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Purcell Carson, project director

and Princeton University URB202


Now finishing its fourth  year, the Trenton Project is a collaborative documentary investigation by the Princeton University course, Documentary Film and the City. Every semester, we choose a collective focus for individual student work.  Our goal is to filter our study of social realities and community initiatives in Trenton through a personal and cinematic lens. We work in partnership with Trenton residents, institutions and community partners to produce short films which together offer a kaleidoscopic lens on the challenges Trenton faces, its ambitions for the future, and the many ways Trentonians are working together to weave and repair the fabric of their city. 

In 2017 and 2018, the course is doing an about face into the past.  In the company of historian and professor Alison Isenberg, we will spend two years looking at the volatile 1960s and the changes they brought to Trenton.  The course and the films we generate will look in particular at the so-called  riots of 1968 and the death of one young African-American college student, Harlan Joseph, who was shot by a. white police officer on the night of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's funeral. In addition to guiding students through this topic to their own films, Alison Isenberg and I are producing our own half-hour documentary on the topic. 

The Trenton Project is a production of the Program in Urban Studies, the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson School and the Community-Based Learning Initiative. These micro-documentaries are made in collaboration with generous individuals and institutions in Trenton.  Our 2017-2018 work is also generously  funded by the 250th Fund in Innovative Undergraduate Education and the Princeton Histories Fund.



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