"Paterson and Its People," a New Documentary by Sociology Professor Vincent Parrillo Explores the City's Changing Demographics

Documentary to air on NJTV on Saturday, September 26 at 1 p.m. and will be shown on Wednesday, September 30 at 5:30 p.m. in Shea Center for Performing Arts

Paterson and Its People, a new documentary by William Paterson University sociology professor Vincent Parrillo, explores the city’s changing demographics from its pre-European history as the home of the Lenape tribe to its present-day diversity. The documentary will air on NJTV on Saturday, September 26 at 1 p.m. (It will also air on Tuesday, September 22 at 2 a.m. on NJTV).

Paterson and Its People will be shown at William Paterson University on Wednesday, September 30 at 5:30 p.m. in Shea Center for Performing Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

The documentary explores and celebrates the diversity of ethnic and racial groups that have populated the city. It begins thousands of years ago when native Lenape Indians populated the area and continues on through the early English and French immigrants to the more recent arrivals of Hispanic and Middle Eastern populations. 

The film highlights some of Paterson’s famous residents and visitors, but focuses mainly on the ordinary people who lived and worked in the city and contributed to its social fabric. Through interviews, historic photos and on-location footage throughout the city, the story of Paterson’s evolution through demographic changes comes alive.

Parrillo served as author, narrator, and co-producer with Jaroslaw Ziaja as co-producer and editor. Parrillo and Ziaja previously co-produced the film Gaetano Federici: The Sculptor Laureate of Paterson. Rhoderick Holliday, video production coordinator, Instruction and Research Technology, at William Paterson University, served as the associate producer and production manager.

Passaic County Historian Edward A. Smyk also served as consultant. The documentary was produced with support from the William Paterson University Alumni Association.

Parrillo is the executive producer and writer of three award-winning PBS television documentaries: Gaetano Federici: The Sculptor Laureate of Paterson (2013); Smokestacks and Steeples: A Portrait of Paterson (1992) and Ellis Island: Gateway to America (1991). He is the author of many books and journal articles, some of which have been translated into nine different languages.