The Archivist’s Nook: Special Collections – Your Virtual Classroom

Digital copies of textbooks from our Commission on American Citizenship can be found via our digital collections page. The Commission created civics textbooks used in most parochial schools in the United States, 1943-1970s.

Special Collections has thousands of free online digital objects for use in your virtual classrooms.

Our digital materials are organized by type:

  1. Digital Collections. A digital collection is a set of digital objects with minimal supporting information. These are either entire collections, or parts of collections that have been digitized and posted on our site with basic descriptive information such as collection description, title, date, and subject of object. We have 39 collections online, with materials ranging from Catholic University’s yearbook, The Cardinal, to The Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact Catholic comic book.

    John F. Kennedy tours the North American College in Rome with Archbishop Martin J. O’Connor, Summer 1963. Kennedy met the newly elected Pope Paul VI during the same trip. From the Remembering President John F. Kennedy digital exhibit.
  2. Digital Exhibits. Digital Exhibits are selections of digitized materials curated by Archives staff. Our trained staff, in addition to guests from various University departments, have curated several online digital exhibits for public use. These range from historical tours of the University campus to selections from our collections related to Irish nationalism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
  1. Digital Classroom. The American Catholic History Classroom is a continuously-updated primary document site featuring a range of materials related to the American Catholic experience. The sites also feature contextualizing materials and educational resources created by historians. Topics range from the immigration and the Catholic Church to Catholics and Politics in the 1930s.

    Image from a Book of Hours from the Rare Books Collection. This Book of Hours dates from the fourteenth century, likely France. It was gifted by Msgr. Arthur Connolly in 1919. Interestingly enough, the front and rear pastedowns are fragments of a ninth- or tenth-century manuscript.
In 1964 the Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact ran a series of panels on an African American candidate for president achieving the nomination by a major U.S. Party, as the final panel pictured here shows. You can read more about it in the Pettigrew for President classroom site.
  1. Rare Books. The holdings of the Rare Books Collection, some 70,000 volumes, range from medieval documents to first editions of twentieth-century books. We certainly don’t have all of these materials digitized, but you can find some of the rare books collection online.


  1. The Archivist’s Nook. Finally, Archives staff and guests publish timely and interesting blogposts related to Special Collections materials. Topics covered include everything from weird University happenings to short overviews of some of the interesting characters populating our collections.
History graduate student Mikkaela Bailey guest blogged on her experiences curating catechisms from our Rare Books Collection with her public history class last semester in this edition of “The Archivist’s Nook.”

Special Collections also has a limited capacity to digitize on demand, and we may have digitized materials available, though not yet online. Please contact Maria Mazzenga,, if you have a request for a specific set of digital materials for use in your classes. Special collections staff are available for virtual assistance, just email us at with your requests.








The New 222: Expanded Group Study

At the heart of Mullen Library, room 222 has been improved to restore original continuity, both visual and circulatory, between the front of the building and the Stacks. With views of the Stacks and both courtyards, this re-unified room provides a unique intellectually inspiring and flexible group work space. 

Looking for the carrels? We’ve moved the carrels down to the first floor Reference Room. You can also find many more carrels on the third floor in the Greek & Latin and Religious Studies/Philosophy reading rooms. 

Introducing the Textbooks on Reserve Pilot Program

Textbooks are expensive, we know.

The top two most expensive textbooks at this university cost $446 for an accounting textbook and $396 for an Italian language textbook with the accompanying online access code. Libraries and colleges can work together to reduce the burden of textbook pricing on students. The Catholic University of America University Libraries is leveraging its membership in the Washington Research Library Consortium to examine options. The impact of textbook costs on students was discussed in a University Libraries blog post in April 2019.

One solution to resolving the crisis is expanding textbook access through library reserves.

For Spring 2020, we are introducing a Textbook on Reserve pilot program.  We analyzed courses with highest enrollment and expensive required texts. We limited the pilot to courses that have an enrollment of 50 or more students. Based on the analysis, we have identified 8 courses and purchased 9 textbooks that will be placed on reserve for limited use.

The courses identified for the pilot project are ARPL 102, CLASS 211, ECON 102, SSS 740, ENG 101, MATH 168, ME 342, and TRS 280.

Subject Course Number TTL course enrollment Textbook cost Title Author Instructor (Spr 2020) Required Spr 2020 Yes/No
ARPL 102 64 $60.00 DESIGN DRAWING-W/CD Ching Ohnstad, T y
CLAS 211 116 $106.65 CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY: IMAGES & INSIGHTS Harris Lao, E; Stanchina D y
ECON 102 61 $250.00 PRINCIPLES OF MICROECONOMICS Mankiw Asguet, E; Nowroozi, B; Kane, K y


The textbooks can be checked out from the Mullen Library Circulation Desk for a 2-hour period. Students will need to bring their Cardinal ID card to check out a book. The books cannot leave the library.

We hope this service will save students money, as well as help with student retention and timely completion of degree programs.

Student success and retention have been demonstrably improved through transitioning to affordable textbooks (Winitzky-Stephens, 2017; Hardin, 2018).

In addition to the textbooks on reserve pilot program, the University Libraries have also partnered with the Washington Research Library Consortium to join the Open Textbook Network. The Open Textbook Network is a group of higher education institutions that provide access to openly-licensed textbooks. These open textbooks are written by academics, peer-reviewed, and may be found in the Open Textbook Library collection. The Open Textbook Library currently includes 690 textbooks, with more added all the time. The textbooks may be used or adapted freely to better meet instructional needs.

Open Educational Resources (OER) materials lower the cost and increase access to required texts. The below figure from a Department of Education analysis shows the relative cost and access issues that students face (Akani B, College Textbook Affordability, ED598412, March 15, 2019 []).

An interactive calculator created by the Open Education Group can show the impact of adopting OER material in lieu of traditional copyrighted texts:

If you wish to learn more about the textbook on reserve pilot initiative, please contact Lea Wade,

Database Trial thru 10/25: Access World News

From 9/16/2019 – 10/25/19, the University Libraries has arranged trial access to Access World NewsAccess World News consolidates current and archived information from newspaper titles, as well as newswires, web editions, blogs, videos, broadcast transcripts, business journals, periodicals, government documents and other publications. The database covers more than four decades of information. With easy-to-use, customizable search features, Access World News provides full-text information and perspectives from 4,000 domestic and over 6,000 international news sources, each with its own distinctive focus offering diverse viewpoints on local, regional and world issues. Date coverage varies with individual newspaper. Access Business is a shortcut to the wealth of business information in the database.

The University Libraries may consider this subscription in the future and we welcome your feedback.  Click here and tell us what you think about this database.  Thank you!

Help Make the Count: The 2020 Census

The exhibit titled, “Help Make the Count: The U.S. Census Past and Present” can be viewed on the 2nd Floor of the Main Reading Room from 8/26 thru 11/11

The 1790 map illustrates the population of the United States following the 1790 census.
The 1790 map illustrates the population of the United States following the 1790 census.

Mark your calendars for April 1, 2020, Census Day! The census is a vital count that takes place every 10 years. The decennial census was mandated in 1790 by the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2. [1] The first count included just six questions with a population totaling 3.9 million people, and the first enumerators were U.S. Marshals. The purpose of the count was the apportionment of the number of seats states have in the U.S. House of Representatives. [2] 

In addition to apportionment the census counts demographic information including household size, income, race, and business ownership, which helps determine funding to support vital programs at the federal, state, and local levels. 

Throughout the years the response questions have changed with the times to include manufacturing, agriculture, economic, and transportation related questions. [3] By 1870, the census started recording the names of all members of the household. In 1880, trained individuals replaced the U.S. Marshals as enumerators. By 1902, the U.S. Census Bureau became a permanent department and eventually moved to the U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor. The headquarters would eventually move to Suitland, Maryland in 1942. [4] The first count of Americans abroad from the armed forces and federal civilian personnel took place in 1950. In 2000, multiple responses to race appeared on the questionnaire. By 2010, a single questionnaire included 10 questions. [5]

Some populations are at risk for being undercounted. This occurs as a result from not being able to locate or persuade populations to take the census, “Traditionally undercounted populations include young children, American Indians and Alaska Natives, people experiencing homelessness, and people of color, among others.” [6] 

The 2020 Census enumeration map
The 2020 Census enumeration map

Encouraging people to fill out the census is important and many groups have joined the Census Bureau to get the word out. The American Library Association (ALA) has been one of those groups. The ALA has been partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to help with awareness and programming to prevent misinformation about the 2020 Census. In addition, libraries across the country are anticipating an increase in the use of computers and the internet.[7] 

Confidentiality and security of the census is important. According to Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the law states the U.S. Census Bureau can not send personal identifiable information to law enforcement agencies. The information obtained from the census is only to be produced as statistics. [8] 

A marketing graphic obtained through the U.S. Census Bureau
A marketing graphic obtained through the U.S. Census Bureau

This is the first census to encourage people to respond online. However, the option to submit a response by phone or mail is still available. The Census Bureau will send out a mailing that will include a unique ID code that people will use to submit their responses online. 

The 2020 Census will include for the first time an option for people filling out the form to include same-sex relationships. [9] For the first time since the 1950 census there is a citizenship question that was added in March 2018 citing the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. There is now a controversy surrounding the addition of a citizenship question because many believe by adding the question non-citizens will not respond to the census, which would affect apportionment and funding. The Supreme Court did rule that there was insufficient evidence for why the question should appear on the 2020 Census. [10] President Trump had vowed that he was going to continue to pursue adding the citizenship question to the census but has since decided not to. Instead he will obtain citizenship information through other means. 

Other uses for the census records include historical research and genealogy. Past census records can include the names of family members, state or country of birth, year of immigration, street address, marriage status, occupation, and crops that were grown. The most current year available is 1940, there is a 72-year restriction on the records. The 1950 Census will be available in 2022. Online access is available for free at the National Archives facilities. Check with your local library to see if they provide access. [11]


[1] Retrieved 7/9/2019.

[2] Retrieved 7/9/2019.

[3] Retrieved 7/9/2019

[4] Retrieved 7/8/2019

[5] Retrieved 7/9/2019

[6] Retrieved 7/10/2019

[7] Retrieved 7/10/2019

[8] Retrieved 7/11/2019

[9] Retrieved 7/9/2010

[10] Michael Wines. (2019, June 25). Reopened Legal Challenge to Census Citizenship Question Throws Case Into Chaos. The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019

[11] Retrieved 7/11/2019

Affordable Textbooks

This post is guest-authored by Lea Wade, STEM Librarian, University Libraries, and member of the Textbook Affordability Task Force of the Washington Research Library Consortium.

Textbook costs are increasing. Since 1977, college textbook prices have risen over 1,000 percent.

Vox had a recent article on how much students spend on textbooks, and what publishers are offering to do to help. Over two-thirds of students skip buying or renting some required texts because they can’t afford them.

University and college students are estimated to spend $1,240 dollars on books and supplies at the average full-time private four-year college in 2018-2019 (College Board, 2019).  That’s an increase from the average 2017-2018 cost of $1,220 at private colleges. Textbooks at public colleges are estimated to cost more: in 2017-2018 the average cost was $1,250 (Collegedata), and in 2018-2019 the estimated cost is $1,298 (College Board).

The cost varies from course to course – generally, prices for textbooks in the sciences and analytical studies such as accounting are much higher than in the humanities. At Catholic University, the most expensive textbooks cost $446 for an accounting textbook to $396 for an Italian language textbook with the accompanying online access code. When the course requirement includes paying for an online access code, students do not have the option of renting or buying a used textbook. In those cases, students may resort to sharing with a friend or doing without the required online access. Other students may drop out altogether if they cannot afford the required textbooks.

Student success and retention have been demonstrably improved through transition to affordable textbooks (Winitzky-Stephens, 2017; Hardin, 2018).

Libraries and colleges can work together to reduce the burden of textbook pricing on students. The Catholic University of America University Libraries is leveraging its membership in the Washington Research Libraries Consortium to examine options. One option is expanding textbook access through library reserves. Another is expanding the use of Open Educational Resources, or Open Textbooks. A recent report from the Public Interest Research Groups has laid out some options for resolving the problem by embracing Open Textbooks.

“Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching, learning, and research resources released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OERs can be textbooks, full courses, lesson plans, videos, tests, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge.”Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition. 

OER involves replacing textbooks with openly licensed and easily accessible documents and media. With OER textbooks, students have access to the text online at no cost. Faculty can be assured that if students do not read the assigned text, it is not because they couldn’t afford the text.

Some universities are providing grant funding to faculty who agree to refocus their courses to include the use of OER. Even more funding is often provided to faculty who write an open textbook. Years of advocacy for open educational resources has begun to move the needle toward greater acceptance. Student Public Interest Research Groups have released an action plan for universities and faculty to help relieve the burden of textbook cost. An associated student-led campaign, the Open Textbook Alliance, provides simple handouts and guides on open textbooks.

Your subject liaison librarian can help you identify free open-source textbooks if you are wondering what is already available. There are several online open repositories of textbooks that are free and available to use for your research and coursework.

If you are wondering what is already available, there are several online open repositories of textbooks that are free and available to use for your research and coursework.

Some OER Repositories include the following sites:

You can learn more about what other campuses are doing to improve student success by reducing textbook cost burden from this article [Espocito, J. The Coming Wave of Affordable Textbooks [], November 19, 2018].



  • Students should directly advocate for open textbook use in their classrooms.
  • Faculty should consider adopting open textbooks in their classrooms. They should check the U. Minnesota Open Textbook Library to see if there’s a book available for your class.
  • Campus administrators should consider creating an open textbook pilot program on their campus. They can see the University System of Maryland’s MOST Initiative as a sample.
  • State and federal legislatures should invest in the creation and development of more open textbooks. See Washington State’s Open Course Library as an example.
  • Publishers should develop new models that can produce high quality books without imposing excessive prices on students.











The Archivist’s Nook: A Rocky Road to Reconstruction

The year 1919 could be termed a grim one. The First World War had ended in November, 1918, true, but the combatants were still taking measure of that frightful conflict. With more than 70 million people mobilized to fight, more than 16 million had died as a direct result of the war, with another 50 to 100 million dying as a result of the 1918 influenza pandemic. A “Red Scare” gripped the United States, as fear of communist agitation rippled through the country in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Two women lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris. The war was over in 1918, but U.S. Catholics believed its ravages warranted proposals for social reconstruction.

These more immediate happenings occurred in the context of long term changes in social and economic life that had accelerated during the previous century. The industrial revolutions transformed the nature of work, the landscape of cities, and the lives of peoples displaced by the changing economy. Pope Leo XIII had addressed the meaning of such changes for Catholics in his 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, noting that “new developments industry, new techniques striking out on new paths, changed relations of employer and employee” had led to “a decline of morals and caused conflict to break forth.” Many Catholics in the United States and elsewhere sought to address how their religion might address social and economic transformation.[1]

When the National Catholic War Council led by the United States bishops formed in 1917, their chief aim was to assist the millions of Catholics mobilizing for the First World War. However, when the war ended it became clear that a national Catholic organization designed to coordinate activities among the nation’s faithful would prove useful. In 1919 the bishops changed the name of their young organization to the National Catholic Welfare Council and began discussing a Catholic plan for postwar America.[2]

The National Catholic War Council, like many social and religious groups of the time, was eager to offer a Catholic plan for postwar America of its own. In April of 1918 the bishops established a Committee for Reconstruction. The war ended on November 11, 1918, however, sooner than the Committee could forge their plan. The Committee’s secretary, Catholic charity expert Rev. John O’Grady had only the vaguest notions of what its plan should look like at that time. O’Grady, panicking in early December because he needed a plan immediately, turned to Father John A. Ryan, who had written a book on living wage issues and studied social reform extensively, to write a program. Ryan at first resisted then agreed and dictated the Program to a typist two days later. Ryan’s program was pushed quickly through the administrative structure of the War Council and approved by the Committee’s bishops. The program called for government insurance for the sick, unemployed and aged; labor’s participation in industrial management; public housing; unions’ right to organize, and a “living wage” for all workers. The Program’s publicist, Larkin Mead, set a release date for it: February 12, 1919, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

Initially reluctant to write the Program, Ryan eventually came to view it as his most important work up to that point. Above is Ryan’s own inscribed copy.
Father John Ryan (1869-1945), author of the Bishops’ Program for Reconstruction, attended The Catholic University of America from 1898 until 1906, receiving his Doctorate in Sacred Theology in the latter year. He taught at the University from 1915 until his retirement in 1939.

The Program was called then, and forever after would be called, the “Bishops’ Program for Social Reconstruction,” the implication being that it represented the entire church’s views on the remaking of America in the postwar era. That claim was disputed by some, because the War Council’s authority to issue such a sweeping statement on behalf of the whole church was questioned. Some Catholic prelates and business groups opposed the bishops’ plan on the grounds that it was too radical. William Cardinal O’Connell of Boston, for example, believed some aspects of the plan were “socialistic,” a word often used to describe what was viewed as too much government involvement in American society and the economy. Many Americans were inclined to share O’Connell’s suspicions; the Red Scare in particular heightened fears of “Bolshevik” plots. As the 1920s progressed, Americans’ lost their appetite for Progressive reform, and critics of the Bishops’ plan gained traction. The kind of reformism advised in the Bishops’ Program would not find an audience again until the economy slid into the Depression in the 1930s.

Read the entire Bishops’ Program for Social Reconstruction here

Visit the website related to the Bishops’ Program for Social Reconstruction here

A finding aid to the National Catholic War Council can be found here

A finding aid to the papers of John A. Ryan can be found here


[1] Quote from Rerum Novarum is on the American Catholic History Classroom website, Catholic and Social Welfare, 1919:

[2] “Council” would be changed to “Conference” in 1922, with the organization serving as the forerunner of today’s United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Kristen Fredericksen named 2018 Belanger awardee

Kristen Fredericksen, Information Processing Librarian, has been selected as the recipient of the Edward J. Belanger Jr. Staff Award for Excellence in Service for 2018.

One colleague nominated Kristen saying:

Kristen single handedly shepherded us through the Alma transition. She became one of the most knowledgeable people within WRLC regarding this new next generation system. She keeps a very calm and even keel as she approaches often very frustrating and unknown situations. Kristen has a keen ability to problem solve.

Another wrote:

I … have always found her dependable, efficient, and hard working. Her skills do not end with her work. She also projects a warm, cheerful attitude to all. I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Kristen.

Ed Belanger worked for the university for over 40 years before retiring in 2002 as the Libraries’ business manager. His service and dedication to his fellow staff was extraordinary, and he is one of the most positive, up-beat, and good natured people you will ever meet. After his retirement, his children made a donation to the Libraries for the creation of an award in his honor. Each year the Libraries select a staff member of the year who not only contributes outstanding service to the library but also shares Ed’s good nature. Past honorees serve as the award committee, selecting from among nominations submitted by library staff.

ProQuest databases, Ebook Central, and RefWorks will be temporarily unavailable from 10 pm on January 19 to 6 am on January 20.

To maintain the currency and security of the products, ProQuest is performing maintenance on many ProQuest products beginning from 10 pm on January 19, 2019, U.S. Eastern Time. Maintenance will conclude within 8 hours. During the maintenance window, the following subscribed services from ProQuest will be temporarily unavailable.

  • ProQuest Platform (
  • ProQuest Congressional (,
  • ProQuest Ebook Central
  • RefWorks (Legacy and New)