150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Civil War materials in the Archives and Special Collections Center

150 years ago, the country was deeply embroiled in war. The American Civil War began when seven Southern states (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas) seceded from the Union. After fighting began in April of 1861, four more Southern states (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina) joined the Confederate States of America in fighting the United States of America, leading to the bloodiest conflict in American history. The issue of slavery was at the heart of Southern secession, driving questions of states’ rights verses federal rights and the vast economic differences between North and South. Ultimately, the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States on a platform that emphasized abolitionist politics literally divided the nation.

On 22 September 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing enslaved people in the Confederate States. This did not officially end slavery by law (the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution did that, in 1865), but it was an important first step that emphasized ending slavery as a goal of the war and freed enslaved people in the Confederacy as the Union Army advanced. After four horrific years of fighting, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on 9 April, 1865. The war ended and the Confederacy dissolved; slavery had ended. But there yet remained a long struggle for economic recovery in the South, and although slavery was now officially over, African Americans were denied equal rights and the protection of the law in most of the country. Issues of civil rights and race relations, as well as how this nation governs itself, continue to be debated, and the events and politics of the Civil War still shape our world today.

In the Monsignor William Noe Field Archives and Special Collections Center, we have several collections that deal directly or indirectly with the history of the Civil War. Highlighted below are Rare Book materials, the Seton Jevons family papers, the Salt family letters, and the Confederate States of America Treasury bond.

Four book collections, totaling almost 2,500 volumes, focus on secondary sources analyzing and interpreting the conflict, its causes, its characters, and its impact. The Reverent Pierce Byrne Civil War collection, the Gerald Murphy Civil War collection, and the Schoch Family Civil War collection include numerous books on a wide variety of Civil War topics, while the Julius C. Landeheim Lincoln collection includes books and print materials on the 16th President.

Several note-worthy books from the period immediately following the war are in these collections, including John Abbott’s The history of the Civil War in America and Joel Headley’s The great rebellion; a history of the civil war in the United States, both published in 1866. The Byrne collection includes multiple issues of Harper’s Weekly, which gave detailed accounts of the battles and events of the war, often accompanied by woodcut illustrations. The Gerald Murphy collection includes a medal bearing the likeness of Ulysses S. Grant and a facsimile of the original document commonly known as the Treaty of Appomattox, written by Ulysses S. Grant on 9 April 1865 and detailing the terms of the surrender of Robert E. Lee. The Landeheim collection includes early Lincoln biographies by Ward Lamon, Life of Abraham Lincoln from 1872, and William Henry Herndon and Jesse William Weik, Herndon’s Lincoln from 1889.

The Seton Jevons family papers is an extensive collection of archival material including family letters discussing the Civil War and its impact. Two Seton brothers, William Seton, Jr. and Henry Seton, both grand-children of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, fought in the Civil War on the Union side. William Seton, Jr. was a captain in the 4th New York Volunteers and Henry was also a captain. The collection includes correspondence between William Seton, Jr. and his parents and sisters during the war, as well as letters between two members of the Jevons family, Thomas and William, who lived in England at the time. Thomas Jevons later married Isabel Seton, sister to William Jr. and Henry and another grandchild of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. In the correspondence of the Seton brothers, William Jr. and Henry, there are notes and letters from enlisted men and fellow officers requesting leave or discussing business, as well as from each other and family members. William Jr. was injured in combat in 1862, and several letters refer to the effects of this injury. The Jevons brothers, William Stanley and Thomas, were living in England but wrote frequently to each other and discussed the events in America as news of the day. They had differing opinions on the possible outcome of the war, and neither seemed to think very highly of the United States government in general: William S. wrote in a letter dated 5 August 1861, possibly reacting to news of the Battle of Bull Run, “I had no doubt and do not now doubt that the North have the physical power sufficient to win ultimately, but it might take ten years or so, something in the style of English wars, and you may judge what chance there is of Yankees remaining of one mind for 10 years.” Six months later, on 12 February 1862, Henry wrote, “… though I think that we have hardly realized what a blow the rebellion is to the Northerners, yet I cannot but believe it is a lesson that will do them immense good, and that instead of one immoral badly governed country, we may within the next fifty years have two tolerably respectable communities.” While they both turned out to be incorrect in the details of their predictions, their opinions offer unique insight into foreign perspectives on the war. Several of these letters are in the process of being digitized, while some images from the collection are already online, including this photograph that includes Thomas E. Jevons and Isabel Seton Jevons.

A newly processed collection of family letters, the Salt family letters, gives a different first-hand look at life during the Civil War. William Salt, Jr. was teaching school in an Army fort in Arkansas at the outbreak of the conflict, and he wrote his sister to describe the events surrounding the transfer of the fort from Union to Confederate control. We know that Salt, a New York native who later became Father William Salt, a teacher and administrator at Seton Hall College, was conscripted into the Confederate Army and served for some time before making his way home to family in New York on foot; the collection of letters does not directly document this period of his life, but the letters describing Arkansas at the start of the war are detailed. Other members of the family, living primarily in New York at the time, discuss life continuing on despite the conflict, and mention in passing history-altering events. A cousin of the Salts, Elinor Gustin, comments at the end of one letter full of family updates, including where several male relatives are stationed: “These are awful times, who of us ever expected to see such a state of affairs in our once glorious country.” She then mentions the “great excitement” caused by the Emancipation Proclamation before calmly reminding her cousin to write back. Several of these letters (but by no means all) have been digitized, and while the majority of the collection dates from the post-war years, these first-hand accounts of life during the war paint sharply different pictures of North and South.

Another unique item dating from the Civil War is the Confederate Treasury bond, discovered at Seton Hall in 2003. The bond was issued by the Confederate Treasury in February 1864, one of the last group of bonds to be issued by the increasingly desperate Confederate government as it attempted everything possible to continue funding a war that was going very badly. Issued for $1,000, the bond was for a period of thirty years and would have allowed the collection of thirty dollars ($30) in interest every six months. Interestingly, the first two interest coupons are missing, suggesting that whoever purchased the bond was living in the South at the time. The exact provenance of the bond is unknown, but was discovered in a safe in the Office of the President; given that it seems extremely unlikely that the President of Seton Hall College (Reverend Bernard J. McQuaid was President from 1859-1868) would or could have purchased the bond, it was most likely stored there for safe-keeping years later, before the Archives were formed, and then forgotten. This item has not yet been digitized.

Of course, even the items listed here have more information to share, and there is plenty of additional material to explore in the Archives. After 150 years, there is still a great deal to learn about and from the Civil War and how it has shaped our nation. To start your exploration, email us, call us, or make an appointment to view materials in person. And don’t forget to check out the ever-growing Digital Archives and Special Collections Center!

Introducing the Digital Field Archives and Special Collections Center

The Monsignor William Noe Field Archives and Special Collections Center is pleased to announce a new digital collection: the Digital Field Archives and Special Collections Center. This broad new collection of digital objects will include representative images from a number of our Manuscript, Seton Hall University, and Archdiocese of Newark collections. As part of the A&SCC’s efforts to provide more digital images and items from a wider range of collections, this digital collection will be added to regularly with diverse items representing many individuals, families, communities, subjects, and historical periods that can be found in the materials here on the first floor of Walsh Library.

Currently included in the Digital Field A&SCC are items from the Seton Jevons family papers (Mss 0005 finding aid), the Salt family letters (Mss 0035 finding aid), and the W. Paul Stillman papers (Mss 0011 finding aid). These materials include family letters, photographs, a telegram, and an envelope advertising Merchant’s Gargling Oil Liniment, a topical treatment “for man or beast” in use during the 19th century. Soon to be added to the Digital Field A&SCC will be business correspondence and early 20th century records of men’s and women’s Catholic organizations, as well as additional materials to be selected as new collections are processed.

From the collection homepage, you can search for specific items or keywords in the search bar at the top of the page, or click Browse All to view all items currently available in the collection. Be sure to bookmark the Digital Field Archives and Special Collections site, or subscribe to the RSS for regular updates as new items are added!

Our Online Finding Aids Get a Face Lift

Here at the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center we have many wonderful archival collections containing a vast assemblage of historical artifacts, images, documents, and information. As part of our continuing efforts to make these resources more easily and readily available, we are working hard on making the descriptions of these materials easier to find and use. Finding aids for archival collections, the basic descriptions of and guides to the materials in collections, are now available as standalone web pages, available from our Online Finding Aids page.

The Online Finding Aids page will have a continually updated list of all the collection finding aids currently available as webpages, listed by the collection number and grouped by Manuscript Collections, Seton Hall University Collections, and Archdiocese of Newark Collections. To view the finding aid for a given collection, simply click on the link in the collection title. The finding aid for that collection will include information about the creator(s) of the collection, the types of materials the collection includes, and subjects covered by the collection. Use the navigation menu on the left side of the page for easier use of the finding aid, or use the command Control F to search for keywords.

Previously, our online finding aids were available through our Digital Collections site, via the Archives and Special Collections Finding Aids page. These finding aids will continue to be available, until they too can be updated.

Because finding aids are descriptions of the materials, they do not include digitized materials; to view the collections and materials described on this site, come visit the Archives and Special Collections Center in person (see our homepage for more information), or explore our Digital Collections. And keep an eye on this site for further developments!

Immaculate Conception Seminary History Presentation

wisterPlease join us on Wednesday, April 13th 2011 at 3:00 p.m. in the Dean’s Suite of Walsh Library to celebrate the  publication of the sesquicentennial history of the Immaculate Conception Seminary entitled:  Stewards of the Mysteries of God: Immaculate Conception Seminary, 1860 – 2010.  Author Monsignor Robert James Wister has provided a detailed and well-written historical treatment of the events, individuals and spirituality that has marked the growth and marvel that is the Immaculate Conception Seminary.

Monsignor Wister will deliver a slide presentation with images and excerpts from this volume and books will be available for purchase and to be signed personally by the author.

This event is Free of Charge and Open to the Public.  Light refreshments will be served.

For more information contact Alan Delozier, University Archivist at (973) 275-2378, or via e-mail at:  Alan.Delozier@shu.edu

BOOK DETAILS SESQUICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF UNIVERSITY’S IMMACUALTE CONCEPTION SEMINARY

Author captures events, individuals and spirituality that have marked the growth

(South Orange, NJ) – On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, Monsignor Robert James Wister will mark the publication of his new book, Stewards of the Mysteries of God: Immaculate Conception Seminary, 1860 – 2010, with a signing in the Dean’s Suite of Walsh Library at 3 p.m.

With this new narrative, Wister has provided a detailed, scrupulously researched and well-written historical treatment of the University’s Immaculate Conception Seminary.

“The story of the Seminary is a fascinating study of the religious, political, social, and ethnic history of New Jersey,” says Wister. “No aspect of regional or local history has failed to have an impact on the Seminary, and through its graduates, the Seminary has had a great and positive effect on society in general.”

The major seminary of the Archdiocese of Newark is currently in the midst of celebrating 150 years of forming priests for God’s people, with Sesquicentennial festivities continuing through December 2011. For a complete list of dates and events, visit theology.shu.edu.

“We are approaching a great time in the history of Immaculate Conception Seminary,” says Monsignor Robert Coleman, Rector and Dean. “As one of the very few seminaries founded before the Civil War which continues to serve the Church’s mission today, we rejoice in the great history of these 150 years and are filled with hope and confidence for a future of continued growth and service.”

Founded in 1860 by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, Immaculate Conception Seminary was first known by many as the “Diocesan Seminary” and the “Ecclesiastical Seminary.” A staple of Seton Hall College, its first class consisted of nine enrolled seminarians. Today, its rich and diverse student body represents such countries as Nigeria, Poland, Nicaragua and the United States. Its various academic offerings include a Master of Arts in Theology and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, in addition to its Master of Divinity. In 2007, the Seminary also added a Bachelor of Arts in Catholic Theology to its repertoire, which enrolled 95 students as of last fall.

Though Immaculate Conception Seminary continues to evolve over the passing years, its core focus remains unchanged: to provide the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation needed for priests to serve the Catholic Church.

“It is important to recognize that in the midst of so many challenges in the life of the Church, that the Seminary is a strong and healthy institution that will contribute to moving the Church forward, and bringing God’s Kingdom into the hearts of more people,” says Wister.

During the event, Wister will deliver a slide presentation with images and excerpts from this volume, and copies of the book will be available for purchase and autographs. Light refreshments will be served.

The event is free, and is open to the University community, as well as the general public. For more information, please contact

About Seton Hall University

For 154 years, Seton Hall University has been a catalyst for leadership, developing the whole student, mind, heart and spirit. Seton Hall combines the resources of a large university with the personal attention of a small liberal arts college. Its attractive suburban campus is only 14 miles by train, bus or car to New York City, with the wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities the city offers. Seton Hall is a Catholic university that embraces students of all races and religions, challenging each other to better the world through integrity, compassion, and a commitment to serving others. For more information, visit the University’s website.

Salt Letters Home To Setonia

Father William SaltHandwritten letter from the Salt collectionHandwritten letter from the Salt collection

The Seton Hall University Libraries is proud to announce the acquisition of the Father William Salt Letters.  This large collection of approximately 500 original letters (along with a small amount of ephemera) from the estate of Father William Salt (1837-1890), Catholic priest and renowned figure at Seton Hall University will be housed in the Archives & Special Collections Center and made available to researchers upon request.  The letters date from 1808-1901, with the majority from 1840-1880. Approximately 140 of the letters were written by Father Salt with the balance written by members of his family. These letters were consolidated into a single collection by Mr. Jim Martin, a history expert and resident of Bath, New York, which coincidentally is where Father Salt was raised during the mid-nineteenth century.

William Salt was born in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest of nine children.  His parents were Baptists, but Father Salt joined the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1859, when he also decided to enter the ministry. He later taught at a parish school in Van Buren, Arkansas, and letters from the 1860-61 period provide details of the many events during this important period in American history.  One of these letters is an illuminating narrative of the Confederate occupation of Ft. Smith during the early days of the Civil War. These Arkansas-era letters show that the Reverend Salt’s sympathies rested with the Confederate cause. Additional Civil War-era letters exist from his family members, including one from his sister Elinor discussing the Emancipation Proclamation.  On the advice of his Bishop he entered the Theological Seminary at Camden, South Carolina, in 1861 from which he was drafted into the Confederate army, and served for nearly three years. He eventually made the journey home to Bath on foot, where he was ordained a deacon and assigned to a local church in Sodus Point, New York.

Later letters include Father Salt’s time in Sodus Point, a letter to his father announcing his conversion to Catholicism, descriptions of his studies in Rome, Italy, and a great many letters from Seton Hall University, with early stationery and envelopes dating from shortly after the school was founded in 1856.  Father Salt studied philosophy at Seton Hall, and was sent to study at American College in Rome, until his health failed and he was obliged to return to New Jersey before completing his theological studies. He returned to Seton Hall, continued his course of studies and was ordained a priest on June 3, 1871.  Soon after ordination he was appointed Professor of Logic at the school and held various positions at the school throughout his career until he retired in 1889.  He passed away on Oct. 7, 1890, and was buried from Seton Hall Chapel.  Father Salt’s remains were laid to rest, as he had requested, in the Cemetery of the Holy Sepulchre in East Orange.

Overall this collection provides a rare and detailed perspective on the life of an important Seton Hall pioneer.

For more information please contact:

Alan Delozier
University Archivist
Alan.Delozier@shu.edu
(973) 275-2378

News from Archives & Special Collections

*  The first set of cataloged books from the recently acquired John Concannon Irish Collection are available for research request via the Archives & Special Collections Center.  Mr. Concannon previously served as the National Historian for the Ancient Order of Hibernians and a freelance writer for various newspapers and magazines including the Irish Echo, Newsweek and others.  More information on individual titles is available via our library catalog.

*  The New Jersey Catholic Historical Commission which is headquartered in the Archives & Special Collections Center has a new Facebook page for view and posting of ideas related to Church History in the Garden State.

*  Updates have been made to the display cases in the hallway adjacent to the Walsh Gymnasium within the Seton Hall Recreation Center which features historical memorabilia, images and text from the Archives & Special Collections.  These exhibits can be viewed during operational hours for the Recreation Center located across from Walsh Library.

*  Starting Tuesday, September 7th, the Archives & Special Collections Center will go back to its traditional semester hours of operation:  Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00-5:00 p.m.  We welcome the chance to help you with your research projects throughout the fall semester and beyond.