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Through the Lens of The Star-Ledger
An exhibition of newly acquired photographs from the collections of the New Jersey Information Center at the Newark Public Library and selected examples of early photojournalism in New Jersey.
Second Floor Gallery
November 15, 2001 through January 10, 2002
curated by Charles F. Cummings and Ralph Tohlin

The intention of this exhibition is to show just how relevant to history, as well as current affairs, the news photograph is to urban and/or historical research. The 14 glass-top cases and wall panels in this show are only the tip of the graphics iceberg that lies in the Star-Ledger’s rich photographic archives. Shot through the lens of  The Star-Ledger’s photographers, we have two types of events captured here: the news of the day from around the state, and an essay from New Jersey and New Jerseyans of the devastating events of September 11th.

Ambulances from outlying New Jersey suburbs arrive to assist the injured arriving from NYC by ferry at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. 9/11/01 Photo/Jerry McCrea/The Star-Ledger

In the New Jersey Information Center’s terms, photography and graphics comprise an important part of the research unit’s reference bank. 35,000 black and white separate photographs, and those illustrations in the Center’s book collection are the backbone of its picture storehouse. But also the many illustrations indexed from many of America’s 19th century periodicals, and the almost 800,000 photographs in the old Newark Evening and Sunday News collection, add dramatically to the ability to locate the exact graphic for a researcher.

Charles Christophe of Maplewood is picking up his one-year-old daughter, Gretchen, at South Mountain Day Care Center-a job his wife used to do until she was killed in the WTC attack which occurred two days before Gretchen's first birthday. 9/28/01 Photo/Mia Song/The Star-Ledger

"Every picture tells a story,” as the old saying goes, and that certainly is true of the photographs taken on September 11, 2001.  The horror of the World Trade Center Buildings on fire, the dignity of policemen in splendid uniforms burying their lost comrades and the sadness reflected in survivors’ haunted eyes; these are the images that are frozen in our minds.  Yet what about the scholar, the student or the researcher of the future?  What stories will these pictures tell them?  What will they say about us and our society? 

Lower Manhattan continues to burn at 4pm on September 11th in this view from Bayonne. 9/11/01 Photo/Jerry McCrea/The Star-Ledger

Photographs freeze a moment, they capture it for the present and the future.  They demonstrate what was judged important and valuable enough to record.  But of course what is deemed important does not have to be on the world-changing scale of the World Trade Center attack to have meaning and value to people.  Photographs demonstrating everyday reality are significant to not only the subjects they immortalize, but also to the researcher. 

These photographs were purchased by the Library from The Star-Ledger and have become an important source in the Library’s graphic record of New Jersey. For photo reprints, please contact the Star-Ledger at or 973-392-1530. For more information about the exhibit please call (973) 733-7775.


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