Dr. Marc Mappen, an esteemed New Jersey historian and former president of the Highland Park Public Library Board of Trustees, died Sunday, January 6, 2019, surrounded by his family at the Francis Parker Home at River Road in Piscataway. He was 74.
Once described by the New York Times as “the eminent New Jersey historian” and by the Star-Ledger as “an engaging speaker,” Dr. Mappen had seven books to his credit, including the award-winning Encyclopedia of New Jersey, which he co-edited, and Jerseyana: The Underside of New Jersey History. Other books included Murder and Spies, Lovers and Lies: Settling the Great Controversies of American History, and Witches and Historians: Interpretations of Salem.
His most recent book was Prohibition Gangsters: The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation, which was a featured selection of the History Book Club and the Book of the Month Club.
Over the course of his illustrious career, Dr. Mappen wrote more than 100 articles and essays in publications that include the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Rutgers Magazine, and New Jersey Heritage. He was also a frequent speaker on National Public Radio, New Jersey Network, and the History Channel on the subject of New Jersey history.
Formerly a dean at Rutgers University and executive director of the New Jersey Historical Commission, Dr. Mappen retired in July 2010. In his retirement, he helmed the Board of Trustees of the Highland Park Public Library. During this time, he oversaw the development of the Library’s Strategic Plan 2012-2015, “Vision and Action: Connecting People and Ideas.”
Born in Boston, Dr. Mappen went on to receive his undergraduate degree in American History from Boston University in 1967. He then came to New Jersey to continue his education at Rutgers University, attaining his master’s degree in 1968 and his PhD in American History in 1976. His dissertation was entitled “Anatomy of a Schism: Religious Dissent in a New England Community, 1705-1765.”
Dr. Mappen worked at Rutgers University from 1973 through 2000. During that time, he held a number of positions at Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-New Brunswick, serving as the Associate Dean for Administration from 1985-1990 in the Faculty of Arts and Science – Newark and as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 1990 to 2000 at University College in New Brunswick. He was also extremely proud of his role as Executive Director of the New Jersey Historical Commission from 2000 to 2010.
Dr. Mappen was predeceased by his brother, Felix Roth (2018) and a sister, Edith Ingall (1974).
He is survived by his wife of more than 48 years, Ellen; a son, Benjamin and his wife Lily Whang of San Carlos, Calif.; and a daughter, Rebecca and her companion Gavin of Somerset. He is also survived by his sister, Ina Schneider, a brother-in-law, David Ingall, a sister-in-law, Fortuna Calvo Roth, and many nieces and nephews.
A public memorial service will be scheduled at a future time, according to Dr. Mappen’s family.
In lieu of flowers, Dr. Mappen’s family has requested a donation in his memory to the Highland Park Public Library or to a charity of your choice.