June 29, 2022

Morven Museum & Garden to Host Independence Day Celebration, Activities

By Donald Gilpin

“Swinging back to the 1960s” in celebrating its current Bell Labs exhibit, Morven Museum & Garden has an array of entertainment, foods, and educational activities on tap for its annual Independence Day Jubilee on Monday, July 4 from 12 to 3 p.m.

Among the highlights of the afternoon at the former home of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, will be a Jasper Johns American flag activity led by the Arts Council of Princeton, a “1960s Princeton adventure” organized by the Historical Society of Princeton, dancing in the gardens with Luminarium Dance Company, music from the 1960s and beyond played by the Green Planet Band, and food trucks on the premises from KonaIce and Potato Patoto, which specializes in tater tots with a variety of toppings.

In person for the first time since 2019, the Morven Fourth of July Jubilee is sponsored by Honda of Princeton and the Bank of Princeton.

“As a home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Fourth of July is cornerstone to our existence,” said Morven Executive Director Jill M. Barry. “This year we are celebrating’60s style, in homage to our Bell Labs exhibition, but also in reference to the civic engagement that was particularly evident in the sixties.”

The current exhibit at Morven, “Ma Bell: The Mother of Invention in New Jersey,” features the TelStar 1 satellite flight model, which was made by AT&T and Bell Telephone Laboratories, and many other technological innovations that were created in New Jersey and went on to influence the entire world.

Bell Telephone Laboratories, named for its founder Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, had facilities in New Jersey beginning in the 1930s, creating new technology that helped to bring forth cell phones, solar panels, radar, satellites, and the discovery of the Big Bang. 

Tens of thousands of New Jerseyans have been employed by Bell, AT&T, and Western Electric and have supported the groundbreaking technology of those companies. 

The Morven exhibit, showcasing the ways in which New Jersey inventions formed the building blocks of much of today’s technology, includes original historical artifacts related to breakthrough discoveries, as well as products and fields of work that comprised the Bell system in New Jersey from the 1920s to about 1984, when the break-up of the Bell system monopoly created the seven Baby Bells known as the Regional Bell Operating Companies.

Among related programs at Morven coming up later in the summer will be an evening with AT&T’s corporate historian Sheldon Hochheiser, who on July 28 will talk about six episodes of major inventions at AT&T, and, on August 4, “‘Hello Girls’ Get the Message Through” with Monmouth University Professor and former Army historian Melissa Ziobro telling the story of how the U.S. Army Signal Corps employed women as telephone switchboard operators during World War I.

The July 4 festivities at Morven will also include a variety of games and crafts. Among the 1960s hit songs on the playlist for the Green Planet Band will be “Telstar,” honoring the original Telstar satellite, which is on view in Morven’s Garden Room.