Working with Seton Hall’s Audiovisual Collections

by Kyle Brinster, MS-MLIS candidate at

photo of damaged record
A laquer disc with deterioration of the plasticizer

St. John’s University

During the Winter-Spring 2020 semester I served as an intern at Seton Hall where I worked in the Archives and Special Collections Center under Walsh Library. They house a number of collection areas including institutional records, New Jersey history, Irish and Irish-American history, and additionally serve as the repository for records regarding the Archdiocese of Newark. But over the next few months my work was focused on SHU A, or the university’s audio-visual records. 

One thing I have learned during my fledgling archival career is that the real world is very different from coursework. Although this may seem obvious the differences manifest in surprising ways. Often archivists are not part of an organization’s record keeping plan from the outset; they enter the scene well after one or several people have compiled records deemed important. In the past the same has been true of Seton Hall. Books and records were dutifully kept but without full consideration as to whether they fell under the archives’ purview. Similarly, the decision was made to separate out certain record types from their original collection. This is the case with SHU’s photograph collection, and before this semester was true of SHU A. When Technical Archivist Sheridan Sayles pointed out the 3 shelves full of boxes my first day in late January, I thought perhaps I was in over my head. There were boxes full of VHS and cassette tapes, many of which were blank or confusingly labeled. On the shelves beside the boxes were rows of record albums. These came in their commercial boxes and homemade sleeves, with a books of multi-disc albums rounding out the row of records.

I took part in several different AV projects during my semester at SHU. Initially, I consolidated and organized the array of VHS tapes. This consisted of surveying what was in the collection, weeding out commonly produced or off-focus tapes, and rehoming objects with their original existent collection. Separating taped episodes of The Sopranos from the collection was easy, but categorizing the wide range of news clips, Seton Hall TV spots, filmed lectures, and other miscellaneous tapes was something of a challenge. Many were also lacking much or any descriptive information, so they were viewed in order to try and find context so they could be better sorted.

I then set to work capturing the existing collections where the tapes belonged. These areas included the Athletics, College of Business, Poetry in the Round, and WSOU, just to name a few. I created spreadsheets outlining the new additions to the collections, including metadata information like the title, date, and format for easier search and organization in the future.

The process was then repeated with record albums: they were surveyed, weeded, rehoused, and reassigned to their original collections. In this way over the course of a few weeks we transformed SHU A from over a dozen linear feet of shelving into 3 neat boxes.

Reconnecting with Each Other in the Current Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life at Seton Hall as it has for millions of others around the country and the world.  In the name of saving lives by practicing social distancing, it has scattered us into our homes around the region and the country.  Although we are now physically distant from one another, we remain united as Setonians through our connection to Seton Hall.

Seton Hall commencement, 1885
Seton Hall Commencement, 1885

To reconnect as a community, we seek your stories of what this time has been like for you.  We have established a website to submit short personal narratives.  We hope that sharing these stories with one another will bring us back together in a new way, through sharing our personal experiences of this moment.  When we move forward, because there will be a time when we move forward, we plan to listen to these stories together as a community, reflect on what we have learned, and let them guide us into the future.

To participate, please record a 1-3 minute narrative about your experience, using any video or audio equipment available to you, and submit the file to our e-Repository.  Please also submit an image that represents your narrative, which will appear next to your recording in the published archive.

Questions to guide your response:

  • What is your day to day life like?  What would you want people in the future to know about what things are like for us now?
  • What has been most challenging about this time?  What do you miss about your life before the pandemic?  Are there specific places or things on campus that you miss?
  • Essential is a word we are hearing a lot right now.  What does essential mean to you?  Who is essential?  What are we learning about what is essential?
  • What is COVID-19 making possible that never existed before?  What good do you see coming out of this moment? How can we re-frame this moment as an opportunity?
  • What is it you want to remember about this time?  What have you learned?
  • After this pandemic ends, will things go back to the way they were?  What kinds of changes would you like to see? How will you contribute to rebuilding the world?  What will you do differently?

Choose the one that speaks to you, or address more than one if you wish.

With thanks to the scholars and librarians who came together to create this project: Professors Angela Kariotis Kotsonis, Sharon Ince, Marta Deyrup, Lisa DeLuca, and Alan Delozier, Technical Services Archivist Sheridan Sayles and Assistant Deans Elizabeth Leonard and Sarah Ponichtera.

Breviarium Romanum and the Origin of Seton Hall’s Rare Book Collection

By Monsignor Robert Wister

front cover of the Stuart Breviary
The Stuart Breviary, featuring the Cardinal Duke of York’s distinct coat of arms.

The Roman Breviary (Latin: Breviarium Romanum) is the book containing the public or canonical prayers, hymns, psalms, and readings for everyday use, especially by bishops, priests, and deacons of the Catholic Church. Currently, it is known as the Divine Office or The Liturgy of the Hours.

After the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the popes tried to impose a single standard version of the Breviary throughout the Church. They had some success, but many dioceses and religious orders retained their local customs.

Seton Hall’s Breviary is an unusual one. As its title indicates Breviarium Romanum ad usum Cleri Basilicae Vaticanae, it is the Breviary for the Basilica of Saint Peter, the Vatican Basilica. Many cathedral churches and great basilicas especially in Europe, have a “Chapter of Canons.” This group of priests have the responsibility to daily pray the Divine Office. This Breviary contains the ritual they would use, including prayers and hymns unique to the Basilica.

As indicated by the inscription “Joan. Nolin sculp.” at the base of the column on the left of the title page, the title page was engraved by Jean-Baptiste Nolin (c. 1657–1708), who was a French cartographer and engraver. The page pictures Saint Peter’s Basilica and Square, framed by large statues of Saints Peter (left) and Saint Paul (right). Above in the center is the coat of arms of Pope Clement X (1670-1676).

Among his many offices, Cardinal Stuart was Archpriest of Saint Peter’s Basilica from 1751 to 1807. This post included the responsibility to pray with the canons on specific occasions. Its well-worn condition attests to the Cardinal’s fidelity to these responsibilities.

The spine of the Stuart Breviary
The spine of the Stuart Breviary

As noted on the second title page, our Breviary was printed in Paris by Sebastian Mabre-Cramoisy (1637? -1687), Printer to the King, in 1674. In the introduction, the editor notes that it contains certain prayers and scripture readings that are particular to the clergy of Saint Peter’s Basilica. And that the last printing was more than eighty years before and few copies remain. Therefore, it is surprising that Cardinal Stuart would be using a book that is more than a century old since there is record of a 1740 printing. Of course, this version was printed by the renowned Mabre-Cramoisy and the cardinal had it rebound in magnificent red leather and adorned with his coat of arms.

At the bottom of the page, in very small cursive script is the following:

This Breviary was purchased at Rome from a lot of Books which had belonged to Henry Stuart, Cardinal of York. It bears his arms on the cover and probably was the one used by himself as Arch Priest of S. Peter’s. It was brought from Rome to New York, and came into the possession of The Rt. Revd. Bp. Hughes from whom I obtained it.             St. John’s Coll. Fordham May 6th MDCCCXLV
Inscription by Bishop Bayley, describing the circumstances of its purchase. The inscription reads: “This Breviary was purchased at Rome from a lot of Books which had belonged to Henry Stuart, Cardinal of York. It bears his arms on the cover and probably was the one used by himself as Arch Priest of S. Peter’s. It was brought from Rome to New York, and came into the possession of The Rt. Revd. Bp. Hughes from whom I obtained it.             St. John’s Coll. Fordham May 6th MDCCCXLV”

 This short note by Father Bayley, later Bishop Bayley, the founder of Seton Hall University, gives an insight into the manner in which fledgling colleges in the United States would stock their libraries. In later letters and diary entries after he became bishop of Newark, Bayley refers to purchasing large lots of books in Europe, often from shuttered colleges, convents, and monasteries. These volumes formed the core of the libraries of new American colleges. There are numerous examples of centuries-old books with the stamp Collegium Setoniense in the Walsh Library collections.

See the Stuart Breviary itself and learn more about the Cardinal Duke of York who owned it at the exhibit in the Monsignor William Noe Field Special Collections Center on the first floor of Walsh Library, through March 31.

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.

Exhibit Features Artists in Dialogue with Science

Strange Attractors

 January 14  – March 8, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday, January 25, 6pm to 8pm

Charcoal drawing on paper
Linda Francis, Threes


The Walsh Gallery is pleased to present Strange Attractors, a group exhibition conceived as an extension of a symposium hosted at New York City’s CUE Art Foundation in November 2017. Organized by artist and writer Taney Roniger, the symposium, also called Strange Attractors, examined interdisciplinary approaches to art-making with an emphasis on how visual art can generate insight into subjects studied by other fields. Co-curated by Taney Roniger and Gallery Director Jeanne Brasile, the exhibition aims to resume the dialogue in visual form by featuring work by many of the conference participants. The participating artists are: Suzanne Anker, Gianluca Bianchino, Catherine Chalmers, Linda Francis, Lorrie Fredette, Michael Hadley & Elaine Reynolds, Daniel Hill, Ed Kerns, Eve Andrée Laramée, Matthew Ritchie, Taney Roniger, Leonard Shapiro and Werner Sun.


While drawing on the strengths of different systems of knowledge, Strange Attractors celebrates nature and its infinitely interdisciplinary characteristics.  In conjunction with the exhibition, a panel discussion to be held in the gallery will further explore questions raised during the original dialogue (details to be announced). The exhibition has been made possible though the generous support of the Robert Lehman Foundation and the Essex County Arts Council through a re-grant of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment of the Arts.

The Walsh Gallery is open 10:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday—Friday.

Newark’s Catholic Advocate Now Digitized and Searchable

Printed and microfilm versions of the Catholic Advocate in Seton Hall University Special Collections
Printed and microfilm versions of the Catholic Advocate in Seton Hall University Special Collections

Based on research by Professor Alan Delozier

Selections from the Catholic Advocate, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Newark, have now been digitized in a cooperative project between Seton Hall University’s Special Collections and the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA).  The newspaper has been published regularly since 1951; however, the issues selected for this digitization project were limited to the years 1958-1964, the era of the Second Vatican Council, enabling researchers to examine this period and its impact on the Newark Catholic community.  The project digitizes newspapers from around the country, enabling scholars to examine differences and similarities between regions during this period.

Screenshot of Catholic News Archives
Screenshot of Catholic News Archives

Seton Hall Special Collections and University Library staff selected the best quality images to scan and provided description of the materials to allow for the detailed searches that are now possible.  As part of the digitization process, the text was captured using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to allow for keyword searches of the entire text of each article, not just the titles.  If a word or name is mentioned anywhere in an article or even in a photograph caption, it will be found in the powerful search engine used in the portal.  However, because the contents were read by machine, interpretive errors are possible in the text.  Therefore, the public is invited to read and correct the text, and particularly active commentators are acknowledged on the website in a “Hall of Fame.”

Article text interface
Article text interface

The CRRA has digitized many more newspapers as part of its project, including the San Francisco Archdiocese’s Monitor, the Clarion Herald of New Orleans, and the Catholic Telegraph of Cincinnati, among others.  The project and the construction of the Catholic News Archive website was the recipient of a Catholic Communications Campaign grant from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Student working with online resources
Student working with online resources

The digitized materials are currently being utilized in classes at Seton Hall University.  Professor Alan Delozier, University Archivist, has introduced students to this new resource in his class “New Jersey Catholic Experience,” offered through the Department of Catholic Studies.  Students are able to use this powerful new tool to conduct in-depth research on the history of the Catholic New Jersey community.

The new portal and all of its content can be explored here; the Catholic Advocate content specifically be found here.

Discovering the namesake of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives

Written by Rev. Michael Barone

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.

Holy card, 2000
Holy card, 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.

Daybook, 1940-1970
Daybook, 1940-1970

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.

Archives sign
Namesake of the Archives

 

The Book of Kells and Gradual of St. Katherinenthal – An Exhibit of Legendary Texts

Based on research by Professor Alan Delozier (Book of Kells) and Sarah Ponichtera (Gradual)

The Seton Hall University Archives & Special Collections Center is currently exhibiting two recently acquired high quality facsimile volumes of the original Book of Kells and The Gradual of St. Katherinenthal donated to our institution through the generosity of Mr. Peter Graham.  These works each have a distinguished history both in terms of literary content and aesthetic value which allows our community the opportunity to view and study copies of these editions in close detail.

Book of Kells  (Fine Art Facsimile Volume).  Fox, Peter, (Faksimile-Verlag, Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland) Library, Dublin and Lucerne: 1990)  [Latin: Codex Cenannensis.  Irish: LEABHAR CHEANANNAIS] ]

According to scholars, this work was created around the year c. 800 AD and produced through the artistry of a triad of unidentified Columban Monks.  The Book of Kells is most famous for its ornate illustrations.  Abstract designs and images of plants, animals and Biblical figures not only serve the purpose of glorifying Jesus’ life and message, but also constitute a rich symbolic system in themselves.  Symbols of the evangelists Matthew (the Man), Mark (the Lion), Luke (the Calf) and John (the Eagle) adorn related sections of the text; in addition, there are full depictions of the Virgin and Child; a portrait of Christ, and complex narrative scenes, which were the earliest to survive in gospel manuscripts, representing the arrest of Christ and his temptation by the Devil.  The text grew increasingly well known throughout the nineteenth century.  It is thought of as one of the central artistic works of Celtic culture, and a source of national pride for Ireland.

The text proper includes the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John from the Vulgate (Latin translation) version of the Bible as translated by St. Jerome, and also contains texts from an earlier Old Latin translation featuring more specialized religious texts.  It was only brought to the altar a few times per year and only during important liturgical events within the Church, especially the Easter Vigil.  The book remained in Kells until 1654 when the original was moved to protect it from the invading armies of Oliver Cromwell and transferred to Dublin and the Library at Trinity College where it remains on display to this day and seen by upwards of half a million visitors per year on average. This facsimile edition was produced with scrupulous attention to detail, hand-sewn, and compared against the original by an expert at Trinity College, Dublin.  At present, approximately 81 other libraries across the globe own a copy.  The original has been completely digitized by Trinity College and made available to the public free of charge.

Gradual of St. Katherinenthal, Upper Rhine, 1312. (Fine Art Facsimile Volume No. 729).  Duft, Johannes, (Faksimile-Verlag, Luzern: 1980).

The Gradual of St. Katherinenthal is a collection of church hymns, which were recited by the Gregorian choir during mass in the 14th century.  The sheet music is embellished with brightly colored pictures backed with the finest gold leaf.  The work is widely regarded as the finest example of Gothic book art in the world.  The unusual size is meant to allow all the singers of the choir, even those standing further away, to easily read the pages.  The book opens with two pages that contain calendric information.  The following pages contain musical scores in the Gregorian four line system, that each incorporate staves and lines of text.  The book includes 71 elaborately designed miniatures with gold decoration, 13 flowers painted to form letters, and a considerable amount of calligraphy.  The origin of the gradual from the St. Katherinenthal monastery and its time of creation, circa 1312, is recorded in handwriting on the inside of the front cover.  At least six artists were involved in the creation of the work, but their names were not recorded here.  The St. Katherinenthal Abbey was a monastery of Dominican nuns located near Lake Constance, Switzerland, and represented one of the oldest communities of nuns in that part of the world.  The original Abbey, along with the town, was burned to the ground in 1388, but was rebuilt in the beginning of the fifteenth century.  The community was exceptionally well-documented for that time period, and we have personal stories of many of the nuns recorded in the “Sister Book” of the Abbey.

This is one of the stories written by the nuns who would have sung the songs in The Gradual of St. Katherinenthal.  This book, written in Medieval High German, is being translated by Amiri Ayanna, a project for which she won the PEN translation award in 2011.  These stories give a window into the world of the nuns of that day.  Today the Abbey continues to operate in what is now the town of Weesen, and runs a bakery that produces Eucharistic breads, as well as a guesthouse.

The exhibit also features a 3D printed Gothic cathedral, to give a richer sense of the aesthetic that produced the gradual.  The cathedral was printed at Space 154.

For more on rare books at Seton Hall, see our LibGuide.