Neal Ranauro (November 12, 1914 – August 13, 1990)

The most frequent question I get on here is easily “Where did you get that amazing photo” He is the answer… If I had to rate all the people involved in the preservation of Manvilles history, Neal Ranauro would be an easy first. Neal was a professional photographer for Johns Manville’s “Spotlight” magazine, which documented Manville’s progression as a town…. but we owe Neal a way bigger debt than that. I’ve spent the fast few years scouring his collection of over 8000 photos of the town of Manville and it’s staggering. His archive starts in 1912 before he was even born and ends sometime in the 80’s. I know very little about Neal, but if the photos are any indicator he loved the town. He didn’t just take plain photos of ceremonies and commencements. He actually captured the way of life in town producing, to my knowledge, the best most professional, and comprehensive photo archive of the town that I’ve ever seen. The funny thing is that I had never even heard of Neal Ranauro until I started researching the town, I never saw the photos until I was 30. Not only that, but the only complete archive that exists of these is at a library in New Brunswick. Not available for use to the general public in Manville unless someone spends ludicrous amounts of money to “license” them. This seems like a bit of a tradgedy to me… here is a photo essay of a town, one of which the town has no access to use it. It barely exists except by those who seek it out. In my opinion the town should have rights to these, not only that, but as a man who represented the town I feel like he should be honored in some way. I understand why his wife donated these to one of the best New Jersey archives that exsist, but I would like to preserve his legacy in a more human way. I want every kid that grows up in Manville to know his name, and body of work. I feel that he would’ve wanted it that way… we owe that to him, and the towns legacy.

I’ve been talking to the folks who are making the Manville history book. They would love to use his photos but do not have the budget for them. Also, I have been contacted by Arcadia Press to do a coffee table book… I also just cannot afford the liscening fees. Up to this point I’ve been using these photos illegally… only because if Neal was still alive I believe he would approve. If there is anyone out there that knows another means that I can obtain the rights to these, or even just has a few please let me know. You would be helping to preserve history, and the legacy of an amazing man, and photographer.

Thank you Neal Ranauro.




  1. You say Neal’s collection is in a New Brunswick library? Can anyone request to look through these photos?
    I have seen some old town photos at the Manville library. Some I included on my family tree website. Click on the “Other Pictures” button on the bottom left.
    I lived in Manville from 1964-1988, and have been in PA since. I still have family in Manville, and visit there often. If I can ever find the time, I would love to expand on my collection of old Manville photos and history!

    • yep you can totally go look at them. you can even digitally photograph them. you just cannot use them for any kind of publication without paying. unfortunately i have to use them without permission, even despite the fact that this site is totally free. I checked out some of your photos. YOU HAVE SOME GREAT STUFF! i love the baseball ones. If you have any other old Manville photos i’d love to see them.

    • Gary I’m having trouble tracking down these photos. Did you ever confirm that they are at New Brunswick? The person I spoke with does not appear to have a record of them.

      • Hey, this is Mike that runs this blog. The photos are at the Alexander Library on College Avenue in New Brunswick. It’s a Rutgers Library, you have to go to the special collections dept. in the basement. That is where they are. I was just there last week, they are surely still there.

  2. Hey maybe you should contact someone on the council (mayor perhaps). To see if there is any way to put pressure on the library to release the photos to the Manville library. Seems like that is the proper home. I wonder if a letter to Rep. Lance would help put some pressure on the library?

    • It’s hard to believe that a pictorial history of Manville is locked up in New Brunswick and is unavailable to the residents of Manville.

    • Talk to Richard Onderko on the town council he may want to help you with financing your project or maybe we can do some fund raising to help Richard gets things done for the people of Manville and will be running for Mayor finally in November this team of Republicans that makes up the town council is wonderful.I brice the next town council meeting is this monday. Richard is on Facebook and so am I. Michele Honors Magnani

  3. By all means, get that pictorial history of Neil Renauro’s, but I’m sure there are some people who may have newspaper articles and pictures from the ’30’s, 40’s, 50’s etc who would be happy to have them on this website. I will be looking for my pictures and an article or two that I might have, but have to do some searching. Good Luck – Manville was the best little in which to grow up!! Loved Sacred Heart School, Onka’s Bakery. Teen’s Cottage (now Charles’ Jewelers).

  4. By all means, try getting Neil Renauro’s pictures. How exciting to read about early Manville. Maybe local officials can do something to help in this regard. I will be searching my own picture collection for something to submit.

  5. lol many of the observations most people enter are so silly, on occasion i ponder if they realistically read the documents and items before posting or whether or not they just skim the titles and publish the first thought that one thinks of. nonetheless, it really is pleasing to look over sensible commentary from time to time instead of the very same, classic oppinion vomit which i mainly discover on the web i’m going to have fun with a couple of hands of facebook poker good bye

  6. Neal Ranauro was my uncle. His wife moved to Pa. I’ve loss touch with her but not sure she is still alive. I have a very large collection of his photo’s that were given to me after my Uncle died. They are mostly of the family and where he was born in Pa. Also of Johns-Manville where he worked. The ones you have up I really don’t think he would mind having them used.

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  9. I was wondering, Neal was my Uncle, Isabelle, I will be in touch to see the family pictures. Can you tell me what Library these are at in New Brunswick, Most of my Uncles and my father worked at Johns Manville and they may be in some of the pictures and I would love to go an see them. Thank you. Marie Dalesandro

    • Alexander library. They are in the special collections section. There is a LOT of stuff, make sure you have some time.

  10. Do you have any information on the Hobby Shop in Manville? It was near the tracks on the North side and ran from the 50’s to the late 60’s?

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  12. The Hobby Shop , It was the old Manville Train station, It was moved from the train tracks by main street to north 3rd av. and north street. Mr. Kitchen or Citchen ran the operation. I lived next door and belonged to the Hobby Shop till it closed.

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