South Orange and Seton Hall – Local Research Ties

Seton Hall has enjoyed a historical relationship with the Village of South Orange since the school established their campus within its boundaries after moving from nearby Madison in 1860.  The original land which constitutes the present-day South Orange was purchased by Robert Treat (also acknowledged as the founder of Newark) from officials of the Lenni Lenape tribe around 1666. This led to official settlement by the Brown brothers (Joseph and Thomas) who built a farmstead along the present-day South Orange Avenue by 1680 that ultimately set the stage for the development of Setonia in due course.

Over the next few centuries this area experienced steady development in terms of a resort town during the 1800s and subsequent year-round residential growth.  This was in large measure made possible when South Orange became a transportation hub for the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad as of 1869 when the area was also incorporated as South Orange Township (that originally contained present-day Maplewood before this municipality became independent) and made for a prime destination that appealed to commuters, visitors, and students from across the metropolitan area.  South Orange is also known for its distinctive gas light posts and these illuminations served a symbolic and practical purpose for both hometown citizens and those affiliated with the college.  These milestones and others have led to many joint landmarks and project building initiatives over time.

Beyond this brief overview of local history, there are many layers of research potential that bond “town and gown” together including prominent individuals, property data, shared events, and many other topics of note.  Specific examples of collections found within our repository include, but are not limited to various files related to past University Presidents, Velotto South Orange Postcard Collection, Our Lady of Sorrows Parish files, and many other examples found through our Rare Book and various manuscript-based holdings.  More information and leads can be found via our homepage-based search engine – https://archivesspace-library.shu.edu/search?q[]=south+orange&op[]=&field[]=keyword&from_year[]=&to_year[]=&filter_fields[]=repository&filter_values[]=%2Frepositories%2F2

Along with our own resource base and work in preserving historical school records within the context of the town has been a constant.  Research tools of various types are available within the University Libraries and through its book catalog, databases, and different electronic-based sites.  Specialized connections have also been made with the South Orange Public Library, South Orange Historical Preservation Society, and other organizations and individuals around the area have provided valuable research connections over the years Further details can be located within a specially created Library Reference Guide devoted to South Orange resources found within the following link – https://library.shu.edu/south-orange

For more information on resources related to Seton Hall, South Orange, and other aspects of local history please feel free to contact Alan Delozier, University Archivist via e-mail at: Alan.Delozier@shu.edu or by phone: (973) 275-2378.

WWI: A Centennial Exhibition

The first installment of our three-part series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Great War is now on display in the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives and Special Collections Center, and will remain until 31 October 2014.

This portion of the exhibit is focused on the beginning of the war, including a set of lead figurines depicting the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and a diorama of a trench which illustrates the crowded, cramped quarters that were endured by soldiers on the Western Front.

Trench closeup

In addition, there are figurines depicting early French and German uniforms, models of planes used in the war, and figurines depicting Ottoman soldiers during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.   The objects in the exhibit curated by Brianna LoSardo, Special Collections Assistant, are on loan from former history professor and Provost, Dr. Richard Connors.

Throughout the exhibit we are showcasing rare books from our Archives which contain photographs and illustrations of the war, as well as a collection of poetry written during and about the Great War. Maps and art prints complete the display.

The exhibit can be viewed any time the Walsh Library is open, in the display cases across from Walsh Gallery. It will be followed by the second installment on 1 November 2014.

50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech

Fifty years ago, on 28 August 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom marked an important step in the struggle for civil rights by African Americans, and the most famous part of the event was the speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream.” Dr. King was a Baptist minister and civil rights activist advocating non-violent demonstrations, and he represented the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the March, one of six large civil rights groups. Dr. King was already a well-known activist by the time of this speech, having been instrumental in several large boycotts and demonstrations throughout the South, but his speech came to be the lasting symbol of the event and is widely acknowledged as one of the best examples of American oratory in history. The speech lasted for 17 minutes, and the most famous lines, those beginning “I have a dream…” by which the speech came to be known, were not part of the written speech and were instead ad-libbed on the spot.

If you have never read or heard the speech in its entirety, now is the time. This compelling and moving speech helped push the civil rights movement along; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed the next year, and Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, as well. These words, so eloquent and important fifty years ago, still have the power to move.

Archives and museums often hold the important pieces surrounding an event such as this, and preserve these pieces for future generations. Read the typed speech, housed at the National Archives and Records Administration, or watch a video on Youtube. Check out some of the other events and programs put on or up by the National Archives or by the National Civil Rights Museum. Remember the words of Dr. King, and work toward the dream.