The SPIRIT – An 85 Year Celebration of Catholic Poetry

First published in 1931, the earliest editions of the SPIRIT were published bi-monthly and not included verse, but also articles on the art of expression and about the Catholic Poetry Society of America in some form along with literary book reviews of interest.  This periodical was also well-cross referenced to help readers find past submissions through the Catholic Periodical Index and Catholic Bookman from its founding days forward.  Additionally, the Catholic Poetry Society of America first headquartered in New York City had chapters in many major cities across the United States.  Over its first few decades the SPIRIT was published either in black and white or maroon colored text without illustrations.

spirit, a magazine of poetry                      more than the moment poem

A swell of popularity for the SPIRIT continued onward through the 1950s-60s as shown through anthology works and maintenance of its usual format of title, poem, and author citation.  Lengths varied, but the text in some way always reflected the mission of the society and publication focus.  The editions released in 1968 would turn out to be the last with New York City as its home base.  The SPIRIT would move its operations to the campus of Seton Hall University the following year.

Spirit cover, Summer 1969          Spirit cover, volume 60, 1995Spirit cover, Australian issue

During the course of 1969, the SPIRIT underwent various changes not only with new offices, but the publication also modified its look and aesthetic to reflect the times.  Under the Editorship of David Rogers and James R. Lindroth from the Seton Hall University Department of English, the SPIRIT would continue to publish further works and also artwork related to the Catholic experience.  This also inspired a campus-wide poetic anthology entitled – Puddle Wonderful which lasted for one issue.  Otherwise, latter day changes including more colorful cover art, theme-editions, and changing font types brought a more modern appearance to the SPIRIT through the 1970s and 80s.  Recent editions of the SPIRIT continued to promote artistic writing in verse form.  Full editions were less frequently produced and came out annually by the 1990s.  They content themes remained consistent, but the graphics would go back to more basic and classical representations found in early issues along with a change of logo from the early Eagle to a Spectre to capture the visual and symbolic look of the SPIRIT.

More about the early years and a historical overview along with examples of the poetry and art can be found in the text panels and full display visible from the Archives & Special Collections Center Reading Room and adjacent hallway from January-February, 2016.  For more information please feel free to e-mail us at:, or call: (973) 275-2378.


Christmas Pageants, Pirate Preview, & Jean Shepherd – “A Christmas Story” of Setonia

Seton Hall has long built a tradition of marking the Christmas season in varied ways including observance of Advent, Midnight Mass, a live Nativity Scene and in recent years the ceremonial tree lighting have brought the community together in celebration of the season.  Among the most memorable traditions found in the early days of school history included an annual musical Christmas program(me) which showcased the theatrical talents, voices, and instrumental prowess of the student body.  Included here are examples of the entertainment fare offered to the audiences who were there to share good cheer which did not always offer traditional carols, but rather an eclectic mix of different song titles and themes designed to entertain and inspire those in attendance.

Christmas entertainment by the students of Seton Hall College         Christmas program

Interestingly, it was in 1930 and the yule-time production of “The Late Cap’t Crow” where the first documented appearance of a Pirate on the shores of Setonia came about as shown in the pages of The Setonian around four months prior to the adoption of the legendary school nickname.  Santa Claus would share space on campus with the Pirates from this time forward.

Setonian News

Over subsequent Christmas celebrations more traditional holiday-themed events took place after World War II such as traditional holiday parties, concerts, and the like would become more commonplace.  The true spirit and meaning of Christmas is timeliness for many people.  This not only present in a religious sense, but also in popular culture circles.  For example, how many of us have ever watched the movie “A Christmas Story” and saw Ralphie’s quest for the Red Ryder B-B Gun while being roundly warned – “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out Kid!”  This endearing tale is not only popular among Setonians, but also the wider world through the pen of legendary writer and raconteur Jean Shepherd who not only narrated this movie, but wrote this treatment based on his early life under the original title – “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.”  Shepherd was an author, television, and radio personality who had a popular show on W-O-R radio in New York City for a number of years between the 1950s-70s and made regular appearances on the Seton Hall campus (including a mid-December gig in 1965 as heralded below) during these years in the limelight whose time on campus are still remembered fondly by those who saw him in concert.  Please click here to listen in on Jean Shepherd announce his date at Seton Hall on 12/16/1965.

Jean Shepherd-Dec. 16; WSOU presents talk                  Shepherd to speak                       Jean Shepherd photo

Beyond the stage and regardless of the era and how the season was celebrated, Seton Hall has its own traditions in the art of holiday cheer and commemoration from Cap’t Crow to those who are writing their own “Christmas Story” at Seton Hall.

Christmas Peace wreath

The First Seton Hall Medical School & Its Roots – A Retrospective Exhibit, 1915-2015

When the announcement of plans to form a new medical school at Seton Hall became public in January of 2015 thoughts of future possibilities joined with remembrances of earlier strides in curative education opportunities on campus.  The original Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry was in operation within the walls of the Jersey City Medical Center between 1956-1965.  As the first formal medical school established in New Jersey, and one of the few Catholic university-sponsored institutions of its kind, this institution has a notable place in the annals of academic and state history.

Setonian_New Jersey welcomes opening of Seton Hall Medical-Dental College

This display traces the evolving popularity of medical inquiry and training over the past century through early course work at Seton Hall during the World War I-era with various natural science class offerings which remained a constant and helped to inspire creation of the School (and later College) of Nursing that evolved between 1937-40 and ultimately led to early attempts at developing a medical school on campus between the 1940s-50s.  Official approval was secured in 1954 and an elevated focus on health care to the community became a top priority through the development of specialized training methods, student support, and practical application which helped to sustain the school through its years of affiliation with Seton Hall.  With the closure of the College of Medicine and Dentistry in 1965 and transfer to the State of New Jersey, Seton Hall has since made additional attempts to promote medical instruction on an advanced level with the creation of a Graduate School of Medical Education in 1987 and the overall School of Health and Medical Sciences which currently sponsors this, and all related programs in the field.  The story of our second medical school remains to be written, but further information about the past and early planning objectives can be found within the article from the Setonian.

           New Jersey's first college of medicine and dentistry Seton Hall college of medicine and dentistry

Featured within this exhibit are documents and artifacts borrowed from our College of Medicine and Dentistry Collection and other materials from our University Archives and affiliated holdings.  Letters of support, operational reports, event programs, promotional publications, study aids, and various other documentation that traces the development of the school are presented chronologically and thematically to show how the first medical school was formed and what its mission entailed.

New Jersey's first medical-dental college, the Seton Hall college of medicine and dentistry

For more information about this exhibit and the research services offered through the Archives & Special Collections Center please feel free to access our homepage, or e-mail us with any specific questions or comments at:  Thank you in advance for your interest and comments.

The Presidency & Memory of John F. Kennedy, An Exhibit by Alexandra Jousset

Within the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives and Special Collections Center are a variety of valuable resources available to students and scholars alike. As a recent graduate of Seton Hall University with a major in history and minor in art history, interning in the archives proved to be one of the most engaging and educational experiences in my academic career. This experience resulted in my researching and organizing materials on President John F. Kennedy as well as his connection to Newark and more specifically Seton Hall in this exhibit.

White House invitation card, Mr. and Mrs. Seiji Ozawa

The exhibit on display this summer represents many materials pertaining to John F. Kennedy, including photographs, correspondence, books and campaign buttons. The first case illustrates President Kennedy’s career as a Senator as well as his campaign to Presidency. Some of the highlights in the first case include a replica of Kennedy’s Knights of Columbus application dated April 26, 1946. There are also a variety of rare campaign buttons and facsimile documents of invitations to the White House during Kennedy’s presidency. The exhibit also displays two rare photographs of President Kennedy with New Jersey Governor Richard J. Hughes.

John F. Kennedy photograph

The second case of the exhibit displays items that commemorate the assassination of John F Kennedy and its aftermath. Highlights in the second case include a Western Union Telegram and a record from January 19, 1964 of the service held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in honor of President Kennedy. Another key item is a book that includes the addresses from the United States Senate and House of Representatives titled Memorial Addresses in the Senate of the United States in Eulogy of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Overall the exhibit is meant to represent the variety of materials and sources on John F. Kennedy that can be found in the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives and Special Collections Center. It is important for students and the public alike to be aware of the rich resources available here.

The exhibit can be viewed on the ground floor of the Walsh Library and is open all hours the library is open. For more information on this exhibit and questions about John F. Kennedy that I discovered please feel free to e-mail me:

Exhibit on JFK in Archives Reading Room

Pomp and Circumstance, Graduation Exercises and Setonia

With the month of May comes the much awaited graduation for college seniors and the commencement ceremonies that signal the end of their Seton Hall degree earning journey.  Along with the memories of diploma receiving achievements past, the University Archives has a large number of commencement programs, photographs, and other documentation that shows the activities centering around this celebration from the inaugural exercises in 1856, the first official graduate Louis Edward Firth, AB in 1862 to the ladies and gentlemen representing the Class of 2015.  Below are a few examples of these informative program guides. Additional perspective on graduation can be found through the listing of honorary degree recipients through the years as compiled by our student volunteer Mr. Matthew Peters.

We look forward to working with you on your own commencement research exercises.  In the meantime, congratulations to all the graduates present and future!

Seton Hall College Thirteenth Annual Commencement, Wednesday June 23d, 1869.

39th Annual Commencement of Seton Hall College

Commencement Program, June 11, 1955

St. Patrick – Study Aids At Seton Hall

March is a month closely associated with Irish history by way of honoring the patron saint (who shares this designation with Brigit/Brigid and Columba) and apostle of Ireland Patrick (Pádraig), the first bishop of Armagh and Primate of Éire who lived during the 5th century A.D.  In popular and latter-day culture, the legacy of Patrick is often drawn to oft-repeated tales of his driving snakes out of Ireland, teaching the symbolism of the Holy Trinity through use of a shamrock, his walking stick growing into a tree, and the plethora of parades staged throughout the world in his honor.  By extension, Irish culture and heritage is widely recognized with the feast day of March 17th for Patrick being a source of celebration “with the wearing of the green” each year.  His popularity is secure and icons dedicated to his memory abound to the present day.

St. PatrickDelving beneath iconic depictions (many of which are modern enhancements, i.e. the wearing of a miter, holding of a crosier and the robes of high ecclesiastical office, etc.) which are most familiar, the life story of Patrick was actually one of hardship and dedication when reading various accounts of his adventures.  In brief terms, Patrick was born into poverty and enslaved as a youth.  He was able to escape his master as a young adult, make his way back to his native Britain, adopt Christianity, and migrate to the Europe continent for further study.  Patrick ultimately made his way to Ireland as a missionary where he achieved success in his work with, and on behalf of, the people he befriended and administered to during his lifetime.                 St. Patrick portrait   patrick-text

Researching the life, words, and example of Patrick has been made easier and more accessible through the works of a number of scholars from historians, theologians, philosophers, poets, artists, and others who have an interest in his legacy.  Please feel free to follow the link to learn more about Patrick (and other Saints of Ireland from Abbán moccu Corbmaic to Tigernach of Clones and many others of note) through the Archives & Special Collections Center and University Libraries information resource links.  Here are some introductory works to help you on your journey of discovery…

Irish Studies Library Guide

St. Patrick

Saints of Ireland

Homage to Patrick also exists on a hometown basis as numerous statues and structures exist in many places around the globe.  Included are those on the campus of Seton Hall University and the Archdiocese of Newark.  Most notably is the Pro-Cathedral of St. Patrick located in Newark which has a long and notable history as documented by Seton Hall faculty member Monsignor Robert Wister, Hist.Eccl.D. who wrote a detailed account of this parish and its place in local and national religious history…

St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral, Newark, New Jersey: An Historical Reflection, 1850-2000

St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral…An Artistic and Symbolic Description

St. Patrick's Pro Cathedral      St. Patrick's Cathedral, Newark NJ

Whether searching for memorials dedicated to Patrick, or for materials on the man himself, we are happy to assist with your project needs and offer additional leads alike.  In the meantime, continued success on your respective searches and Lá Fhéile Pádraig faoi mhaise duit!

Seton Hall & Women’s History Exhibit

“What does it mean socially to be a woman?”
Throughout Seton Hall’s history, women took steps to better themselves and their communities through teaching, studying, promoting university development, and participating in organizations and sports teams. Those women’s actions have defined them according to their achievements and skills. Their leadership has continued to inspire others to take initiative.
Between February and April, a series of window exhibits created by Brittany Venturella, Graduate Student in the Department of Museum Studies will explore how the social definition of women evolved in Seton Hall’s history.
The first in the series will focus on the history of Women’s Organizations at Seton Hall during the month of February.  Before women were allowed on the South Orange campus, Seton Hall University partnered with organizations dominated by female members to promote student and developmental advancement. Members of those organizations, such as The Bayley-Seton League, the Women’s Guild and Seton Junior League, worked relentlessly to provide opportunities for students through funding scholarships, to promote “good citizenship,” and to better the general community. The three organizations raised money to aid Seton Hall and its students through social events, such as card parties and balls. They also impacted society through social dialogue.
All exhibits can be viewed from the front of the Walsh Library building in the window galleries located adjacent to the Walsh Gallery.
The Seton Junior Leaguegroup photo   Communion breakfast of the Seton Junior League
For more information contact University Archives at: (973) 275-2378, or


Rare Books Reference Guide – An Introduction

The Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center has sponsored the work of information professionals who maintain a number of specialized Library Reference Guides (LibGuides) for the benefit of our research community.  These LibGuides are designed to provide an introductory navigation site to help with project leads, identify collections, and connect to related themes through the linked resources found on each site.

The latest example created outlines specific Rare Book Collections with different connections to the World Wide Web and designed to help the user learn more about the history of publishing craft and to expand their reference options connected to the Center and beyond.  This site focuses upon our major holdings which include the American Civil War, Ireland and Irish-America, Monsignor John Oesterreicher Judaeo-Christian titles along with our overall and more specialized collecting areas that await discovery.

rare book libguide

The Internet link to the Rare Book site can be found here and our full range of LibGuides can be accessed here.

Thank you in advance for your interest and usage of our LibGuides!

Communion Wafer Tongs

Did you ever think about how the Communion Wafers used at mass are created? According to church doctrine, the wafers must be made only of pure wheat flour and water. Traditionally, the dough was rolled out flat and squeezed between the two iron plates of baking tongs, such as the example from the Archives pictured below. The plates are embossed in order to separate the wafers from the rest of the dough and add decorative designs.


tongs open_blog

Originally, a parish would choose a particular baker from the community who was sanctioned to produce the communion wafers using tongs like these. Later, the task of baking the wafers was taken up by cloistered nuns, who were able to produce the wafers on a larger scale and generate income for their convents.

tongs closed_blog

Today, 80% of the wafers in the US market are baked on large scale industrial equipment by the Cavanaugh Company of Greenville, Rhode Island, which boasts that its wafers are “untouched by human hands.” Some convents also carry on the tradition, and have found other ways to compete with private industry. The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, now produce a low-gluten wafer that is safe for consumption by parishioners with Celiac disease.

We Want Willkie!!!

This was the refrain heard from the floor to rafters of Convention Hall, Philadelphia during the summer of 1940 and echoed through that autumn when the Republican Party nominated corporate lawyer and long time political booster Wendell Lewis Willkie of Indiana as their standard bearer for the upcoming presidential election of that year. Willkie (1892-1944), who never held public office was an outspoken internationalist who later became an informal ambassador-at-large for important causes including global welfare programs and civil rights most notably as outlined in his seminal work: One World(located in the Walsh Library Main Collection, Call Number: D811.5 .W495) which heralded the need for a “world government” to aid society at-large which would later come to fruition in part through the establishment of the United Nations a few years after its publication in 1944. 

Twenty-second Republican National Convention, Philadelphia 1940           Wendell Willkie photo         This man Willkie

Willkie focused his run for the White House on three primary themes which included the lack of military readiness in case of war, streamlining the “New Deal” programs of incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the never before attempted third term candidacy of a sitting president.  In the end, Willkie lost the race, but registered 22.3 million votes nationwide (more than any previous Republican candidate at this point) and won 82 electoral votes (plurality in ten states) total. 

Willkie presidential campaign

Although defeated, the successful legacy of Wendell Willkie is celebrated in the Seton Hall Archives & Special Collections Center through the availability of varied resources regarding the candidacy of this icon in American political history.  Included are a unique set of scrapbooks donated by Maplewood resident, Mr. Jack Chance who followed this election closely and documented the 1940 race through a collected series of local and national press clippings.  Famed funeral director Mr. Gerald Spatola of Newark served as a delegate from New Jersey to the 1940 G.O.P. convention and in turn left a convention book as a reminder of civic activity on a national stage.  Additionally, our political science department has collected various campaign buttons over the years and Wendell Willkie figures prominent among them and serves a tangible reminder of his candidacy seven decades ago. We Want Willkie buttonA further point of connections was made more valid and vivid during that fall of 1940 when Willkie in the midst of a national spotlight was invited to visit campus by former College President, James Kelley, but in an October 15th letter from the candidate to the chief executive of Seton Hall he wrote regrets for being unable to make his way to South Orange, but praised the work of the school in a larger context inside the following passage…

“As a mid-Westerner, I am of course not intimately familiar with Seton Hall, but I am fully aware of the splendid educational work done by the Catholic clergy at many institutions throughout the land…the College was founded by and named for collateral ancestors of President Roosevelt.  I was extremely interested to hear of the pioneer work of Bishop Bayley and Mother Seton in New Jersey.  The State and the Nation are profiting greatly from the untiring efforts of these inspired people and others like them…It is hope that the college may long be able to continue its educational and character-building endeavors, that it may never have to encounter the hatreds and oppressions which have perverted or destroyed so many similar institutions in other lands.”

Just like 1940, if you want Willkie and learn more about his life and times please feel free to make an appointment with us to explore in further depth and detail.   We can be reached by e-mail:, or by phone:  (973) 275-2378.  Thank you in advance for your interest.