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All Collections



The Charles Detwiller Collection of Blueprints & Line Drawings

This unique collection of 16,000 architectural drawings and blueprints documents the rich history of Plainfield's architectural development. It includes residences, houses of worship, businesses, and multifamily dwellings from 1887 to 2002. The drawings have been microfilmed and digitized for preservation and Internet access.

 

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The Charles Detwiller Collection of Blueprints & Line Drawings

Vintage Postcard Collection

The Plainfield Postcard Collection contains 2,000 postcards with 1,000 unique images. The Chase collection and the Ricketts collection make up the core of the library's holdings, depicting Plainfield in the early 1900s.

PLEASE NOTE: Not all records contain images. If you are interested in viewing the image for a specific record, …

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Vintage Postcard Collection

Special Collections

Special Collections contain historical maps, paper documents, ephemera, and fine art work. It includes two original works by Winslow Homer, three early Audubon prints, two oils by John F. Carlson and one by Jonas Lie. Also included are works by Plainfield artists Riva Helfond, Arnold Schmidt, and Alonzo Adams (image on left), as well as …

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Special Collections

Paul R. Collier Photograph Collection

Paul R. Collier (1887 to 1951) photographs are some of Plainfield's most well-known images, containing views of local homes, landmarks, churches, businesses and community activities. Collier was a prolific photographer who documented the Plainfield area for 40 years. He worked for the Plainfield Courier News and did private work for …

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Paul R. Collier Photograph Collection

Guillermo Thorn Photograph Collection

Guillermo Thorn’s (1837 to 1920) post-1870 images reveal Plainfield at a time of enormous economic expansion as a thriving suburban metropolis and picturesque vacation spot. Vestiges of the city’s rural past confront modernity as monumental architecture is juxtaposed against tennis matches played in full-length skirts and where …

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Guillermo Thorn Photograph Collection

Reina Lawrence Photograph Collection

Reina Andrade Lawrence was born in New York City in 1869, moved to Plainfield in 1882, and died in New York in 1948. For most of her life she was confined to a wheelchair.  Her photography celebrates Plainfield's architecture, gardens, and people. She framed shots of  local residences using the long exposure time to  her …

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Reina Lawrence Photograph Collection

Courier News Photograph Archive

In 2009, the Courier News donated over 25,000 photographs and negatives to the Plainfield Public Library.  These original images (1880s to the 2000s) document newsworthy moments and people in Plainfield, Union County and New Jersey history that were not previously represented in the Library’s collection. Portions of this collection, …

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Courier News Photograph Archive

John Hoffman Photograph Collection

Born in Califon, NJ in 1874, John Hoffman moved to Plainfield as a boy. His photos depict the exteriors of the structures and yards in early Plainfield. Hoffman was a telegrapher and inventor, who tinkered with most of his cameras to improve the quality of the photos or make the cameras easier to use. He designed a device to bolt two …

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John Hoffman Photograph Collection

Lloyd Grimstead Photograph Collection

The Lloyd Grimstead Photographs are part of a larger collection of photographs owned by the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society.  Grimstead's photographs are entirely of houses in Central Jersey towns.  The 715 Plainfield images cover a large portion of the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District. Lloyd Grimstead was born in 1885.

Lloyd Grimstead Photograph Collection

Irving & Clotee Georges Photograph Collection

This collection of color prints was taken by Irving Georges, an amateur photographer who lived in Plainfield. His images document the city's African American residents in the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The collection highlights adults and youth engaged in athletics, community events, and everyday activities.

Irving & Clotee Georges Photograph Collection
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About the collections



Welcome to the Local History, Genealogy & SPecial Collections Department of Plainfield Public Library. Our local history collection, the largest in Union County, is composed of books, documents, photographs, blueprints, maps, newspapers, personal papers, and local organizations' records of significance in Plainfield and the surrounding communities. In addition to County and State histories, we have publications on the American Revolution and the Civil War. Our unique collections include Fine Arts, Local Authors, and Diversity Studies.

Our digital image collections are constantly growing, and are composed of over 55,000 photographs, postcards, blueprints, maps, and fine art. Many of these records are viewable online.

The Local History Department is supported by funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State; the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs; the Plainfield Foundation; the Plainfield Cultural & Heritage Commission; and the Friends of the Plainfield Public Library.

 

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