Professors George Robb and Stephen Hahn, with a Team of 13 WP Writers, Publish Book Celebrating the People of Paterson

Contributing authors gather with President Kathleen Waldron

The publication of a new book featuring biographical sketches of 55 people who are important to the history of Paterson was celebrated during a day-long conference on April 13 on campus. The event, hosted by the University’s Paterson Metropolitan Region Research Center, focused on the City of Paterson as seen through and experienced by a variety of artists and writers.

The book Paterson Lives, edited by faculty members George Robb, professor of history, and Stephen Hahn, professor of English, contains entries on famous Patersonians, ranging from William Paterson and Alexander Hamilton, American founding fathers who were associated with the creation of the city in 1792, to figures representing a wide range of fields, including business and industry, politics and the military, philanthropy, religion, and education, activism, science and invention, art and architecture, literature, entertainment, athletics, and music.

The book grew out of the University’s participation in Paterson 225, the 2017 celebration of the 225th anniversary of founding of the City of Paterson. Both Robb and Hahn were part of a task group, working with David Cubby, president of the Paterson Historical Preservation Society, Jack DeStefano’87, director of the Paterson Museum, and Bruce Balistrieri ’88, curator of the Paterson Museum, in presenting a series of lectures during fall 2017.

“We wound up with the idea of a publication on some of the city’s important historical figures,” says Hahn.  He and Robb developed a list of potential people to profile, and solicited contributors from throughout the University to write the brief entries that comprise the book.

Robb notes that of those profiled in the book, one third were immigrants, another 25 percent were the children of immigrants, and six are William Paterson University alumni or taught at the University. “We tried to focus on people who were really grounded in Paterson or inspired by Paterson,” he says.  “And we hope some will be better remembered by being included in this book.”

The book is available for sale and Robb and Hahn believe it is of interest to schools and other libraries throughout the state. “We hope it spurs a continuing project focused on more people connected to Paterson, and we look forward to readers suggesting more stories to be told.”

In addition to Robb and Hahn, contributors include Suzanne Geissler Bowles, professor of history; Christine Diehl, director of marketing communications; Kristen Evangelista, director of the University Galleries; Robert Harris, assistant director for academic technology, IRT; Richard Kearney, electronic resources librarian, Cheng Library; Barbara Krasner, MA ’16, adjunct professor of English and history; Sara Nalle, professor emeritus of history; Eileen Opromollo, MA ’14, a Paterson public school teacher; David Philp ’90, assistant professor of music; Louis Picone, MA ’18, an author; Kelly C. Ruffel ’11, ’12, MA ‘14, director of cultural and historic affairs for Passaic Couty; Robert Wolk, special collections librarian and reference librarian, Cheng Library, and Mary Beth Zeman, senior director of public relations.

Copies of Paterson Lives are $10. To purchase a copy, contact Steve Hahn at or