Winter Art Minicourse Date Change

There is a change in the start date for Dr. Barbara Tomlinson’s virtual Art Course, “New Exhibition Strategies in Art Museums: The Frick Collection, MoMA and British Museum.”

The first day of class will now be Monday, January 31, instead of January 24.  The fifth and last class will be held on Monday, February 28, instead of February 21.  The time is the same, 1:30 – 3:00 pm.

The revised schedule is as follows: January 31, February 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2022, Monday afternoons from 1:30 – 3 pm via Zoom.

There is no change to the other course offering, Dr. Ian Drake’s “Presidential Elections Past and Their Importance for American Government” on Wednesday mornings, 10 am to 12 pm on January 26, February 2, 9, 16, and 23, 2022.

The cost for one course is $95 per individual or couple sharing one screen.  Additional courses are $65 each.  Register online at or with a check made payable to Friends of the Madison Public Library and mailed to Minicourses at Madison Library, 39 Keep Street, Madison NJ 07940.

Friends of the Madison Public Library Annual Appeal

The Friends of the Madison Public Library just began their Annual Appeal by reaching out to over 5,000 households with an appeal letter asking for the continued support of the Madison Public Library. The Friends, a 501 (C)(3) tax-exempt organization of volunteers, are working together with the Library staff and Trustees to continue to provide programs, museum passes, current books, streaming services, and more than patrons have come to enjoy and expect! The Library is open, with innovations that include the outdoor installation of picnic tables for children’s activities and “Make & Take” craft kits for all ages. In addition, virtual programming and streaming services continue to be very popular.

The Library continues to serve as a vibrant part of the community and gifts enhance its services, programming, and extensive collection. Contributions large and small will allow the Friends to maintain our legacy commitment to the Library. Fully tax-deductible donations can be made by a check made payable to the Friends of the Madison Public Library and mailed to 39 Keep Street, Madison, NJ 07940, or a secure donation may be made through our website.

Fall 2021 Minicourses will be Online

The Friends of the Madison Public Library are pleased to offer three online minicourses with zoom for Fall 2021. Registration will begin August 23, 2021 at These minicourse are open to the public. Current students will receive an email with a link to register.  All proceeds benefit the Madison Public Library.


“19th-century European Art: Romanticism to Post-Impressionism” by Kimberly Rhodes, NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Art History, Drew University

The 19th century was a period of dramatic transformation for the visual arts: artists began to seek inspiration in their imaginations, make overtly political art that responded to contemporary events, and question long-standing artistic traditions.  Simultaneously, new industrially produced materials became available that allowed artists to experiment with such aesthetic attributes as color and texture in exciting ways. Society itself was also changing rapidly, as populations moved from rural to urban environments, transportation allowed for ease of travel, European nations expanded their global power through imperialism, and women and people of color sought equal rights. This course will consider these topics and many others through a chronological discussion of the major movements of the century, including Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism.  

Kimberly Rhodes (PhD, Columbia University) is National Endowment for the Humanities ( NEH) Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Art History at Drew University. She writes and teaches about modern and contemporary art history and has worked as an art historian in both museum and academic settings. Her publications include numerous articles on British visual culture from the eighteenth century to the present and the book Ophelia and Victorian Visual Culture: Representing Body Politics in the Nineteenth Century (Ashgate, 2008). 


“Churchill” by Dr. Jonathan Rose, William R. Kenan Professor of History, Drew University

Winston Churchill (along with Adolf Hitler) is one of the most consequential and intensely studied figures of modern times. For half a century he was an electrifying presence in British politics, holding (at various points) nearly every important post in the British cabinet. He led his country to disaster in the First World War and to victory in the Second World War. He switched parties twice, in part because he was too independent to fit into any conventional ideological category. He inspired fierce loyalty in some, while others were absolutely determined to keep him out of power. And he was a bestselling writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the author of histories, biographies, war reportage, literary criticism, and even a novel. This course explores — and attempts to explain — the life and times of this extraordinary, ingenious, and often contradictory figure.

 Additional readings:  The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor (Yale University Press).

Jonathan Rose is the William R. Kenan Professor of History at Drew University.  He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and his B.A. from Princeton University. His fields of study are British history, intellectual history, and the history of the book. He is coeditor of the journal Book History, which won the Council of Editors of Learned Journals award for the Best New Journal of 1999. He has held visiting appointments at the University of Cambridge and Princeton University, and he reviews books for the Times Literary Supplement and the Daily Telegraph (London).    His most recent books are The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor (Yale UP, 2014), which won the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Prize; and ‘Readers’ Liberation’ (Oxford UP, 2018).His book, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes, won the Longman-History Today Historical Book of the Year Prize and two other awards.  Other publications include The Edwardian Temperament 1895-1919 and The Revised OrwellBritish Literary Publishing Houses 1820-1965


“The History of U.S. Constitutional Themes and Concepts” by Ian Drake, Associate Professor of Political Science and Law, Montclair State University

1)    The Power of the Supreme Court:  Judicial Review

In this introductory talk, we will consider the concept of judicial review.  What is it?  What power does it give to courts?  How have courts historically used this power?  Is it good for America?  We will review the historical roles of judges in British history and American colonial history and how judges adapted to the American constitutional system in the early years of the Republic. 

2)    The Freedom to Think: The History of Free Speech in America

 In this talk we will review the history of free speech, considering its British roots and how the United States Constitution affected notions of freedom of thought and speech.  We will also analyze how the Supreme Court has treated and altered the legal rules protecting speech and “expression” during the 20th century.

3)    The “Robber Barons” and the Trusts: The Court and Corporations

In this talk we will review one of the most notable cases of the early 20th century: the Standard Oil case of 1911.  This case revealed how American business functioned in the late 19th century and how the federal government sought to respond to the advent of a national corporation.  The Court’s approach to Rockefeller’s company still impacts governmental regulation of businesses today. 

4)    Substantive Due Process: The Most Important Doctrine You’ve Never Heard Of

In this talk we will analyze one of the most famous (or infamous) doctrines of American constitutional history: substantive due process.  It was the doctrine that decided cases from Dred Scott to Roe v. Wade and is often a feature of confirmation hearings about the judicial philosophy of nominees to the federal bench.  All lawyers know about it, but every American should know the meaning of this important constitutional doctrine.  

5)    Leviathan Lives: Federal Power and the Commerce Clause

In this talk we will learn about what is arguably the most important clause in the Constitution regarding Congress’s power: the Commerce Clause.  This clause has been the source of federal laws from the Sherman Antitrust Act to the Civil Rights Act.  Much of the federal legislation of the 20th century was premised on this clause.  Today, among liberals and conservatives, the clause is hotly debated as to whether it should continue to be a source of broad federal power. 

Dr. Ian Drake is Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University.  He obtained his B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill, his J.D. from the University of Richmond, and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Maryland at College Park. His teaching interests include the American judiciary and legal system, the U.S. Supreme Court and constitutional history, the history and contemporary study of law and society, broadly construed, and political theory. His recent research interests include the history of American constitutional law and private law, particularly tort and contract law. Dr. Drake is currently conducting research on animal protection laws, First Amendment rights, and the politics of the treatment of animals used in industrial agriculture and scientific research. Prior to earning his Ph.D. in history, Dr. Drake practiced law in the areas of insurance and tort law.  His many publications include articles in scholarly journals, contributions to book chapters and book reviews.  

May Day 2021 at the Library

Some years ago, the Madison Rotary adopted the Library for a grounds beautification project and their volunteer work continued in earnest this bright, but chilly May 1st  morning. They were assisted by Friends Tom Bintinger, Tom Haralampoudis, Nancy Adamczyk, Pam Hogan and Kathy Trombacco. Raking piles of leaves, weeding yellow dandelions and spreading mulch kept everyone busy for several hours. Thanks to all who pitched in bring spring looks to the grounds!

Summer 2021 Minicourses will be Online

The Friends of the Madison Public Library are pleased to offer two online minicourses with zoom for Summer 2021. Registration will begin May 10, 2021 at These minicourse are open to the public. Current students will receive an email with a link to register. 

Rock-n-Roll and the Sixties, an online Zoom minicourse by Dr. James Carter, Associate Professor of History, Drew. Wednesday mornings: 10:00 am to 12 pm:  June 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30. 

This course will survey the origin and development of rock and roll music in the United States.  Beginning around the early 20th century, it will explore the cultural, social, political history, manifest in early popular music, from Joe Hill’s songs on behalf of the labor struggles of Gilded Age America, and “Leadbelly’s” twelve-string virtuosity and song writing cataloging the struggles of African Americans in the Jim Crow south, to Woody Guthrie’s twangy rendering of the Depression era “dust bowl” and “Pretty Boy Floyd.” American popular music is both born of and embodied within the complicated fabric of American social, political, and cultural life.  Rock and Roll combined the various popular musical traditions and forms, most famously with the rise to stardom of Elvis Presley, to offer something both new and old for a rapidly expanding and changing audience.  This cultural phenomenon exploded in the 1960s in the U.S. and quickly came to embody and reflect the social, cultural, and political transformations of that era.  This course will focus on these developments and chart how this particular musical culture expanded in form and influence to cut across lines of race, class, and gender (blues, folk, R&B, punk, etc.) to both fascinate and bedevil critics, political leaders, and mothers and fathers everywhere.  

Dr. James Carter, an AssociateProfessor of U.S. History at Drew University, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Houston. He specializes in U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. since World War II and the Sixties. His book, Inventing Vietnam, is an analysis of the failed nation building effort undertaken by the U.S. in Vietnam and how that failure led to the war. He has also written on privatization of war and war profiteering, using the invasion of Iraq as a case study.  He has also published many reviews and essays.

His more recent research focuses on the Sixties in the U.S. and specifically the counterculture and advent of rock music culture, with a particular emphasis on the role of the college campus.  His article, “Campus Rock: Rock Music Culture on the College Campus during the Counterculture Sixties, 1967-8,” was published in The Journal of Popular Music Studies. He has signed a contract with Rutgers University Press to publish a book on Rock and Roll in the Sixties.  

During the spring and summer 2019, Carter was awarded two Mellon Grants, and along with three research assistants, created an extensive GIS mapping project of rock music during the late sixties.  For more information:


American Architectural History and Materials: The Stuff of Dreams, an online Zoom minicourse by Janet Foster. Monday afternoons 1:30-3:30:  June 21, 28, skip July 5, July 12, 19 and 26.

To create a piece of architecture, however grand or humble, the dream for the structure has to be realized in materials. Sometimes the availability of certain materials determines the building’s form. In other cases, the “stuff” available for those dreams leads to disaster.

This five-part  course will look at American architecture and its basic materials. There will be a focus on buildings in the Northeast, with highlights from the 18th century into the 21st century.

Lectures will be held via Zoom and will be focused on images.  The two-hour class will include a break and a Q&A period at the end.

I.  June 21, 2021     1:30-3:30 pm “Mud and Rocks”

Adobe is not a traditional building material in New Jersey, but it is in parts of the American southwest. In our wetter climate, earth is formed and fired into bricks, and used in many ways.  Stone also has a long history of use in American architecture, where it can also be viewed as an indicator of building style, age and the social importance of the builder. “Earth” as manipulated by humans is an important and long-lived building material, and forms some of our best-known landmarks around the world.

II.   June 28, 2021 1:30 – 3:30 pm       “Wood”

The most common building material in the Unites States, the material has been used since there were people on the continent. Differences in how the wood is processed, shaped, and used show changing tastes and technologies over time and reflect different practices of European settlement groups. From heavy timbers to balloon framing, and from structural systems, siding, roofing, interior decoration, and flooring, wood has been the most cost-effective and versatile building material ever.

                  July 5, 2021   Independence Day Weekend – no class

III.   July 12, 2021 1:30 – 3:30 pm “Metal”

From hand-worked iron nails to the first steel “I” beams to the sinuous modern roofs of aluminum or copper designed with computer systems, metal has always had an important place in building technology and design. The discovery of metals on the North American continent and the development of ways to process them is part of the story of industrial growth in the United States. Metals have become ubiquitous in modern life, including in our buildings, although it is not always immediately visible.

IV.   July 19, 2021 1:30-3:30 pm “Sand”

Sand – perhaps the most common raw material on earth – is useless as a building material beyond a sandcastle that lasts an afternoon. But when combined with other materials, it forms the basis for glass and concrete, two extremely durable materials that are a critical part of modern architecture. The history of the developing technologies that enable sand to become a strong building material is entwined with the evolution of the material’s use.

V.  July 26, 2021, 1:30-3:30 pm “Synthetics”

The role of man-made materials in plastics and other manufactured building products cannot be underestimated for modern construction.  Synthetic materials including glues, caulking and insulation are at the heart of modern building performance standards that make our structures safer and more comfortable than ever before. The use of manufactured products started in the 19th century and were often developed to imitate natural – and expensive – building materials.   But what do all these mass-produced materials mean for the environment, for building longevity, and for cost-efficiency?  Can we afford to keep using them? Can we afford not to??

Reading suggestion:

The National Park Service’s “Technical Preservation Briefs” cover a wide variety of building materials. While the focus of the series is on the preservation of buildings using these materials, the briefs also include good short histories of the use and manufacturing mileposts in the development of different building components.


Instructor:  Janet W. Foster

Janet W. Foster, an architectural historian, and noted author and lecturer, is a passionate advocate of New Jersey’s history and buildings.  Throughout her career, she studied hundreds of buildings in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania through preparation of National Register nominations, Historic Structures Reports, historic buildings surveys, paint analysis, and other projects at Acroterion, a preservation consulting firm she co-founded in 1983.

In 2002 she became Assistant Director for Urban Planning and Historic Preservation in Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she had studied in the Masters’ Program in the early ‘80s. She was also a founder and teacher in the Drew University Historic Preservation Certificate Program in Madison, active from 1999-2012.

Ms. Foster wrote three books on architecture:  Legacy Through the Lens (Mendham, NJ, 1986); Building by the Book: Pattern-Book Architecture in New Jersey (with co-author Robert Guter, Rutgers University Press, 1992) and Queen Anne Houses: American Victorian Vernacular (Abrams Publishers, 2006).

She remains active in the New Jersey historic preservation community as the Chair of the Madison Historic Preservation Commission, a board member and recent past chairperson of the New Jersey Historic Trust, and as a member of the N.J. State Review Board.

Questions related to this course or information about fabulous buildings are welcome via e-mail: