Tag Archives: student publication

Army Specialized Training Program Newsletter

Wartime needs for learning facilities and for college-trained men, particularly Army Specialized Training Program Newsletter thumbnailengineers, generated a synergistic partnership during World War II between institutions of higher education and the U.S. military. In 1942, Fr. William J. Mahoney became president of St. John’s University and negotiated with the military to transform St. John’s into a training site for the Army Specialized Training Corps, (3230th Service Command Unit). The program dismantled in 1944 when men in greater numbers were needed at the fronts, not in the classrooms. There are only two known student newsletters from the ASTP, which were never officially named.

View digitized ASTP newsletters here.

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FUD Times

FUD TimesIn 1893, three students at St. John’s College, Paul A. Foley, Francis Uleau, and William P. Drennan began their own pamphlet, called FUD Times. It was the journal of the “FUD Society” of St. John’s College, named for the first letter of each person’s last name, “F”oley, “U”leau, and “D”rennan. Several articles in the FUD Times poke fun at Sparks, which was published around the same time by the Sparks Literary Society . All of the five known issues were handwritten. The March 16th issue was written on green paper for St. Patrick’s Day.

View digitized images of FUD Times.

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.

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.

A Moment in Time: The First Issue of The Torch

The Spark: Looking at The Torch’s First Issue By Natalie Hallak

The Torch, First IssueSince its foundation in 1870, St. John’s University has grown exponentially—and ever since its first issue in September of 1925, The Torch has been there to capture every moment. The Torch’s first publication came about right in the heart of the Roaring Twenties, written by students in their twenties. Headlining stories include the St. John’s law school opening, a record freshman class of 175, a promising year for the Red Men, and a new University president. Now, almost a hundred years later, the news is not so different; St. John’s is on the hunt for a new president, there are high hopes for the Red Storm basketball team, and the freshman class now has several thousand members.

In this first issue, the Torch editors establish that they have been “assigned the task of putting into print student life at St. John’s.” They emphasize that “the support of the men of the college is necessary in order to make the publication a success.” The audience of this newspaper—the student body—is almost entirely male at the time, although the waves of change are beginning to ripple as the University continues to grow. When reporting on the record-breaking freshman class—and the reporters are never named—The Torch says, “Never before has St. John’s needed as much the zealous support of its student body” to not only help the University “in its uphill fight for recognition,” but to stay true to the University’s values. Because the editors say The Torch is an assignment, a duty, it makes sense that they would place upon the student body a call to action of sorts—“that with the whole-hearted support of every member of St. John’s College, a publication will be sent forth of which Alma Mater may well be proud.”

In this time of growth and prosperity, The Torch’s establishment could point to an effort to give the campus an even stronger identity—a paper that is attempting to unify an increasingly diverse student body, and perhaps combat secularism. These 1925 articles suspend telling the news objectively; a voice is telling you what to think about the news. Concerning the announcement of Rev. Cloonan as St. John’s new president, The Torch writes, “The servant of the Creator has risen to splendor and a noon-day prosperity… To this man, the students of St. John’s Colleges extend their heartiest congratulations and good wishes. We rejoice at [his] appointment.” This is a radically different approach to the news than what one sees now at The Torch, and the change, in my opinion, is for the better. Though we do not know exactly what caused the initial spark that began the flame of The Torch, one thing is for sure: It’s still burning as bright as ever.

Natalie Hallak is a Junior English major at St. John’s University. She has many roles on campus, such as being a Writing Center Consultant, working as Head Copy Editor at the Torch, jamming out with the Pep Band, editing for the Sequoya, and serving as a Discover New York Peer Leader.

The University Archives holds nearly the full run of The Torch student newspapers from its inaugural issue of September 25, 1925 until the present.  Its name was inspired by the Greek words in the university seal “a bright and shining light,” which refers to St. John the Evangelist’s description of St. John the Baptist (the university’s patron saint).   The Torch made its appearance during the transformative era in the University’s history of the 1920s.  While still officially named “St. John’s College,” the institution was well on its way to becoming a large university.  During this decade, four new schools were established, three of which are still in existence: School of Law (1925), School of Accounting, Commerce and Finance (1927; now Peter J. Tobin College of Business), School of Pharmacy (1929), and the Borough Hall Division of the College of Arts and Sciences (1927).  A second Brooklyn campus on Schermerhorn Street opened in the fall of 1929 to accommodate these new schools.  Student life also blossomed in the 1920s – new honor societies, student organizations, publications, and traditions appeared.

Recent issues of the Torch are available online, while early issues of the Torch and many other student publications are available for research in the Archives.