The Hamilton Township Historical Society has a treasure trove of township records, maps and deeds in the old red schoolhouse on Mill Road in Mays Landing that serves as the society's museum.
But it's not just old history that interests society president the Rev. John Ash. He said more recent history, from the development of the Atlantic City Race Course and Oakcrest High School to the construction of Hamilton Mall really show how the township has grown since the 1950s.
"We don't want to just focus on the early days," said Ash, who got involved in the historical society about 15 years ago after being asked to speak to the group about the history of his church, which started in 1841.
The society Board of Directors is now working to renovate the museum, updating displays and making research materials more easily accessible and appealing.
"We haven't changed the layout in a long time," Ash said. "We want to take a more energetic approach to history."
Other officers include Vice-President Dottie Kinsey, Secretary Mary Beth Fine and directors Carl Farrell, Cheryl Fetty, Ruth Taylor and Carl Platt.
The members would also like to get more public interest in the museum and recruit some younger volunteers.
Farrell said the museum has hosted interns from area colleges and high schools who work there as a community service project, something he would like to encourage even more. A membership drive is planned for February.
For the third year the society will also host a free lecture series at the Presbyterian Church, this year sponsored by Sure Business Solutions in Mays Landing.
This year's speakers include Pinelands geographer Mark Demitroff, and a program on "Indians of Southern New Jersey" by Jim Wade from the New Jersey State Museum.
"We try to get top-notch speakers," said society Director Carl Farrell, who heads up special projects and brings programs into area schools. "You learn something."
Farrell's family has been in the township for generations, going back to the 1800s, which spurred his interest in local history.
"I'm a lifelong resident," he said proudly.
Contact Diane D'Amico:
All lectures start at 7:30 p.m. and are held at the Presbyterian Church, 6001 Main St. in Mays Landing. All are free, but donations are welcomed. Refreshments will be served.
•Feb. 14: Charles "Skip" Bellino, Atlantic County Historical Society; "Lincoln and McClellan, A Conflict within a War."
•March 12: Tom Maddox. President American Diving Supply will speak on the 2005 Titanic Expedition.
•April 9: Jim Wade, archeology assistant, New Jersey State Museum; "Indians of Southern New Jersey."