Walsh Library has acquired signed first editions of books by some of the biggest names in African American literature: James Baldwin and Gwendolyn Brooks.
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) was one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century, the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize and the first Black woman to serve as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. She was also the Poet Laureate of the State of Illinois, where she lived for most of her life in Chicago. Her poetry documents her experience and community even while being in conversation with the roots of the Western tradition, mobilizing forms such as the sonnet and reinterpreting classics such as the Aeneid to buttress her own powerful authorial voice.
The Library also acquired a signed first edition of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. This powerful work which recounts Baldwin’s personal experience of racism in America as well as his critique of Christianity, is part of the Core Curriculum at Seton Hall. It is a key cultural touchstone.
Seton Hall’s edition is inscribed by Baldwin to a person named Reliana and says “Keep the faith.” This inspiring message is an especially appropriate one for Seton Hall, given that this work plays a role in the conversations about life’s purpose and meaning that take place in the Core Curriculum’s classes.
Get into the Halloween spirit with these spooky tales from Seton Hall’s rare book collections! They come from the book Ancient Legends of Ireland, written by Lady Wilde (mother of Oscar Wilde!), which we hold in our collections, and is currently on display in Walsh Gallery. You can read the entire book online at the Internet Archive.
With thanks to the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center for filming and editing.
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!
Seton Hall cares for fourteen archival collections documenting the careers of New Jersey politicians, illustrating the evolution of this state since its founding in 1787. In 2021, the National Archives awarded Seton Hall a federal grant to process five of these collections: the papers of Arthur A. Quinn, early twentieth-century pioneer in labor activism, the papers of Bernard Shanley, Chief of Staff to President Eisenhower, Governors Richard Hughes and Brendan Byrne, and first Black Congressman from New Jersey Donald Payne. After processing, these unique materials will be available to the public, enriching our understanding of the state we live in and the many people who worked to make it better.
The exhibit includes photographs of these politicians, excerpts from their writings, political buttons issued by their campaigns, and most exciting: the daily diary kept by Bernard Shanley when he was Chief of Staff to President Eisenhower. The archives has a full copy of the diary now available to researchers, in addition to the bound copy on display.
This exhibit is currently on display in the Archives Reading Room and may be viewed when the library is open. Hanging next to the hallway exhibit is a landscape by Seton Hall professor Edwin Havas, titled “Along the Delaware,” providing a contrast of the natural landscape in which all this political debate took place.
Special Collections and the Gallery acknowledge the support of the National Historic Publications and Records Commission, which generously provided funding for the archival work which made this exhibit possible.
Recently, the Archives received a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission to organize and describe a large collection of records from Irish immigrant cultural organizations, primarily the Ancient Order of the Hibernians.
These records show how immigrants to the United States organized themselves to help one another. These mutual aid organizations provided an early form of insurance – members would pay a little every month, and if they were injured or got sick or a breadwinner in their family died, the society would pay them a benefit in order to provide financial security. These organizations played a crucial role in supporting working class people before the New Deal provided unemployment insurance on a national scale.
As their original role of financial support receded, these organizations shifted their focus toward celebrating culture and community. The Ancient Order of the Hibernians played a prominent role in organizing the famous St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York.
The John Concannon papers, which project archivist Quinn Christie is processing, also contain planning documents for the parade, invitations to local dignitaries to attend and play roles in the celebration, tickets, musical lineups, and much more. As Christie says, “This collection is full of surprises. I never know what I’m going to find when we open a box. In the papers of Concannon, we found the records of James Comerford, who served as President of the AOH and Chairman of the Parade. In addition to papers from his organizational roles, we found his membership card in the Irish Volunteers (predecessors to the IRA) from 1918.”
The collection will be available to researchers by the end of 2022.
The Walsh Gallery presents “Out of the Vault,” an exhibition of objects that illuminate important moments in Seton Hall’s history. The exhibition situates the viewer with the founding of Seton Hall College in 1856 by James Roosevelt Bayley, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Newark and nephew of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton – the first American born saint and the university’s namesake. The exhibition then jumps 75 years to Seton Hall’s Diamond Jubilee Anniversary in 1931. Objects from this period include a gold embroidered brocade vestment, historic commencement photographs, and a hand-written inscription from President McLaughlin to Bishop Walsh written on a yearbook page. “Out of the Vault” also explores the 700th Anniversary of poet Dante Alighieri’s birth in 1961 with paintings by Professor of Art Anthony Triano, engravings by William Blake and a rare text of Dante’s “La Vita Nuova” translated by celebrated artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
The Walsh Gallery and Department of Archives and Special Collections care for and interpret the objects in the university’s collections. This exhibition is one of the many ways the departments preserve the university’s history via material culture and research. Other collections include The Wang Fangyu Collection of Asian Art which includes objects spanning over 3,500 years from China, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, India and Vietnam; The Seton Hall University Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology which includes objects from North American cultures including the Leni Lenape, Paiute, Zuni, Pomo and Tlingit peoples as well as objects from South American, Asian, European and African cultures; and The D’Argenio Collection of Coins and Antiquities which includes coins from ancient Etruscan, Greek, Roman and Byzantine cultures. The collections are available to students, faculty and scholars for research and scholarly purposes. Appointments to see the collections can be made by completing this form or a portion of our collections can be viewed on Google Arts and Culture.
The Walsh Gallery is open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday—Friday.
Brianna LoSardo is the Archivist of the Archdiocese of Newark, responsible for maintaining the collections of the Archdiocese and helping researchers working with the collections. Brianna got her start at Seton Hall, and in this role she still works closely with the Archives and Walsh Gallery team, as well as faculty researchers. These amazing collections are some of the oldest and most interesting materials at Seton Hall, including the records of Bishop Bayley, founder of Seton Hall, and many unique vestments and artifacts in addition to paper records.
1. How long have you been working at the library? 7 years total, 2 in my current position
2. What was the last book you read that you really enjoyed? Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – I could not put it down!
3. What are you watching these days? Great British Baking Show
4. Print book or ebook? Ebook
5. What superpower would you want? The ability to teleport.
6. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Night owl
The Monsignor Field Archives and Special Collections Center is the official repository for the records of the national organization that supports the United Nations, UNA-USA.
Over the past year, a student at New York University’s Archives and Public History Program, Quin de la Rosa, has been working to process the collection – organizing the contents and creating a detailed finding aid that will allow researchers from around the country to discover what materials are held here. The collection contains records from all the chapters around the country and the records of the activities of the organization itself.
Since the United States has been a strong supporter of the United Nations, the UNA-USA received significant attention from U.N. leadership, as this photograph, showing Kofi Annan, who had just been inaugurated as Secretary-General of the United Nations, meeting with UNA-USA President Bill Luers, on Feburary 17, 1999 (MSS 52, Records of the UNA-USA, Box 28, Folder 35).
The dark days of December are punctuated by the celebration of religious and cultural holidays, and festivals worldwide. At Seton Hall University there are a many ways to celebrate throughout this month. One of our most anticipated traditions is the annual Christmas tree lighting which takes place this year at 6pm on Monday, December 6th on the University Green. Christmas at The Hall includes concerts, charitable events, a cabaret and trips to Christmas markets. Check the calendar of events to see how you can participate.
The image to the left depicts the birth of Christ, celebrated each at Christmas.
This time of year is when Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated. The Jewish holiday commemorates the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire the 2nd century BCE. This year Hanukkah is celebrated November 28th through December 6th. The hanukkiah, depicted to the right, is lit nightly to celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah.
The ninth candle is known as the shamash, or helper candle, since it is used to light the other eight candles. The laws of the holiday forbid using the light of the hanukkiah for practical purposes, reserving it to celebrate the miracle.
Geeta Jayanti, the birthday of Bhagavad Gita, the sacred text of the Hindus, is celebrated this year on December 14th. It is a major festival that commemorates the preaching of Gita to Arjuna, a young warrior, and Krishna, a god acting as Arjuna’s charioteer. The image above depicts Arjuna’s moment of doubt about his role in the impending battle against adversaries who are also his cousins.
The festival is celebrated mainly in Kurukshetra, Haryana, India – a pilgrimage site believed to be the place where Krishna recited Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. Sadhus (holy men), pilgrims from across the country, and many foreigners visit Kurukshetra for Gita Jayanti.
Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration of African American culture is observed annually from December 26 through January 1. The name Kwanzaa is taken from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” meaning first fruits. Each evening during Kwanzaa, a candle is lit on the kinara, a traditional candleholder, to honor seven principles: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). The English-Swahili phrasebook below is open to a page with the translations for many foods that might be eaten during this time.
While this blog post is not exhaustive in scope, it is indicative of the diverse fabric of the community in which Seton Hall University resides as well as the rich heritage of our students, faculty and staff. The images above are but a small sampling of the variety of cultures, traditions and religions represented in the collections cared for by the Walsh Gallery and Special Collections at Seton Hall University. Students, faculty and researchers may make appointments to view materials. For access to this or other objects in our collections, complete a research request form to set up an appointment or contact us at 973-761-9476
Did you know that Seton Hall’s rare book collection contains poetry by Native American authors? There is an inscribed copy of one of the early books of the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, Joy Harjo, in Walsh Library’s Rare Book collection. The inscription reads “for Penny and Bill, in strength and in beauty.” This refers to William Higginson and his wife, who founded From Here Press in Patterson, New Jersey. Higginson, a specialist in haiku, donated his incredible collection of poetry books to Seton Hall in 2013.
An alto saxophonist and artist as well as poet, Harjo breaks boundaries in many aspects of her work. Influenced by jazz and blues as well as by her Cree heritage and poetic predecessors such as Audre Lorde, Harjo’s poetry reflects on loss, survival, and the limitations of language itself.