Archives and Special Collections + University Weekend Activity Map . . .

Bob DaviesIn the spirit and long established tradition of celebrating homecoming at Setonia (more commonly known as Seton Hall University Weekend), the Archives & Special Collections Center is partnering with organizers of this event to commemorate milestone events in school history for those in attendance.  With this in mind, here is an overview of various historical-inspired highlights that will connect our place with students, parents, alumni, and other special visitors who will be in South Orange to personally enjoy the sights, sounds, and commemorative aspects of campus from Friday, September 23rd-Sunday, September 25th in particular . . .

On Friday, September 23rd from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Team Film Room (located on the lower level of the Athletic Center) you are welcome to join author Mr. Barry Marin who has written a book on Bob Davies, the first All-American athlete in Setonia history who Mr. Martin will discuss in a talk entitled: “Bob Davies:  Superstar of Seton Hall’s Golden Age of Basketball.”  A great deal of research on his book was conducted via our various student and sports-oriented collections on site.  From his findings, Mr. Martin has outlined the focus of his book on Davies and his times in conjunction with the significance our alumnus brought to the game of basketball in the following manner:

“Seton Hall College was a major basketball power in the early and mid-1940s.  The “Wonder Five” team won 43-consecutive games – the sixth longest winning streak in NCAA Division I history. The “Mighty Midgets” won 28 games in a row – the second longest streak in Seton Hall basketball history.  The connecting link between these great teams was Bob Davies, Class of 1942, who Sports Illustrated has recognized as one of eight of the most influential players in the first century of college basketball – a list that included Bill Bradley (Princeton) and Patrick Ewing (Georgetown).  Setonian Davies introduced the behind-the-back dribble, pioneered the penetration and transition styles of play, and created several innovative passes.  His Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame plaque identifies him as the “first Super Star of Modern Professional Basketball.”  The colorful Pirate was such a draw that Walsh Gymnasium (now the Pirates women basketball team’s home court) was initially known as “the House that Bob built.”  Moreover, he was a genuine sports hero-role model. Author Clair Bee used him as the prototype for the character Chip Hilton in 23 juvenile fiction books.  During the 1946-47 basketball season, Davies accomplished a remarkable feat that no NBA player will ever duplicate.  He was league MVP for the Rochester (NY) Royals (now Sacramento Kings) and coached the Seton Hall “Mighty Midgets” to a 24-3 record.  One of the losses was by one point to the Holy Cross Crusaders who won the NCAA Tournament.”

Along with hearing his talk, Mr. Martin will have copies of the book – Bob Davies: A Basketball Legend, (Rochester, NY: RIT Press, 2016) available for purchase and reading at the event courtesy of the University Bookstore.  In addition, a special exhibit on the Setonia connections to Davies has been created in conjunction and cooperation with the Walsh Library Gallery.  A window box display (located in Walsh Library facing the Recreation Center) featuring various artifacts and items from the University Archives Collection have been assembled in honor of this talk and launch of the book.  This exhibit will be up through the entire month of September into October.

special attractionsPrior to this talk, parents visiting campus are invited to join a historical tour of the University Grounds as part of a program entitled: “Campus Then and Now” which will take place on Friday, September 23rd from 2:00-3:00 p.m. starting in the Rotunda of Walsh Library.  This fun and informative stroll around campus will involve a historical overview of the school and detailed descriptions of campus architecture and significance of physical plant development over the years.   For more information on the tour and to register please consult the Seton Hall Weekend website .

Alumni and Student Life in particular are also being celebrated that weekend, and in recognition of the times and legacy of the Golden Pirates of 1966, a display case exhibit showing various items representing the anniversary of this class and their activities at Setonia can be found on the First Floor of Walsh Library (opposite the stairwell) near the entrance to the Archives & Special Collections Center.  Featured is collage of various illustrations showcasing special programs, snapshots, athletic information, student activities, and even the annual Galleon and “April Fool’s Edition” of The Setonian for that year.  This case will be available for view throughout University Weekend.

More information on the full schedule and overview of programming to take place on University Weekend and to register for different events please visit their main site. For more information on the talks, displays, and other questions involving school traditions please feel free to contact University Archivist, Alan Delozier via e-mail at: or by phone: (973) 275-2378 for more information.  Enjoy the event and activities ahead!

Adopt a Book: Roma Sotterranea: opera postuma by Antonio Bosio

The Archives and Special Collections Center is launching a new Adopt a Book program! This program gives donors the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of specific items from our collection that interest them. Each month, we will feature a different adoptable book here on our blog. To learn more about the program, or to make a donation, please visit our Adopt a Book page.

Roma sotterranea: opera postuma

The vast catacombs of Rome provide a critical link to the past. Because they were shielded from the elements and remained nearly untouched for centuries, they have yielded spectacular examples of early Christian art, insight into the culture and burial practices of Rome, and stunning architectural elements. These catacombs were nearly lost to history, but were accidentally rediscovered in 1578 by laborers working in a field on the outskirts of Rome.

Shortly after the rediscovery, a number of scholars took interest in the catacombs and made explorations of them. However, none of these early explorers saw fit to fully document and publish their findings, leaving only scattered notes and oblique references to the catacombs as their legacy. One man, Antonio Bosio, is responsible for initiating serious and thorough archaeological study of the catacombs, earning him the nickname “Columbus of the Catacombs.”


Antonio Bosio was born in Malta in 1575, and spent most of his life in Rome. He became interested in the catacombs at an early age, and read any text which he thought might give him some insight into the subject, including ancient records in Greek and Latin, ecclesiastical histories, lives of the saints, and theological treatises.

His determination to learn about the catacombs extended far beyond the study of books and manuscripts, and led Bosio to explore the underground structures himself—an undertaking that was often difficult and even dangerous. On one of his first exploratory trips, Bosio was so enthralled by the monuments before him that he had soon progressed so far through the twisting passageways that he could not remember the way back. He had lingered longer than expected, and his lights began to burn out. Eventually, he was able to feel his way back to the entrance and avoid joining the martyrs in their final resting place. That experience did not deter him in the slightest in his pursuit of knowledge of the catacombs, and he made many more investigatory trips in his lifetime. (Although thereafter he made sure to carry an ample supply of lights, food, and water on his expeditions.)

Bosio continued his work for 36 years. He devoted his life to it, and was one of the first to apply systematic methods of the newly forming science of archaeology to the study of the catacombs. In 1629, Bosio died at the age of 54 without finishing his work and bringing it to print. For a short time, it seemed that Bosio’s life’s work might never see publication. However, the Knights of Malta, to whom he had left his estate, recognized the importance of his research and entrusted Oratorian Giovanni Severani with editing and compiling the work. It was finally published in 1632, three years after Bosio’s death, in a large folio volume titled Roma sotterranea: opera postuma di Antonio Bosio.

Bosio dedicated his life to discovery, scholarship, and above all advancing our understanding of the archaeology of ancient Rome. While Bosio never saw his work come to fruition, it still lives on over three centuries later. No archaeological study of the catacombs can commence without paying homage to Bosio.

roma-sotteranea cover

The Archives and Special Collections Center holds a rare 1632 edition of Roma sotterranea. The book is showing its age (384!) and is badly in need of conservation treatment to ensure its preservation for years to come. You can help support the conservation of this important work! Any donation toward preservation of this rare volume would be gratefully accepted. To donate, please visit our Adopt a Book page.

Trina Padilla de Sanz: A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Trina Padilla de Sanz: A Woman Ahead of Her Time
by Carly Miller, curator

Currently on display through September 20th at the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Reading Room are items from the Trina Padilla de Sanz papers (Mss 0020). The exhibit showcases published works by the Puerto Rican writer, poet, composer, and social activist Trina Padilla de Sanz (1864-1957).

Portrait of La Hija del Caribe, 1956.
Portrait of La Hija del Caribe, 1956.

Writing as La Hija del Caribe, Padilla de Sanz was a prominent literary figure in the twentieth century, penning numerous articles, poems, and essays on a wide variety of topics such as history, literature, poetry, music, politics and culture. In a period when expectations for women were mostly confined to the domestic sphere, Padilla de Sanz represents an important deviation from the norm. Breaking free of society’s narrow view of a woman’s place in the world, Padilla de Sanz was an outspoken, unrelenting voice for change.
This exhibit focuses on one very prominent aspect of La Hija’s writings: her activism. She focused on progressive topics such as women’s rights, the preservation of the Puerto Rican culture and identity, and protection and compassion for those most often marginalized and ignored. La Hija’s feminism, patriotism, and drive for social justice are represented in the displayed works. From advocating for compassion on behalf of the incarcerated to calling out the United States for its aggression to highlighting women’s role in wartime, Padilla de Sanz did not shy away from controversial topics.

"Ana Roque de Duprey," a poem by Trina Padilla de Sanz. Undated.
“Ana Roque de Duprey,” a poem by Trina Padilla de Sanz. Undated.

While the exhibit represents only a small portion of her extensive writing career, it fittingly demonstrates the essence of Padilla de Sanz. Her desire to see society improve formed not only the basis of her writings but also of her life. La Hija was actively involved in community affairs so that she could encourage the type of change that she so often wrote about in newspapers and magazines. Not content to sit on the sidelines, Padilla de Sanz unabashedly ignored the societal expectation of women in the twentieth century. Instead, she carved out a diverse and fulfilling career. She was a woman ahead of her time, paving the way for future generations of women and inspiring progress and reform within society.
For more information about this exhibit or to make an appointment to view the Trina Padilla de Sanz papers, please contact 973-761-9476 or