About The Society


Board of Directors



Our Mission

The Historical Society of Elizabeth seeks to preserve and research Elizabeth, New Jersey’s rich history. We document the people, places and events that shape our past, exploring the social, political and economic life of Elizabeth through the 20th century and beyond. We work and share knowledge with city residents.

Our mission is two-fold:

1) Contribute new knowledge and ideas to Elizabeth’s government and leadership.
2) Share that knowledge with City residents and our region

Our Goals

The Society’s long-term goals are to:

  • Present the vital history of Elizabeth
  • Illuminate present issues facing our community
  • Foster a factual context for current and future policy decisions
  • Design a historical narrative that strengthens the common ground of the City’s diverse communities, including the African American and immigrant populations.

The Society also plans extensive outreach to and establishes working relationships with other organizations dedicated to a strong and diverse Elizabeth, NJ community.

Our Board & Structure

The Society is a 501 C-3 nonprofit organization, incorporated in 1999 to provide an institutional presence for public history. Our first priority is to bring the African American, immigrant and historical voices of “common” men and women into the history of Elizabeth and the region. Our Board membership is reflective of the City’s Latin/ Hispanic immigrant and African American populations.

Historical Society Co-Presidents Nida Thomas and Orlando Edreira inspect the deed for the Bonnell House on its porch, September 12, 2003.

President Ceil Mantia

Ceil Manta, is a lifelong resident of Elizabeth, a native of the Peterstown section. Ms. Mantia is a graduate of Douglas College and she earned her master of social work (MSW) from Fordham University. She served as a professional social worker in the Elizabeth Public School system for many years as well as being a constructive voice in the city’s teacher’s union.” Ms. Mantia is a member of the Elizabeth Rotary Club Board.

Treasurer Michelle Doran-McBean

Michelle Doran-McBean, a graduate of Harvard University, has recently completed her M.Div at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is a member of the Plainfield Friends’ Meeting and a lifelong lover of History.

Co-Secretary Michael T. Simon

Michael T. Simon is an Elizabeth native, is a graduate of Fordham University (History) and a practicing attorneyat Donald A. DiGioia Law Group. Mr. Simon’s supportive work on the 2010 Bayway project has prompted him to volunteer for a bolder initiative with the HSENJ’s 2013research on “Jackson Park and Urban Spaces” and participation in the 2014 project, “Broad Street Commerce”.        

Co-Secretary Diana Vivanco

Diana Vivanco is a graduate of NJIT (2015) majoring in Industrial Design, has worked on past HSENJ projects asResearch Project Coordinator. Ms.Vivanco is a resident of Elizabeth and native of Ecuador, with notable computer skills. Ms. Vivanco is a 2014 NJ Governors Hispanic Fellow.

Trustee Kenneth G. Ward

James Guerra a noted Elizabeth architect, heads the firm of James Guerra Associates in Elizabeth. He is the architect of many distinguished projects like the Perth Amboy Waterfront, the Elizabeth Initiative (including marina and waterfront park) and the Newport Marina in Jersey City. Also in Elizabeth he redesigned the James Kirk Center in Peterstown and Woodruff Park among other projects.

Trustee James Gerra

Ken Ward is a long time advocate and historian on regional Elizabeth. For many years, he served as Secretary for the New Jersey Historical Society and as Secretary of the Elizabethtown Historical Foundation.

Trustee Silvia Elias

Sylvia Elias, a native of Cuba, resided in Elizabeth from her early teens. She graduated from Rutgers University for both her BA, MSW and PsyD degrees. Her professional career concentrated on Special Services in the school systems of Elizabeth, Jersey City and West Orange.

Trustee Dr. Linda C. Epps

Linda Epps grew up in Elizabeth NJ, went to its public schools and never lost her appreciation for the city. She earned a PhD in History at Drew University and has served as CEO of the New Jersey Historical Society.

Trustee Dr. Paul H. Mattingly

Paul H. Mattingly holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin and taught American history at New York University for nearly forty years. At NYU he directed the Program in Public History, which seeks to advance historical knowledge via engagement with institutions and groups often left out of textbook history. His published work includes Suburban Landscapes: Culture and Politics in a New York Metropolitan Community (John Hopkins University Press, 2001).

Trustee Sebastian Prado

Sebastian is an Elizabeth resident and Rutgers-Newark student, is a 2016 NJ Governors Hispanic Fellow. Mr. Prado has worked extensively on early HSENJ projects and brings keen intelligence and curiosity to the way immigrants have helped shape the city. Mr. Prado also brings notable technological skills to his historical research.

Contact Us

If you want to leave a message for our Board, we’d be happy to relay a message.

Fill out the form here, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Belcher Ogden Mansion

On November 15, 2005 the Historical Society; Elizabeth NJ Inc formally accepted the deed to this historical property.

The Belcher-Ogden Mansion was once a station on the Underground Railroad. Click Here to learn more. 

The Historical Society; Elizabeth NJ Inc has received Operating Grant support from the New Jersey Historical Commission (2003-2004 and 2004-2005), In part, this support helped produce our organizational brochure and many features of this website.


For request regarding usage of our parking lot and ground floor, contact us at hsenj1046@gmail.com for request.

Address: 1045 East Jersey Street. Suite 201  |  Elizabeth, NJ, 07201