When you think of New Jersey today it is easy for your mind to drift to Snooki, Italian-Americans, lots of hair spray, fist pumping and any other stereotype that New Jersey has been blasted with over the course of the past few years with programing like The Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey. However, what has been forgotten and pushed aside is that New Jersey is rich in history that pre-dates the spray tans and hair-poofs.
New Jersey and its History
New Jersey is full of stories, legends and history that go back to the early days of the colonization of America. We are a state that has seen a lot of big changes and life happen here. New Jersey has seen Revolutionary war battles, visits from presidents, natural disasters, grand estates, big inventions and famous people.
Frank J. Esposito and Donald Lokuta explore the early days of New Jersey, specifically the Victorian time period, in their book Victorian New Jersey: Photographs by Guillermo Thorn from the Kean University Collection. They open their catalog with the biggest part of New Jersey lifestyle– the Jersey shore. Here, they share Thorn’s photographs of Asbury Park and Cape May, the beaches that dominated before Seaside Heights became the huge attraction.
From there, they break the photographs into other categories that include:
- Picturesque Plainfield
- Churches and Schools
- Neighboring Communities
- The Fairgrounds
- Popular Attractions
- Estates, Hotels and Parks
Esposito and Lokutachoice of focusing on Thorn for this collection is most interesting. Thorn was born in 1837, before the invention of photography. He grew up in the time where photography was new, fascinating and quickly becoming a popular art form. Thorn is best known for his sentimental personality and deep appreciation for the past, which are evident in many of his photographs.
Overall, Esposito and Lokuta’s Victorian New Jersey: Photographs by Guillermo Thorn from the Kean University Collection is an interesting and well-researched catalog that is an asset to those who appreciate and wish to learn more about New Jersey’s rich and vibrant past.
The exhibition originally ran at the Kean University gallery in Union, New Jersey from fall to spring in 2005.
Victorian New Jersey: Photographs by Guillermo Thorn from the Kean University Collection by Frank J. Esposito and Donald Lokuta was originally published by Kean University in 2005. It is available for purchase through the Kean University bookstore with ISBN 0-9765907.