The best books on New Jersey history

Joseph G. Bilby Author Of The Rise and Fall of the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey
By Joseph G. Bilby

The Books I Picked & Why

This is New Jersey from High Point to Cape May

By John T. Cunningham

This is New Jersey from High Point to Cape May

Why this book?

John Cunningham Was a journalist who became a historian -- and a great one. The World War II veteran and Newark Evening News columnist wrote innumerable books about his native state, and they were all great. Perhaps his most significant contribution to the state’s story was This is New Jersey, a classic which has remained in print since its initial publication in 1953.


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Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey

By Henry Charlton Beck

Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey

Why this book?

Folklore is not history, nor is history folklore, but they often intersect. Henry Charlton Beck, a journalist who became an Episcopal priest and who wrote a series of New Jersey folklife classics, began his career with this volume, stories of abandoned iron forges, villages, and forgotten legends in the state’s iconic Pinelands. Rutgers University Press reprinted Beck’s books, beginning with this book in 1961.


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Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City

By Nelson Johnson

Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City

Why this book?

Most people were drawn to this work because of the HBO television series of the same name. While there was, to be kind, a great deal of exaggeration in the series, Johnson’s thorough research for the book provides an accurate and fascinating account of the history of Atlantic City and its legendary political boss Enoch “Nucky” Johnson.


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New Jersey and the Rebellion: A History of the Services of the Troops and People of New Jersey in Aid of the Union Cause

By John Young Foster

New Jersey and the Rebellion: A History of the Services of the Troops and People of New Jersey in Aid of the Union Cause

Why this book?

There are a lot of legends regarding New Jersey and its role in the Civil War, including bogus stories that the state was considering joining the Confederacy. This book was the first attempt at relating the actual story of the state and the war. While it can be criticized in some respects, it is largely correct, and details the history of each of New Jersey’s units in the conflict. It is an invaluable starting point and a resource for anyone writing about the state and its role in the Civil War.


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Encyclopedia of New Jersey

By Maxine N. Lurie, Marc Mappen

Encyclopedia of New Jersey

Why this book?

The ultimate New Jersey reference book. This publication is, without doubt, an essential title on the bookshelf of any New Jersey oriented author. With over 3,000 articles by experts in their fields of study, supplemented by illustrations and maps, it tells a comprehensive story of the state, including that it was the site of the first intercollegiate football game, and the first vote cast by an African American. If you have a question on New Jersey, you need this book, which has been cited as an outstanding reference work by the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance.


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