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In this Rare Book, the History of Medicine Inspires Literature

A beautifully bound medical text containing the research of the pioneering 19th century physicians Drs Corvisart and Auenbrűgger was recently donated to Special Collections at Walsh Library by Anthony Valerio, a writer who used it in the research for a biography he wrote. One of the authors, Dr. Corvisart, was Napoleon I’s private physician.  Instead of joining Napoleon I’s campaign to Italy, he stayed behind and translated his predecessor Auenbrűgger’s writings from Latin to French. Auenbrűgger developed the percussive technique of physical examination, which led to the invention of the stethoscope.  His father was a merchant, and young Auenbrűgger played with his father’s wine barrels as a boy, which made different sounds according to how he drummed them, inspiring his later discovery.  These works – and the stories behind them –  inspired Valerio to write his biography depicting a similar medical breakthrough.

Valerio’s book tells the story of the Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmesweis, who did groundbreaking work in obstetrics.  In Valerio’s words, “The field of obstetrics, then, was relatively new. In Vienna’s medical school, which Semmelweis attended, it was an elective of a few months. Dr. Skoda, a famed diagnostician and internist, was Semmelweis’s mentor and teacher. Skoda taught Corvisart’s work on the heart. Upon obtaining his medical degree, Semmelweis sought a job with Skoda but one was not open. Semmelweis then trained with famed surgeon Dr. Karl von Rokitansky, who performed all autopsies in the hospital. Semmelweis obtained a degree in surgery and sought a job with Rokindansky. Again, one was not open. But an assistant’s job did open in a relatively new field,  obstetrics. Semmelweis took this job at a time when childbed fever was the scourge of Europe, the pandemic of his time, women dying of this terrible disease at alarming rates. Theories were advanced as to its cause and means of prevention. Semmelweis rejected them all. He was determined to find those causes and means of prevention—which journey I attempted to describe in detail in my book. Semmelweis did not know what he was looking for. His approach included his studies of Corvisart on the heart, Skoda’s work on palpitation,  Auenbrűgger’s work on the varied sounding of the human body with a stethoscope. Semmelweis read and researched after his daily tour of rounds, in his small room in the Vienna hospital.”

This medical text and the biography it inspired demonstrate that literature can evolve from science, just as scientific advances can be derived from childhood games.  Insight and inspiration know no disciplinary boundaries.

To see this book in person, or investigate other Special Collections materials, our Research Appointments page has details on how to proceed.

 

St. John’s Eve and Midsummer in Celtic Lore

In Ireland, the holiday of Midsummer marks the middle of summer and comes just a few days after the Summer Solstice. Much of the celebration takes place the evening before on Midsummer’s Eve, also known as St. John’s Eve. As with many Celtic celebrations, great bonfires are lit, and fairs and festivals are held to celebrate. Just like May Day, St. John’s Eve has its own stories, customs, and superstitions.

“In ancient times the sacred fire was lighted with great ceremony on Midsummer Eve; and on that night all the people of the adjacent country kept fixed watch on the western promontory of Howth, and the moment the first flash was seen from that spot the fact of ignition was announced with wild cries and cheers repeated from village to village, when all the local fires began to blaze, and Ireland was circled by a cordon of flame rising up from every hill” (Wilde, 113).

It was also a time to worship the Goddess Áine.

“…Áine, who gave her name to Knockainy hill and village in the county Limerick. She ruled, and still rules, that district as fairy queen and banshee. In the second century of our era, she cut off the ear of Ailill Oluim, King of Munster. It was on this account he was called Oluim, from “o”, and ear, and “lom”, bare; bare of one ear” (Mahon, 137).

“Aynia, deemed the most powerful fairy in Ulster, and Áine, queen of South Munster, are perhaps the same person, the mysterious and awful goddess once adored as Anu, or Danu. Of the two, it is Áine who especially seems to carry on the traditions of the older Anu, worshipped, according to the “Choice of Names”, in Munster as a goddess of prosperity and abundance. Within living memory, she was propitiated by a magical ritual upon every Saint John’s Eve, to ensure fertility during the coming year. The villagers round her sidh of Cnoc Aine (Knockainy) carried burning bunches of hay or straw upon poles to the top of the hill, and thence dispersed among the fields, waving these torches over the crops and cattle. The fairy, or goddess was held to be friendly, and, indeed, more than friendly, to men” (Squire, 245).

Another tale tells the story of a St. John’s Night were a number of girls stayed late on the Hill to watch the clairs (torches) and join in the games when suddenly “Áine appeared among them, thanked them for the honour they had done her, but said she now wished them to go home, as they wanted the hill to themselves” (Rolleston, 128).

Since “fire is the holiest of all things” many customs and superstitions surround the bonfire and included carrying off a coal, jumping and leaping through the flames forward and backwards a certain number of times, and walking “three times round a fire on St. John’s Eve, and you will be safe from disease for all that year” (Wilde, 211). These customs and superstitions were not just limited to people but could include animals. Cattle were “driven through the half-extinguished bonfire, as a preventive against witchcraft” (W. R. Wilde, 40).

As Christianity spread and Midsummer became “christianized”, dedicated by the Church to honor St. John the Baptist, certain customs and superstitions survived (O’Súilleabháin, 322). “…Baal fires were kindled as part of the ritual of sun-worship, though now they are lit in honour of St. John. The great bonfire of the year is still made on St. John’s Eve, when all the people dance round it, and every young man takes a lighted brand from the pile to bring home with him for good luck to the house” (Wilde, 113). Whether Celtic or Christian, fire was still seen as a central part of the celebration, bringing good luck just like the fires of May Day did.

 

Reference

O’Súilleabháin Seán. (1942). A handbook of irish folklore.

No online version available.

Wilde, & Wilde, W. R. (1919). Ancient legends, mystic charms & superstitions of ireland : with sketches of the irish past. Chatto & Windus.

For the online version, click here. Please note they may not be exactly the same.

Putzi, S. (Ed.). (2008). To z world superstitions & folklore : 175 countries – spirit worship, curses, mystical characters, folk tales, burial and the dead, animals, food, marriage, good luck, and more. ProQuest Ebook Central https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Wilde, W. R. (1852). Irish popular superstitions. J. McGlashan.

No online version available.

Mahon, M. P. (1919). Ireland’s fairy lore. T.J. Flynn.

For an online version, click here. Please note they may not be exactly the same.

Squire, C. (191AD). Celtic myth & legend, poetry & romance. Gresham Pub.

For the online version, click here. Please note they may not be exactly the same.

Rolleston, T. W. (1911). Myths & legends of the celtic race. G.G. Harrap.

For an online version, click here. Please note they may not be exactly the same.

Object of the Week: Benin Courtier

CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day federal troops led by General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform Texans that all enslaved people were now free. Their arrival came two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, which freed all enslaved people in Confederate states. Slavery continued in Texas during the Civil War since there was not any large-scale fighting as well as a lack of Union troops. Many slave owners even moved to Texas during that time.[1] Upon General Granger’s arrival in Galveston, there were 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.[2] Slavery was formally abolished in the United States with the ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865. Juneteenth, a combination of “June” and “19th,” is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.[3] While Juneteenth celebrations originated in Texas, which was also the first state to make it an official holiday, 47 states and Washington D.C. recognize it as a state holiday today and there is a push to make it a federal holiday as well.

Small reproduction statue of a Benin Courtier from the waist up
Benin Courtier (reproduction), Seton Hall University Teaching Collection, T2017.01.0016

In recognition of Juneteenth, the Walsh Gallery has created a teaching collection from a subset of the Seton Hall Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology Collection (SHUMAA). It is a vast collection of art and artifacts compiled by former Seton Hall Professor Herbert Kraft from a variety of world cultures. This collection in particular consists of sculptures and masks from places such as Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Nigeria, and Ghana in addition to many other countries and cultures. The statue featured above is a Benin courtier serving as an emissary to the Oba, or king, of Benin from the Ooni of Ife, the monarch of the Yoruba people. The original sculpture was cast in bronze. The Kingdom of Benin (which is different from the present-day nation state of the same name), also known as the Edo Kingdom or the Benin Empire, existed from around the 11th century CE until 1897. The kingdom was located in West Africa in what is now Nigeria. This statue, along with two other pieces from the collection, are currently on view in the window display in the Walsh Library Rotunda on the second floor. Make sure to take a look! Materials in the Teaching Collection can be utilized by students and faculty for research projects and classroom learning for object-based projects. To check out these objects, contact the Walsh Gallery at walshgallery@shu.edu or by phone at 973-275-2033.

 


[1] https://www.history.com/news/what-is-juneteenth, accessed 6/11/21.

[2] https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/historical-legacy-juneteenth, accessed 6/11/21.

[3] https://www.archives.gov/news/articles/juneteenth-original-document, accessed 6/11/21.

Object of the Week: “Immaculate Conception Seminary in Winter” by Edwin Havas

Edwin Havas
Immaculate Conception Seminary in Winter
watercolor on paper
1992
2016.11.0001
Courtesy of the Walsh Gallery

 

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHAPEL

On May 21,1863, the cornerstone of the Immaculate Conception Chapel was laid by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley – the first Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark – and nephew to Seton Hall University’s namesake, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.[1]  The chapel, designed by architect Jeremiah O’Rourke of O’Rourke & Moran, was dedicated seven years later in 1870.  O’Rourke, who immigrated from Ireland, was known in America for his design of Roman Catholic churches and institutions such as hospitals and post offices.  He designed the Cathedral Basilica of Newark, the fifth largest cathedral in North America and seat of the Archdiocese of Newark, as well as President’s Hall on the Seton Hall campus.[2]  Both the Immaculate Conception Chapel and President’s Hall are examples of Gothic Revival architecture, the preeminent style for Roman Catholic churches of the period which features pointed arches, narrow windows and elaborately carved details.[3]

Design with red, blue, green, and white
plaster wall fragment attributed to E. Erbe
c. 1870
2016.08.0001
Courtesy of the Walsh Gallery

The Immaculate Conception Chapel’s interior design was completed by J.R. Lamb.  Founded in 1857, J.R. Lamb Studios is the oldest continuously operating stained glass studio in the United States.  Originally located in Greenwich Village, New York, the studio now operates from Midland Park, New Jersey.  They continue to take new commissions as well as restoration work for historic stained glass panels.[4]  This section of plaster was preserved by the facilities staff during one of the many chapel restorations completed over the past 158 years.  The section of decorated plaster is believed to have been painted by E. Erbe, an ‘artist in oil and fresco.’[5] The fragment depicts a red, blue and gold palette with organic motifs and geometric designs typical of the period. It may reveal some of Lamb’s original design for the interior, though we cannot be sure due to lack of documentation at the time and there have been numerous interior renovations since the chapel’s 1870 dedication.[6]

This sketch by Robert Robbins for the proposed design of the side altar

Image with blue and green and a white statue
Robert Robbins
Design for Side Altar and Appointments
Painted sketch on board
1963
2016.03.0002
Courtesy of the Walsh Gallery

dates to the 1963 chapel renovation.  The color scheme from the section of fresco above was repeated in Robbins’ new design, with a blue and gold palette and red accents.  This side altar retains J.R. Lamb’s distinguishing Gothic Revival style with the pointed arches, ornate tracery and trefoil (tri-lobed) details at the top of each arch.  The trefoil is an architectural detail that is also symbolic of the Holy Trinity, fitting for a church design.

Today, the Immaculate Conception Chapel is still considered the heart of Seton Hall University.  Masses are held daily and the chapel is a popular space for weddings.  Since the chapel was built, it has been lovingly restored numerous times, the latest round of updates occurring in 2008.  The chapel contains a shrine to the university’s namesake, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, who remains a tangible presence throughout campus, particularly in this sacred space.


The Walsh Gallery has a considerable collection of fine art, artifacts and archeological specimens for use by faculty, students and researchers. For access to this or other objects in our collections, contact us at 973-275-2033 or walshgallery@shu.edu to make a research appointment. 

 

[1] https://academic.shu.edu/chapel/1863.html, accessed 5/13/2021.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremiah_O%27Rourke, accessed 5/14/2021.

[3] https://academic.shu.edu/chapel/overview.html, accessed 5/17/2021.

[4] https://lambstudios.com/stained-glass-studios/, accessed 5/17/2021.

[5] https://academic.shu.edu/chapel/1863.html, accessed 5/13/2021.

[6] https://academic.shu.edu/chapel/interior.html, accessed 5/17/2021.

Object of the Week: Portrait of Dr. Wang Fang-yu

Portrait of Dr. Wang Fang-yu in his later years
c. 1990s

MAY IS AAPI HERITAGE MONTH

               AAPI Heritage Month recognizes the contributions of generations of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent who have enriched America’s history and been instrumental to the country’s success.  Wang Fang-yu, Professor Emeritus and Chair of the Department of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University serves as an exemplar of this spirit.  Though he passed away almost 25 years ago, his efforts continue to support, promote and positively influence the study of Chinese language in the Asian Studies Program which, for over 50 years, has been recognized for its outstanding faculty and programs.[1]  A pioneer in the teaching of the Mandarin language, he was part of a team which developed the first Chinese language teaching computer system. He also wrote several books and dictionaries on the Chinese language which are available to researchers through the Seton Hall’s Department of Archives and Special Collections.[2]

In addition to establishing new methods for teaching Mandarin, Wang Fang-yu founded and curated a large and distinguished collection of Asian art and artifacts while at Seton Hall University.[3]  Along with Dr. Louis de Crenascol and Barbara (Kaufmann) Cate of the Art Department, Wang worked tirelessly to cultivate donations from some of the most distinguished private collections in the region.  He was often competing with large institutions such as the Freer Gallery in Washington D.C, but he was persuasive, ultimately establishing a collection of hundreds of objects.  The core of the collection consists of painted silk scrolls, ceramics and notable calligraphy pieces and it was the foundation of many exhibitions in the Art Center and other locations on campus prior to the building of the Walsh Gallery in 1994.  The collection includes pieces from Korea, China, Japan, The Philippines and India, as well as other Asian and Pacific Island cultures.

Image of scroll on table with woman inspecting it
“Landscape” Attributed to Chu Ta, aka Bada Shanren, 1699, 77.10.37, Wang Fang-yu Collection of Asian Art, Courtesy of the Walsh Gallery

An accomplished calligrapher in his own right, Wang’s art became the subject of exhibitions at the Walsh Gallery and numerous other venues including the Asian Society, The Newark Museum of Art, The Duke University Art Museum and E & J Frankel Gallery in New York, one of the oldest galleries in the country to specialize in Asian art.[4]   Wang was also an avid collector of artist Bada Shanren, a 17th century Chinese calligrapher and poet.   In the image above you can see Meghan Brady, Collections Assistant at the Walsh Gallery, inspecting and documenting “Landscape”, attributed to Chu Ta, a pseudonym used by the artist.  A recent exhibition at Fu Quimeng Gallery in New York City featured the work of Bada Shanren in tandem with Wang Fang-yu’s art.[5]   The exhibition also included a special section dedicated to Wang Fang-yu’s ground-breaking art authentication system which used computers and comparative analysis techniques borrowed from linguists.  The show, “Authentic or Forgery: How does a Chinese Connoisseur Work?” described how Wang’s use of computers and algorithms was way ahead of the curve in establishing the authorship of artworks.  Wang’s scholarship was further revealed in the display of his manuscripts, photographs and writings.[6]

In a recent interview at Fu Quimeng Gallery, Shao Fang described how his father’s methods of art connoisseurship were not universally accepted when they were first developed in the 1960s.[7]  People were skeptical of computers and his use of lingual theories as applied to art.  Before this time, authentication was the domain of art historians, curators and scholars whose judgments were contingent on visual observations and instincts based on extensive knowledge of a subject.  Wang Fang-yu was deeply appreciative of Seton Hall University’s embrace of his (then) unorthodox methods, which are no longer far outside of mainstream scholarship.

White porcelain prunus tree on black background
Porcelain prunus tree sculpture
Ch’ing Dynasty
Mid to late 18th century China
79.40.10
Wang Fang-yu Collection of Asian Art
Courtesy of the Walsh Gallery

Seton Hall University is celebrating AAPI Heritage Month with a series of events.  Students can vote for their favorite Asian American and Pacific Islander owned business and be entered to win a prize.   The University Libraries has created a virtual display of books to highlight the breadth, culture and creativity of AAPI books, both fiction and non-fiction.  To find other ways to participate, view the May calendar of events at Seton Hall University.

 

 

 


The Walsh Gallery has a considerable collection of fine art, artifacts and archeological specimens for use by faculty, students and researchers. For access to this or other objects in our collections, contact us at 973-275-2033 or walshgallery@shu.edu to make a research appointment. 

 

[1] https://www.shu.edu/languages-literatures-cultures/asian-studies-languages-literatures-cultures.cfm, accessed 5/10/2021.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Fangyu_Wang, accessed 5/10/2021.

[3] Typescript of the “Inventory – Wang Fang-yu Collection of Asian Art” by Dr. Lee de Crenascol, 1976, Walsh Gallery, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ, USA.

[4] http://www.allthegalleries.com/dealers/e-j-frankel-2492.html, accessed 5/10/2021.

[5] https://fuqiumeng.com/en/category/artists/fangyu-wang/, accessed 5/10/2021.

[6] https://fuqiumeng.com/en/wangfangyuexhibition/, accessed 5/10/2021.

[7] Shao Fang, gallery talk and interview with Dr. Sarah Ponichtera, Jeanne Brasile and Meghan Brady at Fu Quimeng Gallery, New York, NY, 1/31/2021.

Pomp and Circumstance Zet Forward – Commencement Exercises at Setonia

Graduation Day is a rite of passage for any senior who has fulfilled all coursework requirements necessary to earn a diploma, but this milestone is further seen as both recognition and reward for their dedication to educational achievement.  Traditionally, the annual commencement ceremony is one that is seen as a high point and celebratory event as a capstone for any academic year at Seton Hall.

There is a primary graduation exercise that typically takes place during the month of May, but the experience for each graduate is typically enhanced through related ceremonies sponsored by each individual School and College on campus.  The name of each graduate, their major and degree along with information about the rituals that are observed at each event.  These details are memorialized through the pages of commemorative program booklets are often complimented with invitation cards, event tickets, and other documentation that have made for valuable archival resources that outline these multiple observances for future generations to reference.

Seton Hall College Commencement Program, 1888

Between the founding date of Setonia in 1856 to the present day, the planning and pageantry of all commencement exercises has a noteworthy history.  Official ceremonies were held during the first few years that the campus was located in Madison through its move to South Orange.  However, it was not until 1862 when the first graduate Mr. Louis Firth started a trend for thousands of other future alumni who would ultimately earn a diploma from Seton Hall.  Printed programs of that era outlined the ceremonial aspects of each annual observance and these records show that musical and dramatic programming was a traditional feature along with the parade of those donning the gown, hood, and mortar boards which further enhanced the occasion for attendees through most of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

When it came to the choice of commencement venues over the years, the first ceremonies often took place off-campus at local Music Halls in and around nearby Newark.  With the construction of Walsh Gymnasium (re-christened the Regan Recreation Center) by 1939 this central campus locale became the new home to ceremonies over the next several years for the few hundred students (on average) who earned their Latin-inscribed diplomas each year.  Degree parchments would change over time, but most contain variations on the following wording . . .

(Latin Text): REGENTES UNIVERSITATIS SETONIANAE – Omnibus Has Litteras Lecturis – SALUTEM IN DOMINO – Testamur nos, pro factultate nobis summa Republicae Neo-Caesarienis protestate facta, unaniemi consensus provechisse – Ad gradum – Cum omnibus honoribus iuribus ac privilegis huic gradus adnexis.  Quo malor sit fedis ac testimonium plerius, has litteras communi nostro Sigillo et manu nostra muniendas curavimus.

(English Translation): THE REGENTS OF SETON HALL UNIVERSITY – TO ALL WHO READ THIS DOCUMENT – GREETINGS IN THE LORD – We testify that, with the power given to us by the supreme authority of the State of New Jersey, we have promoted to the degree of <insert> with all the honors, rights and privileges appertaining to this degree.  Wherefore, so that its authenticity may be greater and the attestation the fuller, we have undertaken to reinforce this document with our common seal and our hand.”

Notes on the 1931 Seton Hall College Commencement (75th Anniversary)

The number of degrees minted for each class would change with the large influx of students that enrolled at Seton Hall who took advantage of the GI Bill of Rights and tuition support after World War II. This resulted in a several-fold increase in the number of graduates that would increase in number from the late 1940s to the present day.

From the 1940s-50s and the succeeding decades, commencement-centered events were held on campus.  The ceremonies were usually held in the shadow of the “Atom Wall” (or other historical campus building depending upon the year and number of guests) which hosted the graduates, families, administrators, clergy, faculty, special guests, and friends who set upon the University Green.  During the mid-twentieth century with an increased number of graduates to account for and honor, multiple ceremonies were often scheduled usually a morning and afternoon session on the same day for example.  This helped with logistics such as parking and making sure that ample space on campus was available for all in attendance on particular graduation day.

1975 Commencement Exercises on the University Green at Seton Hall

Counted among the most memorable and highly publicized of individual commencement exercises came in 1983 when U.S. President Ronald Regan received an honorary degree along with artist Ms. Pearl Bailey and television executive Mr. Gary Nardino which resulted in a memorable event in Seton Hall History.

President Ronald Regan Speech at Seton Hall University – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l1IUqtJiuI

The popularity of Seton Hall commencements throughout the early-mid 1980s led to the search for a larger venue by the end of this decade.  This led the administration to book an off-campus venue which resulted in a long-term relationship with the Brendan Byrne-Meadowlands Arena (now known as the IZOD Center) in East Rutherford.  This lasted until the 2010s when the Prudential Center in Newark became the primary choice and central place for graduation exercises to this day.  Due to restrictions brought on by the Global Pandemic, the 2020 ceremony was cancelled, but has returned this year as a hybrid and multi-session event with both live and video elements alike.

Regardless of the year, the commemorative program booklets produced for each graduation ceremony show their own distinctive artwork, content, and uniqueness for those representing Seton Hall by a particular academic year.  Within the Monsignor William Noe’ Field Archives & Special Collections Center, the University Archives proper contain copies of many annual Commencement Programs dating back to the nineteenth century.  Within the pages of these guides, the names of each graduate and degree they received along with the commencement committee, marshals, order of events and individuals involved with the event including professors.  In addition, honorary degree recipients have been recorded over the years and usually give the keynote speech along with the valedictorian(s) who represent the student body.  Overall this is a day for the graduate and their families and the printed materials generated in their honor is an important part of our collection.

 

 

 

 

1971 Seton Hall University Commencement Program

In addition to programs, various literature including invitation cards, press clippings, photographs, diplomas, and other materials of note that have memorialized one of the most special days within any academic year.  From the earliest graduation paraphernalia to the inclusion of present-day resources (including multiple ceremonies due to COVID-19 precautions) through the most recent editions during May of 2021 have been documented in various ways.  For example, the following links below provide additional specific information and context in regard to various graduation events in different forms and formats including catalog links and video presentations alike . . .

Commencement – Seton Hall University (ArchiveSpace)

https://archivesspace-library.shu.edu/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&op%5B%5D=&q%5B%5D=commencement&commit=&field%5B%5D=&from_year%5B%5D=&to_year%5B%5D=

Commencement Sites (Seton Hall University Home Page) – https://www.shu.edu/search.cfm?q=commencement#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=commencement&gsc.page=1

Commencement – Seton Hall University Graduation Exercises (YouTube) – https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=seton+hall+commenccement

University History LibGuide = Honorary Degree Recipients, Yearbooks, Seton Hall Magazine, and other resources featuring Commencement-related information) –https://library.shu.edu/ld.php?content_id=13780930

1910 Seton Hall College Commencement Program

For more information on Graduation Ceremonies, Seton Hall History, and related subjects please feel free to reach out to us.  We can be contacted via e-mail at: Archives@shu.edu or by phone at: (973) 275-2378.  Thank you in advance and congratulations to all members of the Class of 2021!

Object of the Week: Flame of Abraham Award Given to Sister Rose Thering

Sister Rose’s Flame of Abraham Award
District 3, B’nai B’rith – (Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia)
24 ½” x 8 ⅛” x 7 ¼”
1975
2018.26.0002
Courtesy of the Walsh Gallery

 

REMEMBERING SISTER ROSE THERING

Fifteen year ago, the Seton Hall University community and people around the world mourned the loss of Sister Rose Thering, a tireless activist who dedicated her life to fighting antisemitism.  Sister Rose came to Seton Hall in 1968 when she was hired by Monsignor John M. Oesterreicher, founder of the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies, an innovative program that brought priests, nuns, and rabbis together in support of improved relations between the two religions.[1]  A native of Wisconsin, Sister Rose joined the Dominican Order at Saint Catherine of Siena Convent at age 16.  After taking her final vows, she began teaching grade school students in Racine.[2]  She was shocked to find that textbooks she had ordered for her pupils contained passages that were overtly against Jews and Judaism. This inspired a resolve to correct what she saw as a fundamental flaw in church teachings.  In 1961, while earning her doctoral degree at Saint Louis University, Sister Rose addressed these concerns in her dissertation which reviewed antisemitism in Catholic texts.[3]  The self-study dealt primarily with Catholic teachings about Jews and Judaism, while also emphasizing what was taught about other faiths, ethnicities and racial groups.[4]Image of Sister Rose Thering holding a metal menorah

Her pioneering work drew the attention of Bishop Augustin Bea, then a Cardinal appointed by Pope John XXIII to tend to ecumenical affairs and Christian unity initiatives.[5]  At the time, Cardinal Bea was drafting a statement to be submitted to the Second Vatican Council, convened by Pope John XXIII in 1962 to ameliorate relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world.  Sister Rose’s dissertation influenced the Cardinal’s contributions to Nostra Aetate (In Our Time), the final statement on the relationship between Catholics and Jews, which was approved by the Council in October 1965.[6]  One of the theologians with whom Cardinal Bea worked with on this document was Monsignor John M. Oesterreicher, who brought Sister Rose Thering to Seton Hall.[7] In her duties as a professor, Sister Rose continued her pursuit of understanding and cooperation among Jews, Christians and people of other religious traditions through advocacy and education.

Sister Rose traveled extensively for her work, going where she felt she was needed.  In 1974, she presented a menorah to Pope Paul VI at the Vatican. In 1986, she went to Austria to protest the inauguration of President Kurt Waldheim, the former United Nations secretary general, who had served in a Nazi army unit implicated in the deportation of Jews from Greece in World War II. In 1987, she went to the Soviet Union to protest the government’s treatment of Russian Jews. [8] In 1994, Sister Rose was appointed by New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean to help draft a law that would require Holocaust education in all the state’s elementary and high schools.[9]

Sister Rose Thering’s advocacy earned her many awards and recognitions, including the above statuette awarded by B’nai B’rith in 1975. In 2004, a documentary of her life and work titled Sister Rose’s Passion received an award at the Tribeca Film Festival and was later nominated for an Academy Award.  That same year, Thering received the Anti-Defamation League’s Cardinal Bea Interfaith Award, the first woman to receive this honor.[10]  Between 1970 and her time of retirement in 2005, Sister Rose organized and led 54 tours of Israel. She believed in building bridges and the importance of learning about Jews, Judaism, and the State of Israel.[11]  Sister Rose Thering passed away at her convent, The Siena Center of the Racine Dominicans in Wisconsin, on May 6, 2006.  Her work continues at Seton Hall University, home of the Sister Rose Thering Fund which has awarded over 350 scholarships to date to students in the graduate program of Jewish-Christian Studies in the Department of Religion studying the Holocaust and related subjects.[12]


The Walsh Gallery has a considerable collection of fine art, artifacts and archeological specimens for use by faculty, students and researchers. For access to this or other objects in our collections, contact us at 973-275-2033 or walshgallery@shu.edu to make a research appointment. 

 

 

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/08/nyregion/08thering.html, accessed 5/3/2021.

[2] https://www.shu.edu/sister-rose/upload/SR_Commemorative_Service.pdf, accessed 5/3/2021.

[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Thering, accessed 5/3/2021.

[4] https://site8.auth.shu.commonspotcloud.com/sister-rose/about-sister-rose.cfm, accessed 5/3/2021.

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustin_Bea, accessed 5/3/2021.

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nostra_aetate, accessed 5/3/2021.

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/08/nyregion/08thering.html, accessed 5/3/2021.

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/08/nyregion/08thering.html, accessed 5/3/2021.

[9] https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/research_sites/cjl/texts/cjrelations/news/thering_tribute.htm, accessed 5/3/2021.

[10] https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/research_sites/cjl/texts/cjrelations/news/thering_tribute.htm, accessed 5/3/2021.

[11] https://www.holyangels.org/about-us/press-releases/aha-president-will-lead-board-of-sister-rose-thering-fund, accessed 5/3/2021.

[12] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/08/nyregion/08thering.html, accessed 5/3/2021.

May Day in Celtic Lore

May Day Eve and May Day

Lá Bealtaine in Irish, or “Belltaine or May Day took its name, i.e., bel-tene, lucky fire” is a celebration of summer (Joyce, 290). May Day Eve and May Day are traditionally celebrated with great bonfires along with fairs and festivals. This day also marks the occurrence of a shriek due to the Red Dragon of Britain being attacked by the White Dragon of the Saxons.

May Day marked “the great feast of Bel, or the Sun”, a time when the “Druids lit the Baal-Tinne, the holy, goodly fire of Baal, the Sun-god, and they drove the cattle on a path made between two fires, and singed them with the flame of a lighted torch, and sometimes they cut them to spill blood, and then burnt the blood as a sacred offering to the Sun-god” (Wilde, 102).

While the Druids saw Bel as a god, Reverend Michael P. Mahon describes Bel as being promiscuously written “Bial and Beal, and supposed to be the “Beel” in the Hebrew word Beelzebub, is a semitic word that would give the idea of a supreme god or a supreme demon” (Mahon, 195).

According to ancient Druid practices all domestic fires were extinguished and relit by the sacred fire taken from the temples and it was “sacrilege to have any fire kindled except from the holy alter flame” (Wilde, 102). It was said that while the sacred fire was burning “no other should be kindled in the country all round, on pain of death” (Joyce, 290).

However, St. Patrick was “determined to break down the power of the Druids; and, therefore, in defiance of their laws, he had a great fire lit on May Eve, when he celebrated the paschal mysteries; and henceforth Easter, or the Feast of the Resurrection, took place of the Baal festival” (Wilde, 102). Thus Christianity started to take root but still boasted similar traditions, customs, and superstitions, just without sacrifice and death. One such superstition talks about fires going out on May Day, stating that:

“If the fires go out on May morning it is considered very unlucky, and it cannot be re-kindled except by a lighted sod brought from the priest’s house. And the ashes of this blessed turf are afterwards sprinkled on the floor and the threshold of the house” (Wilde, 106).

Which is similar to the Druids practice of extinguishing domestic fires and only relighting them from the sacred fire, the holy alter flame, taken from the temples.

And where “Baal fires were originally used for human sacrifices and burnt-offerings of the first-fruits of the cattle”, they were being used “for purification from sin, and as a safeguard against power of the devil” (Wilde, 102). Even with Christianity established people have learned that May Day celebrations are “a survival of the ancient pagan rite” along with certain customs and superstitions (Mahon, 197).

Such as believing that fairies have great power during May Day and children, cattle, milk, and butter must be guarded from their influence. Other customs and superstitions say:

“It is not safe to go on the water the first Monday in May” (Wilde, 106)

“Finishing a cup of nettle soup on May 1 (May Day) prevents rheumatism for a year” (Putzi, 195).

“…the men, women, and children, for the same reason, pass through, or leap over, the sacred fires, and the cattle are driven through the flames of the burning straw on the 1st of May” (W. R. Wilde, 39)

“The fire was of the greatest importance in house in Ireland. People were unwilling to allow it to die out or to lend a fire-coal. They were especially careful of the fire on May Day” (O’Súilleabháin, 334)

“…spent coal must be put under the churn, and another under the cradle; the primroses must be scattered before the door, for the fairies cannot pass the flowers” (Wilde, 102)

“All herbs pulled on May Day Eve have a sacred healing power, if pulled in the name of the Holy Trinity; but if in the name of Satan, they work evil” (Wilde, 184)

While Christianity became more popular and practiced, old time Druid traditions can still be seen. May Day Eve and May Day, as with many other holidays that are celebrated, is a mix of traditions and customs, creating something that is unique and enjoyed by all.

 

Reference

Joyce, P. W. (1903). A social history of ancient ireland : treating of the government, military system, and law ; religion, learning, and art ; trades, industries, and commerce ; manners, customs, and domestic life, of the ancient irish people. Longmans, Green.

For the online version, click here. Please note they may not be exactly the same.

Wilde, & Wilde, W. R. (1919). Ancient legends, mystic charms & superstitions of ireland : with sketches of the irish past. Chatto & Windus.

For the online version, click here. Please note they may not be exactly the same.

Mahon, M. P. (1919). Ireland’s fairy lore. T.J. Flynn.

For an online version, click here. Please note they may not be exactly the same.

Putzi, S. (Ed.). (2008). To z world superstitions & folklore : 175 countries – spirit worship, curses, mystical characters, folk tales, burial and the dead, animals, food, marriage, good luck, and more. ProQuest Ebook Central https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Wilde, W. R. (1852). Irish popular superstitions. J. McGlashan.

No online version available.

Squire, C. (191AD). Celtic myth & legend, poetry & romance. Gresham Pub.

For the online version, click here. Please note they may not be exactly the same.

O’Súilleabháin Seán. (1942). A handbook of irish folklore.

No online version available.

Object of the Week: “Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and their Show” Poster

Poster – Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and their Show
Seton Hall University, 1966
Student Life Vertical Files – Arts & Music, Music Programs 1949 – 1987
RG#10.3.4.4
Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections

 

APRIL IS JAZZ APPRECIATION MONTH

            On the evening of Saturday October 22, 1966, jazz giants Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington performed at Seton Hall University’s Student Center.[1]  Fitzgerald, one of America’s pre-eminent jazz vocalists, was widely recognized for her versatility, but especially for her scat singing style which she explains as:  “I just tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing.”[2]  Scatting is an improvised vocal style incorporating exuberant outbursts in play with the musicians.[3]  Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was a distinguished composer, pianist and band leader whose career, like Fitzgerald’s, spanned more than six decades.  He was noted for his inventive use of the orchestra.[4]   Ellington, a known perfectionist with a theatrical stage presence and flair for fashion, insisted on playing the accompaniments to Fitzgerald flawlessly.  His admiration for Fitzgerald is evinced in his humble quip, “With Ella up-front, you’ve got to play better than your best.”[5]

Ellington and Fitzgerald first met in the mid-1930s when she was performing at Harlem’s legendary Savoy Ballroom.[6]  They began a decades-long friendship that led to numerous collaborations, recording sessions, and performances, including the series of concert dates with a show at Seton Hall University.  In 1956, the duo teamed up in the studio to record Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book.  These landmark sessions were released on vinyl in 1957 and featured musical back-up by Ellington and jazz stars like Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Ben Webster, Oscar Peterson, Billy Strayhorn and Johnny Hodges.[7]  The video below of Ella and Duke performing was captured in 1965, just one year prior to their engagement at Seton Hall and shows what audiences might have experienced that Saturday evening in 1966.


Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965.

Today, Seton Hall University continues to recognize and support excellence in this uniquely American art form which was created from a fusion of African and European musical and cultural traditions.[8]  Student groups such as The Seton Hall Jazz Ensemble offer opportunities to rehearse and perform in a variety of styles while the Seton Notes, a co-ed a capella group, performs a diverse repertoire which includes jazz and hip-hop, a musical offshoot of jazz.[9]  The University Arts Council and the College of Communication and the Arts also hosts a popular series of concerts known as their Jazz ‘n the Hall.  This year during Jazz Appreciation Month, Lionel Hampton Big Band performed yet again for Seton Hall University by popular demand, though this time virtually.[10]

 


The images and materials shown here are but a small part of the vast patrimony available to students, faculty and researchers.  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. 

 

[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=B9b-fWBgzVQC&pg=PA300&lpg=PA300&dq=ella+fitzgerald+at+seton+hall+university&source=bl&ots=-b1vh5Y0V1&sig=ACfU3U0R13fHwcY61hqTSI8UKoN__6nFPA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjegc-a1Y3wAhVBM1kFHSexCB4Q6AEwGnoECA4QAw#v=onepage&q=ella%20fitzgerald%20at%20seton%20hall%20university&f=false\, accessed 4/22/2021.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ella_Fitzgerald#cite_note-cnn-19, accessed 4/22/2021.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scat_singing, accessed 4/27/2021.

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Ellington, accessed 4/27/2021.

[5] https://www.jazziz.com/ella-fitzgerald-duke-ellington-story-friendship/, accessed 4/27/2021.

[6] https://www.jazziz.com/ella-fitzgerald-duke-ellington-story-friendship/, accessed 4/22/2021.

[7] https://www.amazon.com/Ella-Fitzgerald-Sings-Ellington-Songbook/dp/B00000HYIC, accessed 4/27/2021.

[8] https://collegian.csufresno.edu/2011/11/jazz-america%E2%80%99s-original-art-form/#.YIhoFLVKhPY, accessed 4/27/2021.

[9] https://jazztimes.com/archives/where-jazz-meets-hip-hop/, accessed 4/27/2021.

[10] https://www.sopacnow.org/events/lionel-hampton-big-band-2021/, accessed 4/27/2021.

Call for Fellows: Data Visualizations Using the D’Argenio Collection

CALL FOR FELLOWS

Seton Hall University – University Libraries (Fall 2021)

Application Deadline: July 15, 2021

Fellowship Period: Fall 2021

Background

Roman coin fellowship graphicSeton Hall University Libraries support excellence in academic and individual work, enable inquiry, foster intellectual and ethical integrity and respect for diverse points of view through user-focused services and robust collections as the intellectual and cultural heart of the University.  Walsh Gallery, based in the Library, manages the University’s museum collections, and the Library’s Data Services division assists the University community in managing and presenting their data.

One of Seton Hall University’s most distinguished collections, the D’Argenio Collection of Coins and Antiquities, includes coins of ancient Greece, the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire and Byzantium as well as a small collection of related Byzantine and Etruscan artifacts: oil lamps, game pieces, weights and terra cotta figurines. Donor Ron D’Argenio became interested in ancient coins when taking courses in Greek drama and history as an undergraduate at Fordham University in the 1970’s. In 2001, he generously donated his collection to Seton Hall University in memory of his father, Rinaldo J. D’Argenio, who served in World War II and was awarded a Bronze Star for his valor. Ron D’Argenio is a practicing attorney working in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. The collection is available for study and research by students and scholars.

Data Services offers consultations to SHU community members assisting them with every stage of a data project from conceptualization, to choosing tools, to data analysis, to sharing results.  Find more on the tools supported here: https://library.shu.edu/data-services.

Request for Proposals

The University Libraries seeks fellowship proposals using the Ron D’Argenio Collection as the basis for projects in the following two areas:

  • Classics, Art History or History : a scholar from one of these fields, a related field or interdisciplinary scholar who would be able to analyze the collection in its historical context and add to our knowledge of the objects.
  • Data Visualization: a specialist in data visualization, who would be able to create – in conversation with the humanities scholar (above) – an interactive visual representation of the collection that would allow users to explore the objects by interpreting and presenting the data in a number of ways (see all the coins within a certain date range, or all coins from a particular region, for example).

Specialists who have at minimum completed all coursework for the the terminal degree in their area are invited to propose research projects that fall under one or both of the above areas. Preference will go to the strongest applications that are both feasible for this collection and our technology infrastructure. All projects should incorporate the Ron D’Argenio Collection of Coins and Antiquities.  The final product for the Classics/Art History/History scholar would take the form of a short (5-7 page) written report interpreting the collection which would additionally be shared with the University community as an article or lecture.  The Data Visualization scholar would be responsible for producing a data visualization project which would be publicly presented on the University Libraries website and the process of creation described in an article or lecture.  Beyond the duration of the fellowship, the work of both fellows will inform future initiatives with the collection.

You can view a small portion of the Ron D’Argenio Collection of Coins and Antiquities on our Google Arts and Culture page or you may make a research appointment to gather additional data and/or view the collection by contacting us at walshgallery@shu.edu or 973-275-2033.

Terms/Eligibility for Fellowships

Scholars who at minimum have completed all coursework for the terminal degree in their field may apply.  Work can be performed remotely for the most part.  Access to the collections on site is conducted in a socially distanced environment compliant with all recommendations aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.  The University Libraries will provide each fellow with access to its library databases and resources, accounts in and support for the data software available, an email address and access to Microsoft Teams software for collaboration and Sharepoint for storage space.  Fellows will be expected to give a presentation or write an article on their project to share with the University community by the fall of 2022.

Fellows will be paid a stipend of $2500 for projects that focus on one of the two areas.  Half will be paid on award, half on project completion.  Applicants may propose a project that incorporates both Classical scholarship and data visualization for a combined $5000 to be disbursed in the same way.

Procedures

Submit a single pdf including the following components as an email attachment to library@shu.edu :

  • an application cover sheet (which includes your name, project title, contact information and a short bio.
  • a two-page statement (roughly 500 words), describing your research project and its relation to the Ron D’Argenio Collection of Coins and Antiquities, in which you explain how it fits into your past research (if applicable) and future plans.
  • a curriculum vitae
  • a recent example of scholarship

Notifications

Submissions must be received by July 15, 2021.  Applicants will be notified by September 1, 2021.  Research should take place in the fall of 2021, and the project results (written work or data visualization) completed by May 31, 2022.  The lecture or article on the project should take place in the spring or fall of 2022.  Please contact Sarah Ponichtera, Assistant Dean of Special Collections and the Gallery at sarah.ponichtera@shu .edu with any questions.