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.
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.”
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.
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.
The Archives and Special Collections Center recently acquired a small collection of Catholic Right Ephemera. Among these materials is an incomplete run of the rare Irish newspaper Fiat. Fiat was the monthly newspaper of the Maria Duce movement, which was a small ultraconservative Catholic group founded in Ireland in 1945. The group’s founder Fr. Denis Fahey was an Irish Catholic priest who was born in the village of Golden, County Tipperary, Ireland in 1883. He entered the novitiate of the Holy Ghost Fathers at the age of 17 and studied in France and Rome before returning to Ireland in 1912, where he was appointed professor of philosophy at the Senior Scholasticate of the Irish Province of the Holy Ghost Fathers at Kimmage, Dublin. Fahey is best known for his writings, which were widely distributed and controversial. He was forcefully opposed to anything he perceived as an attempt to go against God’s divine plan. Fahey was especially critical of naturalism, a philosophical viewpoint that proposes that only natural forces are at work in the world, discounting the spiritual or divine. This put him in conflict with systems that he felt promoted naturalism, including communism, Freemasonry, and Rabbinic Judaism.
The Maria Duce movement grew out of a study circle held by Fr. Fahey. There was some secrecy surrounding the group so exact membership numbers are not known, but it is estimated that at its peak it probably did not exceed one hundred members. One of the most notable activities of the Maria Duce organization was its campaign to amend Article 44 of the Irish Constitution of 1937, which recognized the “special position” of the Catholic Church in Ireland, but also recognized Jewish congregations and several Protestant groups. In his writings Fahey called for stronger recognition of the Catholic Church by the Irish Constitution, and objected to the fact that Article 44 placed it on the same level as other religions. From 1949 to 1951 Maria Duce members circulated petitions calling for the article to be amended to reflect the Catholic Church as the “one true church” of Ireland. However, the campaign was largely unsuccessful because it was not able to secure the backing of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin. The movement lost momentum after the failed campaign and Fahey’s death in 1954. In 1955 Archbishop McQuaid ordered the group to change its name as an indication that it did not have official church support. The group continued publishing Fiat into the 1970s under the name Fírinne, and eventually dissolved.
For more information about the Fiat newspapers or the Catholic Right Ephemera collection, visit the Archives or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (973)-761-9476.