February 12, 2014
Erica Lauriello

University Libraries Digitizes 19th-Century Prefect Diaries

The diaries, which include some of the earliest first-hand accounts of the daily lives of students and Jesuits at SLU, are now available online.

Prefect Diary from Sept. 1870
A diary page showing an entry from September 1870. Submitted image

Prefect Diaries for the years 1851 to 1894 from the Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections are now available online. Part of the Historical Records Collection in the University Archives, these diaries were kept by University prefects, or supervisors, who oversaw the studies and discipline of small boys attending the school.

At that time, students as young as 10 years old could be enrolled. The diaries are some of the earliest records of the University and preserve first-hand accounts of the daily lives of students and Jesuits at Saint Louis University, dealing with administrative, educational and spiritual matters as well as social life and entertainments.

The opening entry for the diary of 1870 records that on Sept. 2 the prefects Charroppin and Weinman left the College Farm in north St. Louis, where they had spent the previous summer months while school was out of session, to begin the academic year on Sept. 5 with 168 boys making up the student body. But book learning and spiritual guidance were not the first concerns of Jesuit educators at the beginning of the year — for already on the first day of school the "boys got their tickets" for the upcoming baseball game between the St. Louis Red Stockings and the Empires Baseball Club.

Both the Empires and the Red Stockings were early amateur baseball teams in St. Louis, although the Red Stockings did go professional for one year in 1875 as part of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. The Red Stockings' field, which was known as Compton Field, was located on the west side of Compton Avenue at Gratiot Street, several hundred yards north of the intersection of Chouteau and Compton avenues. Ironically, Saint Louis University is currently laying out a new baseball diamond at this same Chouteau and Compton location.

The Prefect Diaries are only part of the larger Historical Records Collection, which is being digitized and added to the Digital Collections of the Saint Louis University Libraries with the assistance of the Digitization Center. For more information about these or any other materials in Archives and Manuscripts, contact John Waide, University Archivist, at 314-977-3091 or waide@slu.edu.

About the University Libraries Special Collections

Special Collections houses the archival, audio-visual, manuscript, and rare book collections of Saint Louis University. It collects, preserves and provides access to these materials and offers a laboratory for learning and research that enables students, faculty and visiting scholars to engage directly with unique, rare and original sources. Visit Special Collections online or view the digital collections. Follow Special Collections news and activities through its blog "Special Collections Currents" or follow it on Twitter.

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