Evernote: A Boon to the Disorganized

I feel the need to preface my review with the forward that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an organized individual. Sure, I have organizational methods and keep notes is some fashion or another; however, those notes and methods are practically useless to others due to the fact that they are often encrypted, in far flung locations, locked somewhere in my brain, or a combination there of. Time and time again I find myself losing important notes in my books or double booking myself for appointments. For quite some time, I have been searching for a method of organizing my life that I can click with.

With this in mind, it should not have been a surprise to me that my obstinate resistance to the Evernote would be met with the revelation that it is in fact incredibly useful. At a glance, a digital archive tool can easily seem selective, limiting itself to use by professional researchers and business aficionados. This knee jerk reaction, however, is incorrect. On a much simpler level, the application can be used to organize and catalog notes for school, methodologies for projects, outlines for essays, and even simple life events like upcoming events and engagements.

Evernote 1Before using Evernote, my regular method for keeping track of work in classes was to make word documents in my school folders. Though I was able to have some degree of written documentation through this method, it was far from organized. I was often left comedically shuffling through folder upon folder reading titles, trying to find the file I was searching for. This process only became worse when new iterations of windows made their search tools less expansive, effectively requiring that I know both the containing folder and exact name of the file I was searching for. Evernote affords the same degree of documented organization with an improved search function acting through the use of tags. By tagging a note, the user can quickly find all articles related to that note, thereby significantly cutting the clutter. Furthermore, the more tags used for a single note, the easier it is to find. This greatly incentivizes the user to come up with multiple tags that can contextualize the note by subject.

Having already used it for several assignments, I can attest to its value. I have begun to make my outlines in Evernote due to the fact that I can pull them up at the drop of the hat by typing either “outline” or the subject that my essay will be on. Likewise, each individual section of my essay usually has a separate note where I expand on content and source material. In effect, this system creates a “master outline” and several “subject outlines,” which allows me to expand on my ideas in more detail without creating a single document that is cumbersome to look at and difficult to follow. Outside of my academic endeavors, I have also been using Evernote to help ameliorate my woefully inept cooking skills. My family keeps a fairly extensive collection of home cooking recipes in dejected and disintegrating books. Out of these culinary compendiums, I have taken some of my favorite recipes (such as pierogi, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and Stromboli) and digitized them so I can save them for later in my life.

In spite of the praise I have already lauded on the program, likely the most decisive advantage of Evernote is the cloud feature. Many applications use the cloud (such as Microsoft Skydrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox) and arguably are more useful for their ability to upload and transfer large documents and files over the web, Evernote can still rely on its organizational niche to make it relevant. Not only is Evernote compatible with mobile devices via the app, it will aslo automatically update itself with your cloud account regularly, allowing mobile devices to stay up to date without the need to duplicate notes yourself across platforms. Furthermore, the mobile app has voice recorder and written note features. If you have a thought but are not in a position to record it through writing, you can activate the app and record the idea audibly (disclaimer: using a phone while driving is both dangerous and illegal and should be done by no one ever.)   Meanwhile, if you prefer to record your idea as an illustration, such as a flowchart or an artist sketch, you can sketch the image into a mobile phone or tablet. There is also a photo function where the user can take pictures of things and attach notes to those.

All things considered, Evernote is an incredibly useful organizational tool that can act as a versatile cloud based personal digital assistant. I recommend the use of it to anyone looking to find new modes of organization for their thoughts and life projects.

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Evernote: An Online Note Taking Tool

I had never heard of Evernote until enrolling in this Digital History class so the spring semester has been a personal crash course in the program/app.  Having a Chromebook as opposed to the traditional Mac or PC platforms has added to the adventure.  Now that I had a few months to play around with it, I feel like I can contribute to the conversation of its strengths and weaknesses and best/worst features.

Cloud storage has been the emphasis of the last several years and was one of the reasons why I decided to purchase a Chromebook.  Having access to updated files on any device has been a great advantage to this new trend in computing.  Evernote takes advantage of this trend, allowing its users to take notes anywhere and accessing them anywhere.

First, let’s begin with the basics.  Evernote is a great note-taking tool.  Outlines are easy to create and its toolbar features mostly everything you could ever need.  It allows you to include outside links, create tables, and even attach files.  The toolbar even includes “to-do” boxes.  What this does is allow the user to create a “to-do” lists, complete with little check boxes that can be checked off as you continue with your research.  This has been one of the features I have used most often as I put together my exhibit.  It has kept my research organized and allows me to map my progress.

Additionally, each entry in a notebook can be tagged with appropriate words so that notes can be sorted any which way by the user.  This is great for those of us who want to save hundreds of sites.  Like a pile of note cards, the information you had one day could be buried to the point of its disappearance from your research.  If tagged properly, however, notes are easily retrievable and organized.

A user can also have unlimited notebooks and each notebook can be subdivided into smaller notebooks.  If one so desires, the notebooks can be shared publicly which encourages researchers from around the world to network with each other.

The greatest strength of Evernote, however, is its “web clipper” that allows you to save any website you may stumble upon on any device.  This is great for the researcher who is on the go often and has limited time in front of a computer.  If an interesting source is discovered on your mobile device, you can “clip” the site and return to it later when you have the time to fully examine it.  It is also beneficial for those of us (all of us?) who end up surfing the web and researching on multiple devices – whether they may be cellphones or work, library, or home computers.  Evernote’s web clipper allows you to store all sources in one spot that can be accessed from anywhere.

There are numerous add-on apps for Evernote that I have not personally had the opportunity or time to try out myself.  However, one of the more popular ones is called Skitch which allows users to add shapes and text to images and save those images in various formats.  This can be a very useful tool for a variety of reasons.

As with everything, though, there are drawbacks.  The interface at times seems buggy.  Again, I am using a Chromebook and cannot speak to Evernote’s compatibility with Apple or Windows operating systems, but I have had frustration in editing my notes.  When I hit the backspace button, the cursor seems to randomly move around the screen at times and delete text that I had no intention of deleting.  Another frustration, to me, is the lack of an undo button.  Short cuts are great (ctrl + z restores lost text), but the undo/redo buttons are simple additions to any word processing toolbar.  I have read that these buttons are available in Evernote for Mac and PC so why would they be excluded from the Android OS?

Another drawback has more to do with a user’s personality and discipline.  I find at times that I overuse the web clipper and tend to be lazy in going back and truly studying my sources.  The clipper has encouraged me (and others who I have talked to) to save so many sources for later that time does not allow me to rummage through all of them.  As I have previously mentioned, the web clipper itself is a useful feature, but it is no different from the bookmarking feature of web browsers in my use.

Overall, I would say Evernote is a very useful tool for note taking and sharing notebooks.  I may continue to experiment with it in the future when doing research for other classes, but it will probably be on a more minimal frequency than I am using it now.

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Learning about EVERNOTE – a little too late?

OneDrive-logo-blue-bgI never heard of Evernote until I took Digital History for my coursework. I will admit I did not want to use Evernote. I finally caught up with the ‘cloud’ and dreaded having to learn a new program. I tend to be very loyal to my software. For example – I use DELL and ONLY DELL equipment for computer work which means I have only ventured with Microsoft programs and will continue to do so. I of course, now am very enthusiastic about my ‘cloud’ platform on OneDrive (used to be called Skydrive.)  OneDrive and the basic function of Evernote is the same. You are able to copy and save files off the internet into a central location that you can access anywhere. So when I was introduced to Evernote, I was turned off to it. I didn’t feel I needed to learn another program that would store files.Evernote_logo_635

Unlike our cloud apps however, Evernote has this function (which is the only thing I like about it) called the ‘web clipper.’ The web clipper has the ability to highlight content on a webpage or document and import it directly into you Evernote database. You do not have to be on the Evernote homepage to do this. It’s quite cool. This way I am able to download everything faster to my folders. I even add Evernote to my smart phone,which is okay – I rarely use is on my phone but I feel comfort knowing I can access my information anywhere if I needed to.

Evernote is definitely geared towards college students and researchers. If I learned about Evernote earlier, I do believe I would have used it for all my research projects. At this time I have completed my research for my Master’s coursework and will be graduating soon, and therefore Evernote has no advantage for me. I am happy that I was introduced to such a program since there are not many out there such as this. If I ever have a major research project in the future, I will be sure to invest more time into it.

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What I learned about Evernote and its Magic Web Clipper

When I started my graduate studies I decided to invest in an IPad rather than a laptop.  I was very interested in being able to use the various applications that potentially would make my life as a student easier.  I bought a Bluetooth wireless keyboard Evernoteand was very pleased with the results of bringing my IPad to class.  My IPad became an all in one tool for research, note taking, and writing.  I had messed around with Evernote when I first started looking for note taking software, but I ended up settling for an application called Notability that allowed me to annotate .PDF files.  I was very pleased with this application and never went back to messing around with Evernote.

When I was reintroduced to Evernote through this Digital History class I became pleasantly surprised with Evernote’s capabilities.  The feature that really stood out to me was the ability to have a shared notMy Shared Notebookebook.  Shared notebooks allow for other people to share in your findings.  I feel like this provides great potential for crowd sourcing a project.  It was interesting to not only be able to share a notebook with others, but to add search tags making it easy to track down certain notes.  I feel like I have just scratched the surface as to the organizational capabilities that Evernote offers.  I personally would love to be involved in a large scale historical project were the sharing of notebooks would really shine through.  The features in Evernote are vast and it really allows you to organize your notes in a way that paper notebooks just can’t offer.

     While Evernote’s sharing and tagging capabilities are very impressive the tool I found to be most useful was the Evernote Web Clipper.  This nifty little browser add-on allows you to clip either URL’s or full web pages into Evernote with the simple click of a mouse.  For my research project regarding Butler, NJ history I was able to go out to the web and quickly do web searches and rapidly save information to my notebook.  This allowed me to keep searching without having to stop to copy down the information.  The ability to clip a whole web page allowed me to go back after the fact and search through what I had found.  I feel that searching for information is like going down the rabbit hole each click taking you deeper and deeper, and closer to what you are searching for.  Evernote with its Web Clipper allows you to focus on your search and worry about everything else later.

Web Clipper

Evernote Web Clipper

One of the few issues I did have with Evernote Web Clipper was that it was not available on the IPad as an application download.  I was forced to add it to my Firefox browser on my desktop computer in order to enjoy that feature.  This was one limiting factor that I hope they will fix in the future.  It would be wonderful to be able to use the Web clipper on the IPad as this is what I use on the go for all of my research.  Now while I am sure that Evernote is a wonderful tool for many you want to invest fully in its features I personally did not rely on it.  I feel that my classes right now do not really allow for me to take advantage of Evernote as a note taking tool as the classes themselves are primarily focused on projects.  I will in the future bring my IPad and Evernote into more seminar based classes to really try to take advantage of its capabilities.  When I am reading a secondary source or doing research I still prefer to be able to highlight the physical book, or E-Book.  While this is the case I can see the benefits not only writing out your material with citations, but also tagging them to make re-finding the information that much easier.

Overall with Evernote’s vast selection of tools and add-ons I would most definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a powerful note taking software/application.  For people who are looking to do historical research or any research work for that matter would not be disappointed in the many doors using Evernote opens to them.  Sharing notes with colleagues, writing drafts, clipping in information from the web all becomes easier with Evernote.  It is a tool that I will be continuing to use and I am sure there are some surprises left for me to discover as well.

 

 

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My Opinion on Evernote: A Great Tool for Academic and Non-Academic Work.

Before I took this class I had never heard of Evernote. If I recall correctly I did not have much of an opinion on Evernote. I just saw it a requirement I had to do for this class. However, after I had some hands-on-experience with it and read about similar systems in the class readings I now see myself using it after the course is over, for academic and non-academic work.
For the first half of the class I had, at best, lukewarm feelings towards Evernote, and at worst, none what-so-ever. It should also be noted that I was going through a difficult period concerning family affairs during this time, so that contributed to my feelings and attempts to understand how this thing work. One noticeable event came on February 19, 2014 when I tried to figure out how to use Evernote’s Share capability. You can share your notes with other people but I could not figure out how to share my notes with the other students. Looking at the options listed I could not figure out which one would allow me to connect with the other students. At the same time, I was noticing that some of my notes were not appearing on Evernote when I accessed it from the web. I have two ways of accessing the tool: from my desktop or from the web. However, it would seem that if I put material on the desktop version it does not appear on the web version. So I decided to put material on the web version for now on. With these inconveniences and others I probably would have never given Evernote a second thought, but that attitude changed in the second half of the class.
After I read the article “A Method for Navigating the Infinite Archive” in History in The Digital Age for March 13, 2014, I realized the potential this tool can give me. I recently have been having storage difficulties concerning items in my house, including paper. I tried to put my loose papers in binders but if I did that the binders would take up a lot of space and cost money as well. But, thinking about the reading and working with Evernote I now view it as a good alternative to using paper, thus freeing up space in my house. Also, because Evernote can save lots of material I can use it to save my multiple drafts of a particular paper. I can even use it to transcript my past papers and their drafts that I currently have in hard copy. Thus, if the hard copy is destroyed or I have to throw it away I would still have the material of it in digital form.
Seeing the advantages Evernote can give me I feel that I will be using it for the rest of my life, not only to help me in academic work but also with personal work as well. This could be a potentially great tool for storing my work and keeping them save.

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An Adventure Using the Evernote Program

Technology is designed to make life easier. Throughout history human beings have always innovated new ideas to do less work. The first bit of technology I can think of off of the top of my head that changed our existence dramatically is the wheel. Many more inventions were made possible due to this technology. When we think of technology today our minds automatically go to computers, video games, cell phones, and television sets. The advanced technology of today was not all created to make our lives easier. Video games and television sets are mainly used for entertainment purposes. The technology that I will discuss however was created to make our lives easier. The question is does it?

The Evernote program was given to my graduate class to assist us with our research. Although it has practical uses, I must admit I did most of my note taking the traditional way. As I drove all over Sussex County with my notebook on my passenger seat with addresses of historic sites I wanted to visit scribbled in its pages I began to think of exactly how I would use Evernote. I used it only once to take real notes, which was when I was reading lying in bed. It came in handy to just type some page numbers and quotes into the phone and sync it to my computer. This could not be done while driving and made no real sense to put the addresses there to look up, so what purpose could it serve?

As I jumped out of my car to take my first few pictures of one of my stops, I remembered a simple, yet very practical use Evernote has. I could easily take my new pictures and put them right into Evernote through the app on my iPhone. Then when I got home, all of my pictures were already on my computer so I can upload them to my digital archive.

Although I did not take many notes in the program, it became an important tool. The file share ability saves time by making it possible to instantly stream files by the sync feature. This was much easier than my usual way of emailing pictures to myself and then downloading them.
The ability to almost instantly have everything on my phone go right to my computer made me like the program. I decided that as a tribute to the instant sharing idea that I would write this blog on my phone and then use Evernote to put it on my computer for posting, and I did not even have to get out of bed. Evernote is easy to use and has practical purposes. Although I am very much used to the traditional notebook method of doing research, I do believe that if I got used to it, I would make good use of Evernote. I certainly would recommend this easy to use program to other people. It is downloadable on most smartphones, tablets, and computers and can sync them all to each other instantly.

Simply click on the link: Evernote.com to get started.

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A Brief Snapshot of Sussex County History

If you go exploring in Sussex County, New Jersey you will find an immense amount of U.S. History.  New Jersey in general has more Revolutionary War history than many people know about.  According to A Guide to New Jersey’s Revolutionary War Trail for Families and History Buffs by Mark Di Ionno, “Sussex County, though it’s hard to believe now, was the frontier at the time of the Revolution,” concluding in all of the battles in Sussex County to be with the Indians[1].  To call them battles is a loosely used term since there are no real recorded battles known to be held within New Jersey’s border, however some of the battles close to the Delaware River definitely involved Sussex County by the use of supply routes and march routes.

Supply lines through Waterloo Village,an ironworking village, and marches in parts of Sussex County show proof of the major role Sussex County played in the Revolutionary War.   In the current area of Wallkill High School in Hamburg, NJ there is a campsite said to be the site where George Washington set up camp for a night on a march from Newburg, NY to his headquarters in Morristown, NJ to meet General Lafayette in 1779.  There is a monument off of Route 94 near the corner of Route 94 and Beaver Run Road saying on it “In this field General George Washington encamped for a night on a march from Newburg to Morristown in 1779 to meet General Lafayette.”

George Washington Campsite3

Photo of George Washington’s Campsite Plaque

On one march a soldier fell from exhaustion on what is currently Cherry Lane in Hampton, NJ.  If you travel into Hampton and make a left, coming from Wantage, NJ, onto the dead ended Cherry Lane you will see on the left-hand side of the road a memorial set up for the soldier.  Inscribed on the headstone is the words “Erected to an unknown soldier of the Revolution Chinkchewunska Chan No. 240 AR NJ.”  Doing further research on the topic I found that it was customary for fallen soldiers to be buried where they fell during marches.  The soldier was “a part of the Continental army marching in 1780[2]” according to Di Ionno.  The site is small and worth a short visit as many of the locals walking their dogs and bike riding by tend to do.  Di Ionno says that “around the turn of the century, the Chinkchewunska Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution marked the site with the granite plaque that can be viewed today.[3]”

Unknown Soldier2 Cherry Ln

Photo of Unknown Soldier’s Memorial

As you take a trip through the history of Sussex County, Newton seems like a viable place to start.  There are historic buildings there such as the Thomas Anderson House and one of the sites of James Moody’s raids.  As you travel through the history, you will see organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution and American Legion leaving their mark to help preserve our precious history.  Perhaps even a better place to start is with one of these organizations rather than taking the trek alone.

 

[1] Di Ionno, Mark, A Guide to New Jersey’s Revolutionary War Trail For Families and History Buffs, (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000), 190.

[2] Di Ionno, 192.

[3] Di Ionno, 192.

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Evernote Review

Teachers are always told to give students both positive and negative feedback so that the student is not completely crushed but also knows that flaws exist.  I am going to be using a similar model while reviewing Evernote, a web-based notebook, because there are a lot of really great things about Evernote but there are also some things that I do not particularly care for.

The best thing about Evernote is called Web Clipper.  This is a program that you download onto your computer. As you are looking at a website, you can mark up the screen by highlighting text, pointing arrows to important information, drawing boxes around relevant facts or crop out pieces of the screen.  Once you have marked up the web page to your liking, you are able to take a screenshot and save this image in your Evernote Notebook.  This is an incredibly helpful and useful tool for taking notes and doing online research for a few reasons but most importantly because you do not need to copy down long URL’s so there are no errors in the copying process and you are always able to return to the website the image was taken from.  Evernote automatically takes notes of the website URL and puts it in the top bar of the note.

As much as I like the Web Clipper application, I still have some complaints about it.  If you want to clip an image of a longer web page that requires scrolling you need to take multiple images.  I have yet to figure out how to take multiple screenshots and condense them into one note so I have multiple notes from the same source, the same page even, and cannot seem to combine them into one note– which constantly tricks me into thinking I have more sources than I actually do.  A second negative aspect of Web Clipper is that it does not always capture the image because of copyrights issues.  I understand that material needs to be copyrighted and protected… but it is still inconvenient.  Although I have been told if you play around with the way that the image is shown, sometimes you can get around this issue.

Tags!  Evernote allows you to tag your notes.  If I have clipped a webpage about the Ho-Ho-Kus Racetrack I am able to tag the note with terms like “Racetrack,” “1932,” “Automobile,” so that I know exactly what this note contains– sometimes about automobiles at the racetrack in 1932.  The most attractive thing about tags is that it makes your notes searchable similar to a PDF.  When it comes time to write about the Ho-Ho-Kus Racetrack, I might remember there was something interesting about a car race but not remember the year.  I can go into Evernote and search “automobile,” and notes will appear.  The abillity to have notes categorized like this is really convenient and it makes the research to writing process much more manageable because you are not flipping through an entire notebook of sloppy handwriting hoping to find the right page.  I have no complaints about tags, they are amazing.

Much like a Word or WordPerfect document, once you are typing up your own notes in Evernote you are able to change the font color, insert tables, bullet points, horizontal lines and you can even insert a To-Do List.  This is a really neat feature.  As you’re taking notes if you realize you need more information from somewhere, you can insert a To-Do Button and write a quick note about something you should do, like “Call the Ridgewood Public Library.”  Once you have made that call, you can go back and check off your To-Do Button and if you forget you have completed this task, you can return to the note and see that it’s checked off and done.  I can not say I have used this feature but for people who work best electronically this is a great tool.  The only feature that a Word document has that Evernote does not is the ability to highlight text within notes you have created yourself.  As I use notes for writing, I tend to check off or highlight information I have already used so that I don’t repeat myself and unfortunately you can not hEvernote Outlineighlight in Evernote.  Instead, I guess I would have to change the color of the text to signal that I have already used the information.  This is not a deal breaker but a small annoyance.

Personally, I prefer to take notes on paper.  There is something about the process of reading, copying down information and flipping through a filled notebook that I love.  Maybe I should start putting tags in the upper right corner of each page of my notebook so that I can find things faster as this is my favorite feature of Evernote.  If I had to rate Evernote on a scale of one to ten, ten being the most amazing note taking method and one being useless, I would rate this program a 7.

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Evernote

Evernote is a relatively new application that has been made public for the consumption of the general population of technology users. This new application is multifaceted in all the potential capabilities it can deliver to the hands of the consumer, it easy to navigate and use, as well as allows for users to easily synchronize data across several devices in order to bring about effortless accessibility regardless of where the user might be located at any given time. The best aspect of this new application is the number of people worldwide it can have a daily impact among. Evernote has the technological dexterity in addition to the potential to be a valuable resource tool for anyone. This includes users who are enrolled in any level of schooling to professionals who work anywhere from Main Street to Wall Street. Evernote does not necessarily have to be limited to being used solely by students or working professionals. Private users who simply wish to be productive and organized in their daily lives will benefit immensely from the advantages Evernote offers.

I downloaded Evernote several months ago and have spent a considerable amount of time becoming familiar with what this application has to offer. There are a few drawbacks to using this resource, but when all is said and done, the positives greatly outweigh the drawbacks of utilizing Evernote. Across the spectrum of users, whether they be casual users who have Evernote for personal usage or more frequent users who use the application for professional purposes, this tool is equipped to deliver the more basic functions as simply creating ‘To Do’ lists or pre-programming reminders to alert you of something on a specified date and time. I have used both these features in order to remind myself of important appointments or due dates of professional work that needs to be completed. The ‘To Do’ lists I have assembled have been particularly useful in establishing goals and working towards following through on them.

The various discernible appearances in which the mobile app for Evernote can be set to is helpful since some background appearances are more pleasing to view than others. Users are able to customize the display of Evernote on their mobile phones in order to meet their personal tastes. The best aspects to Evernote though lie in its ability to save compiled information and its versatility. In conducting research for several blog posts I was able to collect information for further review by using an Evernote feature that I downloaded called ‘Web Clipper.’ This feature allows the user to save a copy of an entire webpage, the article on a webpage, or simply the URL link to Evernote for future reference. The benefit is that if the user does not have access to the internet at a later period of time the user can still access and read the desired material. Prior to a recent flight I loaded up Evernote with articles I wished to read. Then while 30,000 feet above ground I was able to read the articles at my leisure despite the lack of an internet connection. Additionally, information that is saved to Evernote, whether it is through Web Clipper or a ‘To Do’ list the user typed up on his or her own, is automatically synchronized to a user’s other electronic devices upon which Evernote is installed. This eliminates the pesky business of always manually ensuring the information between devices is up-to-date to a user’s specifications. Finally, another great feature is how Evernote provides your account with an e-mail address. This way users are able to e-mail information to their Evernote account which will then be saved and synchronized across the devices.

Despite these great advantages that Evernote offers, there can be a few drawbacks. A user is limited to uploading 60 MB of data each month without a paid subscription to use the application. With only a free subscription I have been forced to keep an eye on how much storage space is available. Of course this problem is eliminated if you upgrade to a paid subscription for $5 per month or $45 a year. A more lasting problem with Evernote is the simple organization platform for information. Users have the option of saving information within separate folders. However, if you desire a more in-depth structure to storing notes, articles, or photos, there is no option to create a more detailed folder structure.

I chose to organize my compiled data into several folders. The folders were sorted based on the general use each folder’s contents. For information pertaining to blogs, along with my completed blog entries, I saved the information to a ‘Blog’ folder. For information pertaining to additional projects, I saved the data to appropriately named folders. This resource tool has allowed me to more effectively conduct my research and organize information. The user’s ability to easily type up information (‘To Do’ list, grocery shopping list, notes on an article, etc.) is fairly simple. The most revolutionary feature though is the ability to save multitudes of articles while you have an internet connection. Then when travelling and perhaps not having an internet connection you can read through articles and other sources at your leisure on any device due to the synchronization capability. Evernote is a great tool for personal or professional use. Updates come periodically which so far has only enhanced the usefulness of this application.

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Eastside Park: A Contribution to the Nineteenth Century Parks Movement

A Brief History of Eastside Park, Paterson, NJ

Former Civil War Colonel Andrew Derrom purchased undeveloped lands on the east side of Paterson and upon which he constructed a home and club house c.1880. Soon thereafter in 1881, H.B. Crosby, a Paterson industrialist serving on the Board of Trade, introduced the idea of establishing a public parks system for Paterson. It was not until 1888, however, that this vision was firmly adopted by the passage of a park ordinance authorizing purchase of lands on the east and west sides of the city. Colonel Derrom’s and Charles E. Van Buren’s lands were a part of the 66-acre, $75,000 purchase that became Eastside Park. The New Jersey legislature approved the establishment of a Parks Commission in Paterson in 1889 to which a seven members were appointed, including Crosby.  Although these were established and Crosby given the title of “father of Paterson parks,” it was not until almost a decade later in 1899 that Eastside Park was formally designed by John Y. Culyer, a landscape architect from New York City who also was a commissioner on the Paterson Parks Commission. Culyer was assistant engineer in both the Central and Prospect parks projects (both F.L. Olmsted designs), Superintendent of Brooklyn Parks, and designer of other public parks in Chicago and Albany, for example. His contemporary works and connection to prominent landscape architect Olmstead (who won the competition for Westside Park, coincidentally) places Culyer squarely in the limelight of the civic landscape design of the City Beautiful movement, sweeping the nation at the time. Eastside Park soon thereafter became the catalyst and anchor for the rapid development of Paterson’s east side neighborhood, now an historic district composed of not less than 500 structures, reflective of architectural styles of the first half of the twentieth century.  Close scrutiny of 1899 and 1915 maps illustrate preliminary and modified designs of Eastside Park, which included several additions, including the stable, pavilion, arbors, and a club house, to name a few. As part of the park’s design, Colonel Derrom’s residence was demolished sometime after 1900, and the stable and pavilion were likely constructed shortly thereafter and have remained permanent amenities, unlike other features added at the time that have been removed or destroyed since. While the park at large maintains its historic boundaries and general design layout, all of its gardens, most of its pathways and structural elements are gone. While the stable and its adjacent counterpart, the pavilion, have been modified or are not entirely intact, they are among the few architectural representatives of what survives the turn-of-the-century design.

compiled by sources by G. Archimede

Tour I gave last fall on the both Paterson parks.

Tour I gave last fall on the both Paterson parks.

A short guided tour of Eastside Park….

Eastside Park was purchased by the City of Paterson in March of 1888 for $75,000. The sum of land purchased was about 66 ½ acres. This tract included the lands of two families, the Van Burens and the Derroms. Today the park only consists of 55 acres.

The construction of Eastside Park along with its sister Westside Park is unique. A design competition was held to decide how each park would be laid out. The two most notable planners who submitted designs for both parks were John Y. Culyer and Frederick Law Olmstead. Culyer won first place for Eastside Park and Olmstead won first place for Westside Park. Although John Culyer’s plans were accepted for Eastside, his plans were based on a development cost of about $135,000. Unfortunately his plans were altered considerably between 1899 and 1912.

Culyer began his career as a landscape engineer in Central Park, under Frederick Law Olmsted. So when both Olmstead and Cuyver won the design competition there were no hard feelings between the two, as Culyer worked under Olmstead for quite some time stylizing in the pastoral and picturesque. The pastoral style featured vast expanses of green with small lakes, trees and groves and produced a soothing, restorative effect on the viewer. The picturesque style covered rocky, broken terrain with teeming shrubs and creepers and struck the viewer with a sense of nature’s richness. Culyer and Olmstead’s ideas for the most part were in sync. Culyer was known for his design of a tree-moving machine. This machined was invented after he was hired as one of the original engineers of Prospect Park. His invention later advanced him to Chief Engineer and head of the Brooklyn’s Parks Department. The tree moving machine did exactly as its name intended. Park designers were able to move trees from one spot to another like chess pieces. They also were able to import trees of a much larger size which gave way from the standard nursery trip. Rather they were able to collect trees from private grounds.

John Culyer's tree moving machine, late nineteenth century.

John Culyer’s tree moving machine, late nineteenth century.

Culyer’s design for Eastside Park was to incorporate the outer structures and add several more such as an arbor, picnic shelter, boating platform, lake house, and a clubhouse. In 1899 the maps show that the park was divided into several fields for this purpose. There existed picnic grounds, tennis and croquet grounds, and places for field games. The buildings that were here included the Derrom house, a pavilion, the superintendents house (which is the Van Buren House), a club house, picnic shelter, lake house, and boating platform. All the outer structures Culyer envisioned were made possible. His park was highly naturalist and picturesque with circular paths and two walkways with floral areas. Carriage roads were lined with maples trees, oaks at the northwest end, and linden trees at the northeast end. The trees were planted to create a rhythmic effect but give a pastoral setting.

As briefly mentioned Culyer’s design did not maintain its integrity for long. It was decided amongst the parks commission to alter some of the landscape to fit a more formal design for the park, which was Olmstead’s chief design for the park originally. Although Olmstead died in 1903, his legacy was incorporated into Eastside with the replacement of the naturalistic setting with intricate walkways of cobblestone and gravel laid out in organic fashion and more formal landscape designs. A carousel, music stand, deer paddock, and athletic field were also added into the park by 1915.

Frederick Law Olmstead

Frederick Law Olmstead

Olmstead believed firmly in community health and that landscape architecture has a role in making society a better place, so these public spaces were essential for the social well-being of society. Olmsted’s principles of design, generally speaking, encouraged the full utilization of the naturally occurring features of a given space. Decorative elements in this case did not take precedence, but rather the space as a whole. Olmstead’s theory did not let the overall design call attention to itself. The secret was the concealment of design to produce relaxation. A bridge, a pathway, a tree, a pasture: any and all elements are brought together to produce a particular effect. The scenery was designed to enhance the sense of space by using plants, brush, and trees along with the interplay of light and shadows. Light and shade lent the landscape a sense of mystery.

Memorials & Monuments: The character and cultural landscape marks of a city are built slowly and measured in terms of generations rather than years. Paterson (itself 221 years old) the past century has witnessed a quantity of memorials, monuments, and community sites and plazas erected the people themselves as a permanent manifestation of the rapid growth of an appreciation of beauty and tribute to civic leadership. Looking back on the activity of Paterson’s citizens, most can conclude that in the first hundred years of Paterson’s history were entrenched with the necessities of life in the form of factories. After 1890 these people took time out to add the artistic and cultural embellishments that distinguish this city. While war memorials tended to dominate the memorial landscape there has been no set pattern in the establishment of park monuments. Such as we will see with the Alice Weight memorial Fountain, which has no historical significance.

  1. Alice Weight Memorial Fountain: The fountain was erected in 1916 to stand as a beautiful ornament in the park without any significance. The fountain is of an elaborate Italian renaissance inspired piece. The large shell-motif bowl is mounted on a quadripartite pedestal made up of baroque inspired brackets with foliate decoration. A circular concrete base is interspersed with marble sections and a contemporary decorative wrought iron fence surrounds this plaza. The fountain was given by Mary H. Weight from New York City.
  2. Charles Curie Monument: The Charles Curie Monument was designed by George Thomas Brewster. The bronze bust rests on a neo-classical granite pedestal. It was erected in 1913. Charles Curie was a dedicated lawyer and local war hero. He was a captain in the Civil War.
  3. Civil War Monument, Eastside Park, taken October 2013

    Civil War Monument, Eastside Park, taken October 2013

    Civil War Monument: The Civil War monument, also known as the soldiers and sailors monument was replicated in Eastside Park in 1922 by Gaetano Federici. The original monument was constructed on Monuments Heights in 1870. This monument consists of an Egyptian-revival obelisk on a classical revival base which is surmounted by a statue of a Union Soldier. The four-sided object has bronze plaques on each face. The overall monument is surrounded by four bronze Confederate civil war cannons on granite blocks. Hundreds of thousands of these cannons were decommissioned as outdated equipment by the government during the 1870s – 1920s periods. They are smooth bore (not rifled) and were out of use by the second year of the civil war. These obsolete cannons were given to many towns and veteran’s groups as ornaments for military monuments and later considered scrap and a large number were melted down during the First and Second World Wars.

  4. Pulaski Monument

    Pulaski Monument

    Pulaski Monument: The Pulaski monument in Eastside Park was commissioned by the Americans of Polish Descent group. The bust of Pulaski was to represent Polish heritage, as Pulaski was a Polish nobleman who helped secure American independence. Known as Count Kasimierz Pulaski, he was a general fighting in the American Revolution. His statue was made for the 150th anniversary of Pulaski’s death. It was dedicated in 1929 and made by Gaetano Federici. The bronze statue rests on a granite pedestal, however the base was replaced in 2000 and another inscription was added to memorialize soldiers from World War II. Federici did a considerable amount of research on both Pulaski as a historical figure and the uniform depicted in the sculpture. Most of the inspiration came from a bronze statue of Pulaski in Washington DC, painted portraits of Pulaski and his sister Anne in Philadelphia, and engravings by Hall and Olzesynski in the NY Public Library. Federici also studied the texture of the cloth used during the revolutionary war to depict Pulaski’s clothing accurately. Federici considered his Pulaski statue one of the work of which he was most proud.

Park’s Structures:

  1. Van Buren House

    Van Buren House

    The Van Buren house or as we have nicknamed it the White house, was the home of Charles E. Van Buren. This 1860s farm-house predates the establishment of this public park in the 1890s, and is among the first and oldest structures. The home was constructed circa 867-1868 in the then popular Greek revival style of architecture. Greek revival began in the US in the 1830s. It was an expressive way to show democratic ideals and that America was the spiritual successor of Ancient Greece. Key distinguishing elements of this style are the Greek temple fronts of buildings, columns, and pilasters. Other features would include heavy cornices, horizontal transoms above the entrance, simple moldings on the exterior and interior, and painted white. The Van Buren home is a two-story 5 bay rectangular wood frame plan. It has a hip-roofed porch. The Van Buren family occupied the house until 1888 when the property was purchased by the City of Paterson to become part of what is now Eastside Park. Instead of demolishing the stately home it served for a number of years as the Park Superintendent’s residence, and was later used as office space for the City of Paterson Department of Parks.

  2. The band stand is hexagonal in shape and inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement. It’s an open air structure with triangular brackets, random rubble walls, and concrete railings. Under designer William Morris the Arts and Crafts movement originated in England. It came about during the early part of the twentieth century 1905 – 1930. The approach for the arts and crafts style was a reaction against both the excesses of the Victorian period and the plainness inherent in the designs of the industrial revolution. It was specially designed to reestablish the importance of handmade over mass production. The band stand was constructed relatively the same time (turn of the century), as the Women’s comfort station. Their designs are similar. Products of the Arts and Crafts style can be recognized by the structures compact plan, low gable or hipped roofs, exposed rafters at the eaves and a large front porch. Materials used are supposed to be earthly in nature, so the used of warm tone tiles and stone are commonly represented. Sundays were a popular day for the park. A large crowd from Paterson and neighboring towns would be in attendance for concerts held. As much as 5,000 people would be here. About twenty concerts were given in a season.
  3. Cricket Clubhouse

    Cricket Clubhouse

    Cricket Club House: The cricket club house in the City of Paterson’s Eastside Park is one of five historic structures remaining in the park. The club house, however, has for years been vacant. Although vacant, the club house represents a large part of sports history here in Paterson. Cricket was a highly popular sport in Paterson was played continuously between 1850s -1930s. Two early Paterson cricket teams were organized as part of the New York Cricket Association as early as October of 1853. The Paterson teams played at least thirty matches per season, and frequently played at Prospect Park Parade Grounds in Brooklyn, NY. The Manhattan Cricket Club was the Paterson teams’ biggest rival at the time.   By June of 1893, the Paterson Cricket club began to use the grounds at Washington Park (Eastside Park) which corresponded to the establishment of the Paterson Parks Commission and the beginning of the development of the city’s parks. Eastside Park was a vast improvement compared to the club’s former location. The field was situated in a hollow and the surrounding elevation gave the spectators a splendid view of the game. After the club moved to Eastside Park, in 1894-95 work began on improvements to the cricket grounds on the South Lawn and to expand the park so that baseball could be played as well. Although it is not specifically noted, it is likely that a wood-frame cricket club house structure was also erected at this time as part of the improvements. The Paterson Cricket club was the monetary supporter of these improvements and their upkeep. Unfortunately, on February 3, 1899, the cricket club house caught fire which destroyed all the teams’ equipment. Although the fire was a setback for the cricket club, in August of 1899, the Paterson cricket team beat the Manhattans, their revival team, for the annual championship. There was a large crowd at Eastside Park for the event. In 1900 a “pretty clubhouse was erected on the athletic fields at cost of over $1,000 and fitted with all the necessary comforts for those playing sports” is documented, and it may be assumed that the stone and concrete building that is extant today is indicative.

  4. Women's Comfort Station

    Women’s Comfort Station

    Women’s Comfort Station: In 1892 the Park’s Commission reported that there was a suitable need for a commode and toiler for ladies and children and a place for shelter for the visitors in case of sudden storms. The commission had the old stone carriage house converted into a toilet and shelter at the expense of about $2500. The building was surrounded with a spacious piazza about twenty feet wide. In 1905/1906 the commission felt the old building had done its duty and was in too dangerous of a condition to continue its use, and entirely too small. In 1905 – 1906 a new structure was built, 40ft by 60ft in size. It was two stories with a mansard roof. The building provided a stable with five stall, a haymow, a wagon, tool house, and workshop.

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