The familiar refrain of “Welcome to Seton Hall” has been shared on many occasions with scores of students who have ventured through the front gates of the school over the last 160 plus years. Although such a salutation can come at any point in time, early September just before Labor Day (or late August over the last decade in particular) has traditionally been designated as the dawn of an academic year for college bound individuals across the country with Seton Hall being no exception to this traditional rite of passage. In this time of the COVID pandemic we are starting classes earlier on August 24th of 2020 with various safeguards in place to make the learning environment more safe, but no less interactive.
The first day of classes ever at Seton Hall came on September 1, 1856 in Madison, New Jersey (prior to the move of operations to South Orange four year later) when a total of five students enrolled at the fledgling institution after paying their room and board of $200 per annum. The original attendance roster included the following names – Leo G. Thebaud (Madison), Louis and Alfred Boisaubin (Madison), Peter Meehan (Hoboken), and John Moore (New York City).
This number rose to 11 by the end of September and either by on-time registration or those who chose delayed enrollment, the school was now in operation and set the trend for first days to follow thereafter. For example, attendance figures for registrants to open a fall school term rose to 105 by 1865-66 and fluctuated below or near this number through the remainder of the 1800s. An upswing figure-wise came during the 20th century as Seton Hall boasted over 200 newcomers for the first time by 1925-26 (259 total) as a prelude to the era of four-figure registrations which came about in 1938-39 when the Urban Division (Extension) Schools of Newark and Jersey City featured 1,025 students (481 at the South Orange campus) on their books. However, it would not be until 1945-46 when the main campus hosted 1,008 new students (2,109 at the Urban Division) and the year following exploded even further in terms of Setonians who first arrived on site with 2,994 and 3,312 attending classes in South Orange and at the Urban Division respectively. Thousands more per year and in sum thereafter have also experienced their first day in building a tradition that has endured to the present day.
Regardless of year, prior to the moment of entry, plenty of preparation faces the undergraduate student from the Freshman who encounter a number of Orientation Sessions prior to attendance through Seniors who are making their final semester opening appearance on campus. The fine tuning of course selection, purchase of school supplies, assisting with “Move-In Day” and other time honored and timely rituals are often routinely encountered by young scholars across the board. Once arriving on site, the student body is busy settling in, meeting roommates, making friends, selecting activities, studying course syllabi, book purchasing, and balancing meal plans among many other tasks start in earnest and helps to define the semester that lies ahead for each budding Setonian. Reflection of these moments are often special to those who lived through these new experiences and many alumni have kept enduring memories of their first time on campus. With this in mind, the literature produced by the school each semester reinforces the structure and substance that goes into planning for a starting term from the first one onward.
Various resources including listings that trace the beginning of each semester through the finish are available for research purposes here in our collection. In addition, we have some electronic-based resources for off-campus consultation. Our University History Library Guide can be located via the following link – https://library.shu.edu/University_History and our digital collections for a look at the earliest and most recent College/University catalog(ue)s and bulletins – https://scholarship.shu.edu/archives/
For more information about University History from start to finish please feel free to contact us via e-mail or by phone: (973) 275-2378. New for this year, you can also use our bookings page to make an appointment for a research consultation or book a desk for quiet study in the reading room. In the meantime, a perpetual “Welcome to Seton Hall” everyone!
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of Monsignor Thomas G. Fahy (1922-76) as the fourteenth president of Seton Hall whose tenure was marked by a major series of initiatives that enhanced the administrative focus, academic infra-structure, and student experience for those connected to the university during his time as chief executive. His life and example have been fondly remembered by those he touched along with future generations of Setonians who benefited from the forward-thinking initiatives he nurtured and approved between the years of 1970-76 in particular.
A native of Jersey City, Monsignor Fahy graduated from Seton Hall College in 1943 and four years later became an alumnus of the Immaculate Conception Seminary just prior to ordination as a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark. He was later educated at Fordham University where advanced degrees in Theological Studies were earned. The first educational-based assignments undertaken by Monsignor Fahy came as a Latin and Greek Instructor and Director of Athletics at the Seton Hall Preparatory School before joining the ranks of the university administration in 1955. Prior to becoming president, Monsignor Fahy served Seton Hall as Athletic Director, Professor of Classical Languages, Dean of Men and Vice President of Instruction.
Upon assuming the presidency, Monsignor Fahy created the Center for Black (later known as African American) Studies was established in 1970. Another key addition to the campus landscape came to the fore when the Puerto Rican Institute was founded four years later. During the time of Monsignor Fahy, Seton Hall became more boarder-oriented when they opened Aquinas Hall, the first residence hall for women in 1971. Within academic circles, the Stillman Business School and Schwartz Nursing College Complex opened in 1973. Governance of Seton Hall originally balanced between a 25-member Board of Regents and 13 trustees, as operational leadership on a daily basis emanated from the office of Monsignor Fahy. In addition, Elizabeth Ann Seton, patroness of the University was canonized in Rome by Pope Paul VI in 1975, making her the first American-born saint. A year later, in response to a great swell in religious-based research, the New Jersey Catholic Historical Records Commission was founded at Seton Hall, where it remains active to this day. These were just a few of the moves of lasting significance that remain connected to his legacy.
Monsignor Fahy was not only concerned for the welfare of the campus community, but for all citizens of the world During his inaugural speech in 1970, he made mention of Catholic Higher education and the state of academic life, but also made the following pronouncement in regard to care for the earth and inhabitants based on the means of handling technology and ecology in a responsible manner:
“ . . . for us the most incredibly sophisticated marvels, the automobile and the jet plane to open up the country and the world; an agriculture whose yield is ten-fold what it was at the beginning of this century: a space program so incredible that we now somehow feel deflated that only two of our first three efforts to land on the moon were successful. But while successive generations of college students were trained to produce these marvels, these students were apparently not warned to relate their achievements to man’s continued existence on earth. As a result, we now face an ecological crisis of catastrophic proportions. We could, we are told, be buried in our garbage, be asphyxiated by the exhaust of cards, or poisoned by the effluvia in our waters.”
Beyond the board room, Monsignor Fahy was known as a thoughtful presence on campus who would sit on the steps of Presidents Hall and gladly talk to anyone who happened by about their lives and concerns. This is another side of the man that lives on in memory. Monsignor Fahy accomplished many important landmarks during his lifetime, but tragically passed away in 1976 at the age of 54. When the news arrived on campus he was widely mourned and eulogized.
Among the most poignant tributes came from past university president, Bishop John J. Dougherty who articulated that:
“Thomas George Fahy with honor, for his life was an honor to everything of which he was a part. He was an honor to the family whose name he bore. His achievement was begotten of what his parents had give him. He was an honor to the priesthood. His fellow seminarians respected his gifted mind, his unassuming manner, and his manly and unobtrusive piety. His priestly and professional life served a cause: the cause was Seton Hall. He was an honor to the human community. He was compassionate not only in thought and feeling, but in action.”
Additional postings regarding the life and legacy of Monsignor Fahy will be forthcoming. In the meantime, please feel to contact us if you need further information on Monsignor Fahy and all aspects of Seton Hall University. We can be reached via e-mail at: email@example.com
On most college and university campuses, the voluntary option of attending Summer School between the end of any Spring semester and the beginning of a Fall term is a concept that is commonplace today. This has traditionally been a time when students could undertake selective coursework in order to repeat classes for added intellectual reinforcement, quicken the pace of their respective graduation timetable, or even for self-knowledge and continuing education purposes. Seton Hall has systematically followed this trend of student support through most of the twentieth century into the present day.
Historically, the typical Academic Year for a Setonia student during the nineteenth century entailed a regimented ten-month academic experience along with their proscribed vacation time to help rejuvenate themselves in time for an Autumn opening. General catalog(ue)s of the 1860s-90s highlighted this required modus operandi in the following manner:
“The Academic year, which consists of two terms of five months each, begins on the first Wednesday of September and ends on the third Wednesday of June. At Christmas there is a vacation of twelve days; and in May students are permitted to be absent for a day or two, to procure Summer clothing. At no other time are they allowed to leave the College, except for reasons of great importance . . . General examinations are held at the end of each term.”
Over subsequent decades, the number of months that a student at Seton Hall were required to stay on campus had been reduced with final examinations taking place in late or early May with commencement exercises taking place shortly thereafter. This left around three and a half months worth of vacation time as the twentieth century moved forward. As enrollment multiplied along with an increased number of course offerings especially when the Urban Division of Seton Hall (Newark and Jersey City) was created in 1937 became a catalyst to encourage co-educational study. This also led to an opportunity for all students (both Men and Women) to freely attend classes at the South Orange campus. However, Women could not fully avail themselves of course enrollment at any time during any formal Academic Year until 1968.
From the 1930s forward, especially after World War II a full calendar of Summer-based course offerings were planned and scheduled on an annual basis and representing every individual College, School, and Department on campus along with offerings from the School of Continuing Education and Internet-based learning communities as well. The evolution of Summer School has undergone various developments over the years and continues onward as the popularity of this program had endured. The time usually spent taking any course outside of the traditional Academic Year period is usually accelerated and completed within a matter of a week or two on average, but no matter how long, participation was a valuable experience for many individuals as we move forward into the twenty-first century.
For more information on the history of Summer School and other aspects of University History we are glad to assist you. Inquires can be sent via the following e-mail address: Archives@shu.edu
The concept of a collegiate yearbook (or annual) arose from the need to record student enterprise from the earliest volumes published during the early 1800s into a regularly anticipated fixture among most elite Eastern institutions and eventual adoption among many Catholic colleges and universities between the mid-nineteenth century into the early twentieth.
The trend of producing a yearly chronicle of academic life reached its zenith during the “Jazz Age” of the 1920s when the appeal of student life on college campuses entered the national conscious in a major way through positive and popular depictions in motion pictures, radio programs, and the daily press throughout the decade. Within this context, the Seton Hall
yearbook known originally as the “White and Blue” was christened in 1924.
From the first, the promise and appeal of memorializing the Setonia experience received strong support throughout campus. Officially released during May of 1924 (covering the 1923-24 academic year), the “White and Blue” (prior to its being re-named and bearing the legend – “The Galleon”
in 1940 and 1947-2006) reflected its original and enduring objective to prepare: “through word and picture a summary of all activities . . .” within a published memorial designed to honor each graduating class from its introductory edition to last imprint. Historically, the “White and Blue” was directly inspired in large measure by the colorfully written and illustrated student-run Dramatic Society playbills in vogue during the early 1920s.
From this inspirational point, the yearbook became one of the first regularly produced and distributed non-single event campus publication (aside from the College Catalogue) along with its counterpart “The Setonian” (student newspaper) which opened its presses a couple months
beforehand. This weekly (later monthly) serial became an allied publication with the “White and Blue” and regularly featured updates on yearbook issues including the promotion of staff members, production updates, and sale potential through its pages during the 1920s and 30s in particular. The yearbook reciprocated space-wise with “The Setonian” by including a special section on the newspaper and its activities under its Student Organizations chapter in most every volume that followed suit.
Yearbooks in both a general and traditional sense were produced with a firm timeline in place to cover any given 12-month academic period. Each provide a means of immortalizing the students, faculty, and administrators affiliated with Seton Hall and also offer “snapshots” of life on campus broken down by different departments or sections to honor popular trends during a respective time and place. The traditional format and sections found in most annuals with Seton Hall being no exception tended to include in varying order the following categories: Welcome Page(s), Dedication; Graduates (Senior Portraits and List of Activities – Text and Photographs, 1920s-1950s); Undergraduates (Frosh, Sophomores, and Juniors); Faculty, Student Life (Activities, Current Events, Special Events, etc.); Academics (Departments, Who’s Who, etc.); Athletics, Student Organizations; Advertisement Section (earlier editions often featured a special emphasis on South Orange, Newark, and other local companies); and in some cases an Index, Colophon (statistical data), and a Notes/Autograph page(s) are found thereby providing a unique look at Setonia in a traditional and organized manner.
In regard to the first work plan based on historical models, the inaugural edition of the “White and Blue” featured an introductory forward by the College President at that time – Rt. Rev. Thomas H. McLaughlin, S.T.D. who wrote about the justification of this enterprise in regard to the institution and its lasting intrinsic value: “In years to come this book will serve to revivify events and intensify the love which every Setonian bears to Alma Mater. It will be an incentive to live up to the religious and educational standards presented and exemplified in daily life during college years.” This pioneering work in 1924 was undertaken directly under the leadership of Reverend John J. Sheerin, Faculty Moderator (this role would usually fall under the guidance of a priest until the 1950s when a member of the lay faculty usually assumed leadership duties); Editor-In-Chief, Francis J. Walsh; and a staff of researchers, writers, illustrators, photographers, and other volunteers which handled various duties associated with content management and marketing opportunities. During its first year, which involved a significant learning curve, the yearbook staff was able to finalize a volume in time for commencement and with funds collected via advertising space and subscriptions the “White and Blue” office collected $706.00 from various sources which helped defray supply costs and a
printing bill of $521.00 that led to a final first year net profit of $19.00. From here the consistent search for content and subscription drives became a regular fixture of the yearbook office thereafter.
The following year in 1925, editors of the “White and Blue” expressed the need for a yearbook with more clarity and eloquence after its first attempt succeeded and a methodical tradition had started. Therefore, finding a rhythm passing on experiences to the next class led to a sustained presence that lasted on campus for nine decades.
“Without a doubt if most Graduates were asked to name that event which, of the varied multiplicity of forms, loomed largest on the horizon of the scholastic year, their choice would be the publication of the Year Book . . . it is the result of their attempts to portray in succinct form, both to Alumni and Under-Grads, all that which occurred within the cycle of their daily lives at Setonia. WE present it with pride, for we fell that in it we have attained our purpose . . . We have merely presented phases from the humble life-drama of Setonians. Those figures that strutted unimportantly before the eyes of many are now paraded in a steady light. Those associations which engrossed our attention are seen in pleasant retrospect. We have turned the X-ray on the thought, spirit, deeds, and accomplishments of a student life and disclosed the skeleton. We have not attempted to analyze, to caricature, or to be distinctly erudite. In a word, our purpose was to present in the simplest way the record of a family life. If there are
occasional little traits of delicate feeling and sentiment manifested, we feel that the reader will not censure us for it. Especially informative in its character, the Year Book served to bridge the gap between the student and Alumnus. It is a story which a student tells to the “Old Grads.” A
story – yes, for it contains those varied elements that minster to our delight. It is enlivened by incidental adventures; it describes the places in which the scene is cast; the motley groups of character are skillfully drawn; genial humor pervades its pages, and the whole is a lively picture
of a real student life. It is well that such a story should be told occasionally by Setonains, for it is certain that there are many who will be interested in it . . . It is the wish of the editors that it will be greeted with the same spirit which made possible its present success and that future classes will find in it an incentive to carry on the pleasant duty of preserving the traditions of
their Alma Mater.”
By virtue of their timely focus, yearbooks are usually issued at the end of an academic cycle, but take several months to produce in order to: “. . . record, highlight, and commemorate the past year of a school.” Publications of this type had their ancestral origins in self-created student diaries, journals, and scrapbooks especially when it came to pasting snapshots, news clippings, cards, etc. and writing marginalia notes to accompany these artifacts. This personalized means of autobiographical expression became the general inspiration for the concept of school yearbooks in the modern sense and memorializing connections between a student and their
institutional ties as a result. The “White and Blue” was no exception. When it came to the Seton Hall approach in yearbook creation and looking at its legacy those digitized and found in the Digital Collections repository include the “White and Blue” (1924-1933, 1939, 1941-1942) and “Galleon” (1940, 1947-2006) in full text. However, due to financial issues and World War II no annual was produced during the years 1934-1938 and 1943-1946 respectively while the last edition featured is a combination of the 2002-2006 in one volume to honor the Sesquicentennial of the school.
The overall and specific appearance of each edition of the Seton Hall-produced yearbook from the “White and Blue” through the “Galleon” periods alike varied each time as depicted by the preferred graphics, font type, jargon, period humor, photographic poses, and other illustrative
choices that distinguished this specialized tome over time including such early loose themes as – “Collegiate Humor,” “Egyptian Motifs,” and “Medieval Learning” among others of note. After the final format for each edition was approved it was remitted to a professional publishing firm.
The first partnership made was with the Colyer Printing Company of Newark (1924-1933, 1947) and followed in sequence by publishing/printing concerns including Robert W. Kelly of New York City (1939); New City “Engravatone” of Union City (1940-1941); Baker-Jones-Hauser, Inc.
of New York City (1942); Campus Publishing of Philadelphia (1948-1949); and Progress Associates, Inc. of Caldwell (1950-55) leading up to the commemorative Centennial Edition of 1956.
From this landmark text onward, other professional publishers were employed and adopted the responsibility by working in tandem with various official local photography studios over the years in conjunction via the editorial team and publisher to create a finished product that is viewable in the electronic copies found on this site. In terms of size, page lengths varied from the first edition of 1924 that featured 78 inside pages and grew to most subsequent volumes featuring no less than a few hundred glossy sheets as a standard over time. The physical dimensions of each yearbook has also varied over the years with the most compact being the 1925 edition (8’ x 10”) and the 1974 and 1976 boxed editions (approx. 9 ½” x 12 ½” each) the largest with most other latter-day copies measuring the standard 9 ¼” x 12 ¼” extent.
The characteristic appearance features a traditional facing page approach with content bound within a hard cover (aside from the 1924 which was all paper) as the typically accepted template. Production usually consisted of a two-color (usually black and blue text with black and white photography) approach from 1925-1947 and multi-color editions eventually became
the accepted pattern from 1948 through 2006.
From a research standpoint, the Seton Hall yearbook remains a popular social history reference work that provides latter-day readers and family historians in particular with life in a prescribed time period. It also fosters memories and is a marker for those interested in historical research
and student demographic trends. On the sociological front, formally published yearbooks are becoming extinct in the traditional sense as social media and other means of presentation have modernized the process of student expression and memorialization.
As you can see upon reading different editions of the Seton Hall yearbook, the content offerings have changed from a balance of textual and photographic representation during the first six decades to a more photographic-based volume each year from the 1960s through the early-mid 2000s. At its core, the lasting need for such information is pointed out in the pages of the Diamond Jubilee History of 1931, whereby the value of the school yearbook was timely upon publication and remains manifest upon reflection. “The publication of a Year Book or ‘Annual’ by the graduating class has in recent years become a regular part of a college activity. Such a book is to the members of the class a permanent record of their achievements while in college, and a source of happy reminiscences in later life . . . Each succeeding issue of the “White and Blue” (and “The Galleon”) has been enlarged and improved in one way or another . . . ” which will benefit the reader of today and the future alike.
Access to the digitized collection of Seton Hall Yearbooks can be found via the following link – https://scholarship.shu.edu/yearbooks/ Hard copies of the Yearbook can be accessed via the Archives & Special Collections Center during office hours and by appointment.
For more information regarding yearbook content and all other aspects of school history please feel free to contact us via the Archives & Special Collections Center at Seton Hall University – Alan.Delozier@shu.edu / (973) 275-2378.
When looking back at the nation and world 150 years ago there were many memorable milestones that have since shaped society in various ways. These included the start of construction on the Brooklyn Bridge, enactment of the 15th amendment to the United States Constitution allowing African American males the right to vote, and Pius IX declared papal infallibility in matters of faith and morals among others. On the local front, Seton Hall College was in the process of celebrating its 14th anniversary of operations and tenth on the South Orange campus with its eye to future development as a modest, but growing institution of higher education.
The student catalog(ue) for that year noted that the campus proper: “ . . . is situated near the village of South Orange, distant, by railroad, sixteen and a half miles from New York, and six and a half from Newark: accessible from New York in about an hour. The College buildings are of great architectural beauty, large and commodious, thoroughly ventilated, well heated by steam, and lighted by gas. In addition to the buildings represented in the frontispiece, a large stone home has been erected for the Sisters and servants the Wardrobes and Infirmaries . . . The location is upon high ground, overlooking a beautiful country. The Orange Mountains have long been recommended by physicians as a most favorable residence for their patients. For years past, the advantages of the surrounding country, for breath, extensive view, and proximity to New York, have been fully appreciated; hence the villas and mansions on every eligible site for miles around.” This presented the incoming student with a helpful overview of their surroundings and vista if they stayed to experience the entire seven year curriculum in vogue at that time.
Counted among the administrative highlights during this year included the bishopric of James Roosevelt Bayley, first leader of the Diocese of Newark and founder of Seton Hall along with the fourth president of the college, Rev. Michael A. Corrigan, who would later become Archbishop of New York. Invaluable support was provided by clergy, lay teachers, and representatives from the Sisters of Charity who tended the infirmary. They were ever cognizant that: “. . . the object of the Institution is to impart a good education, in the highest sense of the word – to train the moral, intellectual and physical being. The health, manners, and morals of the pupils are an object of constant attention. The system of government is mild and paternal, yet firm in enforcing the observance of established discipline . . . The better to carry our the design of the Institution . . . For this reason, it is expedient that parents who wish to accrue, places for their sons in SETON HALL should make early application.” These spiritual and academic mentors managed a diverse student body that not only featured learners from New Jersey and throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, but also from such locales as Alabama, Louisiana, and abroad from Cuba, Colombia, New Grenada, and the Yucatan.
When it came to preparation for college life, each budding student had to arrive in South Orange with the following required articles if they were to be boarding on campus: “ . . . four summer and three winter suits. He should also have twelve shirts, twelve pairs of stockings, twelve pocket handkerchiefs, six towels, six napkins, three pairs of shoes or boots, a pair of slippers a cloak or overcoat, and two silver spoons, two forks, and a napkin-ring, all marked with his name.” In terms of expenses, the board and tuition, use of bed and bedding, $400 per annum, payable half-yearly, in advance. Washing and mending of clothes and linen, $20. Physician’s fees medicines, etc., $10, Music, $60, and drawing, $50 per annum, for those who wish to learn them. For use of Piano, $10 per annum. The German, Italian, and Spanish Languages, each $25 per annum. Each of these costs represented a substantial investment by parents and students alike prior to the greater inflation associated with expenditures found in the present day.
Once the student were on campus they encountered an academic year that consisted of two sessions of five months each, commences on the first Wednesday of September, and ends on the last Wednesday of June at which time there was a public Exhibition and Distribution of Premiums. At Christmas there was a vacation of ten days; and in the spring, absence for a day or two will be allowed, when necessary, for the summer equipment of the students. At no other time were they permitted to leave the College, except for reasons of great importance. The regular visiting day for parents was on Thursdays. In addition, weekly reports of all the classes are read before the Professors, Tutors, and Students. Monthly reports are sent to the parents or guardians. Below you will find a copy of the academic year calendar that each student followed per term . . .
When it came to the “Fundamental Rules of Discipline” which guided student conduct, this showed the correct ways from staying out of trouble and maintaining decorum among the student body. These guidelines included the following examples: “The Rules of the College require of all Students a manly bearing and kind, courteous deportment towards each other at all times; application to study during the hours of study, and the through preparation and recitation of the lessons assigned . . . No Student ever leaves the College grounds without permission . . . Leaving the College grounds after nightfall subjects the Student to expulsion . . . The use of tobacco is forbidden . . . No other books other than text-books and works of reference recommended by the Professors can be held by the Students, unless by permission of the President . . . Students are not allowed to receive newspapers, except for their Reading-room, which is under the direction of the President . . . Correspondence is permitted only with parents, guardians, and relatives . . . “ These limitations and other items were part of the student experience along with making sure they paid close attention to their physical health through visits to the college gymnasium and the required classrooms to attend to their proscribed study schedules. This summary provides but a capsule look at the life encountered by the Setonian of 1870.
We are currently poised to celebrate the latest Seton Hall commencement in creative ways during this time of COVID-19, but even without a formal communal ceremony we are proud to honor the graduates of the Class of 2020 nonetheless. We offer them congratulations, but also pause to remember several thousand others who received degrees from Seton Hall over the last few centuries. In looking back at the history of school commencement exercises and alumni rolls, a common question often arises. Have you ever wondered who was the first individual to receive a diploma from the Seton Hall? The answer takes us back to 1862 when a young man by the name of Louis Firth earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and became the first to set a trend that lasts to the present day.
When Louis Firth crossed the Hudson River to New Jersey from his New York City home to attend Seton Hall College as a freshman in 1857 he knew that a seven-year academic journey (Prep and College divisions were combined at this time) that a unique intellectual awakening awaited him. What he experienced followed a set of prescribed and orderly goals that he and his fellow Setonians took to heart: “The object of the Institution is to impart a good education in the highest sense of the word – to train the moral, intellectual, and physical being. The health, manners, and morals of the pupils, are an object of constant attention. The system of government is mild and paternal, yet firm in enforcing the observance of established discipline. No pupil will be received from another College without unexceptional testimonials, and none will be retained, whose manners and morals are not satisfactory.”
After graduation, Firth moved back to New York City and lived most of his life at West 37th Street in Manhattan as one of a growing number of alumni who remained in the metropolitan area. In an interview conducted during the early 20th century, Firth opened up to the local press about his days at Seton Hall and some of the memorable figures he encountered during his halcyon days on campus.
Early in the article the reporter noted that: “Mr. Firth who is hale and hearty and as active as a man twenty years his junior, paid a tribute to the work of the first president (Father Bernard McQuaid) when the college was at Madison, where he first saw him in 1857, and at South Orange when the college was established there.” Of Reverend McQuaid, Firth marveled at his “vigor” and went on to recount that: “. . . this remarkable man had a wonderful influence over the boys at college . . . the holy and learned men with which he surrounded himself and taught us imparted the qualities which fit a man to live. Character was formed at Seton Hall, because of the environment.”
When it came to recollecting his graduation day, Firth colorfully illustrated the scene and his creativity in marking this historical day . . .
“The first commencement exercises were held on an improvised stage built under the trees just east of the present college buildings. There were but a small number present, as South Orange was but a hamlet, and there were no cars to Newark. Through a prank played by the boys a few nights before commencement day, I came very near not being the first graduate of the college. It happened in this way: The college bell rang every morning at 4 o’clock, and the farmers for miles around roe by it. One night we planned to ring it at 2 o’ clock instead, and after setting the college clock two hours fast, I was selected to pull the rope. I did it, and hustled back to bed. The college prefect, whose duty it was to ring the bell, appeared just then, looked at the clock and went about his early morning work, wondering all the while how the bell rung. The farmers were awakened and started in to do a day’s work. Needless to say, when the sun did not rise at the appointed time, watches were compared, and the faculty decided that a prank had been played.” Needless to say that despite the “time change” Firth managed to make it to the ceremony and receive his honor due. A full overview of the ceremony can be viewed below . . .
For more information on the 1862 academic year and other early 19th century details featuring studies at Seton Hall please consult our Undergraduate Catalog(ue) links found via the Archives & Special Collections – eRepository site at – https://scholarship.shu.edu/archives/ We are also available to assist with information on commencement ceremonies along with other research questions concerning Seton Hall and we can be reached via e-mail at: Archives@shu.edu
Contributed By Jack Kelly, BA ‘66, MMAS US Army Command and General Staff College, 1981
Anyone writing about Seton Hall student organizations history can access significant material in the Archives & Special Collections Center. This is especially true with regard to the founding and first airing of radio station WSOU-FM, the first College operated FM station in New Jersey. On April 14, WSOU celebrated its 72nd Anniversary.
Among the archival items which provided the background and ensuing explanation of the WSOU founding were the Memoirs of Msgr. James F. Kelley ’24, the President of Seton Hall College. The Memoirs have a section devoted to WSOU as a student run activity and can be coupled with important description of the events which took place from the inception and thought to the actual on-air event on April 14th, 1948.
As a new of enterprise, Seton Hall needed approval of the Board of Trustees and the then Archbishop of Newark, Thomas J. Walsh for whom the Walsh gymnasium is named and the home of WSOU for its 72 year history. Msgr. Kelley described an exchange with U.S. President Harry Truman and his daughter Margaret, at which time a possible allocation of a station might be accomplished. He merely had to educate and persuade the Board of Trustees. In addition, the actual cost of the building of the station would be a significant amount of money, Msgr. Kelley finessed this by persuading several donors to finance the acquisition of the needed equipment, and through his many contacts, he even acquired a radio tower, which still stands today at the rear of the Walsh Gymnasium and Regan Athletic Center complex.
Construction of the Seton Hall radio station actually began in January 1948, as reported in the Setonian, under the tutelage of Fr. (later Msgr.) Thomas J. Gillhooly ‘33 whom he had appointed the Director, in the previous December with a mission of actually getting station built. Fr. Gillhooly organized the original staff of the station and with the help of several students, notably Thomas N. Parnham ‘50, who would remain the Chief Engineer until his death in 1994 and Victor J. Kemper ’50, later to become a noted cinema-photographer in Hollywood, the actual physical installation of the WSOU was accomplished in time to go on air as needed on April 14, even if the radio tower was not yet erected and a lower power output had to be used.
The big day arrived on a Wednesday, and at 8:00 PM the first words were spoken by Fr. Gillhooly to start the event, with the Archbishop in attendance along with the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Ted Husing, a noted sports announcer of the time, and for whom the Press box in Walsh Gymnasium was subsequently dedicated. Soon afterward the initial launch, the “Voice of Seton Hall” would be on the air seven days a week, providing a variety of programs, including live performances, recorded music, the first nationality oriented programs and eventually remote broadcast of events such as Baseball and Basketball as well as community topics of interest in the New York Metropolitan area.
The legacy and importance of formal African American Studies curricular development on campus goes back five decades. Originally known as the Center for Black Studies, its founding date of August 1, 1970 heralded the start of a unique and valuable learning opportunity for the Seton Hall University academic community which continues to this day.
From its adoption, the early vision of Dr. George Jackson who was appointed the first Director of Black Studies combined with strong administrative support from Msgr. Thomas Fahy, University President and Bishop John Dougherty, President Emeritus, the program had a successful launch and solid foundation from which to build further recognition. The Center for Black Studies offered students the choice of a certificate, or degree-bearing option of study which included a Bachelor of Arts in Black Culture or Black Community Studies upon successful completion of coursework. This program has continued to evolve over time and from the 1980s forward changed its operating title and is now focused on offering diplomas centered on both African American and Africana Studies in particular.
The ongoing mission of the Center for African American Studies has been well-documented throughout its history via the existence of various writings produced by the institute from its planning days during the late 1960s forward. The following passage captures the philosophical approach created by the founders and developed upon over time: “The Black Studies Center seeks to encourage Black scholars to develop vital skills in the interest of the Black community . . . It also recognizes that part of its mission must be to operate in a manner which will promote humane application of contemporary knowledge and skills to the Black community and to society in general. If scholarship is to be one of the tools by which total freedom is to be obtained then the Black scholar and those who guide his development must accept no compromise for excellence.” This all tied into the prime objective of training individuals who would continue to promote research and create publications related to African American themes for present and future generations to explore in more depth.
The archival records that correspond to the Center for African American Studies contain materials documenting the operation of the institute from 1970 until the late 1980s. Included within our holdings connected to this area are examples of budget data, office memoranda, course offering overviews, meeting minutes, newsletters, notices, and various operational files that show the inner-workings of the Center. More details about this collection can be found by consulting the following finding aid: https://archivesspace-library.shu.edu/repositories/2/resources/316
In addition to the Center for African American Studies proper, the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center holds a number of other resources related to the African American experience. More details on specific collections and relevant holdings can be found via the following site: https://library.shu.edu/collections-guide/african-american-studies
For more information on any aspect of African-American or University History you can contact us by phone: (973) 275-2378, or via e-mail at: <Alan.Delozier@shu.edu>
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (973) 275-2378.
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.”
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.