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Bruce Springsteen Archives Find New Home at NJ University

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A collection of almost 15,000 objects and documents relating to Bruce Springsteen has found a new home at a New Jersey university.

Monmouth University, located near the Jersey Shore watering holes where Springsteen first performed as a young musician, has acquired the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection and retro-fitted an entire house on campus to protect it. The collection contains magazines, songbooks, newspaper clippings and books relating to The Boss, as well as Springsteen relics such as backstage passes, according to a university official.

Previously, the collection was held in a small public library a few miles south in Asbury Park. In 2001, a group of Springsteen super-fans called The Friends of Bruce Springsteen donated a collection of memorabilia to the local library. Since then, the archives have steadily increased in size.

Asbury Park Library director Bob Stewart said that from the beginning he was wary about the idea of bringing such a big collection to his library.

“The building is 125 years old," he said. "We have space problems, we’re understaffed, and we don’t have the specialists that are meant to handle these materials. But they insisted they wanted it here,” said Stewart, who is happy to see the materials find a better home at Monmouth University.

When the collection opens to the public at its new home on Nov. 1, it will be available by appointment to “all who have a serious interest in Bruce Springsteen's life and career," according to a statement from The Friends of Bruce Springsteen.

Anybody may be able to check them out, but the materials will be of particular interest to academic researchers and biographers. Among the many Springsteen treasures is a copy of what could be the rock legend’s first published work: two poems written in the late ‘60s for Seascape, a publication out of Ocean County College.

“We’ve already had two authors contact us and we’re not even open yet,” said Eileen Chapman, the assistant director of the Performing Arts Department at Monmouth University. “And I think our students and professors will get a lot out of the collection as well.”

Chapman also said she hoped to eventually add materials relating to other musicians associated with the Jersey Shore in the future.

Even before acquiring the collection, Monmouth University has been a center for Springsteen research of sorts. For years, the university has been organizing a Bruce Springsteen Symposium, inviting scholars from around the country and beyond to present papers on one of rock 'n' roll’s most storied figures.

“We’ve observed that there have been an extraordinary number of books, in English and other languages, published about him, far more than most other popular music figures,” said Bob Stewart, who looked after the Springsteen collection at the Asbury Park Library. “I’m not sure what the reason for this is, but it’s sure kept a lot of authors, editors, publishers, and librarians busy."