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Photo by Dorer
American Photographer and New Jersey Chronicler

Curated by John T. Cunningham and Charles F. Cummings
with curatorial assistance by Brad Small and Richard Koles

November 1, 2005 – January 22, 2006

The Newark Public Library announces a new exhibition, entitled Photo by Dorer: American Photographer and New Jersey Chronicler, on the second- and third-floor galleries of the main library, 5 Washington Street, from November 1, 2005, through January 22, 2006. Photo by Dorer is a major exhibition co-curated by John T. Cunningham and Charles F. Cummings, with curatorial assistance by Brad Small and Richard Koles. Technical photographic assistance was provided by Barbara Moss. Local historian Elizabeth Del Tufo is also lent her expertise to the project.


Farming in Warren County, 1932.

Photo by Dorer investigates the lifetime work of Harry C. Dorer, showing his knowledge and love of New Jersey. From its bustling cities to its rural retreats, New Jersey is on view in thirty-four, glass-top museum cases and a wall area of one hundred running feet. Included are portraits of famous visitors to the Garden State-among them are Thomas Edison, Elizabeth White, the Prince of Wales, Joe Louis, and Gertrude Ederle.


Photo of Thomas Edison, autographed by Edison.

The photographs in the exhibition are from the Newark Public Library's New Jersey Information Center, as well as several photographs and other memorabilia that will be on loan from Mrs. Dorothy Peck. Types of materials included primarily are newspaper portraits taken by Harry Dorer and autographed by the subject, and selections of rotogravures from the Newark Sunday Call newspaper that include hundreds of Dorer's action photographs.


Pineys in South Jersey, c. 1930.

After a review of several thousand candidates for inclusion in the exhibition, a series of topics has been provided which show Dorer's knowledge and love of New Jersey. Through this presentation whole stories can be told about a New Jersey no longer existing today: photographic portraits of rural Sussex and Warren counties, a study of the New Jersey Pineys in the 1930s, rural country crossroads, southern New Jersey agriculture. There are also a picture of the first airmail flight from Newark to Los Angeles, the opening of the George Washington Bridge, and the inauguration of the Pulaski Skyway. At one point Dorer ventures out on a construction crane to photograph the topping-off exercise at the twenty-story Military Park Building in Newark. All in all, this exhibition is a side of New Jersey life almost completely forgotten by older adults and not even imagined by younger adults.


Taken at Newark Airport, 1935.

The co-curators have extensive knowledge of Harry Dorer's expertise. John T. Cunningham is a notable journalist and author. He has written nearly forty-five books-almost exclusively on New Jersey-and thousands of magazine and news articles and film essays. His involvement with the Dorer photographs is lifelong. Harry Dorer was assigned to him while Cunningham was working as a young reporter on the Newark News. The two traveled across the state, recording it on film and in text. When the widow was disposing of the photographer's collection, Cunningham acquired it for the Newark Public Library, and now a half century later, the Dorer story is again being retold in this exhibition. Charles F. Cummings, the library's assistant director for statewide outreach and special collections, is recognized as the Newark City Historian. He has become the source of information and insight on the character, history and culture of the city.

This exhibition, which is free and open to the public during library hours (Monday, Friday and Saturday, from 9:00am to 5:30pm; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 9:00am to 8:30pm). The library is closed on Sundays and on holidays. Group visits to the exhibition may be arranged by calling Mr. Cummings at (973) 733-4870 .

This exhibition was made possible by grants from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from the Ralph C. Peck Family.

 

Read the New York Times article "Nothing New About This New Jersey" by Ronald Smothers from November 1, 2005. (log in may be required)

 

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