The New Jersey Historical Society walking tours are a mini history lesson packed in a lunch break slot. In partnership with Military Park, NJHS offers midday tours around the park while giving the attendees a lesson of the park’s history.
“The history of the park goes all the way back to the 1600’s, so the tours cover the history of the park. The tours also talk about the buildings surrounding the park and the history of the city,” said Steve Tettamanti, executive director of the Historical Society.
Maribel Jusion-Iturralde, the Historical Society’s director of education and a 17-year alum of the institution, conducts the walking tours. Along with the physical scenery of the park, Jusion-Iturralde provides accompanying material such as vintage post cards and newspaper clippings, to give visitors an idea of what life was like decades earlier. Tour attendees range from students to families to business professionals.
“The best part of the tour is when you see the eyes of the tourists open up when you tell them some history about the park or the city,” said Jusion-Iturralde.
“You know that they’re participating and they’re excited and they get it,” she continued.
The idea of object-based and interactive teaching is one that the society employs in all their educational programs, both inside and outside their classrooms. On the third floor of the Historical Society’s Park Place building, Jusion-Iturralde stores props and antique devices that she uses in teaching students about the lives of New Jersey residents during the Civil War era.
“It’s part of a critical thinking exercise. I show students the props or images and discuss what it was used for. You don’t just want to teach them facts; you want them to participate in the learning experience.”
From teaching in the classroom to tours outside of them, Jusion-Iturralde stresses the importance of teaching not just history, but the lives of the people that were a part of it. “History is about sharing stories, and that’s what I’m doing.”
New Jersey History Society tours take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. in Military Park. The New Jersey History Society is located at 52 Park Place.