125th Anniversary Website highlights content from Archives and Digital Collections

Visitors to the University’s 125th Anniversary website (125th.scranton.edu) will notice photographs, historic documents, and other materials from the Weinberg Memorial Library’s University Archives and Digital Collections. Library faculty, staff, and student workers contributed to the website’s timeline, photo galleries, and history pages, as well as the upcoming University history book and of course our Heritage Room anniversary exhibit.

125th-scranton-eduWe encourage all our University community members to submit “Your Scranton Story” in celebration of the University’s 125 years. At the end of the year, we’ll be capturing the Scranton Stories in our web archives, preserving your memories for the 150th anniversary and beyond.

Cornerstone Crib Sheet: A Pictoral History from Digital Collections

The University of Scranton begins its 125th Anniversary celebration this month with a special mass on August 12. We know all true Royals take pride in the long history of the University of Scranton — but just in case your memory is a bit fuzzy, here’s a quick pictorial primer on the story behind our 1888 cornerstone, featuring materials from the University Archives and Digital Collections.

The University of Scranton was founded in 1888 by Most Reverend William G. O’Hara, D.D., the first Bishop of Scranton, as the College of St. Thomas of Aquin.

Bishop O’Hara

On August 12, 1888, Bishop O’Hara laid and blessed the cornerstone of the College’s first building, which would stand next to St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Bishop’s residence on Wyoming Avenue. The laying of the cornerstone was a major, city-wide celebration. The Bishop sent out invitations:

Invitation from Bishop O’Hara

The Catholics of Northeastern Pennsylvania responded with enthusiasm. Four packed trains brought attendees from Wilkes-Barre and Carbondale, who joined the people of Scranton in an “immense throng” on Wyoming Avenue. At 2:30pm, community organizations and societies gathered at the corner of Franklin and Lackawanna Avenues and paraded to the Cathedral, carrying banners and (in some cases) bringing along a band. The Scranton Republican noted that “the parade was not a large one, but it made an excellent approach.”

The ceremony began at 3pm, as Bishop O’Hara and several priests, cross-bearers, and acolytes processed from the Cathedral to the cornerstone, accompanied by the Cathedral choir and an orchestra performing Mozart’s Gloria. Bishop O’Hara blessed the cornerstone, placed at the foundation of the planned College building. The granite stone (in a “much admired pink hue”) was inscribed with the College’s name and the date:

The cornerstone, as it appeared in the 1950s

Inside the cornerstone was placed a copper box, which held:

  • Seven silver coins, fresh from the U.S. Mint, including a rare 3-cent piece
  • That day’s issues of local newspapers (including the Scranton Times, the Scranton Republican, the Free Press, News, and the Catholic Record, along with the Catholic Standard of Philadelphia)
  • A record of the blessing, in Latin

Bishop O’Hara then gave a sermon, noting that “God gives His grace to all works that are given in his name.” He charged the attendees with the care and support of the College: “It is for you to put your shoulder to the wheel and to see this institution of learning rising up… [do] not think of educating your children according to the fashions of the world, but to train their minds and impress upon their hearts the great truths of religion and to point out to them the way in which they should walk.” The following day, local newspapers published the text of the sermon along with detailed reports of the event:

August 13, 1888 article about the cornerstone blessing (click for full view)

Bishop O’Hara’s plans came to fruition in 1892, when the construction of College Hall (later known as “Old Main”) was completed and St. Thomas College opened its doors. The three story brick building housed classrooms on the first and second floors, an auditorium/gymnasium on the third floor, and a chapel in the basement:

St. Thomas College campus, ca. 1920s
Old Main (center), ca. 1920s

The cornerstone remained at the base of Old Main for more than 70 years. During that time, St. Thomas College evolved into the University of Scranton (changing its name in 1938), and the campus center shifted from Wyoming Avenue to the property surrounding the Scranton Estate, which Worthington Scranton donated to the University in 1941.

Cornerstone of Old Main, 1950s
Cornerstone of Old Main, as it appeared in the 1950s

In 1962, the University formalized this shift by moving the cornerstone from Wyoming Avenue to the new campus. The cornerstone was carefully removed from Old Main (which would be demolished in 1968):

Rev. Joseph A. Rock, S.J., overseeing the removal of the cornerstone in 1962

It was then transferred to the new campus, where a newly constructed classroom building — St. Thomas Hall — was about to be dedicated. The September 1962 issue of the Aquinas described the move:

The cornerstone was removed from St. Thomas College to perpetuate those things for which it stands. The intentions of the founding fathers and the service which its building has provided to higher education have all been carried with the stone to its new resting place beneath a new cornerstone in the walls of St. Thomas Hall.

No edifice is stronger than its foundation, and the foundation of St. Thomas Hall and the University is in the ‘Old Main’ building and St. Thomas College. This is symbolically represented by the old cornerstone providing a foundation for the new, as St. Thomas College provides a foundation for the present institution. Along with the stone, St. Thomas College has given its name to the largest building on the University campus, providing a continuity to the history of the school by linking its past with its present.

At the September 16, 1962 dedication of St. Thomas Hall, both the old and new cornerstones were blessed by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Madden, chancellor of the Diocese of Scranton. Msgr. Madden observed: “What we witnessed here today is but a step, though gigantic, towards fulfillment of a divine command… ‘Go, therefore and Teach!'”

Rt. Rev. Msgr. Madden blessing the new 1962 cornerstone in front of St. Thomas Hall

A special guest at the dedication was Dr. Martin T. O’Malley, who at the age of 12 had served as an altar boy at the 1888 dedication. He was the only person to be present at both the 1888 and 1962 events.

The contents of the 1888 cornerstone were removed before it was installed; the original silver coins and the copper box went into other storage for safe keeping. It’s a little unclear from the 1962 accounts of the dedication, but it seems that the original 1888 newspapers were placed into the 1962 cornerstone, along with:

  • A letter from Robert P. Moran ’25, the architect of St. Thomas Hall, addressed to the future architect of any building that replaced it
  • A letter from 1962 student body president Jacques P. Kueny
  • A letter from Atty. James A. Kelly, president of the Alumni Society
  • A letter from Dr. Frank J. O’Hara, director of alumni relations, to alumni of the future
  • Bulletins from the Graduate School, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Evening College
  • The latest issues of the Alumni Bulletin
  • Promotional materials from a recent development campaign
  • A pictorial booklet
  • Copies of student publications
  • A list of student names for the 1961-1962 academic year
  • New issues of local newspapers from the day of the 1962 dedication
  • Three medals
  • New coins of each denomination

Both the 1888 and 1962 cornerstones were placed at the Linden Street entrance of the new building, which at the time was a very prominent location. Over the years, though, it proved to be a less than ideal spot in terms of cornerstone visibility, with bushes and eventually a tree hiding the stones from direct view:

St. Thomas Hall, ca. 1979
St. Thomas Hall, ca. 1979
St. Thomas Hall, 1982
St. Thomas Hall, 1982
St. Thomas Hall, ca. 1990s
St. Thomas Hall, ca. 1990s
St. Thomas Hall, 2013

As part of the 125th Anniversary, the 1888 cornerstone has been dislodged from its 1962 placement and will be on display – location TBA – throughout the celebration.  Keep an eye out for it, and be sure to take the opportunity to pay your respects to Bishop O’Hara and the University’s 125-year-old granite foundation.

The cornerstone on display at the August 12 anniversary Mass.

University of Scranton Commencement Programs

Commencement Programs

The Weinberg Memorial Library is excited to announce our newest digital collection – University of Scranton Commencement Programs – which includes programs from commencement exercises and related activities (like Class Night and Baccalaureate) held by the University of Scranton and its predecessor, St. Thomas College. Dated from the 1910s through the 1970s, the programs generally list names, degrees, and awards received by that year’s graduating class. Some programs also include biographies of honorary degree recipients.

We’re still working on digitizing programs from the 1970s to the present – but due to privacy restrictions related to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), we are unable to provide public access to programs dated after August 1974 that include student names. (For more information regarding FERPA, please contact the Office of the Registrar.) The original, printed programs are still available in the Library’s Special Collections and University Archives, where they may be viewed by appointment.

We hope that the collection will interest our alumni as well as our current students, faculty, staff, and friends.  Please let us know at digitalcollections@scranton.edu if you have questions or suggestions for us, and make sure you take a second to browse through our other digital collections.

University of Scranton Basketball Collection

University of Scranton Basketball Collection

Here’s something we’ve been working on for a while as part of our ongoing digitization of materials from the University Archives: The University of Scranton Basketball Collection. We haven’t yet digitized the whole archival collection, but we thought we’d go ahead and make the part that *is* done available to all of you – especially with the University’s 125th Anniversary coming up!

So far, the digital Basketball Collection includes more than 600 photographs and documents, dating from 1917 through 1979, that relate to basketball at St. Thomas College and the University of Scranton. The collection includes team and player photographs, game programs, rosters, and selected newspaper clippings. Most of the material is from the 1920s-1950s, but we’ll be adding content from more recent years as we’re able to digitize it. Don’t forget, of course, that the original photographs and documents are available in the Library’s University Archives and can be viewed by appointment.

We hope that the collection will interest our alumni as well as our current students, faculty, staff, and friends.  Please let us know at digitalcollections@scranton.edu if you have questions or suggestions for us — or if you recognize one of our unidentified photographs! If you like what you see, make sure you take a second to browse through our other digital collections.

Archiving the University Web


Thanks to combined support from the University of Scranton’s Academic Affairs and Planning and Information Resources divisions, the Weinberg Memorial Library has partnered with Archive-It (a subscription service from nonprofit Internet Archive) to capture and preserve University-related websites for the enduring future.

Part of the Weinberg Memorial Library’s mission is to “preserve and promote the history of the University,” and our University Archives has long collected and preserved photographs, documents, and other records from the past.

Increasingly, though, our students, faculty, and staff communicate using dynamic digital media instead of paper or film. For example, the University’s undergraduate catalog is no longer a print publication but a database, and instead of finding printed newsletters in our mailboxes, we get our weekly University news digitally via Royal News. And unfortunately, this kind of web content is surprisingly vulnerable to digital degradation and loss over the long term.

We could preserve a paper version of that dynamic information (say, by printing out Royal News each week) or take a PDF or image screenshot of it, but in doing so we’d lose its interactivity and searchability. Ideally, in the future we’ll want to be able to access archived web content the same way we access it now — that is, by browsing and searching.

That’s where web archiving comes in. Archive-It’s web archiving service allows us to crawl and capture web pages in ways that preserve their dynamic and functional aspects – including active links and embedded media like images, videos, animations, and PDF documents.

We’re certainly not the first ones to recognize the importance of web archiving in higher education. 97 other colleges & universities have already signed on with Archive-It, including fellow Jesuit universities Georgetown, Creighton, and Marquette, and fellow Pennsylvania schools Penn State, Drexel, and Bucknell. Several universities have created web archives that document important topics or events, like the American University in Cairo’s January 25th Revolution project or the University of Virginia’s collection of web and social media content relating to the resignation and reinstatement of President Teresa Sullivan.

Here at the Weinberg we plan to focus our early web archiving efforts on our own University web content (like our main website and our athletics site) and the University-related social media sites (like our YouTube channel and many Facebook pages) where our community shares its stories. Over time, as we develop expertise (and hopefully secure recurring funding!), we’ll work with faculty to identify and explore the possibility of collecting external websites relevant to current and future scholarship at the University of Scranton.

Our first step, though, is to seek input from our campus community regarding what is most important to preserve for the future. We invite members of the University community to send us questions, concerns, or suggestions. Take a peek at our first experimental crawls, and let us know if you’d like to be involved in web archiving at the University of Scranton!

Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has some snapshots of the University website dating back to 1998. With Archive-It, we can periodically and systematically capture and preserve the entire University website – and any other related web content our community needs.

The Proud Art of Beautiful Writing: Limited Edition Moleskine® Notebooks

This holiday season, the Weinberg Memorial Library is selling a new line of limited edition Moleskine® notebooks, inspired by the calligraphic and ornamental masterworks preserved in the Library’s Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Collection.

Featured on each notebook is “The Proud Art Shall Conquer,” a peacock flourish by master penman Fielding Schofield (1845-1924). Schofield’s work references the motto of 19th century professional penmanship journal The Teacher of Penmanship:

“The Proud Art of Beautiful Writing Shall Conquer the Hearts of All Men.” 

On campus, the notebooks are available for purchase at the Weinberg Memorial Library‘s 1st floor Circulation desk for the price of $20.00 per set (cash or check). Off campus, the notebooks are available for order at $20.00 per set plus shipping and handling. You can either fill out and send in one of our order forms (to pay by check) or contact our Special Collections library at 570-941-7002 to put in a credit card order.

All proceeds benefit the care, preservation, and digitization of the Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Collection.

These Moleskine® Large Cahier notebooks are 5″ x 8.25″ with 80 acid-free pages and are packaged in sets of two — one in black with ruled paper, and one in craft with blank paper.  Graphic artist April Francia, a University of Scranton sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Philosophy, created the notebook covers and decorative paper bands (as well as the Zaner-Bloser Collection logo) by manipulating digitized images of ornamental penmanship in Adobe Illustrator.

(Updated November 15, 2012 with off-campus ordering information)

Library 20th Anniversary Celebration Video

This past Saturday, the Friends of the Weinberg Memorial Library honored award winning poet, biographer, fiction writer and educator Jay Parini, Ph.D., with the 2012 Royden B. Davis, S.J., Distinguished Author Award. We also kicked off the Library’s 20th anniversary celebration with another honored guest, American Library Association President Maureen Sullivan.

The evening was a wonderful success, and we’re so grateful to our event sponsors, the event planning committee, all of our Friends, and the many Library and University faculty and staff members who have contributed to our 20th Anniversary festivities.

The celebration is far from over, though – check out our calendar of events and join us for lectures, conversations, and our first ever wine-tasting fundraiser!

Pinterest, Posterity, and the 125-Year History of the University of Scranton


This summer, we’ve been experimenting with new ways of displaying and sharing all of the interesting items from the University Archives that we’ve uploaded into our digital collections. With the University’s 125th anniversary coming up next year, we’re especially looking for fun ways to share our campus history with University of Scranton students, alumni, and friends.

The Library’s Digital Services department has been putting together Pinterest boards to highlight some of our favorite photographs – and even our favorite Aquinas headlines – from the last 125 years. We’re still experimenting, so check out our pins and let us know what you think!

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Letterpress Library Christmas Card

It may be 90 degrees outside today, but we’re too excited to wait until December to share our latest project – letterpress printing our Library Christmas card!

Back in 2010, the Zaner-Bloser Company donated a rich collection of 19th and early 20th century penmanship materials to the University of Scranton Weinberg Memorial Library’s Special Collections.  In addition to original artwork by the masters of the Golden Age of Penmanship, the collection also includes some of the printing blocks used to publish their work.

We’ve partnered with Samantha Urbanick of Clarks Summit-based letterpress studio Hand Deliver Press to put some of those printing blocks back in action.

Our first project, the Library’s 2012 Christmas card, uses a Zaner-Bloser printing block from Christmas 1912. The block is based on a pen and ink drawing by master penman E. L. Brown and was used in the publication of the December 1912 issue of the professional penmanship journal The Business Educator.

Check out our photo set and video to see Hand Deliver Press and our Zaner-Bloser block in action!

Samantha Urbanick of Hand Deliver Press, with the Weinberg Memorial Library's first letterpress printed Christmas card