History is filled with stories of near misses. Dewey (almost) over Truman. Pickett nearly breaking through at Gettysburg. Several horses nearly winning the Triple Crown. Maxwell Smart always missing it “by that much.” (Kids, Google “Get Smart” to know what I am referring to).
One near miss in sports history involved an alumnus of CUA and sports Hall of Famer. Wally Pipp was a standout first baseman for the Cardinals baseball team between 1911 and 1913. Although records during this time are incomplete, Pipp appears to have been a key member of the team during his time. Stats from a handful of games in the 1912-13 University Symposium list Pipp 14 hits with at least three home runs. In another symposium from 1911-12, in a game against Holy Cross, Pipp was said to have “played a splendid game in the field and led his team at bat, getting two scorching singles.” Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: The Pride of the Cardinals”→
As the campus of The Catholic University of America (CUA) and surrounding D.C. community basks in the afterglow of a momentous papal visit and canonization of a new saint, it is not out of order to reflect upon the Christian Savior, Jesus Christ. Now, before anyone gets the notion this archivist is about to impersonate a theologian, let me assure you my mission is an archival one, to study appearances by the Son of God on the covers of the Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact comic book housed in the CUA Archives.
As any user of the Archives, and, indeed, readers of this blog know (see ‘Hark! The Digital Angel Comes!’), Treasure Chest was a Catholic comic book, with over five hundred issues, distributed to the American Catholic parochial school system from 1946 to 1972. Moreover, it is CUA’s most popular digital collection, with visually stunning covers, including one in ten of all covers (53 of 508) featuring images of Jesus. The first verse of the 23rd Psalms tell us ‘The Lord is my Shepherd,’ but let’s reverse things and Shepherd the Lord through his various Treasure Chest incarnations by looking at some of the best examples. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Treasure Chest – Your Own Virtual Jesus”→
At the time of this writing, Brookland is winding down after hosting North America’s first canonization mass. During his visit yesterday, Pope Francis canonized St. Juniperro Serra. While this new saint never set foot on the campus, this does not mean that CUA has no direct connections with any holy figures. In addition to visits from popes and presidents, several alumni currently have open causes for canonization.
Saints come in all shapes and sizes. A classic image of the saint may be one of a faithful martyr or a robed missionary, such as Serra. We may even think of them as primarily ancient or medieval figures. However, the modern age has seen a flourishing of canonizations. Yesterday’s ceremony was the culmination of decades of investigations, advocacy, and devotion. The process to being declared a saint is complex, with a number of steps and inquiries along the way. Beginning as a Servant of God, individuals with an open cause may eventually proceed to Venerable to Blessed and, finally, to Saint. Some figures, like Serra, may be held at one stage for decades (or even centuries!), while others may move along in the process more quickly. This process has a long history, stretching back to the earliest days of Christianity, although the papacy itself was not always directly involved. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Are there any CUA Saints? – A Crash Course in Canonization”→
Believe it or not, U.S. Presidents once upon a time came to Catholic University for the most mundane of events. When the cornerstone for Caldwell (then Divinity) Hall was laid in 1888, President Grover Cleveland was there. When the University formally opened a year later, President Benjamin Harrison showed up for the festivities, despite the downpour. Friends with Rector Thomas Conaty, William McKinley visited him at CUA in 1900.
Quite by accident, Theodore Roosevelt meandered over to the University grounds on his horse in 1905, though he seemed to enjoy chatting up some of the CUA’s first undergrads once he found himself on what we today call the quad. The less loquacious Calvin Coolidge showed up for the dedication of Mullen Library in 1924—there are no reports of “Silent Cal” being shushed by librarians.
Join us at Mullen Library on September 16th for CUA’s first Wikipedia Edit-a-thon! In conjunction with the Know Your Campus guided tour taking place later that evening (which you should totally hang around for), the library will be opening its doors to students and the wider community to usher in the Fall semester, eat some free food (thanks, AGLISS!), get to know one another, and get to know our neighborhood. The subject matter – Brookland, the experts – you!
So what exactly is an edit-a-thon? In short, it’s an event where a group of people get together with the goal of editing Wikipedia content for a specific topic in a short space of time. Subjects can have significant cultural importance (like Asian-Pacific American Artists, or closing the Wikipedia editor gender gap by expanding content related to art and feminism), but we’re starting a little smaller. We want to improve content related to the Brookland neighborhood right here in Washington, DC, and will be adding articles about landmarks and famous residents, copyediting existing pages, inserting links to other Wikipedia pages, and adding and checking citations to ensure that information is reliably sourced. The point is, though, that we all have something unique to contribute.
Never edited before? Never even thought about checking the sources on that article you cited for a paper? Don’t understand why citing Wikipedia is probably not a great idea in the first place, but is a good place to start your research? A representative from Wikimedia DC will be on hand to answer questions, provide training, and help get you started. Believe me, it’s super simple, and once you fall down the editing rabbit hole, there will be no turning back. You would not believe how much time I spent researching and updating the exhibition formats for AFI Silver’s page last month. Shameful.
So sign up, grab your laptop, stop by the FYE room (2nd floor)between 11 am and 3 pm, and see what the fuss is about. Even if you don’t intend to edit, come by and say hello! We’ll be handing out how-to guides, buttons, and stickers, so what excuse do you have? Did I mention there will be snacks? If you aren’t swayed by now, I don’t know what to tell you. Buttons, people!
As always, thanks for reading. See you next Wednesday, folks.
This week’s post is guest authored by Angela Geosits, archives assistant and doctoral student in English.
Any visitor to McMahon Hall is likely familiar with the massive marble table which dominates the central foyer. Set between the two great staircases out of the flow of foot traffic, this stately table blends in with the neutral colors of the space and feels as if it has always been there. But contrary to all expectations, this 2 ½ ton marble table is surprisingly well traveled, and even enjoyed a misspent youth loitering in the lobby of Loew’s Capitol Theatre, the last surviving Broadway vaudeville house. Some traces of this thespian origin can be seen in the detailed carvings of Comedy and Tragedy on the table’s supports.
But how on earth did our table get from a vaudeville theatre in New York City to an academic building at Catholic University in Washington, DC? The story begins in the winter of 1967, when the roof of the Army surplus theater the Drama Department had been using as their performance space collapsed under a heavy load of snow. Enthusiastic fundraising efforts began in order to fill the desperate need for a new stage. CUA Drama alumnus Ed McMahon (no relation to Monsignor James McMahon for whom the building is named) knew the Loews and organized a special benefit for the CUA Drama Department on the last night of performances at the Capitol Theatre.
On September 16, 1968, the Capitol Theatre held an evening of special live performances celebrating the legacy of the theater, and the proceeds of the benefit were donated to the building efforts for the new Center for the Communication Arts at CUA. You might know the end result of the building project better as Hartke Theater. The evening of entertainment featured famous performers including Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Johnny Carson, and Florence Henderson, among others, and was followed by a champagne dinner and dance at the nearby Americana Hotel. The wildly successful party went long into the night and even rated an article in the New York Times.
Our table had graced the halls of Capital Theatre from 1919 until it closed in 1968. On the night of the benefit, Fr. Gilbert Hartke spotted the table and thought it would make a lovely addition to the lobby of the new Drama building. Our substantial marble traveler was presented as a gift from the Loews Theater Organization to Fr. Hartke in 1968. The intrepid table never made it into the lobby of the new building; a 2 ½ ton table doesn’t fit just anywhere! For two decades, the table provided a stable surface in the basement of Curley for sorting the mail of the building’s residents. But in 1989, the table returned to public appearances when it was moved to its current home in McMahon Hall during renovations. It now rests under the benevolent but watchful eye of long-term resident, the statue of Pope Leo XIII.
Crowther, Bosley. “Old-Time Star-Filled Benefit to Close Capitol Theater Tonight.” New York Times, Sept. 16, 1968, p. 57.
Pietro, Mary Jo Santo. Father Hartke: His Life and Legacy to the American Theater. Washington, DC: CUA Press, 2002.
Gatton, John and Dubeck, Joanne. “Gala Benefit Boosts Drive for Theatre.” The Tower, Sept. 27 1968, p. 8.
“NYC Alumni Organize Benefit for the Center of Communication Arts.” Alumnus, Spring 1968, pp. 14-15.
As the summer days wane and a fresh academic year begins, new and old faces alike are appearing across campus. Other than the confused look on some faces trying to locate O’Boyle Hall, both new and returning students alike will soon be an indistinguishable part of the campus community. However, in the past, telling the newcomers apart from the old timers was much easier, thanks to a small cap.
As the institutional memory of the University, the Archives prides itself on recording the life and times of the campus community. Though, frankly, it is often easier to secure official records than snapshots of the daily lives of students. However, with that said, many alumni have generously donated documents and artifacts from their student days. These collections include everything from nursing student capes to Greek life paddles. Yet, there is one object that many of these alumni donations share; one object that students across the decades often have in their possession. This shared artifact is the freshman dink.
A longstanding CUA tradition spanning much of the twentieth century, a cap called a dink or beanie was given to freshmen. As a form of induction into the campus community, upperclassmen required new students to don a special cap and badge marking them out as a newbie. Sometimes an official induction ceremony known as “The Capping” was also performed. These beanies were not the only requirement. Policed by the sophomore class, the freshmen were assigned a series of mandates to obey.
Much like a fraternal hazing – sans the paddle above – many of these rules look rather silly when written down and involved some social hierarchy. But they did attempt to encourage a sense of community and foster familiarity with the campus and its history. (As a historian, I can appreciate the latter.) According to the 1954 “Facts for Freshmen,” the rules were:
Freshmen will wear dinks (a dink is a small red and black cap) and badges at all times!
Freshmen will speak and tip their dinks to everyone they see on campus.
Freshmen will always be in possession of change and matches.
Freshmen will never step on a blade of grass.
Freshmen will salaam before entering and after leaving the front entrance to McMahon Hall.
Freshmen will sign in at Shahan at the request of the Sophomores and will give their seats and places in line to Sophomores.
On the day of September 27, the Freshmen boys will wear unmatched shoes and socks and pants rolled up to their knees; on this day, the girls will not wear make-up, will wear pigtails and will carry open umbrellas.
Freshmen will know the names and positions of members of the Administration and will be able to recite a brief history of C.U. at the request of the Sophomores.
Freshmen girls and boys will always look neat. Boys will wear a shirt and tie at all times; girls will wear ribbons of cardinal and black, the school colors.
Freshmen will sing the Alma Mater and say the cheers at the request of any Sophomore.
The rules listed above must be observed at all times, except on Sunday, within the dorm, or at social functions.
On Sept. 30, the Sophs will conduct a tribunal and affix due judgement and penalties to all violators of the regulations. BEWARE!
While you may no longer have to sing on demand to become a part of the CUA community, you can still connect to its past. Whether you are new to the campus or an experienced, card-playing veteran, you can peruse the Yearbooks, the events and debates of the past via the Tower, or explore the faded terrain of the campus.
No matter what, just be glad you don’t have to wear mismatched shoes or pigtails on September 27…unless you really want to, I guess.
Come all ye lovers of free things digital! Teachers and archivists, archivists and teachers, we call you all. The Catholic Archives in the Digital Age Conference takes place October 8-9, 2015 on the campus of The Catholic University of America. And it’s FREE.
Perdition: I don’t know how to digitize my collection materials. I don’t know how to get free online stuff for my classroom.
Let’s face it, resources are scarce—time, money, and staff are in short supply. Most archivists would love to put their unrestricted materials online for researchers and teachers to use. And most teachers don’t like spending hours online searching for excellent classroom resources. But the fact is, archivists don’t usually have the time, staff, or equipment to make their materials widely available. Teachers, for their part, don’t always know where to look for digital documents they can use in their Catholic history, religious studies, and theology classes. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Get Off the Road to Digital Perdition”→
This week’s post is guest authored by Vitalina A. Nova, Archives assistant and LIS graduate.
Regardless of your opinion of Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) movie ratings, you’re likely familiar with them and know the MPAA reviews film content to determine suitability for specific audiences. What you’re less likely to know is that the indignation which led to the formation of the MPAA’s predecessor, the Hays Code, also led to the formation of the National Legion of Decency, a Catholic interest group with similar goals.
The Hays Code imposed restrictions on the film industry beginning in the early 1930s, aiming to align content on the big screen with moral standards codified as the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association (MPPDA)Don’ts and Be Carefuls. The Hays code was replaced by the MPAA in 1968. The full list of Don’ts and Be Carefuls is available from the School of Media Arts at the Santa Barbara City College.
In contrast, the National Legion of Decency maintained an interest in advising the American public on the morality of films long after the Hays Code went out of use. Formed in 1933, the Legion was initially composed of religious and laity of Jewish and Christian faiths concerned that exposure to immoral material harmed viewers’ quality of character. Censurable material included the discussion or depiction of childbirth, immodest dress, and a lack of ultimate judgment on characters’ questionable behavior (as defined by the Legion). Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Legion of Decency Keeping the Big Screen Clean”→
The Archives has several different media types in its holdings, and some of these, such as magnetic tape, are much more susceptible to degradation than paper. Audio cassettes and open reel tape can, over time, become sticky and difficult to play without causing irreparable damage, if stored in less than perfect conditions. They can also suffer data loss when exposed to magnetic fields (this can happen just by storing cassettes close to high-powered speakers), and digital media can suffer data rot. CUA Archives decided to get ahead of the game here; since our audio materials are still in good condition, why not duplicate them for preservation and access while we still can?