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The Julian Abele Project: Julian Abele Public History Symposium

The Public History Minor at Monmouth University hosted what we hope will be the first annual Julian Francis Abele “Out of the Shadows” Virtual Public History Symposium via Zoom on December 14, 2021. It was free for presenters and attendees alike.

The Symposium is intended as a welcoming place for public history practitioners at all levels, established and emerging scholars, and graduate and undergraduate students to share their public history work on individuals or groups in history whose legacies have been purposefully or inadvertently suppressed, overshadowed, or underappreciated. We hope to bring these parties out of the shadows and into the fuller appreciation that they so richly deserve.

The Symposium is named in honor of pioneering African American architect Julian Francis Abele, who contributed greatly to the design of Monmouth University’s Great Hall (previously known as both Shadow Lawn and Wilson Hall). Everyone who has attended Monmouth University has personal memories of the building, a National Historic Landmark. But if you ask them about it, they are probably more likely to mention Woodrow Wilson’s brief time at the original Shadow Lawn (not “ours”), or the current mansion’s starring role as Daddy Warbucks’s home in the movie Annie than they are the fact that it was designed in large part by perhaps “the greatest American born Beaux-Arts architect,” Julian Francis Abele. Monmouth University’s Fall 2020 Museums and Archives Management Basics class sought to increase awareness about Abele’s role in the creation of what is perhaps our University’s most beloved landmark by creating “The Julian Abele Project.” Now, we hope to honor Abele’s name with this annual virtual public history symposium, designed to bring regular attention to Abele’s story and to highlight work focused on other figures underrepresented in the historical record. 

The Inaugural Julian Francis Abele "Out of the Shadows" Public History Symposium (Virtual)

December 14, 2021

View a recording of the event here


(30 minutes of remarks with 15 minutes for Q&A)


"The Great Hall’s Julian Abele: Architect of the Beaux Arts"

Dreck Spurlock Wilson



(10 minutes of remarks with 5 minutes after each for Q&A)


"The Julian Abele Project at Monmouth University"

Gillian Demetriou, Monmouth University ‘22


"Whispers of the Enslaved at Marlpit Hall"

Joe Zemla, Monmouth County Historical Association


"The Northeast Slavery Records Index"

Rick Geffken, Independent Scholar


"We’re Still Here: Indigenous History and Persistence in New Jersey"

Claire Garland, Director, Sand Hill Indian Historical Association


"Documenting Diversity with Oral History"

Dana Howell, Monmouth County Historical Association


"Segregated Seashore: Capturing Asbury Park’s Full Story"

Kay Harris, Asbury Park Historical Society and Museum


"Teaching Timbuctoo: Raising the Profile of Antebellum Free Black People in New Jersey History"

Guy Weston, Managing Director, Timbuctoo Historical Society, and Visiting Scholar, Rutgers University



"Monmouth University’s Own Hidden Figure: Dr. Walter McAfee"*

Melissa Ziobro, Specialist Professor of Public History, Monmouth University

* Note: this session was co-sponsored by the Monmouth University Works in Progress series.

The Julian Francis Abele "Out of the Shadows" Public History Symposium was sponsored in part by a Diversity Innovation Grant from Monmouth University.

Contact Professor Melissa Ziobro with questions:

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