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Libraries, News & Events, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Special Collections and Archives

Tales from the Archives — The Cigar Bowl

Did you know that a St. Thomas football team once played in a New Year’s Day bowl game?   With Frank Deig as their coach, the 1948 football team finished their season with a 7-1-1 record, winning the MIAC championship.   The team’s stellar record led to their selection to compete against Missouri Valley Teacher’s College in the Cigar Bowl in Tampa, Florida on New Years Day, 1949.

Aquin, December 17, 1948

The team boarded a train for Florida at St. Paul’s Union Depot the day after Christmas.  Hundreds of Tommie supporters followed the team to Tampa, most making the 35 hour, 1600 mile trip by car or train.  But a group of 21 students who were members of the Air National Guard took a special military flight Florida and were housed at the McDill Army Air Force base before the game.

Missouri Valley was a heavy favorite to win the contest having lost only one game in their previous 42 games.   That prediction seemed to be coming true with the Tommies heading to the halftime locker room trailing 13 – 0.    But, the team rallied in the second half to end the game in in 13 – 13 tie.   You can view film clips of the game and hear stories from some of the players in this video.

Frank Deig and Jack Salscheider with the Cigar Bowl trophy, 1949.

Several players from the Cigar Bowl team went on to play professional football in the NFL.  Jack Salscheider played for the New York Giants;  Jim “Popcorn” Brandt played with the Pittsburgh Steelers; quarterback Ed Krowka signed with the Detroit Lions; Don Simonson played for the Los Angeles Rams.  Jim White turned down an offer from the New York Giants to attend medical school.

To read more about the 1948 football team and their trip to the Cigar Bowl, search the Historic University Publications database.





Libraries, News & Events, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Special Collections and Archives

Tales from the Archives — St. Thomas & the First World War

On this Veteran’s Day, which marks 100 years after the Armistice was declared for the First World War, it is fitting to reflect on the role St. Thomas played in the war.  Nearly 900 students, faculty, staff and alumni of the College of St. Thomas and St. Thomas Military Academy served during the conflict.   Many took up commissions as officers in the United States Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.  Others served in the the fledgling aviation corps, the ambulance corps or as members of Canadian and British military units.   At least 20 men with connections to St. Thomas lost their lives during while serving their country — some on the battlefield and some from the Spanish Influenza outbreak.

kay-1919-a-063 A group of St. Thomas alums who served during WWI, Kaydet, 1918.

During the autumn of 1918, the College of St. Thomas served as a site for one of the United States War Department’s units of the Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.).  The S.A.T.C utilized the facilities, equipment, and faculty of colleges and universities across the country to select and train officer candidates and provide technical and vocational training for recruits.

The St. Thomas Student Army Training Corps, 1918.

A barracks building was built on campus (near the site of the current Anderson Student Center) in the fall of 1918 to house the 250 men in the program.  The building was occupied for only a short time as the S.A.T.C. unit was demobilized in December 1918 after the armistice was declared.


Armory and S.A.T.C. barracks, 1918.

For more information on the history of St. Thomas during this period, search the Kaydet yearbooks and Purple and Gray magazine in the Historic University Publications database.



Libraries, News & Events, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Special Collections and Archives

Treasures from the Rare Book Collections – Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Various Nations of the Known World

Quantecong a Chinese Deity

In the early decades of the 18th century, Bernard Picart and Jean Frederic Bernard collaborated on a project which became a “best-seller” of its time.   Picart, a noted engraver, and  Bernard, a Huguenot bookseller and publisher, created a text which captured the ritual and ceremonial life of all the known religions of the world.   The first volume of this monumental nine volume work was published as Ceremonies et Coutumes Religieues de tous les Peuples du Monde in 1723.

The authors’ aim was to present all religions (including those practiced by “idolatrous peoples”) as objectively as possible — highlighting what common between religions more than how the religions differed from one another.  Marriage and funeral customs, for example, are described in detail for nearly every religion.   Picart’s lavish illustrations accompany many of the most important rituals.

This work  was translated into French, German, English and Dutch and published in numerous editions over the next 100 years. The University of St. Thomas Libraries Rare Book collection holds two early versions of this influential title – one written in English and another written in French.

Adoration of Fire by the Natives of Virginia

For more information on the UST Libraries rare books and manuscripts collections see our website.

Libraries, News & Events, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Special Collections and Archives

Tales from the Archives — Speed Skating at St. Thomas


One of my favorite Winter Olympic sports is speed skating.  I love watching the athletes sprint around the oval on their narrow blades where one false move will find them spinning out on the ice.   But it wasn’t until I was exploring the University Archives collection the other day that I realized how many St. Thomas alums were noted speed skaters.

Everett McGowan, 1920

Everett McGowan, 1920

A multitalented athlete, Everett McGowan lettered in football and baseball as a student at St. Thomas from 1919 to 1920. But he is best known for his speed-skating prowess. McGowan won the national and international speed skating championships in 1920 as an amateur. His success continued during a professional career in which he beat veteran speed skaters such as Norval Baptie in the 1921 Northwest Championship.


Leo Freisinger, 1937

Leo Freisinger, 1937

Leo Freisinger attended the College of St. Thomas from 1937 – 1938.  Prior to enrolling at St. Thomas he won a bronze medal in the 500m race at the 1936 Winter Olympic games.  He continued to compete in national and international speed skating events after that, wearing the St. Thomas colors in the 1938 International Speed Skating Championships in Oslo, Norway.


Bob Fitzgerald, 1946

Bob Fitzgerald, 1946


Bobby Fitzgerald won several indoor, outdoor and North American speed skating championships as a teenager.  But, his skating career was interrupted by World War II and a injury he suffered while in the Army.  After returning to civilian life,  he finished his college degree (graduating from the College of St. Thomas in 1946) and resumed his speed skating career.  He later won the silver medal in 500m the 1948 Winter Olympics and was a member of the 1952 Olympic speed skating team.

To explore more of the history of the University of St. Thomas, visit the University Archives webpage.

(This post was first published on February 3, 2014. )

Libraries, News & Events, Special Collections and Archives

Tales from the Archives — The 1918 Spanish Influenza Epidemic at St. Thomas

“Have you gotten your flu shot yet?” has been a common refrain as people have struggled with this year’s flu season.  All of this talk about the flu outbreak brings back memories of the 1918 Spanish Influenza Epidemic.

The first diagnosed case of Spanish Influenza appeared in Minnesota in late September 1918.  Classes had already started for the college and high school students enrolled at St. Thomas.  A unit of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) – a contingent of soldiers preparing to fight in World War I –  were also posted on campus.

Unlike our neighbors in Minneapolis, Saint Paul did not immediately close schools and public gathering places when the epidemic became widespread.  Instead, authorities recommended that people with flu remain isolated to prevent the spread of the illness.  One consequence of the closure of “places of amusement” in Minneapolis was the relocation of the October 26th football game between the University of Minnesota’s SATC unit to the College of St. Thomas.

Purple and Gray, December 1918, p. 40

Students who contracted the flu and lived on campus were nursed in the College Infirmary ; commuter students were cared for at home.


College of St. Thomas Infirmary, 1920

While no records exist which tell us how many of the approximately 1200 students at the College contracted the Spanish influenza during this outbreak, at least three St. Thomas students and one member of the SATC corps died from the flu.


Alumni Bulletin, February 1919, p. 13


Levang’s Weekly, November 7, 1918 p. 1 

The influenza outbreak reappeared in the winter of 1919 – 1920 claiming at least one student at the College.   This second outbreak hit the Saint Paul Seminary particularly hard, claiming the life of one seminarian and laying a number of them low.

St. Paul Seminary Register, 1920


To explore more of the history of the University of St. Thomas, visit the University Archives webpage.

Libraries, News & Events, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Special Collections and Archives

Treasures from the Rare Book Collections – The Father Brown Mysteries


G. K. Chesterton’s fictional detective Father Brown is one of his most popular fictional creations. While initially produced as contributions to periodicals like the Pall Mall Magazine and McClure’s Magazine, the Father Brown stories soon gained great popularity and were later compiled into anthologies.

The hero of the stories  –  a short, squat, helpless appearing Catholic priest – was based on an actual priest, Father John O’Connor.  O’Connor was a lifelong friend of Chesterton and contributed to his conversion to the Catholic faith.

The original inspiration for the stories was Chesterton’s discovery of Fr. O’Connor’s profound knowledge of the depths of human depravity.  This came about through a conversation at a dinner party at which two Cambridge University students commented sarcastically about the naïveté of modern Christian priests.  Chesterton was struck by the paradox of the outwardly innocent appearance of his priest friend and a his friend’s deep understanding of sin and evil.

Father Brown’s detective pursuits are truly Chestertonian in that they shun the techniques of science and the undiluted rational powers of man. “Mere facts are commonplace,” says Father Brown. The sleuth depends on a deep knowledge of the human heart instead of methodical observation to solve mysteries.

The Chesterton-Belloc Collection housed the Department of Special Collections features over 1200 works by the English author G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936).     Among the materials in this collection, you will find a variety of editions of works from his Father Brown detective series.



Libraries, News & Events, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Special Collections and Archives

Tales from the Archives — 40th Anniversary of Coeducation

Did you know that University of St. Thomas was officially an all-male school in its undergraduate program for the first 92 years of its history?  It wasn’t until September 1977  that women were first admitted as full members of the undergraduate class.   While the school’s administrators anticipated that only 100 – 125 women would enroll in the first year, St. Thomas welcomed 221 women students for the Fall Semester.


From the Aquin, September 7, 1977

To accommodate the women undergraduates, the physical campus underwent a bit of a facelift prior to their arrival.   Bathrooms and locker rooms were remodeled in existing buildings to provide spaces for women. But the most visible change to the campus landscape was an addition to Murray Hall.  Constructed during the summer of 1977, housing for up to 94 female students was created.

Construction of the Murray Hall residence addition June 1977. 

The transition to a coeducational institution went very smoothly by all accounts.  By the 1980-81 academic year, 40 percent of the undergraduate student body were women.  That same year, Rachel Wobschall was voted the by the student body to be the first female Tommie Award (formerly the “Mr. Tommy” award) winner.

Two female students in a Murray Hall residence room, May 1978. 

To explore more of the history of the University of St. Thomas, visit the University Archives webpage.


News & Events, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Special Collections and Archives

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Celtic Collection!

Join the Department of Special Collections and the Center for Irish Studies in celebrating 100th Anniversary of the founding of  Celtic Collection.  This celebration will be a part of our annual St. Patrick’s Day Open House to be held Tuesday, March 14th from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm in the Special Collections Department (LL09 O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library).  In addition to a display of some of the treasures from the collection, a short program featuring Irish poetry will be held at 12:15 pm.

(image from The Fair Hills of Ireland by Stephen Gwynn, Maunsel Press, 1906)

The Celtic Collection can trace its origin to a September 1916 vote by the Minnesota chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians to provide funds to establish an Irish Library at the College of St. Thomas.  From this initial gift of $600, the collection has grown to over 14,000 volumes containing significant materials related to Irish local history and antiquities, folklore, art, music, Irish language and literature and modern Irish poetry.

(image from The Irish Fairy Book by Alfred P. Graves, T.F. Unwin, 1909.)

  For more information on the UST Libraries rare books and manuscripts collections see our website.

News & Events, Special Collections and Archives

#ColorOurCollections at St. Thomas

It’s Color Our Collections Week!

If you have ever visited the Special Collections Department, you know we have a strict pencils-only policy.  But during the week of February 6 – 10,  we are joining libraries and archives from around the world to share images from our collection for you to color.  Break out your stash of crayons, colored pencils, and gel pens to color the images and make them your own.  It is a great way to relieve stress and exhibit your creativity!

See what other institutions have posted for #ColorOurCollections or download a PDF  of images from St. Thomas’s collection below.

Download seven pages of images from the St. Thomas Special Collection to color.

News & Events, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Special Collections and Archives

Treasures from the Rare Book Collection – The Lapidary of King Alfonso X


The Rare Books collection contains a number of facsimlies of medieval manuscripts.  One of the most unusual is the Lapidario del rey d. Alfonso X , a photo-chromo lithograph of a medieval lapidary.

A lapidary is “treatise on (precious) stones.”  Works such as this were popular in the Middle Ages when many people believed that certain gems held inherent powers and the wealthy accumulated jewels to store and transport capital.




Commissioned by King Alfonso X of Castille and Leon, a group of Jewish scholars translated this work from an Arabic texts into the Castilian language. The content of the manuscript is different from more common lapidaries of the time in that it discusses the relationships between specific stones and the planets and other astrological bodies.  The work is divided by the Signs of the Zodiac with the various medicinal and magical properties of a stone (as it relates to a specific astrological sign) described and illustrated.



For more information on the UST Libraries rare books and manuscripts collections see our website.