In New Book, Every Picture Tells A (Jersey) Story

"Envisioning New Jersey: An Illustrated History of the Garden State" attempts to recount the storied history of the state through captivating images.

A suffragette tugboat in Jersey City.
A suffragette tugboat in Jersey City.
Photo courtesy of Rutgers University Press.

How many images does it take to recount the history of New Jersey?

The answer is 654, according to Maxine N. Lurie and Richard F. Veit, co-authors of Envisioning New Jersey: An Illustrated History of the Garden State, due September 1 from Rutgers University Press. It’s conceived as a companion volume to New Jersey: A History of the Garden State, their 2012 book.

Well-known images (Washington crossing the Delaware; Thomas Edison in his Menlo Park laboratory) are featured alongside more obscure photos (air-raid wardens patrolling Newark during World War II; a suffragette tugboat in Jersey City around 1912, pictured).

“Rich and I wanted to help the general public, teachers and scholars better understand New Jersey,” says Lurie, of Piscataway.

The historians spent about three years researching photos, illustrations and maps at Rutgers University, the Newark Public Library, the state archives in Trenton and the Library of Congress. Veit, of South Plainfield, is chairman of the department of history and anthropology at Monmouth University and took about 50 photographs for the book, which includes a text of about 40,000 words.

“I learned a lot of things, mostly details about people and places I did not know,” Lurie says. “One that stands out in my mind is that German POWs in World War II worked on farms in South Jersey.”

Lurie’s goal for the book? “I hope people will come away with a new appreciation for New Jersey.”

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