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Compass Blue Electrode Article: The "institutional repository" rethought: Community Bibliography debuts

The latest issue of Compass has a Blue Electrode article written by our own Darren Poley.

Check out the piece at:



Irish Manuscript Digitized

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: January 11, 2008
  • Filed Under: Blue Electrode

Special Collections at Villanova University holds a number of Irish (Irish Gaelic) Manuscripts. The recent book by William Mahon, titled
Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in Villanova University, Pennsylvania , details these titles with great care and has called greater attention to the source documents. At the request of a scholar in Ireland, we are in the process of digitizing these works and adding them to the Digital Library Manuscript Collection in order to provide greater access to the research community.

The first Irish manuscript digitized, Miscellaneous verse; prayers, contains a variety of epic Irish poetry including some translated into English by the scribe and a variety of prayers and transcribed oral tales.

In order to preserve the order and placement of the digital text in relation to the original, we digitize all materials as they are viewed — i.e. from the same perspective and from the front of a bound work to the back. For this manuscript, text was written both horizontally and vertically in relation to binding, as well as being flipped and written from the rear cover. There are a set of tools on the viewing page that enable a reader rotate the image and pan to the left and right – to access this click on the up/down/left/right arrow icon. This will make reading easier. Please also note that we scan in at a very high dot-per-inch resolution (600 dpi); this creates a very large image so you may need to give the network some time to respond when viewing or rotating the larger images depending on your local connection speed.


Digital Library adds 2,500th item

Today Friday the 16th 2007, the 2,500th item was added to the Digital Library. From the Sherman-Thackara Collection, it is a letter written from Ellie Sherman to her mother Ellen Ewing Sherman in 1885.

The count of items in the entire Digital Library is updated as each item is added to the collection and is viewable.


Compass Blue Electrode article: The Digital Library @ Villanova University and Wikipedia

The latest issue of Compass has a Blue Electrode article written by our own Teri Ann Incrovato.

Check out the piece at:



Digital Library shifts scanning to new location

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: November 6, 2007
  • Filed Under: Blue Electrode

The primary Digital Library scanning facility has moved from the Rare Book Room located on the 2nd floor of Falvey Memorial Library to the Slide Library located on the same floor. This location will serve as the permanent home to the Indus Planetary scanner and the site of much of the work in the Digital Library, as well as continuing to house and provide access to the Villanova Slide Collection.

Slide and Digital Library


Ephemera : Telegrams


The nature of ephemera is that it is often not preserved because it is seen as replaceable. Ephemera include a large variety of material types often representing physical manifestations of communications of a commercial speech or other non-privileged physical formats. Ephemera items include: telegrams, receipts, tickets, calling cards, programs, advertisements, menus, broadsheets, postcards, and invitations. These items when found in libraries and archives are usually rare or unique items, often personalized with marginalia from the collector, and individually and collectively can provide great value to Biographers, Sociologists, Economist and Social Historians. The Sherman-Thackara collection in Villanova’s Digital Library provides access to some very illuminating examples of ephemera. Digital libraries have not in the main embraced the digitization of these format types largely concentrating instead on photograph, book, journal, and newspaper formats largely because these are the formats that are most privileged, and traditionally collected formats, in academic and public information institutions. In this issue of the Blue Electrode we will look at two examples, other examples are available for browsing in the collection, of one type of more common ephemera: the Telegram.

Sherman Telegram

This telegram from A. M. Thackara, Sherman’s son-in-law, by the American Rapid Telegraph Company, sent to General Sherman on the occasion of his 61st birthday shows that the cultural practice of sending a brief message of celebration on a birthday when friends or relations were not physically present was already well a established practice in the America of the 1880’s.

Sherman Telegram

Another telegram this also to General Sherman by the Western Union Telegraph Company gives a health update on an ill loved one and announces the death of child and the transportation of his remains: a grim counterpoint to the above joyous birthday greeting, demonstrating that the telegraph brought both news of weal and woe to the individual household. What a short step it now seems to a post-9/11 world, where watching wars as they happen has become a commonplace.

The telegraph service called the “Victorian-era Internet” served to provide individuals nearly instantaneous, albeit mediated by the telegraph company staff, communication to even small and rural population centers. Truly a communication media of the age, the last telegram was delivered by Western Union in February 2006.

This article appeared in a different form in Compass at:


Compass Blue Electrode article : The search for Lincoln’s Assassin

The latest issue of Compass has a Blue Electrode article written by our own David Burke.

Check out the piece at:


Partners in Digitization


Falvey Memorial Library has partnered with the American Catholic Historical Society to digitize a collection of rare Catholic documents and records.

The signing of this limited partnership took place on Oct. 17 at 10:30 a.m. in Falvey Memorial Library, on the campus of Villanova University.
Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library and the American Catholic Historical Society (ACHS) will forge a historic association Oct. 17 when the two organizations meet to sign an agreement which authorizes the library to digitize and post on the internet its collection of rare Catholic documents and records.

The digitization archival project will make available a wealth of print Catholica that would otherwise be inaccessible or lost to scholars, researchers and the public. It will also enhance Falvey Memorial’s growing digital library, which already includes 81 collections containing 2,073 records, archives a range of irreplaceable volumes and documents from original 15th-century illuminated Augustinian manuscripts to 3,000 monographs on Irish and Irish-American history.

Joseph Lucia, MA, MS, University Librarian and Director of Falvey Memorial Library, and ACHS president Louis N. Ferrero, PE signed the legal documents forming a limited partnership at a ceremony in the Special Collections Room on the second floor of the library. ACHS Executive Director Monsignor James P. McCoy and Rodger Van Allen, Ph.D., ACHS vice-president, Villanova University professor and co-editor of “American Catholic Studies,” the ACHS journal published at the University, attended.

As part of its agreement with the ACHS the University will first digitize “The Records of the ACHS” in their entirety, moving on to issues of the society’s journal, “American Catholic Studies.” The journal, published at Villanova University is the oldest American Catholic periodical in continuous publication.

The ceremony has special historical significance for both Villanova University and the ACHS since the Rev. Thomas C. Middleton, O.S.A., the University’s first librarian and 10th president was a founding member and the first president of the ACHS.

Text based on Press Release from Villanova Office of Communication at:


Blue Electrode column: VU Digital Library news

  • Posted by: Teri Incrovato
  • Posted Date: July 19, 2007
  • Filed Under: Blue Electrode

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


Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3…

  • Posted by: Digital Library
  • Posted Date: July 16, 2007
  • Filed Under: Blue Electrode

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