KENILWORTH, NJ — The Kenilworth Historical Society has released a new virtual program highlighting the story of the Pack Horse Library Project of Eastern Kentucky, an initiative that, between 1935 and 1943, brought packhorse-riding librarians, books and hope to isolated, impoverished Kentuckians living in the remote, mountainous areas of the state that were among the hardest hit by the Great Depression. The project is considered one of the most innovative programs of the Works Progress Administration, which was created in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, through the New Deal relief initiative, to create paid jobs for the unemployed and to promote social and cultural awareness in the years following the Depression. The Kenilworth Public Library, completed in 1936, was among the many public works/construction projects carried out by the WPA, which in 1939 was renamed the Work Projects Administration.
The Kenilworth Historical Society’s Pack Horse Library Project video features a brief introduction to the project and a reading by board member and historical interpreter Karen DeMaio of the picture book “That Book Woman,” written by Heather Henson, with pictures by David Small, and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. While the book is geared toward children, its message is relevant for all age groups.
This newest presentation in the Kenilworth Historical Society’s “Keeping History Strong” virtual programming series was introduced on Aug. 9, in celebration of Book Lovers Day. It is available for viewing, along with other offerings in the Historical Society’s “Keeping History Strong” series, via the organization’s website at www.kenilworthhistoricalsociety.org.
The program was filmed at the Oswald J. Nitschke House museum, in the home office of former Kenilworth Mayor Oswald J. Nitschke, 1867-1934, with equipment funded by a recently awarded New Jersey Historical Commission COVID-19 grant. The grant is also providing for products and services that will help ensure the safe reopening of the Oswald J. Nitschke House living-history museum and cultural arts center in October.
The Oswald J. Nitschke House is one of Kenilworth’s few remaining 19th-century farmhouses. It portrays and interprets everyday life in the early 1900s, particularly that of late–19th- and early–20th-century immigrants in a developing suburb. For more information, call 908-709-0434.