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Top Marks: Schoolhouse Museum Receives Award for Childhood in 19th Century Exhibit

Honored for best exhibit, best video, best graphics by county historical preservation society

The Ridgewood Historical Society can now showcase another artifact–an award as one of the top museums in the county.

The Society will be honored by the Bergen County Historic Preservation Advisory Board on May 26 in Hackensack for its current exhibit at the showcasing the lives of Ridgewood students during the late 1870s into the turn of the 20th century, titled

The exhibit, which drew youth groups like Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, won the overall exhibit category, as well as the design of graphics and an accompanying video.

"It's always so great to be praised for hard work. It makes it all the more worthwhile," curator Joy Hamburger said. Hamburger culled and sorted through artifacts like dolls, notepads, books, clothing and tools shortly after the museum's last exhibit ended.

"As a curator, I try to just tell the story of the objects we have," Hamburger explained. "Many of the items that still exist probably belonged to the well-to-do children of the era."

Hamburger thanked Dacey Latham, whom Hamburger called "a fabulous researcher" for her help in gathering the artifacts and the stories behind them.

Along with help from Aaron Pruitt, Gerri Abdoo was able to compile footage for the winning teaser video. Best-selling author and village resident Harlan Coben narrated the video (seen at the right of this page).

"It was a great experience working with such talented people in Ridgewood," Abdoo said. Abdoo, a Ridgewood mom who's worked on class videos in the public schools, has committed to do another video for the next exhibit.

Historical Society President Sheila Brogan praised the various members of the Society for their dedication and said receiving recognition from the history community was also gratifying.

"It's a great group of people who have really decided to make the Schoolhouse Museum a great place for learning," said Brogan. "That was our goal – making history come alive. And we've done it. This is a nice representation of acknowledgment from the history community in this exhibit and as we move forward," she said.

"We are completely non-profit so we work for the community," Hamburger said, remarking that the award means a lot because it's representative of the praise of the community. "That's our reward," she said.

The exhibit will continue until fall when the Society will be unveiling another interesting glimpse of Ridgewood in a different time–the Civil War. Among the intriguing items the Schoolhouse has is a playbill from Lincoln's final show at the Ford Theater, a uniform from a Civil War soldier, quilts, attire and more.

"We're really looking forward to it," Brogan said. The exhibit will open in October of 2011, on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's beginning at Ft. Sumner, South Carolina.

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