Walsh Gallery Receives Donation of African Art and Artifacts

Donor Richard Stern (L) and Gallery Director Jeanne Brasile (R) with some of the African sculptures donated to Seton Hall University

Retired Seton Hall University Librarian and Assistant Professor, Richard E. Stern recently donated a significant collection of African art and artifacts to the University. Stern acquired the objects when he was a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Liberia from 1969 to 1970. The donation includes more than sixty-five pieces of cloth – some hand-dyed by Stern – using traditional methods and natural materials such as indigo and cola nuts. Many pieces were hand-woven, including a small selection of Kente cloth from Ghana. Other hand-crafted objects include wooden masks and sculptures, cast metal figurines and beaded necklaces. “This donation is significant for Seton Hall University. The objects illuminate world cultures and artistic traditions unique to West Africa, while embodying the donor’s personal relationships to the people he met and places he traveled during his Peace Corps service. Stern’s personal recollections about the objects and the people connected with them are being preserved, providing a crucial layer of context for the collection. We could not be more appreciative.” stated Gallery Director Jeanne Brasile.

The collection amplifies the university’s Diversity Initiatives which celebrate a rich tapestry of global ideas and perspectives. Stern’s generous donation will expand Seton Hall’s collections overall, while augmenting existing collections of African art and artifacts including sculptures, paintings, photographs and prints. Presently, Collections Manager Laura Hapke is preparing the objects for exhibition by cataloguing each item and creating a safe storage environment for each, thereby ensuring access to this unique collection for generations of students, faculty, researchers and scholars.

Collections Manager Laura Hapke documenting Kente cloth donated by Richard Stern

The Walsh Gallery cares for and interprets Seton Hall University’s collections of material culture. In addition to the African art and artifacts the university collections include The Wang Fangyu Collection of Asian Art which spans over 3,500 years of cultural traditions from China, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, India and Vietnam; The Seton Hall University Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology which includes objects from North American cultures including the Leni Lenape, Paiute, Zuni, Pomo and Tlingit peoples as well as objects from South America, Asia and Europe; and The D’Argenio Collection of Coins and Antiquities which includes coins from ancient Etruscan, Greek, Roman and Byzantine cultures.   Appointments to see the collections can be made by completing this form. A sampling of our collections can be viewed on Google Arts and Culture.   The Walsh Gallery is open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday—Friday and is located on the first floor of the Walsh Library.  The gallery is free and open to the public.

Cloth vendor in Liberia – image courtesy of Richard Stern from his personal collection

 

Newark’s Catholic Advocate Now Digitized and Searchable

Printed and microfilm versions of the Catholic Advocate in Seton Hall University Special Collections
Printed and microfilm versions of the Catholic Advocate in Seton Hall University Special Collections

Based on research by Professor Alan Delozier

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.

Screenshot of Catholic News Archives
Screenshot of Catholic News Archives

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.”

Article text interface
Article text interface

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.

Student working with online resources
Student working with online resources

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.