Recently, Seton Hall published photos dating back all the way to the 1850’s that show some of the activities that the Seton family got up to almost 2 centuries ago. The over 150 year old photos show the family of William Seton II, the eldest son of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, at times resting and other times posing with his relatives. The album consists of over 51 photos that show the family at their home Cragdon Cottage, a place that is now known as the Bronx.
The photos were placed in an album created for Robert Seton in 1867. While many could assume the album would be passed down and be part of the Seton Hall archive, just last year the album, along with two other rare books belonging to the Seton family, was purchased from a rare books dealer by the Special Collections Center. The photos are in exceptional condition for how old they are. While normally scanning photos would require a flatbed scanner, because the photos are attached to the fragile album book, the University Photographer, Milan Stanic, used a digital camera to capture and upload them.
Tracy Jackson, the Universities Archivist, explains very well why students have the opportunity to find an interest in these photos; “Photos like these, that have a connection to our past since we know these people are related by blood to those who inspired and created this university, can expand our thinking by letting us compare out lives and our environment to theirs,” she said. “I’ve never met anybody who didn’t find historical photographs fascinating once they make a personal connection to them.”
While having a camera at ones disposal around the time of 1850 was not unheard of, it was not necessarily common. This unique insight into Seton Hall’s history is a great chance to see the contrast between past and present, showing just how far we have come while still providing us with roots to our heritage. While there are many ways to gain perspectives on Seton Hall’s history, these photographs may be one of the most genuine opportunities to do so, especially when considering that one day all the photos of students and school spirit we take today may be looked back on curiously in 200 years.
Abbas Khan Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.