Monmouth County Library will present program about little known Founding Father


The Monmouth County Library has received an $800 grant from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History which will enable the library to virtually present a
unique program from the institute’s national initiative on Revisiting the Founding Era.

Donna Mansfield, at the Eastern Branch of the county library system in Shrewsbury, wrote the grant awarded by the institute that teaches scholars and the general public about American history. The institute also maintains the Gilder Lehrman Collection and other archives to promote American history education, according to a press release from the county library.

The grant that has been secured by Mansfield will feature a presentation by historian and doctoral candidate Jennifer W. Reiss highlighting the significant contributions of little known Founding Father Gouverneur Morris on May 18.

Information on registration for the program is included on the library’s website at

The May 18 program is part of Revisiting the Founding Era, a three-year national initiative of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History presented in partnership with the American Library Association and the National Constitution Center, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, according to the press release.

“We are grateful to Donna for writing and securing this grant,” said Monmouth County Commissioner Lillian G. Burry, the liaison from the Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners to the library.

“Ms. Reiss is a unique historian who has long since proven she captures the personality, problems and best attributes of each of the personages in history whom she researches and presents.

“To have her present this program for our Monmouth County audience is one more example of how our library system is innovative and in the forefront of seeking the best and the most interesting, be it within the walls of the library or through the wonders of modern technology that brings our speakers directly into the homes of our members,” Burry said.

Reiss, a doctoral student working on the North Atlantic in the 18th century, is particularly interested in women and gender, early modern medicine and disability, British and early American legal history, popular and material culture, and Loyalism during and after the American Revolution, according to the press release.

Reiss’s first research project in her doctoral program features Gouverneur Morris and the nuances of physical disability in early America, and attempted to understand how Morris, the early American statesman and diplomat, negotiated his multiple physical impairments alongside class and gender expectations in the early Republic, according to the press release.

Prior to in-depth studies and research on American history, Reiss was an attorney practicing in New York and London, and an associate at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York University School of Law.

She holds degrees from the University of Cambridge (Corpus Christi College), Harvard Law
School, University of Cambridge (Sidney Sussex College), and the University of Pennsylvania, where she was also awarded college and Benjamin Franklin honors.

Mansfield originally submitted for a grant from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in 2018 and was invited to apply again for the most recent grant from the institute to underwrite the cost of a single program.

She selected Reiss’s presentation for the grant because of the educator’s large appeal to adults and to high school students. The librarian also noted Morris is a particularly fascinating subject since he contributed so much to the founding of the nation, yet appears to be relatively unknown in the 21st century, according to the press release.

“I congratulate Ms. Mansfield and the Monmouth County library staff,” Monmouth County Library Commission Chairwoman Nancy Grbelja said.

“This is a very prestigious grant and the program selected by Donna is exceptional not only for the subject matter, but also because of the excellence of Ms. Reiss as a presenter. Mr. Morris has often been referred to as the ‘Forgotten Founding Father’ and the speaker’s presentation will help people rediscover him.

“In Monmouth County where so many people and places played such vital and fascinating roles in the founding of the nation, this particular program will be a highlight among the many the library offers throughout the year,” Grbelja said.

For more information about this program and all of the programs offered by the Monmouth County library, visit

Registration for virtual programs is also available on the website, under Upcoming Events.