University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Notre Dame: Foundations, 1842-1857 / by John Theodore Wack

Notes to Appendix II

1 This description is taken from an autobiography by Thomas Low Nichols, Forty Years of American Life, 1821-1861 (New York: 1937), pp. 273-277. Dr. Nichols was an American, born in New Hampshire in 1815, educated at New York University where he received the M.D. in 1850, and a new convert to Catholicism. He was deeply interested in social reforms, especially feminism and spiritualism. Before his conversion to Catholicism, he operated the Memnonia Institute in Yellow Springs, Ohio; the community he established there became more and more religious in nature until, in 1857, Nichols, his wife, and six others were converted to Catholicism. The visit to Notre Dame took place sometime after this, possibly as late as 1860. Cf. Ibid., pp. 5-6; also Philip Gleason, "From Free-Love to Catholicism; Dr. and Mrs. Thomas L. Nichols at Yellow Springs," Ohio Historical Quarterly, Vol. 70 (October, 1961) No. 4, pp. 283-307.

2 One wonders how well he slept with twenty-four chimes ringing a few hundred yards away. This account is somewhat romanticized; it is hardly likely that Dr. Nichols stumbled on the college in so chancey a fashion. It is difficult to date this visit to the college, but a scrapbook kept by Professor Joseph A. Lyons, then a student or a seminarian, indicates that a "Dr. A. R. Nichols" visited the college somewhere between 1858 and 1861 in order to deliver an "oration" to the St. Aloysius Society. This is probably our Dr. Thomas Low Nichols with miscopied initials. Cf. Lyons' Scrapbook with the Lyons Papers in UNDA.

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