Arts & Entertainment

New Providence Historic Society's 'History Talks' Series Draws Overflow Crowd; Bell Labs Archivist Highlights Notable Inventions

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NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence Historical Society held their first of a series of 'History Talks' session on Thursday February 16, at the New Providence Memorial Library to an overflow crowd. 

Linda Kale, President of the Historical Society, was hopeful and expected 30 attendees, but when she opened the doors to the public, an incredible amount of people began to pour in. Kate Hearn, Historical Society intern from New Providence High School, manned the doors and kept count of everyone entering the library.

“We hoped for 30, we would have been excited with 40,” said Kale, adding, “but we stopped counting after 125 people.”

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The presentation featured guest speaker Edward Eckert, Bell Labs Corporate Archivist and Senior Manager ISS intellectual Property Services, who described the history of Nokia Labs located at 600 Mountain Ave, in New Providence. In addition to his 30 years of experience as a corporate archivist, Eckert also curates and manages the Bell Labs Technology Showcase Museum at the Bell Labs Headquarters.

Eckert highlighted notable Bell Labs’ breakthroughs, per their website, that allowed for modern day technology. Founded by Alexander Graham Bell, Bell Labs was created to concentrate on extending sound, sight, and speech technologies. The company was involved with Radio Altimeter, Artificial Larynx, and many more technological advances.

The event is part of a series of historical presentations in relation to New Providence, Union County and New Jersey. Not only was the Historical Society’s, History Talks supported by the public, the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, through money appropriated from the New Jersey Historical Commission, approved grant money for the project. In addition to grant money, the local Wells Fargo Bank sponsored the function. While the event was relatively inexpensive, the funds allowed the juncture to run smoothly.

The key players in the production of the occasion were Colin DuSaire, Historical Society member, Hearn and Kale. Kale spoke highly of her intern, stating, “we met every week to prepare, and she has just as much to do with the success of the presentation as anybody.” Kale also expressed gratitude to Dominique Hilaire, Branch Manager at Wells Fargo.

Kale plans to host the next History Talks session in April, when a genealogist will conduct a presentation, explaining how to trace one’s line of descent.  The amount of people who attended the first session will force Kale to rethink logistics. Attendees would have to bring their own devices to follow along. One solution, would be to split the genealogy talk into two sessions, which she is considering.

Following the April event, a speaker from Grounds for Sculpture will present in September, and a speaker from The Sharing Network will discuss the history of organ transplant and how it presently relates to New Providence will visit in November.

About New Providence Historical Society: The New Providence Historical Society is a volunteer organization dedicated to recording and preserving the history of New Providence. The Society has a number of resources and activities including the Salt Box Museum, the Mason Room Archives, special speaker events, and the Salt Box Fair. To learn more about the Historical Society visit their website

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