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
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)
Joseph F. Keany (A.M., LL.B., LL.D., K.S.G.) was born on April 9, 1867 in Brooklyn and baptized in “old” St. James Parish, Brooklyn. He was a member of the freshman class of 1882-1883, received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1893 and the Master of Arts in 1895 from St. John’s College, Brooklyn. In 1913, he was given an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by his alma mater and later served as a member of the Board of Trustees of St. John’s (1921-1934). Keany studied law at New York University School of Law.
He entered the legal department of the Long Island Railroad in 1894 and eventually rose to the position of general solicitor in 1916. He became a member of the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum Society in 1899 and held various offices in the organization and served as Vice President until his death on January 7, 1935. In 1920, Pope Benedict XV cited Keany a Knight of St. Gregory. He served also as a trustee of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, was a member of the Emerald Society, St. Patrick’s Society and the Catholic Benevolent Society of Brooklyn. He was a member of the New York State Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the Long Island Railroad Veteran Employees Association.
The collection includes photographs, memorabilia, correspondence, a cemetery deed, documents relating to his career as an attorney, and relating to various organizations which he represented, as well as speeches, tributes and articles which are handwritten, typed, or in in published format.
Finding aid (PDF)