Date of Award

Spring 3-12-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA History




Thomas Rzeznik, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maxine Lurie, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Vanessa May, Ph.D.


History, Morristown, New Jersey, Politics, Progressives, Good Government


At the turn of the nineteenth century the social, political, and economic foundations of American society began to shift. Old families lost influence to the wealthy new “Robber Barons” while professionals lost prestige as their work increasingly became subsumed within a growing corporate structure. As a result, Progressive politics sought to shake up the system in an attempt to both help modernize archaic systems and reinforce old power structures.

In the case of the Civic Association of Morristown the members from old families and newcomers with professional backgrounds joined forces to secure power and prestige on what they saw as a shifting political and social scene. This paper explores how the Civic Association of Morristown, made from an odd coalition of old money and the new rich, was able to position itself as the “Good Government” group in Morristown, New Jersey. Although the Civic Association of Morristown was only active for just over ten years, the group was able to promote itself, and most importantly its members, and claim responsibility for several large scale town improvement projects. By looking at the membership and surviving records of the Civic Association of Morristown this paper provides a view into the fears and attempts to save face at a time when America was rapidly modernizing.