The Monsignor Noe Field Archives and Special Collections Center is pleased to announce the addition of six new archival collections related to the Irish-American experience. Thanks to a generous grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, we were able to process the following collections that are now available to researchers:
In addition to processing these collections, we have digitized roughly 1,200 files, at just over 9GB of data, primarily from the John Concannon and James Comerford collections.
Irish-American Experience in the 20th Century: Collection Highlights
The correspondence, research files, publications, photographs, and audio-visual materials in these collections provide an inside look at how Irish-American fraternal organizations worked together and separately to wield influence and political pressure on issues of importance to their communities — primarily immigration reform and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. These documents demonstrate how many of these organizations, notably the Ancient Order of Hibernians, maintained close ties with local political and religious leaders in New York and New Jersey.
For the first half of the 20th century, in the absence of larger governmental programs, membership organizations collected dues and shared out their funds to members in need of assistance. The AOH New Jersey and Knights of Columbus collections include ledgers and membership registers that record in granular detail how these organizations provided health insurance and sick benefits to their members.
In addition to serving as advocacy groups, Irish-American organizations provided a sense of community and maintained a full calendar of social events. The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is widely documented in the John Concannon collection, as members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians helmed its operation for many decades. The collection includes internal documents, lines of march, invitations, correspondence, and hundreds of photographs.
For an overview of these collections, we invite you to explore two digital exhibits:
One year ago, Seton Hall’s Monsignor William Noé Field Archives and Special Collections Center received two grants: one to process the papers of New Jersey politicians, and one to process the papers of Irish fraternal organizations. Apprentice archivists were hired and trained by Seton Hall staff, and they got to work organizing boxes of material, deciphering handwriting, and creating custom archival boxes for obsolete media such as LPs and Super-8 videos.
MSS 0150 Gloria Schneider Papers, papers which document the donor’s involvement in numerous Catholic organizations in Northern New Jersey
The archives encourage those interested in these newly available materials to make an appointment to see them in the reading room. We look forward to seeing scholars use these collections to enrich our understanding of history!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (973)-761-9476.
The Archives & Special Collections Center is proud to announce the opening of the John C.H. Wu Papers for access to our research community through the generosity of John and Theresa Wu and the entire Wu family. Dr. Wu was a scholar, author, and jurist who spent several years as a member of the Seton Hall faculty who made significant contributions to the studies of law, philosophy, religious studies, and other subject areas during the course of his lifetime which are reflected in part through the original manuscripts, printed works, photographs, notebooks, sketch books, subject files, and other materials that represent the intellectual life of Dr. Wu.
Counted among the highlights from the work of scholar, author, and jurist include the following highlights from his educational and professional life. John Ching Hsiung (C.H.) Wu (Chinese – Wu Jingxiong, 吳經熊) was on March 28, 1899, in the city of Ningbo, Jiangsu Province. His early education focused primarily on the teachings of Confucius along with the study of Daoism, Buddhism, and notable poets of ancient China. At age fifteen, Wu entered a local junior college, where he was exposed to the field of physics which he continued to study at the Baptist College of Shanghai. A change of educational path occurred during the spring of 1917 when Wu began studying law and transferred to the Comparative Law School of China. Wu completed his degree by the fall of 1920 and subsequently attended the University of Michigan Law School for post-graduate work and earned his JD in 1921. From here he began writing articles that largely compared the legal traditions of China and the Western World. In May 1921, Wu earned a fellowship from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which enabled him to study at the Sorbonne and Berlin University prior to his return to the United States where he became a research fellow at Harvard Law School in 1923.
Page of an unpublished manuscript –
“Philosophical Foundation of the Old and New Legal System of China” by Dr. John Wu
During the mid-1920s, Wu moved back to China and settled in Shanghai where he began teaching at the Comparative Law School of China, and helped to co-found the China Law Review. During the World War II years, Wu became a writer for the cause of Chinese freedom and re-located to Hong Kong and was enlisted by Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek in 1942 to translate the Christian Book of Psalms and the entire New Testament into Chinese. In the spring of 1945, Wu attended the inaugural United Nations conference in San Francisco as an adviser to the Chinese Delegation and also became lead author of the Nationalist Constitution that same year. He also helped to work on their Charter and by the end of the year he was appointed the Chinese delegate to the Vatican which took effect on February 16, 1947 and lasted through 1949.
Upon leaving China, Wu became the Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii in 1949 where he also wrote his autobiography entitled – Beyond East and West (New York: Sheed and Ward and Taipei: Mei Ya Publications, 1951). After his tenure in Hawaii, Wu began teaching legal studies at Seton Hall University and helped in the founding of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies during the 1951 academic year and remained a member of the faculty until his retirement in 1967. His legacy survives through regular interest in the scholarship that has been left behind for present and future scholars to discover.
This collection is available for study by appointment and more information about what is featured within the John C.H. Wu Papers can be found via the following link –
The Spring 2018 semester at Seton Hall University found Archives staff at the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives and Special Collections Center beginning to process the collection belonging to the eponymous former University Archivist, Director of Special Collections, and Rare Book Librarian, who died in December 2000.
Speaking to people who knew him, one learns that “Father Field” was a fixture on campus and in the Archdiocese of Newark, for which he was ordained a priest in 1940.
While the arrangement and description of the collection is still an ongoing project, looking through Monsignor’s papers and ephemera, one sees the story of a priest, scholar, lecturer, and traveler beginning to take shape. After all, archivists process and maintain the collections of persons so that their lives and work might be preserved for future generations of researchers and historians. While tedious at times, the task of archiving invites oneself to experience a sense of reverence or respect for the subject and creator.
Being himself an archivist for 30 years, Msgr. Field’s papers gives insight into the work of a Dean of Library and Special Collections Director, who earned his MLS from Columbia University in 1961.
Most of the collection is structured to organize his academic papers. However, Monsignor Field was also a gifted poet who sent and received numerous greeting cards from all across the globe. These are part of a correspondence series. Msgr. Field kept detailed travel logs, postcards, and brochures from years of travel. Beloved chaplain and member of several professional societies, the numerous awards, religious and devotional objects, owned and collected by the priest, will be discoverable by use of a detailed finding aid describing its inventory of materials and their structure.
Entering the reading room, one notices a prominently placed bust and portrait of Msgr. William Noé Field, welcoming visitors to his beloved
Archives, which bear his name. Founded during his lifetime, and organized with help of Peter Wosh, the Center remains a valuable repository and resource. For more information, or to schedule a visit to the Archives at Seton Hall University, located on the ground floor of our Walsh Library. We look forward to this collection being available to the public in the very near future.
A new exhibit in the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center Reading Room highlights materials from our Anti-Catholic Ephemera collection. This small collection dates from 1765-1952. It contains several pamphlets expressing anti-Catholic sentiment and denouncing Catholicism. Although they are not displayed in this exhibit, the collection also includes some materials relating to the Philadelphia Nativist Riots, in which Protestant nativist groups lashed out against Irish Catholic immigrants and burned several Catholic churches. In addition to materials from the Anti-Catholic Ephemera collection, several of the items in the exhibit are from our Rare Books collection.
Anti-Catholicism grew out of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, and continues in some forms today. It was most common in countries that were majority-Protestant, such as Great Britain and the United States, and sometimes led to discrimination and violence. Catholics were often derogatorily referred to as “papists” or “Romanists,” and were suspected of remaining loyal to the Vatican rather than their countries. Anti-Catholic sentiment overlapped with movements such as nativism when majority-Protestant countries experienced an influx of Catholic immigrants.
Some of the items featured in this exhibit include “Let’s Test Catholic Loyalty,” a 1952 pamphlet produced by the Knights of Columbus as a response to Anti-Catholicism; Popish idolatry; a discourse delivered in the Chapel of Harvard-College in Cambridge, New-England by Jonathan Mayhew, 1765; and The papists bloody oath of secrecy, and letany of intercession for the carrying on of this present plot by Robert Bolron, printed in London in 1680. This document relates to the “Popish plot” and murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, an English magistrate whose mysterious death stirred up Anti-Catholic turmoil in England.
For more information about the exhibit or the Anti-Catholic Ephemera collection, stop by the Archives or contact us at email@example.com or (973)761-9476.
The Cantor Morris Levinson collection consists of 28 pamphlets relating to Israel and the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Also known as the Six Day War, the 1967 Arab-Israeli War was fought between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. It resulted in the capture of new territories for Israel: the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank of the Jordan River, which have proven to be strategically important and hotly contested. The collection is small, but represents a number of voices and attitudes toward Israel in that tumultuous period, with the majority of the collection dating from 1967-1969.
Many of the pamphlets, such as Julius Stone’s legal analysis of the conflict “No Peace—No War in the Middle East: Legal Problems of the First Year,” address the legal and political implications of the war. Others, such as “Christian Churches in Israel: Recent Developments in the Relations between the State of Israel and the Christian Churches” focus on interfaith relations. For a full list of the pamphlets, visit our research guide for the collection.
This pamphlet contains excerpts from the addresses delivered before the Security Council on the subject of Jerusalem.
This collection is an excellent supplement to the archives’ holdings in the area of Judeo-Christian studies. Other collections which address the Arab-Israeli conflict include:
The Msgr. John M. Oesterreicher papers: John M. Oesterreicher founded the Institute of Judeo-Christian studies at Seton Hall. His collection contains extensive subject files relating to Israel.
The Sister Rose Thering papers: Sister Rose Thering was a professor in the Judeo-Christian studies program at Seton Hall, and an activist for Jewish-Christian relations throughout her life. Her collection contains a series on interfaith and international relations, which includes letters of protest that she wrote to the United States government regarding their policies on Israel.
The Nancy Forsberg papers: Nancy Forsberg was an educator and a reverend at First Congregational Church in Union, NJ. She was a strong advocate for interfaith cooperation, and gave many lectures on the Middle East, Israel, and Jewish-Christian relations. Her collection includes subject files on Israel and interfaith topics.
The collection is available for research in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room, open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. To make an appointment, contact 973-761-9476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally called “Figli d’Italia” and later renamed “L’Ordine Figli d’Italia in America,” Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) was founded on June 22, 1905 in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City by Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro and five compatriots who came to the United States during the great Italian migration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Initially established as a mutual aid society for early Italian immigrants, OSIA aimed to create a support system that would assist Italian immigrants with obtaining citizenship, provide health and death benefits and educational opportunities, and offer assistance with assimilation into American society. So far reaching were the organization’s early efforts that the Italian government designated OSIA as its official representative of Italians in the United States in 1922. Today OSIA is the oldest service and advocacy organization for individuals of Italian heritage in the United States and is dedicated to preserving and promoting Italian American culture, heritage, and traditions.
The Umberto Primo Lodge No. 750 of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, a now defunct lodge of OSIA, was established in 1920 as a local lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. The lodge was active until 1991 when it merged with the Roma Madre Lodge No. 1342 of Sayre, Pennsylvania.