The latest issue of Compass has a Blue Electrode article written by our own David Burke.
The latest issue of Compass has a Blue Electrode article written by our own David Burke.
We use a number of different strategies to increase the number of available offerings beyond those physically held at Villanova University including individual Digital Donations and contributions from Partners, like the American Catholic Historical Society. On the other hand, in selecting which materials to digitize from the Villanova University collections and the order and priority of digitization of these materials the needs of readers and researchers must be weighed heavily in calculating what and when to scan. While many scholars have a need to physically touch and manipulate a rare book or artifact to hunt out an elusive watermark or other textual evidence, others may be quite satisfied with a digital surrogate of a work. Distance can stand in the way as a hurdle to scholarship in this matter and sending rare books and manuscript materials via Interlibrary Loan presents significant difficulties in maintaining appropriate care and custody of the ofttimes fragile and monetarily valuable works. A way around this conundrum is to digitize materials that scholars request and to do so as immediately as practicable so as to provide the greatest access possible. We use demand driven digitization as a way to provide remote access to unique Villanova University materials, materials that have been collected through the years and which serve as a physical treasure chest of our collective wisdom and community heritage. Note the earlier article by Bente Polites on the Digital Library’s first request for remote access to a manuscript.
With the publication in 2007 of William Mahon’s Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in Villanova University, Pennsylvania new scholarly attention was focused on the Irish language materials held at Villanova University. Over the last year, 5 different scholars all working at colleges or universities in Ireland, have requested either entire or partial access to 7 of these manuscripts. Just a few years ago that would have meant expensive flights to Philadelphia; today we are able to provide the high level of access demanded by textual scholars by digitization at high resolution. And not only for access by one scholar, all can share in looking at these works, which can be viewed in the Digital Library Manuscript Collection.
One noteworthy requested item is the interesting Tri Biorghaoithe an Bhais or the Three Shafts of Death.
Written in the Irish language in 1630 by Geoffrey Keating (known in the Irish tongue as Seathrún Céitinn), the manuscript copy at Villanova was scribed by Diarmuid O’Connail in 1824 and so serves as a witness to the continued literacy and written tradition of the Irish language in this period. The work itself is a series of three meditations on death. Drawing on the Fathers of the Church including St. Jerome and St. Augustine, Keating held forth that there were 3 forms of death: bodily death, spiritual death, and eternal death. In describing death eternal he provided a tour of the hell of eternal suffering.
Posted for Scott Grapin, Digital Library Team:
Sometime in the 1890s, the love letters shared between Eleanor Mary Sherman (Ellie) and Alexander Montgomery Thackara (Mont) were donated with the rest of the Sherman-Thackara Collection to Villanova College, presumably by Ellie herself. Surely, Ellie saw the value of preserving documents pertaining to her famous father, General William Tecumseh Sherman, as well as to her husband Mont, who was appointed to serve as a U.S. Consul at Le Havre, France in 1897. As the library and its patrons have been discovering, this collection also reveals much about Philadelphia and the Main Line toward the end of the nineteenth century and is a rich primary source for studies of middle-class Victorian life. Because they are available in both Falvey’s Special Collections and Digital Library, these letters are also situated to reflect how different technologies might impact the ways we write and receive personal correspondence.
Although Ellie could not have envisioned their digitization, wide dissemination, and nearly instantaneous accessibility, her donation ensured that letters to Mont would become letters to each of us. At the same time, personal letters are characteristically private. We generally ensure this privacy by sealing a letter in an envelope intended for one recipient. Privacy, therefore, also personalizes the document. Letters may be sealed by drops of wax imprinted with a unique stamp or by glue moistened with the sender’s own mouth. In her letters, a young Ellie repeatedly claims this sort of private intimacy with her “own dearest, dearest Mont” , anticipating the days when she would be his wife in singular devotion. Until that time, the tangible letters would often serve as a surrogate presence when Ellie and Mont were apart. Just as we can see, touch, and smell one of these letters in Special Collections, Ellie would repeatedly delight in her beloved’s epistolary touch, even were Mont unable to drop by to share one of their customary four o’clock walks.
Combined with Special Collections, digital availability might seem to compromise the private intimacy of these personal letters. However, while electronic communications are popularly blamed for the handwritten letter’s fall from favor, the Digital Library potentially balances the direction of influence between electronic and written texts. Generally, the investment of personal time, energy, and attention valued by letter writers is deemed an unnecessary expense by digital correspondents. But a digital transcriber steadily gains an intimate appreciation of Ellie’s letters as he faithfully reconstructs them, collaboratively renewing her creative energy and attention. Any reader can likewise peruse digital images of Ellie’s letters and participate in the slower pace of time and human correspondence in which intimacy deepens.
A reader will also witness the impassioned frequency of Ellie’s letters, sometimes several in a day (see, for instance, March 12, 1880; letters 381, 382, and 383), whose impatience is necessarily tempered by the tension of time required for Mont’s response. Ellie creatively delights in these spans of time. In one instance, she opportunely poses an impromptu riddle to Mont and promises an answer for when they next meet, thereby sweetening the expectation of their intimacy. This game may seem quaint in an age of truncated text and instant messaging, when cascades of emails often overwhelm our ability to respond, let alone contemplate, our textual relationships. Here in the Digital Library, however, some of the best qualities of electronic and handwritten correspondence complement one another. Right now, everyone can repeatedly examine and enjoy any image in the collection, much as Ellie would have pored over Mont’s letters. In time, users will be able to search transcriptions for particular keywords with a virtual familiarity akin to Ellie’s attentive devotion. In the process, the digital medium will preserve and exhibit—and possibly inspire us to participate in—the kind of correspondence we can savor like an intimate walk with a companion … perhaps Ellie, Mont, or someone else we’ve been meaning to write.
One of the greatest success stories of the digital library is exposing hitherto unknown or extremely rare works to an audience comprised of scholars and the international public. At Villanova’s Digital Library a source of these works includes the many individual donors that have decided to both preserve and make accessible historical treasures through “Digital Donation”. Our team digitizes the original items and places a preservation copy of the work in our digital collection; the original items are promptly returned to the owner. This ensures both exposure of the work to an audience of over 4,000 unique visitors a month (March 2008 statistics) and continued digital curation of the work even if disaster or the ravages of time erode the original physical copy to fragments. Digitally donated items are also fully described by professional catalogers using metadata standards to enhance the individual work’s findability. Finally, the work is exposed to the community of scholars via several metadata aggregators, including: OCLC’s Worldcat and Registry of Digital Masters; the Pennsylvania Digital Library (PADL); and OAIster using Open Archives Initiative.
Items that have been digitally donated include copies of published works, some annotated by notable personages:
by Walt Whitman (these are his memoirs from the time of the American Civil War; the donated copy is hand signed by Walt Whitman for Miss E.N. Morris):
(donated copy was owned and annotated by Herman Melville):
by Scott Grapin (signed and illustrated by the author).
Other works originally unpublished, and now published by the Digital Library for the first time as online works, include digitally donated letters, property and government documents relating to the history of the United States (Nagy and Humbert Collections), and local Radnor Township history (featuring donated works related to the Radnor Memorial Library and the Radnor Friends Meeting). And immediately waiting in the wings to be added to digital library collections later this year are other donated works including Villanova faculty scholarship, English genealogical research materials, and an extensive manuscript detailing the journey of a young man, there-and-back, to the California gold-fields in the Gold Rush.
If you own heritage materials, including letters, pamphlets, newspapers, rare books, or photographs, that you would like to see preserved and made accessible, please contact the Digital Library Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course, not all materials are able to be digitized due to fragile or incomplete physical condition; in some cases works are not suitable for donation due to collection focus or intellectual property rights. All donated works must be in the public domain or the donor, who owns the intellectual property rights to an unpublished or in-copyright work, agrees to make the work accessible via a Creative Commons license. Many works in the Digital Library that have been digitally donated (or are owned by Villanova University ) are thus made available to the public under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.
Posted for Scott Grapin, Digital Library Team:
Beijing’s spectacular celebration of textuality in the twenty-ninth Olympiad’s opening ceremony for the summer games surprised me. But why should it have? After all, the Chinese invented paper. They were printing texts hundreds of years before the West. And they have long esteemed calligraphy among the highest forms of expression. Textuality variously illustrates China’s cultural history, making it a natural centerpiece for welcoming the sporting world to the country’s capital.
It was somewhat more surprising that Beijing reconstructed some of my earliest impressions as a student employee in the digital library. The ceremony proposed a harmonious integration of textuality’s multiple technologies. A giant scroll was unrolled on the stadium floor to frame a blank sheet of paper. Modern dancers proceeded to paint a shan-shui, or “mountains and water,” picture on the blank page with their dancing bodies while the scroll, an LED screen unrolled to 230 by 70 feet, appeared to continuously unfurl digital highlights of China’s cultural history. The painted page was then raised to reveal an assemblage of movable-type settings rising from the digital scroll, undulating like waves in the wind, and intermittently forming the Chinese character for “harmony” in astoundingly precise choreography for a collection of individual gray blocks. If there was any impression of impermeable divisions between textual technologies in these transitions, the movable types dismantled them by forming an impression of China’s Great Wall and then transforming the wall and its opposite sides into a blooming field of flowering plum blossoms. Finally, for this initial part of the ceremony, each of the hundreds of movable-type tops sprung open to reveal a human animator waving from inside. It seems that every individual textual endeavor that manifests upon the cultural scroll is a collaborative production. Each text is also continuously transformed. Historically, Chinese viewers of shan-shui landscape paintings have appended commentaries and poems to the scrolls that have framed the paintings. Likewise, the framing scroll of history, providing a context of constant flux and alteration, contributes its own instability to the collaboratively produced text. Fittingly, throughout the Olympic ceremony, the shan-shui painting continued to be transformed. Even the global parade of athletes trailed a rainbow of footsteps across it when entering the stadium.
If the scroll on which the painting is mounted comprises part of the work itself, then perhaps the digitization of a text collaborates in a work’s continued creation. One of my first projects in the digital library was to scan and crop Historia Deorum Et Heroum, a fifteenth-century illuminated manuscript written on vellum and bound in oak and leather. Unable to locate a printed equivalent of this particular manuscript, I was initially excited to think that this particular volume was making a giant leap, over roughly four hundred years of print, from manuscript culture to digital culture. Moreover I was one of the cyber-type-setters determining its new shape and form to post on the digital library mainframe. In one moment, the manuscript would abandon its centuries of hidden obscurity for instantaneous global accessibility. But while this manuscript can now be altered in myriad ways through digitization and potentially limitless contexts, I’m also inclined to believe Beijing’s suggestion that this transformational potential is inherent in manuscripts and printed texts themselves. Historia Deorum Et Heroum even seems to invite the suggestion. No singular author takes credit for this compiled history of gods and heroes. Such compilations are collaborative and intertextual by nature, depending on a collective capital of textually-inscribed myth and history (here, in lieu of a title page informing modern print-readers of the title, author, and publisher of a work, there is an index of the subjects themselves). Finally, a poised surplus of lined vellum at book’s end awaits a stylus that never arrives. Or perhaps, rather, the creative implement is always arriving, in contemporary forms of context and technology, to collaborate in a culture’s self-expression. I’ve been just one kind of digital typesetter among many, in a library among many, popping out his head in this entry and waving as we collectively contribute to the ever-unscrolling textual dance.
For related Chinese textual studies, see:
Cherniack, Susan. “Book Culture and Textual Transmission in Sung China.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 54.1 (Jun 1994): 5-125.
Lee, Sherman E. and Wen Fong. Streams and Mountains Without End: A Northern Sung Handscroll and Its Significance in the History of Early Chinese Painting. 1954. 2nd ed. rev. Ascona, Switzerland: Artibus Asia, 1967.
Printing Museum of China, The. An Illustrated History of Printing in Ancient China. Ed. Luo Shubao. Trans. Chan Sin-wai. Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press, 1998.
Joseph McGarrity, the Irish-American revolutionary who lived in Philadelphia area during the era of the First World War was an active collector of books and periodicals about Ireland. Within this collection, now housed in Falvey Memorial Library’s Special Collections, are a number of rare pro-German books and newspapers. These were largely published in Philadelphia and New York and chronicle the viewpoints of Imperial Germany and German-Americans in the United States, as war raged in the trenches of Europe and the sealanes of the Atlantic. At the same time as Germany warred against Great Britain, McGarrity and many members of the Irish-American community were actively raising funds to foment Irish independence from Great Britain. In 1916 these effort would help start the Easter Rising in Dublin. McGarrity’s collecting of German materials can thus be seen as an actualization of the proverb: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Villanova’s Digital Library has completed the digitization of these newspapers collected almost a hundred years ago by McGarrity, and which consist of nearly complete runs of 3 titles: The Fatherland; Vital Issue; and World War. These titles are rich in articles ranging from hortatory arguments about continued American neutrality and perceived war crimes of the British to narrations of current events from an “unbiased” source, like the armament carried by the Lusitania. These titles also contain elaborate photographic spreads and polemical illustrations as well as pro-German advertisements including specific ads for German war bonds, war trophies, and aid packages (The Fatherland Needs Coffee); even games and apparel (Iron Cross Stick-Pins) were included. On noteworthy advertisement from 1916 for the “Deutschland Game”, claimed that this “game will interest grown-ups as well as the children. Two German submarines try to reach the United States and return to Germany in safety.” Indeed some of the ads are not so much pro-German as pro-Irish with titles such as The Gaelic American featured.
As an effort to publicize these titles Digital Library staff have composed a Wikipedia entry about the most notable of the three titles: The Fatherland; in edited form it is here reprinted :
“The Fatherland was a World War I era weekly periodical published by poet, writer, and noted propagandist George Sylvester Viereck (1884-1962). Viereck reputed to be the child of the Kaiser William I, was born in Munich, Germany, and moved to New York City in 1896, Viereck graduated from the College of the City of New York and directly entered the world of publishing.
Viereck outspokenly supported the German cause at the outset of World War I, and his poetry reflected his pro-German zeal. Drawing on experience gained while working on his father’s German-language monthly, Der deutsche Vorkämpfer (The German Pioneer), later called Rundschau Zweier Welten (Review of Two Worlds), the younger Viereck now channeled his German sympathies into his own publication. He founded The Fatherland in August 1914, a weekly publication in English that reached a circulation of 75,000, by some estimates, and 100,000 by others, to promote American neutrality in the war and give voice to German support. The Fatherland was advertised on the cover of its first issues as a magazine devoted to “Fair Play for Germany and Austria-Hungary.”
Three German-American banker friends helped Viereck with the fifty dollars needed to start up The Fatherland. The first edition of ten thousand copies sold out quickly in New York. The publication grew to thirty employees almost immediately and “took upon itself the task of exposing the malfeasance of the Allied countries, of revealing the prejudices and distortions of the American press, and of rallying German-Americans in their own defense.” The weekly received part of its funding from a German propaganda cabinet set up in New York Society, with which Viereck worked closely.
Viereck was accused by the New York World of receiving German subsidies for propaganda purposes, but the Department of Justice was unable to prosecute. Still, Viereck faced social censure, being driven from his house by a lynch mob and expelled from the Authors League as well as the Poetry Society of America.
Surely, Viereck’s personal circumstances affected the publication life and reception of The Fatherland. He continued the publication’s German bias until 1927. However, after America entered the war, he subdued the publication’s tone of German sympathy and changed its title. It was New World and Viereck’s: The American Weekly in February 1917, Viereck’s American Monthly in August 1918, and American Monthly in October 1920.”
As some readers may know we have been diligently working with students and staff members here at the library to provide transcriptions for handwritten letters. This project was piloted with the Sherman-Thackara collection and the number of letters transcribed continues to grow. At this point those letters are not available for viewing in the Digital Library software but excerpts have occasionally been posted to this blog.
The first long transcription project was completed last March by an undergraduate intern, Brittany Dudas. As a history major here at Villanova University she worked with the digital library on transcription during a for-credit internship. A talented transcriber, she was able to transcribe far more letters than we were able to review at any given time so it was decided that perhaps a longer project was in order.
In 1872-1873 Alexander Montgomery Thackara wrote a diary while out to sea on the USS Nipsic. His tour of duty brought him to the then “West Indies.” Among other places, he visited Key West, Samana Bay, Puerto Plata, Havana, and St. Thomas. His journey lasted roughly six months and resulted in nearly 50 pages of diary entries. This entire diary has been transcribed and reviewed, but is much too long to post here. Instead, I would like to share snippets of the diary as used in a timeline.
Dipity is an emerging software that allows users to create an online, interactive timeline. You can include links from any number of online sources, such as Google books, Wikipedia, Flickr, blogs, and much, much more. Moreover there is a feature that allows you to “map” locations on your timeline. This seemed like the perfect venue to create a resource that would allow users to experience Mont’s Journal in a completely new way.
Most entries are titled with the page upon which the text appeared in the actual diary. Next, the date was added for that entry, and usually a link to either the scanned page from the digital library, or to a Wikipedia article that helps explain the location or subject at hand. A fun addition was linking the book, as scanned in by “Google Books”, that Mont was reading while on this voyage. Locations were also added to most entries so they could be mapped and images were used to brighten things up. Dipity allows users to view timelines in four different ways, as a timeline (the standard way), a list, a flipbook, or as a map. The map feature is especially fun for this project as it allows users to “play events” and view the events as they are listed on the map. In this case it allows users to virtually sail around with Mont.
This was certainly an enjoyable project and something that could be an asset for some of our other long transcription projects. I hope that you will check out the timeline and I would love to hear any feedback you may have.
While it is common to find the traces of readership in the margins and end-pages of books and manuscripts, often those traces do little to illuminate the thoughts and subsequent works of that particular reader. The form that these traces take can be as complex as actual sentences with textual notes that curl and loop around the margins of the printed lines, or as brief as a check drawn to highlight a particular passage. Known as marginalia, these tracings to the expert eye provide clues that elucidate a writer’s inner thoughts while reading a particular passage and often shed light on later works.
The Melville Marginalia Online project represents the efforts of one group of experts to find, annotate, and then make available to the educated public the marginalia written in texts by the great American novelist and poet Herman Melville. The Digital Library has been working with the scholars at the Melville Marginalia Online to digitize the same editions owned by Melville; these editions can then be accessed in the Melville Marginalia Collection, and are used by the scholars who add in the marginal notes of Melville and scholarly commentary on those notes to create a truly scholarly version of the text.
In early June the Melville Marginalia Online scholars were able to go one step further and secured access rights to digitize an actual physical volume owned and annotated by Melville. This volume, the Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, is richly annotated by Melville and important to scholars of Melville’s life and thought; indeed an article has been written about this specific volume by Thomas Heffernan. And this book has really traveled: Melville took this volume with him on an ocean voyage to the Pacific in 1860, with his brother Thomas as captain. Now owned by the Woodstock Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., the work was transported to Villanova for digitization. As time was limited to keep the book in-house, members of the Digital Library Team worked quickly to complete all of the scans and to check the quality of all of the images before the book was back on the road again, this time going south. Some books seem to live lives filled with constant streams of movement, fated to pass between owners, or in this case, to travel the world!
Here is a link to the digitized work.
Scott Grapin (left), and Teri Ann Pirone and Johanna Hibbs (right) scanning the Wordsworth volume.
Michael Foight scanning (left), and a sample of Melville’s Wordsworth marginalia (right).
For more information about this volume and Melville’s Wordsworth marginalia, see:
Melville and Wordsworth / Thomas F. Heffernan. American Literature, Vol. 49, No. 3 (Nov., 1977), pp. 338-351. [JSTOR link]
For more on literary marginalia, see:
Marginalia: Readers Writing In Books / H. J. Jackson. Yale University Press, 2001.
Romantic Readers: The Evidence of Marginalia / H. J. Jackson. Yale University Press, 2005.
Written by Ward Barnes, Digital Library Team, Falvey Memorial Library.
I’m new to the transcription profession, having just commenced work in March as a part-time assignment with the Villanova Digital Library group. I suspect most transcribers look on their work much as the archaeologist looks at his: hours of tedium with the main reward being the pleasure one gets from deciphering and solving puzzles. But I suspect that both transcribers and archaeologists secretly harbor a belief that they will occasionally uncover a treasure, something really valuable. I was lucky enough to stumble upon such a gem–or so it seemed–just a few weeks after I began my labors.
I was working with the Nagy Collection, some documents given to the library by the family of a library employee, Andrew Nagy. The particular document was a letter written by one Henry O. Nightingale, a wounded Civil War soldier, residing in a hospital in Washington, D.C. The letter was dated April 30th, 1865, and contained a lengthy eulogy to the recently departed President Lincoln. Well into the document I deciphered these words: “I, the afternoon of the fatal day, had the pleasure of seeing the departed one. My object in going to see him was to get his autograph in my album. He, the President, took it and wrote with his own hand several lines.” My eyes popped out of my head. I suppose the moment was enhanced by the fact that I taught American History for 25 years and was a specialist in the 19th century period and a big Lincoln fan. These might be the last words Lincoln wrote! They might be profound! (In a Nightingale letter dated May 12th I found the further comment, “I do indeed prize the lines written in my book by the late President.”) This “album” could be of great historical value and public interest. All I had to do was contact the Nagy family, they would hunt out the album, and the world would receive the gift of Lincoln’s last written message.
Life should be so simple. As it turns out, Nightingale is not a relative of the Nagys. The person he was writing to is a relative, but she apparently never met Nightingale, and certainly did not have his album. Andrew Nagy’s father took considerable interest in the Lincoln news, and said he might try to find the Nightingale descendents, but neither of us hold out much hope of finding the Lincoln document. Still I derive some kind of vicarious pleasure in having transcribed the words of a man who met Lincoln hours before he was killed, and who may have possessed Lincoln’s last written words.
Images of the original letter can be seen as part of the Digital Library’s Nagy Collection. Here follows the transcription of the Nagy letter, transcribed and with annotations by Ward, and edited by Andrea Reed, Father Middleton Digital Library Intern:
P.S.1 I hope to have the
pleasure of receiving another
good letter from you before
I return to my home. please
Stanton U.S. General Hospital
Washington City, D.C.
April 30th, 1865
My gentle unknown friend:
‘Tis the afternoon of a very beautiful Sabbath day. Nature seems smiling & refreshed by a beautiful rain. Birds are singing, Bells chiming, all seems gladness except the heart of Man. And why do we mourn? because we have lost our friend our chieftian. never did a Nation lose a truer friend. his Sun set doubtless. his name will be immortal. his virtues, which I ever respected, will live to influence men in public and private life till time shall be no more. he was given us by God when we needed him most. he guided our national ship so far through the storm and dangers which surrounded and beat upon her, that he was permitted to behold a smoother sea and rejoice in sight of the port she was about to enter. then like Moses of old he fell in sight of the promised land his hearts desire. He has gone, my gentle friend to join that list of mar-
tyrs, whose blood and forms2 as they mingle with the3 dust throughout our land shall yet find a purer and holier people in all that shall strengthen our great and growing Republic.
He is dead in body but “still” as the poet says “his spirit walks abroad.”
“They never fail who die in a great cause # #
# # # # # # though years
Elapse, and others share as dark a doom,
They but augment the deep and sweeping thoughts4
Which overpower all others, and conduct
The world at last to freedom”
My friend, he who we mourn as dead only sleepth, how grand will be his name in all future time. He will be hailed with joy when he enters those5 portals of eternal rest, happiness and love, as all who earned the crown given to those who “love their fellow men,” when we look upon his tomb in the far west we can with sacred reverence say Here lies, under God, the nations martyr, the nations deliverer.
But my friend pardon me for neglecting your letter. I honor you for your words when you say, “I find
that I have been loving him all the time.
and now that he is gone I love him far
more,” tis even so. we know not the virtues of a friend, or do not prize them as we should until that friend is gone. I agree with you entirely. I had learned to love him for he was eminently the Soldiers friend. so just, for giving, unsuspecting. When the sad news of his assassination reached us, we had all retired. It seemed like an the sudden opening of a musket battery, we could not believe it. but morning came, bells sounded forth the solemn toll for his departed spirit & sadness, grief, frenzy, seized us all. Men who had stood before the enemy, their comrades falling around them without shedding a tear wept. great tears coursed down the cheeks of all. Then for the first time did I understand my comrades. Then I knew who were true. Then I discovered the great affection for “good Old Abe” concealed in the hearts of my fellow Soldiers. Terrible, fearful and tenfold more6 w7 will be the retribution. “Justice” is wide awake.
they, the leaders, unarmed will find that the fruits of their labor is bitter indeed. as you so truly say “Mercy” has been shown them long enough. I, the afternoon of the fatal day, had the pleasure of seeing the departed one. my object in going to see him was to get his autograph in my album. he, the President took it and wrote with his own hand several lines. I looked with admiration upon the man whose energy had preserved us, little thinking that before morning he would be a bleeding corpse. One week ago Thursday last I looked upon all that remained of him as he lay in State in the Capitol. I will not attempt to describe my feelings. you can imagine what they were. I felt as though my best friend had gone, and turned away to weep.
Booth is dead, but his death does not avenge our loss. his name will be a terror, a shame to this fair country, a shame and curse to his avowed cause, eternal infamy. while he whom the assassin slew has his name nailed by the fatal bullet high upon the Standard of Freedom and the
rights of Man. I will leave this subject now, thinking as you do that “Language cannot express my words.”
The War is virtually over, and in due time peace will make the blasted fields and ruined cities of this once happy land smile again, but who shall bring comfort to the hearts that bleed for the loved ones gone down in the storm of battle, for the vacant chair, the fireside deserted, the home in mourning! But if in our Northern homes we hear the voice of mourning for the children laid upon the altar of our Country, dying for the flag we love, to bequeath to all time a glorious heritage of freedom, what must be the anguish of those Southern wives, mothers, and sisters, who have given up their loved ones for a criminal cause! While I feel that they are but justly punished, I can but pity them. They deserve our pity, do they not?
I am not at all surprised kind friend that you despise the English, we have cause to. I am ashamed8 of my native land for her perfidy, but
my friend allow me to say that ‘tis not the English people who have acted this. tis the Aristocracy, an institution which I abhor, ‘tis the breastplate of slavery. I was a true Englishman, one who loved liberty, but now I have renounced her. America I love now. America’s my home. I hope ere long to see England freed from her curse too. I mean the Aristocrats and when that struggle is being made I hope to lend a helping hand. Yes, friend Gertie I am an American now, proud of the title, proud that I am among Columbia’s sons, brothers to Columbia’s fair daughters. I left a happy home9 in England, now I am alone, no home, no kindred. You ask me to tell you of my adventures. I have not space now but will some other time, please excuse me now.
One word about Gen’l Sherman10. sad indeed did I feel when the rumor of his doings came, but I think he has been much mistakened. it appears however that his Armistice was genuine, but only while awaiting an answer
to Johnson’s11 propositions from the Government. Gen’l Grant12 returned last night bringing the joyful intelligence that Johnson had surrendered on the same terms as Lee13, & to use his same language “Sherman was all right, the people judge too hastily in many instances. An order has been issued for the discharge of all men in the Hospitals, this is glorious news to us. We can go14 to our homes feeling that we have done our duty, accomplished our mission, a united country built upon firmer basis with the […]15 the curse of slavery abolished. You must greet the Jersey boys with a hearty welcome, nobly have they done their duty. let them know that their services have been appreciated. Will it not be a happy day when we learn no more the work of war but lay our [..ly]16 to rest to aid in the achievement of the Arts and Sciences of peace! I have a piece of poetry composed by myself just before the Battle of Gettysburg17. perhaps
you would like it. I claim no merit for it but it agrees so well with the present that I will send it to you enclosed in this letter please preserve it as a momento of your Soldier friend. I should be much pleased to have the opportunity of seeing you. I always like to be perfectly acquainted with my correspondents. I heard a certain Hospital Steward of this Hospital, who I believe resides near Orange speak of your family. he is a native of New Jersey and formerly belonged to the 8th Regt. his name is Bass. another Steward also from N.J. named Jayres belongs to the Medical Staff of the Hospital. there are also many Jersey Boys here but I am acquainted with none.
My health is improving fast. In a few days I intend to go to Mount Vernon and Arlington must visit these hallowed places before I go home. will send you an account if you desire. Thanking you once more for your favors and visiting though unknown to be remembered.
I remain ever
Your Soldier friend
Henry O. Nightingale
Written by Darren G. Poley, Outreach Librarian, Falvey Memorial Library.
There are several consortia who have for many years been trying to promote the idea and utility of digital collections. The concept of course is simple. Either digitize print material in the public domain or archive digital works that are not under copyright to the end of making works more widely available to the scholarly community via the Web. The Digital Library Federation has worked primarily on standards. The D-Lib Alliance has an online journal and runs workshops. The Association of Research Libraries developed the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC®) which for over a decade has been a major advocacy group for policy change. For Catholic Universities there is the Catholic Research Resources Alliance which is working on preserving access to rare Catholic materials. While membership in these various groups is commendable and their work continues to be necessary recently there have been several turn of events that document the change in the milieu of digital libraries.
Our Cultural Commonwealth [PDF] (2006) from the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences was meant to map out the horizon for greater collaboration. The Ithaka Report, University Publishing in a Digital Age [PDF], released last year forecasts the changing nature of university publishing due to the digital environment in which we now work. The Open Access mandate passed February 2008 by the Arts and Sciences Faculty at Harvard University is a hotly debated effort using institutional weight to promote an opt-out policy that will cause much that would have been less-accessible to be OA available thereby “disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible.” Finally published March 2008, the Research Library Publishing Services [PDF] study that assesses the lay of the land on this front, at least among major research libraries in the United States.
These hallmark statements show that eventually all universities will need to look at their efforts and policies concerning the necessity and viability of digital libraries and how they are an increasingly essential means for more than just reformatting old books. The digital library may very well become the vehicle for preserving a larger and richer deposit of current scholarship.