Inspired by a high school student’s concern that Hoboken’s tradition of welcoming the poor had come to an end, and an electrician’s tale of a long-forgotten Depression-era murder, Killing the Poormaster: A Sage of Poverty, Corruption, and Murder in the Great Depression tells a little known part of Hoboken’s history.
At the mercy of the local Poormaster, Hoboken’s poor were often denied much-needed aid because city officials were more interested in saving money than dispensing relief. The frustration and despair doled out through the office of the Poormaster forced one starving welfare applicant into an altercation that resulted in murder.
Metz’s book has been selected to receive the New Jersey Council for the Humanities’ (NJCH) annual Book Award. Each year the Council presents an award to an outstanding humanities book on a New Jersey subject or written by an author with New Jersey ties. Two additional authors receive Honor Book mentions. The Honor Book winners for 2013 are Hendrick Hartog, Someday All This Will Be Yours: A History of Inheritance and Old Age (Harvard Univ. Press) and Justin Wolff, Thomas Hart Benton: A Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
Metz will be honored at an Awards Celebration on October 30th at the New Jersey Law Center, New Brunswick, beginning at 5:30 p.m. In addition to the book awards, the Humanities Teacher of the Year Award will be given to Adam Recktenwald, East Brunswick High School, and the Public Humanities Award to Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation President and CEO Chris Daggett, who will also present the keynote address.