Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
William J. Monihan, S.J.
LIBRARIAN AND DEDICATED BOOKMAN,
UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO, 1947-1988
With Introductions by
Charles W. Dullea, S.J.
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright fc\ 1989 by The Regents of the University of California
Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing
leading participants in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the
development of Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is
a modern research technique involving an interviewee and an informed
interviewer in spontaneous conversation. The taped record is transcribed,
lightly edited for continuity and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee.
The resulting manuscript is typed in final form, indexed, bound with
photographs and illustrative materials, and placed in The Bancroft Library at
the University of California, Berkeley, and other research collections for
scholarly use. Because it is primary material, oral history is not intended
to present the final, verified, or complete narrative of events. It is a
spoken account, offered by the interviewee in response to questioning, and as
such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, and irreplaceable.
All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal
agreement between the University of California and
William J. Monihan, S.J., dated May 31, 1988. The
manuscript is thereby made available for research
purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript,
including the right to publish, are reserved to The
Bancroft Library of the University of California,
Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for
publication without the written permission of the
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Requests for permission to quote for publication
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office,
486 Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720,
and should include identification of the specific
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and identification of the user. The legal agreement
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notified of the request and allowed thirty days in which
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as
William J. Monihan, "Librarian and
Dedicated Bookman, University of San
Francisco, 1947-1988," an oral history
conducted in 1988 by Ruth Teiser,
Regional Oral History Office, The
Bancroft Library, University of
California, Berkeley, 1989.
William J. Monihan, S. J. , about 1982.
Photograph courtesy of
Gleeson Library^ U.S.F.
The Bancroft Library, on behalf of future researchers, wishes to
thank the following persons whose contributions made possible this oral
history with William Monihan, S.J. Special thanks are due to Mrs. MacDonald
Denman for her leadership in organizing the funding.
Arthur R. Albrecht
Mr. and Mrs. R.S. Cathcart
Jerry and Geraldine Cole
John C. Coleman
Louise M. Davies Foundation
Mrs . MacDonald Denman
Mrs. John W. Gilpin
Gleeson Library Associates
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen G. Herrick
Russell H. Keil
Robert and Jane Lanctot
Franklin D. Murphy
Elizabeth Walsh Nice
Dr. Charles A. Noble, Jr.
Mrs. George J. Otto
Maria Elena Ratinoff
Flora Elizabeth Reynolds
Bernard M. Rosenthal
Samuel R. and Marie -Louise Rosenthal
A. Lois Scully, M.D
Dr. and Mrs. R.S. Speck
Mrs. Carl W. Stern
Norman H. Strouse
Anna Logan Sloan Upton
Nancy P. Weston
Mrs . Brayton Wilbur
Joyce Lancaster Wilson
Leah and Harold Wollenberg
Foster and Sally Zaiser
MONIHAN, William J., S.J. Librarian, bookman
Librarian and Dedicated Bookman. University of San Francisco. 1947-1988. 1989
vii, 108 pp.
Jesuit schooling: novitiate, Los Gatos; Mt. St. Michael's College; Alma College
(S.T.L., theology, 1946); philosophical interests; appointment as Librarian,
University of San Francisco; the Gleeson Library: planning and financing;
dedication in 1950; individual collections; booksellers: antiquarian, California,
London and Paris; Lawton Kennedy, printer; Gleeson Library Associates; the great
Introductions by Jeremy Cole, and Charles W. Dullea, S.J.
Interviewed 1988 by Ruth Teiser.
Underwritten by Friends of William J. Monihan.
San Francisco Chronicle
SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 1996
Rev. William Monihan
The Rev. William Monihan, the
University of San Francisco's di
rector of library relations who su
pervised the construction of Glee-
son Library and was its first librar
ian, died yesterday after a long ill
ness. He was 81.
Father Monihan a Jesuit for
more than 60 years was Gleeson
Library's chief librarian from 1947
to 1964, when he was named direc
tor of library relations.
During his tenure, he attracted
important collections and be
quests to the library through his
personal relationships with some
of the world's greatest book collec
He was born hi San Francisco
in 1914 and entered the Society of
Jesus in 1932. He received his bach
elor's degree in philosophy from
Santa Clara University in 1936, his
master's in philosophy from Gon-
zaga University in 1939 and a licen
tiate in sacred theology from Alma
College in Los Gatos in 1946. He
was ordained in 1945 and received
his bachelor's in library science
from the University of California
at Berkeley in 1952.
He is survived by his nieces,
Mary Monihan of San Francisco,
Christine Richardson of San Jose
and Judith Lynch of Santa Rosa,
and a nephew, William Monihan
HI of New York.
A vigil service will be held Mon
day at 7:30 p.m. at St. Ignatius
Church, 650 Parker Avenue, San
Francisco. A funeral Mass will be
celebrated Tuesday at 10a.m. at St.
Ignatius, followed by a reception
in McLaren Center, Room 250. In
terment will follow at Santa Clara
Mission Cemetery. Contributions
may be made to Gleeson Library at
the University of San Francisco,
2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco
TABLE OF CONTENTS --FATHER WILLIAM J. MONIHAN
INTRODUCTION by Charles Dullea, S.J. i
INTRODUCTION by Jeremy Cole iii
INTERVIEW HISTORY v
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY vii
FAMILY AND EARLY YEARS 1
Family Origins 1
St. Ignatius High School, 1928-1932 3
Teachers' Influence 3
The Sanctuary Society 4
Decision to Become a Jesuit 5
Father Colligan's Influence 6
Family's Reactions 7
THE NOVITIATE, LOS GATOS , 1932-1936 9
Entering the Order 9
Basic Subjects 10
Jesuits' Occupations 11
Jesuits' Religious Duties 12
Years as Juniors 13
MT. ST. MICHAEL'S COLLEGE, 1936-1939 15
Opening of the Mind 15
Beginning of Interest in Libraries 17
Education by Textbook 17
Summer School 20
BELLARMINE COLLEGE PREPARATORY, 1939-1942 21
High School Librarian and Teacher 21
Research at the University of Santa Clara Library 22
World War II 23
ALMA COLLEGE, 1942-1946 25
Environment and Library 25
Far Eastern Affairs Project 26
UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO, 1947 TO DATE 29
Appointment as Librarian 29
UC Library School 30
Planning the Gleeson Library 32
Visits to Other Libraries 33
Designing the Library 34
Financing Library Construction 36
Meeting Other Librarians 37
Moving into and Dedicating the Gleeson Library, 1950 39
Father John McGloin's Contribution 39
The Influence of the Honnold Library 40
The Frank Drum Foundation 41
Father Gleeson 45
Participants in the Dedication 46
The Sir Thomas More Collection 47
St. Peter Canisius Day 50
The Columbus Cartography Collection 51
Building a University Library 52
"A Collection of Private Collections" 53
The Importance of Bibliography 54
The Importance of Antiquarian Booksellers 55
D. Steven Corey 57
Special Collections 58
Developing Gift Funds 59
David Magee 60
English Book Dealers 64
Warren Howell 64
Jake Zeitlin 67
Importance of Friendships with Booksellers 68
William R. Fletcher 70
Hans Kraus 71
Paris Book Dealers 72
Younger San Francisco Book Dealers 72
Lawton Kennedy 74
Adrian Wilson 80
Other Printers 81
The Gleeson Library Associates 81
The First Symposium 84
Subsequent Symposiums 87
The Donohue Rare Book Room 89
The Sir Thomas More Medal 91
The 1988 Symposium 92
The Special Events Committee of the Associated Students 92
"Go Out and Meet the Collectors" 93
Working with the Directors of the Gleeson Library 96
"The Utopia of the Gleeson Library" 98
The Lone Mountain Library 98
The Sutro Library 99
On Being an Institutional Collector 101
TAPE GUIDE 102
INTRODUCTION by Charles Dullea, S.J.
Father William Monihan is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill Jesuit
priest. It is difficult to describe him in a few words, to capture his
essence with an easy stereotype.
How about this for starters? Planner of the USF Gleeson Library in
the late forties from the ground up, after visiting and surveying all
the great university libraries in the United States. Enricher of its
impressive collections by world-wide hunts for treasure trove among the
booksellers and bibliophiles of the United States, England, the
Continent and Japan. Patient, persevering builder, as Director of
Library Relations, of its endowment over many years.
Another aspect of his activity: originator, stimulator, moderator
and guide of the annual University Symposium, since 1965 a feast of the
mind and spirit for the Gleeson Library Associates and their friends
from near and far. Some of the wide ranging topics: Dante, the Mind in
Love; Liberty and Laughter: Cervantes, Rabelais and Jonson; Freedom and
Authority: More, Erasmus and Luther; Asia. Man the Contemplative:
Hinduism, Taoism, Zen Buddhism; Voyaging for Values: Francis of Assisi,
El Cid, Joan of Arc; Remember to Live: Goethe, Humboldt, Beethoven.
In these three-day Symposia, Father Bill has made countless people
feel, as Keats says, "like some watcher of the skies, when a new-born
planet swims into his ken." How about Father Bill as a mind- stretcher
Kevin Starr, in a memorable lead article last year in the San
Francisco Examiner's feature section "Image," calls him "the penniless
de Medici." This is apt. As a Jesuit vowed to poverty he answers to
St. Paul's description of the apostles in II Corinthians, "poor, yet
making many rich."
Even before the first Symposium in 1965, Father Bill was bringing
riches to many by quickening the spirits of USF students through his
Special Events Committee, bringing to the campus lectures, cinema, music
and art. A few of the attractions: historians Christopher Hollis and
John Tracy Ellis, Henry Kissinger, Mortimer Adler, Leonardo da Vinci's
drawings, Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutti," theologian Karl Rahner.
A young septuagenarian with forty- two years of service to the
university, he still has a student's youthful sparkle in his eye and a
boyish grin of delight in life, especially when he is seized by a new
idea. At home with all kinds of people, he is able to "walk with kings,
nor lose the common touch," comfortable alike with doughty dowager and
"Renaissance man" Is a facile description and much overworked
nowadays, but Father Bill truly merits it. He is interested in Just
about anything you can mention- -the New York Stock Exchange, Oriental
religion, San Francisco history, wills and trust instruments, the
history of book making, Japanese flower arrangements, Greek philosophy,
art of all kinds, Tai Chi, of which he is a daily practitioner- -you name
But a man is more than what he does. Activities alone do not tell
the whole story. They are just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath all
these activities and interests is the man himself- -quiet , serene,
intensely private, constantly positive and encouraging to others, upbeat
and optimistic, with great peace of spirit in the face of difficulties
and obstacles, tenacious of purpose, cheerfully and serenely brave in
ill health, thoughtful and gentle in dealing with others.
And going even deeper, a truly spiritual, prayerful man. Most
profoundly, most simply and quintessentially: the priest, ambassador of
Jesus Christ, mediator between God and man, mediating God's love and
personal caring, and reflecting it, to thousands of God's children, his
own dear friends. This is the Bill Monihan I have come to know and
admire for more than fifty years.
18 September, 1989
San Francisco, California
Charles Dullea, S.J.
University of San Francisco
INTRODUCTION by Jeremy Cole
Not too long ago I was looking through the photo archives at
the University of San Francisco and came across a picture of a
serious young man with studious glasses, no wrinkles, and no grey
hairs. The caption informs, "Fr. William Monihan at the
dedication of the Gleeson Library Building, December 1950." I
said to myself, "This can't be my friend, Father Bill. The usual
smile and twinkling eyes with which we are all familiar are
missing." (The occasion was, after all, very serious. Or, as I
have now read, he was perhaps reacting to disappointment in the
turnout because of the torrential rains that day.)
Reflecting on this picture and what I have read in this
interview, I realize that the picture shows Father Bill at a
milestone in his life, which already included twenty years as a
Jesuit. Although he had made many friends during his religious
education and years of teaching, plus several years spent in the
planning of the new library, most of the multitude of his present
friends and associates had not yet met him; or if they did know
him, it was in an entirely different context than through the
librarian and bookman context in which he has been known for the
past thirty-nine years.
This new library building also marked a turning point for
the University. In the years following the Gleeson Library
building dedication, many new structures have been built (only one
pre-1950 building remains). New curricula, new personnel, and, of
course, thousands of new books have been added. Lady students
have also been added, and intercollegiate football subtracted.
Father Bill, in his new and rapidly expanding library, was at the
center of a rapidly growing university, and was actively
attracting new friends for it.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Father Bill for more than
twenty of those thirty-nine years, and they have been very
pleasant years, indeed. The friends met through the Gleeson
Library Associates, the entertaining and informative lecture
series, the thought-provoking annual symposia on great ideas, the
specially printed, very collectible keepsakes, the special
festivities and new acquaintances connected with the Sir Thomas
More Medal award, the creation of the Bernardine Murphy Donohue
Special Collections Library, the great fun of the many bookish
tours around the state- -all these events inspired by Father Bill
have enriched my life as well as the lives of the many people who
have come to the University of San Francisco from around
the United States and the world.
These people have included famous writers, great thinkers,
book collectors, renowned printers, talented bookbinders, many
students, and many interested people from both inside the
University and beyond. I think that I can say without
contradiction that they all have enjoyed the friendship which they
have formed with Father Bill through their participation in these
many activities. Conversely, I would have to say that he has
very, very much enjoyed all of these programs and friendships
formed. He has thrived on what has happened since he has been
associated with the Gleeson Library, first as Librarian and then
as Director of Library Affairs.
Looking back over all the events since the Gleeson Library
was dedicated, I am guessing that one event has brought him extra
satisfaction. It was certainly unpredictable, considering some of
the comments made at the time he put forward his plans for the
library building. This would have to be the acquisition of the
500,000th volume this last year. I think that even Father Bill is
astounded at this occurrence, which many said would certainly not
take place in this century.
August 29, 1989
San Francisco, California
Jeremy Cole and his wife, Geraldine Kennedy Cole, became
acquainted with Father Monihan about 1969 through Mrs. Cole's
mother, Mrs. Gerald D. Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy had become a
patroness of the Gleeson Library and a friend of Father Monihan.
Since then both of the Coles have been active in the Gleeson
Library Associates. Each has served as president, and both have
been members of the organization's board. They are among the most
enthusiastic and contributive supporters of the library.
Father William J. Monihan has played an influential part in the
cultural life of the University of San Franicsco, which he joined in
1947 and of the city of San Francisco as a whole. His leadership of
the Catholic Art Forum, in a period when many new churches were being
built and artists creating work for them, has been recorded in the
Regional Oral History Office group interview, Renaissance of Religious
Art and Architecture in the San Francisco Bay Area. 1946-1968 (1982).
The encouragement of religious art is only one aspect of Father
Monihan' s career, which has focused largely on the University library
but included other activities such as parochial duties and creation of
symposia at which people gather to celebrate ideas that have changed
the world. His book-oriented travels have brought the University of
San Francisco the respect of men and women in Europe and the Far East
as well as throughout the country.
The Regional Oral History Office has for some years hoped to
document the life of this constructive religious man, but
implementation was provided only in 1988. That spring Mrs. MacDonald
Denman, a longtime friend of Father Monihan, met with Willa K. Baum,
who heads the office, and Ruth Teiser, an interviewer who has known
Father Monihan for a number of years. Mrs. Denman gave enthusiastic
leadership to practical plans for carrying out the project. Soon a
number of Father Monihan' s many friends had agreed to sponsor the
interview, and tape-recording began early that summer. It was in a way
an opportune time to interview a usually busy man, for he was confined
to relative inactivity in the Jesuit residence infirmary because of a
back injury. The interview sessions were completed just before his
recovery and also a few weeks before he left for a sabbatical in
France. In the interval he carefully edited the transcript. He had
spoken thoughtfully, and he made no substantial changes but added some
A number of people mentioned in this interview have been
interviewed by the Regional Oral History Office, notably Warren R.
Howell, Lawton Kennedy, David Magee, Albert Sperisen, and Adrian Wilson
in the series on books and printing in the San Francisco Bay Area, and
Albert Shumate as a physician and historian. An interview with Charles
W. Dullea, S. J., past President and Chancellor of the University of
San Francisco, was completed in 1985.
Thanks for making this interview possible are due to Mrs.
Denraan and those other friends of this quiet Jesuit who has been
called a Renaissance man; to Paul Birkel, Dean of the University of
San Francisco Library, and D. Steven Corey, its rare book librarian,
for supplying information and encouragement; and to Father Charles W.
Dullea, Chancellor of the University, and Jeremy Cole, a longstanding
supporter of the Gleeson library, for their introductory comments.
Regional Oral History Office
September 20, 1989
Regional Oral History Office vli University of California
Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720
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FAMILY AND EARLY YEARS
[Interview 1: 5 May 1988 ]##
Teiser: Where and when were you born?
Monihan: Well, I was born in San Francisco at Hahneman Hospital. That's the
building on California Street adjacent to Children's Hospital. I
was born November 4, 1914.
Teiser: Would you tell a little about your family?
Monihan: My mother was a native of San Rafael. Her family moved to San
Francisco, and as a family, they experienced the earthquake and fire
In 1906, my father, born in Chester County, Pennsylvania- -
that's between Philadelphia and Delaware- -was an ambitious young
man, and wanted to travel and find work. When he heard of the
earthquake and fire, he said, "There must be jobs in rebuilding the
city." He was a journeyman plumber. So he came out there, and he
met my mother. He stayed as a boarder in their house. Eventually
my mother and he became engaged and married, and they lived after
their marriage on 19th Avenue near Fulton; thus my origins are in
this part of the city.
Monihan: I was baptized at Star of the Sea, which is on Geary Street about
9th Avenue or so. It's also close by. I went to schools nearby
here: Fremont Grammar School, Crocker Junior High School, and in
1928 I went to St. Ignatius High School, the Jesuit high school.
symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has begun
or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 102.
Teiser: What other members of your family were there?
Monihan: I was the youngest of three. My brother, Jack Monihan, was three
years older. And my sister Alice was four years older.
Teiser: Neither of them joined religious orders?
Monihan: No. Both were married, and my brother had four children, and all of
them are well established today.
Teiser: Did your father and mother have special religious interests?
Monihan: Nothing more than coming from solidly Catholic families, I think
that's the only way to describe it. For instance, the significant
thing to me as a Jesuit is that they were married on Hayes and
Shrader at the then St. Ignatius Church, which was the temporary
location of St. Ignatius Church and College after the earthquake and
Teiser: What were your early interests?
Monihan: I would say they were not bookish- -or they were in a sense bookish,
but I remember my mother when I was a little boy encouraging me to
leave my reading and go play baseball with the boys. She wanted me
to develop physically, that was a prime concern. So even though I
perhaps can recall having an attachment to reading to some extent- -
not voraciously at all she encouraged me to a normal physical
Teiser: Were you a good athlete?
Monihan: Not good, no. But I took part in baseball and other sports. Track.
Teiser: You grew up just an all-around sort of person- -
Monihan: Well, I hope so.
Teiser: Did you do well in school, in grammar school and high school?
Monihan: Well, I can't remember anything in grammar school or in junior high
school that was significant except that I was quite interested- -I
wanted to go on in shop activities. It sounds strange to me now to
say it, because I'm certainly not today a practical person in any
sense. But my mother wanted me to go to the Jesuit high school, and
so I didn't finish the junior high school.
St. Ignatius High School. 1928-1232
Monihan: In 1928 I went to St. Ignatius High School, which was then on Hayes
between Stanyan and Shrader. That was the temporary location of St.
Ignatius High School, College, and Church between 1906 and the
Teiser: Do I remember your saying once that you wanted to be an automobile
Monihan: Well, I can hardly say that, but I guess it's correct, because I had
such a great teacher in shop at Crocker Junior High School that I
wanted shop work at Polytechnic High School.
Teiser: So you entered St. Ignatius in 1928?
Teiser: Were you glad to go there?
Monihan: I don't remember any stress that I endured to enter the high school.
I had some very good teachers, and I enjoyed my high school years
very much. But we had only that one year at that Hayes Street
building until the new St. Ignatius High School was completed in
1929 on Stanyan Street. The Koret health and recreation center is
being built now on that same site. So my second year of high school
Teiser: Do you recall which of your teachers you found interesting
Monihan: Well, there was a Mr. Frank Collins, a lay person who meant a lot to
me. He was going to law school and he taught high school to support
I would say the young Jesuit scholastics helped me. The word
scholastics means a seminarian, not yet ordained a priest. They
were, I think, a great influence on my life. They were teachers.
They were only seven years older than we were, so they were young
men. That meant a great deal to me, not that they did any
persuasion on me, but their example was probably what attracted me
to the Jesuit order. Just their presence, because they were young
enough to take part in all sports with us, or picnics with us and
boat rides, or all recreational activities, or while we were seated
in the classroom. So during my four years at St. Ignatius, a major
influence were the seminarians or Jesuit scholastics.
Teiser: Just the kind of men they were, or the subjects they taught, or
Monihan: Both probably; they knew what they were doing as teachers, as well
as being inspiring individuals. The word inspiring sounds to me too
pretentious a word, but in effect it came down to that. It was low-
Teiser: Was there much stress upon religious studies?
Monihan: Not any more than average. There was one course on religion, but
the emphasis was not on religious studies.
The Sanctuary Society
Monihan: I think the significant part of my life in the earlier years was the
joining what was called the Sanctuary Society. These were high
school boys who served Mass, or served in any other religious
function in St. Ignatius Church. My mother encouraged me to join
A funny incident occurred. On the first night I came to St.
Ignatius Church to join the society, I went through an initiation
[laughing]. I came home with a black eye. My mother said, "Where
did you get that?" I said, "Well, they gave me an initiation in the
Sanctuary Society." So the bigger boys took this younger kid- -and I
was smaller in height than the average and they gave me a going-
over. I came home with a black eye.
But I had good times in that Sanctuary Society, in sort of a
club-like atmosphere. The scholastics again were a center of this.
So there, the reactions upon a young boy were not religious
reactions, but rather doing things together, either basketball or
swimming or boat rides or whatever.
Teiser: Let me go back to your black eye. Did anyone get punished?
Monihan: No! No! Not at all. This was just living. The experience of
life. This happens when you come into a school, or you get hazed;
you get an initiation by the order of kids.
Teiser: You didn't take it as hostile?
Monihan: No, I guess I didn't. At that age, from my second year of high
school on to my graduation, my greatest pleasure was wrestling with
my classmates. Just like a boy, you know; he likes wrestling with
his fellows. So every morning before class I'd be wrestling out in
the corridor with somebody. And of course, if there were people who
Monihan: were stronger than I, I began to respect them and stay away from
them. It was really just an enjoyment of being a young man, I
Were there certain subjects that interested you particularly in the
No, but in retrospect Latin probably did attract me. 1 don't know
why, because after I entered the order at Los Gatos in 1932, I was
told that I had a very good preparation in Latin. And I remember
being able to speak in a very limited way as soon as 1 entered the
order. Not that it attracted me, but apparently I had good
teachers. I will say that there was no subject that interested me,
nor did I have any great teachers . But 1 remember over the years
meeting many book collectors, and hearing that their high school
years were very important in forming their interests. I can't say
that for myself. There was no historian or English teacher or
physics or chemistry teacher that inspired me, in the sense of
learning. But I undoubtedly have it, because I've had it all my
life, this desire to know.
I gather you had not many electives.
art or things like that?
You probably didn't get much
No, that was a big lack. I would have loved to have had basic
drawing or lettering, those things in later life that attract me so
much. All the book arts have attracted me. As a book collector for
the University of San Francisco, I've emphasized the history of art
a great deal .
But for the most part, you had science and--?
Science, and I was not good at it. I think that's probably because
I didn't have the right teachers. I think anyone can learn anything
if they have the right teacher. I didn't have the right teachers
for chemistry and physics and biology.
Decision to Become a Jesuit
Teiser: How, then, did you happen to decide to enter the Society of Jesus?
Monihan: Well, for the reasons I mentioned to you, the example of the Jesuit
scholastics, and maybe three or four of the priests in the Jesuit
community at USF inspired me.
Father Colligan's Influence
One was James Colligan. He was an industrious individual who wrote
small books, historical studies or liturgy. I was engaged by him to
proofread his books at thirty- five cents an hour.
Father Colligan was the father minister- -that's a title in the
Jesuit community. Father minister was number two in command in the
community, the man who takes care of all your needs such as
clothing, travel, money, anything of that sort.
And how did you as a high school student come in contact with him?
I don't know. I would say probably because he had a speech
impediment as well as I had, and have to some extent. I would say
that that might be it. But- -oh. I worked as a switchboard operator
in a Jesuit residence. That would be his responsibility to hire me,
and then other jobs came from that.
You worked part of the time in high school for money to help your
I guess so, except that I wasn't aware of it. I wasn't aware of it,
but my family were quite poor. These were the Depression days in
America, and I only later on did realize how poor my family was. My
father was a plumbing contractor, and so his income was very small.
Undoubtedly my income helped me, and I don't know what my mother
said about it, because obviously I didn't pocket it myself in my own
bank account. So, as you say, it was probably an assistance to the
I've taken you away from Father Colligan.
had then hired you to do proofreading.
You were saying that he
Proofreading for his small books. They were not pamphlets, they
were like small studies he would do. He had various projects he was
interested in, and he would write them up. I would say a lot of
them were historical studies. He was a great support to me.
If I had been at USF, I would have hired at least a college student
rather than a high school student to read proof. How did you
happen to- -you must have shown some ability?
I don't know. I am unable to answer that. Why he chose me,
and--. I would say it was a period of at least a year, because it
was not a short time that he employed me to do this for him.
Apparently I satisfied what he needed.
Were you interested in doing it? Did you enjoy it?
Monihan: I did. I've always--! think I've been blessed with curiosity.
That's I think the greatest natural gift a person can have. It
drives you on to know.
Teiser: To get back to my question that I led you away from- -your decision
to enter the society of Jesus was influenced by your coming to know
such men as Father Colligan?
Monihan: Father Colligan, Father Cody- -Alexander Cody; Father Edwin McFadden
was another one. I just want to emphasize that these people were
available to me , I knew them. They were not trying to sell me
anything, or trying to persuade me to do anything. I would say
because I joined the Sanctuary Society, that had probably the
biggest influence on my wanting to become a Jesuit. That would mean
that I would be a high school boy assisting at Mass and other
religious services of the church.
Teiser: Did other boys in the Sanctuary Society become Jesuits?
Monihan: Oh, yes. That was, I would say, a feeding ground for Jesuits.
Teiser: Some of your contemporaries?
Monihan: Yes. I think that contemporaries who are with me in this house [the
Jesuit residence at the University of San Francisco] right now were
members of that Sanctuary Society.
Teiser: What did your family say when- -did you tell them, or--?
Monihan: Well, I told them, and there was no opposition; it was sort of an
indifference. If this was what I wanted to do, they wanted me to do
Teiser: Does it take financing? Did it draw upon them at all?
Monihan: No, it didn't. It is surprising in retrospect; a dowry of some sort
was not needed. In those years, in fact I think even subsequently,
no financing was necessary on entering the order.
My mother was a major influence. I want to say this: that as
a person she had, and I think I have today, a curiosity to know--
curiosity to learn, and to travel. Of all the members of the
family, I would say her example of inquiry was a major formative
Of course, she was quite interested in my entering the Jesuit
order, but she was devastated when I actually did. Was
Monihan: devastated in the sense of emotionally, when the day came of leaving
the home and entering the order. So all the way through my years as
a Jesuit until her death in 1955, she was very supportive and had
the right reactions. When I was ordained a priest in 1945, she said
something to the effect, "Does he know what he's doing? Does he
know what he's doing?" So these are, in that sense, a realism, a
staying down to come to grips with reality; outside of any emotional
thing, she was a very down-to-earth person. She was a major
influence to help me to respond to the beauty in the world. She was
not a book person, not a reader, though she did read. But it was
that spirit of openness to the world; 1 think that was a very
significant thing in my life.
Teiser: Was it a matter of pride to your family that you became a priest?
Monihan: Obviously, it was. I never knew it, I never can point to any time
where it would be any trouble--! know instances where this pride has
been such a significant theme in the family that one of the sons
became a priest; I would say not so for my family. I could have
left the order at any time, and I think my family would have taken
it in stride, not been humiliated if I left the order.
Teiser: They must have had a great deal of faith in you.
Monihan: Yes. I never thought of it that way.
THE NOVITIATE, LOS GATOS , 1932-1936
Entering the Order
Teiser: When you decided to enter the society of Jesus, did you go then
immediately to the novitiate?
Monihan: Well, yes; that was July 30, 1932.
Teiser: Had you finished your high school studies?
Monihan: Finished my high school studies, and graduated. At the end of July I
entered the order. I don't recall any elation or doubt, just a
normal transition to make. Something drew me on to do it; I can't
describe what that pull was. I could feel the pull to enter the
There was a lot of comradeship among the young men I was with.
There was a ritual of the last cigarette. [laughter] You would
have it out at the gate of the building where the novices lived.
They draw a big circle with a circle in the center of it, so that if
you could throw a cigarette butt in the center of the circle, you
would get one more smoke. That was the ritual.
I was only in the novitiate less than two weeks and I
overturned a horse and wagon. [laughter] Someone said, "Can you
drive a horse and wagon?" I said, "Sure!" It was all right until I
made a hairpin turn where the pig-pens were [laughing]; I was thrown
off the wagon into the pig-pens, and the horses ran down the road.
I thought for sure I was going to be thrown out of the order.
Teiser: Will you describe the novitiate?
Monihan: Well, in Los Gatos up in the hills there --
Teiser: It was called the Sacred Heart Novitiate?
Monihan: Sacred Heart Novitiate, and it was a piece of property which was
acquired in 1888 by the order as a gift. The novitiate was formerly
Monihan: near Santa Clara College. Since they needed sources of income, they
established a vineyard and a winery. This is typical of religious
houses, to have to have sources of income. I would say, just making
a general estimate, that there were something like ten to fifteen
acres of property. In addition to the large single institutional
building, there was a farm, there were chickens, pigs, vegetable
gardens, and orchards. The hills were covered with grape vines.
The novices during the first two years we trained were the
workers --to harvest the grapes, to work in the gardens, pick prunes,
and anything that needed to be done. I don't know how much money
they made off the income, but I'm sure it wasn't very much. These
were the Depression years.
I was there at the novitiate as a scholastic for four years.
Two of those years were what we call basic training, being a novice;
two years the humanities.
Teiser: What was involved in basic training?
Monihan: Basic training was learning the history of the order, learning the
spirituality of the order, largely from such sources as the
Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The constitutions of the
society- -I 've never been sure why they're called in the plural,
constitutions, but they have always used that term. We read the
history of the society, the lives of illustrious people; greatly
stressed was the learning of Latin and speaking of Latin. I'm
speaking about my time as contrasted with this decade now. And we
had some academic studies in humanities, but not much. So our
training was really along these lines related to tradition, which I
call basic training. It was related to tertianship, which is the
very last year of Jesuit training, a sort of wrap-up of what you
learned when you began. Tertianship being the third year, and the
first two years being the novitiate years.
Teiser: So your other studies were, you said, history and constitutions of
the society, and then what?
Monihan: Then the biographies of illustrious Jesuits. Then we read basic
spiritual writers. For example, Alphonsus Rodriguez- -that was on
ascetical theology- -and then we were constantly reading
Thomas a" Kempis.
There would be a lot of conferences with the master of novices.
My master of novices was Francis Seeliger, who was a major influence
Monihan: in my life, major influence. He was of San Francisco origin, the
son of a butcher in San Francisco. I figure he was the right man at
the right time for me.
Teiser: What sort of influence? What did you become that you weren't going
to become because of him?
Monihan: I should just tell you this rather intimate thing which I think
should be recorded. I think one of the higher superiors felt that
my speech impediment was an impediment for me continuing on in the
order. Father Seeliger decidedly disagreed with that. I would say
I would not be a Jesuit today if not for him and his intervention
and insisting that I had potential. He said to me, in Latin, "We
expect great things from you," which is enough to lift someone up.
So he saw in me potential for doing the work of the order.
Teiser: The work of the order, as you saw it then, was what, so far as you
Monihan: Was something to do with education,
Teiser: Did you ever have any idea of being a missionary, for instance,
rather than teaching or doing anything else?
Monihan: I did volunteer in my period at Mount St. Michael's to go to China,
but I think that the spirit of the order is that no matter what
you're doing, you're an educator always. Even though you would be a
missionary, the tradition of the order was education. Look at
Jacques Marquette, an illustrious example. Marquette was a
missionary with very high ideals as an explorer. So his discovery
of the Mississippi River with Joliet follows the Jesuit stamp.
Whether you're a missionary or not, you pursue it with broader,
deeper educated roots than you would otherwise do. Jesuits have
always been basically teachers.
Teiser: What would have been other options open to you besides teaching in a
regular educational institution or being a missionary?
Monihan: Administration. I'm glad I never got into it, except being head
librarian. Administration would be the other thing. But the
important thing in the Jesuit order is that the individual can
develop his own job. Now, there was not the liberty in the 1930s
ar j 1940s for individuals of my generation to do that, but it is
ti 2 for today as it was true in the past history of the order,
where the individual says, "I would like to do this, I would like to
do that, and I think I have resources to do so." So an individual's
project could make one's life.
Monihan: You take Teilhard de Chardin, who was a paleontologist. Now, that
came out of his teaching in Cairo or in France. He really led a
life almost away from the order most of his life as a
paleontologist, working for various international foundations on
discovery of ancient man and so on. So there are niches for the
Jesuit with an individual project.
Jesuits' Religious Duties
Teiser: This is something that is well known to everyone within the order,
but just for the record for those of us who don't know about it,
what are then the religious duties along with these occupations?
Monihan: Well, these are left pretty much to the individual. For instance,
from 1971 on, I've been a chaplain to a congregation of sisters
called the Society of Helpers. That means Monday through Saturday I
say Mass for them every morning at seven o'clock. I still do. For
instance, I a friend of Anne England, a doctor in library
science from UC Berkeley; she's a Carmelite nun in San Rafael.
Because of my friendship with Anne, I go there once a month to say
In the 1940s and 1950s, I would give a group retreat to sisters
anywhere, wherever an assignment would be open. That has lapsed now
in favor of the individually directed retreat. During the 1940s,
'50s and early '60s, I would go out on Sunday to say two Masses in
parishes in the city.
Teiser: Would those be parishes which didn't have a regular--?
Monihan: They had staff; but, you see, it was because the eucharistic fast
meant that we wouldn't say Mass after twelve noon, and you would
have to be fasting from midnight on. That no longer applies. So
then you would have staff, but they would not be available to take
care of all the Masses needed. I would usually say the nine and ten
o'clock Mass at various parishes.
These examples of religious "duties" are not duties at all;
they are individual choices. We volunteered to help when needed.
Teiser: Could you get by with very few of them?
Monihan: Oh, sure. I could have said, "No, I can't do that." But the average
person would do it. Now, because you can say Mass at any time--
afternoon, evening, night- -instead of people going to Sunday Mass
they could have a Saturday night Mass. So there are many
combinations. The Vatican II council of the early 1960s made
tremendous differences in this, regarding religious service.
Teiser: We can come back to this later, but you have certainly lived through
a great deal of change in the church.
Monihan: Oh, yes. Wonderful change! Horrible change!
Teiser: Back to the novitiate --
Years as Juniors
Monihan: During the second two years we're called Juniors. When you enter in
the junior year at the novitiate, you take your first public vows of
poverty, chastity, and obedience. Then you begin intensive academic
work for the bachelor of arts degree. During that time I taught
myself to read French, and I got credit for it because I was able to
pass satisfactorily examinations with a dean of studies.
Teiser: Learned all by yourself?
Monihan: By myself.
Teiser: My word!
Monihan: Well, I could not say I read it perfectly, or well, but I was able
to come to the point of reading an article in a magazine and passing
Teiser: Difficult. Did you study hard?
Monihan: Not particularly. I felt that the academic training we had in my
period was not good. Other people in other decades would have
better training than I did. I felt my training in Greek was very
poor. It was emphasizing vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure,
and so on, rather than the literature and language end.
Teiser: I was recalling this morning other men who'd entered religious
orders whom I had interviewed, and one was then Brother Antoninus,
William Everson, who spoke of the discipline of learning to pray.
That may have been characteristic of his order; does that apply?
Monihan: Well, that is a very difficult question to answer, because learning
to pray is such a developmental thing that it's not like learning a
skill. It pertains to each decade or each year of your life, and
you're certainly given ways of meditation. But I would say it left
much to be desired. [pause] In looking back, my memory of those
years is not good. Some of my confreres can remember everything
they were taught. They can always quote. I can't. But I would say
the training in prayer and in meditation was mediocre at the best.
What I'm trying to say is that the real education that takes place,
and this is one of my points of philosophy of these years I'm in
now, is that what each one develops inside themselves is what
counts, not what one receives from the outside.
Monihan: I have a dear friend I meet with every year in Phoenix, Arizona, who
has chosen Emerson as her favorite author. He was the writer who
stressed the value of an inner life. I agree with her completely.
Emerson's "inner life" compares with my ideas of reflection and
Teiser: Did you actually get a B.A. degree?
Monihan: And an M.A. in philosophy from Gonzaga in 1939; an S.T.L. in
theology from Alma College in 1946; and a B.L.S. [Bachelor of
Library Science] from UC Berkeley in 1952.
MT. ST. MICHAEL'S COLLEGE, 1936-1939
By then you did know you were going into teaching,
any effect upon what you did next?
Did that have
I was simply following the long black line, as we say. I simply
went on, moved in 1936 from Los Gatos to Spokane to Mt. St.
Michael's, in Hillyard, Washington. Hillyard is a suburb of
Opening of the Mind
Monihan: But the important thing is that at St. Michael's philosophy was an
opening for me to education in the sense that my mind, I felt, was
boxed in at Los Gatos; and now 1 had an opening of the mind to
learning through studying such scholastic writers as Thomas Aquinas,
reading Augustine, and reading the textbooks in cosmology and
psychology and the history of philosophy. Those were very, very
good years .
Teiser: Did you have good teachers there?
Monihan: I'd say I had good teachers, and one exceptional teacher. One
teacher who taught cosmology and taught it in a humanistic fashion,
which meant that he would give you examination questions well ahead
of the examination date. He would say, "Now, bring in to the
classroom any notes, any textbooks, anything you want, but you have
to answer these questions." Lovely way of making demands upon the
Teiser: What was his name?
Monihan: His name was Leo Martin. I think, Ruth, maybe you in your looking
back on your years, can point to one teacher, do you have one
Teiser: Well, a few.
Monihan: Very few. If I could say there was one teacher that I had that
meant a lot to me for intellectual growth, it would be Leo Martin.
Because he really made the student use his mind. Others thought he
was terrible; I thought he was magnificent.
Teiser: Did they think that Leo Martin was too hard a teacher?
Monihan: I would say that for some reason, emotional reasons or whatever,
they didn't click with him. I remember that Aristotle would send
students home because there was no feeling between student and
teacher. But there was feeling between me and Leo Martin.
Teiser: Is that a good place to stop for the day?
[Interview 2: 9 May 1988]
Teiser: You finished the first interview speaking of Father Leo Martin of
Mt. St. Michael's.
Monihan: Oh, yes.
Teiser: You said that it wasn't so much the subject matter, but how Father
Martin taught. We often ask peopleabout their good teachers, but we
don't often ask them about their bad teachers. What makes a bad
Monihan: A bad teacher is one who simply follows the textbook, either a
textbook or the notes that he has used in former lectures. It
always seems, by contrast, that Father Martin operated independently
of notes. So I would say that a bad teacher is one who is not
inspired by his subject matter enough to t~y to give a fresh
presentation each time.
The ideal teacher in my mind, who has the minimum of creative
ability, will discard his notes from previous occasions and speak
freshly and enthusiastically about the subject matter.
Teiser: That means having to prepare anew each class.
Monihan: Yes. And here is where the great honesty of Father Martin occurred.
He sometimes would come in the classroom and lecture for fifteen
minutes only out of an hour's lecture, and say, "I'm very sorry,
that's all the time I have to prepare." He worked and worked and
worked and worked, and all he could come up with of substance was
fifteen minutes worth, which was very enlightening to me. These are
rare individuals, rare individuals.
Beginning of Interest in Libraries
Teiser: Well, it was there that I think you told me earlier you first became
interested in libraries. Can you tell that in some detail?
Monihan: Yes, I'd be happy to. The library at this house of studies had
closed stacks. The only access to the library was through the card
catalogue. I didn't like that one bit. I volunteered to get on the
other side of the desk somehow, because I wanted to have immediate
contact with the books. So I became one of the clerical assistants
in the library.
That was an indication of my appetite for books. Not that I
was a voracious reader, but I wanted to have complete access to the
entire holdings of the library.
Teiser: Was it a good library?
Monihan: No. It was a mediocre library, looking back on it. It had a lot of
older works probably of some importance, but the monographs of
recent decades were lacking. I would say in retrospect that they
were not searching for books that would enrich the library holdings.
Teiser: They were, I suppose, just gathering books that were related to your
Education by Textbook
Monihan: You see, basically the training- -this is in the 1930s now, 1936 to
'39- -the training was largely based upon textbook presentation, with
the exception of Father Martin. Those authors who were in any way
in an adversarial position to the textbook presentation did not get
very much attention. In retrospect, we felt that was a great
defect, because if we disagreed with Kant or Hegel, or Fichte, or
any of these authors, we should have had access to not only their
writings in the original language but to monographic studies on
their thought. So I feel this was a lack. I feel that if books are
on the shelves, even though they're in foreign languages, and even
though they are specialized studies, there are going to be some
students who will be attracted to delve in, and that's where
education takes place.
This was towards the end of the period of scholasticism in the
Roman Catholic seminaries where St. Thomas Aquinas was the supreme
authority. There were many others- -there was Suarez , there was John
Monihan: of St. Thomas --but Thomas Aquinas held sway. He was a brilliant
thinker, no question about it, but you always felt that our diet of
Thomas Aquinas was too rich, and too consistent. For educated
people, one must use a major thinker such as Thomas Aquinas, but not
Teiser: What now is the similar training?
Monihan: Well, today in the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, which is
part of the Graduate Theological Union, there is much wider
presentation of thought. And so for the more talented students,
they can really delve into subject matter as widely and deeply as
they want to. It's a broader, more liberal education, not in just
the humanities but a liberal education in free inquiry.
However, having said that, I think I said in our last interview
that my period of three years in Spokane opened my mind. I really
felt that I was opened to education for the first time. The years
at Los Gatos were, by contrast, night as compared with day. I
myself did a master's thesis on the history of the mind.
Teiser: Heavens, that's a big subject.
Monihan: It was. Well, we were living at a time in the 1930s when behavioral
sciences were really to the fore, and the phenomenology in one form
or another had come to the attention of the learned world. But I
was given complete freedom to do my own inquiry, and being a junior
librarian I could inquire as much as I wanted to. And I had a lot
of fun doing it.
Teiser: Did you have other duties in Spokane too besides your school?
Monihan: No, none whatsoever.
Teiser: You didn't have to prune grape vines, or-- [laughs]
Monihan: No, there were winter sports and summer sports. No, I had no labor
duties like I had at Los Gatos. I had good companions among the
young men of the northwest. We were guests of the Oregon Province,
and that included Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon. So I
enjoyed that association with them very much, as well as our own
Teiser: Do you still have friends among your schoolmates there?
Monihan: Yes. I don't see them very often, but when I see them, it's a great
opportunity to renew acquaintance with each other, and fondness for
Monihan: each other with a good spirit among us. I didn't know anything
about winter sports , but I learned some winter sports . I was never
a good sportsman, but I liked sports. I was never a good ice-
skater, or skiier, but I liked to learn what I could.
Teiser: Did you specialize in any particular studies at Mt. St. Michael's?
Monihan: No, I didn't. I would say I stayed in the center lane of
philosophical studies and, as I mentioned to you, I enjoyed them
immensely. My memory is not good, but having had access to library
stacks, undoubtedly I did pursue other special interests. I will
say that we had science there, we had physics, probably biology and
chemistry. These were the college years after bachelor's, going
towards master's. My master's was in philosophy.
I'm sorry that I did not have inspiring teachers in the
sciences. I feel that this is one of the lacks in my education. As
a librarian, I've been collecting history of science as steadily as
I possibly can.
Teiser: Were you acquainted with any other libraries besides the one at Los
Gatos and that at Mt. St. Michael's?
Monihan: No, not at that time. Nor was I interested in other libraries.
Teiser: You were interested in that library, but did it lead you into
thinking that you would make your career--?
Monihan: No, not at all. Because early in my career, I thought of
international education of some sort. I can come to that at a later
time in the interview.
Teiser: Well, at least that was the beginning of your career.
Monihan: It certainly was. It showed an instinct, and that is quite
fascinating to me to know not what I thought but what I did
Teiser: Was the librarian there someone you admired?
Monihan: Not really.
Teiser: You didn't have heroes easily.
Teiser: So, when you finished there, you got an M.A. , is that right?
Monihan: M.A. , yes.
Teiser: And that was awarded by Gonzaga?
Monihan: Awarded by Gonzaga.
Teiser: Although you hadn't studied there, or used their facilities?
Monihan: It was an affiliation between the seminary and Gonzaga University.
Teiser: Did you go directly, then, from there to Bellarmine?
Monihan: Yes. My fall semester of '39, I went to San Jose to Bellarmine
College preparatory. That's where I spent three years.
Teiser: Did you have periods when you went home for vacations or anything of
Monihan: Well, in the Jesuits we don't go home for vacation; we have vacation
together as Jesuits. I came to St. Ignatius High School in San
Francisco and lived in the classrooms here with other young Jesuits.
I attended summer school. But that summer school of 1939 was a
noted occasion to me, because Father Martin D'Arcy, an eminent
Jesuit thinker from England, author of many books, was giving a
course at the University of San Francisco on the Nichomachean ethics
of Aristotle. That was different from Father Martin's approach, but
nevertheless, because this man was so widely acclaimed in England,
it was in itself a liberal education. He was very entertaining, and
although he stayed to the text of the Nichomachean ethics, it was
truly an exciting course.
Teiser: Was he a Jesuit?
Monihan: An English Jesuit. Truly an eminent man, and at his prime.
Teiser: That was between Mt. St. Michael's and Bellarmine?
Monihan: That was summer school. That would be the end of June to the end of
Teiser: Then you went straight to Bellarmine?
Monihan: Then we went on vacation as scholastics to Phelan Park in Santa
Cruz. I would see my family, but it would not be like going home
and spending vacation with them.
Teiser: Your school years were more interesting to you than your vacations,
BELLARMINE COLLEGE PREPARATORY, 1939-1942
High School Librarian and Teacher
Teiser: When you went to Bellarmine, what were your duties there?
Monihan: Well, I was made high school librarian, and that was a joke in many
ways. The then library was a kitchen, and it was as filthy as you
could imagine any short-order kitchen could be. So I set to work
cleaning this relatively small room in not a very accessible place
to the students, and I don't know where I got the money, but I put
in new flooring, put drapes in, light fixtures, painted it,
absolutely made it spic and span. And then I asked for the approval
of the principal to buy books [laughs], and there was no money to
buy books. So it was sort of a joke. There were a certain number
of books that were already in the library, but it was a big joke.
I simply had the title, and not very much more. Nevertheless,
I continued on for three years as high school librarian of this
preparatory school. I taught Latin- -mainly freshman or sophomore
Latinelocution, religion, probably English- -simple subjects like
that. Because of difficulties with disciplining these high school
boys, I didn't feel that I was too well adapted to that kind of
life. I didn't complain, I didn't say I didn't want to do it, but
in retrospect I was not successful in running a classroom.
Teiser: Do I remember that Bellarmine attracted problem boys?
Monihan: Yes. Because it had a dormitory, we got a lot of problem children
who needed special attention. They were from families in various
parts of the country, epecially California, but when you get boys in
a dormitory at a high school, they are usually boys that have some
difficulty at home in some way or another. I hope I'm being fair in
saying that, but I think that's something close to the truth.
Teiser: So disciplinary problems might have been greater there than most
Teiser: What did you do about it?
Monihan: Well, I was not a prefect- -prefect is the Jesuit language--! was not
a prefect in the dormitory so I didn't have the immediate
responsibility there. But in the classroom, especially the
sophomores were very difficult to handle. Sophomore in high school
is when the boys are ceasing to be children and beginning teen-age,
and I assure you it was difficult.
Teiser: They don't necessarily want to learn at that age.
Monihan: No, they don't, and they also like to challenge the older people. I
had very good relationships with students, though, outside the
classroom. I did things with them, went on picnics with them, I got
them to organize activities at local parishes. I went to the
Mexican pueblo and brought our students out there to play baseball
with the local Hispanics. So I had a lot of relationships with the
students outside of the classroom.
Teiser: You were saying that you had a very good relationship with the
Monihan: Yes, a scholastic is only about seven years older than the high
school students, so I had a very easy relationship with them. You
could enter into their sports, could enter their play- -almost
anything they were doing. So it was a wonderful experience to be
with these young people. But yet, in looking back, it was not my
way of life. It was not my permanent occupation.
Research at the University fo Santa Clara Library
Teiser: Did you have access to other libraries there in San Jose?
Monihan: Yes. The University of Santa Clara library was by no means a great
library, but on Jesuit history they had sources that interested me.
I became interested in a Jesuit known as Joseph Bayma, who was a
scientist, and who wrote The Elements of Molecular Mechanics.
somewhere about the 1860s, 1870s. He was the rector president of
St. Ignatius College in the 1860s on Market Street. That's where
the Emporium is today.
For some reason or another I became interested in him and did
extensive search into sources of his life. I wasn't doing this for
publication; I was just doing this because I wanted to do it. I
still have the notes somewhere of my Joseph Bayma searches. I would
Monihan: go up to Santa Clara and I would work on Joseph Bayma, where I would
have a chance again and again and again.
Teiser: So that was your second big research job, I suppose, after your
Monihan: Yes, I would say that. But I took to it naturally, and I liked it;
it was attractive to me.
Teiser: Did you still think you were going to teach international relations?
Monihan: Well, to move ahead on that a little bit, during World War II a
number of talented, competent Jesuits were in San Francisco from
other countries, especially from Asia, and as a scholastic in
theology at Alma College, I developed with a confrere a program
called the "Far Eastern Affairs Program." This was trying to train
business people in the knowledge of Asian affairs, especially of
China. That's skipping ahead to the period of 1942 to '46, the Alma
World War II
Teiser: Well, staying with Bellarmine for a moment, you were there through
Monihan: Yes, especially during the Pearl Harbor.
Teiser: What was the effect of the war upon such institutions?
Monihan: Except frequent blackouts- -those are things that we think of more
than anything else. It was intellectually not a stimulating place
at all. The most stimulating thing was to be with these young
people. And some were extremely talented.
Monihan: There was one young man who, as a prank, when he learned from the
newspaper that when this United States mint was completed on Market
Street and Duboce, that no -one could break in, well, he broke in.
[laughs] Not to steal anything, but to prove he could break in.
And then he called the security officers when he was in there, so he
was guilty by that prank of a federal offence. But he was also a
boy who could read Latin and many other languages; exceptionally
talented. He and I became friends.
I probably could think of many others from foreign countries,
or just talented people. And also, I think I had an influence on
some young people on becoming Jesuits.
Did the war take away some of your fellow Jesuits to become
Yes, one. A priest there did become a chaplain. But my age were
all so young we were not priests yet, so it didn't affect us very
much at all.
And your students were too young for the services.
Did you have any kind of ROTC?
I'm sure we did, but I don't remember at all.
So in 1942, did you move on to another category?
Yes, I moved on to another category. When I was in Spokane I took
education courses at Mt . St. Michael's and at Gonzaga. I continued
on through the summer of '42 at UC Berkeley, taking two courses in
education. One of the great blessings of my life was not to get
locked into education. I did like being at Berkeley and going to
school, but education courses are vapid, vapid- -just not with very
much content at all.
So that decided you that way?
Yes. I entered Alma College in the fall semester of 1942.
were good years intellectually, but looking back, the best
intellectual years I had were in Spokane at Mt. St. Michael's,
possibly because it was the opening of the mind.
The period at Bellarmine was pre-set, wasn't it? It wasn't anything
that happened there that made you move on in 1942?
No. You had to be approved within the order to go on to theology.
You were still in training, you were still a plebe in the sense that
you were still a candidate for the order. You were definitely a
Jesuit, but you were not fully approved. Regency- -that's the Jesuit
language for that. And in my time, regency was a very important
period of Jesuit training. I would say, in my experience, that it
was important because as soon as I began to teach in the classroom,
the students were saying, "Are you going to still use that language,
those words we don't understand?" I was speaking philosophy
language. The high school students didn't understand it at all. So
It was a great benefit having had that philosophical training, and
then going down to high school boys again. It's considered to be an
integral part for the Jesuit training, those three years of regency.
I agree, it was. They were difficult years for me, but they were
good training years.
ALMA COLLEGE, 1942-1946
Environment and Library
Teiser: So then, you went next to Alma College.
Monihan: Alma College was nearby; it's not too far from Lexington Dam on
Highway 17, going towards Santa Cruz. It was a nice piece of
property. We, the Jesuits, purchased it in 1933 from the Tevis
family- -a large estate. It was up in the mountains.
The library was better than average, because one of the
teachers was a great book hunter and developed a nice library.
Teiser: Who had developed it?
Monihan: One of the teachers, Father Francis Sheerin, developed the library.
He was a teacher-librarian, or professor-librarian, but he was a
good book hunter. He went on trips to Europe to buy books. So he
was a better than average librarian among the Jesuits.
I'm happy to have spent my four years there, although I do see
the benefits the young men have today of being in Berkeley in the
University of California complex.
Teiser: Berkeley is now similar to what Alma College was?
Monihan: Yes. It's the successor. The Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley
is the successor to Alma College.
Teiser: What's happened to Alma College?
Monihan: Well, it ceased completely as a Jesuit institution. The property is
still there, but we've leased it out to some school. In the 1960s
this was an international movement to have the seminary training
more in the environment of a university. So it was partly fad and
partly good sense- -fad because everyone was doing it; we were
keeping up with the Joneses everywhere in the world. On the other
Monihan: hand, I myself felt that I had an advantage being up in the hills of
Los Gatos at Alma College, and having my theology there.
Teiser: You were really isolated there, were you not?
Monihan: Very isolated, very isolated. Intellectually, I do see the great
advantage of being in a complex such as the University of California
has now. You do have Protestants, Baptists, Episcopalians,
Dominicans, Franciscans, and so on, all on one hill up there in
Teiser: At Alma College, did you specialize? You mentioned international
affairs and the Orient. Was that where you started that?
Monihan: No, that was not a specialty; that was just an inspiration.
Teiser: Did you specialize in anything in your studies?
Monihan: No. I just stayed for my central core of courses, and we finished
up the fourth year with an oral comprehensive, which takes in not
only all the four years of theology but the three years at Mt. St.
Michael's. So it's a grand comprehensive. And in my days it was in
Latin. You're examined in Latin. It's easy, because I did it my
whole life, it's not unfamiliar to me. But it was quite an exercise
to go through, to be able to answer on any subject that you had over
the seven-year period, separated by three years of regency.
Teiser: I should say. How many people examined you?
Monihan: Three, I think. I think I got along all right. I won't say I did
the best, but I didn't do poorly.
Teiser: Did you feel that in general your Alma College years were
Monihan: I would say moderately worthwhile. But not supremely.
Far Eastern Affairs Prolect
Teiser: But the Far Eastern Affairs project was in addition to your studies?
Monihan: Well, what happened was just my own imagination. I saw with a
confrere, Father Tom Sullivan, that we had during the war years in
San Francisco some very talented Jesuits from all over the world.
Teiser: How did they happen to be here?
Monihan: Well, by the accident of the war, they were here and they couldn't
get back to their own countries, to Germany or to Japan or to China,
whatever. War sort of isolates one, so that you don't move very
It was good to think of what American businessmen would do
getting ready to do business with Asia in the post-war period. So
that promptly gave rise to my interest in international economics.
I had also a very vague interest in going to Harvard to pursue that.
It wasn't a driving passion on my part, but it was an interest in
When I was actually appointed librarian at USF, in the spring
of 1947, it wasn't a great disappointment not to go to Harvard. I
was assigned here.
Teiser: What had you done with this project, then?
Monihan: Well, the only thing--! wrote up a paper called "Far Eastern Affairs
Program," and presented it to the administration here. I was at
Alma College, and the administration here received it, accepted it,
and put it into action. It lasted until peacetime, and then it all
fell apart, with all the personnel returned to where they were from.
Teiser: Probably gave them some good ideas, still.
Monihan: They're doing it right now. They're starting a new program with the
Pacific Rim studies.
Teiser: You were ordained while you were at Alma?
Monihan: Yes, ordained in the third year. I have no explanation why we were
ordained in the third year, except that it had been done for a long
time. So I was ordained in San Francisco at the cathedral on
O'Farrell and Van Ness Avenue.
Teiser: Then known as "new St. Mary's."
Monihan: It was the old St. Mary's. Not old St. Mary's on California and
Grant Avenue, but the previous St. Mary's to the cathedral now on
That was a very important family celebration. It's a high
point in the Jesuit experience. So then your final year of
theology, you have some priestly duties of helping out in parishes
occasionally during holidays, Christmas or Easter.
Teiser: What is tertianship?
Monihan: Tertianship is an attempt on the part of the order to give you the
final touches on the Jesuit spirit. It's the last hurrah, the last
attempt to give you that inspiration: what it means to be a Jesuit.
And that's usually nine months. In my time it was from September
until May. It was, in my time, at its lowest period of the program,
so it didn't realize the potential that is there. With other
personnel, it could have been a great thing, but in my time it was
Teiser: Where did you serve it?
Monihan: In Port Townsend, Washington, which is on Puget Sound, a ghost town.
Teiser: There were some pictures of it in the Sunday San Francisco paper
yesterday, in the travel section.
Monihan: Were there? Well, now it's a resort and restaurant town, and you
can come and stay overnight, have nice meals, and all that. So
that's where I spent my final year of Jesuit training.
But part of the Jesuit training is to send you out during Lent
to some near or far mission to work as a priest.
During Lent, I went to Big Sandy, Montana, to help out in a
parish with a Dutch priest. I don't know why I was sent there,
because he could have got along very well without me. The
temperatures got down to forty below, and then when I left it was
jumbo mud, so I couldn't move around very much. But it was then
when I got the letter from California saying that I was librarian at
William J. Monihan, S. J., ca. 1950.
Photograph courtesy of
Gleeson Library _, U.S.F.
UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO, 1947 TO DATE
Appointment as Librarian
Teiser: Why do you think it was decided that you should come to USF?
Monihan: I would say because Father William Dunne was then president of USF,
and he told the superiors in the order that he wanted me.
Teiser: How had you come to know him?
Monihan: Well, he was my rector at Los Gatos. In my Sacred Heart novitiate
years. Father William Dunne was rector of the house there, so he
knew me. There was a vacancy as head librarian, because the man who
was in wanted to get out. He chose me and asked for me, that's how
I came .
Teiser: Had you had any library work in between?
Monihan: Just the fragments I've mentioned to you, being at Mt. St.
Michael's, being at Bellarmine, being in theology for these short
periods as assistant librarian or cleric librarian, that's all. But
the idea was and it's a typical army or Jesuit waywe'll put you
in the job and you get your training later.
Teiser: [laughs] I neglected to ask you if at Alma, where there was this
better library, whether you had had any experience in it?
Monihan: Well, I had experience in it, yes, because I think I was very
attached to that library. I read the stacks. I read the stacks a
lot. This man Sheer in, who purchased so many of its books, had some
wonderful books. And so my appetite was aroused.
Teiser: We were speaking of the library at Alma College. You said that
there were substantial scholarly works. Were they the first that
you had come in contact with?
Monihan: I would say the first of that quality, yes. They were in all the
major European languages, and English and Latin. In a sense,
Francis Sheerin became my exemplar, so that I followed him later in
doing what he did, and going to Europe, especially to Louvain, and
getting advice of a competent librarian there. Father Sheerin
bought duplicates there and got advice from a Father De Ghellinck,
the librarian. Father Martin gave me the chance to buy important
duplicates; he gave great help in bibliography.
UC Library School
Teiser: This brings you, then, to USF. Do you want to say anything more--?
Monihan: I do . I want to say something about my arriving at USF. I
immediately applied to the University of California, Berkeley, to
the school of librarianship. I took the entrance examinations and
languages and so on, and I began my library degree work immediately.
The Jesuit whose place I was taking at USF was Joseph
Schechtel. He for personal reasons wanted to do something else. I
took his place in July of 1947.
I think that if there's a time to conclude today, this would be
the time to do it. Because next I'll go into my time at USF.
[Interview 3: 14 May 1988]
Teiser: We got just to the beginning of your years at the University of San
Francisco last time, July, 1947.
Monihan: Yes, that was the beginning of the fiscal year.
Teiser: And you enrolled in the library school at Berkeley that same autumn?
Teiser: What were your duties here at the same time?
Monihan: Well, it was really an orientation with the staff, getting to know
the staff, and the staff was very small. I had one cataloguer, one
acquisitions librarian, I think one serials librarian, one
circulation librarian, one secretary. It was the minimum staff you
can imagine .
The location of this library, which was on the third floor of
what is now called Campion Hall- -and only a fourth of the third
Monihan: floor --did not house all the volumes. I would say maybe not more
than twenty- five thousand books were available to the public at that
location. Campion Hall in those days was called The Liberal Arts
Building, and the entrance faced Fulton Street. Inside were
administrative offices and classrooms, and the third floor was the
Teiser: So you came and got acquainted?
Monihan: That's about what it came to. It so happened that that July was the
occasion of the American Library Association meeting in San
Francisco. So I immediately got into if not a businesslike
atmosphere, a party spirit of attending meetings.
Teiser: Did you, then, at the American Library Association meet for the
first time a lot of your fellow librarians? Did you make friends?
Monihan: Well, certainly I did. I probably met a great number, because I
took as many of the library staff as I could to the meetings. Now,
whom I met I don't remember at all, but I felt it was important for
all of us to be acquainted with as many as we could.
Teiser: You must have had a terribly busy schedule, going to library school
and serving as librarian here for a time.
Monihan: Yes, it was. I was going to say it's the Jesuit way, like you say
it's the army way. You get an assignment, you get your training
later. As I mentioned to you in the last interview, there were
advantages to it, to be going to library school and to be
administrator of a small college library at the same time. There
were advantages, and among them would be the opportunity to speak
with people who could give me answers to questions that were facing
me at that time at USF.
Teiser: Whom did you work with especially in the library school at Berkeley?
Monihan: Well, the great Edith Coulter.
Teiser: She was still active?
Monihan: She was there. I say "the great" Edith Coulter, and great having
italics. What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful woman. You knew
Teiser: Yes. Not well, but I had lunch with her occasionally.
Monihan: When I arrived in '47, the Drum Foundation was already operating, and
income from the foundation was already coming in. I had an
opportunity to buy the national catalogue for France for $2,000. I
asked Miss Coulter.
Monihan: With a twinkle in the eye, she said, "You'd better get it. You
won't get it at a better price. It's a lot of money, but get it
now." She advised on other things which came up in reference and
bibliography. I would say that without even knowing it, I realized
the importance of reference and bibliography in a library.
Teiser: When you went to library school--! don't know enough about library
school to know whether people specialize, or do you just take a
Monihan: Well, people take a general course, because in those years the
basics were bibliography and reference, cataloguing, book selection,
and so on. So it would not be geared to special libraries or be
geared to university libraries or public libraries. That's why, all
in all, it was a pretty good training.
Teiser: Were you a full-time student?
Monihan: Oh, no. I was a part-time student. I got permission from the dean,
Perry Danton, to take a part-time program. I think each semester I
took two courses, but no more.
Planning the Gleeson Library
Teiser: So you continued for a time, then you dropped out for a time?
Monihan: I dropped out at the end of the fall semester, which means it was
Christmastime. The reason was that Father William Dunne, the then
president of the university, put into my hands the Pflueger drawings
for the future Gleeson Library, which was more like a building one
would build in 1930 than one would build in 1950. Sort of a modern
renaissance-style building, with our great hall, Memorial Hall, and
So I brought these in the fall of 1947 to Joyce Backus, who was
then director of libraries at San Jose State University library,
then called the college library. She gave me criticism, but I--
probably on her advice- -thought it necessary to go elsewhere in the
country to find out what other people were doing or about to do or
just had completed in the way of a library. So I came back to the
administration and explained how necessary it was for me to drop out
of library school and get criticism from other people, because we
were on the verge of building a building.
It was decided that I should be allowed to do that, and I would
take at least six weeks in the early spring of '48 to do that. My
duties as head librarian were certainly curtailed, not only because
of library school work, but also because of my focusing upon the new
Teiser: May we discuss the building? You knew what the goal was, I assume;
you knew what your desired end result was to be.
Monihan: Yes. I must have early on gotten the idea, or gotten permission
from Father Dunne, to plan for the future, whatever size we would
need. It was later that Father Dunne said that we should plan to
spend at least $1 million. We had never spent that kind of money.
We didn't have the money then.
Timothy Pf lueger was the man who made these drawings , probably
for Father Gleeson. Milton Pflueger was the one I dealt with.
Timothy Pflueger was the one who did the 450 Sutter building, the
Aztec -style building, and the telephone building. But I knew
through reading that a number of institutions were planning
Visits to Other Libraries
Monihan: One focus of my attention was the Washington State College Library
at Pullman, Washington. My first stop on the trip was a very
significant visit, because it turned out that the present exterior
of the Gleeson library building was modeled on that of the
Washington State College Library. I went back there at least two or
three more times to check with them.
I made a report to the regents of USF when I returned from this
trip of five to six weeks. I tried to do it in as professional a
way as I possibly could. I want to give you the highlights, those
who helped the most.
I went to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, and John Burchard was a then-director of
libraries at MIT. He was a trained architect. To my knowledge, he
was not a trained librarian. But he met with me for two hours on
the day of my arrival, and brought in a man named Tate, who was his
associate, and discussed our plans, and stressed how important it
was to plan for the future .
He said, "Can you come back to see me tomorrow? Can you stay
over?" I said, "Yes." He, with his large architectural paper and
pencil, designed what is today the foyer of Gleeson Library. He was
the most generous man; I was overwhelmed with his kindness. So he
became a lifelong friend, and later on he became the moderator for
the first symposium. A lovely, lovely human being; a man of truly
great stature, too, who had the marvelous experience of inviting
Winston Churchill to commencement at MIT.
Monihan: That was one high point. Another high point was visiting at Harvard
with Keyes Metcalf , who was then director of libraries at Harvard.
He was so friendly, so open, and gave me a lot of kindly advice. He
had been very active nationally in library building planning. In
fact, wrote a book about it.
The last one I want to mention is Julian Boyd. He's a
historian who edited papers of Jefferson. He said to me, because it
was Princeton's plan, that the modular was the only plan that would
suit the present and future needs of a college library. So that
became one of my principal recommendations to the regents and Father
Dunne when I came back. It was accepted. We were the first library
building on the West Coast to follow the modular plan.
Now, basically the modular plan means that you have no bearing
walls other than around the elevator, the main stairs, and the
lavatories. The building is supported by pillars every 22 1/2 feet.
All this was part of the planning. When I came back to San
Francisco, Milton Pflueger had a plan already drawn up, which was
very much like the Washington State College plan. So I was quite
pleased and flattered that he had understood what I was trying to
get at. We worked together very well.
Designing the Library
Monihan: I want to make a footnote on this. An architect asks the client,
"What do you want?" The client or the client's representative must
tell the architect what he wants. And this is so important! You
cannot expect an architect to plan a building for anybody; the
client must work hard. I worked every day on one or another aspect
of the Gleeson Library building for a whole year: the flooring, the
acoustical ceilings, the light fixtures, the amount of moisture that
would transfer from the ground into the building, or the amount of
sound transfer between walls, the decibels of sound. So I worked on
every aspect I possibly could, with Pflueger 's encouragement and
direction. We got along very well.
Teiser: Well, I've heard architects complain that clients make unreasonable
demands. Your architect must have had a great deal of respect for
what you were advising.
Monihan: Yes. But I was truly a freshman; I was truly a beginner in every
sense. But before I went out to get information, Pflueger would
say, "We need to know this, we need to know this, and we need to
know this." And so I went to work on those projects. I would say,
"I'm going to do it this way," and he said, "Sounds good to me; go
ahead and do it. "
Architect Timothy Pfleuger and Father Monihan with model of Gleeson
Library building, 1950.
Photograph courtesy of
Gleeson Library^ U.S.F.
Teiser: What sort of a man was he?
Monihan: Very calm, with a great deal of deliberation in his voice. Very
willing and anxious to listen to new ideas. I was getting new ideas
from various parts of the country, and we were living in the postwar
period, and this was what was happening. The reason why the
Firestone Library at Princeton called for a modular plan was because
those older buildings like the Sterling Library at Yale, the Widener
at Harvard, were older- style buildings with fixed walls, with
grandiose rooms. You couldn't do anything with them. But this way,
The way it turned out, it was not completely flexible, because
the air conditioning was designed for a definite number of people in
every room. Well, if you changed it from a reading room to a
classroom, which we did, it's quite different. The third floor
became the law school for about fifteen years.
Teiser: Was that planned initially?
Monihan: It certainly was not. It was over my dead body. But it was
absolutely right, it absolutely made sense. We couldn't use the
Teiser: Would you describe the building as it was completed?
Monihan: As I recall --the figures that come into my mind- -it was a building
of 92,000 square feet. Our former library had only 9,000 square
feet. We planned five floors; the basement was largely storage. As
you came into the building, the first floor to the left was a
lecture room. Straight ahead was the circulation desk. These were
the very earliest opening years of the library.
The administration demanded that it be a closed- stack library,
and this was something that I had no choice over. But, happily, we
were able to adapt very quickly, because in a matter of two to three
years we were an open- stack library.
So the books, when we entered the building in the fall of 1950,
really occupied only the first and second floors. We had only
50,000 volumes. As you know, today we have 500,000 books.
Teiser: How did you get the money for the library?
Financing Library Construction
Monihan: Well, this was a miracle in the sense that no fundraising was
needed. That sounds incredible, but Father Richard Gleeson was the
man around whom the library was built. He was a well -beloved Jesuit
father who was known to many people in San Francisco. On October 6,
1937, there was a banquet for him at the Palace Hotel for his
diamond jubilee. That's sixty years as a Jesuit. Florence
McAuliffe, William H. McCarthy, Dan Murphy, and several others of
the business community determined that they wanted to do something
in honor of their friend.
They said- -we have the correspondence of that banquet- -"Let's
do something for our friend. Let's start in right now; each one of
us can contribute a thousand dollars." This was the 1930s! Each
one contributed a thousand dollars.
Father Gleeson was asked to promote the cause. So by his death
in 1945, there was an accumulation of about $300,000.* That was a
lot of money. It was considered to be enough to complete the job.
Then it so happened to our good fortune that James and Delia
Walsh- -as I recall, Mr. Walsh was the secretary to the Flood estate.
He or his widow, Delia Walsh left a million and a half [dollars] to
be jointly divided between USF and Santa Clara. That gave us some
$750,000. Together with what Father Gleeson had, that was $1
There were a few other small bequests that came in, significant
enough to give us working capital around $1,115,000 or $1,120,000.
So in that way, there was no fundraising necessary. Extraordinary.
Teiser: You then had adequate funds to do just what you had originally
Monihan: Yes. After I got back from the trip east in 1948 and presented this
to the regents of the university, then the money came in from the
Walsh estate. We were then ready to build. The cost of the
building was $10 a square foot, which is incredible in today's
Teiser: Did the faculty have input?
Monihan: I'm sure they did in an informal way, but not formally. I felt that
what I spent my time on were specific problems- -floor coverings,
electric lighting, and so forth. I want to emphasize that I did
*See also p. 45.
this as a lay person, because I would go to libraries that had
fluorescent lighting that wasn't working, and ask, "What did you do
wrong?" These were questions I would ask all over the country of
people who found trouble.
Someone --it could have been anyone: faculty, friend of the
university said, "Don't forget that there's a lot of moisture on
the top of that hill at USF." So working with Pflueger, we planned
a double slab of concrete in the basement of the building. We had
one floor of concrete, and then we had tar and paper, and then a
Now, we have had problems with leakage, but not directly from
that floor. Around the edges of it, yes, over on the extremities of
all that slab. But to show you how successful it was, we did not
give a double slab floor to the boiler room, and the water just
pushed that floor straight up. So I want to emphasize that I took
notes; anyone who advised me, I took notes: Be careful of this, be
careful of that.
Then you stayed out of library school for how long?
Three semesters. And that's a long time.
How many libraries do you think you visited?
Well, I'm going to say thirty-five. I don't know, about thirty-
five. I was pretty much on the run; I was going from place to
place, and in those days we traveled by train. I went to Lincoln,
Nebraska, to Iowa, to Colorado to any institution where one of the
leaders in library planning worked. So I got first-class advice.
You didn't attempt to look at older libraries and see what was wrong
Well, only recent older libraries. I would say, "What mistakes did
you make? What would you like to have done if you had it to do over
again?" I really tried to plan in terms of what we had. We had no
rare books at that time, no question of a rare book room.
In your mind, did you have that in the future?
No, I'm not that smart.
Meeting Other Librarians
Teiser: Did you make friends with librarians during this?
Monihan: Oh, I did. I made gifts of California wine to Mr. Burchard of MIT.
Yes, I had many friends who helped me. Consequently, when the
library was completed, I was the host to an endless succession of
people who wanted to look at the library.
Teiser: When you went back to library school, then, you must have gone back
with a little more insight than most students.
Monihan: I would say that.
Teiser: Did you focus your interests, then, at all?
Monihan: No. My assignment was a college library, and consequently the whole
emphasis of library school courses was directed towards that. But I
never considered myself a technical librarian, which is cataloguing
and so on. Because my work started out in the very beginning with
library building planning, in contact with all the library people, I
think I took naturally to what we call "public relations."
Teiser: A useful part of being a librarian.
Monihan: Well, it certainly fitted my talents. I felt it was very important.
Teiser: So by the time that this library was dedicated, December 3, 1950,
you were through library school?
Monihan: No, I wasn't. I got my bachelor of science in library science in
Teiser: You continued part-time?
Monihan: I continued part-time.
Teiser: Did the opening of this library then change your activities a good
Monihan: It certainly did, because I did not give a great deal of attention
to the specific departments in the library. I didn't have time to
supervise cataloguing or acquisitions. I was entertaining people
from all over the country who wanted to see this new building.
This is one of the reasons why I got into library relations,
because I was never, as Father Schechtel, my predecessor was, a
technical librarian who knew cataloguing in and out, who knew
circulation in and out and so on. I never knew this. Instead of
learning the bottom, I learned from the top, and I didn't learn very
much. But I did know people, and I liked people.
Teiser: Did you have a ready-made staff, then, doing these technical things,
or did you choose your own?
Monihan: Well, I had a ready-made staff, but by the time we moved into the
new building I had chosen new people. The others had quit or gone
on to do other things .
Moving Into and Dedicating the Gleeson Library. 1950
The first job, I guess, was moving the books in?
Yes. You see, in St. Ignatius Church there is the second level
above the sacristy, and that was the storage area for the college
library. We moved the college library books over to the Gleeson
Library. That's why I say the maximum number of books that we had
on entering on the day of dedication was 50,000 volumes. That might
have been stretching it, too.*
I should ask a little more about the dedication,
Who presided over
Well, I suppose Father William Dunne, the president, presided. The
board of regents were there, my mother and father were there. It
was a day of pounding rain, heavy, heavy rainstorm. There was a
Bishop, Thomas K. Gorman, who spoke. He was a friend of Father John
McGloin.** He gave a special talk and suggested that one of the
objectives for this Gleeson building would be to collect the history
of the Roman Catholic Church in California. It was something that
was certainly Father McGloin' s prime concern, and I hope that I
contributed something towards that end.
I don't think that a library can say what it's going to
collect. It is very important to remember that you collect because
of opportunities. You do not collect by sitting back in your chair
and saying, "Let's do this and let's do that," because you may never
have the opportunity. You might get fragments- -anyone can collect
fragments --but to get a whole library of a private individual that
becomes a research library, that is rare. You can't anticipate
Father John McGloin' s Contribution
Teiser: I should ask you to characterize Father McGloin and his position in
relation to the history of the--
*See also p. 47 .
Monihan: Well, Father McGloin was then at the beginning of his career as
USF's historian of San Francisco and California. He was very
successful, had a nice personality, communicated well. He had large
classes and everyone looked to him for guidance. He was also the
archivist for the university, but I would say that his primary
interest was California history.
Teiser: He accumulated quite an archive, did he not?
Monihan: Yes. And I would say that people like Dr. Albert Shumate helped him
a lot in those regards.
Teiser: That is not now part of the library, I believe?
Monihan: It is in part, insofar as Father McGloin has turned over to the
Gleeson Library certain segments of those collections. I think
Father McGloin was instrumental in our getting the Peter Yorke
papers.* This was a priest in the diocese of San Francisco who was
very active in the labor movement.
Teiser: Part of your job must have been to assess what you had and try to
fill in wanting areas?
Monihan: Yes, it was. When I looked at the few books on the shelves on the
day of dedication on December 3, 1950, I determined that I would do
everything I could to get the unimportant books off the shelves and
good quality books on the shelves.
The Influence of the Honnold Library
Mohihan: My model was David Davies of the Honnold Library at Claremont. He
was my model, my exemplar. I was down there during the fifties, and
I saw quality books on those shelves, stack after stack after stack.
I knew what I was looking at. I could see quality, and that's what
These were not necessarily expensive books, these were not rare
books; these were open stacks at the Honnold Library. But, my
golly, they were marvelous concentrations of fine collections. I
saw also a separate little building that the Bacon Library had at
the Honnold. That was a rare book library of first class, but I was
satisfied watching David Davies with his general stacks.
*Father McGloin died August 2, 1988.
Monihan: So instinctively, one way or another, before the years moved on very
fast, I was getting into the marketplace and buying books that we
The Frank Drum Foundation
Teiser: How did you buy them?
Monihan: Well, one of the benefits was that Frank Drum Foundation. You see,
we only had dedicated the Gleeson building when the Korean War broke
out, and a lot of our students left to go into the service. Lo and
behold, the library budget was cut in half--
Monihan: The administrators cut all budgets, because the student body was
down so low. Well, I didn't know what to do. My emotions were not
to get angry. The Drum Foundation income was always there, but it
was not clearly designated as to what Mr. Drum wanted. Mr. Drum was
alive at the time. But the administrators were pressed for money,
so they wanted me to use the Drum Foundation for ordinary
acquisitions. That's something that Drum did not want.
It must have been 1955 or '56--I'm jumping now aheadthat
Frank Drum had his attorney draw up a letter designating the
purposes of the income from his foundation. That was to be used for
purchase of books over and above what was required by educational
accrediting associations. So as to help us to do what we were
ordinarily not able to do, not help us to buy the bread-and-butter
books for the library.
This caused some anguish between the administration and myself,
but the letter, once it was written by Drum's attorney, Howard Finn,
was clear, and it has become the primary document ever since.
Mr. Drum died in 1960, and I had contact with him all of these
years. There was one period during the Korean War, 1951-1956, where
the income from the Drum money went directly into the ordinary
budget for the Gleeson Library acquisitions. Drum said to me again
and again, "I want to see a report on the use of my funds."
I said, "Frank, please tell me that in writing for the guidance
of the administrators." So that's why this letter came, and it
caused quite a bit of anguish. Because look: I had won a victory,
and the president, Father John F. X. Connolly, was not pleased. But
Frank Drum was a veryI'm speaking as a librarian- -enlightened
benefactor: "You do your new books in this field or that field you
must have. But if you have a chance to acquire a library, acquire
something special that you ordinarily couldn't have access to; this
is what it's for."
Teiser: So it was that that gave you your opportunity to make your first
Monihan: Yes. Many notable acquisitions, smaller ones. But as I'm speaking
to you now, I must say that I don't recall Frank Drum making any
contribution toward the purchase of the Thomas More collection.
Teiser: I was going to ask if you want to start next time with the Thomas
Monihan: Yes. Let's do that, because that would be 1951. The reason why I
would like to conclude on this, the connection is it would seem to
me that the Thomas More Library, the $8,000, would be a logical use
of the Drum money, for something over and above what we could
acquire. But it was not. My mother and father's money bought that
Teiser: We'll start with that.
[Interview 4: 18 May, 1988]
Teiser: You were speaking of the Frank Drum bequest. For one thing, you
mentioned the importance of specifying in a bequest- -was that it?
Monihan: Yes. What the donor wanted to achieve. May I go back and give
something of the history of this foundation?
Teiser: Will you tell a little about Frank Drum, too?
Monihan: Yes, I will. I have nothing in writing about the biography of Frank
Drum. I would have loved to have had some sketch. What I have is
Frank Drum was the son of a man who was the founder, or at
least one of the founders, of the American Trust Company, and of the
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, so he was a man of great financial
skill. As far as I know, Frank, Jr., was inheritor of the estate of
Now, my Frank Drum is Frank G. Drum. Father William Dunne, a
man of great leadership and great imagination, who was the president
of the university when I came in 1947, had a great capacity for
friendship, and Frank Drum became one of Father Dunne's very close
friends. I want to emphasize that Frank Drum, Jr., was both a
studious and pious man. He would ask Father dunne for tutors in
Latin and Greek, or in other subjects, and he would ask for a
spiritual father to guide him in his own religious life. So he was
a very good man in every sense.
Monihan: He belonged to the best clubs in San Francisco- -the Pacific Union
Club, and probably the Bohemian Club. I want to emphasize that
Father Dunne and he had a great friendship. I was able to learn
that the origin of the Frank G. Drum foundation was this: Frank
said to Father Dunne, "I do not want to build any buildings for you.
I want to do something different, something that will be of lasting
importance, that will not be a concrete building. Would you think
Father Dunne said, "Yes, I'll think about that." And he came
back to Frank Drum and said, "Frank, I think an endowment for the
library would be a marvelous idea." This by way of footnote shows
the marvelous insight that Father William Dunne had, because in 1947
the college library was a very small affair. For him to say that at
that time showed tremendous vision for the future.
Anyhow, Frank Drum accepted Father Dunne's recommendation, and
he established a foundation with the Wells Fargo Bank, and selected
as trustees Marshall Madison; Howard Finn, an attorney; Dr. Edward
Morrissey; and several others. I could probably think of some
others, but they are deceased now. Anyhow, it was something of a
surprise to Father Dunne that Frank established this foundation
outside the university, not inside the university. So it was a
Frank intended it to be something of significance. Now, this
differs from the Drum Foundation, which is another foundation
established at Frank Drum's death in 1960. The Drum Foundation
received the residue of Frank's estate of several million dollars.
But this foundation, the Frank G. Drum Foundation, to my knowledge
started in 1946 with $200,000. And the purpose of it was to assist
the USF library to purchase books that it would ordinarily not be
able to acquire. It sounds very simple, but that requirement has
been very difficult to interpret over the years.
It was somewhere in the early 1980s or the latter part of the
1970s that the trustees of the Frank G. Foundation voted to go out
of existence and transfer the entire sum of money to USF. So it's
part of our portfolio, and the university library dean, Paul Birkel
at present, is advised to report each year to the other foundation
in care of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro on the uses of the Frank G.
Drum Foundations fund. So no longer an outside foundation, it
became a fund. When it is outside the university we call it a
foundation; when it's inside the university we call it a fund.
This fund began in 1946, and today the capital sum is $2.5
million. How did this happen? Well, Frank Drum was a benefactor of
a girls' school in the Northwest, and that school failed. One of
the articles of the gift was that should the school fail, that
capital sum would return to the Frank G. Drum Foundation. There
were other increments that added to this foundation, and I can't
recall what they were. But there are very few institutions, and I
Monihan: mean prosperous and affluent institutions, in the United States that
have an endowment fund as we have. I believe our endowment fund
today is $3.25 million.
But here you have two individuals, Frank Drum, the donor,
Father William Dunne representing the University of San Francisco,
working well together, communicating well. Mutual confidence.
Over the years, the Gleeson Library has grown enormously and
substantially and deeply, because we have the Drum Foundation.
Now, let me say by way of compliment to the managers of USF,
some of the income is retained each year to put back into the
principal, so that it's a guard against inflation, and so our
principal is rising all the time. The market value of the total
library endowment is today about $3.25 million, and this is partly
because the university has wisely taken some income and put it into
Teiser: At whose discretion, then, were the funds used for books? Who
decided which books?
Monihan: Well, the dean of the library is the one who finally decides.
Actually, when Frank Drum wrote this up in 1960, I was head
librarian, and I was named as the one to decide. Father William
Monihan, librarian of USF, decides. I tried, not only during Drum's
lifetime, to decide according to his intentions, or I would test my
choices with Drum. "I did this, I did that, how does it sound?"
"Yes, fine, fine, that's just what I wanted." But he did want a
report, and he needed it for tax reasons on what the uses of the
funds were. But the key to it is, it's to be used to acquire books
over and above what the average accrediting agency would require of
the university library.
It is subject to a good deal of interpretation, I'd say.
It is very difficult to interpret, but I would say that on a
practical level, those who were head librarians and Paul Birkel, is
now head librarian and the dean of the library*--! think have done
very responsibly. I'm present as an overseer, not with any right,
any authority, but I know what Paul Birkel is doing and I approve
what he's doing. And I've done in some part the same thing.
Teiser: These are beyond "required reading" books?
Monihan: Yes. Well, another way of looking at it is retrospective
collecting: books which we should have acquired in the 1920s or
'30s or '40s or '50s, which we didn't acquire. This is one of the
*About four years ago, the administration decided to raise
Mr. Birkel's position to the dean's level. W.J.M.
Monihan: big uses for the Drum Foundation. Complete runs of periodicals,
which we should have acquired years ago, we can acquire now with the
Drum Foundation. Very expensive. And so on- -there's an endless
number of things. We call it enrichment of the collection.
Well, that came along about the right time, didn't it?
Precisely, it did. It came at exactly the right time. There were
many things that happened at the right time. The money for the
Gleeson Library building, preceded by the money for acquisitions- -it
was a very happy coincidence.
Teiser: By the time the dedication of the Gleeson Library came around, I
guess you had been able to buy some of the books, then, with the
Monihan: Well before then. I mentioned the French National Catalogue. I
bought a copy before the Gleeson Library building opened up.
Teiser: Was that with Drum funds?
Monihan: With Drum funds. And Edith Coulter would advise me on other things
to acquire. As soon as I came in in '47, they said, "There is extra
gift money for you to use; use it!" And also I was admonished by
Drum for not using it. "Use that money!"
Teiser: I should ask you about the naming of the library.
Monihan: Well, there seemed to be no question of the naming of the library,
because the money, roughly $300,000 which was gathered before World
War II, was gathered in honor of Father Gleeson. His friends wanted
to do something for him, so at that famous banquet at the Palace
Hotel, October 6, 1937, they pretty much determined that they wanted
to follow his wishes and build a library.
Teiser: Had he taught?
Monihan: No, he was pretty much a person with a job similar to my job, public
relations and fundraising. See, there was a tremendous debt on the
building of the church. The church was completed in 1914, and that
Teiser: That's St. Ignatius?
Monihan: Yes, only eight years after the earthquake and fire, and it became a
tremendous debt .
Monihan: So he put on public events in the church on Palm Sunday, and tried
to collect money to preserve the church in our hands, rather than it
going into the hands of the bank. His whole life was that of
administrator, and he would not be considered a bookish man or a
librarian. As contrasted with Joseph M. Gleason who gave his
library to Lone Mountain.
Participants in the Dedication
The dedication, then, was a celebration?
Yes, it was. It was not a gathering of a large number of people,
simply because it was a day of heavy, torrential rains.
December 3, 1950, I have.
Yes. Torrential rains. But the regents were there, my parents were
there, Archbishop Mitty was there, and we had a formal blessing of
the building with the archbishop. Father Carroll 0' Sullivan was the
rector, and he was involved in that.
The rector in those days was not only the superior of the Jesuit
community, but also the chairman of the board of the university
trustees, so he had a special role to play. Father Dunne was
president, but he was president of the university without having the
supreme authority on the board of trustees, although he was a
This was not, in retrospect, a good arrangement, because it
seemed to invite conflict, and it did invite conflict. But I would
say that Father 0' Sullivan and Father Dunne got along quite well.
You brought up the name of Archbishop Mitty.
What sort of person
Well, he was a man of very few words. He had been in the military,
as a chaplain, and seemed to have acquired characteristics of the
military man. He would accomplish any services you wanted from him,
but he was a man of not very many extra words. He was not
enthusiastic, for instance, about the completion of the library
building. He just had a task to do and he did it, and went home.
So that was it.
At what point in the building's construction did you dedicate it?
Monihan: We had moved everything into the library between the summer and the
fall of 1950. So when everything was in place, they chose December
as the occasion for the dedication.
Teiser: How large a staff did you have to begin with?
Monihan: Well, I would say that I had a staff in 1950 of around twenty
people, but it didn't last long. As I mentioned, the Korean War
came, and I had to slash positions and funds and everything else.
That was a great tragedy for the library. People that I felt were
well -chosen for the jobs had to be let go.
Teiser: You at that time occupied only two--
Monihan: Two floors, and the Sky Room. The Sky Room, which we called the Sky
Room because the Pfluegers had done the Mark Hopkins, and they had
the Top of the Mark, so this was the top of the bookmark. We used
the lounge, but we didn't use the third floor. We used some
exhibition space up there, but it immediately became evident that
wherever you have a vacuum of space, someone's going to fill it.
The dean of faculties, Father Raymond T. Feely, was the one who
insisted that the law school be moved from what was then called the
liberal arts building, or today Campion Hall, into the third floor
of the library. The law school was just as cramped as the library
on the third floor of Campion, so it was very badly needed, but it
was over my dead body that they moved in. Nevertheless, I could see
no way to get around it, and I just couldn't hold on to empty space.
The fact of the matter is that it did preserve the library intact,
so that in the future the whole building could be used, as it is
today, and today it's inadequate space.
Teiser: You need more?
Monihan: We need more space very seriously.
Teiser: What are you going to do?
Monihan: Well, Father [John J.] LoSchiavo wants us to complete the lounge on
the fourth floor of the building from a single room to a full floor.
That is to say, stacks and tables and so on, going around the full
dimensions of the floor, rather than being a small room in the
center of the roof. And it was planned that way; it was understood
that that would be done .
The Sir Thomas More Collection
Nineteen fifty-one was the first notable acquisition.
Teiser: How did that come about?
Monihan: Well, Maurice E. Harrison was a member of a distinguished law firm
here, and he was also dean of Hastings Law School. He was a man who
was deeply interested in Thomas More, and he met David Magee, an
English bookseller who spent most of his life in San Francisco.
David Magee assisted Mr. Harrison in building up a notable
collection on Thomas More.
It was hoped by the university that Mr. Harrison would donate
this collection to us, but it didn't happen. But at the death of
Mr. Harrison, sometime in 1951, David Magee became the obvious
person to help Mrs. Harrison to choose disposition of the
collection. Dave had the library on his shelves in his shop at
442 Post Street. He called me, and he said, "I think that you
should see this library. I don't know what you can do about it, but
I think that you're the first one who should see this."
I went to see it, and I want to record that if ever I doubted
that I had a love for fine books, it was on seeing the More
collection that I realized that I truly did have. It awakened
something in me, deep inside of me, that thrilled me beyond words.
The fineness of these books just excited me more than I can say. I
spent some time looking them over, and I said to David, "How much
time do I have to decide?" The price was $8,000. He said, "How
much time do you want?"
I said, "A week?" "Sure." So I went back to USF, and I could
think of nothing else but the Thomas More library. The reason was
not only the high quality of the books and manuscripts, books of
association, but that the person of Thomas More would be, to my
mind, the exemplar of an alumnus of USF. If there's any type of a
person I would like to think could represent USF, it would be a
person like Thomas More, who would be at home in any society- -in
literary groups, in business groups, in political groups, in
overseas negotiation, with a willingness to take on any
responsibilities of government. A man of great personal piety, a
man of great personal integrity.
So with those emotions charging through me, I hardly slept. I
went to my parents, and I said to my parents, "I need $8,000. I
want to acquire a library on Thomas More. It means a lot to me.
Can you lend me $8,000, and I will pay it back at $1,000 a year?"
They said, "Well, let's see." So my parents consulted my
brother and my sister, the rest of the family, and talked it over
themselves. They said, "We will not lend it to you; we will give it
to you." That made the acquisition possible, and David Magee made
the transaction as easy as he possibly could. We have added on to
it until it has become sort of the symbol of the Gleeson Library
Rare Book area. We subsequently named the medal for book- collecting
Monihan: after Thomas More, and the first symposium I did was on Thomas More,
in 1965. So it's been an integral part of the Gleeson Library
We're adding to it all the time; even recently we added to it
in a very fortunate and good way. It was quite expensive. We made
a $7,000 purchase. Imagine that, for a single book to add to the
collection. This is unconventional, this is serendipity, to acquire
this to add to the Thomas More library, very unexpected. This is
going on now, this summer of 1988. It so happened that Sebastian
Brandt in Germany in the latter part of the fifteenth century
published a book called The Ship of Fools, and an Englishman named
Alexander Barclay liked the book. During the first decade of the
sixteenth century, in 1509, Pynson was the printer of the first
English edition of Barclay's translation. Barclay could not make an
exact translation, but he did something like More did in the Utopia.
He made his translation a social commentary on England, very much as
the Utopia was a social commentary. Barclay had the unusual fortune
of leisure, which Thomas More did not have, so he became a better
educated man than More. He got educated on the continent, and he
did this translation of Brandt's Ship of Fools.
The thing that thrilled me is that the fool imagery of the
middle ages was a very important thing in More studies. When
Erasmus was coming over the Alps, and coming into Basle, he wrote,
while he was on his horse I guess, and said he was amazed that the
wisest man he knew was called a fool in Greek. "Morus" means fool
in Greek. So he wrote The Praise of Folly in honor of More. So
this was part of the literary genre, to make comments on the morals
of the time through the image of the fool.
The other thing that thrilled me was that Barclay's lifetime
and More's lifetime were almost the same. More also published a
work at the time that the first edition of Barclay's Ship of Fools
appeared. They published all throughout their lives, so that they
both are literary figures, but the advantage of Barclay is that he
had more time to write than More had.
The acquisition of the Barclay book added stature to our
collection. Without Barney [Bernard] Rosenthal, we would not have
known about it. Barclay's name now joins other notables in the
original Harrison collection, such as White Kennett and John Donne,
Was there a contribution to the purchase of the More library from
Monihan: No. That is very surprising. Not one cent from Drum funds, and yet
I would say this is what Drum wanted, when some library came up, to
assist in buying the library. I have a letter which I wrote to Al
Shumate in that year, 1951, which Al returned to me, which said "I'm
reporting to Frank Drum every day on the progress being made on the
Monihan: acquiring of this library," and you can be very sure that I was
hoping that Mr. Drum would say, "Well now, let me take half of it.
A third of it," or "Let me buy all of it." Not one peep out of him.
He gave me a pat on the back, he encouraged me, he congratulated me,
he was thrilled--. "If you love me, show me."
A major event, although I'm ambivalent towards the More
library, because I regard the More collection as being of not very
high intellectual content. But I do regard the Utopia as being of
highest intellectual content. May I tell you about my Christmas
card that year?
Monihan: Well, it pleased a number of my confreres in the order. I selected
a portrait of Thomas More for the front cover of the Christmas card.
I put on page three of the card, "Nature calls all men to help each
other to a merrier life." That was a sentence from More's Utopia.
It was a very happy one. I remember Freda Kennedy laughing and
enjoying that a lot, because I was being ecumenical insofar as God
was not mentioned, but God was certainly implied. [laughter] She
was a great support to me, dear Freda.
Teiser: She believed strongly in nature.
Monihan: Yes. "Nature calls all men to help each other to a merrier life."
Teiser: I remember the card, because I think I have it among examples of
Lawton Kennedy's work.
St. Peter Canisius Day
Teiser: Is this a good time to discuss St. Peter Canisius Day?
Monihan: It's a little vignette of the 1950s. Some time in the late 1940s or
early 1950s, I decided to celebrate the feast of the Jesuit doctor
of the church, St. Peter Canisius, who was the founder of the Jesuit
colleges in Germany. And he also attracted my attention by being a
frequent attender of the celebrated Frankfurt Book Fair. Where he
got the money I don't know, but he would buy an immense number of
books for Jesuit colleges at that fair.
So I chose him as the Jesuit patron of libraries. I don't know
whether he had the title or not, but it was my choice. On that
occasion every year, I would say Mass for my library staff, and
issue an original linoleum block cut for the staff.
Teiser: The linoleum blocks issued for your staff on St. Peter Canislus Day,
each one was cut by--
Monihan: Each one was cut by Father Terence O'Connor, a classmate of mine.
And the very first one was printed by Adrian Wilson as an act of
friendship. He used Japanese paper, and it was a beautiful job.
How I got to know Adrian Wilson I don't know, but I just knew Adrian
was around, and he and I were about the same age. I guess I thought
that he was the best one I knew who could do this --before I met
Lawton Kennedy .
Now, the subject matter of this first print was a picture of a
church and library. The quotation from Canisius was "Better a
college," meaning a Jesuit college- -"Better a college without a
church than a college without a library." 1 loved that, and my
rector, whether he was spoofing or not, pretended to be very angry.
But I continued that series well into the 1960s, so I'd say for
fully ten years. Each time O'Connor would choose a different one of
the graphic arts --the printer, the engraver, the writer, the
binder- -anything to do with the printing arts.
Beatrice Warde , a lady friend of Stanley Morrison brought a
complete set of my linoleum bark prints to Stanley Morrison.
Anyhow, that's the end of that vignette now, but it was a lot of fun
doing it. I felt that this was what a library should do, besides
having a certain amount of celebration of an accomplished forebear,
Peter Canisius, in the field of books and collecting. I was doing
something by having this original print being distributed to the
The Columbus CartOEraphv Collection
Monihan: Now, I would like to move on to another subject, 1954. There are
two notable acquisitions in the 1950s. That of 1954 is the gift of
the library of George E. Nunn. It so happened that Father George
Johnson, a former pupil of George Nunn at Balboa High School, came to
see me in the library and said, "I wonder, would you be interested
in acquiring for USF a library on the cartography of Columbus?" I
said, "Well, of course!" So it led to my meeting with George Nunn,
who was then at the end of his life. He was a learned man on
cartographical problems with regard to the earliest explorations.
He formed a notable library on a teacher's salary in our public
schools in those days. He was a man of great refinement.
He donated his library, and when we took the books from his
home, he cried. He said, "I'm not asking you to stop; you have
taken my friends from me." Truly a scholar, truly a collector, and
a man of very modest means. But it is a notable library, and we
Monihan: have added to that library very diligently over the years, so it's a
strong library. On early exploration and travel in the time of
Columbus, it's quite well covered. Notable works, including one
" incunabulum , " Pius II 's edition of travels in Asia Minor.
I have been in contact with Father Johnson in subsequent years.
When I find a notable acquisition for the Nunn collection he will
contribute the money to acquire it.
On Columbus day in 1954, we had a reception in the Skyroom to
announce the gift of the Nunn Library. The brochure was printed by
Henry Evans. Very nicely done. The announcement was printed by
Teiser: He was a printer of good taste.
Monihan: I said, "Haywood, this is a library of 14th and 15th century things.
We want to have something with the flavor of that." And he did
well. So anyhow, one of my Jesuit library friends congratulated me
on the occasion of this acquisition. He said, "The only objection I
have is you served tea on Columbus Day!" [laughter]
Building a University Library
[Interview 5: 24 May 1988 ]#//
Teiser: I asked you by phone if you would give your thoughts on what a
college library should be. Have you now made some notes on that?
Monihan: Yes. Well, to say what a college library should be, Ruth, I
understand that you have in mind how one should go about building up
the book collection. My mentor, whom I never met, is Chauncy Tinker
of Yale University. I wish I had met him, but I've known him
through his proteges, such as Wilmarth Lewis especially. It was
Tinker who told his fledgling private collectors that the future of
a research library depends on collections formed by individuals.
Nothing can match the enthusiasm and thoroughness with which
Wilmarth Lewis devoted himself to the building up of the Horace
Walpole Library at his home.
The acquiring of collections formed by private collectors is a
great leap ahead for the college library. In other words, that the
work in one subject area is nearly complete, and all that the
library has to do is to add on things that appear from time to time.
In connection with that, I wanted to tell you that I was
fortunate to be at the Folger Library in 1960 when Clifton Waller
Barrett gave a talk to a group of librarians at a convention.
Teiser: I don't know his name.
Monihan: Clifton Waller Barrett, of Charlottesville, Virginia. He formed the
now famous American literature library, called the Barrett Library
at the University of Virginia. It's a celebrated private collection
which he gave to his university, or as he would say, to
Mr. Jefferson's university.
In the talk he gave to rare book librarians in the Folger
Library in 1960, he said, "If you librarians wish to build up your
libraries, come out and meet us, the private collectors. You need
us and we need you." I guess I was well-prepared to hear those
words, because he said to me many many times subsequently that no
one has followed his advice more than I have. I made it my business
over these many years to meet the private collector and become
friends with him. Many of them I have visited year upon year upon
year. They all didn't do the same thing for me; some donated a few
things, but others- -simply the example of their pursuit of the most
important books in their subject was itself an education to me.
"A Collection of Private Collections"
Monihan: In addition to that, I wanted to say that I was at the Royal Library
in Stockholm in 1967, when I was with the Grolier Club on their
European visit of that year to Scandinavia and the Low Countries.
In the Royal Library, I witnessed the awarding of a medal for a
private book collector. Mrs. Stern, Marjorie Stern, was present
there, and she encouraged me to listen carefully and take notes. So
the result was that when I came back to San Francisco, the Gleeson
Library Associates under the guidance of Charles Fracchia began the
awarding of an annual medal, the Sir Thomas More medal, to private
The first one to receive it was Norman Strouse in 1968. The
medal has been granted every year since then.
Now, that is by way of a preface to say that I am a believer
that the growth of the Gleeson Library depended and depends upon the
acquisition, by gift or purchase, of private collections. I can say
that we have obtained by gift or purchase around twenty- five or
thirty such collections. And perhaps the one person who helped us
the most in this regard was Norman Strouse.
He was the first recipient, as I just mentioned, of the Sir
Thomas More medal for private book collecting. He was then chairman
of the board of J. Walter Thompson Company in New York City, and he
said that when he came to California, he would help me and help the
Teiser: How did you first know him?
Monihan: Charles Fracchia wrote a letter of introduction for me, so when I
went to New York in 1966, I met him. I met him at his corporate
headquarters of the Thompson Company.
One brief note about the Royal Library of Sweden: in awarding
the medal in 1967, the Royal Library used a slogan which we adopted,
"Private book collecting: A public benefit." So that in selecting
recipients of the Sir Thomas More medal, we kept in mind not only
private collectors' activities but private collectors who were
disposed in one way or another towards benefiting the general
public. Because there are many private collectors who collect and
then simply put their library on the market, or their heirs put the
library on the market, and everything is dispersed. But those who
want to have their library continue in some way either sell it or
give it- -or make it available in one way or another- -to
So, to answer your question about how does one form an ideal
college library, I would say first of all by the acquisition of
private collections. Steve [D. Steven] Corey has called our rare
book room and other parts of our library "a collection of private
collections . "
The Importance of Bibliography
Monihan: Now, the day-to-day and ordinary approach to the development of a
college library is through the use and practice of bibliography. I
was at Oberlin College near Cleveland in 1961, and I met the retired
librarian of Oberlin. I asked for advice as to what he would say to
a younger librarian. He said, "My advice is: bibliography,
bibliography, bibliography." I know from my experience that that is
essential, that a constant use of bibliography is a necessary
ingredient to the development of a fine library.
It is obvious to anyone that a single individual, whether he be
a librarian or a teacher in the university, has limited knowledge.
That is a given, an understood fact. So one goes to bibliography to
find out which books are important on this author or that author, or
this subject or that subject. The first thing I had in mind for the
Gleeson Library, following my predecessor Father Schechtel, was to
build a base of bibliography. This included biographical
dictionaries, an encyclopedia, subject bibliographies, author
bibliographies, catalogues of other libraries, and so on and so on.
Monihan: Whatever is included in the general category of bibliography is
something that I made a big effort to obtain. And I think we have
Monihan: been moderately successful in building a bibliographic base for the
The Importance of Antiquarian Booksellers
Monihan: Once you have bibliography, you have the tools to work with. The
next thing- -or simultaneously- -one must be closely associated with
the antiquarian booksellers. Now, 1 was thinking certainly of the
catalogues one receives in the mail, but I mean primarily visiting
the antiquarian booksellers and seeing their stock. I do not mean
used booksellers; that's too diffuse. But a highly selective stock,
such as the good antiquarians have, is the market where the
librarian should search to build a library.
I have pursued booksellers and bookstores not only locally but
everywhere I've traveled. I travel a lot. I think that the Gleeson
Library has profited. So the librarian goes as often as possible to
the antiquarian bookseller, and selects a wide variety of books on
every subject. He comes back to the library and uses the
bibliography to verify whether these books are important or not
This means that ninety- five percent of the books which I see on
the booksellers' market, I don't know anything about, I've never
seen before. But I bring my list back to the library, and I can
find out whether these books are important. Some may prove to be
exceedingly important, and others completely unimportant. So, it's
a sifting through the market, time and time again, to find out what
will add to a library.
Well, as a result of this activity- -and I'm not saying my
activity alone, but of many other people in the Gleeson Libraryby
doing this, we have strengthened the whole base of the college
library in every subject, and in subjects which I don't anticipate.
Let me give you one example. I was in a bookstore in Santa
Clara Valley, and I found a book published on the paper canoe. This
was published in 1876, one hundred years after the founding of the
country. This adventurous person decided to travel by canoe from
the extreme Northeast to the extreme Southeast, through inland
canals, the whole length of the East Coast. He not only records
what he did, but the people he met and what they said to him,
whether they were hospitable or not hospitable. So here is a nice
little vignette of how people acted towards a visitor one hundred
years after the country was founded.
Monihan: These are miscellaneous things. These are serendipitous things one
finds, and that's what gives life to our library. Not by selecting
what you already know, but selecting what you don't know and never
expected to find. But you found it and here it is. So that is
perhaps the best way I can respond to you as to how one goes about
building a library, and hopefully other people in our Gleeson
Library will do the same. Well, 1 know it's being done, because
often I will look up an author in the card catalogue that 1 had
nothing to do with at all, and 1 find a nearly complete coverage of
all his publications. So there is an openness in the library
administration to the development of a college library in depth, not
a hit-or-miss author, hit-or-miss title, but trying to get as
thorough a coverage as possible.
Teiser: Warren Howell explained in his interview* the bookseller's point of
view in helping people make a collection which then would often go
to an institution. He indicated more or less that if collectors
didn't leave their collections to be sold at auction or otherwise,
the booksellers would then be out of business, in effect, so that
there was this three-legged stool.
Monihan: Yes. The majority of private collections go back into the trade,
the great majority of them. Just looking at Christie's or Sotheby's
auction records, you can see how much goes back into the trade.
Often, a member of the family after the collector is deceased, will
immediately want to realize the monetary value behind that
Teiser: Once you have a collection, you don't want another collection in
that same field- -you may want to fill in--?
Monihan: Well, yes and no, because, for instance, if you have an author
collection and there is a dedication by the author to some
individual, you're not likely to repeat that. It's a unique copy.
So you'll have another unique copy alongside of it. You may have
six copies of a particular book, but they would all have different
connections with different people. In a certain sense, when you get
into rare collections, there really are no duplicates. Each one has
identifying characteristics which are different from others.
Teiser: This brings up the point of view that books are meant to be used,
not to be collected, and that whether there's an inscription in one
or not doesn't make any difference- -the books are written to be
printed, and that's the end result.
*Warren R. Howell, Two San Francisco Bookmen, an oral history
interview conducted 1966, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft
Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1971.
Monihan: Well, except that if a person begins to make a study of Robert
Graves or A. E. Houseman, to take two separate authors, one draws a
lot of knowledge from inscriptions in books, in dedications. We
received a Jack London collection, and it was only maybe not more
than twenty-five books, but the appraised value was $34,000. One of
the reasons was that there were long inscriptions to a lady friend
of Jack London, and not simply descriptions of his devotion to her,
but the content of the book, the story, how much she would like the
story because of these points he was bringing out in the
In our Jeffers collection, Steve Corey was able to get a small
collection by the bibliographer of Jeffers, and there are long
inscriptions by Robinson Jeffers to his bibliographer. Now, that is
of tremendous value .
D. Steven Corey
Teiser: You've mentioned Steve Corey, D. Steven Corey. He came to the
library through your association with Norman Strouse, did he?
Monihan: Yes, that's correct.
Teiser: Would you tell a little bit about that?
Monihan: Well, Steve Corey went to University of California at Santa Cruz,
when Norman Strouse was the regents' professor of bibliography at UC
Santa Cruz. Steve Corey was his student, and he became very
enthusiastic about what Norman was giving him in these lectures. As
a result, a friendship grew up between Charlotte and Norman Strouse
and the young Steve Corey.
At that time, the Strouses were living at St. Helena, and had
already founded the Silverado Museum. So Steve Corey was given a
variety of jobs in connection with Norman's book activities. Norman
Strouse suggested to us that the young Steve Corey might be a good
candidate for our rare book library job. So he was selected to
succeed Florian Shasky, who was the first rare book librarian we
Steve Corey has a great deal of enthusiasm and knowledge, and
he is an expert public relations person for the Gleeson Library. He
has been instrumental in acquiring a number of private collections,
and a number of books which we needed. He has been giving lectures
on the history of the book to our students. He acquired books to
illustrate the history of printing and paper-making. He found
Monihan: examples of manuscripts such as Asian manuscripts to show the
students the history of writing, and the history of the book.
He is very actively connected with the book trade, and has made
some excellent acquisitions for us.
Teiser: In a college like the University of San Francisco, where there are
not a great many graduate students, how important are special
collections compared to books on general subjects that
undergraduates use routinely?
Monihan: This is a basic question that many people will ask. First of all,
besides the uses by graduate students, there is the cultural benefit
of allowing or inviting our students to see and experience what it
means to be close to the sources, so that if we have an author such
as Oscar Wilde (and we have a number of important books associated
with Oscar Wilde), this can have a profound impact upon one of our
students. I'm giving this example because this did take place. One
of our students was interested in Oscar Wilde, and was surprised to
find in the card catalogue that we did have some very excellent
Wilde material, and as a result he has become a truly successful
collector of Wilde.
Monihan: There is that influence on individuals who see our fine collections.
Steve Corey has been very successful in helping students who show
interest in our special collections.
Ninety percent of our rare book room is already catalogued in
the card catalogue. Anyone interested in any subject has immediate
access to the whole library, including the rare book room.
But that doesn't tell the real story. My motivation in
building up strong private collections which are incorporated into
our library is that in the future of the University of San
Francisco, teachers and students will have a rich resource to draw
on. Chauncey Tinker said that collections in the institutional
library will lead to publications.
Teiser: Meaning publication on the part of the users?
Monihan: The users, yes. Now, we have had over the past ten years at least
five to ten publications come out saying that the Gleeson Library
was a major resource for their work. When Adrian and Joyce Wilson
Monihan: wrote the book, Medieval Mirrors, published by University of
California Press, one of their sources was a facsimile of a
manuscript they were working on. We were the only one on the coast
of western America who had even a facsimile of it.
If I were asked what the Utopia would be of the Gleeson
Library, it would be this: when you arrive at the point where an
individual teacher would be motivated to apply for a position in the
university because of the strength of the Gleeson Library. That to
me would be nirvana, where the library itself would be so strong
they would say, "I'm coming here because you have a strong library,"
in this field or that field. Do I answer what you asked me?
Developine Gift Funds
Teiser: On the matter of financing book purchases, you said in the late
Monihan: In the late forties or early fifties, I realized that we would never
have a strong library without gift funds, or to put it another way,
we would never have a strong library if we relied only on ordinary
income from the university. So I made it my business to develop
gift funds. Certainly I made an effort to preserve and develop the
Drum income, which we nearly lost in the early 1950s.
At the end of my tenure as librarian, in 1964, the
administrators realized that I was very successful in building up
gift funds for book purchases. So they said, well, if Father
Monihan is that successful, why not put him into it full time?
Teiser: If they had not, what would you have done?
Monihan: If they had not put me into this job, I would have continued on as
head librarian in building up gift funds. Because I believe that
when opportunities come up to purchase important books, they may be
any amount of money, but if you're stifled and you have no
flexibility whatsoever, opportunities will pass you by again and
again and again.
I have made lots of contacts with people who are friends who
are associated with me in friendship, and believe in the cause of
the library. I would explain to them in a conversation that I had
Monihan: an opportunity to buy some books on the history of art, and more
often than not, they would say, "Go ahead and buy them, and I'll pay
for them." So that's how these things happen again and again,
because I would tell people of opportunities I had. So either from
long term funds or from short term gifts, I was able to do it.
What I wanted to say about the use of gift funds --and now I'm
going to take the example of the Drum money, because the Drum money
was larger income than any other gift fund. As I mentioned, it
started out at about $200,000 in 1946, and today it's about $2.5
million of capital sum, from which we get income. But I want to
emphasize that the use of the Drum money in the majority of cases
was not exclusively for rare books, unless you would call a rare
book a ten dollar book that we didn't have. It was for ordinary
books that we didn't have and we needed and we couldn't afford any
other way except through the help of Mr. Drum's gift.
Ninety-nine percent of what you see in the rare book room is
the result of gifts, very often gifts as collections or individual
books. The purchases which we have made certainly have been for
rare books on occasion, but the majority of the time the gift funds
have supplied us with books for strengthening the general library
collection. The stack books have always been an object of my
special interest. I wanted to have our library show in the general
stacks a wealth of material in every subject.
Teiser: You have open stacks, you mentioned.
Monihan: Open stacks, because that is essential for browsing. One cannot
awaken one's appetite for learning unless one has access to the
entire open stacks.
Teiser: I should ask somewhere for your recollections of particular
individuals among book collectors and booksellers, outstanding
people. Do you want to discuss those now, or--?
Monihan: I would like to. David Magee* is the first one I'd like to mention,
primarily because he gave me the opportunity to acquire the Sir
*See also David Magee, Bookselling and Creating Books, an oral
history interview conducted 1969, Regional Oral History Office, The
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1969.
Monihan: Thomas More collection. He gave me the opportunity to purchase- -by
my parents' gift- -the Maurice Harrison library on Thomas More. He
gave me the opportunity to purchase a very important Jesuit
manuscript of 1601. We called him the lowest man we know, because
whatever he would purchase in Europe or in England would come back
to America and he would simply add on his profit,
which was a very modest profit. He would pass on to us the benefits
that he received; if he got something at a low price, he would give
it to us at a low price. So the manuscript I mentioned, the Jesuit
manuscript of 1601 that we purchased from him, was a very inexpensive
I would say, during the 1960s especially, T benefited from his
friendship. He sent me to William Fletcher of London to be my guide
when I made my book-buying trip in January to July of 1964 in
Teiser: Was that the first that you had--?
Monihan: The first trip I made to Europe was in January of 1964. I had
collected $34,000 in the fall of 1963 to make purchases in Europe.
Teiser: How did you collect that?
Monihan: Well, the Drum Foundation gave me $25,000; and then other friends
gave me the remaining. That was an extremely important trip to me,
because I was not after any rare book collections, although I did
obtain some; I was after average ordinary books which would add to
the library. But I never made any purchases on my own. I would
make lists of books, or ask booksellers to make lists of books, and
send them back here to San Francisco, and the library staff would go
through them and make the final decision. So it was a cooperative
purchase action every time.
David Magee, as it were, put me into the hands of Bill
Fletcher, and he advised me which booksellers to see in England and
on the continent. I followed his advice, and I know that it was to
the great profit of my own education and the benefit of the library.
We acquired around 10,000 books from that trip, including one
private library, the R. T. Clark collection from Oxford, from the
Blackwell's bookstore in Oxford.
Teiser: And the subject of that collection?
Monihan: Would be the history of war.
Teiser: In general?
Monihan: Yes, the problems of war from the very beginning- -it would probably
better be described as war and diplomacy. Major sources of
diplomatic history were in there, sources which we did not have in
the Gleeson Library. Mr. Clark, who formed the library, was a
journalist for BBC, and he formed a library on the beginnings of
communism in Europe in the 1920s. Especially he formed a collection
of pamphlets regarding the period of 1920, '21, '22. This was the
first period of the communist revolution, and it was a revisionist
period in the Communist Party in Germany.
It was this very collection of pamphlets that inspired
Professor Malcolm Macdonald to plan a testamentary gift to the
Gleeson Library of considerable size, for the history of political
thought and political theory. Often purchases which I have made
have been a source of gifts in the future, and this is an example of
one. A purchase often appealed to a donor to help us along.
[Interview 6: 27 May 1988]
Teiser: You did tell about the Sir Thomas More collection, and how that was
a pivotal experience.
Monihan: I would say that I knew David Magee during the end of the 1940s and
the 1950s. I saw him less frequently in the sixties. He had an
uncanny ability in buying in England very important material. I
acquired some extremely nice things from David over the years. He
was very knowledgeable, and when I spent my six months book-buying
trip in Europe, especially in England in 1964, there were many
people who spoke with the greatest affection about David Magee. He
was well- loved in the book trade especially, and among collectors.
Teiser: Could you characterize him as you saw him?
Monihan: Very affable. Great capacity for friendship. Very knowledgeable in
the world of books. An unusual skill in ferreting out source
material in England.
Teiser: The relationship between a bookseller and the buyer has to be rather
special, doesn't it? He had to know what sort of things you were
interested in potentially?
Monihan: Yes, but more basic than that would be that the book-buyer must
really frequent the shop of the bookseller. Often people expect that
because you know a bookseller, he's going to let you know if he has
acquired something for you. That rarely happens. It should happen,
but it rarely does. But if the book-buyer, and I'm referring to
myself now, would really go through the entire stock of the
bookseller such as David Magee' s, you would ferret out things that
you never expected to see.
Teiser: Most booksellers who've been in business any length of time have
very high shelves, so that the top ones are inaccessible to normal
people, unless they don't mind being on high ladders. Have you
spent a lot of time climbing around high shelves?
Monihan: Yes, I have. I've been on ladders a lot. I feel that to do justice
to a bookseller's stock, I must spend the time there. Very often I
can spend as much as three hours I've spent three hours in, say, a
Chicago booksellers', Hamill and Barker's. I've arrived there at
ten o'clock and left at, say, two o'clock. Apart from the lunch
hour, I was working, going through the stock.
Teiser: Hard work.
Monihan: It is hard work, it's exhausting work, but this is such a valuable
thing, because you're bound to see pamphlets, books, maps,
illustrated books, almost anything at all. I usually select these
things and put them in a pile, and the bookstore is willing to quote
them to us .
I wanted to make this point, that when a bookseller puts out a
catalogue, he's only putting out a selection of his stock, and
the selection he wants to show to people. Going through the entire
stock, I see things that he doesn't think are important, but they
may be very important to me, as a book-buyer. And no bookseller can
keep up with raising his prices as he should, so I'm bound to find
things he didn't have time to raise the price on.
Teiser: You're living in an inflationary period.
Monihan: Yes, but every period is an inflationary period. I remember in
Cleveland, in a bookseller's shop opposite the public library, I
found one volume of the Railroad Surveys of the last century. The
monograph was marked at $10. I brought it up to the bookseller's
desk, and he said, "I should have raised that price, but you found
it. You can have it at that price." So there's a sportsman- like
spirit among booksellers. Not all, but many of them.
Teiser: Do they ever say, "Oh, that was an old price, it really costs $17
Monihan: No, Ruth, except there is one exception that you and I know.
[laughter] But J. have not had that experience with him. I've heard
of people doing that, but it's never been done to me. I've never
had a price raised saying "It's too bad, it's an old price."
Teiser: To get back to your relationship to David Magee, you must also have
given something of yourself to David so that he could understand
when he went buying in England what you might be interested in.
Monihan: I would say that was true, that he did know me. You remember I
mentioned a Jesuit manuscript from 1601 that he purchased in
England, thinking that I would be interested in it.
Monihan: However, I would say I put more emphasis on my knowing his
interests. In the latter years of my acquaintance with David Magee,
his stock was less and less interesting to me . I can't explain why,
but there weren't things there for me to buy, whereas in the earlier
years, I did find a lot of literature to buy.
English Book Dealers
Teiser: At one time, the United States was buying a lot of books from
Britain. Then I believe at another time, Britain was buying a lot
of books from the United States. When was that?
Monihan: I don't know, but the English booksellers whom I knew, such as Bill
Fletcher from London, would attend book fairs in America. I'm
speaking from the 1960s on, and maybe before, but certainly from the
1960s. Bill Fletcher was so successful in buying books that what he
bought and sold during the trip paid not only for his expenses but
for a profit.
Teiser: I remember that fellow Booth, I can't think of his first name, who
set up shop in Hay-on-Wye in Wales, had his agents buying books here
by the container.
Monihan: Yes. Well, he was eccentric in that regard.
Teiser: He put together quite a book shop.
Monihan: Not only a book shop; book shops . Apparently in Hay-on-Wye, whole
streets full of them.
Teiser: Wonderful place. First time I went there, there were only two or
three, second time the place was full of them. Did you ever trade
books with booksellers?
Monihan: Never. Of the book collectors whom I've known, Norman Strouse was
very successful in that regard, being a businessman himself. He
could negotiate whole sections of his library to go back into trade,
and quite profitably too. But no, I'm not skilled in that regard,
nor did I have the appetite for it.
Warren Howe 11
I led you off the main path, which was booksellers you have known.
Monihan: Warren Howell was the great one in San Francisco. I knew Warren
from my first years at USF in the late 1940s, up until his death [in
1984] . He was a difficult man to get to know, but once I got to know
him, I was extremely fond of him. I became a better and better
customer of his as time went on, and I would measure my friendship
with Warren with my buying from him. As my friendship got closer,
my confidence in him got deeper.
In the early 1970s I purchased from Warren quite a large block
of material that belonged to Templeton Crocker, who was one of the
great collectors of San Francisco. These books were probably in
storage, and they were consigned to Warren to sell.
Teiser: I didn't realize you got part of that collection.
Monihan: These were good ordinary books that I purchased; the high spots had
been picked off by major institutions and major collectors.
Teiser: Some went to the California Historical Society.
Monihan: Did they? We got a nice block of them from Warren. He traveled
extensively, and one friend that we shared was John Galvin of
Dublin. John Galvin was an eccentric book collector, an Australian
by birth, who accumulated quite a bit of wealth in Indo-China. He
came to live in California for a while, but then went to Ireland.
Warren and I and Antoinette, Warren's wife, had memorable visits
with Galvin, in 1967 and 1970.
Warren and I made the Grolier Club trip to Scandinavia and the
Low Countries in 1967, and the 1970 trip the Grolier Club took us to
Germany and Switzerland. Those experiences with Warren and
Antoinette deepened my relationship with them. So we would have
friends in common in the Grolier Club and the International
Bibliophiles. Some of them were awarded the Sir Thomas More medal
for book collecting- -for example, C. Waller Barrett from
Charlesville , Virginia, and Lessing Rosenwald. Anyhow, I want to
stress that Warren knew the most prominent collectors and
booksellers, and continued those relationships with the greatest
enthusiasm and the greatest energy.
He was a very amusing man, and a great friend. I feel very
fortunate to have known Warren.
Teiser: As I recall, you said that David Magee charged low prices. Warren
was likely to- -I don't know if it obtained with you or not, but it
did with others --to charge quite high prices. But on the other
hand, he could be generous about giving things. Did that work with
Monihan: Oh, yes. I guess I got used to his book prices over the years; I
just presumed they would be high, and if I wanted a book I would
find the money for it. But Warren was a real donor. I want to tell
one incident (it's a humorous incident) about his giving to the
It was shortly after Warren was named a fellow of the Library
Associates. He called the acquisitions department in our library
and said, "I want to give a book to the library." The answer was,
"We don't want books, we need money." [laughter] So he called me
immediately, and he said, "Bill, I just talked to the acquisitions
department. I said I want to give something to the library, and
they said we don't want gifts, we want money." 'I said, "Warren, are
you going to be in your shop for a while?" He said, "Yes." I said,
"I'm coming right down."
So I went down, and he took it all in good spirit, he wasn't
angry. He opened the safe, and threw on the table one of Dickens'
works in the original parts. He said, "How does this look to you?"
Then he threw a manuscript in the hand of the brother of Savonarola
It was the Fasti of Ovid, a 15th century manuscript.
I said to Warren, "I'm captured. I want the manuscript." It
was a Sir Thomas Phillips manuscript. He said, "Very well, take it,
it's yours. Just acknowledge the receipt of it, because I'll take
care of the appraisal part of it." This was a major manuscript for
the Gleeson Library.
There were other gifts, too. If there was a block of material
that Warren had that wasn't moving, he would say, "Bill, why don't
you come down here and take a look at this. Can you use this?"
"Yes, we can." Or I would consult the library. "Yes, we can." So
Warren was quite generous to us, and very supportive of our library.
I know he was a Stanford man, but he was very generous to us, and to
me personally, and very sensitive to me as a person. I feel it was
a real relationship we had.
He said to me a complimentary thing one time. He said- -this
was in fairly recent years- - "Bill , knowing you all these years, I've
come to have a better respect for your church." [laughter]
Something about Warren, you know- -he was very explosive, very
explicit as to what he thought. But also his expression of
friendship was very real, very deep.
Teiser: It was hard-won, as I recall.
Monihan: Yes. [laughs] Don't we know!
Teiser: A remarkable man, though. I should mention again here that we also
did an interview with him.* Unfortunately, he was very busy at the
time. It wasn't as expansive as it might have been. I've always
regretted that, and he regretted it.
Teiser: What other booksellers you have known have been notable?
Monihan: I must move very quickly to Jake Zeitlin of Los Angeles, partly
because I associate him with Warren Howell, because they were joined
together on so many ventures of mutual interest. Jake was a very
dear friend of mine. I probably saw him more in the last ten years
than I did before, but I did know Jake over many years. I made
regular visits to Los Angeles especially to see Jake.
He was a very knowledgeable book man, and very encouraging to
me . He introduced me to important people . I would go down there ,
it would always be lunch and he would say, "I want you to meet this
person, I want you to meet that person." His book stock was very
imaginative and very rich. At the end of his life, when his poor
health prevented him from taking an active role in the business, you
could see that stock go down very noticeably, but when he was active
he had an excellent stock. His prices were high; they were like
Warren's prices. But the Gleeson Library is a richer library
because of Jake.
Teiser: Can you characterize him? What sort of a man was he?
Monihan: Well, a gentle man, extremely gentle. Quite widely known in the
book trade and among book collectors. He traveled a lot. For
instance, he was on that trip to Germany and Switzerland with the
Grolier Club, and he may have also been on the 1967 trip; quite
likely. When you would be on a trip with people for a week or more,
you would get to know them quite well. The Grolier Club trips
numbered about sixty people. We really got to know each other
*See footnote p. 56,
Monihan: I wish I could give more features to characterize Jake, but he had a
tremendous capacity for friendship, and I benefited from his
friendship immensely. The awarding of the More medal to the
Japanese collector, Mitsuo Kodama, would not have happened without
Jake's introduction. In fact, I was in Japan as a guest of Dr.
Kodama in October of 1987. I wrote to Josephine (Mrs. Zeitlin) and
said, "I would not be here except for you and Jake."*
Teiser: You mentioned parallels between Zeitlin and Warren Howell. That
brings to mind the question of auctions, did you ask Warren to buy
at auctions for you ever?
Monihan: Yes, I did. When I say "I", I should say Gleeson Library asked him.
One notable purchase was the Flower Book by Koch, a very important
book that I wanted, in two volumes, illustrations by Rudolph Koch.
I asked Warren to get that for me at an auction. Of all the
booksellers here at San Francisco, he would probably be the one that
we asked most often to represent us at auctions. And sometimes they
would not be very expensive books.
Teiser: Did Zeitlin, too--?
Monihan: No, I don't think we asked Zeitlin to do that. I would say that
Jake had my interests in mind more than any other bookseller. There
was available in Japan a copy of the rules of the Society of Jesus,
the first edition, I believe. I asked him to go ahead and get it
for us. This is an example of Jesuit books about which he advised
me. And it would not only be on the Jesuits; it could be on any
Importance of Friendships with Booksellers
Teiser: When you visited booksellers routinely, did you, besides looking at
their shelves, sit down and talk with them and have lunch with them
and so forth?
Monihan: Yes, I would. This would be true especially if I were a visitor to
a city such as Los Angeles. Jake would take me out to lunch, or
Hans Kraus in New York would take me to the dining room on the top
floor of his building, the lovely dining room up there. We'd be
served lunch, and it would be very elegantly done.
*See also Jacob Zeitlin, Books and the Imagination, an oral history
interview conducted 1977-1978, The Oral History Program, University
of California, Los Angeles [n.d.].
Yes, I would talk to them. Now, my great friend in Chicago, Frances
Hamill, I'd always have lunch with Frances. Again, that was a
gradual development of friendship. She was also a friend of
Wilmarth Lewis' wife. She went to Miss Porter's school in
Farmington. Frances Hamill and Marjorie Barker were both dear
friends of mine, and they were very generous to me. Both of them
are deceased now, but both of them were generous. I am to receive a
capital sum quite soon, which Marjorie and Frances wanted me to
have. I was one of their four favorite librarians in the country.
Each of us was given a fourth of this capital sum. We were given
for a while the income, and now we are to be given the capital sum.
That's a nice gift, and it's for restoration and to purchase early
printed books, especially incunabula.
So I have profited very, very much from going to booksellers,
because there are multiple reasons for going to a bookseller.
First, of course, is to find good material, but also to meet other
people, and to find things for your book collector friends. I would
say to booksellers, "Please reserve this for Mr. So-and-so. I'm
going to call him or write him a note; if you give me a quotation
I'll write a note and you can send it to him."
It also leads to gifts by various circuitous routes. We have
an Oscar Wilde collection here of some modest standing because of a
man I met in Warren Howell's shop. This man said, "Would you like
to come to my house some time?" I said, "I would love to, yes."
This man would conduct very formal soirees with book- interested
people. He would talk about a book and invite conversation. Well,
I went to his home many times, and as a result, he gave me in his
will his Oscar Wilde collection. That came from going to a
So I've often thought, you go to the right restaurants or right
saloons, you're bound to meet the right people. Well, I go to the
right bookstores. I meet the right people! [laughter] So I can't
help but win from going to good bookstores. It's useless to go to
so-called used book stores.
You were speaking, I think off the tape, of the advantage of being
able to travel and stay at Jesuit houses. And another advantage
must be that you look entirely reliaable.
Well, they knew me to be an enthusiast, and they welcomed
Teiser: But I imagine it's easier for you to make friends with people
casually that way, than it would be for most people.
Monihan: Oh, yes. When I arrived at a bookseller's shop, I didn't invite
conversation right away. After I finished, yes. After I finished
going through the stock, yes. But I preferred that a bookseller
Monihan: would let me alone to be by myself and go through the stock, rather
than saying, "Would you be interested in this, in that--?"
William R. Fletcher
Teiser: How about booksellers in Britain? Were there any there that you
knew, made special friends with?
Monihan: Well, Bill Fletcher, William R. Fletcher, was my principal friend in
London. When I was going to Europe for the first time in January of
1964, David Magee said, "Bill, do you want any advice?" I said, "I
want advice very much." He said, "You go to a bookseller, Bill
Fletcher, and you trust him. He is honest; you can trust him
Monihan: When I arrived there at his shop in Cecil Court, Leicester Square, I
had a copy of the international antiquarian bookseller's guide.
Bill took my copy and marked booksellers in England, Scotland,
France, and Holland. But England especially. He would mark each
bookseller that he thought was important, by rank. Number one: see
him or her as first choice. Number two: also important. Number
three: see this person if you have a chance, but not as important
as the others. So it was a very good guide. He asked me, "What are
you trying to do? Do you want high spots?
I said, "No. I want ordinary books for the college library."
And, Ruth, I can tell you that on that trip in '64, I probably
purchased in England about 8,000 books. I would say most of them
were under $5 apiece. The prices today for those books would be
anywhere from $20 to $100.
Many important books 1 purchased for under two or three pounds ,
and many, many under one pound. So when Richard Blackwell took me
to lunch in Oxford, he said, "You will look back on this trip and be
amazed at the low prices you paid for things."
I would say that Bill Fletcher is a man that I would like to
put a five-star on as being a man with a great capacity for
friendship, great warmth of personality, and a bookseller who had
excellent stock. His son, Keith, is really managing the firm now,
because Bill is over eighty. When I go to England, that's the first
place I go to- -the Fletchers'. My relationship with Bill Fletcher
came through David Magee, and they were very close friends.
Monihan: I'd like to go to Hans Kraus. One could safely say that he Is among
the three most important booksellers of the century. He is in New
York City, on East 46th Street. He has the remainder of the Sir
Thomas Phillipps library; the Robinson brothers of London handled
that, and Kraus purchased the remnants. By getting acquainted with
Hans Kraus on the Grolier Club trips of 1967 and 1970, I got to know
him and his wife. I would say that there are values on friendship
with a bookseller. I would say the more I knew, the more I became
friendly with a bookseller, the more I would trust him and the more
I would buy from him. It is only in maybe the last ten years that
I've been going go Kraus in New York to buy from him. Now, one of
the handicaps is that you do not look at books and bookshelves when
you go to Kraus. You get book slips. I resisted this very, very
much, and said I wouldn't do it, but now I'm doing it and finding
I've purchased manuscripts from him, although not expensive
manuscripts, and I've purchased some very important books. I will
say that he is high-priced, but I found prices that I could afford.
We get a lot of good material. One of the largest book sales in
American bookselling history was when Jake Zeitlin accepted the
invitation from Kraus to sell the Ludwig manuscripts. These were
illustrated manuscripts which Kraus had sold over several years to a
German book collector, and the German book collector wanted to put
them back on the market. Kraus invited Jake Zeitlin to come in with
him on this transaction. The Getty Museum made the purchase, of
around $40 million. One purchase.
Teiser: Why would he have invited Zeitlin to participate in that instead of
handling it all himself?
Monihan: He couldn't do it. He tried to get to the Gettys, and he wasn't
successful, so he brought in Jake, because Jake knew his way around
Teiser: Every so often I remember hearing of a bookseller putting out a
catalogue that really wasn't anything more than a bibliography of a
collection that had already been sold.
Monihan: Yes, yes. It's the image-builder of the bookseller.
Teiser: I think Warren had some notable science libraries, at least one that
went to UC.
Monihan: Yes. But I want to make a point that those transactions were
probably made by a bookseller going to an institution, and
representing himself to the institution. Because generally
speaking, the booksellers don't receive visits from librarians.
Monihan: It's a rare librarian that goes to the bookseller. How strange that
may seem, yet it is true. I know one colleague of mine here who
felt he would not be doing his work if he went to booksellers! But
to me, it's my way of life, going to my booksellers.
Teiser: During the small press explosion here, fifteen or so years ago, some
librarians went around picking up whatever they could because this
material was so widely dispersed. Did Steve Corey do that?
Monihan: Yes, in the more recent years.
Paris Book Dealers
Teiser: Were there booksellers in France or Germany?
Monihan: Well, I got to know the Jammes family. I don't speak French that
well to be acquainted with the whole family, but the two brothers I
know. It's across the street from the church of Saint-Germain-des-
Pres. It's on the Rue Gozlin. I go there every time I'm in Paris,
and I get some very good material.
Teiser: Andre Jammes, is that one of them?
Monihan: Andre Jammes is the head of the firm, and the other Jammes, I don't
know his first name. Barney Rosenthal recommended that I get
acquainted with the Jammes.
And then I got acquainted with another bookseller in Paris,
Jean Polak, who is in voyages and travel. I got some wonderful
things from him. Bill Fletcher and the Polaks are very close to
each other. So that's how I've gotten around; one bookseller will
introduce me to another.
Younger San Francisco Book Dealers
Monihan: Well, I want to go back to San Francisco for a moment now.
B. M. Rosenthal, Barney Rosenthal, is a younger generation from
those we've been speaking about, but I think he's one of the
greatest booksellers I've ever known. He is extremely generous to
the Gleeson Library in giving gifts, and advising me. His
friendship to me is extremely important. He is a man who will meet
in the warmest way briefly- -not a long visit- -but his expression of
friendship is very deep. He's very business-like, so it will not go
on for hours,
Monihan: because he has to do business. We've made major acquisitions from
him, some in bibliography, in French writers, and occasionally an
I invited Barney to give a lecture on the house of Rosenthal,
and he said, "We are not like the Rothschilds, we are not wealthy."
But he did give a talk called "Clan, Cartel, or Dynasty: The
Olschkis and Rosenthals." The Olschkis of Florence. This was a
wonderful talk, and Lawton Kennedy printed the keepsake. It was
quite a large keepsake; it was a family tree of booksellers from the
senior Olschki and the senior Rosenthal. That talk was given a
second time at the Houghton Library at Harvard, and the third was at
the Newberry Library. So it was greatly appreciated.
This has led to a nice gift that Barney gave us. Jacques
Rosenthal of Munich was the senior member of the Rosenthal family of
the bookselling business. I've often asked Barney, "What chances do
I have of getting a partial set of your grandfather's catalogues?"
He said, "Well, I'll think about it." Last fall, he delivered to me
a near complete set of his grandfather's catalogues. So that's a
nice gift. This [grandfather's] is the generation of booksellers
that sold to people like Pierpont Morgan; he sold to major
institutional libraries in Europe and to major collectors. He went
out of business because Hitler came in to Munich and expelled the
Teiser: Somebody was telling me that Barney Rosenthal had escaped Germany as
a youngster, and fought in the American Air Force--?
Monihan: That was after he came to California. He went to high school in
California. But his early high school years were in Florence,
Italy. He is naturally a multi-lingual person. He speaks Italian,
German, and French fluently. But he was in the air force. He's a
very important bookseller, a very important friend.
Teiser: In this oral history program, we've been wanting to do a series of
interviews with booksellers, and as I mentioned, we have interviewed
David Magee and Warren Howell. Are there others, do you think, that
we should interview if we were able to?
Monihan: Well, Rosenthal I would say in due time, he's still a relatively
younger man. Rosenthal would be a very important man to interview.
Teiser: Jake Zeitlin has been interviewed in southern California.
Monihan: Jeremy Norman is a young man, but he's a man to keep your eye on. I
am a close friend with Jeremy Norman. He's very successful as a
businessman, as a bookseller, and as a publisher. He's getting into
publishing now. Very capable fellow.
Teiser: What kind of publishing is he going to do?
Monihan: History of science. But he also knows my interests, and responds to
them. I am interested in Sainte-Beuve, a 19th century French
critic, and a book-minded writer. Jeremy was on his way to France a
few years back, and he noticed in a catalogue that an edition of
Boileau annotated by Sainte-Beuve was available for purchase. That
was a nice purchase to make. Paul Birkel, the library dean, was
very sympathetic to making that purchase.
When I am speaking of booksellers, there are many others in San
Francisco that I admire very, very much. John Scopazzi, who died
recently, was a very important bookseller in San Francisco. The
Brick Row book shop on Post Street is also a very important
bookselling firm; we've known at least three different managers of
On Post Street we have quite an assortment of booksellers.
I've often said to people who don't live in San Francisco that it's
worth a visit to San Francisco just to see the booksellers. We have
a very good bunch of them. And over in the East Bay, in Berkeley,
there are also some marvelous booksellers. The Anacapa Book Shop in
Berkeley on Claremont Avenue is a very good book store.
But to conclude this section, I would like to reiterate my
credo for developing the library: that one must be actively
acquainted with booksellers and book collectors to build a library
to strength. This means going to a book shop and spending the time
to go through the entire stock. Not simply coming to the front
door, as it were, and saying, "Do you have this or that book?" which
is useless. Or, "This author?" But going through the entire book
store, because as I say, the benefit to the Gleeson Library of books
that were picked up that I had never seen before--. There's no
other way to enrich the library except by just actually going out to
booksellers' shops and spending the time.
[Interview 7: 30 May, 1988]
Teiser: May we begin today with Lawton Kennedy? You have remarked to me
that Lawton was very influential insofar as you were concerned.
Teiser: How did you happen to meet him?
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Well, in 1957, the Roxburghe Club of San Francisco wanted to come to
the University of San Francisco for a special meeting, and Nat
Schmulowitz was the Master of the Press. Dr. Albert Shumate was the
member of the Roxburghe Club who was sponsoring the meeting at USF.
Nat Schmulowitz wanted me to talk on the subject of Roman Church
censorship of forbidden books. I flatly refused, and said I would
be very happy to give them a talk on the first three printers of
More's Utopia. And so that subject was accepted.
We met for dinner in the Sky Room, or the fourth floor, of the
Gleeson Library. This was the occasion of my meeting Lawton
Kennedy. We almost immediately began a relationship which lasted
until his death in 1980. I have indicated to you, Ruth, that Lawton
played a central role in my life. Through him I learned about fine
printing, and I was able to discover for myself the function of fine
printing in the work of the Gleeson Library. I've often said from
the rostrum, when Lawton Kennedy was present at a [Gleeson] Library
Associates' meeting, that he makes us look good. I've said that it
was a distinguishing characteristic of our Library Associates that
the announcement and program keepsake of each meeting, which Lawton
printed, has been extremely attractive. Those who attended these
meetings would keep the announcement and keepsake for their own
special collections. Lawton often said to me that this is the best
tribute that he could receive, that people would preserve what he
I wanted to ask how your association with Lawton proceeded,
spend time at his office, for instance?
Well, we almost immediately entered into a business relationship. I
would ask him to print an announcement for an event. It was not
simply going to his office or shop and speaking with him, but
entering into a client relationship with him. I was always involved
in special events and I would ask Lawton to do the printing.
He would explain to me what he was doing. He would show, for
instance, in his bookcase various reference books marked for either
initials or illustrations that he would be using, or he might want
to use in future publications. During that period he was doing
books for Warren Howell, the Arizona Pioneers, Fred Rosenstock in
Denver, and for the Champoeg Press in Portland, Oregon. I would
watch what was going through the press and see how Lawton was doing
it, applying one style for one book and a different style for
I remember the Aperture, which was a periodical publication for
photographers. Lawton I feel was supremely skilled in reproducing
photographs for illustrations. He was a perfectionist, and he
Monihan: wanted the finest quality. I did go through the steps watching what
he did, and I was always interested in what was going through his
shop at any given time.
Particularly in my case, when I would bring something to be
reproduced as an illustration for an announcement, he would guide me
and comment as to whether it was good or not, whether it could be
reproduced or not. And often he would give me alternate choices
from his own reference collection.
My friendship with him was a constant education in fine
printing. I felt that a library should exhibit, as it were, a
showcase of what is inside the library: the great books of the past
and of the present century. It would be best shown by fine
printing, rather than simply by mimeographed announcements. So I
went through a long period of education, and I value that very
highly. In a way, that made it difficult for me to work with other
people after Lawton's death.
Teiser: If you were to describe him to someone who had never known him
before, how would you describe him?
Monihan: Well, I would say he was a man of medium height, I'd say
approximately 5 '8" or 5 '9". He was well built, husky. He seemed to
be on the serious side until you got to know him, but when he smiled
you knew exactly the reason for his enjoyments. He had an excellent
sense of humor, and loved to recall funny situations in his life.
He was a man of great capacity for making friends. I was very
complimented that during Freda Kennedy's life I got to know him
quite well, and I gained a great deal from them. Their son, Alfred,
was also a great boon to me in my life.
Teiser: Can you describe the printing office as you saw it?
Monihan: I've seen it in four different locations. They had at least four
presses at any given time, and I would say that even though there
were usually two people employed, Lawton was always very much
involved in the actual production of the work going through. He
seemed to work well with the printers he employed. He usually would
have, at least in later years, a display case showing recent work
that has gone through the press.
He was very proud of his work. I think he had an exaggerated
opinion of how good a printer he was, compared with other people,
but it made you laugh instead of taking him too seriously. He did
admire other printers, but he would never admit it. [laughter]
I want to say for the record that I met some wonderful people
through Lawton Kennedy. People in the printing trade, and I would
meet his customers, such as Jane Ivancovich from Tucson, Arizona,
who represented the Arizona Pioneers. I met Fred Rosenstock, the
Monihan: bookseller in Denver. I would meet photographers. And Ruth, I met
you and Catherine [Harroun] through Lawton, and that was a great
boon to me. If you were Lawton' s friend, you were a friend of
Lawton 's friends. Immediately I widened my world of acquaintance.
During Lawton' s active years, the university administration
looked with admiration at what I was doing. They wouldn't admit it,
but before long they were imitating me. Lawton Kennedy would get
work from the vice president's office, or the president's office, or
the dean's office, or the law school- -various segments of the
university. Many people would go to Lawton Kennedy because they
admired what he had done for the [Gleeson] Library Associates.
Teiser: Was it through USF that he came to know Fromm and Sichel and the
Christian Brothers, do you think?
Monihan: It could be, because I was extremely fond of Norman Fromm, who was
the lawyer in the Fromm and Sichel firm. I would necessarily bring
my friends to meet Lawton, and so--.
Teiser: He did a lot of work for them.
Monihan: He did a lot of work for the Fromms , and also for the The San
Francisco Chamber Music Society.
Teiser: That must have been through Fromm.
Monihan: Yes, it was through Fromm. Lawton Kennedy, in order to do some work
for the community, as well as for himself, volunteered to do all the
announcements of the Chamber Music Society without cost. Then he
would be interested enough to attend the events.
Teiser: He was a great fan of chamber music.
Monihan: Yes. He was truly an educated man in an informal sense; he had many
educated interests, and music was one of them.
Teiser: In the papers that you acquired of Lawton' s for the Gleeson Library
rare book room, his relationship to the Chamber Music Society is
reflected, including finally a falling-out, unfortunately.
Monihan: Oh, yes; I think I witnessed those events over the years, yes.
Teiser: Many fine programs in that collection.
Monihan: Yes. He enjoyed doing it, and he did it well.
I'd also like to mention my students that I brought into
contact with Lawton Kennedy. The Special Events Committee was a
group on the campus with which I associated myself 1956 or '57 until
1970. There were public events sponsored by the Associated Students
Monihan: of the University, of a cultural nature. The students on this
committee welcomed me as librarian to be sort of the moderator, or
the faculty contact for them.
I brought these students to Lawton Kennedy, and many of their
announcements were printed by him. One notable poster was for a
series of speakers that Dan Ritter arranged. He is now an attorney
in Salem, Oregon. Dan and Armande Ritter became very close friends
with Lawton, and had their wedding announcement printed by him.
Now, this was true of many others: Charles Fracchia and Warren
Hinckle, for example. Warren Hinckle at the time was the editor of
the Foghorn.* and Lawton Kennedy did, in Hammer Uncial type, the
masthead for the Foghorn.
Those are just a few of the students I can think of. I feel I
had something to do with Lawton getting more business, but also I
considered it part of an education. Students should learn good
taste while they're at the university, and I felt that bringing them
to Lawton Kennedy and giving them the opportunity to make use of
Lawton' s skills for their own benefit, for wedding announcements and
so on, was an advantage to them. And they enjoyed it very, very
Teiser: He continued printing for the Gleeson Library Associates until the
time of his death?
Monihan: Yes, he did, and I had my difficulties with Lawton occasionally, but
we always resolved them almost immediately. For example, if I said
I didn't like a proof that he had done for me, he'd say, "Well,
let's start in again." He was very open and very willing. I was
exercising my own judgment, and when there were some things which he
did that I didn't like, I told him. But that didn't at all
interfere with our relationship.
I was learning all the time.
Teiser: The Gleeson Library has a good deal of material of his, early to
late. Was much of it given by him?
Monihan: Well, Lawton gave a number of things during his lifetime; he gave
books and ephemera to us constantly. But that was so casual that I
don't know how much we put in the Lawton Kennedy Collection. The
earliest work by Lawton came to us as a gift from Dr. [Reinhard S.]
Stan Speck. He made a gift of his collection of Lawton Kennedy's
printing to us quite a few years ago.
Teiser: That was mainly ephemera?
*The University of San Francisco student newspaper.
Monihan: Yes. We were able to obtain from Renee Kennedy* an "archive" of
Lawton Kennedy which she owned and made available to the Gleeson
Library for purchase. I feel it was a major acquisition. I
appreciate, Ruth, the fact that you went through it, and made your
judgments as to its value. You pointed out some of the high spots
that we would not have noticed, since you worked on Lawton Kennedy's
life for some time, you would know important things.
I feel that we will have opportunities as years go on to add
and to add and to add onto those Lawton Kennedy archives .
Teiser: You haven't spoken of his photography. I know you're interested in
it. Have you acquired some photographic materials of his?
Monihan: Yes. Mrs. Kennedy, Renee Kennedy, made available to us for purchase
a number of negatives of Lawton 's work. I would like to acquire
more, because I would like to have USF to be a center of Lawton
Kennedy information. It was only in the latter years I knew Lawton
that I realized his skills as a photographer, because it was almost
a separate department of interest. I admired his work, and thought
it was first-class. How could I say that? I'm not a person to
judge photography, but I admired it very much, and I'd like to
Teiser: Do you now have, physically, the negatives, then?
Monihan: Yes, we do.
Teiser: Is it a big batch?
Monihan: Well, I would say the number is at least one hundred. I was
involved in the arrival of these things through Jonathan Clark, but
I haven't seen the material in detail yet.**
Teiser: I'm sure you have a very good collection of his books, too. I'll
just add this because I happen to be aware of it from my recent
work***: Steve Corey has a set of proofs of the bibliography of
Lawton' s printing that he had prepared, and he has been checking
your holdings against that. I think you have --not complete, of
course- -but you have a very full collection of his books.
*Lawton Kennedy's widow.
**See also Lawton B. Kennedy, A Life in Printing, an oral history
interview conducted 1966, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft
Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1967.
***A biography of Lawton Kennedy published by The Book Club of
California, nominally in 1988 but not printed until 1989.
Monihan: Oh, that's good to know.*
Teiser: There are other printers whom you also have come to know, I believe.
Monihan: Well, the one that comes to mind first is Adrian Wilson. I got to
know Adrian in the 1950s, and I don't know how it first started, but
I admired his work from the very beginning of the fifties. When I
did the series of original linoleum blocks for St. Peter Camisius
day, the original prints from these blocks, it was Adrian that did
the very first one. He printed on lovely Japanese paper. When the
Roxburghe Club came for that dinner at USF in 1957 it was he who was
asked by Roxburghe Club to print the announcement . That
announcement is worth referring to. It's a three-ply announcement,
and uses illustrations from Utopia, and uses the text of Utopia to
great advantage. For instance, on how a great dinner in Utopia was
presented. He referred to the text. He reproduced lines from the
text of Utopia.
There was something very sensitive and marvelous about Adrian
Wilson. He was an artist; he was a man of great generosity; he was
very aware of the person with whom he was dealing. During the early
1950s I had access to almost no special gift funds, as I did later
on. So, for instance, that St. Peter Canisius day print, he said,
"You probably don't have the funds, so let me contribute this to
you." My contacts with Adrian were not frequent over the years, but
there was a great bond between us, I think. I just benefitted from
being in the same community of San Francisco with him. Really truly
a great man.
Teiser: How did he evince his particular genius or skill or whatever?
Monihan: Through a most imaginative use of all of the media in printing.
Such as by selecting a certain quality of paper, or by occasionally
dampening the paper to get a special impression from the type; the
selection of type, the use of type. The use of illustrations. It
was always very expertly done by him.
I think that he was the most skilled printer I have known in
San Francisco, although often he designed books rather than doing
the printing. I think his wife, Joyce, was a great support to him
artistically, and as a life partner and as a businesswoman. So many
aspects where she was just the right person for him. She was always
very responsive to whatever project I was on.
*Additional negatives, prints, and slides were acquired in the
autumn of 1988.
Monihan: But my world of printing was with Lawton Kennedy, over all of those
years, and I wouldn't think of working with any other printer except
Lawton through his lifetime. I won't say it was a matter of
loyalty, but I just stayed with Lawton all those years.
Teiser: And have there been other printers whom you have known and admired,
and whose work you've come to know?
Monihan: Well, after Lawton 's death, Jack Stauffacher was one of the printers
I worked with. I thought he was very skilled. I worked with him
for maybe two years. Then Peter Koch was a young man I met through
Steve Corey, and it took some adjustment between us in getting
acquainted, from the standpoint of a printer-client relationship,
but I've been working with him now for several years. He knows what
I want, and I know what to expect of him, and it's a very harmonious
relationship. He's doing excellent work. Sandy Ackers* and I are
extremely pleased with his work.
I've used other printers over the years besides those, before I
met Lawton. Henry Evans was a printer for my work for a brief time.
He had the Peregine Press. Henry printed the first keepsake program
for the collection on Columbus 's voyages, cartography that I
received in '54.
I do feel strongly that a fine printer is necessary for telling
about a library to the public.
The Gleeson Library Associates^/
Teiser: How did it happen that the Gleeson Library Associates was started?
Monihan: Well, one of the closest friends associated with the beginning of
the Gleeson Library Associates was Darrell W. Daly. He and Albert
Shumate had urged me from time to time to establish a friends group
of support for the Gleeson Library. I went to Dr. George Hammond at
Berkeley, who was the power behind the Friends of The Bancroft
Library, and I asked him for advice as to whether we should start a
friends group. He said, "It's a lot of work." He didn't give me
any encouragement, but he didn't disuade me from starting the
*Assistant Director of Library Relations, USF.
Monihan: Well, eventually by 1957 we decided to start the Library Associates.
Dr. Albert Shumate and Darrell Daly were the two forces that brought
the Associates into reality. We chose October 6 as the day for
announcing the Associates, because that was exactly twenty years
after the dinner at the Palace Hotel when it was decided to start
collecting funds for the Gleeson Library building. Judge William
O'Brien was the man who made the announcement in the Sky Room of the
library, but he did it in such an oblique way that one would hardly
know that he was announcing the formation of a library
associates! I think there was such a fear of the fundraising
aspects of such an organization that that was the reason for the
reticence of Judge O'Brien in saying too much about it.
But it did start, and I believe that Lawton Kennedy printed
what would be called a proclamation announcing the beginning of the
We wanted to select friends of Father Gleeson to start the
Associates, so Florence McAuliffe, even though he was not a member
of the Associates, was certainly involved in the conversations
regarding the planning of it. On the very day of the forming of the
Associates, Florence McAuliffe was informed by a telegram that what
we were doing was paying tribute to his generation for what they did
for Father Gleeson, and for the beginnings of the Gleeson Library.
Teiser: What in general is the function of such a library group?
Monihan: I would answer that question differently now than I would have in
1957. The function of such a group is financial support to the
library! I say financial because it is obvious that books should be
added to the library, and contributions in the way of book funds or
endowments, or whatever, are needed on a day-to-day basis. This is
something which we, when we formed the Associates, did not address
ourselves to. It became, and was for many years, a social
organization that maybe made a gift of $2,000 or $3,000 annually to
Knowing as I do various friends' supporting groups throughout
the country, I know that the bottom line is financial support, to
help the library do what it could not ordinarily do. Many friends'
groups bring in twenty, thirty, forty, fifty thousand dollars from
time to time, if not annually, through their library associates, to
the support of the library.
Now, this makes a very definite impact upon the growth of the
collections. This means the director of the library has access to
money to work quickly to get acquisitions that are needed, either
from endowment funds or from cash funds. It is fundamental to
library support groups that this be kept in mind clearly from the
beginning. This is what I learned from belonging to several such
Monihan: groups in the United States. But we're trying to learn it now, and
we're just working every day at it. William P. Barlow, Jr., who was
the president of the Library Associates in 1971, started a library
endowment fund. It was then called Nucleus Endowment for Special
Collections; it is now called the Gleeson Library Associates
Endowment Fund .
The object was to get one hundred donors to give $1,000 apiece,
even though they would give it over several months , or they would
give it in parts. That fund now, over the many years since 1971, is
reaching a neighborhood of $80,000. We haven't reached $100,000.
Teiser: You're holding that as principal?
Monihan: Yes. So that is an instance where our library associates have done
something in a monetary way that's very important. However, I think
the Associates performed a further function in making known the
growth of the library. It began with the friends of Father Gleeson
and a few alumni, but it moved more and more to book- interested
people of the community, either locally or across the country. So
it was not, nor is it today, an alumni group, nor in any way
associated with the university, but simply book- interested people,
and I feel that's an achievement in itself.
I think some major collections came to the library through the
Library Associates, either by gift or by purchase. We've had
wonderful leadership over the years. I think Charles Fracchia, who
was president of the Library Associates in the middle-1960s , should
be given the title of second founder of the Library Associates,
because it was he who started the title of Fellows, which we award
almost annually. Fellows were named for two reasons: either for
their support or accomplishments for our library, or for making a
major contribution to the book community. He also produced the
first publication of the Gleeson Library Associates, and he
instituted the Sir Thomas More medal for book collecting. I myself
got the idea from Sweden, but it was Charles Fracchia who brought it
Teiser: What sort of publications has the Associates--?
Monihan: The single publication was The Vallejos of California, by
Mrs. [Madie Brown] Eraparan, whose husband was part of the Vallejo
Teiser: Wasn't there a magazine?
*Published in 1968.
Monihan: Well, the Library Associates published 3he Record, which was an
occasional publication. It was a record of acquisitions, of
progress, of talks given, and so on. But that became just too
expensive to do, we couldn't continue that.*
Teiser: The group has also sponsored excursions, has it not?
Monihan: Yes, we've had tours to various places relating to books. I think
we've done a real service to people from an educational standpoint,
and brought people together. I feel that the Associates have
performed a wonderful service to the community, as well as to the
Teiser: How many people are there in the group?
Monihan: It wavers between 450 and 500.
The First Symposium
[Interview 8: 7 June 1988]
Teiser: We were going to talk today about the symposium. When did it start?
Monihan: We started the symposium in the summer of 1965.
Teiser: How did it happen?
Monihan: The administrators at the University of San Francisco asked me in
the summer of 1964 to move to full-time development work, which
means fund raising. I didn't like it at the time; I wanted to
remain head librarian and do promotion that way, as I had done, but
the reason the administrators asked me to move into development was
that I was so successful in developing the library financially,
Because I was in a new area, that is, as a development person,
I felt instinctively that I needed a new platform to speak from, to
meet a new audience. I felt that the people of San Francisco and of
the wider area, locally and out of state, who support the arts were
the people whom I wanted to address in these annual affairs. I
cannot say annual affairs; I had no idea it was going to be an
annual affair when I started in '65. It was all very vague as to
what the future would be .
*A Newsletter has also appeared at intervals since 1985.
Monihan: I had known about the famous Aspen seminars, and that was a model
where people were secluded away from daily life in a concentrated
effort to explore a topic of educational interest. Not practical,
in the sense of technological interest, but of cultural interest.
For example, UCLA had a series of dinners on French literature.
One of my friends, Kenneth Rexroth, knew a lot about the Aspen
seminars. He had participated as a staff member, so he advised me
during the spring and summer of 1965 on possible ways to prepare
such a program. In the summer of 1964 I had just returned from a
six-month book-buying trip in Europe, which had been very
profitable. I can say that practically all travel that 1 have done,
especially European trips, has been of lasting benefit to the work
of the Gleeson Library, and it certainly was true of the '64 trip.
I got acquainted with people in England and people in France, and so
the first symposium drew on those friends for its personnel, and
brought them here. Father Marc'hadour from Angers, and from England
Father Bernard Fisher, who was a specialist in Thomas More studies.
That brings me to the subject matter of the first symposium.
We had acquired the Thomas More collection in 1951. In 1963, we had
acquired the first edition of More's Utopia. We had entertained the
cast of the stage play A Man for All Seasons. My trip in England
concerned, in part, my interest in Thomas More. So the first
subject that came to my mind for a symposium was the subject of
Thomas More's period.
The title which I chose, "Freedom and Authority," was mentioned
in the press for almost a year before the symposium! The first
student riots on the University of California campus at Berkeley
were occurring, and so the subject of the symposium turned out to be
a timely one. In other words, it was appearing on the rise of the
revolution of the sixties. It wasn't until the end of the Vietnam
war that you might say the unrest began to settle down.
For the subject of the first symposium in 1965 I took three
writers: More, Erasmus, and Luther. Luther represented the
opposing force, the revolutionary force of the first part of the
sixteenth century, and Erasmus represented the silent bystander who
would not ally himself with either side.
The subject matter aroused a great deal of interest, and some
of our close conservative friends were worrying whether I was going
to make an attack on authority.
For the subject of Thomas More, I invited Richard Sylvester
from Yale University, who was head of Yale's project for publication
of the works of More, so he was an ideal person to speak. For
Erasmus, I chose Father Marc'hadour from Angers. For Luther, I was
*Abbe Germain Marc'hadour.
Monihan: very fortunate to receive the acceptance of Louis Spitz of
Stanford's history department. In addition to that, I had
approximately five to six discussants who could respond to each
The format I chose was sort of symbolized in the word,
"Symposium," and I explained that the word symposium means to drink
together. It's a Greek work, and it's taken from Plato's work,
Symposium. So conversation, sociability, and hospitality, all those
were joined together. I have always been a public-events man, and
so I had often done all these component parts separately- -the
dinners, lectures, discussions --and this time I put them all
I provided for this symposium three lunches and three dinners.
The first dinner was at Trader Vic's in San Francisco, the second
one at Paul Masson Vineyards in Saratoga, and the third one at the
California Palace of the Legion of Honor. I had what was considered
the best caterer of the time to do the meals, Thomas Thomasser, so
it was first-class.
I needed music. When Thomas More in the Utopia spoke about the
dinners in Utopia, he said that music was provided for each meal,
particularly for each special occasion. So I went to Stanford and
met with George Houle , then chairman of the department of music, and
I asked him to do the music for this symposium. He looked at my
announcement and said, "I don't have the time, but the program is so
attractive, I can't turn it down." So he accepted, and did the
music for me for all three dinners. He entered totally into the
spirit of it. He was a specialist in early sixteenth century
English music, so he had instruments designed after the fashion of
that time. He had music for the outdoors at the Paul Masson
Vineyard, he had music for the indoors at Trader Vic's, and he had
music and dance for the very sumptuous dinner at the Legion of
The dinner at the Legion of Honor was a great success. It came
at the conclusion of the three days. I arose at the end of the meal
and said, "This concludes the symposium on Freedom and Authority,"
and I sat down. Dr. John Upton arose and said, "Father Monihan,
this is not the conclusion; this is the beginning. So we encourage
you, and want you to continue."
Monihan: I didn't mention that the moderator of the symposium was John E.
Burchard. He had become a very dear friend of mine when I was
planning the Gleeson Library in 1948 and '49. He was then the
director of libraries at MIT. I kept contact with him in the
intervening years, and when I invited him to be the moderator, he
expressed great friendship to me by accepting my invitation. He was
Monihan: the ideal person to lead the symposium, because he himself had
participated in Aspen seminars and things of this sort in this
country and in Europe .
Teiser: Let me ask you about what kind of people attended.
Monihan: The people who attended were the class of people that I wanted
associated with Gleeson Library. They were the people and their
numbers increased every yearwho supported music in San Francisco,
and supported the arts. I did get a great deal of assistance from
friends in getting people to attend, and it was quite a different
group of people than the Library Associates. It was not members of
the book community; it was members of what might be called very
vaguely the cultural community of San Francisco.
Teiser: As I remember, it seemed to partake of the same kind of general
interest of those people in the great books series- -
Monihan: Yes, precisely, Dr. Adler's.
Teiser: People who wanted to participate in cultural groups.
Monihan: Yes, that's exactly what it was. In doing this first symposium, we
sent out nearly 10,000 pieces of mail to all these groups we could
think of. There was an immense effort to get out to the- -you might
say- -educated lay class.
Teiser: As I remember, the fees for the symposia are fairly high, so that no
one who's scrounging along is likely to attend.
Monihan: Yes. The fee for the first symposium, which seems very little now
in 1988, was $100. My fellow Jesuits would tease me about having a
Since then I've continued on, and we've had a symposium every year
with about three exceptions: in 1972, when we dedicated the Rare
Book Room, and in 1979, when I was in Europe. Otherwise we've had
them every year, and they all have been on humanistic subjects. The
1966 symposium was on "Liberty and Laughter." I was very privileged
to have Henri Peyre of Yale University to lecture for me on
I thought that the 1967 symposium was a particularly important
one. The ghettos of America were being burned during the years 1966
Monihan: and '67, so I chose the topic, "Lessons From Revolution: Marx,
Darwin, and Freud." I think that was a very successful symposium.
It frightened some people, who felt it would be all negative, but
many positive lessons were obtained from that.
The next symposium I want to speak about is the 1968 symposium,
"Dante, the Mind in Love." John Burchard had said to me several
times that Dante was the supreme topic in his mind, and so it was
pretty much because of John Burchard that I presented that. One of
the star personalities of that symposium was Bartlett Giamatti, who
later was the president of Yale, and at that time he was a young
professor. He did a magnificent job for us on Dante.
Our special dinner on that occasion was in the foyer of the San
Francisco Opera House, and we had the flag of the city of Florence
hanging there. It was a wonderful occasion.
In 1969, the Asian Art Museum was opening in San Francisco, and
a friend of mine encouraged me to do something in honor of the
opening. The subject of action and contemplation had been on my
mind that year a lot from reading Ortega y Gasset, and I chose the
subject "Asia: Man and the Contemplative: Hinduism, Taoism, and
Zen Buddhism." That was a very successful symposium, because it
opened up Asian thought to the audience. There were docents in
training for the Asian Art Museum, and I had a number of the docents
There were some symposiums that have been more successful than
others, but basically the subject matter has always been man and
Teiser: How many people attend?
Monihan: Approximately 135. We were limited in space in the law school, but
now we've moved to McLaren Center, we have more space.
Teiser: And what's the format, or whatever you would call it, for--do you
have lectures in the morning and the afternoon, and then--?
Monihan: The format is --we have a single lecture each day. That's from 9:30
to 10:30. Then after the coffee break, we return to the lecture
room, and the discussants take over. We have a general discussion
among the six specialists, who are called discussants. They,
together with the lecturers, discuss the subject of the lecture
Then lunch is served. Then in the afternoon from 1:00 to 2:00
there are questions and discussion from the audience. Every day we
conclude at 2:00. The dinners begin at 6:30 or 7:00.
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Mrs. MacDonald Denman and Professor John Coleman of the University of
Virginia at the 1976 symposium.
Part of the group attending the 1984 symposium.
Photographs courtesy of
Gleeson Library, U.S.F.
Teiser: Are there speakers at dinner?
Monihan: No, no speakers at dinner, but often there has been entertainment of
some sort, especially at the Thursday dinner.
The location of the dinners has always been a great concern to
us. We have had the Pacific Union Club several times for our black-
tie dinner, and we are fortunate to have it this year again. It's
important to have a special treat for the evening meal.
Teiser: And this happens always in autumn?
Monihan: Always in August- -the first weekend of August every year, so this
year it's the 4th, 5th, and 6th. However, the first symposium was
in the middle of the month.
I want to emphasize that the symposium is not a fund-raising
venture, but it has made friends for the university and for the
library. We always feature the library in the opening ceremonies,
and the library dean gives a progress report of the library for the
past year. But it is a university program; the President of USF
always says words of greeting at the opening. It has brought
friends into the university, and several of them have contributed
considerably to the university.
I would like to mention one other thing. In an ideal Utopian
situation, I would have liked to have had a publication come out of
each year's symposium, but I was not experienced enough to be able
to do that. However, in 1971, our symposium was at the end of the
Vietnam War, and our title was "Change and Chaos." I asked Lawton
Kennedy to print up the proceedings and discussion from that
symposium. It was expensive, but it was an excellent publication.
The Rembrandt illustration on the title page was from a collection
of Lessing Rosenwald, and Warren Howell allowed us to use the
imprint of John Howell Books.
I didn't know how to distribute the publication, and therefore
it was a loss in some ways. On the other hand, it is probably not a
loss, because it was done, and copies of it are still available.
The Donohue Rare Book Room
Teiser: You mentioned the 1972 opening of the rare book room. Would you
Monihan: Yes. I'd be happy to do that. A number of years after the
acquisition of the Thomas More library and other collections, I felt
the need for an appropriate space in the library building for rare
Monihan: books. It happened through Mrs. Geraldine Cole, who explained our
need to Daniel Donohue of the Dan Murphy Foundation in Los Angeles.
So, after making a formal request to the foundation, we received
$80,000 to design and construct a rare book room.
The then director of the library, the university librarian, was
Robert Gitler. He was the one who designed the rare book room, and
it is a great credit to him and to Mrs. Cole and to everybody else
involved. So that was a major step ahead, and Norman Strouse gave a
talk at the banquet to honor the opening of the rare book room in
1972, and challenged these Library Associates and friends to fill
the rare book room. Since 1972, we have many, many times multiplied
the original number of books at the opening.
Teiser: Had those books been in the library's general collections earlier,
Monihan: Some of them, such as the Thomas More collection, had been in
special storage. Then it was all assembled together, and Florian
Shasky was selected as the first rare book and special collections
librarian. He stayed until the middle seventies, when Steven Corey
I would say the design of the room in every way was successful.
Exhibit cases, the color design--. We have received compliments
again and again because of the plan that we adopted. It has
encouraged gifts tremendously, because it demonstrates visually that
the library knows how to care for good material. So, from 1972 on,
we have acquired a number of gifts and made a number of purchases
with gift money, and I think the library has gained a great deal
from the rare book room. We have, as a normal thing, a reception in
the rare book room after Associates' programs. During the annual
symposium, we invite people in there to see it. So it's been a
major step in the development of the library.
It was designed and named in honor of Countess Bernardine
Murphy Donohue. She herself was a book collector and bought
extensively from Dawson's in Los Angeles. We are very fortunate to
have a fine photographic portrait of her.
Another thing I can say about the rare book room, we have had a
number of publications result from it. Not our own publications,
but from scholars who have come in. Adrian Wilson and his wife
Joyce worked there on a facsimile of a manuscript, Speculum Humanae
Salvationis. which they were working on that was an illustration in
their project on the juxtaposition of text and illustration. I was
able to buy it in Spain in 1964.
The publication on the engraved work of Eric Gill was done
through our library. Eric Gill.
Teiser: Yes, you have a notable Gill collection.
Monihan: Yes. Well. Albert Sperisen, when Florian Shasky was special
collections librarian, was willing to sell to us his Gill
The Sir Thomas More Medal
Monihan: Certainly Norman Strouse should be mentioned any time we mention the
rare book room, because he was the first recipient of the Thomas
More medal, in 1968. He said, "When I come to California, I'm going
to help you make your library great." He has given to us at least
seven major collections for the library. He is one of the great
library patrons of the country, and he just has the right sense,
right taste to do the right thing. The Thomas Carlyle collection he
gave to UC Santa Cruz is a major collection. He's helped The
Bancroft Library in a very profound way, so Dr. [James D.] Hart is
rightly proud of the assistance and friendship of Norman Strouse.
It's hard to exaggerate the amount of interest that Norman has
shown towards libraries in this country. He was on the board of the
New York Public Library for many years, and the list of libraries
that he's associated himself with is long. But we are certainly
among his favorites, so it was most appropriate for him to speak at
the banquet when we dedicated the rare book room.
Teiser: Who have been some of the other winners of the Sir Thomas More
Monihan: The second recipient of the medal was Dr. Elmer Belt, of Los
Angeles, who formed the Leonardo Da Vinci library that UCLA has
today. Waller Barrett of Charlottesville, the man who formed the
great American literature collection. Gordon Ray, formerly the
director of the Guggenheim Fellowship Foundation, a major collector,
only recently deceased. Wilmarth Lewis, the Walpole collector. And
Lessing Rosenwald was one of the early recipients of the Thomas More
medal. All these things are connected together, and you're correct
in mentioning the matter with regard to the rare book room, because
they all more or less are centrally located in the interests of the
rare book room. There are some of the recipients of the Thomas More
medal who have made major contributions to us, but none to compare
with Norman Strouse.
Teiser: There is something going on at present about the medal being recast,
Monihan: Yes, well--. The medal which we gave out in 1988 was the last of a
series of medals we had made before. Now we have to start it again,
and have some more cast.
Same dies. We're simply using one of the previous medals as a
Who is going to be the next medal winner?
We haven't decided. It must be done very quickly, too.*
The 1988 Symposium
Teiser: What is this year's symposium to be?
Monihan: This year's symposium is on Japan, and it is the outcome of my visit
to Japan last October. I was a guest of a Thomas More medal
recipient, Dr. Mitsuo Kodama. The symposium this year will concern
the spiritual side of the Japanese personality. I am very fortunate
to have Rand Castile, the director of the Asian Art Museum, to give
the opening lecture on the Japanese personality, and to have Roger
Keyes lecture on the well-known Japanese artist of the last century,
Hokusai. A lady from the University of Pittsburgh will present a
film by Ozo called "Drifting Weeds." So there's a great deal of
interest and enthusiasm on the part of all our friends in this
year's symposium. I trust that it is a timely topic, because Japan
is in a leadership role internationally now, in money and banking
and business. I think it's appropriate to present the spiritual
side of the Japanese.
The Special Events Committee of the Associated Students##
Teiser: Continuing with the symposium, you said that the special--
Monihan: The special events committee of the Associated Students was formed
about 1957 as an alliance between the university library and the
Associated Students to present programs of cultural interest.** I
worked with this group all the years between 1957 and approximately
*William P. Barlow, Jr., was subsequently selected to be awarded the
Sir Thomas More medal in 1989.
**See also pages 77-78.
At the dedication of the Rare Book Room, left to right: Father Monihan;
Edmund J. Smyth, S. J., Acting President of the University of San
Francisco; Geraldine Cole; Florian Shasky, Rare Book Librarian; and Dr.
Robert Gitler, Librarian Emeritus. 1972.
Photograph courtesy of
Gleeson Library, U.S.F.
William C. Mclnnes, S. J., and Norman Strouse at the dedication of the
Countess Bernardine Murphy Donohoe Rare Book Room, 1972.
Photograph courtesy of
Gleeson Library, U.S.F.
Monihan: I want to mention them with regard to the annual symposium, because
the very first symposium was strongly supported by these students in
many ways. In the first four or five symposiums, they would be
helping me with transportation, helping me entertain people, picking
them up at the airport, and so on. Phil Griffith was the one person
from the committee who helped the most in presenting the first
I mentioned the flag of the city of Florence for the Dante
symposium. It was a student from the committee who was in Florence
that same year, and went to the mayor of the city of Florence and
got the flags for me. That, I felt, was a very good thing to
happen, that my work was not separate from the student body; it was
part of the students' life. They worked hard with me, and they
worked enthusiastically, and those were very, very fruitful years
for me .
I mentioned earlier, I think, that the special events students
were introduced to Lawton Kennedy, to Warren Howell, and to David
Magee ; they were introduced to all my circle of friends, and they
were good years here at USF. The only reason why I separated myself
from those students was that the university asked me in the early
1970s to go into deferred giving, which was a long training program.
I couldn't do that and my other duties.
"Go Out and Meet the Collectors"
[Interview 9: 11 June 1988]
Teiser: I think you were going to talk today about your travels.
Monihan: Yes. I'd like to begin with the importance of travel in my work,
and the importance of travel in the building of the Gleeson Library
Monihan: I referred earlier in an interview with you, Ruth, to the lecture
that Clifton Waller Barrett gave at the Folger Library in 1960. He
said that, "You librarians who wish to build up your library must go
out and meet the collectors. You need us, and we need you." I
think before 1960 I was traveling, but that confirmed me in the
belief that travel was an essential element in the development of
So that led me to Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of
Mr. Barrett. I have tried, and not always achieved, to make an
annual visit to the Barretts, partly in tribute and in thanks to
Mr. Barrett for the inspiration which he gave me way back in 1960.
As his houseguest there at Charlottesville, I met Fredson and Nancy
Monihan: Bowers. Fredson Bowers is a bibliographer who is well known in the
The meeting with Professor Bowers led to our acquiring step by
step a number of his manuscripts. I feel that this is a very
important segment of the rare book room, because he has given us
three or four different drafts of an article or a chapter he was
working on. You can see the development of his thought through each
I had made it my purpose to make annual visits to other
collectors, and for many years- -approximately . ten- -I went to
Farmington, Connecticut, to visit with Wilmarth 'Lewis. I would go
to Chicago every year to see Frances Hamill and Margery Barker of
the bookselling firm Hamill and Barker. That led to meeting other
people through them. I will always find it profitable in friendship
to visit Chicago; I receive continuous benefits from there.
I went to Philadelphia, which was the home of Seymour Adelman,
a great collector. I was his friend and met him through Lessing
Rosenwald, whom I visited in the earlier years, year after year
after year. I went to Ridgefield, Connecticut, to see Harrison
Horblit. I went to Montreal to meet Lawrence Lande . Lawrence Lande
received the Thomas More medal in 1988, this spring.
I go to Austin every year to see Professor Malcolm Macdonald .
I go to Phoenix, Arizona, every year to meet people who support and
who are interested in attending the annual symposium. There are
many other places I have mentioned in the course of the interviews
that I have visited. I want to emphasize that travel is a great
source of inspiration to me, and I come back full of ideas. And I
meet people; the essential thing in building a library is not the
books acquired but the friends you meet. The friends somehow make
it possible for a library to grow and develop.
The European trips have all been profitable, one building on
the other. 1964 was my first trip to Europe, and William Fletcher
was my guide there. That was the occasion in Oxford of purchasing
the R. T. Clark library in May of 1964. I met Mr. John Galvin of
Dublin on that occasion in March of '64. That led to his support of
the annual symposium and of other things that I was doing.
My first Grolier Club European trip was in 1967, and it was to
Scandinavia and the Low Countries. It gave me an opportunity to
meet many of the people of the Grolier Club and to get to know them
on an intimate basis. One of them was William Scheide, and also
Mary Hyde, now Viscountess Eccles. In Stockholm on that trip I met
a Dr. Nordback. On that trip I was present in Stockholm at the
Royal Library when the medal for book collecting was awarded to an
outstanding poet for that year, but they gave it to him because of
his expertise as a book collector,
the Thomas More medal.
That led to our starting here
The 1970 trip with the Grolier Club was also a great benefit to
me. I was able to go to Geneva with the club, and was among the
guests at Dr. Martin Bodmer's library in Geneva, which was a great
education in itself. On that occasion, I met Samuel Rosenthal of
Chicago, and became friends with him over many years. He's a donor
and a close friend, together with his wife, Marie Louise.
Then I had a memorable trip to Japan in 1987, as a guest of
Dr. Kodama, the book collector and recipient of the Sir Thomas More
medal in 1986. This I think serves to illustrate the absolute
importance of travel, and as a result perhaps of my enthusiasm in
this direction, a lady friend, Mrs. Christopher Buckley, gave me a
gift fund so I could travel when I needed to travel. It's obvious
that the amount of travel that I do the university would not
support, so that gift fund makes it possible.
I think that concludes my topic on travel.
You are not thinking of your year in France as travel?
Oh, well, thank you. I spent a year in France in 1978-79 at a
monastery in Burgundy, "La Pierre Qui Vire." It was a very fruitful
year, and a year of rest. It gave me a complete respite from my
duties here at USF, and gave me an opportunity to read and to
reflect. I'm looking forward to the same opportunity coming up this
coming year, 1988-89, at the same monastery.
I believe you said that it was a center of fine printing?
Well, it was a center of printing. The monastery has five
Heidelberg presses there, and the subject of their publications is
Romanesque art, which is an outcome of the Benedictine enterprise a
thousand years ago.
How did you happen to choose that particular monastery?
A monk from that monastery was teaching at USF in about 1975 , and I
met him and it led to getting an invitation to come there.
You said it was Benedictine?
Benedictine. That is also travel, intended as a respite. From
there, I traveled out to Germany to see Otto Schafer, the book
collector. I visited England and Belgium and so on. So this coming
year, I will probably be doing the same thing, going out and
visiting from there.
Working with the Directors of the Gleeson Library
Teiser: I have here "working with succeeding Gleeson librarians." You're--?
Monihan: Yes, that is a very important thing, because in 1964 I moved from
the library department of the university to the University Relations
department. My job was to do public relations for the Gleeson
Library. That implied a close working relationship with the dean of
the library. I've had a very successful relationship with
Dr. [Robert] Gitler and Paul Birkel. I couldn't do my work as
director of library relations in my concept without an intimate
relationship with these directors. I've been ve^ry fortunate in
having their support, enthusiasm and fellow feeling for what I was
trying to do.
That is a very important part, to have a harmonious
relationship with the administrator of the library. In my way of
doing things, I involve myself in acquisitions, meaning that when I
travel, I go to booksellers and get quotations of books I feel
should be added to the Gleeson Library. I come back, and present
this to the administrator. Sometimes I have gift funds to pay for
it; other times they're using their other gift funds. I need to be
at the heart of the library; the heart of the library is
Teiser: And you have your office in the library.
Monihan: Yes. And I feel the rare book room is in a sense the sales room for
a person in my job, because there you demonstrate how the library
does care for important treasures.
Teiser: You once said that you were- -I guess personally- -a born
Monihan: Yes, I am.
"The Utopia of the Gleeson Library"
Teiser: Let me ask your aims for the Gleeson Library and the rare book room
Monihan: Well, I would say, to put it in most concrete terms, that the
nirvana or the Utopia of the Gleeson Library would be when it
arrives at that stage of excellence in collections in the library
that it would become a major motive for a person to join the faculty
of the University of San Francisco. They would say, "The library is
so strong in these areas, I just want to be here because here is
Monihan: where the resources are." So that would be the stage where we would
have sufficient depth of collections in various subjects.
An example: the modernist collection of George Tyrell I
acquired somewhere around, say, ten years ago. We acquired it
through contact 1 made with a man named Thomas Loome. Last summer
we had a visitor from Australia who used this collection and said,
"For anyone studying the subject of modernism in the Roman Catholic
Church, 1890-1910, all of the printed sources are here. The only
thing lacking would be archival sources . " So this was a great
compliment on just one subject. That is the kind of coverage that I
would like to see the library have again and again and again,
subject after subject.
Now, these areas of concentration of high quality are usually
obtained either by purchasing a collection already formed that is
unusually rich- -that's what you get in the modernist collections- -or
by receiving a gift of such a collection. It's a very long, long
road for a library to build up collections of strength in any
concentrated form such as a collector would form. You can get
richer and richer coverage over the years, but it would be rare that
you would be able to concentrate on so many subjects and have
strength in so many of them simultaneously. This means you're
getting from the market books that are pertinent to many, many
subjects. It takes years and years and years to get strength that
would be equivalent to private collections.
Teiser: Do you give preference to subjects connected with the Catholic
Monihan: No, I really don't. I like to consider that we are a Catholic
library, with both a capital "C" and a lower case "c". I've been
complimented by booksellers on my catholic tastes. No, I think I
can honestly say I give preference to opportunities . However, as
soon as I've said that, I find, for example, some very important
material on the Jesuits that we can't collect because it is very
expensive, and then I occasionally would move in that direction to
But in general, I would say that our special collections
demonstrate a catholicity of taste, such as Robert Graves, the
Housmans , the local presses: John Henry Nash, Grabhorn, and great
press in Los Angeles --
Monihan: Yes, the Plantin Press in Los Angeles is an extremely important
collection which Steve Corey acquired. It's true in a library of
our sort, when you're asked the question, "How is it you have this
or that?", it's because we had the opportunity to acquire it, and we
had the resources to obtain it. So, Ruth, the aim of the Gleeson
Library, in my feeling, is just to have a richer collection, a more
concentrated collection. It gives the greatest pleasure to me and
to others in the library- -Paul Birkel, Steve Corey- -when people come
and find something of substance in our library. Or people say, "I
wrote my book entirely in the Gleeson Library, with one or two
exceptions." This has happened again and again; people have written
books using the Gleeson Library almost exclusively.
I am very much encouraged by the present status of the library.
It has strength. It is still not a research library such as the big
ones across the country, but for our size, a half million volumes, I
think we have pretty good strength in many areas.
Do you have any plans for increasing the staff of the rare book
I have nothing to say about that; that would be in the hands of the
administrator. But I would think that that will eventually come to
be , in the future .
I know from working there that since only one person has to do
everything, it's not available all the time.
No, that is one of the handicaps. I would like to see in that sense
the staff increased so that it would be more available to people,
The Lone Mountain Library
Teiser: What happened to Lone Mountain College's library?
Monihan: Well, that library is still intact, but it's in the process of being
incorporated into our library. The cataloguing and processing of
the books is being done continuously. The objective of Paul Birkel,
the dean of the library, is to use Lone Mountain's stacks as remote
storage, because we're now at the point where the Gleeson Library is
filled. All available space is being used, so he has to think of
more storage for important material less frequently consulted.
However, the San Francisco College for Women library, and also known
as Lone Mountain College library- -
Monihan: I was talking about the Gleason Library at Lone Mountain, which was
formed by Monsignor Joseph Gleason. Monsignor Gleason was a first-
class book collector, there is no question about it. He had
acquired from travel and all from personal resources a remarkable
library worthy of any institution, with books of great quality. At
Dean of the Library Paul Birkel , 1981.
Photograph courtesy of
Gleeson Library^ U.S.F.
Monihan: this time in 1988, our library is incorporating Lone Mountain
library gradually. We have the catalogue of Lone Mountain library
so we can watch out and not make duplicate purchases of something
which is already there .
Teiser: Did you get rid of much material?
Monihan: I don't know. See, this process of sorting out things to be sold or
to be distributed or whatever, I had nothing to do with. Paul
Birkel did it. You may recall that when Lone Mountain College
administration was in dire straits, they invited Warren Howell to
come in and purchase $100,000 worth of manuscripts and books. Some
of the more rare and important materials left that collection at
After 1978, when University of San Francisco acquired ownership
of Lone Mountain, Paul Birkel with a bookseller friend sifted
through things which could be sold, and a number of those books went
into the open market of this area.
The Sutro Library
Teiser: I don't think we have spoken of the Sutro Library.
Monihan: No, we haven't. During the year 1958 or '59- -and I am relying on
very imperfect recall on this subject- -the San Francisco Public
Library decided that they could no longer give space to the Sutro
Library, which they had housed for a number of years. This library
was given to the state of California by Dr. Emma Sutro Merritt, the
daughter of Adolph Sutro, the founder, following her father's
intentions. It was given to the state of California somewhere
around after the earthquake and fire [of 1906] .
Now, this has been regarded as one of the great libraries of
the West. So when the state of California was informed that the San
Francisco Public Library no longer had the space to house it, then a
number of institutions within the city of San Francisco made the
offer to give it space. Among them was USF.
It turned out that the library had to stay in San Francisco.
Well, after two of the institutions in San Francisco- -San Francisco
State University and USF- -made the offer to house it, the public
library came back and said that they would give it housing. So we
had three contesting institutions. I went to the state capitol to
see Senator Eugene McAteer, who was the senator most interested in
the affairs of the city of San Francisco, and who also was a friend
Monihan: So I met with him, and during the course of the deliberations,
before the decision was made, there appeared on the scene an Adolph
G. Sutro , who was then in his late seventies, and who volunteered to
do anything to assist USF be the one who to give space to the Sutro
Library. He was a graduate of Santa Clara, he said, and of USF.
Well, he didn't graduate from either institution, but he was
certainly a student of Santa Clara college.
Now, he went with me to see Governor [Edmund G.] Brown, the
senior Governor Brown. We presented to Governor Brown the fact that
the University of San Francisco would be willing to give the
collection housing, and we hoped that we would be the one chosen.
Well, shortly after that, the state of Calif orni'a was inclined to
accept USF's offer, because we were willing to pay $100,000 to clear
the basement of the Gleeson Library to house the Sutro Library. An
attorney for the state of California came to USF and started working
with us on negotiating the contract between the state of California
and USF. One of the attorneys for the state of California, when we
were talking about the subject of separation of church and state,
said, "No problem between church and state; they will have a wall
between church and state!" That was a brick wall outside the
elevator on the basement level. [laughter]
There was at the back of Gleeson Library Building a separate
entrance called Sutro Library. That was the street entrance to the
basement, which we put in just because of the Sutro Library.
So anyhow, it was a twenty-year contract, and it was a nominal
lease agreement, one dollar a year. Well, after twenty years, the
state of California still didn't have space to house the Sutro
Library, so from 1979 until about 1981, negotiations continued. The
state of California then began to pay an ordinary lease amount after
our contract had run out. So it was quite a large sum of money they
were paying us for that two years remaining, until the state was
able to build the building which they now have.*
Monihan: There was a lot of writing in the newspapers, both local newspapers
and the Christian Science Monitor, about the dangers of the Catholic
church grabbing state property. But in spite of all those fears,
the state of California decided that USF would be the one to house
The reason for USF's offer was that Sutro Library is a research
library in many areas- -history of science, early American and
European pamphlets, Japanese material- -many , many areas of
concentration of excellent material.
*Near Lake Merced, on San Francisco State University property.
Monihan: The outcome of this was not that it was used a lot, but about a
dozen faculty have been interested in it. Down to the very last
days when the Sutro Library was here, about four or five faculty
members were decidedly intense in their protestations that it should
stay at USF. But USF had grown in those intervening twenty- two
years, and we needed space badly. So when the transfer was made,
and the Sutro Library moved out, we moved the periodicals into that
space , and it was ideal for us .
On Being an Institutional Collector
Teiser: Would you like to conclude with general observations on your life as
an institutional collector? As I mentioned, you told me once that
you were a born institutional collector.
Monihan: Yes. I tried this out on many occasions being a private collector,
but I guess I believe that the Gleeson Library is my private
collection. I have no desire for building up a collection of my
own, but my greatest desire is to make the Gleeson Library strong.
This is my satisfaction when I see parts of the library growing, in
bibliography for instance, or in navigation, and travel.
So I am an institutional collector both intellectually and
emotionally. I have no thought that acquisition should stay in my
possession. I just don't think in terms of a private collection of
my own. I have built up over the years a Mary Berry collection, and
a Joseph Scaliger collection. Mary Berry was a young lady friend of
Horace Walpole . There are those two collections, and before we were
very far advanced I transferred them to the rare book room at the
Gleeson Library. That's all I have to say about my institutional
Maybe one thing I would like to add on- -this is an appendix, a
postscript- -is that it's been an interesting experience as a Roman
Catholic priest that I have been in contact with the top antiquarian
booksellers and the top collectors. None of these people are Roman
Catholic. Not by design, by plan, did I achieve this, but I found
out that in these groups, as well as in organizations such as the
Grolier Club, I'm the only one, the only Roman Catholic priest.
It's somewhat of a surprise, I suppose, to some of them, but there's
no barrier at all between my role as a priest and these other people
who have no connection whatsoever with the Roman Catholic church. I
find it very stimulating, anyhow, and I would say that my friends
find it stimulating. It's unexpected. It doesn't hurt; and maybe
it helps. I think that's all I can say.
Transcriber: Shannon Page
Final Typist: Judy Smith
TAPE GUIDE FATHER WILLIAM J. MONIHAN
Interview 1: 5 May 1988 1
tape 1, side a 1
tape 1, side b 8
tape 2, side a 16
Interview 2: 9 May 1988 16
tape 2, side b 22
tape 3, side a 29
Interview 3: 14 May 1988 30
tape 3, side b 35
tape 4, side a 41
Interview 4: 18 May 1988 42
tape 4, side b 46
tape 5, side a 50
Interview 5: 24 May 1988 52
tape 5, side a 52
tape 6, side a 58
Interview 6: 27 May 1988 62
tape 6, side b 63
tape 7, side a 70
Interview 7: 30 May 1988 74
tape 7, side b 75
tape 8 not recorded
tape 9, side a 81
Interview 8: 7 June 1988 84
tape 9, side b 86
tape 10, side a 92
Interview 9: 11 June 1988 93
tape 10, side b 98
The Gleeson Library Associates Membership Invitation
Image Profile: "A Priest for all Seasons," Sunday, August 7, 1988
The Gleeson Library Sssociates incite
you to become a parr of thie nerrj cultural
expansion in our groining community.
IlluitrauoD : Tide page of John oe Garlandia'i Uultontm Vocabulontm
Inierpraato. Fruited by Richard Pynaoa, London. 1514.
R some time it has been recognized
that the growth of the Richard A.
Gleeson Library should be accelerated
if it' is to keep pace with the general expan
sion program of the University of San
..Francisco. This led to the founding in the
Fall of 1957 of the Gleeson Library Associates
with the blessing of Father President John
F. X. Connolly, S.J.
The two-fold purpose of the Associates is to
cooperate in the development of the book re
sources and sen-ices of the Library, and to pre
sent cultural programs.
It is freely admitted that the Library has
needs that are beyond the scope of its regular
budget, and it is hoped that the Associates will
be able to supply many of these. In this way
they will play an important part in developing
the Library as an outstanding cultural center,
fully equipped to render a complete service to
the University and the cultural community.
Regular meetings will be held at which pro
grams will be presented for the enjoyment
of the Associates. From time to time a special
tribute will be paid to individuals who have
won distinction for scholarly achievement.
An occasional Newsletter will be issued to
advise the Associates of items of interest, such
as noteworthy acquisitions by the Library, staff
changes and special events.
The important work of acquiring special
collections of books and manuscripts has been
entrusted to the Book Committee.
Associates cnioy all the privileges of mem
bership in the Library. They are encouraged
to make frequent use of its holdings, so that
they may become well acquainted with the col
lection of books and periodicals available.
To make a significant contribution to the
growth and development of the Library, the
Associates will need a fairly sizable member
ship. You are cordially invited to share this op
portunity of providing aid and inspiration for
eager young minds. In accepting, you will truly
become a patron of learning.
(You are not restricted to thti amount)
Checks should be made payable to the University of S.in
Francisco. Membership tees are deductible from income tax.
UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO 17. CALIFORNIA
by Kevin Starr
For the past 40 years, a quiet but effective presence has been at work on the San
Francisco cultural scene. He is a 70ish silver-haired Jesuit Father by the name
of William J. Monihan. Vowed to poverty, Monihan is at home among the
wealthy, especially if they are book collectors. Monihan is a paradox: a penniless de
Medici. <^> Through his vows, he has renounced just about everything; yet stories
about Monihan have this intrepid cleric at dinner parties in Paris, taking a year off for
private study in a remote French monastery, hobnobbing with the industrial elite and
fraternizing with the Zen monks of Japan. <^> Monihan is the omnipresent Jesuit of a
Thackeray novel, popping out of the woodwork at an odd moment, plotting vast acqui
sitions or dynastic subventions. Except that in Monihan's case the empire to be won
eventually winds up on the shelves of the Countess Bemardine Murphy Donohue Rare
Book Room of the Gleeson Library at the University of San Francisco. <^> It is a world
far from the sandlots of the Western Addition, where Monihan grew up. But then
again, the Western Addition of the 1 920s is today a long way from itself. There is in
William Monihan something of the spirit of San Francisco, something about upward
mobility amidst successive generations of new arrivals. When asked to characterize Mo
nihan's role in Bay Area cultural circles of her set, Clara Van Ness Denman (as in Van
Ness Avenue) says: "Father Bill is the arbiter elegantiamm of thinking and reading for
many, many San Franciscans. He's a humanist of the first rank. He's also like Father
Holt in Thackeray's novel The History of Henry Esmond, busy with about a half
12 * I M A G E Sunday, August 7. 1 988
dozen schemes in a half dozen countries. I suppose you
might say he's a combination of St Francis of Assist, St
Ignatius Loyola and Ward McAllister." Ward McAllister
was the San Francisco lawyer who went East to become
senior tutor to the first families of Newport and New
York. Monihan's form of tutelage is an annual summer
symposium he has sponsored at USF since 1965, dealing
variously with such master spirits and themes as Eras
mus, Cervantes, Rabelais, the Zen masters, Thomas
Jefferson, Abigail Adams, T.S. Eliot, Jose Ortega y Gas-
set, Carlos Fuentes, William Butler Yeats, Egyptian art
of the New Kingdom, theater in ancient Greece, and the
painting, poetry and gardens of ancient China.
Symposium participants are encouraged to make their
intellectual journey via reading, lectures, discussion and
the enjoyment of good food and drink. The symposia are
organized around morning and afternoon lectures and
discussions, sandwiched between catered luncheons and
dinners and entertainment. For this year's topic, Moni-
han chose the art and spirituality of Japan.
Bom in San Francisco in 1914, Monihan grew up on
Fulton Street between Baker and Lyon in the
Western Addition. His father was a plumbing
contractor who came to San Francisco in 1906 from
Chester County, Pennsylvania. "He read of the earth
quake and fire in the newspapers," Monihan says, "and
decided there'd be plenty of plumbing business here."
M onihan remembers what he calls a sandlot boyhood
roaming with a band of friends through the empty lots
of the Western Addition and the property, ironically, now
occupied by USF. "The boys I ran with," he says, "main
tained a rather sophisticated network of organizations. I
suppose you might even call them gangs. Each group had
its own code, its own lore, its own rituals. You might say
my active membership in these groups prefigured my
eventual entrance into the Jesuit order."
Graduating from St. Ignatius High School in 1932,
Monihan entered the Society of Jesus. The Jesuit order
combines two distinct impulses, according to Monihan,
the missionary and the scholarly. "Whatever religious
work each Jesuit was embarked upon, he was also sup
posed to maintain a scholarly specialty. . . Almost from
the start of my Jesuit life, I knew that my specialty would
be the creation of libraries."
Trained as a librarian at the University of California
at Berkeley after finishing his education in classics,
philosophy and theology with the Jesuits, Monihan made
librarianship and the Gleeson Library his vocation in
deed, his passion. Over the years, he has roamed the
world, haunted the bookshops of Europe, Asia and the
Americas, sat through innumerable dinner parties and
wooed a vast array of collectors to bring the library's
Special Collections Department to its present distinction.
"As a Jesuit, I took a vow of poverty, so I don't wish to
own any books personally," Monihan admits. "I am by
definition an institutional collector."
By the standards of Stanford or UC-Berkeley, the
Gleeson Library is, with a half-million volumes, relatively
vtanmsm OF *AM niNcnco
FORM AND BEYOND
Art & Spirituality m Japan
UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO
VICTORY THROUGH SUFFERING
The intellectual anj spiritual themes of Father Monihan 't annual
symposium ii reflected in posters for two of the USF gatherings.
14 * I M A G E * Sunday, Augmt 7, 1 988
small. But Monihan has helped accumulate some 35
notable collections during his years at USF, including the
Sir Thomas More and English Recusant collections; the
works of the 16th Century French humanist Joseph
Scaliger; complete first editions of such 20th Century
literary figures as Robert Graves, Eric Gill, Robinson
Jeffers and Laurence Housman; the John Henry Nash
Collection of fine printing; a complete run of the Plan tin
Press of Saul and T.ilHan Marx of Los Angeles and the
fine printers of San Francisco, many of them collected by
Norman Strouse of St Helena, one of the great book
collectors of this century.
Antiquarian books are by definition an internationl
enterprise, and Monihan maintains close connections
with booksellers and collectors around the globe. "I feel it
important to get around, hobnobbing, being a guest,
getting to know booksellers and collectors on a personal
basis. Rare books constitute an international republic of
letters. Like the humanists of the Renaissance, collectors
have a way of knowing each other and keeping in touch
across international boundaries."
It was the great collector Waller Barrett who intro
duced Monihan into the Grolier Club of New York, the
elegant association of collectors. As the only Jesuit mem
ber of the Grolier, Monihan has introduced the learned
enthusiasms and international connections of his order
into the Grolier's existing worldwide network. While
touring the libraries and antiquarian bookstores of Eu
rope with the Grolier and the International Association
of Bibliophiles, Monihan has become good friends with
such renowned bibliophiles as Henri Schiller of Paris, a
collector of pre-Gutenberg manuscripts, and Dr. Otto
Schafer (as in the ball-bearing family) of Schweinfurt,
West Germany, a collector of illustrated books.
Monihan met the Dublin collector John Galvin
through the late antiquarian book dealer Warren Howell,
whose John Howell Books at the corner of Powell and
Post for so many years stood as a symbol of book arts and
book culture in San Francisco. Another late and es
teemed San Francisco bookseller, David Magee, helped
Monihan snag his famous Sir Thomas More collection.
Monihan's symposia are designed to generate commu
nity interest in the Gleeson Library. They also reflect his
personal growth. Take this year's symposium in Japan.
In the fall of 1987, Monihan visited Japan as the guest
of Dr. Mitsuo Kodama, president of Meisei University in
Tokyo and a world-renowned book collector. It was
through the world of rare books, in which the Japanese
now play a major role, that Monihan first learned of
Kodama and later invited him to San Francisco to
receive the Sir Thomas More Medal for Book Collecting,
a tribute to distinguished private collectors granted each
year by the Gleeson Library Associates.
While in Japan, Monihan continued his 20-year study
of Zen under the tutelage of Hideo Aoki, Dr. Koda ma's
executive assistant, and his fellow Jesuits living in Japan,
both Japanese and non-Japanese, who had devoted their
lives to understanding the Japanese tradition. Ever since
his 1969 symposium on Asian spirituality, Monihan had
been seeking to internalize an Asian element into his
highly Westernized mental and spiritual formation.
While in Kyoto, Monihan visited the Ryoanji Temple,
and it clicked, it came together, the insight he had been
seeking for, lo, these 20 years. Standing before 15 large
rocks placed amidst finely raked gravel, Monihan absorb
ed the insight about the transitory nature of permanence
and the permanence of transitoriness that is central to
the Zen perspective and the Japanese imagination.
The 15 rocks were there, solid and substantial; yet
their gravel bed moved to the music of time, changing
and shifting in patterns that, over a longer period, would
eventually alter the large rocks as well. The Japanese,
Monihan points out, amidst all their busy material suc
cess, sustain at the center of their consciousness an
all-pervasive sense of the transitory nature of things. The
first lines of the 14th Century classic The Tale of the
Heike put it this way: "The temple echoes the imperma-
nence of all things, and the changing colors of the leaves
testify that all that once flourished had to decay."
In a speech before a San Francisco audience, former
Japanese Consul General Tatsuo Arima placed this per
spective in the context of real estate, of all things. "In
Japan," said Arima, "we have neither the arrangement
nor the concept of such a long-term lease as, say, a
99-year lease for a building or a flat. We have old temples,
shrines, houses, and, indeed, stone castles remaining
from our past, but they are the exceptions. Wooden
structures, with paper and bamboo as the predominant
interior materials, are more characteristic, and they are
by definition temporary."
In some cases, charisma can be a great big noisy flashy
thing. Charisma can also, as in the case of William
Monihan, be something quieter, but equally effective.
When I was an undergraduate at USF in the late 1950s,
Bill Monihan was at the absolute center of influence on
undergraduates. He wasn't a coach or even a professor.
He was, of all things, a librarian. And yet he communicat
ed to the raw-boned Irish and North Beach Italian lads
who populated USF in that era something of the scope
and excitement of human culture. Thanks to William
Monihan, it dawned on an entire generation of young
men, perhaps for the first time, that there might be more
to life than the immediate struggle for success.
"Father Bill suggested the great world," says Dan
Ritter, a Salem, Oregon, attorney and 1962 USF alum
nus. "It was like a Pat O'Brien movie, with O'Brien
playing Monihan, and Father Bill is telling these guys:
'Look, it's vast and it's beautiful, and it's yours!' "
Next year, Monihan will be on sabbatical, staying at
the Benedictine Monastery of La Pierre Qui Vire in
Burgundy. He intends to spend the year meditating,
reading and writing, and of course taking time out for
quick trips to England, Germany, Sweden and Belgium
in search of collectors who may some day become patrons
of the library to which he has dedicated his life.
Kevin Starr is a San Francisco historian.
Sunday. August 7,1988 * I M A G E * 15
INDEX - Father William J. Monihan
Ackers, Sandy, 81
Ad el man, Seymour, 94
Alma College, 14, 23, 24, 25-26, 27, 29-30
American Library Association, 31
Anacapa Book Shop, 74
Aperture . 75
Aquinas, Thomas, 17-18
Arizona Pioneers Historical Society, 75, 76
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 88, 92
Backus, Joyce, 32
Barclay, Alexander, 49
Barker, Marjorie, 69, 94
Barlow, William P., Jr., 83, 92
Barrett, Clifton Waller, 52-53, 65, 91, 93
Bayma, Joseph, S. J., 22-23
Bellarmine College Preparatory, 20, 21-22, 23, 24, 29
Belt, Elmer, 91
Benedictine monastery, La Pierre Qui Vire, 95
Berry, Mary, 101
bibliography, 54-55 and passim
Birkel, Paul, 43, 44, 74, 96, 98, 98, 99
Blackwell, Richard, 70
Blackvell's, Oxford, 61
Bodmer, Martin, 95
Bowers, Fredson, 93-94
Bowers, Nancy, 93-94
Boyd, Julian, 34
Brandt, Sebastian, 49
Brick Row Book Shop, 74
Brown, Edmund G., 100
Buckley, Mrs. Christopher, 95
Burchard, John E., 33, 38, 86, 88
Carmelite order, 12
Castile, Rand, 92
Champoeg Press, 75
Chardin, Tielhard de, 12
Clark, R. T., collection, 61-62, 94
Clark, Jonathan, 79
Cody, Alexander, S. J., 7
Cole, Geraldine (Mrs. Jeremy), 90
Colllgan, James, S. J., 6
Collins, Frank, 3
Columbus cartography collection, 51-52, 81
Connolly, John F. X., S. J., 41
Corey, D. Steven, 54, 57-58, 72, 79, 81, 90, 97, 98
Coulter, Edith, 31-32, 45
Crocker, Templeton, 65
Crocker Junior High School, San Francisco, 1, 2,3
D'Arcy, Martin, S. J., 20
Daly, Darrell W. , 81, 82
Dan Murphy Foundation, 90
Dante, Alighieri, 88
Davies, David, 40
De Ghellinck, S. J., 30
Donne , John , 49
Donohoe, Bernardine Murphy, 90
Donohoe, Daniel, 90
Donohoe Rare Book Room, see Gleeson Library Rare Book Room
Drum, Frank, 42
Drum, Frank G., 41-44, 49, 50
Drum, Frank G. Foundation, 31, 41-45, 49, 60, 61
Drum Foundation, 43
Dunne, William, S., 29, 32, 33, 34, 39, 42-43, 44, 46
Eccles, Mary Hyde, 94
Emparan, Madie Brown, 83
England, Anne, 12
Erasmus, [Desiderius] , 49, 85
Evans, Henry, 52, 81
Far Eastern Affairs Program, 23, 26-27
Feely, Raymond T., S.J., 47
Finn, Howard, 41, 43
Fisher, Bernard, 84
Fletcher, Keith, 70
Fletcher, William R. , 61, 64, 70, 94
Flower Book. 68
Foghorn . 78
Fracchia, Charles, 53, 54, 78, 83
Fremont Grammar School, San Francisco, 1
Friends of The Bancroft Library, 81
Fromm, Norman, 77
Galvin, John, 65, 94
Getty Museum, 71
Giamatti, Bartlett, 88
Gill, Eric, 90-91
Gitler, Robert, 90, 96
Gleason, Joseph M. , 46, 98
Gleason Library, 98
Gleeson, Richard, S. J., 33, 45-46, 82, 83
Gleeson Library, 32-101 and passim
Associates, 75, 77, 78, 81-84, 90
Associates, Fellows of, 83
Rare Book Room, 48, 87, 89-91
Gonzaga University, Spokane, 14, 19, 24
Gorman, Thomas K. , 3
Grabhom Press, 97
Graves, Robert, 97
Griffith, Phil, 93
Grolier Club, 53, 65, 67-68, 71, 94-95, 101
Hamill, Frances, 69, 94
Ham 111 and Barker, 63, 94
Hammond, George, 81
Harrison, Maurice E., 48, 49, 61
Harroun, Catherine, 77
Hart, James D. , 91
Harvard University libraries, 34, 35
Hinckle, Warren, 78
Honnold Library, Claremont, 40
Horblit, Harrison, 94
Houle, George, 86
Housman, [AlfredE.], 97
Housman, [Laurence], 97
Howell, Antoinette (Mrs. Warren R.), 65
Howell, Warren R. , 56, 64-67, 68, 69, 71, 75, 89, 93, 99
Hunt, Hayvood, 52
incunabula . 52, 73
Ivancovich, Jane, 76
Jammes, Andre, 72
Jeffers, Robinson, 57
Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, 18, 25, 26
Jesuits, see Society of Jesus
Johnson, George, 51, 52
Kennedy, Alfred, 76
Kennedy, Freda (first Mrs. Lawton) , 50, 76
Kennedy, Lawton, 50, 51, 73, 74-80, 81, 82, 89, 93
Kennedy, Renee (second Mrs. Lawton), 79
Kennett, White, 49
Keyes, Roger, 92
Koch, Peter, 81
Koch, Rudolph, 68
Kodama, Mitsuo, 68, 92, 95
Koret Health Center, USF, 3
Kraus, Hans. 68, 71
Lande , Lawrence , 94
Lewis, Wilmarth, 52, 69, 91, 94
London, Jack, 57
Lone Mountain College library, 98-99
Loome , Thomas, 97
LoSchiavo , John J . , 47
Ludvig manuscripts, 71
Luther, Martin, 85-86
NacDonald, Malcolm, 62, 94
Madison, Marshall, 43
Magee, David, 48, 60-61, 62, 63-64, 65, 70, 93
Marc'hadour, Germain, 85
Marquette, Jacques, S.J. 11
Martin, Leo, S. J. , 15-16, 17, 20, 30
Massachusetts Institute of Technology library, 33
Masses, times of, 12
McAteer, Eugene, 99-100
McAuliffe, Florence, 36, 82
McCarthy, William H. , 36
McFadden, Edwin, S. J., 7
McGloin, John, S. J., 39-40
Medieval Mirrors. 59
Merritt, Emma Sutro, 99
Metcalf, Keyes, 34
Mitty, John J. , 46
Monihan, Alice, 2, 48
Monihan, Helen May Hunter (mother of William J.), 1. 2,
Monihan, Jack (brother of William J.), 2, 48
Monihan, William Joseph (father of William J.), 1, 48
More, Thomas, 48, 49, 50, 85. See also Thomas More collection and
Morrison, Stanley, 51
Morrissey, Edward, 43
Mt. St. Michaels College, 11, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, 26
Murphy, Dan, 36
Nash, John Henry, 97
Nordback, , 94-95
Norman, Jeremy, 73-74
Nunn, George E., 51
O'Brien, William, 82
O'Connor, Terence, S.J., 51
O'Sullivan, Carroll, S. J., 46
Olschki family, 73
Peregrine Press, 81
Peyre, Henri, 87
Pfleuger, Milton, 27, 34-35, 37, 47
Pflueger, Timothy, 32, 33, 47
Phillips, Thomas library, 66, 71
Plantin Press, 97
Polak, Jean, 72
Praise of Folly. The. 49
Pynson, [Richard], 49
Ray, Gordon, 91
Record. The. 84
Rexroth, Kenneth, 85
Ritter, Dan, 78
Ritter, Armande (Mrs. Dan), 78
Rodriguez , Alphonsus , 10
Rosenstock, Fred, 75, 76-77
Rosenthal, Bernard M. , 49, 72-73
Rosenthal, Jacques, 73
Rosenthal, Marie Louise (Mrs. Samuel), 95
Rosenthal, Samuel, 95
Rosenwald, Lessing, 65, 89, 91, 94
Roxburghe Club, 75, 80
Royal Library, Stockholm, 53, 54
Sacred Heart Novitiate, Los Gatos , 9, 13, 15, 29
San Francisco Chamber Music Society, 77
San Francisco State University, 99, 100
Sanctuary Society, 4, 7
Scaliger, Joseph, 101
Schafer, Otto, 95
Schechtel, Joseph, S. J. , 30, 54
Scheide, William, 94
Schmulowitz, Nat, 75
Scopazzi, John, 74
Seeliger, Francis, S.J., 10-11
Shasky, Florian, 57, 90, 91
Sheerin, Francis, S. J., 25, 29, 30
Ship of Fools. 49
Shumate, [C.] Albert, 40, 49, 75, 81, 82
Sir Thomas More medal, 53, 54, 65, 68, 83, 91-92, 94, 95
Society of Jesus (Jesuits), passim
scholastics, 3-4, 10
Society of Helpers, 12
Special Events Committee, USF, 77-78, 92-93
Speck, Reinhard S. (Stan), 78
Speculum Humana e Salvationis. 90
Sperisen, Albert, 91
Spitz, Louis, 86
St. Ignatius Church, 2, 3, 4, 39, 45-46
St. Ignatius College, 2, 3, 22
St. Ignatius High School, 1, 3-7, 9, 20
St. Peter Canisius Day, 50-51, 80
Stauffacher, Jack, 81
Stern, Marjorie, 53
Strouse , Charlotte , 57
Strouse, Norman, 53-54, 57, 64, 90, 91
Sullivan, Tom, S. J. , 26
Sutro, Adolph, 99
Sutro, Adolph G. , 100
Sutro Library, 99-101
Sylvester, Richard, 85
symposia, 33, 49, 84-89, 92-93
Thomas a Kempls , 10
Thomas More collection, 42, 47-50, 6-61, 85, 89, 90
Thomasser, Thomas, 86
Tinker, Chauncey, 52, 58
Tyrell, George, 97
University of California School of Library Science
14, 30-32, 387
University of San Francisco, passim
University of Santa Clara library, 22, 23
Upton, John, 86
Utopia. 49, 50, 75, 80, 85, 86
Vallelos of California. The. 83
Walsh, James and Delia, 36
Varde, Beatrice, 51
Washington State College Library, 33, 34
Wilde, Oscar, 58, 69
Wilson, Adrian, 51, 58-59, 80, 90
Wilson, Joyce Lancaster (Mrs. Adrian), 58-59, 80, 90
Yorke, Peter, 40
Zeitlin, Jacob ( Jake), 67-68, 71, 73
Zeitlin, Josephine (Mrs. Jacob), 68
Grew up in Portland, Oregon; came to the
Bay Area in 1932 and has lived here ever
since. Stanford, B.A., M.A. in English,
further graduate work in Western history.
Newspaper and magazine writer in San
Francisco since 1943, writing on local
history and economic and business life
of the Bay Area. Book reviewer for the
San Francisco Chronicle since 1943. As
correspondent for national and western
graphic arts magazines for more than a
decade, came to know the printing