Small Deptford Museum Is Big On History

Students participating in an archaeological dig at the Museum of American History in Deptford. Photo credit: Museum of American History web page.

DEPTFORD, N.J. — One of the many benefits of living in South Jersey is that one is never far from finding something interesting to do.  Some of these — like amusement parks, beaches, theaters — are well known while others are hidden gems. One such gem is the Museum of American History in Deptford.

The museum, located 138 Andaloro Way, has two floors with 87 exhibits including Glass and Ceramic, Colonial and the Pine Barrens which includes several ghost towns, Antique Tools and Equipment of the 19th and early 20th centuries among others, as well as over 5,000 artifacts.

Founder and curator Jeffrey Norcross explains that the museum isn’t just about South Jersey history, but exhibits American history and natural history in conjunction with South Jersey.  But the Pre-Columbian exhibit, he says, is a must see. Of course local history is represented as well like a railroad line exhibit and an exhibit about the digging of Route 295.

“You’re not just seeing partial history,” Norcross said.  “You’re seeing prehistoric through pre-Columbian though colonial eras.”

The museum also hosts events such as this past July’s Student Archeologist Classes where students from 7 to 14 years old had the chance to participate in an actual archaeological excavation on Andaloro Farm. 

Another event the museum will sponsor is a Civil War Exhibit that will open August 3 and run through September 29. The exhibit will feature historical artifacts, artwork, and memorabilia to “honor those who fought, and those who gave their lives in unrivaled numbers, to forge the country we all share today.”

Antique farms tools. Photo credit: Museum of American History web page.

Norcross, a graduate of the University of West Florida with degrees in history and religion, founded the museum in 1993 in order to “preserve South Jersey’s history and to exhibit it in connection with American History,” according to the museum’s web page. 

An educator and archaeologist, Norcross has undertaken field work at over 120 historical sites and has been curator of the Museum of American History for 26 years.

“I decided when I was eight to be an archaeologist. It worked out well,” Norcross said.

Funding for the museum, that saw about 1,900 visitors last year, comes from multiple sources.  The township owns the museum building. “We pay no rent,” Norcross said. “We have a contract that says we need to be open four days a week and change a minimal admission fee.”

That fee — $4 for adults and $3 for children — covers basic expenses such as insurance and phone bills according to Norcross.

The museum is open Thursdays through Sunday from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.