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The Dorn-Severini Historic Photography Collection: Collection Overview

The Dorn-Severini Historic Photography Collection at Monmouth University: Overview

By Matt Berger

The Dorn-Severini Historic Photography Collection contains roughly 10,000 images surveying life in Monmouth County (and its environs) from the late 19th - late 20th century.

This includes priceless glass plate negatives that date as far back as 1885. These glass plate negatives were acquired by the Dorn family photography business (which you can read about in the "Dorn Businesses" section of this libguide). The bulk of the photos in the collection, though, were actually taken by the Dorn family and their associates (who you can read about in the "Dorn Family" section of this libguide). 

Many of these images possess "historical relevance, nostalgic charm, human interest, clarity, extraordinary lighting, and compelling composition," in the words of Kathy Dorn Serverini. The visual collection provides a first-hand perspective into all aspects of life in the past, throughout much of Monmouth County (and, to a degree, the region). Each photo's individual significance ranges greatly as the collection features both international and local subject matter, as well as the simplicity of everyday life and people and places. The Dorn family has assembled an incredible array of photographs that actively preserve the history and cultural essence of Monmouth County.

The entire collection was donated to Monmouth University in 2019 by Kathy and George Severini (who you can read more about in the "Dorn Family" section of this libguide).

The immense devotion displayed by all that have been involved throughout the years demonstrates a remarkable act of appreciation for the community and history itself. 

The collection is currently being cataloged as best it can be. Many of the photos are unlabeled. Digitization is the long term goal. Processing the collection is a massive undertaking. Questions should be directed to Monmouth University Librarian Kurt Wagner, kwagner@monmouth.edu.