Tag Archives: literary magazine

Student Composition Book, 1871-1874

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).

Finding Aid (PDF)

Read a blog post about the Composition Book

Student Composition Book 1870's

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Sparks Literary Magazine

Sparks, a literary magazine, was the first student publication at St. John’s College, Brooklyn. It began when students from the Sparks Literary Society began writing class pamphlets. Upon the success of this pamphlet and encouragement from their faculty advisor, Father McCormick, they began the Sparks literary magazine. The two earliest issues in existence were handwritten, while the four later issues were printed.

This magazine provides insight into the academic lives and extra-curricular activities of the earliest students of St. John’s, from their compositions and poetry, to their athletic pursuits. Also included are some of the earliest photographs in the history of St. John’s.

In addition to editing this early publication, the society dedicated themselves to the study of elocution, composition, and debate. The name Sparks was derived from “the fact that the pamphlet contained little offshoots from the flame of knowledge then so fervent and bright in the minds of many of their class.” By 1897, Sparks Literary Society had raised enough funds for a furnished meeting and reading room and small library. The society had their own song, which is shown above in the 1897 issue.

View digitized images of Sparks.

The Red and White

The Red and White was published by the students of St. John’s College, Brooklyn between 1921 and 1922. This magazine contains news and opinion articles, literary and poetic works, and humor by students, as well as news about the college’s sports and other extracurricular groups, students, alumni, and faculty. Also featured are class prophecies and class histories in the June 1921 and June 1922 issues.

View digitized images of The Red and White.

Exhibition: Sparks and Sequoya: A Long Tradition of Student Literary Publications

January 14 , 2013 – February 12, 2013
St. Augustine Hall, 3rd Floor

sparks and sequoyaSparks was the oldest literary magazine at St. John’s, which ran for only a short time, from 1891-1897. It was formed when students from the Sparks Literary Society began writing class pamphlets. Upon the success of this pamphlet and encouragement from their faculty advisor, Father McCormick, they began the Sparks literary magazine. The earliest issues were handwritten, while later issues were printed. In addition to editing this early publication, the society dedicated themselves to the study of elocution, composition, and debate. The name Sparks was derived from “the fact that the pamphlet contained little offshoots from the flame of knowledge then so fervent and bright in the minds of many of their class.” By 1897, Sparks Literary Society had raised enough funds for a furnished meeting and reading room and small library.

Sequoya is the second-oldest and longest-running student-published literary magazine at St. John’s University. It was first published in April 1934, at the original St. John’s College campus in Brooklyn. The magazine’s purpose was “to be a free and clear avenue for literary expression”. The magazines featured fiction, poetry, essays, reviews and art, including photography. Over the years, the name of the publication switched between Sequoya and Sequoya Quarterly, and later Sequoya Literary Magazine and Sequoya Literary and Arts Magazine.

Copies of Sparks and Sequoya are housed in the University Archives and are available for research. Please call (718) 990-1465 or email archives@stjohns.edu to make an appointment.