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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.



Usage Statistics point out growth and unique treasures

Implemented during the summer of 2008, the usage statistics module of the Digital Library provides a glimpse of the active user population, currently and back to the inception of the Digital Library in Fall 2006. In addition to the number of users and their paths through the Digital Library, and the most viewed items and collections, the most searched for terms and keywords are also identified. All of the collected statistics are for users that are accessing the Digital Library from off-campus locations, this is done in order to eliminate the page views used by staff in describing the specific materials. Given that the Digital Library does have many additional users on campus, these statistics and patterns are qualified and conservative.

In January 2007 the number of monthly unique visitors to the Digital Library was 1,797; by January 2008 that number had risen to 2,343 and by March 2008 had grown to 4,163. September 2008 showed a near equal figure to March with 4,100 visitors. The busiest days of the week are Wednesday and Thursday, and the busiest times are 1 to 5 PM.

In 2007, the most frequently visited collections were the Joseph McGarrity Books Collection and the Image Collection.

In 2008, the most frequently visited collections are the Catholica Collection, the Joseph McGarrity Personal Paper Collection, and the Cuala Press Broadside Collection. For 2007 and 2008, the most frequently visited item is the Portrait gallery of pugilists of America and their contemporaries from James J. Corbett to Tom Hyer. This Philadelphia-published richly illustrated volume, from the Pennsylvaniana Collection, provides biographies and photographs of the best boxers of the late 1800’s. A search of the national bibliographic database Worldcat shows only 8 other institutions beyond Villanova University owning a print copy of the work.

The next most popularly viewed title and the one linked to the most frequently searched keyword phrase – “Baldwin Locomotive Works” – in the Digital Library search software is the Baldwin locomotive works : illustrated catalogue of locomotives. This work provides a richly illustrated view of the sale offerings of the Philadelphia-based Baldwin Locomotive Works for the year 1871, the perfect work for a railroad tycoon to read in their own Pullman compartment while contemplating the newly opened (1869) Transcontinental Railroad!


Sherman-Thackara Collection Digitization Completed

After two years of work our first large personal paper collection has been fully digitized and described. A comprehensive digital finding aid is in the final development stages and should be available for use by the end of March. While the digitization and description have been completed, ongoing work still continues as a broad team of students, staff, and interns works to transcribe, and thus make keyword searchable, these handwritten texts.

Containing over 2,100 discreet items the Sherman-Thackara Collection is largely composed of correspondence containing many letters from Eleanor to her father, General William Tecumseh Sherman, frequently referring to public events and personalities. Another feature of the correspondence that calls for special attention is the local color and references to many individuals, events, and institutions of Philadelphia and the Main Line in the 1880’s and 1890’s. A unique part of the collection is A. M. Thackara’s correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia relating to his years at Annapolis up until his marriage. Here can be found an unusual first-hand picture of Naval life after the U.S. Civil War.

While the transcriptions have not yet been made available, final editing has been completed on a growing pool of letters and documents, so starting in this Blue Electrode post we will be making selected transcriptions available. Here is a part of the transcription from a letter from A.M. Thackara to his father Benjamin Thackara, April 12, 1866, from the ship the U.S. “Constitution”:

As I have some spare time I thought I would write you again. Frank Biruey has returned from Philadelphia. He says he saw you while he was there and he brought me some paper and stamps, for which accept my thanks. It was what I wanted as I was entirely out. We went to an entertainment Friday Evening given by a party of midshipmen. It consisted of a pantomime, called “The Magic Trumpet” and an afterpiece called “The Mummy” it was very good. The magical feats were performed very well. We play ball a great deal now. Every afternoon after exercise


we go out and practise. We have very nice grounds over by the Hospital. We are going to play the return match, next Saturday with the 3rd classmen. I suppose they will beat us this time. I am in the First Section in “Math”. I went up this last week. I tell you it is a big thing to be there. There is a photographer coming from Philadelphia to take photographs of the Midm. He has a place in the yard built for him and I suppose he will be here in a few days. From what I can hear it is Gutekunst. I know it is him I now. I suppose You will want me get some taken. We are getting along all right here now, the even numbered crews sleep on board the Santeo. They commenced last Evening the fellows are all around me


sulking about leave and different things. I tell you it is very nice. During recreation hours I enjoy myself almost as well as home. Al sends his best wishes and hopes you will have a splendid time on your Journey. The Winnepec left here Yesterday for Boston, she is going there to refit for the cruises. I see by last night’s paper that the Senate has passed the Civil rights bill over the veto of the President. We have to make hammock clews and splice ropes and make grummels It leaves us a great deal, we have to make a certain amount every week. The unsatisfactory list just came, I am not on it, in fact I have not been since I have been here. I hardly expected to get up in Math. This


week I wish you would come down and see me before you go across the water. We will soon begin to talk about examinations as it commences next month.
I must close now,

Give my love to Mother, Julia Herarlee
From You Affec. Son,
A. M. Thackara

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Last Modified: March 19, 2008