Answering questions about local history part of the job
I receive some of the best phone calls, texts, emails and letters about all sorts of local subjects.
For example, I am often asked about local history. The Gazette has prided itself as being a resource for local historical questions. The Historical Society of Hammonton and the Hammonton Branch of the Atlantic County Library are also excellent resources.
Because of the unique, close relationship between our readers and the people who produce this newspaper each week, we field all sorts of questions about the Hammonton of today and yesterday.
People see a lot of history on our pages. In addition to special historic supplements we publish each year, there are three weekly photo-driven historic departments published each week: Hammonton’s History (sponsored by Arena Buick-GMC) and Yesterday’s Hammonton (sponsored by the Historical Society of Hammonton) appear in the Our Town section and Hammonton’s Sports History (sponsored by Torrissi Transport) appears in the Sports section. I think reading all that local history makes people see us as an authority on the subject.
What had me thinking about our deep connection to local history was a question I was asked a few weeks ago while I was selling an ad to Joe Badiacco, owner and operator of Rosedale Blueberry Farm. The answer I researched and gave him turned out to be connected to a mostly-forgotten corner of local history.
It’s always rewarding to help people out when they’re looking for information.
Mostly, we answer our readers’ questions for free. If people ask us to do more extensive research on a subject, then there is a charge depending on how involved the research is.
The internet is a wonderful tool, and we use it to find many answers to satisfy our own research and to help answer readers’ questions. The internet has its limits, though, particularly where local history is concerned.
One of the reasons it’s possible for us to answer people’s questions about Hammonton so well is the array of printed research tools at our disposal. We have all the local history books, from the 1800s to the present; nearly 25 years of editions of The Gazette; 25 years of Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce Guides, plus Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade Guides from previous years; most of the published books by local authors; local and regional newspapers and publications dating back to the 1800s; third-party documents from most of the government dealings of the past 25 years; nearly all the high school yearbooks ever published by Hammonton and St. Joe; and local phone books from the past 25 years and many years before then.
You’d be surprised how effective old phone books are at answering historical questions. They have settled many bets during the years.
We also have a variety of three-dimensional objects that we have collected throughout the decades and keep in our Gazette Archives. Some of these have appeared in the paper in our “Treasures from The Gazette Archives” special supplements.
When people contact us about questions regarding local history, we use some or all of these resources to quickly answer those questions. We’re always happy to find answers about history or any contemporary local subject, at The Gazette.
After all, we’re not just in the newspaper business.
We’re in the information business.
Gabriel J. Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.