You are exploring: VU > Library > Blogs > Blue Electrode: Sparking between Silicon and Paper

Logjam unjammed

Due to technical difficulties surrounding storage of the Digital Library web files. no new content had been displayed on the Digital Library since June 2008. Our students and staff continued to scan during this period, saving the image files to portable hard drives. Over the span of 8 months this has amounted to over 2 tetrabytes of locally stored files. With the space issue resolved in January we have been adding to the Digital Library both content currently being scanned as well as items scanned during the hiatus.

There are many very exciting titles and new collections to look at and examine, with more in store in the coming weeks. Future essays on the Blue Electrode will cover some of these in detail. For now here is a small sample of some of the newly available digital content:

In the Catholica Collection:

Conewago, a collection of Catholic local history gathered from the fields of Catholic missionary labor within our reach an humble effort to preserve some remembrance of those who have gone before, and by their lives, their labors and their sacrifices, secured for succeeding generations the enjoyment of happy homes, and all the blessing of our holy Catholic religion. Martinsburg, W. Va.: Herald Print, 1885. [Link]

This is an early illustrated history of the Catholic Church in the Conewago Valley of Pennsylvania and Maryland.


In the Contributions from Augustinian Theologians and Scholars Collection:

Vita gloriosissima: e miracoli eccelsi del beato confessore Nicola di Tolentino. Milano: Appresso l’herede del quon. P. Pontio, & G. B. Piccaglia compagni, 1603. [Link]

This is an illustrated life of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, O.S.A.

Fasti et triumphi Rom. a Romulo rege usque ad Carolum V. Caes. Aug.,
sive, Epitome regum, consulum, dictatorum, magistror. equitum, tribunorum militum consulari potestate, censorum, impp. & aliorum magistratuum Roman. cum orientalium tum occidentalium, :ex antiquitatum monumentis maxima cum fide ac diligentia desumpta. Onuphrio Panuinio Veronensi F. Augustiniano authore. ; Additæ sunt suis locis impp. & orientalium, & occidentalium uerissimae icones, ex vetustissimis numismatis quam fidelissime delineatae. Ex musaeo Iacobi Stradæ Mantuani, ciuis Romani, antiquarii. Venetiis: Impensis Iacobi Stradae Mantuani, 1577.

Also richly illustrated is this exacting history of the Roman magistrates and emperors by the remarkable classicist Onofrio Panvinio, O.S.A.

In the Joseph McGarrity Collection:

A geographicall description of ye kingdom of Ireland Collected from ye actual survey made by Sr. William Petty, corrected & amended by the advice & assistance of severall able artists, late inhabitants of that kingdom. London: F. Lamb, 1689. [Link]

An early atlas of Ireland with detailed maps of the country.

From the Americana Collection:

S. A. Lane Manuscript. [Link]

This contains the autobiographical manuscript of Samuel Alanson Lane (1815-1905). From January in 1835 until May of the same year, Lane travels around the U.S., looking for work in numerous cities including, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland until finally settling in what would become his hometown, Akron, OH on June 29, 1835. S. A. Lane was a dedicated follower and professional lecturer of the American temperance movement as well as an avid supporter and political participant for th Republican Party, formed in 1854. Perhaps one of Lane’s most interesting and daring pursuits, was his active participation in the mass emigration to California in search of fortune like many other easterners during the California Gold Rush which kept Lane from his home and family in Akron for over two years. This manuscript covers his life and contains many depictions of 19th century American frontier life.



Reflections on Villanova’s Digital Library

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: February 20, 2009
  • Filed Under: Reflections

Posted for Teri Ann Pirone:

Most of the blog entries in the Blue Electrode deal with one or two interesting items that have been digitized by our team. Today, however, I would like to reflect more generally on the digital library. The project has achieved tremendous growth since its inception in June 2006. It has seen numerous student workers come and go, as well as interns, and now, some of the professional colleagues who helped lay the foundations for this project are moving on from the library. Sadly I am part of that latter category. However, rather than focusing on what the digital library has lost I would like to spend a moment reflecting on what the digital library has gained.

Over the past two and a half years the digital library has seen the creation of: the software for both the back and front ends, a full fledged redesign of the front end, the inclusion of more than 4,000 items in some 118 collections, and we have branched out to include partner’s contributions. Much like an iceberg though, these are just what can be observed from the outside. Many projects are being worked on behind the scenes, some of which have been alluded to in previous blog entries and others which have not yet been disclosed, but that are equally exciting and will add a richness to the content on the digital library that has not yet been achieved.

One of these projects is the transcription efforts. I have personally had a large hand in developing the standards for this project and training an enthusiastic group of transcribers. With some luck, soon this project, which until now, has only been shared via the blog, should be publicly viewable, at least in part. The transcription project has a long way to go since the time it takes to transcribe and revise handwritten documents is far greater than the time it takes to scan and mount them online. Still, we have made a solid start on this project which I am sure will continue to bear fruit.

There are other gems that will be unveiled in the short term too, so keep an eye out for content from our newest partner and a handsomely designed and well-researched online exhibit for one of the items in the collection. As an outsider, perhaps, and I do hope this is the case, the effect may look effortless, but there have been numerous bumps in the road. Perhaps the most persistent problem we have encountered is running out of storage space. Twice now this has left us with our only option being scanning to external disk drives. If there is a silver lining to this quite frustrating situation, it is that when we do manage to start mounting content again online, as we have started to do again just this week, then we have months worth of scanned materials that are just waiting to be added to their digital collections –resulting in an explosion of new content.

How do you bid adieu to a project that you have seen the birth of and continue to work on from afar? This was the task set before me and I still don’t have any good answers. All I can say is that I am proud to have worked on a project that gives so much to the scholarly community. It enriches our historical record, builds bridges with other local institutions, and has a reach that goes as far as the World Wide Web. I hope in this blog entry I have piqued your interest about what might be coming and have given you a peak behind the scenes to better understand what it is like working on a project like this. I have watched the progress and development of this exciting program and it is with real sadness that I am leaving it, though I am grateful that I can check in and see the development of the project with the ease of opening a browser and pointing it to digital.library.villanova.edu

Teri Ann Pirone


One, two, three strikes: Villanova Baseball scorebooks


Students at Villanova College played baseball, and indeed had great sport at playing other teams. Not only did they play other local colleges but they also played amateur teams, like the St. Charles Seminary team, throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Two newly digitized scorebooks document these early Villanova College baseball games and show the historic development of collegiate baseball. Indeed the earliest recorded Villanova game of the “Villanova 9” just after the end of the U.S. Civil War, November 12, 1866 was a great blowout with the Villanova College team scoring a winning 46 runs to 13 against the amateur team, the “Picked Nine”.

As part of the growing Athletics Collection of the Villanova Digital Library, these box scores allow the reader to visualize the games as they transpired.


There is no one method of scoring a baseball game. Many different methods prevailed during the development of the modern game. In 1874 Henry Chadwick, known as the father of baseball score keeping, noted, “It is about time that one system of scoring should be adapted throughout the country” [Dickson, 9]. That development never happened, as different publishers produced competing versions. From the 1860’s to the mid-1890, Villanova used a more free form of scorebook, but Villanova scorers switched to the more detailed Caylor System in the late 1899s that included the now common “box score” for recording hits, runs, and fielding outs. The first known scorecard for a professional game was produced for the game between the Brooklyn Atlantics and the Philadelphia Athletics on October 11, 1866 [Light, 832]. Collegiate records are much more fragmented, but the dates of these Villanova scorebooks makes them among the earliest in the country.


Scorebooks remain an essential part of documenting athletic competitions. Indeed today every major league baseball game is required to have an official scorekeeper and scorebook [Light, 833].




Paul Dickson. The Joy of Keeping Score: How scoring the game has influenced and enhanced the history of baseball. New York: Walker and Company, 2007.

Jonathan Fraser Light. The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball. Second edition. McFarland & Company, 2005.


Gentleman Jim, Sailor Brown, the Ithica Giant, and the Brooklyn Strong Boy



The reigning champion of the world of boxing in 1894 was Gentleman Jim Corbett. Or was he? Corbett was one of the first to treat the sport of boxing as a science and did much to create the modern sport, moving the contest from bare knuckled brawlers of prior days to more “gentle” gloved boxers of the 20th century.


The Pugilistic Publishing Company of Philadelphia was one of the promoters of this movement toward a more educated sport. In 1894, they published a glamorous large photograph laden volume: Portrait gallery of pugilists of America and their contemporaries from James J. Corbett to Tom Hyer. This title features sketches and photographs of famous current fighters, not just from America but from around the world. These oft mustachioed men performed with a theatrical air, even applying makeup before a match, and are somewhat reminiscent of the modern World Wide Wrestling scene. With ear grabbing sobriquets like: “The Marine”, Professor Clark, “The Cleveland Trumpeter”, Sailor Brown, “The Ithica Giant”, “The Brooklyn Strong Boy”, “The Prussian”, “The Nonpareil “, and “The Thunderbolt”, these were the sports celebrities of the Gilded Age. Contained within this title also are a number of plates detailing and describing the best of the modern boxing and footwork techniques.




Like other historical cultural objects this book is a product of the times that created it. At that point in time, race divided and segregated athletes. This book does include boxers of different races and nationalities, but the irrational prejudices that still pervaded the sport can be seen manifested in the ways that awards and boxing titles were awarded and contests scheduled. While Jim Corbett is titled the “World Champion”, George Godfrey is given the title “First Colored Heavy-Weight Champion of America”. Indeed, the white boxer John L. Sullivan refused to fight Godfrey for the championship because of his race. So who was really the best boxer of the bare knuckle era? The defining competition never took place so we can only speculate.

Photo of Godfrey:



Last Modified: February 6, 2009