Maria Gillan Speaks at Seton Hall

photo of Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Maria Gillan is a poet who writes about her experience as an Italian-American woman, navigating between the Italian language and culture of her youth and the English language of her adult self.  She writes with great attention to detail, in poems such as “Public School No. 18, Paterson, New Jersey,” where she speaks about the alienation she felt in an English language school as a native speaker of Italian.  But she also speaks to universal themes, such as her sadness about the growing distance between herself and her son as her son grows up and starts a family of his own in “What I Can’t Face About Someone I Love.”  Her work has been translated into Italian, and she now leads workshops in creative writing based in Italy, in addition to branching out into art as well as poetry, with works such as Redhead with Flying Fish and Cat.  In addition, she maintains an active blog and website documenting her work.

Maria Gillan's painting of a redhead with flying fish
Redhead with flying fish and cat

Gillan will be speaking at Seton Hall, in the Theater in the Round on the evening of September 24 at 6pm.  Her translator, Professor Carla Francellini, from University of Siena, will speak as well.  This event honors the 2019 scholarship winners in Italian Studies.

While she is here, Professor Francellini will also be working in the Monsignor William Noe Field Archives, researching in Gillan’s collection here, where not only her physical papers but also Gillan’s blog and website are archived.  Explore the finding aid for the collection, and also stop by and see the window featuring Gillan’s work on the bottom floor of Walsh Library, outside Walsh Gallery.

‘The Jewel of the Campus’: Walsh Library Celebrates 25 Years

by Matthew Minor

Under the dome of Walsh Library hangs a quote from St. John Paul: “Faith and reason are the two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” For 25 years, Walsh Library has stood as the cornerstone of Seton Hall’s pursuit of reason within our Catholic values.view of Walsh Library

In 1990, the University’s leadership noted the need for a new library. The Very Reverend Thomas Peterson, O.P.,  former university chancellor, said, “Seton Hall needs a new library and she needs it now. It must be her star, the jewel of her campus.”

Four years later, Walsh Library opened. In the April 28, 1994 edition of the University’s student-run newspaper, The Setonian, then-Dean of Libraries Robert Jones called the library dome “‘the outstanding architectural feature of the building.’ [Jones] said the dome is the library’s crowning feature and compared it to the dome of the Library of Congress.”

Invitation to Dedication of Walsh Library, University Day 1994
Invitation to Dedication of Walsh Library, University Day 1994

In 25 years, the library has seen much change. Richard Stern, acting dean of University Libraries from 2002-2004, said, “a jewel never changes. But as humans learn, they change the buildings they inhabit to suit their needs.” And so Walsh Library has changed from a place of quiet study to a place of lively academic discussion and socialization. In 2012, Dunkin’ opened on the library’s second floor. In March 2019, an after-hours study space opened for students’ use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Daniela Gloor, BA ’14/MPA ’15, and her classmates in the University Honors took advantage of the library to blend their studies with this “lively academic discussion and socialization.” Walsh Library “was a place where you bonded with one another while studying, completing assignments, or writing your papers,” Gloor said. “My Honors Program classmates and I anxiously sought to study in the Library Rotunda when it was available, which has a picture-perfect view of campus and is one of the most unique places at Seton Hall. While we likely cannot remember all the works we read and studied, I can certainly recall the environment of the library, many of the memories made there, and the sleepless nights we spent working toward graduation.”

Seton Hall’s community continues to seek out the Library’s resources. In 2019, 66,000 items were borrowed, loaned and/or used, more than 44,000 books were circulated, 20,000 interlibrary loan transactions were fulfilled for books and articles and keys for the group study rooms were used more than 13,000 times.

model of Walsh library
Architectural model, or maquette, of Walsh Library

Walsh Library has been a witness to the digital revolution that redefined research and study. Former Acting Dean Stern said the library “has grown from an institution where researchers came to find materials to an institution where researchers increasingly conduct all stages of their research in the digital sphere.”

Elizabeth Leonard, assistant dean of information technologies and collection services, said, “When Walsh Library opened in 1994, library technology, like all technology, was in its infancy…we did (yes, really) hand stamp all books going out on loan to patrons.” When the library opened, The Setonian wrote study rooms were “equipped with windows and outlets [which] are designed so students can bring their own computers and plug them into the University system.” Now, wireless laptops and a plethora of new Macs and PCs allow students to study wherever they like.

25 years later, technology touches almost every aspect of the library. In 2019 alone, roughly 427,000 full-text articles were downloaded, users viewed subject guides more than 64,000 times, the library website received 400,000 views and 1.4 million theses and dissertations were downloaded from the library’s collection. The library’s institutional repository, an online database comprising scholarly pieces such as dissertations and theses written by Seton Hall students and faculty, surpassed three million downloads in June 2019. Thanks to technology, Leonard said the library’s “resources are available to authorized users anywhere in the world, whenever they need them. We digitize lectures, books and other materials for virtual use.”

Walsh Library is looking toward the next 25 years of service to the University community. Leonard said, “We are looking forward by preserving born digital materials in a repository that will ensure they are accessible to future generations of librarians and researchers.”

View the library’s online exhibit, Walsh Libraries: 25 Years of Learning.

The Latino Experience & Seton Hall University – From Pioneering Students to the Unanue Institute

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month and the 45th Anniversary of the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute, the Archives & Special Collections Center is proud to present an exhibit that honors the contributions of this Center and its varied accomplishments.

First Page of the 1856-57 Student Register

The historical course of Seton Hall has been enhanced with the presence of Latino students from its foundation years to the present day.  Within the earliest college registers it has been discovered that Mr. Ernesto Regil, a native of the Yucatan Mexico was the 20th student ever enrolled at the school on October 20, 1856.  This milestone led the way to a number of other students from across Mexico along with future classmates from the Latin American countries of Cuba, Ecuador, and Panama among other lands who would consistently fill class rosters during the mid-late 19th century.  Their example led the path, but over time countless students, faculty, administrators, and friends of the Latino experience have also contributed to the positive growth of Seton Hall in their own respective ways.

More formal recognition of the contributions made by the Latino community came about in 1974 with the creation of the Puerto Rican Institute (which would later come to be known as the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute) at Seton Hall University.  Their objective has been to promote scholarship, culture, history, and build further recognition of the value connected with this unique area of study as shown in part through various examples found within this exhibit and within our collective research holdings.

Various reproductions from original texts found within the Archives & Special Collections Center have been included to highlight the early days of the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute in order to show in part the educational mission, cultural support, and overall vibrancy and value of this organization across campus and to the wider community.

Examples from our collection will be on exhibit from September through December of 2019 in the First Floor foyer of Walsh Library located across from the stairs and elevator.

  • For additional background and more information on this topic and other aspects of Seton Hall please feel free to contact University Archivist, Alan Delozier at: delozier@shu.edu or by phone: (973) 275-2378.

Student Perspective on Junot Diaz and “Poetry in the Round”

This week we highlight the reflections of Rutgers University student Julia Bonavitacola on her internship in Special Collections this summer . . .

One thing that I have learned from my time in the Walsh Library archives is how close twenty-six miles really is. It has amazed me how often Seton Hall University and Rutgers University have overlapped in the past, not just on the basketball court but in the people that have frequented both places.

The past few weeks of diving through Seton Hall University’s archives has presented an interesting perspective on how Seton Hall has thrived the past twenty-five years as well as provided me with interesting posters and programs to pore over. But I’m an English major at Rutgers University, my heart has always been in finding anything pertaining to literature and the campus on the banks of the Raritan. I have not been disappointed.

While sorting through archival papers, a program caught my eye. The annual “Poetry in the Round” was held at the Bishop Dougherty Student Center on April 29, 1996. And who should be the featured author but Rutgers alum Junot Diaz, come to read from his then newly released book of short stories Drown and snippets from works in progress.

Junot Diaz was often talked about in my creative writing classes. A story of someone from New Jersey becoming a writer, who took the same classes as we did and, perhaps, even sat in the same seats. When Creative Writing students felt like they couldn’t make it, we could always look to Junot Diaz. His Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is always stocked in the bookstore and English majors around campus recommend it any time you need a new book. The mentions of Rutgers, the EE bus, Demarest Hall and College Ave sprinkled throughout the novel gave us Rutgers students a chance to relate. A chance to relate to a man whose career started just the same as ours.

Given the inexplicable relationship Rutgers English and Creative Writing majors have with Junot Diaz, it was astounding to me to see he had come to read at Seton Hall. Of course, Rutgers doesn’t have exclusive rights to Diaz; his work is out in the world for all to read. But the idea that Diaz could be championed by New Jersey natives from all walks of life, whether they were born in New Jersey or in another country like Diaz, made me realize that we can all relate to the themes of Diaz’s work. The feelings of not knowing our identity, trying to fit in, the fear of dying before we’ve really lived. These themes aren’t exclusive to the creative writing classrooms in the basement of Murray Hall, these are themes that run across all of the United States, a whole generation of students currently sitting in classrooms just like the ones that Diaz himself sat in.

Yes, twenty-six miles isn’t all that big. So, in 1996, when Junot Diaz was reading his short stories, the distance between Rutgers and Seton Hall became insignificant. Literature connects us like no other medium, bringing age groups from across vast distances together like no other. That night in 1996, Diaz was shrinking the cultural gap, the language barrier and the twenty-six-mile gap between Seton Hall and Rutgers, until everyone was boiled down to their simplest form: human beings experiencing the same world that Diaz encountered. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters more than any distance.

A Moment in Space and Time – Seton Hall Honors A Pioneering Astronaut

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first successful Moon Landing by humankind, this month has been a time of reflection in regard to the wonders of inter-galactic exploration that have made history.  The American space program was very active during the 1960s as a number of different astronauts and support staff completed memorable missions beyond the borders of Earth made it possible for scores of individuals to learn more about our solar system as a result of their collective efforts.  Those connected with Seton Hall were no different in its fascination with astronomological  studies through the sharing of news updates, course content, and seeing what would come next in the evolution of space travel and discovery.

In light of the popularity of the cosmos created through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its successful work made those associated with the program not only trailblazers, but also heroes and role models.  This led Seton Hall to bestow an honorary degree of science on James Alton McDivitt (b. 1929), a United States Air Force Brigadier General (Ret.), Aeronautical Engineer, and Astronaut whose work with various programs between 1962-72 as part of NASA led to command of the Gemini 4 mission which included the first U.S. spacewalk and the Apollo 9 mission of April, 1969.  This latter endeavor encompassed the testing of Lunar Modules and hardware that would be used a few months later on the famed mission to the Moon that achieved success and renown two months later.

McDivitt himself made history as the first Roman Catholic to soar into space.  Along with this milestone, his  accomplishments on the whole were recognized by University President, the Most Reverend John Dougherty in his last official act before retirement when he introduced then Colonel McDivitt at the morning commencement ceremony of June 7, 1969 with the following words . . .

“Mother Earth is a Jealous Guardian, and Few are the Men who have been privileged to free themselves completely from her embrace.  Yet he whom we honor here has done so twice . . . Were it not for the knowledge gleaned from the experiments with Apollo 9, of which he was the command pilot, we would not now – – actually and vicariously – – be standing on the threshold of the moon and, perhaps, beyond.  Stalwart in honor, upright in integrity, steadfast in bravery, devoted to his family and his country and his God, he was but a natural choice to become an adopted son of Seton Hall.  For he is of the stuff of heroes.”

Seton Hall University Commencement – 1969 (From Left to Right) Bishop John Dougherty, University President; Senator Gale W. McGee, (D-WY); Colonel McDivitt

Before a graduating class of 1,887, Colonel McDivitt noted to those in attendance that: “You are entering into another form of life, and there is a lot to be done . . . With luck, skill and hard work I am confident we will land on the moon this year.  I am also confident that in your lifetime you will see men on Venus and Mars.  Landing on the moon is only the first step in space exploration.  Perhaps in your lifetime you will be called upon to solve problems on Mars and Venus along with those on Earth and the knowledge we gain will help the lot of people all over the world.”  He also urged the graduates to keep both their standards and ideals high as they made their way in the world.  Another revelation came when Colonel McDivitt mentioned that he carried a relic of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton on his Apollo 9 flight that was sent to him by a nun who prayed for his success and in the process made the bond closer between the honoree and his fellow alumni.

With his words as a prelude to the Moon landing and the exploration of Mars that is currently being undertaken, the words of Colonel McDivitt live on and have provided the Seton Hall community and others who heard his message with a hopeful note moving into the future of time and space discoveries yet to ensue.

For more information on Seton Hall history please feel free to contact Alan Delozier, University Archivist by e-mail: Alan.Delozier@shu.edu or phone: (973) 275-2378.

Object of the Month – Bayley-Seton League Banner

Bayley-Seton League Banner
felt
32 ½” x 172 ½”
mid 20th century
Monsignor Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center
SHU0047
2018.23.0001

The Bayley-Seton League was founded in 1938 and is recognized as the oldest service organization at Seton Hall University.   The League’s goals are to assist and support wherever possible the faculty of Seton Hall, to promote the scholastic and social efforts of the student body and to stimulate and advance the spiritual, educational and development of its members.  One of the League’s first initiatives was the restoration of The Immaculate Conception Chapel.  The League is still active today.

“Pirates Beyond Play” – Seton Hall Athletics Exhibit

Walsh Gallery Highlights Seton Hall’s Sport History

“Pirates Beyond Play”

Mon June 3 – Thurs Aug 8, 2019

The Walsh Gallery, in conjunction with the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center at Seton Hall University, presents “Pirates Beyond Play” (The History and Art of Setonia Athletics, 1856-2006) on display between Monday, June 3 – Thursday, August 8, 2019.  The exhibit was created and organized by Jeanne Brasile, Gallery Director and curated by University Archivist Alan Delozier.  This show focuses on the symbolic, intellectual and aesthetic importance of sports on the Seton Hall University campus.  Objects on display include artifacts such as vintage magazine covers, game programs, photographs, uniforms and other ephemera that give homage to numerous athletic achievements over the years.

University Archivist, Alan Delozier will present a gallery talk on the History of Athletics at Seton Hall and tour of the exhibit on Monday, June 10th from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  An optional complimentary lunch is available.  To RSVP for the talk and/or lunch, please contact at: alan.delozier@shu.edu or (973) 275-2378.  The exhibition and talk are free and open to the public.

The Walsh Gallery is located on the first floor of Walsh Library located on the campus of Seton Hall University.  Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 10:30am to 4:30pm.  Additional information can be found via the Walsh Gallery website – https://library.shu.edu/walshgallery/current-exhibitions or (973) 275-2033.

 

South Orange and Seton Hall – Local Research Ties

Seton Hall has enjoyed a historical relationship with the Village of South Orange since the school established their campus within its boundaries after moving from nearby Madison in 1860.  The original land which constitutes the present-day South Orange was purchased by Robert Treat (also acknowledged as the founder of Newark) from officials of the Lenni Lenape tribe around 1666. This led to official settlement by the Brown brothers (Joseph and Thomas) who built a farmstead along the present-day South Orange Avenue by 1680 that ultimately set the stage for the development of Setonia in due course.

Over the next few centuries this area experienced steady development in terms of a resort town during the 1800s and subsequent year-round residential growth.  This was in large measure made possible when South Orange became a transportation hub for the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad as of 1869 when the area was also incorporated as South Orange Township (that originally contained present-day Maplewood before this municipality became independent) and made for a prime destination that appealed to commuters, visitors, and students from across the metropolitan area.  South Orange is also known for its distinctive gas light posts and these illuminations served a symbolic and practical purpose for both hometown citizens and those affiliated with the college.  These milestones and others have led to many joint landmarks and project building initiatives over time.

Beyond this brief overview of local history, there are many layers of research potential that bond “town and gown” together including prominent individuals, property data, shared events, and many other topics of note.  Specific examples of collections found within our repository include, but are not limited to various files related to past University Presidents, Velotto South Orange Postcard Collection, Our Lady of Sorrows Parish files, and many other examples found through our Rare Book and various manuscript-based holdings.  More information and leads can be found via our homepage-based search engine – https://archivesspace-library.shu.edu/search?q[]=south+orange&op[]=&field[]=keyword&from_year[]=&to_year[]=&filter_fields[]=repository&filter_values[]=%2Frepositories%2F2

Along with our own resource base and work in preserving historical school records within the context of the town has been a constant.  Research tools of various types are available within the University Libraries and through its book catalog, databases, and different electronic-based sites.  Specialized connections have also been made with the South Orange Public Library, South Orange Historical Preservation Society, and other organizations and individuals around the area have provided valuable research connections over the years Further details can be located within a specially created Library Reference Guide devoted to South Orange resources found within the following link – https://library.shu.edu/south-orange

For more information on resources related to Seton Hall, South Orange, and other aspects of local history please feel free to contact Alan Delozier, University Archivist via e-mail at: Alan.Delozier@shu.edu or by phone: (973) 275-2378.

Object of the Month – Flemish Madonna and Child

Flemish Madonna and Child Statue
painted wood statue
71” x 36” x 22”
17th century
73.3.1
Gift of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary – Summit, New Jersey

Flemish Madonna and Child Statue, 71 inches tall by 36 inches wide by 22 inches deep, 73.3.1, Gift of Our Lady of the Holy RosaryThe Madonna and Child was part of a pair of statues that represented St. Godelieve and were carved for the eponymously named abbey in Bruges, Belgium. The sculpture made its way to the United States sometime in the early 20th century. Documentation shows it was on display in 1933 at the Chicago Progress Exhibition, after which it came into the possession of an art dealer in New York who subsequently donated it to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, a Dominican Monastery, in 1963. In 1965, the statue was accepted into the Seton Hall University Collections. From 1994 until 2016, the statue was installed in the Art Center until being moved to its present location in the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives and Special Collections Center.

College life in the 1870s: John Erigena Robinson’s diary

The Archives & Special Collections Center recently acquired a historic diary of a Seton Hall student, which provides interesting glimpses into what it was like to attend Seton Hall College in the 19th century. The diary was written by John Erigena Robinson, who graduated from Seton Hall College in 1874. His diary concerns his everyday life at the college, including worrying about assignments, writing letters to his family and friends, and playing for the college’s baseball team. The campus that Robinson studied at during the mid-1870s was one that centered on a structured, liberal arts education that was emblematic of Catholic higher education during his age. He entered into a world of study at Setonia that consisted of two sessions lasting five months apiece from September through June.

Front cover of John Erigena Robinson's diary
Front cover of John Erigena Robinson’s diary

According to his recollections, Robinson primarily lived on campus during the school year, but on many weekends and holidays he would travel the roughly 24 miles from South Orange to Manhattan via the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad roughly three hours or more round trip to visit family and friends and then reverse his commute prior to the resumption of classes.  After walking from the train station to campus he would study on campus in a setting where “The College buildings are of great architectural beauty, large and commodious . . . ” and quite different in setting with the Orange Mountains in the background as opposed to the more congested streets of Brooklyn.  Along with the scenery and the structures where he would spend most of his time while at the school, Robinson entered a world that was structured and included a liberal arts curriculum of long standing.

A view of Seton Hall College from 1875
A view of Seton Hall College from 1875

Beyond the classroom, Robinson played baseball for the Seton Hall nine also commonly known in that age as the Alerts which began as a popular sport on campus during the late 1860s and engaged in more formal play the following decade.  According to existing documentation they played local teams mainly their arch-rivals St. John’s College (now known as Fordham) of the Bronx during the 1873 season.  The main highlight of his time was a defeat of St. John’s 24-13 during October of that year which carried the squad into the following campaign where they would play the same opponent twice more.  Robinson would be among the pioneer players for the team that would grow in competitiveness and success over subsequent seasons.

One of the earliest photographs of Seton Hall College's baseball team, The Alerts, taken in the early 1890s.
One of the earliest photographs of Seton Hall College’s baseball team, The Alerts, taken in the early 1890s.

John Erigena Robinson was the son of William Erigena Robinson, a congressman and a journalist whose political career is mentioned several times in the diary. Robinson must have been inspired by his father’s journalistic pursuits, because he writes in the diary about his desire to start a student newspaper for Seton Hall College. On January 26, 1873 he wrote:

“To start a paper. How, when, and where? These were the things that occupied me during the day and I may add during the night as I went to bed and fell asleep with visions of shears scraps and papers flying here and there. If we can only get the permission of Malley who owns a press and of Dr. Corrigan who heads the College we are all right. We have fixed the name it is the Setonian. We have got the outline and the matter for each page and now for the permission of the two worthies who at least in this case have a great case in hand!”

Unfortunately, Robinson never realized his dream of starting The Setonian. A full explanation is never given in the diary, but on February 14, 1873 he laments that his plans will not come to fruition:

“George and Bill received a valentine today. I also received one. It had a picture of an editor on it and some ridiculous rhyming lines beneath it. It was sent to me as it had got around that I was going to start a paper in the college. Alas, the poor ‘Setonian’ is but a dream of the past.”

The reasons why Robinson was not able to start a college newspaper are unknown, but fortunately for Seton Hall it was not completely “a dream of the past” but simply deferred. A college newspaper was eventually founded in 1924—51 years after Robinson’s plans and with the same name he proposed, The Setonian.

Front page of the first issue of the Setonian
The first issue of the Setonian was released on March 15, 1924, 51 years after Robinson’s initial attempt to start a newspaper for Seton Hall College.

After graduation, Robinson returned home to Brooklyn and filled his days by playing baseball and meeting with friends. When the school year re-commences and he does not return to Seton Hall, he muses in his diary:

“First day of September. Tomorrow school opens. I have no fears of the morrow. The noisy Setonia cricket no longer hears my tramp. The boys no longer shake me by the hand. The prefect no longer smiles in anticipation of the sarcasm and the lines he will burden me with. Such is the past. The future is alone known to God. Played ball.”

Handwritten entry in Robinson's diary reflecting on Seton Hall College
Handwritten entry in Robinson’s diary reflecting on Seton Hall College

Like many Seton Hall students, Robinson felt a connection to the College that extended well beyond his graduation, and further diary entries indicate that he remains aware of what is happening there and stays in touch with friends he met in school. His diary provides insight into the ways that student life has changed over the years, but also ways it has remained the same. To read the whole diary and learn more about the context of Robinson’s life, please visit our digital exhibit.  For more information or to view the diary please make an appointment with Brianna LoSardo or Alan Delozier. We can be contacted at archives@shu.edu or (973)-761-9476.