Kay Harris, founder of the Asbury Park Museum, is the winner of the 2022 M. Claire French Award.
The award will be presented at the County Clerk’s 27th Annual Archives and History Day Sat., Oct. 1 at the Robert J. Collins Arena at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft.
Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon made the announcement this week.
“Asbury Park is a Monmouth County community infused with a diverse history and is beyond fortunate to have Kay Harris working to preserve that history,” Hanlon said.
Growing up in Asbury Park, Harris witnessed many periods of Asbury Park’s story, stretching from its 1960s-1970s decline, to the rebirth of the past two decades. Harris’ combination of teaching, business, and communications experience, coupled with a passion for her community and its rich past, inspired her to illustrate that history for her fellow residents. To that end, she opened the Asbury Galleria, a store in downtown Asbury Park that preserves and showcases historical and rock and roll memorabilia from the town’s history.
Importantly, Harris seeks to display the stories of Asbury Park and its inhabitants that are often forgotten about behind the glamor of its entertainment and resort city past. She has conducted numerous oral histories of Asbury Park citizens and written a book, From Amistad to the White House, chronicling her experiences growing up in the community and its civil rights struggles.
Harris, of Neptune, founded the Asbury Park Museum in 2018. Additionally, she is on numerous development boards and societies, including the Asbury Park Historical Society, and the Monmouth County Workforce Development board, to take an active role in not only preserving the past but safeguarding the community’s future.
Harris is also the president of the Asbury Park Historical Society.
Named for M. Claire French, former County Clerk and lifelong public servant who modernized the Clerk’s Office and elections in the County, the M. Claire French Award has been given annually since 2015 to an individual or organization that supports historic preservation in Monmouth through education, development, planning, rehabilitation, advocacy, community leadership, or other means.
This year’s Archives and History Day will be held on Sat., Oct. 1 at Brookdale Community College beginning at 9 a.m. and is organized by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Archives Division. The 2022 Archives exhibit, which will be on display at Archives and History Day, is titled “Monuments and Markers of Monmouth County.”
In addition to awards presentations, more than 50 local and state historical societies, museums, and archives will set up tables relating to the mission and activities of their organizations. Clerk Hanlon welcomes all who are interested in history to attend this free event.
For more information about Archives and History Day, including the preliminary program for the event, please visit the Monmouth County Clerk’s Archives Division website at MonmouthCountyClerk.com/Archives or contact the Monmouth County Archives at 732-308-3771, ext. 3772 or ArchivesResearch@co.monmouth.nj.us.