The Davis Library is moving


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As you may be aware, St. John’s University’s Manhattan Campus, including the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Library, will be relocating to 101 Astor Place (aka 51 Astor Place building).

The Library’s space at Astor Place is brand new but also limited. To fit most of our resources in the new space, we must rearrange our entire 112-year-old collection.  As we reorganize, we will also be taking the opportunity to reevaluate the Library’s services, procedures, and operating costs. As a result, the Davis Library will be closed to students, faculty, members and the general public from May 15th to August 3rd, 2014. Limited access and services will be provided only to students and faculty participating in summer classes at the new Manhattan Campus.

Please note the following changes related to our relocation:


·    A small part of the collection will be sent to an off-site facility.

·    Most of the collection will be transferred to the new location and distributed between the 2nd and concourse floors of the new campus.

·    The 2nd floor will be the public access area, with open stacks; the concourse area will be closed to the public and accessible only by staff. Most frequently used resources will be located on the 2nd floor. The rest will be in the concourse, including the journals/magazines, the historical collection, the Archives and rare books, and the subject files. All realia will also be in the concourse.


·    As of today, the Davis Library has temporarily suspended new memberships or renewals as we evaluate this part of our public service operations. Any changes to our membership policy will be announce early this fall.

·    Memberships that expire after May 14, 2014, a three month extension will be granted at no additional cost once we reopen.

New Address.

·    Our new address will be:

Davis Library
101 Astor Place
New York, NY 10003

·    Send mail to our new location only after June 16, 2014.

Books on Loan, OCLC Requests and Donations.

·    Please do not send books or OCLC requests to the Library between May 12 and June 16. After June 16, send borrowed books, OCLC requests, or donations to our new address at 101 Astor Place.

·    No fines or overdue charges will be levied during this period.


·    Telephone and fax numbers will remain the same.


The staff and Library’s email will remain the same.

·    Ismael Rivera-Sierra (
·    Richard Waller (
·    Galina Spicehandler (
·    Andrew Seville (
·    Davis Library (


·    During our reorganization, we expect to post more than 25,000 holdings to OCLC. Currently less than 15% of the Library’s holdings appears on OCLC. We estimate that in the future there will remain an additional 20,000 titles that will require posting to OCLC.


·    We expect to add to our online catalog approximately 15,000 analytical records of articles published in journals, magazines, books, and proceedings. Currently our online catalog contains 36,500 analytical records from sources dating back to the 1880’s.

“First Insured” by Peter R. Thibeault


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Image“First Insured”

By Peter R. Thibeault

Boston, Massachusetts

© September 19, 1990

The schooner A.F. Thorne was the first vessel insured by the Atlantic Mutual Companies in 1842. In 1990, the Atlantic Mutual Companies commissioned artist Peter R. Thibeault to create this ship hull of the A.F. Thorne. This piece is now on display at the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Library at St. John’s University.


From the Archives: Records of the Special Commitee on Black Tom Island


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The Records of the Special Committee on Black Tom Island Disaster are now available for research at the Davis Library, St. John’s University Manhattan Campus. To view these materials, please make an appointment.

Black Tom Island

Source: Report On Explosion at Black Tom, N.J., July 30, 1916, by Colonel B.W. Dunn, Chief Inspector of The Bureau of Explosives. February 1, 1917. Photograph No. 3, page 7.

The Black Tom Island explosion occurred off the coast of New Jersey on July 30, 1916. Soon after, a group of insurance companies organized the Special Committee on Black Tom Island Disaster to make sabotage claims against Germany. The case was heard by the German-American Mixed Claims Commission and Germany was originally found not liable, but after a rehearing in 1939, several Germans were found responsible for the explosion. The result was a settlement of $50 million to be paid out to a group of 72 insurance companies. This collection includes newspaper clippings, Committee meeting minutes, correspondence, briefs on the hearings, damage reports, auditors’ reports, account books, bank statements, and additional records from 1916 to 1969.

From the Archives: Records of the CPCU Society – New York Chapter


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The Records of the CPCU Society – New York Chapter are now available for research at the Davis Library, St. John’s University Manhattan Campus. For more information please visit our website, or contact us to make an appointment to visit the archives.

The Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) was founded in 1944 in the interest of promoting professional ethics through fellowship and continuing education. Members are required to pass CPCU examinations, meet experience qualifications, and uphold the Society’s code of professional ethics. In 1994, the organization became known as the CPCU Society. The New York chapter was established on March 5, 1945. The chapter co-sponsors meetings with other professional insurance organizations and sponsors educational forums and other events that advance continuing professional development.

These records include meeting minutes and agendas from monthly Board of Directors and Officers meetings, correspondence, memoranda, press releases, reports, newsletters, programs and other publications generated by the New York chapter, other chapters, and the national organization. The collection also includes photographs and awards.


Firemen’s Insurance Company of New York


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by Costantino Spinosa

 Firemen’s Insurance Company of New York, policy, 1832

Firemen’s Insurance Company of New York, policy, 1832

Two insurance policies in the KDSC archives issued by the Firemen’s Insurance Company of New York (seen below) from 1832 and 1836 include the signature of the company’s president, John Leonard. Insurance may not have been the only industry Mr. Leonard was involved in. An article from the New York Tribune written on May 1st, 1841 may reveal that Mr. Leonard was involved in patenting tailor’s shears. The article states that the U.S. Circuit Court was involved in a case entitled “Rochus Heisiesch vs. John Leonard and Herman Wendt,” regarding the “infringement of a patent right for an improved fashion of tailors’ shears.”[1] It is uncertain whether the John Leonard involved in the case is indeed John Leonard, former president of the Firemen’s Insurance Company of New York.

 Firemen’s Insurance Company of New York, policy, 1836

Firemen’s Insurance Company of New York, policy, 1836

The insurance policy signed by Leonard in 1832 also includes the signature of James W. Bleeker. Those involved in the New York Stock Exchange may recognize this name, as Bleeker served as the NYSE’s 4th president from 1827 to 1830.[2]

[1]  New-York Tribune [New York] 01 May 1841, 1st ed., sec. 19: 2. Print

[2] “Presidents and Chairmen of The New York Stock Exchange.” NYSE Euronext. New York Stock Exchange, n.d. Web. <;.

From the Archives: Records of the Insurance Women of New York


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The Insurance Women of New York (IWNY) was formed in 1934. It was one of the first insurance women’s organizations. In 1984, the organization was renamed National Association of Insurance Women – New York City. This collection is comprised of records from the IWNY including newsletters, meeting minutes, reports, flyers, mailings, and memorabilia.

The Records of the Insurance Women of New York / National Association of Insurance Women are now available for research at the Davis Library at St. John’s University. For more information, visit our website here.

IWNY Newsletter, 1962

Newsletter, 1962

From the Archives: Grad Assistant Audrey Belanger


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My name is Audrey Belanger and I am a graduate assistant at the Davis Library Archives and Special Collections. I am currently in the final year of my Library Science degree at St. John’s University. My main interest is archival and special collections librarianship, so I was excited to get to work at the Davis Archives this semester processing the Records of the Insurance Women of New York (IWNY). The IWNY started in 1934, making it one of the oldest insurance women’s organizations.

The bulk of the collection was comprised of newsletters and meeting documents (meeting minutes, reports, flyers, etc.) which were dated, making them fairly easy to organize. The newsletters were especially fun to go through since official club business was interspersed with news, poems, and the occasional illustration. I had expected a collection about an insurance organization to be dull, but it was actually very interesting to see the formation and development of a professional women’s organization from the 1930s. Alongside their professional interests, the women of the IWNY socialized, participated in charity, and attended cultural events.

Undated and miscellaneous items proved the most difficult to organize, as I imagine is the case in all archival collections! These items included two unlabeled and undated black and white photographs, detailed instructions for conducting a ceremony for the installation of club officers, and an invitation to a Christmas Tea.

The IWNY records contained such a wide variety of materials that I ended up dividing the collection into nine categories (called series). It is important that the collection is arranged and labeled in a clear and concise way that allows researchers to find the information they need. To further assist researchers, I created a finding aid, which is a written document explaining the collection and its arrangement. In my finding aid I was able to explain that the series “Organization information” included documents such as a ceremonial for the installation of officers and unlabeled photographs.

Processing this collection taught me about the interests and activities of professional women in New York beginning in 1934. It also helped me to learn how to take what at first seemed to be a random assortment of documents and arrange them in a way that they would be accessible to future researchers.


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