Leith Historical Research

Experience comes through various roles:
  • Enterprise journalist
  • Historical property researcher
  • Historical profile researcher
  • Historic preservation studies
  • Municipal historic preservation committee member
  • Appointed Borough Historian
  • Award-winning history columnist



Municipal History and Preservation:
Property research can lead to the discovery of historic sites to be recorded and included on official inventories. These inventories are kept by county and municipal agencies as an official record of a community’s historic architecture to support the preservation of significant homes and buildings important to the community’s history. My own property research has supported municipal preservation efforts as well as helped explain the history of significant homes and buildings to the property's owner and/or the community. 
Research on Historic Districts:
Establishing a historic district requires careful research on property ownership and the architecture of the structures within a residential neighborhood or commercial area. Analysis of the architecture of structures is necessary to determine and identify those that can be considered as contributing to a pattern of styles or historical values. My own research has assisted in documenting the existence and expansion of historic districts and has supported the creation of thematic districts, which are symbolized by the presence of a particular architectural style found in various locations within a municipality. 

Reporter Research:
As an enterprise reporter for newspapers in New Jersey, examining property uses and ownership was an essential part of researching and writing articles about wetland development in the Passaic River Basin of northern New Jersey.  Wetland reclamation was encouraged for economic development, although the tradeoff from filling these unattractive swampland parcels was the loss of critically important natural “sponges” that absorbed flood waters generated by severe storms and hurricanes.  

As an appointed Borough Historian since 2003 and history columnist since 2009, I have researched and written on numerous people and subjects of historical importance. The subject matter has ranged from pre-American Revolutionary people who were settlers of New Jersey to the Civil War era, including important authors and other historical subjects. My research has supported important community programs and events. My research has been used as a resource to improve and expand the collection of historical objects and artifacts maintained by an important regional museum. 

  • Organized the visit of descendants of a former black slave who settled in Rutherford after the Civil War, built a home and barn (extant) for his livery business, raised a family of seven children,  and created a proud legacy for his family and community. One son became a physician and founder of the American Tennis Association; and another son was a confidential aide to eight former governors of Minnesota.  
  • As a trustee of the William Carlos Williams Poetry Symposium, I researched and created a popular historic tour entitled, “William Carlos Williams: Growing Up in a Small Town.”  The tour of the neighborhoods of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet has attracted literary figures, authors, scholars and devotees of the world renown modernist poet. Visitors to the Williams tour included a team from British Broadcasting Company who were preparing for a documentary on William Carlos Williams' poem, "Paterson."
  • History Chest, a column about local history has been published since 2009 by the South Bergenite newspaper (owned by North Jersey Media Group), was awarded the 2012 Historic Preservation Commendation Award by Bergen County  for achievement in Preservation Education.