Elizabeth Alton's Letters
By Brendan Honick and Gabrielle Bibus
In the 1960s, an educational void existed in southern New Jersey. For those who lived in the vicinity of Ocean, Atlantic, or Cape May Counties, no institute of higher education was close by. Glassboro State College (today, Rowan University) had been operating for several decades at this time, but that campus is nearly 50 miles from the shore. Furthermore, state officials were pushing for additional North Jersey schools. During this time, Elizabeth Barstow Alton (1906-2006), an Atlantic City High School graduate, recognized that South Jersey needed a second four-year college. At a meeting of the Atlantic City Kiwanis Club on February 10, 1966, Alton concluded her remarks by announcing her hope that the state would build a college in the region, prompting local leaders to consider and later support this idea. She received much local publicity for this, such as an interview with the Atlantic City Press. Alton successfully prevailed upon New Jersey Chancellor of Higher Education Ralph Dungan to recommend to the State Legislature the establishment of Stockton. Her efforts were largely grassroots: she spoke publicly and coordinated letter-writing campaigns. For example, Alton prompted sixth through eighth-grade students from Ventnor City Schools (including Troy Avenue School, Ventnor Avenue School, and Oxford Avenue School) to compose letters to Dungan asking for a four-year state college in South Jersey, specifically in Atlantic County. Several dozen of these letters are preserved in the University Archives within the Bjork Library; the following are some examples (along with typed transcriptions):
"The Problem is Now"
"An Honest Letter"