Karen L. Schnitzspahn

Author and Historian


The daughter of a magician and a mask maker, Karen is a native of New Brunswick, New Jersey. With this unusual and creative background, she eventually studied theater and art. For many years, Karen worked as a professional puppeteer both making and operating various types of puppets. In the early 1980s, she designed puppet programs for childhood lead poisoning prevention statewide and for Gateway National Park's Sandy Hook Unit, to teach visitors about the wildlife. Her puppetry career also included working on educational videos about environmental concerns.

Karen has always enjoyed writing and researching. Her articles and essays about the New Jersey Shore, where she’s lived for many years, have appeared in magazines and newspapers. In the mid 1980s, she met the late George H. Moss Jr.(1923-2009), a prominent Monmouth County, New Jersey, author and historian who became her friend and mentor. With George, she coauthored two beautiful books, Those Innocent Years, 1898-1914, Images from the Pach Photographic Collection (Ploughshare Press, 1993) and Victorian Summers at the Grand Hotels of Long Branch, New Jersey (with a Foreword by John T. Cunningham, Ploughshare Press, 2000.) In 1995, Karen published An Album of Animal Companions, A Collection of Turn-of-the-Century Photographs and Ephemera (Coast & Pines Press) featuring  photos that she printed from original Pach photographers’ glass negatives of people and their pets.

For the popular Arcadia “Images of America” series, Karen did four books: Little Silver (1996), Little Silver, Vol. II (1998), Belmar (1997) and Belmar, Vol. II (1999) with coauthor Sandra Epstein.

Karen wrote A Strong Legacy, 125 Years of The Community YMCA (Red Bank 1999) and she served as writer and editor of A Half Century of Dedicated Service, The Story of New Jersey Natural Gas Company (NJNG 2002).

A longtime fascination with early theatrical personalities led her to write a unique book, Stars of the New Jersey Shore, A Theatrical History (Schiffer Publishing, 2007). Many of the illustrations in this volume are from Karen’s collection of vintage theatrical photos and memorabilia.

Stories handed down by her family about the New Jersey coast during the 1920s provided the inspiration for her pictorial, hardcover "Jazz Age" book, The Roaring '20s at the Jersey Shore (Schiffer Publishing, 2009).
Her book, Jersey Shore Food History: Victorian Feasts to Boardwalk Treats was published by The History Press in 2012. Though she doesn't consider herself to be be a "foodie," she enjoys the cultural history of foods and she loves to eat!

Karen has been honored over the years for her work. She was the 2007 recipient of the Jane G. Clayton award presented by the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders for her “outstanding efforts to preserve the history of Monmouth County.”

"Jersey Shore Food History is a delightful book. It is well researched and well written - and it has recipes! For those who frequented the Jersey shore, this book conjures up memories of bygone days and records a wonderful history that has otherwise been forgotten." Andrew F. Smith, renowned food historian, editor, and author.

"Remarkable Women of the New Jersey Shore" 
Published by The History Press, Feb. 2015
Available from all major online booksellers and at many independent book shops and museum gift shops.

Click here to read an article about "Remarkable Women of the Jersey Shore" by Erik Larsen in "Jersey Roots,"
THE ASBURY PARK PRESS history column:

Here's an 8/22/15 article from THE PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY by Sara Tracey about "Remarkable Women of
The New Jersey Shore."

Above: Cover of The Roaring '20s at the Jersey Shore by Karen L. Schnitzspahn (Schiffer, 2009, hardcover)

"Karen L. Schnitzspahn, collector of vintage photographs and author of Jersey Shore history books, covers The Roaring Twenties from her family ties.
Her Mom and Dad, both from families who spent summers in Margate in the 1920s, first met on the Atlantic City Boardwalk
during that raucous decade." 
Neal Roberts, The Beachcomber (Long Beach Island, NJ) July 15, 2011


Pictured are items in Karen's collection of early theatrical memorabilia related to stars who lived or summered at the New Jersey Shore.
Stars of the New Jersey Shore by Karen L. Schnitzspahn (Schiffer Publishing, 2007) is a unique book which spotlights dozens of stars
who summered at the New Jersey Shore, mostly in Monmouth County, from the 1860s to the 1930s. Dozens of famous actors are 
profiled including Edwin Booth, Lillie Langtry, Nate Salsbury, Lillian Russell, Lillian Nordica, Robert B. Mantell, Count Basie and many
more! The book is illustrated with dozens of vintage photographs, many of them from the author's personal collection.

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