Tag Archives: manuscripts

Rev. John W. Moore, C.M. Family Papers

The Moore Family Papers include correspondence between John William Vincent Moore, seventh president of St. John’s University from 1906 to 1925, and various members of his family. Also included are several pieces of ephemera and a candlestick rumored to date from the Reformation, when it was used by priests who offered Mass surreptitiously, in secret chapels in the homes of Catholic Scots by the documentation provided. The letters from Fr. Moore detail his life as a seminary student in Germantown, Pennsylvania, his first time visiting St. John’s College in Brooklyn (a temporary assignment before he eventually became President), visiting New York City and touring several churches and other famous sites in New York for the first time, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral and “the Great Bridge of Brooklyn.” He also writes about family life, including the death of his father, whose funeral he was not able to attend, and marriage advice for his sister. Letters from July and August 1914 provide information on Rev. John W. Moore in Europe (Germany, France, and Spain) at the breakout of World War One. A letter dated February 5, 1911 from “Bud,” Fr. Moore’s nephew, to his mother, Mary Weber, provides a description of his last months at the seminary in Germantown, and the reasons why he left to be with his uncle and study at St. John’s College.

Finding Aid (PDF)

Digital Collection



George J. Crane Papers, 1898-1949

George James Crane graduated from Boys High School, Brooklyn, in 1910, and then earned a B.A. (cum laude) at St. John’s College in 1914, an M.A. at Columbia University in 1917, and a Ph.D. at Fordham University in 1929. He also served in the armed forces during World War I. Crane was a teacher and principal at several New York City area elementary and high schools including Boys High and Boys Summer High in Brooklyn; East Side Evening High in Manhattan, and P.S. 71. He was the first principal of Bayside High School in Queens, from 1936 until 1951 when he retired. Additionally, from 1920, Crane taught courses in English and American Literature at St. John’s University and Manhattan College. George Crane passed away in 1966.

This collection contains the personal papers of George Crane, including memorabilia, correspondence, photographs, clippings, class and lecture notes, a master’s thesis, dissertation, and publications. There are two scrapbooks; one contains personal items such as school and drama club materials, newspaper clippings, and photographs. The other scrapbook was compiled by Crane’s students in 1933 prior to his trip to England.

George J. Crane portrait

Christopher J. Gorman Collection, 1932-1940

Christopher Joseph Gorman received his B.A. from St. John’s University in 1934. As an undergraduate he was active in many student organizations, including the Skull & Circle honor society (president), Sigma Zeta Chi, Crusade Club, Student Council,  Torch (business manager), Vincentian (organization editor), Glee Club, Orchestra, and Dramatic Society, as well as class football and basketball, among other activities. Gorman went on to study at St. John’s Law School, from which he graduated in September 1936.  He acted as editor-in-chief of the Law Review journal of St. John’s Law School in 1935-1936.

This collection contains memorabilia collected by Christopher J. Gorman during his time at St. John’s University and as an alumnus, including two scrapbooks he compiled about his education, career, and personal life.

Finding Aid (PDF)

Christopher Gorman yearbook photo

Elaine M. Lilli Collection, 1952-1956

Elaine Marilyn Lilli (née Andrews) graduated from University College at St. John’s University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in June, 1956. She was a member of the Squaw Society (a sorority at University College), Chorus, The Gaels, History Seminar, Intramurals, and St. John’s News, among other activities. This collection contains memorabilia from Elaine M. Lilli’s time at St. John’s University from 1952 to 1956.  The items reflect her academic and extracurricular activities.

Finding Aid (PDF)

Elaine M. Lilli yearbook photo

Original Leaves from Famous Books – Nine Centuries 1122 A.D. – 1923 A.D.

This collection of manuscript and printed leaves from famous books was complied by Otto F. Ege, a professor of art history and private collector of manuscripts.

View the collection online.



Harold Kleinsinger Collection, 1942-1979

Letterhead of 1944 correspondence to Professor Kleinsinger

Finding Aid (PDF)

Harold Kleinsinger was born in New York City on July 20, 1907. He studied at Fordham University and received a Ph. G and Ph. C there. He received his B.S. from the City College of New York and M.S. in Analytical Chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. Kleinsinger was a professor of analytical chemistry and physics at the St. John’s University School of Pharmacy from 1931 to 1973. He established the Iota Chapter of Rho Pi Phi, and was an honorary member of the Skull and Circle honor society. He died in New York City on January 6, 2001.

This collection is comprised mainly of letters sent to Professor Kleinsinger, as well as a few pieces of memorabilia and other papers. Kleinsinger maintained correspondence with his former pharmacy students who joined the war effort, becoming pharmacists, medical technicians, chemists, soldiers and sailors during World War II. The letters include observations of daily life on the military base or aboard navy ships, requests for letters of reference, news of promotions in rank, and progress in their studies and research. On a more personal note, his students also sent announcements of marriages and births, and requested news of former classmates and professors back home at St. John’s University. Some of the students were Jewish, as was Kleinsinger: one former student, Nat Simon, writes to Kleinsinger about facing discrimination due to Jewish quotas in medical schools. There is one letter from pharmacy faculty member Hugh Luongo, who left St. John’s to serve in the war. Many of his students continued the correspondence for years after the war ended. Letters were sometimes addressed to Harold and his wife Frieda and their children. There are also a number of letters sent to Harold by his family members.

St. John’s University made important contributions to the wartime effort. In addition to the work of students in the pharmacy program, the university provided training for two hundred and fifty men for basic engineering. They were subsequently transferred to foreign battlefronts. St. John’s also offered free courses in engineering, science, and management war training with help from the U.S. Office of Education. St. John’s served as a training site for the Army Specialized Training Corps, (3230th Service Command Unit) from December 1943 to April 1944.

Exhibition: Lecture on American Friends of Irish Neutrality

To mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the American Friends of Irish Neutrality, the St. John’s University archives will exhibit some of the records and materials of the World War II era organization at a special academic lecture on Thursday, November 12 at 7 p.m. at its Manhattan Campus.
For more information and to RSVP: http://goo.gl/604TUl
American Friends of Irish Neutrality lecture and exhibit

Exhibition: Papal Travels to New York City and Selections from the Halpern Collection

Exhibitions on view in the Main Librarypope letter image
In Celebration of Pope Francis’ Visit to New York
St. Augustine Hall, 3rd Floor Lobby
September 23-September 29, 2015

Selections from the Halpern Collection of Popes and Saints Letters
Six letters from popes, dating from 1572-1854, are featured from this special collection, a gift of Congressman Seymour Halpern. The entire digitized collection can be viewed online here.

Papal Travels to New York City: Items from the University Archives
On view is a book commemorating the Vatican Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, at which Pope Paul VI made a brief stop to extend his blessing after addressing the UN on October 4, 1965. Also included are articles and editorials from the student newspaper, The Torch, about the visits of previous popes in 1965, 1979, 1995 and 2008.

Records of the American Friends of Irish Neutrality (AFIN), 1938-1952

American Friends of Irish Neutrality The American Friends of Irish Neutrality (AFIN) was formed in New York City in 1940 in order to support the preservation of Irish neutrality during World War II. The records contain telegrams, minutes, news clippings, correspondence, membership and donation cards, postcards, texts of speeches, press releases, pamphlets, and photographs. Among the correspondents are Bennett Champ Clark, Martin Conboy, Éamon de Valera, Sean Keating, Henry Cabot Lodge, Breckinridge Long, Joseph Cardinal MacRory, Robert F. Mahoney, Caroline O’Day, Charles Poletti, Patrick Walsh, and Paul O’Dwyer.

Finding aid (PDF) Records of the American Friends of Irish Neutrality

A Moment in Time: Student Composition Book, 1870’s

Penmanship, Authorship, and the Certainty of Life By Dean Kritikos

Student Composition Book 1870'sThis blog post is brought to you by the digital age—an age which at least one author would like to think has its share of cons that come with its prose—and, therefore, you’re not reading neatly printed, double-justified lines on a soft, off-white page. Further, you’re certainly not reading the scrawled excuses for letters that come out of pens and pencils I use. This blog post is also brought to you by the 19th Century, however, by way of a book of hand-written “Compositions of [St. John’s College’s] Class of 1871-72.” This make-shift title, stylized in two highly ornate fonts—with the “of’s” in tiny scrolls—is somewhat misleading, firstly because St. John’s 1870 foundation makes a graduating class of ‘71 or ’72 unlikely. Secondly, several essays within it, composed by members of the college’s “Literary Association,” are dated as late as 1874. The book, which collects what may have been considered representative work of the school’s award-winning writers, is composed of a collaboratively written story, letters, and essays in series on miscellaneous topics—likely assignments—all of which immortalize the voices, but also the bodies, of some of St. John’s first students.

One of the most intriguing sections of the book is composed of three essays on “the (un)certainty of death,” by William Maguire, Thomas Ward, and Wilson Durack. Ward’s essay is dated February 7th, 1873, which suggests that all three essays may have been composed within the same (academic) year. These three authors held various positions on the St. John’s Literary Union from 1871-1873, and won various composition-related awards, according to the school’s annual bulletins. The papers are concerned with death, its circumstances and meaning(s), and, of course, our (un)certainty concerning these. “The Uncertainty of Death” and “Uncertainty of Death,” by Ward and Durack, both offer highly theological/religious responses to what was likely a prompt on death; both use similar language to say that (the Victorian singular) man cannot dispose of his time, unlike his other resources, since his time is lent him by the deity. While it is certain that man will die, that death “shall lay his clammy hand upon us” (Durack), it is uncertain when and how.

William Maguire’s essay, “The Certainty of Death,” takes a different approach to what was likely the same prompt to which Ward and Durack responded. While Maguire’s ideas are also theologically inflected—death is inevitable, after all, since “man brought this fate upon himself,” according to Catholic doctrine—he focuses on concrete evidence of (others’) death, rather than human uncertainty of its circumstances. Maguire, not completely differently from either Ward or Durack, defines death as “the irrevocable separation of soul and body.” Interestingly enough, however, he references relics of deceased peoples—“the works of their hands”—to talk about (the certainty of) their deaths. That is, although we “cannot see the sages themselves,” we can still see—with our eyes—the work their bodies produced. Death is certain, paradoxically, because of the artifacts the dead have left us. What’s also certain, though, through such artifacts, is the lives of the authors behind them. And what makes life certain is, indeed, the hands—the bodies—of these authors.


A sample of Ward’s handwriting, with Durack’s handwritten composition below it.

Artifacts such as St. John’s College’s early bulletins, which list the students enrolled for given years, point to the existence of a name—a word—at a given time. The penmanship of these students, however, points to the existence of a hand, a body, behind the voice of each essay. The highly ornate language of each author, complete with florid, subordinate-clause heavy sentences—almost always layered with three iterations of an idea—might translate into a word processor and/or an audio adapter without the conventional taxes of translation. Maguire’s long crosses on his t’s, Ward’s polished and picture-perfect penmanship, and Durack’s highly-pressured and heavily-slanted cursive, however, provide an exclusively embodied (visual)

Maguire's handwriting and signature.

Maguire’s handwriting and signature.

experience of an embodied artform—one that you’re not getting as you read this blog post. What you get of me, the artist, is a language that, with any luck, is distinguishable. You’re not reading something that’ll stand as a guarantor of my (embodied) existence some 150 years from now. The essays in the composition book, on the other hand, even when concerned with (un)certainty of or about death, point to the absolute certainty of the lives behind them—they immortalize the authors, in fact, in the curls and curves of their letters, even as the digital age comes closer and closer to exposing print culture to death’s “clammy hand.”

Dean is a senior English major with minors in Creative Writing and Phiolosophy at St. John’s University, where he works in the Writing Center as well as the Office of Sustainability. Dean has recently performed original poetry with The Epic 12 and The Inspired Word, and has upcoming shows with Poetry Teachers NYC and The LouderARTS Project in 2014.

This ledger filled with handwritten essays from some of the young men who attended the school during the early years of St. John’s (founded in 1870), is one of the earliest and most precious artifacts from the institution’s history. 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).