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The Postcards of Asbury Park

February 1, 2018
Asbury Park postcard

The iconic “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” postcard was used as the cover of Bruce Springsteen’s 1973 debut solo album of the same name.

To celebrate the availability of the Helen-Chantal Pike Collection on Asbury Park, Special Collections and University Archives’ What Exit? blog has a new post exploring the history of Asbury Park through its postcards.

Putting the collection into context, public history intern Rachel Ferrante writes:

Since its founding in 1871, Asbury Park has repeatedly boomed and busted in its cultural significance, tapping into every aspect of leisure culture one can think of. Asbury has been a physical representation of popular culture, specifically and originally for New York elites, who seem to define high culture throughout much of U.S. history. In fact, Asbury has been a center of both high culture and subculture, making it extremely relevant to the East Coast’s, if not the nation’s, cultural memory and historical interest.

When you look at the Helen-Chantal Pike Collection on Asbury, the postcards it includes tell a story of Asbury Park’s history. Paired with the other materials in the collection, it is clear the significance certain institutions or moments in time had on the area. However, there are many more layers of significance behind the postcards. They span more than 100 years of regional history that can be contextualized in national political, social, economic, and familial histories, resulting in many potential conclusions using just postcards as primary source material.

The Helen-Chantal Pike Collection consists of materials about or created in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and surrounding Monmouth County towns including Ocean Grove and Eatontown. The collection has been arranged based on Pike’s own organization of the materials, which span the early 1850s to the mid-2000s. It includes postcards, photographs, scrapbooks and other materials exploring themes such as hotels, the beach, and society. The finding aid for the collection can be accessed at http://www2.scc.rutgers.edu/ead/snjc/pikef.html.