In the Glen Ridge Paper of Aug. 7, 1958, there’s a story about the mysterious death of a family of five on High Street, an account of the borough’s war on ragweed and a movie listing for a first-run screening of “The Ten Commandments” at the Bellevue.
That issue is just picked randomly from a wall of bound volumes on the third floor in the Glen Ridge Library, and although it’s in better condition than some, the pages are yellowed and near-crumbling. Turning the pages of the volume is like stepping into a time machine, ushering you into an era when whole watermelons go for 59 cents, new houses sell for $24,200 and there’s still a drive-in movie theater in Newark.
But the left to the ravages of time, the time machine itself will disintegrate — and so the Glen Ridge Library has an ambitious plan to digitize its entire history room, as well as its collection of Glen Ridge High School yearbooks dating to 1912, and city directories going back to 1926. (The Glen Ridge Paper volumes start at 1936.)
This project will be the beneficiary of the Glen Ridge Gala, set for Jan. 28 at the Glen Ridge Country Club. You can read more abou it at the library’s centennial website.
Library director Jennifer Breuer says the high school yearbooks are fascinating just for the ads in the back. “These are so much fun,” she says. “They’re just treasure troves.” The library’s copy of the 1941 yearbook is missing, by the way, so the library has a APB out for that. And GR grads who want to sponsor digitization of their graduating yearbook can do so for $100. The entire project is budgeted at $100,000. An anonymous donor has pledged a $20,000 matching grant to whatever is raised at the gala.
The digital result will wind up housed in the history room of the library, where patrons will be able to search, print and email the results. Speaking of the magic of digitalization, by the way, a quick Google search came up with a fuller AP account of the the MacDowell family.