Working in Paterson


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Working in Paterson is derived from photographs, tape-recorded interviews, and other documentary materials created during a field research project the Library of Congress's American Folklife Center conducted in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1994, under the terms of a cooperative agreement between the Center and the Chesapeake System Support Office of the National Park Service (Philadelphia). The project was a direct result of the New Jersey Heritage Initiative, sponsored by U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, that was authorized by Congress, in 1992, as part of Public Law 102-154.

The central goal of the field project was to identify and document contemporary manifestations of the city's occupational heritage that could enhance the Park Service's interpretation of Paterson's national historic district — site of the nation's first industrial center. The researchers' activities included tape recording interviews with active and retired workers; photographing operations in textile and garment-manufacturing plants, stores, restaurants, and other workplaces; and closely observing the routines of work at selected sites. In particular, researchers explored the intersection of work with family, ethnicity, gender, and neighborhood. The members of the research team were David Taylor (director), Tom Carroll, Martha Cooper, Susan Levitas, Tim Lloyd, and Robert McCarl. They created the sound recordings and photographs that constitute the core of the Working in Paterson online presentation.

Neither the field project nor the online presentation would have been possible without the participation of many individuals who live and work in Paterson. The American Folklife Center wishes to thank all those who assisted the members of its Working in Paterson research team by providing suggestions about people to interview and scenes to document, consenting to be interviewed and photographed, demonstrating aspects of their work, providing logistical support, and helping in other ways. While it is not possible to list everyone who provided assistance, the Center is pleased to acknowledge the support of those listed below.

The online presentation of Working in Paterson was organized and developed for the Library of Congress's National Digital Library Program by Christa Maher, project leader and Digital Conversion Specialist, and Robin Fanslow, Digital Projects Coordinator for the American Folklife Center.


Folklife Specialist David Taylor selected the photographs included in this online presentation, and he, along with fieldworkers Robert McCarl, Susan Levitas, and Tom Carroll, selected audio clips for inclusion. American Folklife Center staff Catherine H. Kerst and Michael Taft and Digital Conversion Specialist Laura Gottesman assisted with developing the cataloging scheme for the online presentation.

Phil Michel of the Library's Prints and Photographs Division advised and assisted in the preparation of the still photographs for digitization. JJT, Inc., scanned the color slides and black-and-white photographs.

Image quality review was carried out by Christa Maher, Robin Fanslow, and Laura Gottesman. Christa Maher, Todd Harvey, and Robin Fanslow digitized the audio to WaveForm, and Christa Maher created the derivative audio file formats.

Caroline Arms and Mary Ambrosio provided valuable guidance in the development of the collection's data indexing scheme. Barak Stussman and Elizabeth Madden were instrumental in the redesign and redevelopment of the database underlying this collection. Barak Stussman programmed the indexing and display of the documents.


James Hardin and David Taylor of the American Folklife Center and Jurretta Jordan Heckscher and Emily Lind Baker of the National Digital Library Program's editorial team edited the framing texts.

Andrea Dillon designed the collection home page graphic and the overall graphic layout, contributed HTML coding for framework Web pages, and provided design and coding related guidance. Robin Fanslow designed and coded the special presentation essay American Folklife Center Documents Occupational Culture in Paterson, New Jersey. Thaddus Jeffers designed and coded the special presentation essay African American Family Business in Paterson, New Jersey. Qun Lai designed and coded the special presentation essay Watson Machine International: Microcosm of American Industrial Development. Christa Maher designed and coded the special presentation essay Twenty-First Avenue: Place of Conjunction, the Historical Maps of the Study Area, and contributed HTML coding for framework Web pages. Colleen Wallace designed and coded the special presentation essay Paterson's Hot Texas Wiener Tradition and the Working in Paterson: Five Fieldworkers' Impressions web page. Timberly Wuester designed and coded the special presentation essay Narratives of Work: Stories Told by Retired Workers and Their Children.

Emily Vartanian, Assistant General Counsel, evaluated rights issues and permissions requirements.

Domenico Sergi, ITS Scan Lab, provided useful digital prints of selected images.

Sentator Frank R. Lautenberg and Representative William J. Pascrell, Jr., (the Mayor of Paterson when field research for the project was conducted), kindly agreed to be interviewed about Paterson, their home town. Mia Dell, Rep. Pascrell's legislative director, provided support.

Thanks to Katherine Hamilton-Smith, Curator of Historical Resources at the Lake County Discovery Museum, and Curt Teich Postcard Archives for permission to reproduce the "Greetings from Paterson, N.J." postcard (featured in photograph WIP-DT-C008-10), copyright Curt Teich & Co., Inc., Number 2C-H1147.


Field Project Acknowledgments:

  • The Honorable Frank R. Lautenberg
  • The Honorable William J. Pascrell Jr., Mayor of Paterson
  • The Paterson Urban History Initiative Core Advisory Group, with special thanks to Flavia Alaya, Francis J. Blesso, Giacomo De Stefano, Anna-Lisa Dopirak, Deborah Hoffman, Mada Liebman, Donald Mania, and Peggy L. Robertson
  • Vera Ames and Maria Magda O'Keefe, Paterson City Council
  • Edward Cotton, Assistant to the Mayor of Paterson
  • Lloyd Chapman, Phyllis Ellin, and David Hollenberg, Chesapeake System Support Office, National Park Service, Philadelphia
  • Rob Hickman and Nick Cattan, Great Falls Preservation and Development Corporation, Paterson
  • Sam Balister, Chris Grube, and Bruce Balistrieri, The Paterson Museum, Paterson
  • Bunny Kuiken, Angelica M. Santomauro, and Sol Stetin, The American Labor Museum, Botto House National Landmark, Haledon
  • Charles Hardy and Robert Lasek, Joseph Teshon, Inc., Paterson
  • Charles Mangrum, Kalkstein Silk Mills, Inc., Paterson
  • Ian M. Watson McLaughlin, Watson Machine International, Paterson
  • Teri Gatto and Richard Green, Department of Public Relations, St. Joseph's Hospital, Paterson
  • Edward Smyk, Passaic County Historical Society, Paterson
  • Georgette Hauser, Memorial Day-Care Center, Paterson
  • San Rocco Society Montescaglioso, Paterson
  • Lynda Smith, Occupational Industrial Committee, Paterson
  • Carlos Torrado, Hispanic Multi-service Center, Paterson
  • June Avignone, writer, Paterson
  • Grace George, Great Falls Visitors' Center, Paterson



  • José N. Abanto
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