This composition book was handwritten by seventeen students of St. John’s College, Brooklyn, New York, (founded in 1870) between 1871 and approximately 1874. The ledger has a plain cover and lined paper with no page numbers. The title page reads, “Compositions of Class of 1871-72 Saint John’s College Cor. of Lewis + Willoughby avs Brooklyn L.I. N.Y.” in decorative handwriting. The binding is fragile and the ink on some of the pages is faded.
The entries within this volume vary in length; some are shorter and authored by only one or two students, while the longest story, “Edward Bradwell” was written by nine students contributing various chapters. Only a few entries are dated. One entry describes the funeral services of the Rev. David O’Mulane, Pastor of the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on October 25, 1873.
The seventeen student authors are listed in the roster of pupils in the St. John’s College course catalogs. The list below shows the academic years in which each student is listed, as well as their home address at the time. Several of the authors of the essays in the book were founding members of the school’s first student society the “St. John’s Literary Union.” The society’s motto was Veritas Semper Vincit (truth always prevails).