The Archivist’s Nook: Pre-Vatican II Pamphlet Spotlight – Getting into the Christmas Spirit!

As we approach the Fourth Sunday of Advent, many of us are preparing for Christmas in a variety of ways. Everything from putting up decorations and baking cookies to attending Mass more frequently and receiving the Sacrament of Confession on a more regular basis. This is a season of penance and abstinence, joy and hope! […]

The Archivist’s Nook: Celebrating Christmas with The Young Catholic Messenger

A few years back our blog featured covers for New Year’s editions from the digital version of our Young Catholic Messenger collection. It was a premier title from Catholic publisher, George Pflaum, located in Dayton, Ohio, between the years 1885 to 1970.  In the nineteenth century, Protestant Americans were not very welcoming to the millions […]

The American Christmas Songbook: “White Christmas” (1940)

For the past three weeks, I have had a wonderful time researching the origins and histories of America’s most beloved Christmas songs. I’ve learned a great deal, and I hope you have, too! When I decided to take on this project, I knew from the beginning that I was certainly not going to be able […]

The American Christmas Songbook: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (1943)

If you’ve never seen Meet Me in St. Louis (MGM, 1944), stop everything you are doing and go watch it right now. It’s a classic Hollywood musical that features Judy Garland in her prime. Adapted from a series of vignettes written by Sally Benson for The New Yorker in 1941-42 (which she later published as a novel), […]

The American Christmas Songbook: “Santa Baby” (1953)

In “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas,” Meredith Wilson lists a variety of Christmas presents suitable for good little girls and boys:      A pair of Hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots      Is the wish of Barney and Ben      Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk […]

The American Christmas Songbook: “Merry Christmas, Darling” (1970)

Some of the Christmas songs we’ve highlighted so far have been written in a very short amount of time, when a gust of inspiration fills the sails in a songwriting teams’ heads. Mel Torme and Bob Wells finished “The Christmas Song” in less than an hour, and Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn had “Let it […]

The American Christmas Songbook: “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1949)

When Clement Clarke Moore penned his famous poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1823, he named eight reindeer that pull Santa Claus’s sleigh: More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name: “Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!” “On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, […]

The American Christmas Songbook: “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” (1934)

In 1934, radio star Eddie Cantor needed a new Christmas song to sing on a live broadcast during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He approached Leo Feist, a music publisher, who happened to have a song he had not yet published by composer John Frederick “Fred” Coots and lyricist James Lamont “Haven” Gillespie titled “Santa […]

The American Christmas Songbook: “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (1943)

Today marks the 76th anniversary of the United States’ official declaration of war against Germany and Italy, thereby putting the US at war with all three Axis powers. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had resisted bringing the US into battle as long as he could, but his hand was forced as a result of the surprise […]

The American Christmas Songbook: “Silver Bells” (1950)

In the summer of 1950, Paramount Pictures approached Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, a songwriting duo with a knack for writing hit numbers for films and theme songs for television series (Bonanza and Mr. Ed). Paramount was working on the film The Lemon Drop Kid, which is set in New York City in the days leading […]