Donald M. Payne papers now open for research

President William J. Clinton with Congressman Payne, May 1, 2001
President William J. Clinton with Congressman Payne, May 1, 2001. mss0078_1116_01

The Donald M. Payne papers, 1988-2012, Mss 0078, are now open for research at the Archives and Special Collections Center. This collection of 53 linear feet is the collected congressional papers of Donald M. Payne, Sr., who was New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District Representative to the United States Congress from 1989-2012. Congressman Payne was New Jersey’s first African American congressional representative, and served eleven consecutive terms, passing away in 2012 during his twelfth term.

Donald Payne, Sr., was a native of Newark, N.J., and attended Seton Hall in the 1950s. A Democrat and a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congressman Payne was a leading advocate of education and human rights. He was especially active in supporting increased funding for higher education and in supporting democratic efforts in Africa, particularly in Sudan. He was a member and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and won a number of awards for his work on behalf of education, democracy, and human rights.

The Donald M. Payne papers chronicle Congressman Payne’s work  during his 23 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. Included are notes and drafts of legislation with which Congressman Payne was heavily involved, papers and photographs from his travels to Africa, research materials related to his areas of interest, and many other materials documenting his work in Congress. This collection is a rich resource for anyone interested in diplomacy and international relations, promotion of education, New Jersey and national politics, political events in Africa over the past 25 years, and the legislative process.

Head Start letter
Head Start letter, mss0078_0340_01

The collection is primarily paper documents and photographs, which are available to researchers in the Archives and Special Collections Center reading room. Advance appointments are required for the use of archival material. Also in the collection are some electronic, audio, and video materials, which are not yet available for research, due to preservation concerns. These materials came to Seton Hall University through the generosity of Congressman Payne’s family and heirs.

Please feel free to contact us with questions or to make an appointment to view this collection!

The Donald M. Payne papers come to Seton Hall

The Archives and Special Collections Center at Seton Hall University is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Donald M. Payne papers, a new manuscript collection of congressional papers from the late Donald M. Payne, a member of the United States House of Representatives from New Jersey’s 10th district from 1989-2012.

Payne papers in the A&SCC
The Payne papers in the A&SCC.

Donald Payne was born and raised in Newark, N.J., and graduated from Seton Hall University in 1957. He became the first African American Congressman from New Jersey when he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1988, and served ten consecutive terms. During his time in Congress, Representative Payne served on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Mr. Payne died in 2012 and was succeeded in Congress by his son, Donald Payne, Jr.

The Donald Payne papers document Representative Payne’s time as a congressional representative, including legislative documentation, research files, newsclippings, photographs, and audio-video recordings. About 43 linear feet of materials have been accessioned by the A&SCC, and the materials will soon be processed and made available to researchers. The A&SCC and University Libraries are very excited to have acquired this important collection of political papers and look forward to connecting this material to users. Stay tuned for more information!

Leonard Dreyfuss and New Jersey Civil Defense Display in the Archives

Currently on display in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room are items from the Leonard Dreyfuss papers, 1786-1972 (bulk 1931-1972), Mss 0001.

Leonard Dreyfuss materials on display in the Archives Reading Room
Leonard Dreyfuss materials on display in the Archives Reading Room

Leonard Dreyfuss was a resident of Newark and the city’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 1942. A businessman in advertising, Dreyfuss was also very active in war efforts on the home front during World War 2, and continued his civil defense involvement after the war.

The United States Civil Defense was a non-military organization created to prepare and educate Americans on potential military attacks. Their purpose was to create and inform civilians of evacuation plans, fallout shelters and routes, survival skills, and alerts. Local chapters of Civil Defense created newsletters, passed out pamphlets, and held demonstrations and test alerts so citizens would be prepared. Leonard Dreyfuss was heavily involved with the organization’s activities in New Jersey, particularly in Newark, and served on the Governor’s Civil Defense Advisory Committee during the 1950s.

Items on display include materials related to Civil Defense activities in New Jersey, including photographs and newsclippings, and items published or distributed by Civil Defense, including pamphlets, armbands, and a poster. These items demonstrate the kind of organized efforts made by local citizens to prepare for conflict. During the Second World War, Americans were concerned with supporting the war effort and about the possibility of the conflict suddenly coming to American soil; after the war, nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction became a major concern for most Americans. The materials on display reveal one aspect of how local people tried to address those concerns and prepare for the worst.

Leonard Dreyfuss and group next to Civil Defense Rescue Service truck, from the Leonard Dreyfuss papers, Mss 0001
Leonard Dreyfuss and group next to Civil Defense Rescue Service truck, from the Leonard Dreyfuss papers, Mss 0001

How do you see these activities and materials from the 1940s-1960s, and how does that compare to similar concerns today? How do you think people deal with fear of conflict at home, and do you think it has changed over time? View the materials on display and get a historical perspective!

These items will be on display through November, 2013. Special thanks go to Lucia Alvarez, intern at the Archives and Special Collections Center, for putting much of this display together.

Ace Alagna photographic collection: Online Finding Aid

Ace Alagna with camera.
Mss 0018: Ace Alagna with camera. 00182583

The Ace Alagna photographic collection, 1944-1998, Mss 0018, is a unique, rich resource depicting the history of Newark, the Italian American community in and around Newark, New Jersey politics, people, places, and events in beautiful black and white. This collection, which has more than 2,000 images already available online through the Ace Alagna photographs digital collection, has about 40,000 items including photographic negatives, prints, videos, and layout sheets from the Italian Tribune newspaper. Now, a finding aid describing the almost 30,000 negatives in the collection has been completed and is available online.

Ace Alagna was a photographer from Newark who worked in the White House Press Corps before buying the Italian Tribune newspaper. He edited the newspaper for almost 30 years, during which time he and the Italian Tribune were the organizers and main sponsors of the Newark Columbus Day parade. The annual parade usually had a celebrity grand marshal, often someone of Italian heritage, who would be present for the parade and attendant celebrations. Ace Alagna knew a wide a range of people in New Jersey, and traveled around the country and around the world.

Ace Alagna and Frank Sinatra at Tribune Award in Atlantic City.
Mss 0018: Ace Alagna and Frank Sinatra at Tribune Award in Atlantic City. mss0018_E0388_011

The Ace Alagna photographic collection, 1944-1998, Mss 0018, includes images of notable politicians, actors, athletes, musicians, and writers such as John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, N.J. Governors Richard Hughes and Brendan Byrne, Congressman Peter Rodino, Danny Aiello, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Phil Brito, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Piscopo, Tony Curtis, Bob Hope, and Tony LoBianco, among many others. The collection includes numerous pictures of Newark and the Columbus Day parade from the 1970s-1990s, and a large number of pictures of N.J. politicians in the state senate and assembly.

Many of the images in the collection have been scanned, and so far a small percentage of those scans are available online. There are also unprocessed portions of the collection that have not yet been described in the finding aid, particularly black and white and color prints of many of the negatives, videos related to the Columbus Day parade, and some materials that appear to be layouts for images to appear in the Italian Tribune. Materials that are not available online are available for research, with the assistance of Archives staff, at the Archives and Special Collections Center. Additional scans will be made available online in the future, as time permits, and unprocessed materials will be added to the finding aid as they are processed. Keep an eye out for more images and materials, and meanwhile, take a close look through this rich window into Newark’s history and culture!