Welcome to Camden History

400 Block of Federal Street Postcard, circa 1890

Photo above is from the 400 block of Federal Street in approximately 1890.



Welcome to Camden History, unsurprisingly about Camden, New Jersey, a city steeped in history and brimming with stories that have left an indelible mark on the tapestry of America’s past. Situated on the banks of the Delaware River, Camden has a rich and complex history that spans centuries. From its indigenous Lenape inhabitants to the bustling industrial hub of the 19th and 20th centuries, and from its pivotal role in the Underground Railroad to its contributions to the birth of the recording industry, Camden has played a significant part in shaping the nation’s narrative.

Camden’s origins can be traced back to the early 17th century when European settlers first arrived in the region. Over time, it evolved from a quaint village into a thriving industrial center, earning it the nickname “The City Invincible” in the late 19th century. The city’s industries, including shipbuilding, manufacturing, and commerce, contributed to its growth and prosperity.

But Camden’s history is not just one of industry and commerce; it’s also a story of resilience, community, and cultural diversity. Throughout its past, the city has been home to waves of immigrants, each adding their unique traditions and flavors to the city’s vibrant cultural mosaic.

Join us on a journey through time as we explore the people, places, and events that have shaped Camden’s captivating history. From the waterfront to the neighborhoods, from famous figures to everyday citizens, we invite you to discover the hidden gems and untold tales that make Camden a city worth exploring and celebrating.

Whatever your interest, we invite you to join us, have a virtual coffee, subscribe to our email updates, and contribute your own insights.

Remnants of Camden’s history are all around you if you know where to look!


Latest Posts

  • Frank B. Hanna
    Frank B. Hanna was born in New Jersey in 1894. He married Rachel Thomason around 1914, and they had a daughter, Elizabeth, the following year. By January 1920, the Hannas were residing at 5315 Locust Street in Philadelphia. At the age of 25, Frank had already… Read more: Frank B. Hanna
  • Frederick Himmelein Jr
    Frederick Himmelein Jr. was a native of Camden and a successful businessman in both Philadelphia and Camden for many years. In 1926, he acquired the plant of the C. A. Reynolds Leather Company at 1300 Walnut Street, which continued to operate into the mid-1950s. Himmelein Jr.… Read more: Frederick Himmelein Jr
  • Sigmund Schoenagle
    Sigmund "Sig" Schoenagle was born in Vienna, Austria, around 1875. As a young man, he immigrated to America and settled in Camden, NJ. In 1894, he established a haberdashery at the southwest corner of 3rd and Federal Streets. He later moved his business to 538 Federal… Read more: Sigmund Schoenagle
  • William G. Hillman
    William Grant Hillman was born on August 10, 1865, in Camden, NJ, the sixth of nine children of Edward Hillman and Margaret Grant. Edward Hillman, born on October 2, 1834, moved to Camden’s Middle Ward in the 1850s. By 1860, he was single, living with Samuel… Read more: William G. Hillman
  • George R. Danenhower
    George R. Danenhower was born in Willow Grove, PA, on June 27, 1835. He first came to Camden in 1857 and enlisted as a private with Company C, 12th Regiment, New Jersey Volunteers in 1862. He was promoted to corporal on October 1, 1864, and to… Read more: George R. Danenhower
  • Danehower Street
    Danehower Street sits between Front and 2nd Streets, just south of Vine Street. Danehower Street first appears in the Camden City Directory of 1863-1864. Formerly known as Danenhower Alley, the road may have been named after prominent Camden businessman George R. Danenhower. John A. Oetzel lived… Read more: Danehower Street
  • John A. Oetzel
    John A. Oetzel was born in Philadelphia in 1857 to parents who had emigrated from Eisenach, Germany, which was then part of the Duchy of Hesse and is now in the State of Thuringia. Around 1885, John and his wife Margaret moved from Philadelphia to Camden.… Read more: John A. Oetzel
  • Philip R. Zimmermann
    Philip Zimmerman was born in Camden, NJ, on February 12, 1954. His father worked as a cement truck driver. Phil graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 1978 with a degree in Computer Science. He is most famous for creating Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), one of the… Read more: Philip R. Zimmermann
  • John T. Garrity
    John Thomas Garrity was born on January 27, 1884, in Pennsylvania to John J. and Letitia Garrity. The family moved to Camden in the 1890s, where John J. Garrity worked as a blacksmith in one of Camden’s many shipyards. By 1906, the City Directory listed the… Read more: John T. Garrity
  • Herman F. Niessner
    Herman F. Niessner was born on March 8, 1891, in Pennsylvania to German immigrant parents. His father, Frederick Niessner, worked as a machinist for Baldwin Locomotive in Philadelphia and moved the family to the Cramer Hill section of Camden in 1894. That year, Frederick purchased a… Read more: Herman F. Niessner
  • Lincoln School
    aka Claudius W. Bradshaw School;aka Challenge Square Academy;aka Met East High School 1151 Kaighn Avenue Camden had become an industrial city by the 1880s, and although the country went into an economic slump in the early 1890s, generally referred to as “the panic of 1893,” the… Read more: Lincoln School
  • Joseph F. Wood
    Joseph F. Wood was born in Pennsylvania around 1884 to German-born parents. He moved to Camden around 1910. By the 1920 census, he was living with his wife Henrietta at 701 South 4th Street and working as a riveter in one of Camden’s shipyards. By 1930,… Read more: Joseph F. Wood