Research is the bread and butter of any historian and many other disciplines: Sometimes you hit it big, other times you hit a wall of nothing. In my quest to find some information about the history about Kean University move from Newark to Union, I first came in contact with Erin C. Alghandoor, our school Archivist, to find out more information about anything for the move. The information that she was able to provide for me was fun to read: it had the making of a really good drama. Those papers were not what I was looking for though. My main concern was why the school had to move from Newark to Union and some of my research shed some light on the subject.
If I were to look at it from the time, as World War II just recently ended, it would have actually made sense because there was an influx of new students and their old facilities at Newark would not be able to host that many. From what I found, just by size alone, the amount of space that was gain from the Kean family was huge. What I found interesting from my research is the fact that Eugene Wilkins did not want to have the Campus at Montclair, citing that the location would actually be a negative in getting students to be teachers. Location is always going to be an important factor in what facilities you are able to bring to your student population as it can readily affect the kind of gender and ethnic background within your school. It should be noted that many of the earlier yearbooks were mostly white women and it would be hard to find a black student within the year book; this is not to say they are not there, they weren’t as plentiful.
Another interesting letter that I found in my research was a letter from Wilkins to MR. E.J. Grassman. Wilkins stress two points in that letter which was: a quick construction of the school and was trying to decide where the campus would have been located. Some of the location that were found were: Short Hills, Westfield, Summit, Livingston, Cranford, Hillside, and Union. To top all of that off, the area needed to be at least 75 to 100 acres. While many of those locations are actually near to where our current campus is, I am unsure if having the college at a different location would have made that much of a difference. Granted, I would love to have more parking but I would also love it if we were able to have a bus system that is similar to that of Rutgers but alas, we have a trolley system that comes every so often.
The one thing I really wanted to find out from my research was the WHY did they move from Newark to Union and I feel that I did not get enough information. Yes, I can understand the aftermath effects of World War II and I understand that teachers were in need of the impending baby boom generation but I didn’t feel like I uncovered much that were more so of external forces like the Newark Riots/demonstrations of 1967. I found that much of the information to be over nice and polite and I didn’t get the sense of urgency from many of the letters I went through. In a sense, I feel cheated out of my topic.