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Voices of the Garden State
Life Histories That Shaped New Jersey
Directed by Seran Schug, Ph.D.


VOICES OF THE GARDEN STATE is an ethnographic project conducted in collaboration with faculty of the Anthropology and Sociology Department at Rowan, students of Rowan, and residents of New Jersey to create an ethnographic archive of life histories of people from the Garden State. “Voices of the Garden State” contributes to the greater understanding of the history and culture of residents and communities within the state of New Jersey.


  1. To gather life histories of residents of New Jersey in order to build a historical archive about cultural life in New Jersey.
  2. To help Rowan students gain experience in conducting qualitative and ethnographic research.
  3. To build positive relations between Rowan University and the surrounding communities.
  4. To promote awareness and understanding of how social factors such as race, gender, social class, religion, and culture influence personal identity and the cultural identity of a community.

Voices of the Garden State will include links to the following:

  1. Personal Life histories gathered by and written by Rowan Students
  2. Photo essays created by Rowan students
  3. Audiotaped interviews conducted by Rowan students


On the afternoon of Thanksgiving, I made the twenty minute drive to the home of my grandparents. Although the drive is short, the location of my grandparent’s home feels as though it is worlds away from the congested town I now live in. As I got closer and closer to their residence, the sight of strip malls and housing developments were replaced by visions of corn fields and open land. As I pulled into their driveway, I immediately noticed the American flag that hung from the porch swaying gently from the brisk, fall wind. Despite it being autumn, not a single leaf appeared on their lawn. The lawn was cut so precisely that it appeared as if each blade of grass was equal in length. Unlike the serenity of the landscape surrounding me, my mind was rapidly assessing the upcoming interview I was to conduct.

To read more, download the PDF by clicking here.