Channeling History


As New Jersey marks the 350th anniversary of its founding as a British colony, Kean University presents the state with a birthday gift worthy of the Garden State’s history.


With funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission and the Fred J. Brotherton Charitable Foundation, the University produced a series of mini-documentaries exploring the people, themes, and events that created the state’s legacy of liberty, diversity, and innovation. The series is called It Happened Here: New Jersey and it debuted on March 20 on NJTV. Each episode is approximately 90 seconds, and a new one will air each week for the remainder of the year. Air time is 8, 9, and 10 p.m.


Television correspondent and NBC Today Show co-host Willie Geist, a graduate of Ridgewood High School, narrates the episodes. Geist co-hosts Morning Joe on MSNBC and hosts the late hour segment of NBC’s Today Show.


Dr. Jonathan Mercantini, associate professor of history at Kean, and Dr. Terry Golway, director of the University’s Center for History, Politics and Policy, wrote the series. Kate Roba, managing director in University Relations, served as coordinating producer.


The series is available online on Kean’s website,, and at the official website of the state’s anniversary commemoration, A preview of the series can be accessed on YouTube >>


The project highlights the extraordinary role New Jersey played over the past 350 years as home to landmark innovations and innovators, as a colony and then state that experienced all the major trends that characterize U.S. history, and as home to more critical battles during the American Revolution than any other state in the Union. The filmed episodes will be complemented by online teaching resources to encourage use in classrooms around the Garden State.


“We are very excited to present this new series during New Jersey’s 350th anniversary year,” said Kean University President Dr. Dawood Farahi. “Our programs prepare hundreds of students to teach in New Jersey classrooms each year, and It Happened Here: New Jersey will be a rich resource for them to use in bringing the vibrant history of our state alive for students for many years to come. But it is not intended just for students. Everyone can enjoy and relate to the diverse stories that the series has to tell.”

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