History of Rider Exhibit at Trenton City Museum
Rider – The First 99 Years, one of the largest exhibits in Rider University’s history, opened on September 17 at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park. The exhibit, created by Robert Congleton, chair of Franklin F. Moore Library, and Julia Telonidis, archives specialist, celebrates the institution’s early beginnings in Trenton.
“This all started on the corner of Front Street in downtown Trenton. A young man, 23 years of age, planted a seed, which began 144 years of Rider – 99 of which were in the city of Trenton,” said Dr. Walter Brower, professor emeritus, at the opening reception.
Brower was referring to Andrew Jackson Rider, a graduate of Bryant and Stratton’s Chicago Business School and an employee of their Newark Business School. Rider was appointed as head of the Trenton Business College a year after it was founded by the Bryant, Stratton and Whitney chain of business colleges in 1865.
“Rider was in Trenton and Trenton was in Rider. It was a wonderful relationship,” Brower added.
Members of the Rider University and local communities are invited to attend a lecture by Brower and Congleton about the exhibit and Rider’s history on Sunday, October 25, at 2 p.m. at the Trenton City Museum.
“This is the biggest exhibit that we have done so far. Julia and I are both excited about the exhibit,” said Congleton, who began working in the exhibit with Telonidis in July. “It’s been fascinating – a really interesting project for me. I was able to learn more about Rider’s history.”
The exhibit illustrates the story of an institution that has, over the years, changed it colors, name and location multiple times. Originally founded in 1865 as the Trenton Business College, the school became Rider College in 1921. Rider College called Trenton home until 1964, when it completed its move to nearby Lawrenceville. Rider gained university status in 1994.
The displays feature more than 200 documents, diplomas, photographs, memorabilia and artifacts from 1865 to 1964. The exhibit focuses on important moments in Rider’s history, the people who owned and governed the college, the evolution of its curriculum, Rider’s relationship to Trenton businesses, student life, athletics, and the move to Lawrenceville.
Blanche (Levine) Segal, who attended Rider College in Trenton in 1945, came to the opening reception with her husband, Albert. While Segal did not graduate from the college, she said the exhibit brought back fond memories of her time as a student.
Segal said the fraternity paddles in one of the displays reminded her of a paddle she received as gift from a fraternity member. She remembered going to the College Sweet Shop on the corner of East State Street and Clinton Avenue.
“That was my social hangout after school,” she recalled.
Albert Segal remembered taking a typewriting course at Rider in the late ’30s. In back of him was a display of typewriters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries under an original purple and gold Rider College banner.
Another display showcases how the initial curriculum provided students with skills needed by the Trenton business community for its growing economy. The introduction of a “business teacher” program enabled Rider to educate and train future business leaders at the secondary school level, increasing its importance to Trenton’s business community.
Future history teacher Ashley Morris, a senior Secondary Education and History dual major, came to the exhibit as part of an assignment for HIS 370 (History Museum) taught by Dr. Brooke Hunter, associate professor of American History.
Morris said she enjoyed the displays about the Mayfair Ball and social life. A photo of women’s basketball team in early in Rider’s history piqued her interest.
“My great-grandmother went to Rider and played basketball for the college,” she said. However, her great-grandmother was not in the photo.
Rider – The First 99 Years will run through November 15. The Trenton City Museum hours are: Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sundays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and municipal holidays. Visit www.ellarslie.org for more information and directions.