Receives Grant
Galloway, N.J. — The Alliance Heritage Center will use a new grant to create a public digital database of its collection documenting the history of Jewish farming in southern New Jersey.
The New Jersey Historical Commission recently awarded more than $300,000 to 14 organizations to explore under-represented history in the state, including $24,500 to the Alliance Heritage Center at Stockton University.
These photos from the Alliance Heritage Center collection depicts the colony in the early 20th century. Top, Ben and Barney Stavitsky with a friend on Aug. 11, 1916.
Bottom, Gilbert Greenblatt with his horse Nellie in 1922.
The goal of the Alliance Heritage Center is to preserve the history of the first successful Jewish farming village in the United States, the Alliance Colony in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County.
The center will use the grant to support a one-year project to create a public digital database to house its collections, said Patricia Chappine, adjunct professor of History.
“We’re very excited to start this project,” said Chappine, who works with the center and its director, Thomas Kinsella. “Adding our collections to Stockton’s online archives will make our holdings more accessible, expand our community connections and help us preserve the stories of Alliance and Jewish agriculture in the area.”
The Alliance Colony was established in 1882 by 43 original Jewish families fleeing persecution from Russia and Eastern Europe. Chappine said the center’s archives include several physical and digital collections, including manuscripts, naturalization papers, newspapers, deeds, maps, land surveys, synagogue records, photographs and oral history interviews. It also includes the bound writings of Rabbi Moses Bayuk, one of the founding members of the Alliance Colony.
“Telling complex, diverse and nuanced histories will continue to be a priority of the New Jersey History Commission, and this funding is an important next step to achieving that essential goal,” said N.J. Secretary of State Tahesha Way.
The funds are part of New Jersey’s Inclusive History Grant Program (IHGP), which was created to help commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States.
Chappine said the grants will help create a searchable online database and digital museum using the Preservica archival management software that will be open to the public.
“By expanding access to these collections, we will open these holdings to researchers who can make broad and important connections between our resources and the history of immigration and refugee communities in New Jersey,” she said. “This will ultimately alleviate the shortage of secondary sources available on the subject.”
The center also plans to use a portion of the grant to create interactive virtual exhibits with the help of Stockton students.
Two major gifts to the Stockton University Foundation helped establish the center in 2019. A $500,000 gift from an anonymous donor established a fund for the Elizabeth and Samuel Levin Director of the Alliance Heritage Center. A $200,000 gift from Bernard and Shirlee Greenblatt Brown and their children created a research endowment. Learn more about the Alliance Heritage Center.
-- Story by Mark Melhorn
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Director of Strategic Communications
Galloway, N.J. 08205