Envisioning New Jersey

Envisioning NJ

I am glad to see that Maxine Lurie and Richard Veit‘s new book, Envisioning New Jersey: An Illustrated History of the Garden State (Rutgers University Press), has made it into print.   The book contains 654 photos and images covering New Jersey history from prehistoric times to the present.

Recently Lurie talked about the book with Kelly Heyboer of NJ.com.  Here is a taste of the interview:

How did you get the idea to put together a book of images spanning the state’s entire history?

Actually, the director at Rutgers University Press, Marlie Wasserman, had suggested it quite a while ago. My first reaction was it was going to be too hard. There was no easy, reasonable way to gather all of the images.

And it turned out to be much harder than we thought. We started out thinking we could do an illustrated history using images from about five institutions. In the end, we had 654 images and they come from about 150 different institutions and individuals.

Did you have trouble finding the photos and paintings you needed?

We found more than we could use. So, we picked what we thought were the best illustrations for New Jersey history. Just getting that many permissions was very time consuming.

Where did most of the images come from?

Rich personally took about 50 pictures. He travelled around the state. Otherwise, we got the biggest number from Rutgers University’s Special Collections and the New Jersey State Archives. Most came from New Jersey people or institutions.

But there are a few that came from England or other parts of the United States. A number came from the Library of Congress. We were working using grant funds and a very limited budget. People were very generous. Many let us use their images for free or gave us a discount.

Were you surprised by any of the photos you found?

A number of them did surprise me. Someone I know suggested an image of German POWs working on a farm in South Jersey in World War II. I had no idea that was part of the state’s history.

Was there any image you wish you could find that you couldn’t?

It took us a while to find images of the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey, but we did and we are using two other them in the book. There were other images we wish we had. Some things were just too hard to find or we just gave up on them because in many cases they were just too expensive. Some of the commercial images we just couldn’t begin to afford.

Read the entire piece here.