The Archivist’s Nook: The Significance of Eddie Patterson’s Friends

Illustration for poem, “World Brothers” from These Are Our Horizons, by Sister M. Charlotte and Marry Synon (Ginn and Company, 1945). Note the multiple national and ethnic backgrounds of the images, intended to underscore an ideal of global unity after the Second World War.
Illustration for poem, “World Brothers” from These Are Our Horizons, by Sister M. Charlotte and Marry Synon (Ginn and Company, 1945). Note the multiple national and ethnic backgrounds of the individuals, intended to underscore an ideal of global unity after the Second World War.

Nineteen-thirty-eight was not an auspicious year as far as the stability of Europe went. Adolph Hitler’s invasion into non-German territories proceeded at an alarming rate. Benito Mussolini had been running Fascist Italy as a police state for over a decade. The Vatican held uneasy diplomatic relations with both powers. Further east, Josef Stalin presided over a Soviet Union unfriendly toward religion. In short, expansionism and totalitarianism appeared to be consuming Europe and, of course, a war would begin the following year to ensure it didn’t.

The year also marked the Golden Jubilee of the Catholic University of America, which is a fancy Catholic way of saying the University turned 50. Worried about the fate of Europe and, indeed, of Catholicism, Pope Pius took advantage of the University’s 50th birthday to make a request. “Christian doctrine and Christian morality are under attack from all quarters,” he said, adding, “dangerous theories which a few years ago were but whispered in conventicles of discontent are today preached from the housetops and are even finding their way into action.” As the representative educational institution of the American hierarchy, the Pope noted, the University was endowed with the “traditional mission of guarding the natural and supernatural heritage of man.” Toward fulfillment of that mission, wrote the Pope, “it must, because of the exigencies of the present age, give special attention to the sciences of civics, sociology, and economics” in a “constructive program of social action” that fit local needs.¹

Following the Pope’s directive, the Bishops instructed the University to prepare materials of instruction in citizenship and Christian social living for use in the Catholic schools of the United States. The Commission on American Citizenship was organized in 1939 to carry out the Bishops’ mandate. They decided that the Commission would outline a statement of Christian principles as requested by the bishops, create a curriculum for the elementary schools, and oversee the writing of a series of textbooks to embody the social message of Christ. According to Dr. Mary Synon, who oversaw much of the day-to-day operation of the Commission, while the Department of Education and the School of Social Science did much of the Commission’s work, practically every department and school of the University contributed significantly.

One product of this effort was a series of textbooks for elementary through high school students used in most U.S. Catholic schools from the 1940s through the 1970s. For Catholic school students from the first through eighth grades, the Commission designed the Faith and Freedom series of basal readers based on the principles espoused in the curriculum. Aiming to establish Christian principles in the minds of students toward their use in daily living, the writers of the readers–Sister Mary Marguerite for the Primary Grades and Sister Mary Thomas Aquinas, Sister Mary Charlotte and Dr. Mary Synon for the intermediate and upper grades–built a series on social education according to the principles cited as base for the work of the Commission.

Image from “Eddie Patterson’s Friend,” from These Are Our People (Ginn and Company, 1943). What’s wrong with Eddie’s friends? The story’s answer: not a thing.
Image from “Eddie Patterson’s Friends,” from These Are Our People (Ginn and Company, 1943). What’s wrong with Eddie’s friends? The story’s answer: not a thing.

According to a 1946 Commission report, these readers were used in more than 6,000 of the 8,000 Catholic elementary schools in more than thirty-five archdioceses and dioceses in the United States. Copies of texts in this series were officially requested by the military authorities who were revising systems of education in occupied Japan and Germany after World War II. Catholic publicists in Belgium, France and the Netherlands referred to this series for their future education plans. Missionaries in the Philippines requested the copies for children there, and nearly every Catholic school in Hawaii used the texts. Also, the Commission received many inquiries from educators about using the series as possible models for books to be used in non-Catholic schools. A key theme throughout the readers is cooperation across cultures and social classes and an emphasis on Christian democratic ideals in creating a less conflicted postwar world.

Which brings us to the significance of one 1943 text story titled “Eddie Patterson’s Friends.” Eddie was an extremely generous and open-minded young man who “finds the queerest people,” according to his rather judgmental sister Mary. Mary worried about Eddie’s strange friends with his birthday party coming up. The girls on the block where they lived would “laugh if we let Eddie ask anyone he wants to the party.” Mary went so far as to convince their mother to throw Eddie a surprise party for which she and her sister would control the guest list to keep out those she felt should be excluded.

Who were the excluded? “The smiling Yim Kee, whose father ran the Chinese laundry… Frank Bell, the boy whose father had been taken away by the police.” And, “Silas Jefferson, whose father worked as porter on a train.”² Clearly these are stereotypes of Chinese Americans, African Americans and a neglected and possibly impoverished child. But consider the year of publication: 1943. The Chinese Exclusion Act passed in 1882 barred Chinese immigrants from citizenship until it was repealed in 1943. African Americans were legally segregated from whites, and in fact segregated virtually everywhere in the U.S. Stories like this one pointed to the end of such practices and customs.

A Finding Aid to the Commission on American Citizenship records can be found here: http://archives.lib.cua.edu/findingaid/americancit.cfm


¹Maria Mazzenga, “More Democracy, More Religion: Baltimore’s Schools, Religious Pluralism, and the Second World War,” in One Hundred Years of Catholic Education: Historical Essays in Honor of the Centennial of the National Catholic Educational Association (National Catholic Education Association, 2003); Finding aid to the Commission on American Citizenship Records: http://archives.lib.cua.edu/findingaid/americancit.cfm.

²“Eddie Patterson’s Friend,” from These Are Our People by Sister M. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., M.A. and Mary Synon (Ginn and Company, 1943), 44-56, 46.

The Archivist’s Nook: Putting Their Money Where Their Hearts Were

Bruce and Dorothy Abts Mohler at a formal event with an unnamed priest in 1949, the same year of their marriage. Though they had no children, they left a formidable financial and archival legacy. Photograph from the Dorothy Abts Mohler Papers, ACUA.
Bruce and Dorothy Abts Mohler at a formal event with an unnamed priest in 1949, the same year of their marriage. Though they had no children, they left a formidable financial and archival legacy. Dorothy Abts Mohler Papers, ACUA.

Among the archival collections housed at The Catholic University of America (CUA) are the papers of Bruce Monroe Mohler (1881-1967) and Dorothy Abts Mohler (1908-2000), two of the most remarkable people ever produced by the American Catholic Church. Both epitomized the active participation of the laity as each contributed a lifetime of humanitarian service in regard to the crucial issues of immigration (Bruce) and charity (Dorothy). In addition to this legacy of service to their Church, they not only left their aforementioned papers but also a stupendous financial bequest to the CUA Archives to collect and safeguard archival collections to promote the study of American Catholic history.

Bruce Mohler was an Ohio native and graduate of Ohio State University who worked for the Minnesota State Board of Health supervising sanitary conditions of public drinking water until released in 1918 to serve in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in the First World War. As an army major in France, he was in charge of engineers purifying drinking water for the troops. After the armistice, he was the army representative to the American Red Cross relief effort in Poland and after de-mobilization was Deputy Commissioner of the American Red Cross in Poland. As conflict raged between Poland and Bolshevik Russia, he heroically took a relief unit to the war torn city of Kiev, earning accolades for his efforts from both Poland and the United States. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Putting Their Money Where Their Hearts Were”

News & Events: March 9, 2015

Enjoy Spring Break!Spring Break Hours – Catholic University is on spring break this week, March 9-15. Mullen Library will be open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and will resume normal hours Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. Campus Libraries will be open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday, and will resume normal hours Monday, March 16. The Physics Library is open by appointment only. For all regular and special hours of operation, please visit our hours page.

UPCOMING EVENT: American Catholics and Immigration: Past and Present – The Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (CUA), in conjunction with The American Catholic History Research Center & University Archives (CUA) and the Office of Migration and Refugee Policy (USCCB), will be hosting a conference entitled American Catholics and Immigration: Past and Present on Thursday, March 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Caldwell Auditorium. For more information, visit event website.

Water Main Leak Repaired – The water main leak to the east of McMahon Hall has been repaired and water has been restored to Mullen Library. Water may appear slightly off color for a period of time but will clear once the system is in regular use.  Water fountains are equipped with a filter and should be fine.

NEW! Distance Learning Page – A new page for Distance Learners has been created, putting all of our most useful resources for off-campus library use in one convenient place. This page is recommended for students in online programs as well as doctoral candidates completing dissertations away from CUA. Along with links to databases, online tools, and contact information for subject librarians, the page also includes a link to our new Off-Campus Delivery Request Form (restrictions apply).

Writing Center in Mullen Library – Please note that the Writing Center will be holding satellite hours in the lobby of Mullen Library Wednesdays from 5 pm to 8 pm and Saturdays from 11 am to 2 pm. Walk-ins are welcome; look for the sign. For more information about writing center, including additional hours and appointment policies, please visit their website.

Have you tried lynda.com? – The University Libraries is proud to bring the CUA Community access to lynda.com, an online video training library offering more than 2,000 self-paced training classes on a wide range of computer and project management skills for beginner, intermediate, and advanced users. Topics offered include: the entire suite of Microsoft and Adobe products, website development, business skills, design skills, audio and video tools, creative inspirations, and much more.  All of the courses are taught by expert instructors and come with fully searchable transcripts. Curated playlists are also available for over 150 topics. To learn more, check out this introductory video.

News & Events: March 2, 2015

Photo from CUA Commencement Ceremony, May 2008.
Image courtesy of the Office of Public Affairs.

Graduation Fair 2015 – The University Libraries will once again be participating in the Graduation Fair, Tuesday, March 3, 11 am to 7 pm, and Wednesday, March 4, 11 am to 3 pm in the Pryzbyla Center Great Room. Seniors planning to graduate this semester are encouraged to stop by for giveaways and to have their library accounts reviewed for outstanding fines and books. Don’t forget: outstanding fines or checked-out items will result on a hold on your diploma!

NEW! Distance Learning Page – A new page for Distance Learners has been created, putting all of our most useful resources for off-campus library use in one convenient place. This page is recommended for students in online programs as well as doctoral candidates completing dissertations away from CUA. Along with links to databases, online tools, and contact information for subject librarians, the page also includes a link to our new Off-Campus Delivery Request Form (restrictions apply).

LAST CHANCE! “Bridging Sign & Script” May Gallery Exhibit – The exhibit by the Semitics/ICOR library currently on display in the May Gallery, “Bridging Sign & Script,” has been extended until March 9th. Stop by to learn about the 1930 Harvard-Catholic University Joint Expedition to Serabit-el-Khadim.

UPCOMING EVENT: American Catholics and Immigration: Past and Present – The Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (CUA), in conjunction with The American Catholic History Research Center & University Archives (CUA) and the Office of Migration and Refugee Policy (USCCB), will be hosting a conference entitled American Catholics and Immigration: Past and Present on Thursday, March 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Caldwell Auditorium. For more information, visit event website.

Writing Center in Mullen Library – Please note that the Writing Center will be holding satellite hours in the lobby of Mullen Library Wednesdays from 5 pm to 8 pm and Saturdays from 11 am to 2 pm. Walk-ins are welcome; look for the sign. For more information about writing center, including additional hours and appointment policies, please visit their website.

Have you tried lynda.com? – The University Libraries is proud to bring the CUA Community access to lynda.com, an online video training library offering more than 2,000 self-paced training classes on a wide range of computer and project management skills for beginner, intermediate, and advanced users. Topics offered include: the entire suite of Microsoft and Adobe products, website development, business skills, design skills, audio and video tools, creative inspirations, and much more.  All of the courses are taught by expert instructors and come with fully searchable transcripts. Curated playlists are also available for over 150 topics. To learn more, check out this introductory video.

“American Catholics and Immigration: Past and Present” – Thursday, March 12, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Caldwell Auditorium

Picture1The Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (CUA), in conjunction with The American Catholic History Research Center & University Archives (CUA) and the Office of Migration and Refugee Policy (USCCB), will be hosting a conference entitled American Catholics and Immigration: Past and Present on Thursday, March 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Caldwell Auditorium. The purpose o the conference is to “bring historians and policy experts together to compare how Catholics in the United States have responded to new immigrant groups, from the nineteenth century to the present.” Three expert panels will discuss such issues as national policy debates, culture and religious life, and immigrant workers.

For more information, including a detailed schedule of events and a link to R.s.v.p., please visit the event website.