now and then helen kull

now and then

We begin 2021 with an announcement and invitation directly from the Ewing Township Historic Preservation Society:

We experience our life as the history of our family, our community, our country, and our world. Family history is passed down from generation to generation often through the oral history of our elders.

Even in today’s totally interconnected world of texts, emails, Instagram, and the multitude of other ways to connect through social media, we learn a great deal from sitting around a kitchen table talking to our parents and grandparents. It can be difficult to remember everything that we hear, especially through our childhood. Putting memories down on paper or taking photographs help to provide documents to support our memories in the decades to come.

The year 2020 will be a very memorable year for many generations to come. Worldwide pandemics are certainly not a common event.

The Ewing Township Historic Preservation Society has been challenged during our 47 years to preserve documents and artifacts relevant to the history of Ewing Township and its residents, and to make them available to researchers and others.

Future generations will want to know what our experience of this difficult year was like. Thus, we are launching our Voices of Ewing Project to collect the stories, trials, difficulties, and challenges that members of the Ewing community have experienced throughout this past year.

The Ewing Historic Society has collected some wonderful photos of and letters from many individual members of the Ewing Community which date back to at least the 1860-70s. These archives tell the stories of the people who lived in the various neighborhoods of Ewing before our time.

One of the earliest photos in our collection is an image of the Benjamin Temple House with Temple family members that dates probably from the 1860s since it appears to be a Carte de Visite Print (these antique sepia tone images are printed on thin paper that is glued to heavy cardstock). Early Ewingites also suffered through pandemics and the spread of serious illnesses.

We have letters from John Vernam, Jr. writing home from France during World War I about the woman he was engaged to dying from the “Spanish Flu” in early 1919.

Collecting and sharing your history of the past year is important to us and future members of the Ewing Community. In a 2020 spring edition of the Ewing Observer, photographer Heather Raub took photos of families on their front porches, and they shared how their lives had changed in the months since COVID-19 was influencing their choices.

We want to hear from you to help us document this important time. Consider sending us photos, drawings, observations, anecdotes, journal entries or poems of your experiences this year. We would like to hear from individuals who were sickened by COVID-19 or were part of the front line health care responders.

But we also would really like to hear from everyone else since we all lived through a very changed life experience in the last year. Those with more technical skills should consider providing us with either an audio tape (an oral history) or a video.

Please send your 2020 story to the Ewing Township Historic Preservation Society at 27 Federal City Road, Ewing NJ 08638 or to info@ethps.org. Guidelines for the proper format for sending information is available on our website at www.ethps.org. We hope to be able to keep all material that is sent to us in our archives. ETHPS has plans to share some of your stories with the general public on our website and eventually have a public display during a future program at the Benjamin Temple House. It is possible we may display some photos or artwork at the Ewing Township Municipal Building.

Of course, all participants will be contacted to complete a signed Release Form to give ETHPS permission to use the material you send us before any material is publicly displayed. You will retain copyright to your words, images, and art.

Finding a way to express your thoughts and feelings about the events of your life can often benefit your mental, emotional, and physical health. As a member of the Ewing community you can help others to see the commonality of how all of us are experiencing these trying times.

Share your story of Ewing history with Helen by emailing her at ewingthenandnow@gmail.com.

Helen Kull is an adviser to the Ewing Township Historic Preservation Society.