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Sonn Collection

Identifier: MG Sonn-(Main)
Box 1: contains three scrapbooks, as follows:

"Historic Sites and Buildings Committee, Newark - June 1960," with clippings, minutes, mailings and correspondence documenting the Committee, based at the NPL, with Library Director James E. Bryan as Chairman and New Jersey Room Librarian Miriam V. Studley as a leading figure. Ione M. Sonn, Hotel East Orange, 101 North Grove St., East Orange, NJ, described as a "student of old houses in Newark," is listed as a founding member. The scrapbook includes lists of historic buildings in Newark, and a lengthy descriptive list of historical markers (including all Schoolmen's Club memorial tablets) compiled 1960; architects' reports on individual sites/buildings, notes and sketches by Sonn, and clippings of articles on individual buildings such as the Krueger Mansion and the Essex County Jail. (1960-1962)

"Architecture Notes & Paintings," includes material on famous architects, architectural terms, bibliography, historic preservation, clippings and handwritten notes on NJ and NY architecture, an outline of types of buildings by period, notes on books and articles read, and, toward the end of the volume, a section on "Old Stone Houses - Newark" and "Newark's Stone Houses" with handwritten notes and small sketches and a section on farms, markets, quarries, orchards, gardens, livestock, etc. in Nwk (dated clippings are ca. 1949-1965)

Untitled Scrapbook on the history of New Jersey, with clippings; many pages of handwritten notes; sketch maps and sketches of old houses, gravestones, and artifacts; original photographs (mostly architectural); and other items of ephemera. There are very few references to Newark, but there is a section of notes and photographs on old houses of Roseville. A clipping listing clockmakers includes Newarkers.

Box 2 (3 volumes):

"Book I Frame Houses," title page, "Frame Houses in Newark, N.J. 1666 thru 1860's," with extensive notes, sketches, postcards, and original photographs (some negatives and photoprints) taken ca. 1947-1951. Includes comparative examples of houses from elsewhere in NJ and from other states.

"Book 1a Frame Houses, cont'd," with contents similar to the volume above. There are detailed sections on individual houses and house types (49 Washington St., Boudinot House, etc.) At the end of the volume is a lengthy section of text and sketches entitled "The Innesses in Newark 1829 to 1846," an account of the history of the family of artist George Inness and their properties in Newark.

"Old Houses," contains material on historic preservation projects, arranged by state, excluding New Jersey

Box 3: contains scrapbooks with similar contents, devoted to "Windows" and "Stone & Brick Houses - Churches" in Newark; a folder contains loose pages from a scrapbook of various styles of architecture found in (mostly 19th-century) Newark.

Box 4 (3 volumes): "Newark Miscellaneous"; "Newark Reference Material," with sketch maps and lists of property-owners' names, by street; and "Field Notes - Ads. etc." The "Field Notes" volume includes diary-like accounts of Sonn's research walks through Newark, including verbatim reports on her conversations with Italians, children, and other residents. Loose in this volume is a typescript of notes by Douglas Eldridge for an interview with Sonn in 1961, and a letter from Sonn to Eldridge (1961).

Box 5: contains two scrapbooks, "Greek Revival and Metalwork" and "Doorways"

Box 6: contains "N.Y. City Scrap Book Vol. 1" and "N.Y. City Scrapbook Vol. 2."

NOTE: The Sonn collection is indexed in 4 drawers of handwritten 3" x 5" cards with extensive notes and bibliographic references. There is an index of Newark street names, an index of photographs (by street, and keyed to the scrapbook volumes and pages), an index of Newark family names (with references to addresses, businesses, properties owned, etc.), and a topical index.


  • c. 1936-1962


Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff. Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.


2.5 Linear Feet (6 Hollinger boxes)


The collection of consists of 15 scrapbooks of research notes, sketches, original photographs, postcards, and clippings. Most of the material relates to the history of buildings in Newark, but there is also material on other New Jersey cities, on New York architecture, and on historic preservation in other states.

Biographical / Historical

Ione M. Sonn was born in Newark and raised in Jersey City. Her father, Arthur H. Sonn (d. 1936) was an artist and an authority on the history of Early American wrought iron. His extensive collection of wright iron artifacts was given to the Newark Museum by his three daughters in 1941. After living for some years in New York City, Ione Sonn returned to Newark to investigate houses owned by her grandparents. She eventually settled in East Orange and in 1960 became a founding member of the Historic Sites and Buildings Committee, based at the Newark Public Library. She was an indefatigable researcher, visiting every corner of Newark, sketching and photographing the City's oldest buildings. She became a valued consultant to the Committee, and, in the words of Library Director James Bryan, the person "who knows more about Newark houses than almost anyone else in the city." Sonn worked closely with librarian Miriam V. Studley in documenting individual buildings, and composed a substantial report on the leather industry in Newark for the Committee.
No finding aid, text from catalog and Card index in CFCNJIC.

Repository Details

Part of the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, Newark Public Library Repository

3rd Floor
Newark Public Library
5 Washington St.
Newark NJ 07102 United States