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.