Robert Santelli Named New Director of the Bruce Springsteen Archives

Robert Santelli was named the new Executive Director of Monmouth University’s Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music this past July.

Santelli is a former faculty member and Monmouth alum. He was even the Entertainment Editor for The Outlook, writing about Springsteen during the earlier part of his musical career.

Santelli followed Springsteen’s trajectory when he went on to write for the Asbury Park Press. Additionally, Bruce’s first book, Born To Run, was written with Santelli’s help. The relationship the pair have formed over the years highlight Santelli’s passion for this new role.

Nevertheless, Santelli’s mission is to not solely display Springsteen’s music; rather, he said, “I aim to help bring clarity to this great music form that we own as Americans and to show how it has impacted us and influenced us.”

According to Santelli, Monmouth’s archives may expand to showcase other artists in the future. Santelli voiced his goals to have all types of music present, from classic rock all the way to EDM. Having authored more than a dozen books on American music, Santelli is clearly interested in all genres of music.

The archives themselves are located in a small house right next to Woods Theatre, home to around 40,000 artifacts that include posters, unreleased handwritten lyrics, personal instruments, alternative vinyl covers, and Bruce’s original “Born in the U.S.A” hat.

What started in the early 90’s as a fan project has ultimately evolved as a central hub for people to visit and take in these historic mementos.

The physical location of these archives is not the only place where Springsteen’s collections are presented. Currently, there is an exhibit in Los Angeles, California at the Grammy Museum, and artifacts are constantly transported to a multitude of venues for display, such as the Prudential Center.

In 2017, Springsteen himself officially credited Monmouth as the home for his ‘personal archives,’ and even donated boxes with more personal artifacts about him and his life. These boxes were full of personal memorabilia, like his mother’s scrapbooks.

Connor Rupp, Assistant Curator for the archives and Monmouth alum, works closely with Santelli on a day-to-day basis.

Because people are constantly sending things to add to the archives; the walls are covered from ceiling to floor with boxes, which can take several months to verify and process. Both Santelli and Rupp agree that Springsteen’s works need a bigger space that allows them to be displaced outside of those boxes.

“What we’re really trying to do is build a brand because we are directly related with Bruce…We want to make sure that people know what we are and what we’re trying to do is really important going forward,” said Rupp.

Rupp also noted how right Santelli is to enhance the life of the archives. “He is as qualified as a music historian can be… he pretty much helped create the Grammy Museum, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…There’s literally no better person for the job.”