FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY

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Blue Electrode column: VU Digital Library news

Falvey’s Special Collections regularly receive e-mails inquiring about specific works in our collections. Recently, such an e-mail came from a medieval scholar at a large German university who asked about a manuscript dating from 1431. The scholar requested specific information about the size, binding, number of pages and other technical information.

We decided that this manuscript should be added to the Villanova University Digital Library, and within two days of receiving his inquiry we were able to reply to the e-mail and announce that the entire digitized manuscript was available for public examination. The German scholar was delighted and surprised to get this information since he was now able to exAugustinian Regulaamine the manuscript in great detail and to retrieve information that otherwise only would have been possible through expensive and time-consuming travel.

The manuscript is an Augustinian Regula (Augustinian Rule or guidelines for life), transcribed by hand in 1431. Although written in Latin, it was then translated into German sentence by sentence. The German text was intended for lay persons who had entered the monastery and whose knowledge of Latin was marginal.

At the end of the manuscript is a note signed by “Johannes decanus.” The German scholar informed us that this person also is known as Johannes Rothuet or Johannes of Indersdorf. Johannes of Indersdorf became the prelate of the Indersdorf Monastery in 1442, and he was an important and influential religious reformer in southern Germany. Indersdorf is located in Bavaria, 20 miles from Munich. The Indersdorf Monastery was founded in 1120 and occupied by Augustinian Canons, or religious clerics, from 1126. Until 1403 it was a double monastery, with a convent next to the monastery. The monastery closed in 1783, but the buildings were later occupied by several female religious orders.

Because the German scholar had online access to the Augustinian manuscript and was able to view it in its entirety, he could identify ‘Johannes decanus,’ providing a historical context for us and greatly enhancing our understanding of the Regula.

Contributed by Bente Polites, Special Collections librarian

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Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3…

Welcome to the inaugural Blue Electrode Column as Featured on the Digital Library @ Villanova University’s Blog!

The following articles were published in Falvey Library’s Compass Newsletter between October 2006 and May 2007.  The objective of the Blue Electrode Column is to showcase an item or items recently digitized and displayed in the Villanova University Digital Library.  So without further ado, please enjoy:

Major American poet’s rare text featured in Digital Library

This first column highlights a very special title, a book signed by Walt Whitman. A family heirloom belonging to Andrew Nagy, Falvey’s technology development specialist, its digital copy was donated to the Digital Library by Nagy.

According to Andrew Nagy:
Walt Whitman published Memoranda During the War in the latter part of 1875. It is a record of his dedication to his Autographed Walt Whitman Remembrance Copycomrades during the Civil War a decade earlier. Although we are uncertain how the book actually came into our family’s possession, through some research we discovered that it was given to a distant relative as a gift.

When my grandmother cleaned out her attic ten years ago, she gave the book to my father, an amateur history buff. Attempting to verify the book’s publication history, he contacted Ed Folsom, a professor of American literature at the University of Iowa and a well-known Whitman scholar.

Dr. Folsom told my father that Whitman self-published the book and had 1000 copies produced, but only 750 were bound. Of the 250 unbound copies, Whitman inserted 100 into his publication, Two Rivulets (compiled as the second volume of the Centennial edition published for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia). With the remaining copies, he then made a second run of the book, and these became known as the “Remembrance Copy,” one of which is owned by our family.

The book is signed to a “Miss E. N. Morris,” who is unknown to our family and who probably purchased the book directly from Whitman.

What makes this Remembrance copy special are the hand-written edits scribbled in the book’s margins. On page 47, for example, Whitman describes the evening at Ford’s Theatre when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. In our copy, the word “written” is changed to read “witless” to characterize the play produced that evening. This edit is fairly rare.

You may also notice that the cover of the book reads “Memoranda of the War,” instead of the official title of the book, making this copy even more unique.

To see Memoranda During the War in its entirety, please view it online in the Villanova University Digital Library. Our family has donated a digital copy for all to enjoy.
(For more information, see Basler, Roy P., ed. Walt Whitman’s Memoranda During the War [&] Death of Abraham Lincoln. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1962.)

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Last Modified: July 16, 2007