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Learn to fence (and more!)

The London Olympics officially open tonight and just this week we’ve digitized a short book on fencing and other sports. The lengthy title of this book seems like it’s in inverse proportion to its diminutive size: How to Fence: containing full instruction for fencing and the use of the broadsword also instruction in archery, described with twenty-one practical illustrations. A complete book. And that’s not even all there is in the book!

Illustration of "The Engage" (fencing position)
“The Engage” (fencing position).

At just about 60 pages, this “complete book” includes instructions for fencing (p. 5), archery (p. 43), hurdle racing (p. 57), pole-vaulting (p. 58), hammer throwing (p. 59), and shot put (p. 60). The “practical illustrations” only appear in the fencing section, however, so you must use your imagination for the other sports (or perhaps watch some Olympic athletes in the next few days).

Photo of the books we rescued

The books we rescued.

This book was part of a collection of extremely fragile late-19th- and early-20th-century publications that we recently found in a forgotten corner of the library basement, where they would have been destined for the trash if we hadn’t saved them. Many of these publications are extremely rare and have not been digitized elsewhere, so we are excited to be preserving and sharing them. Among these books are short plays, humorous anecdotes, and “dime novels.” We’ll be posting more about some of these titles as we digitize them and Demian will be adding some to our ongoing Project Gutenberg proofreading project, so stay tuned for more!

P.S.: For more Olympic spirit, you can read about Villanova athletes in the Olympics in our digitized collection of The Villanovan. For instance, in the 1956 Summer Olympic Games, held in Australia from November 22 to December 8, two Nova track stars (Charley Jenkins and Ron Delany) brought home 3 gold medals — making Villanova track coach “Jumbo” Jim Elliott “the first American college coach to produce two Olympic winners” (p. 1). You can find more articles by searching the Digital Library’s Villanovan collection.


New Proofreading Project: The Decadent

Illustration from The DecadentA new title has been released to the Distributed Proofreaders project. This time around, it is The Decadent: Being a Gospel of Inaction, a rare, self-published philosophical novel by Ralph Adams Cram, a Gothic architect who also found time to write a variety of works ranging from religious texts to ghost stories. If you want to help bring this 19th-century novel to modern electronic formats, you can participate at the project page for the book. If you are not already familiar with Distributed Proofreaders, see Proofreading the Digital Library to learn more.


New Exhibit – Joseph McGarrity: Man of Action; Man of Letters

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: July 12, 2012
  • Filed Under: Exhibits, McGarrity

Posted for: Brian J. McDonald, PhD (2012 Digital Library Intern)

Joseph McGarrity (1874-1940), at the age of 18, left his Irish hometown of Carrickmore, County Tyrone to immigrate to America. He arrived in Philadelphia with no luggage, very little money and a strong sense of Irish nationalism that would soon attract him to become an active member of the Clan-na-Gael, the leading Irish republican organization in the United States. He would, during his lifetime, rise to lead the Clan-na-Gael and become a significant figure in the struggle for Irish independence.

Despite the secretive nature of much of Joseph McGarrity’s political activity, his name surfaces in the historical record at key moments during the tumultuous years of the Irish Revolution and the foundation of the Irish Free State. Students of Irish history encounter McGarrity as a successful liquor and real estate entrepreneur who helped finance the Easter Rising in 1916; and as a colleague, confidant and correspondent of many of the leading Irish revolutionaries of the period, including Michael Collins, Padraig Pearse, Roger Casement, John Devoy and Harry Boland. He is also known as a close personal friend of Eamon de Valera, and as one of the key architects, along with Sean Russell, of what came to be known as the Sabotage or S-plan Campaign, the IRA’s 1939 bombing operation against targets on British soil.

While the political and administrative papers that tell the singular story of Joseph McGarrity’s lifelong commitment to the cause of Irish independence are scattered across many repositories, including the National Library of Ireland and New York Public Library, his personal papers held by Villanova University provide unique insight into Joseph McGarrity the man—the devoted father, friend, Catholic and poet. It is the latter, McGarrity the poet (who also maintained a lifelong interest in Irish history, culture and books), which provides the focus of Joseph McGarrity: Man of Action; Man of Letters, a new Villanova Digital Library online exhibition.

Though not a major poet, McGarrity was unquestionably committed to his verse. Despite being prodigiously busy with his many political and business responsibilities, McGarrity would often stay up late into the night working away at his poetry. In his introduction to Celtic Moods and Memories, McGarrity’s only major published collection, the poet and folklorist Padraic Colum speculates that as:

A man of moods and memories whose days were taken up with business, an Irish country boy living the strenuous life of an American city, a man of simple Catholic piety going vehemently through the world, Joseph McGarrity must have been aware of a conflict in himself.

In many ways this psychological portrait of McGarrity as a seemingly contradictory figure sets the framework for this exhibition; which, it is hoped, will suggest something of the complexity hinted at by Colum. Joseph McGarrity: Man of Action; Man of Letters presents a selection of digitized items representative of McGarrity as a literary man exhibited alongside descriptions of key details of his remarkable life, of his “going vehemently through the world.” All exhibition items are drawn from Special Collections, Villanova University Falvey Library (many of which are accessible online through Villanova University Digital Library).


Brushing up on Elizabeth Yeats

Posted for: Lisa Kruczek, Summer 2012 Digital Library Intern.

Recently I had the opportunity to scan a lovely book from the Joseph McGarrity Collection, housed at Villanova University’s Digital Library. Published in 1900, “Elementary-Brush Strokes” by Elizabeth Corbett Yeats is an explanation of the process and merits of teaching the painting of foliage to young children. Yeats uses a dabbing technique that she assures the reader will work with most types of plants. She emphasizes the importance of children working from real flower arrangements which she suggests gives a better understanding of color and form. The book includes beautiful full color plates of her examples of flowers, plants, birds and fruit, with explanations for each plate of colors chosen and technique. Included is a materials list and instructions of how to adapt the paintings included for other flowers and plants.

The introduction mentions the next book in the series, “Brush Work Studies”, but it is not in Villanova’s collection, nor have I been able to find it anywhere else. I did find a reference to “Elementary Brush Strokes” in another book printed by her publisher, George Phillip & Son, Ltd. as part of an advertisement of Educational Publications (although it looks to be the revised 1905 edition which included the addition of some photographs). Yeats was the daughter of Irish artist, John Butler Yeats and after teaching art, went on to study printing and became a successful printer. She printed many of the works of her famous brother, William Butler Yeats




Last Modified: July 9, 2012