The Prep's History: From the Archives

A New Look Back... My interest in The Prep's history goes back to my first year here- 1970. I'm pretty certain that my hiring had a lot to do with the fact that I had been editor of SHU's yearbook, the Galleon (RIP 2006). Consequently, the headmaster, Fr. Giblin, needing to fill the late August vacancy of both a Spanish teacher and a moderator for the Tower, saw a way to fill the pair of positions. Having been a student at the University, I had a very basic understanding of the parallel histories of The Prep and "the college." And when opportunities presented themselves to explore and put The Prep's past on paper in the several yearbooks I advised between 1971 and 1988, I not only jumped in with both feet, but, important for the way things worked out over the next four decades, began a mental catalog of the interesting photos, mementos and ephemera strewn around the nooks and crannies of Mooney, Duffy and Stafford Halls in South Orange.

In the intervening years, first as a "hobby" and later in the position of Director of Communications, I've reached into that body of "cool old stuff" to enhance PR and admissions pieces, catalogues, posters, brochures, and, paramount for me, the celebratory Sesquicentennial book "O Sing Her Praise," and the last 19 years worth of Tower Revisited magazines. In the now 49 years I've been a part of SHP, I have added to the collection with (about) five or six thousand photos (on paper) and, since 1999 (when film went away for me) more than a quarter million digital photographs. So when I re-wrote my role at The Prep at the beginning of this year, I christened myself, since I was pretty much the only person that knew what we had and where it was stashed, among other roles, The Archivist.

Since last summer I have been visiting storage spaces under stairways, rarely-visited closets, office and home file cabinets, as well as the now out-of-commission basement darkroom, gathering all the great stuff that tells our history. You can see the early stages of the "gathering" phase in the photo above. Surveying and identifying what's included comes next, followed by cataloging, and protecting and/or digitizing the most fragile material. This area on the website is set up to let you enjoy some of the interesting pieces that have been re-discovered since September. Hopefully you will come back often, since the intention is to add to the album on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
There are, sadly, huge gaps in the collection. It is short on original material from prior to 1970 (although we have all the yearbooks). And the material from before 1940 is extremely rare. (Recalling that "the college" and The Prep were once one and the same and suffered three disastrous fires in the first decades of our existence, the biggest gap concerns material from the earliest years. We have a couple of pre-1900 registrar's logs, but almost nothing else. It is very precious.) Consequently, if you or someone you know would like to bestow on us some of that extremely old ephemera, let us know.  Richard Morris H'95
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