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“Hidden treasure” in the library

Back in October, the Library co-sponsored a week-long Harry Potter scavenger hunt and Special Collections was a featured stop (for a Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson). Marianne Donley was one of the seekers who stopped by Special Collections on the scavenger hunt and her visit inspired her to come back to learn more about the collections. As part of an assignment for Jody Ross’s Journalism class, Marianne produced this video that highlights a few of the treasures you can find in Special Collections:

Marianne is a member of the class of 2018 and she is double-majoring in Chemistry and English. Thank you for this wonderful video, Marianne!

If you are intrigued by the treasures featured in the video, please feel free to stop by Special Collections. We love to share our collections with visitors. If you can’t make it in person, though, you can browse our Digital Library to see thousands of digitized books, photographs, manuscripts, and more.


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eBook available: Only a Girl’s Love

only-208x300Our latest eBook release from Distributed Proofreaders and Project Gutenberg is another novel by prolific British romance author Charles Garvice. Only a Girl’s Love, like many of the author’s works, tells the tale of a romance across class lines. In this case, the story involves Stella Etheridge, a young woman who escapes an oppressive Italian boarding school to live with her painter uncle in the English countryside, and there falls in love with a typical Garvice hero: Leycester Wyndward, an impulsive and brooding heir to a significant title and fortune. Predictably enough, the couple faces escalating obstacles and a tragedy or two before the inevitable happy ending. This is probably less thrilling to the modern reader than it was to its contemporary audience — even in comparison to some of Garvice’s more colorful works like The Spider and the Fly — but it’s yet another example from the portfolio of a best-selling turn-of-the-twentieth-century author.

As always, the entire book can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


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eBook available: Motor Matt’s Double Trouble

Motor Matt's Double TroubleOur latest Project Gutenberg / Distributed Proofreaders eBook release is something of a milestone: the final issue of the Motor Stories series, Motor Matt’s Double Trouble; or, The Last of the Hoodoo. In this adventure, the tale of the stolen Eye of Buddha ruby takes another unexpected turn but is finally brought to a conclusion. Along the way, the story provides the usual fast-paced action, though what may stand out most in some readers’ minds is the peculiar way (characteristic of the series as a whole) that the text mixes overtly racist stereotypes with explicit messages against prejudice.

As usual, the volume also includes an odd mix of filler material, including a piece on the history of the Northwest Passage, a Civil War anecdote, notes on the migrations of rats, and a brief list of “great catastrophes.” The full text may be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.

For those who have enjoyed the ride through this 32-volume epic, don’t despair just yet: Motor Matt’s adventures are not quite over! Two more stories of the “motor boys” were published in Brave and Bold following the conclusion of this series. Stay tuned: they will be posted here in the near future.


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eBook available: Motor Matt’s Mariner

Motor Matt's MarinerThis week sees the release of another Motor Stories eBook built from our collection with the help of Distributed Proofreaders. In Motor Matt’s Mariner; or, Filling the Bill for Bunce, complications arise in the stolen ruby case introduced in the previous adventure, putting Matt and McGlory in new danger. Along the way, they encounter a bizarre surprise in a movie theater and have a dangerous outing on a motor-powered hand car.

The main story is followed up with a couple of short filler pieces: “Jerry Stebbins’ Hoss Trade,” a tale (written in dialect) of a Bucks County native being scammed in Philadelphia, and “The Phantom Engineer,” a brief ghost story set on the rails.

As always, the complete text of the issue can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


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eBook available: Motor Matt’s Mandarin

Motor Matt's MandarinThe thirtieth issue of the Motor Stories series is now available on Project Gutenberg, thanks to images from our Digital Library and the efforts of Distributed Proofreaders volunteers. In Motor Matt’s Mandarin; or, Turning a Trick for Tsan-Ti, a new story arc begins in which Motor Matt and his cowboy friend Joe McGlory work to recover a huge ruby stolen from a Chinese temple. Perhaps needless to say, the adventure includes some less than flattering language and stereotypes, though by dime novel standards, the portrayals could easily have been even more offensive to modern sensibilities.

As usual, the volume includes some filler material following the main story. This includes a tale of piracy near Cuba and brief anecdotes about two completely unrelated topics: Philippine customs and deer jumping from cliffs.

The entire book may be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


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Available for proofreading: The Dreadnought Boys in Home Waters

The Dreadnought Boys in Home WatersOver the past couple of years, in collaboration with Distributed Proofreaders and Project Gutenberg, we have released eBook editions of two previous books from the Dreadnought Boys series of pre-WWI juvenile naval adventures: The Dreadnought Boys on Battle Practice and The Dreadnought Boys on Aero Service. Today, we have opened up a third title for volunteer proofreading: The Dreadnought Boys in Home Waters, which also happens to be the sixth and final volume of the overall series.

Anyone can help with the job of turning scanned images of this 1914 novel into a convenient, modern eBook. If you would like to participate, first read about the process in this earlier blog post, then join in the work at the project page.


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eBook available: Don’t Marry

Front cover, selection, "Don't marry"

Front cover, selection, “Don’t marry”

Our latest completed Distributed Proofreaders to appear in the Project Gutenberg collection is Don’t Marry, the 19th-century marriage advice book featured earlier this year in an article on Slate.com.

The book is split into three main parts. Part one contains a list of “don’t’s” designed to guide readers away from bad marriages. Some of the advice presented here remains good common sense; other suggestions reveal some of the prejudices of the time. Parts two and three contain a pair of cautionary tales about the consequences of marrying unwisely, either with too much or too little romance. These two stories are fairly typical of the tragic fiction of the period. Whether or not the book remains useful as a guide to important life choices, it’s an interesting slice of vintage popular culture.

The entire text of the book may be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


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eBook available: Will Rossiter’s Talkalogues

talkalogues-210x300Our latest Project Gutenberg release, produced through the Distributed Proofreaders project, is our second title to bear Will Rossiter’s name, following The Art of Kissing. While that earlier title collected observations and anecdotes around a specific theme, Will Rossiter’s Talkalogues is a more freewheeling collection of vaudeville material from a variety of comedians. If the publisher’s advertising for the title can be believed, this was intended not just to entertain, but also to be used by performers as fuel for existing acts:

There is a wealth of material in this book for the up-to-date performer, amateur or professional, and while it is fresh is the time to make a hit with it. Some of the shorter selections are just the stuff for encores. Or they can be assembled and strung out in such a manner as to keep the audience screaming while you are on the stage. The “rapid fire” by Harry L. Newton is worthy a place on the most select bill.

More than a century after its original publication, this humor is definitely no longer “fresh.” However, some small parts of it, like Harry L. Newton’s surreal “Fifteen Minutes with a Playwright” segment, are at least weird enough to merit a slightly longer look than the obvious punnery and stereotype-driven jokes that tend to dominate the humor of this period.

For those wondering just who Will Rossiter actually was, a biographical article in the July, 1927 issue of “The Rotarian” sheds some light (and includes a picture). Apparently Rossiter was a  successful music publisher, known for such record-breaking hits as “I’d Love to Live in Loveland with a Girl Like You.” While the biography makes no mention of involvement with vaudeville or book publishing, the existence of these books suggests either that he decided at some point to branch out into other forms of publishing, or that an enterprising publisher simply decided to use his well-known name as a promotional tool. Either way, it appears that while Rossiter’s popularity lasted long enough for the publication of a fond remembrance in the 1920’s, his status as a household name did not survive too much further into the twentieth century, making him just one of many forgotten celebrities of the vaudeville era.

For those wishing to be reminded of this bygone era, the entire text of Rossiter’s collection may be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


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Content Roundup – through Second week – October 2016

Note, the new resources newly available:

Great War

Gerhard Hauschild Postcards (19 postcards added)
[https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:466904?recordID=vudl%3A348841]

Philadelphia Ceili Group

“Caitlin NicGabhann and Ciaran O’Maonaigh”, February 28, 2014 (17 sets added)
[https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:467061]

Villanova Digital Collection

Daily Doodles (2016: 8 images added)
[https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:444148]


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American Civil War: Letter Home from Atlanta, Georgia in 1864

Posted for: Sue Ottigon.

The Digital Library has digitized Robert M. O’Reilly’s collection which includes letters written home to his mother, Ellen Maitland O’Reilly, in Philadelphia, during his career in the U. S. Army which lasted over 40 years, from 1867-1909.

In the collection is a series of letters by O’Reilly to his mother soon after he received an appointment as a Medical Cadet in January, 1864. O’Reilly’s first duty station, from April to July, 1864, was the Field Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In the spring of that year, he wrote home of camp life and his hospital duties. His arrival at the hospital coincided with the onset of General William T. Sherman’s campaign across Georgia, which is commonly referred to as “Sherman’s March to the Sea.” [1]

Sherman letter

O’Reilly wrote 9 letters that related events from the Atlanta campaign. In his letter home, dated September 22, 1864, O’Reilly mentioned that Confederate General John Hood was “fortifying” position in West Point, Georgia, and remarked about his anticipation of when the “drafted men get down here, and Sherman will astonish the natives.”

It is interesting to note that O’Reilly wrote his mother on printed letterhead from the Head-Quarters Department of the Cumberland, Medical Director’s Office. There is a total of 3 letters O’Reilly sent from the Headquarters.

Check out an earlier blog post on the Robert M. O’Reilly collection.

Want to download the transcription? Go to this page and click on the “Download” button found at the bottom left of the screen. Select the format desired: word document or pdf format.

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[1] A timeline of battles fought from May, 1864-September, 1864 see “Atlanta Campaign: Summary”. Wikipedia. Accessed 10 October 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_Campaign#Summary>


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Last Modified: October 12, 2016