Monmouth U. is now repository of 15,000 Bruce Springsteen articles

CHUCK DARROW, darrowc@phillynews.com 215-313-3134

Updated: Friday, February 17, 2012, 1:46 AM

Springsteen rocking at Grammys last Sunday in L.A.

THE CONSTITUTION Center may have the Bruce bling, but those looking for a thorough written record of Springsteen's storied career are pointed in the direction of Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J.

Inside what appears to be a typical suburban house located on the campus' eastern edge are scores of cardboard boxes containing photocopies of some 15,000 articles that comprise the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection.

"There are articles from newspapers, magazines, yearbooks and fanzines," said Eileen Chapman, the university's assistant director of performing arts and the person in charge of the archive. "They chronicle Bruce's life and career."

The collection boasts a few cool pieces of memorabilia, including The Boss' yearbook from his freshman year at Freehold High School and his first published poem. (It appeared in the Ocean County College yearbook in the late 1960s.) But the center's bread and butter are the thousands of stories filed by publication name on both floors of the house.

Who comes to see all this stuff? A mix of researchers, fans and Monmouth students, said Chapman, a former manager of the Stone Pony, the legendary Asbury Park rock-'n'-roll bar.

The collection had its genesis with a group called the Friends of Bruce Springsteen - fans around the world who, for the past four decades, have cut out and saved articles about the singer-songwriter. The stories originally were collected under the aegis of the folks at Backstreets Magazine, an authoritative Bruce-centric quarterly, and eventually turned over to the Asbury Park Free Library. But the library didn't have the room or resources to preserve the clips. Last fall, the collection was moved to Monmouth University.

"We can make it accessible to the general public. And we have the staff to make sure it's properly cared for," Chapman said.

Not surprisingly, the journalistic treasure trove includes dozens of articles from the People's Paper (dating to January 1980) as well as the Inquirer and Philly.com. There are also a number by this reporter from his time as the pop music writer for the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill.

The Special Collection is not like a museum - you can't just walk in off the street. Instead, the public is encouraged to go to www.brucespringsteenspecialcollection.com and click on the "Current Holdings" drop-down menu to find articles sorted alphabetically by publication.

Use the online index to identify the stories you want, and then find them when you get to the campus repository.

You can also request the articles in advance via phone or email. "We can actually have them waiting . . . upon arrival," said Chapman.

The Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, 366 Cedar Ave., West Long Branch, N.J. Hours are by appointment, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 732-571-3512, echapman@monmouth.edu.

CHUCK DARROW, darrowc@phillynews.com 215-313-3134

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