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

Celebrating the 150th Birthday of G. K. Chesterton!

On May 29th,  the world will celebrate the enduring legacy of the remarkable English author, critic, Catholic apologist, and philosopher, G. K. Chesterton, on what would have been his 150th birthday. Revered as “the apostle of common sense,” Chesterton’s literary repertoire spans across various genres – from prose to poetry, drama to journalism – covering a wide array of topics including history, theology, and current events, all infused with his distinctive wit and irony.

While many know Chesterton for his influential autobiography, Orthodoxy, where he vividly recounts his journey to Christianity, his contributions extend far beyond this seminal work. A convert to Roman Catholicism in 1922, Chesterton is perhaps best remembered for his metaphysical thriller, The Man Who Was Thursday, his noted work of apologetics, The Everlasting Man,  biographies of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thomas Aquinas and, of course, the beloved Father Brown mystery series.

At the St. Thomas Libraries’ Special Collections Department, we curate a treasury of over 2,000 first editions, fine printings, and foreign translations of Chesterton’s literary masterpieces. This collection is one of the most comprehensive gatherings of its kind in the United States. For more information see our website.

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

Folio Society Books on Exhibit

Step into the O’Shaughnessy Room, affectionately known as “The Leather Room,” on the main floor of the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a treasure trove of classic works of history and literature. These gems were generously donated to the library by the late John O’Shaughnessy (grandson of I. A. O’Shaughnessy and a former member of St. Thomas’s Board of Trustees).

This remarkable collection pays homage to the artistry of the book. A significant portion of this collection is the output of the Folio Society, a publisher renowned for producing exquisite, illustrated editions of the world’s greatest books and facsimiles of historically significant manuscripts.

Currently on display within the room’s exhibit cases are:

– a facsimile of “The Royal Choirbook”: a collection of vocal motets which were presented King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon in 1518.

–  a facsimile of the Hereford Mappa Mundi: the largest and most elaborate map of the fifteenth century, offering a captivating glimpse into the geographical and cultural perceptions of the era.

–  limited edition publications of Jonathan Swift’s Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories.

Libraries, News & Events, Special Collections and Archives

Discover Video and Audio Recordings from the University Archives


A film of the St. Thomas campus from 1924.   An audio recording of a commencement address given by Hubert Humphrey.   Footage of early television episodes produced by St. Thomas.  These are just a few of the many audio-visual treasures saved as a part of the University Archives’ audio and visual collections. 

Audiovisual materials present unique challenges to archivists to preserve and make available over time.  The devices required for playback for some recordings become obsolete (for example: reel-to-reel audiotape players and VCRs).  Additionally, the chemical composition of the physical media on which theare stored (motion picture film, audio and video tape) may deteriorate resulting in loss of the recording.  The conversion to and maintenance of digital format is the only way to ensure that these recordings can be preserved over time.   The University Archives has undertaken several projects to reformat some of our most at risk materials to a digital format.  But up to now, visitors and researchers have still been required to come to our physical reading room to view/listen to these recordings stored on DVDs and hard drives. 

In 2019, the Libraries began the search to find a solution to make our audio-visual collection more readily available to users and to help ensure their preservation for the future.  Our investigation led us to the Elevator media asset management software (developed by the University of Minnesota).  In addition to making the collections viewable to users via the web, the software automatically allows for the conversion from a digital files original formato the most current standard. 

In the Spring of 2020, a pilot project to describe and ingest a collection of previously reformatted and born-digital recordings into Elevator was initiated.  The results of this project can now be seen in the University Archives Audio Visual Collection ( https://elevator.stthomas.edu/ ). This collection contains over 150 films, speeches and musical recordings from our holdings.  

Currentlywe are working on new projects relating to the Archives holdings from the Athletics Department.   We hope to partner with other departments on campus to bring their media files to a larger audience in the future.  Check back soon to view what is new! 

Libraries, Library Week, Media/Music Collections, News & Events, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Services, Special Collections and Archives

National Library Week – April 19-26, 2020

It’s time to Celebrate National Library Week!   You’re invited to have some fun each day from your place.  You’ll find the ever-popular annual Online Trivia Contest to play each day; Jigsaw Puzzles to solve online; Historic and Artistic pages to color;  a Bingo card to complete while learning about the many services offered online by the library!

Check out the latest from our Music and Media Resources Collection and how we can help you make it through these days at home – and more!

We invite you to visit the Library Week webpage often and enjoy Library Week!

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 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 Influenza Epidemic.

The first diagnosed case of 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 isolate themselves 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 St. Thomas and  the University of Minnesota’s SATC unit to the College of St. Thomas campus.

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 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.