The Dorn-Severini Historic Photography Collection

The Dorn-Severini Historic Photograpy Collection in Use

By Ryan Radice

With such a diverse array of images documenting the history of Monmouth County and beyond, it is no surprise that the collection has contributed to many publications on the subject. According to George Severini, images from the collection have been published in some 30 to 40 books. The first of these may be Randall Gabrielan's 1995 book, Red Bank. Another of Mr. Gabrielan's books, Images of America, Shrewsbury Volume II is even dedicated to Kathy Dorn Severini. Yet another of his books, Red Bank in the Twentieth Century, is dedicated to Daniel Whitefield Dorn, Sr.  Perhaps the most recent book to make use of the collection is Lost Amusement Parks of the North Jersey Shore, by Rick Geffken and George Severini.

Many of the prints made from the Dorn’s images can be seen in a variety of locations outside the realm of books. They hang in local libraries and restaurants, have been seen in magazines and newspapers, and some are on permanent display at the Red Bank train station. The collection is truly of local and national importance, as it not only documents daily life in Monmouth county, but also contains images of important national events such as the funeral procession of General Ulysses S. Grant. From its new home at Monmouth University, the collection will most certainly continue to contribute to further scholarship surrounding the local area and beyond. As Rick Geffken, a prolific Monmouth county historian and writer notes, “Any number of books will be written using the Dorn Classic Images Collection - publications about churches, small businesses, social gatherings, people in war and peace, automobiles, small aircraft, and, notably, remarkable depictions of the occupations of the African-American minority population which can serve as visual documentation of their emergence into middle class society.”