By Alexandra Stantzos, Introduction to Public History, Spring 2018
As noted by my classmate Alexis Martin on her page, "Collection Overview," individuals using the George H. Moss, Jr. Collection will find an extensive collection of postcards written by those living in and visiting Monmouth County, and depicting local landmarks from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. The cards captured photographs of various locations within multiple towns in the county which include, but are not limited to, Red Bank, Long Branch, and Shrewsbury. Through this extensive collection of postcards, viewers will see pictures of churches, streets, along with some other locally famous landmarks. These landmarks include, but also are not limited to, the Molly Pitcher Inn, the Red Bank Rail Station, Shadow Lawn, and the Guggenheim residence. The latter of the two are now the property of Monmouth University, which, as you have likely read by now, is the home of the George H. Moss, Jr. Collection as of the Fall of 2017.
When browsing through these postcards, they provide the viewer with not just a history of Monmouth County, but also a small and personal window into the private history of families that resided in the area during the turn of the century. This can breathe life into the subject of history, which can seem rather dry or detached from the modern era. Seeing these postcards, written not by well known historical figures, but local average citizens, can make the past seem more accessible. Researchers, modern day local town residents, local historians, or any lover of antiques alike can get glimpses of the style of writing from the late 19th/early 20th century through these cards. There are some that are lengthy updates about family news or invitations to outings that members of the family will attend. On one of the cards, the author is telling the receiver of the message that she hopes she will get the card and is unsure about their return home. Sounding surprisingly modern, she writes, “sending this by luck and don’t suppose you will be home ha ha."
Some cards do not have many words inscribed on them at all, and are just simple notes of love or endearment. One card has a note written that simply states, “From your loving daughter Gladys."
Not just looking at the sites pictured on these cards, but also reading the messages written on the backs of them, can provide a new insight on the daily life of residents of Monmouth County past.