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New Exhibit: Paper for the People

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Today marks the opening of a new exhibit, both in the library’s display cases on the first floor and online.

Exhibit Mounting in Progress

Exhibit Mounting in Progress

Paper for the People: Dime Novels and Early Mass Market Publishing describes the popular printed entertainment that was enjoyed by millions from the mid-19th century through the early 20th century.  In a time before movies and television, dime novels and story papers were the best way to enjoy action-packed entertainment, and these adventures remain engaging and amusing (though often politically incorrect) today.

The physical exhibit includes many rare materials from Special Collections, including a copy of the very first Beadle’s Dime Novel, Malaeska.  The online exhibit covers history and evolution, popular characters and genres, readers and writers, and controversy about the form while also providing a bibliography of secondary literature and links to online digital versions of many vintage texts.

For even more on dime novels, take a look at the Edward T. LeBlanc Memorial Dime Novel Bibliography at dimenovels.org, a project which aims to create an online database of every dime novel title ever published.  While the project is still in its infancy, the database already lists more than 900 distinct series of books divided into several key categories.

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Through Hell to the stars

  • Posted by: Laura Bang
  • Posted Date: February 18, 2013
  • Filed Under: Events, Exhibits
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita. (I.1-3)
Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray
from the straight road and woke to find myself
alone in a dark wood.

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate (Abandon every hope, who enter here)
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate. (III.9)
Abandon all Hope ye who enter here.

On February 12, the Digital Library Team led a journey through Hell in the form of a marathon reading of Dante’s Inferno. The event was supported by the Library’s Scholarly Outreach Team, and co-sponsored by the Italian Club, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and the Villanova Center for Liberal Education. Reading began at 10am and continued through all 34 cantos to about 4pm, with cantos being read in English and Italian.

Mini exhibit of Dante-related books and movies.
Dante-related materials from a mini-exhibit.

This event was originally dreamed up by Dr. Diane Biunno, an assistant professor in the Italian Department and a Digital Library Intern for Summer 2012 (Diane is currently working on a Masters of Library Science at Drexel University), and Michael Foight, Digital Library & Special Collections Coordinator. As her internship project, Diane curated the online exhibit “Dante’s Illustrated Adventure” (you can read Diane’s post about her exhibit here). The marathon reading was originally scheduled for October 30, 2012, but was canceled due to the inclement weather produced by Hurricane Sandy. There was a lot of excitement for the event, however, so we rescheduled it for the February date.

Diane Biunno, dressed as "Beatrice," started the reading with Canto I.
Diane Biunno, dressed as “Beatrice,” started the reading with Canto I.

Diane provided a brief welcome and began the reading in Italian shortly after 10am. Volunteers were then asked to read each subsequent canto, with a choice of reading in either Italian or English. If a canto was read in Italian, the next reader would read the same canto in English, so that everyone could follow along. The English translation that we used for the day was John Ciardi’s (which is also used for the English translations within this post). There was a good turnout throughout the day and among the readers were students from Italian classes of various levels, faculty from the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, and several others. All participants had a fun time, partaking of thematic snacks along the way, and we emerged on the other side of Hell at the end of Canto XXXIV just after 4pm.

E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle. (XXXIV.139) And we walked out once more beneath the Stars.
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New Exhibit: Dante’s Illustrated Adventure

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

Posted for: Diane Biunno, Ph.D., Digital Library Intern:

Dante’s Illustrated Adventure highlights several illustrated editions of the Divine Comedy owned by the Special Collections Department of Falvey Library. The online exhibit includes hundreds of illustrations, a video recording of Father Peter Donohue, O.S.A reading the opening canto of the Inferno, audio recordings in Italian of famous verses from the Commedia and the Vita Nuova, as well as recordings of Latin hymns from the Purgatorio and the Paradiso.

Dante’s (1265 – 1321) epic journey to the other side has captured the imagination of readers for the past seven hundred years, and has inspired countless artists and painters from the Middle Ages to the present. In 1481 Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici (1463 – 1503) commissioned Sandro Botticelli (1444-45 – 1510), whose famous works include the Primavera and the Birth of Venus, to sketch each of the one hundred cantos. Botticelli’s large illustrations were drawn on parchment made of sheepskin, and today only 92 of the original sketches have been found. Centuries later an English sculptor created over one hundred illustrations of the epic poem. John Flaxman’s (1775 – 1826) line drawings are known for their classic style and remained hidden from the public for decades in an English aristocrat’s private library. In 1861 the French artist Gustave Doré (1832 – 1883) sketched perhaps the most well known illustrations of Dante’s work. Unlike Botticelli and Flaxman, no one commissioned Gustave Doré to illustrate the Inferno. Instead, the project was entirely his own idea, and he spent his own money to fund most of it.

Dante’s Illustrated Adventure explores the Poet’s pilgrimage through the Otherworld as it is told through the drawings and illustrations of Sandro Botticelli, John Flaxman, and Gustave Doré. The exhibit provides visitors with a brief biographical account of the Poet and then guides them through the major themes of the Divine Comedy. On this site visitors can travel alongside Dante through hell, as he meets sinners, gruesome monsters, and Satan himself.

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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).

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Chaos Unveiled: New Exhibit on the Origins of Villanova University

Posted for: Karla Irwin, Villanova University.

When I was presented with the opportunity to curate an online exhibition as the Fall 2011 Digital Library Intern I jumped at the chance. Through the course of my internship I had grown more familiar with the wealth of materials in the Digital Library and I was eager to explore one area in particular: materials related to rioting that occurred in Philadelphia in 1844. Before seeing the items I knew nothing about the riots which was surprising to me because I had grown up in the area and lived in Philadelphia for a number of years. After conducting a little more research I was amazed at the history of the riots and wondered how many people in the area were like me and unaware that the riots had happened. I thought the story of the riots were an important one to share and now it is my pleasure to present to you Chaos in the Streets: The Philadelphia Riots of 1844.

Philadelphia in 1844 was a hotbed of religious and ethnic prejudice, most notably toward Catholics and the Irish. This was representative of a national sentiment and the exhibition looks at a group called the Nativists, who later became the Know Nothing Party, and their role in the rioting. In May and July of 1844 these issues came to a breaking point and the city of Philadelphia saw some of its most violent days in her history. The riots would ultimately have many lasting effects and it can be said that the Philadelphia you see today is partially a result of those violent days.

The Digital Library provides access to quite a large collection relating to the riots including a collection of letters from Morton McMichael who was the sheriff at the time. His letters and personal journal provide a first-hand account of what it was to be like on the streets of Philadelphia in the mid 1840’s. Only a small portion of his entire collection is utilized in the exhibit and so I recommend taking a longer look at the letters as they offer a fascinating window into policing in Philadelphia during that time.

There was no shortage of interesting material on the riots but one aspect that proved especially dramatic to me was the role the Catholic Churches had in the rioting, particularly St. Augustine’s Church. I had visited the church many years ago in the Old City section of Philadelphia and walked by it countless times. What I did not know is that the St. Augustine’s I saw today was rebuilt from the one that had burned down during the rioting. Sadly, along with the burning of the church, a library containing an invaluable collection of theological materials was also destroyed. Imagine my amazement when I found out some of the books from that library ended up in Special Collections in Falvey Library! You will find in the exhibition how the Augustinian community in Philadelphia put major roots down in both center city Philadelphia and, of course, Villanova University. I hope you find the connection, and how it relates to the riots, as interesting as I do.

Finally, I would like to thank Michael Foight and Laura Bang for their valuable guidance, Joanne Quinn for the graphics, Susan Connor, Susan Ottignon, and Chelsea Payne for their informative transcription work, and David Lacy for his work on technical details. Without them the exhibition would never have come to fruition.

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New Online Exhibit: Torn Between Brothers: A Look at the Internal Divisions that Weakened the Fenian Brotherhood

Posted for Jean Turner (Digital Library Intern, Spring 2011)

I had no doubt in my mind when I began to work on an online exhibit for Villanova’s Digital Library that the online content of the Fenian Brotherhood  collection would prove full of interesting pieces of 19th century military history.  Villanova’s Digital Library houses over 450 items for the American Catholic Historical Society that relate to the Fenian Brotherhood’s failed invasions of Canada.  I was caught off guard by the evidence of dramatic divisions and personal quarrels that plagued the Irish American organization and so I chose to highlight those along with the Fenian Brotherhood’s efforts to defy British rule.

 

(Title banner by Joanne Quinn; click for full size.)

When the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood fought overseas for an independent Ireland they sponsored an organization called the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States.  Originally intended to raise funds and materials for activism on Irish soil, the leaders of the Fenian Brotherhood surprised many with their repeated hostilities against British North America.  The first leader to propose attacks on Canada reasoned that they would create problems for Britain, but as the aggressive plan divided Fenian membership in two, subsequent military actions seemed more congruent with the desires of Fenian leaders to assert their authority over rivaling factions.

 

The Fenians Progress (New York, John Bradburn, 1865), cover. (1)

The letters and published circulars of Villanova’s Digital Library collection tell the story of several of these factions and their efforts to win authority over the membership as a whole.  Amidst preparations for military attacks leaders accused each other of mishandling the treasury, illegally printing bonds, and even resorting to violence against a fellow Fenian Brother.  The majority of the papers highlighted in this collection and exhibit come from Fenian Senator Frank Gallagher of Buffalo, New York.  Because he engaged in correspondence with members of multiple factions over a period of several years, Gallagher’s papers show the efforts of many to sway his personal opinions and allegiance.

'Battle of Ridgeway C.W.' Graphic. New York: Major C. Donahue and D. Egan, 1869. From Library and Archives Canada: Peter Winkworth Collections of Canadiana. (2)

Check out the online exhibit to follow the Fenian Brotherhood through its inception, three failed invasions of Canadian soil, one murderous plot to cover up inconsistencies in their treasury, and many schisms in the membership until the organization finally discontinued itself in 1886.

Curated by Jean Turner (Digital Library Intern Spring 2011), with graphic design by Joanne Quinn.  Additional and indispensable  contributions to the project were made by student scanners and several transcribers including Susan Ottignon and Mimi DiLenge; David Lacy for his work on the technical details; and Laura Bang and Michael Foight for their advice and guidance.

(1) Digital Library @ Villanova University.

(2) Library and Archives Canada.

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Ireland with Mr. and Mrs. Hall

A behind-the-scenes look at part of the exhibit “Rambles, Sketches, Tours: Travellers & Tourism in Ireland.”

Over the summer I did a fair amount of research on Irish travel writing for my exhibit and I quickly learned that you simply cannot discuss Irish travel writing without mentioning the Halls.

Samuel Carter Hall (1800-1889) met Anna Maria Fielding (1800-1881) in 1823 and they were married in September of the following year in London. Although both had been born in Ireland to Anglo-Irish families, they pursued their careers in England. Samuel Carter was a journal editor and writer who participated in a dizzying array of activities from 1823 to 1830, at which point he suffered a brief nervous affliction. He soon recovered and rejoined the editorial game, eventually finding some level of stability as sub-editor/editor at the New Monthly Magazine. Anna Maria’s career as a writer took off in 1829 with the publication of her first book, Sketches of Irish Character, which contained reminiscences of her childhood in Ireland. She subsequently published a number of children’s tales, novels, plays, essays, and more Irish stories.

Title page of Halls' Ireland (186-?).
Title page from the Halls’ Ireland (1860s).

The Halls made many tours of Ireland and penned an initial account of their travels that appeared in three volumes from 1841 to 1843. Ireland: its Scenery, Character, &c. was hugely successful in Great Britain. The Halls continued to tour Ireland after the publication of their account, and continued to update information in subsequent editions. In the 1850s, they capitalized on the popularity of their work even further by breaking it into regional sections—such as, The North and Giant’s Causeway—and publishing them separately. These regional guides were a much more manageable size, fitting right in with the popularization of “handbooks.”

Falvey Library’s Special Collections owns two multi-volume editions of the Halls’ Ireland (from the 1860s and 1911), as well as two of their regional guides, and I used all of these in my exhibit. “Rambles, Sketches, Tours” features eight images from the Halls’ works—can you find them all?

Further Reading:

Hall, Mr. and Mrs. S.C. Ireland: its scenery, character, &c.. 3 vol. Philadelphia: Gebbie & Barrie, [186-?].

Mandler, Peter. “Hall , Anna Maria (1800–1881).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/11940, accessed 11 Nov 2010]

Mandler, Peter. “Hall, Samuel Carter (1800–1889).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/11987, accessed 11 Nov 2010]

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New online exhibit featuring Augustine’s Confessions

November is Augustinian Heritage Month here at Villanova and there are many events going on. One of the events is a marathon reading of Augustine’s Confessions, which began here in the library’s coffee shop at 9am this morning and will continue until about midnight. Stop by if you have the chance!

But if you can’t make it, don’t worry! The Digital Library has launched an online exhibit of editions of the Confessions held in Special Collections. The exhibit is called “Tolle lege: The Confessions of St. Augustine”.

Engraved title page of an edition of the Confessions from 1646.
Engraved title page from a 1646 edition.

Editions are arranged by century, with items that are particularly noteworthy and/or available in the Digital Library getting their own sub-pages. Each edition has at least one image associated with it and brief notes where applicable, creating a sort of visual bibliography of holdings of the Confessions in Special Collections.

This is not a complete listing of our holdings, but additional items will be added over time, so be sure to check back.

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Take a tour of Ireland in our new online exhibit

I am pleased to announce the debut of our new online exhibit, “Rambles, Sketches, Tours: Travellers & Tourism in Ireland.” The exhibit can also be seen in person on the second floor of Falvey Memorial Library through the end of the semester. The display was featured on the main library news blog last week.

Rambles exhibit poster
Promotional poster by Joanne Quinn.

“Rambles, Sketches, Tours” highlights Irish travel narratives and related materials, primarily from the Joseph McGarrity Collection. The site is broken into sections that highlight the methods of travel to and within Ireland, the motives of some of the most influential and popular writers, and the development of the tourism industry. In addition, there are five sections that look at some of the most popular travel destinations.

Custom House, Dublin
The Custom House in Dublin from A View of
Ancient and Modern Dublin… (1796) by John Ferrar.

Many of the works included in the exhibit are available in full-text versions online, either at our own Digital Library or at the Internet Archive. Links have been provided throughout the exhibit pages and on the exhibit bibliography, which also includes the materials I used in researching Irish travel and tourism.

I had a lot of fun researching this exhibit and selecting items to include—I hope you’ll find some enjoyment, too. I’ll be posting a few behind-the-scenes tidbits over the next couple months, so stay tuned!

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New Online Exhibit: Jack B. Yeats Drawings and Illustrations

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: January 22, 2010
  • Filed Under: Exhibits

Posted for: Róisín Corry Roche (Digital Library Intern, Fall 2009).

Jack B. Yeats: Drawings and Illustrations, the latest exhibit of Falvey Memorial Library Special Collections is now on display on the second floor of Falvey or online at http://exhibits.library.villanova.edu/yeats

Jack B. Yeats, in his twenties.
Jack B. Yeats in his twenties, frontispiece, in Arnold, B. (1998). Jack Yeats. New Haven: Yale University Press. Falvey Memorial Library General Collection.

This exhibit focuses on the drawings and illustrations of Jack B. Yeats found in Special Collections materials. It also highlights the historical backdrop of Ireland at the turn of the twentieth century, as well as Jack’s involvement with his sister’s publishing company, Cuala Press.

In Falvey’s Special Collections, Jack’s drawings are found in children’s book, novels, plays, and broadsides. One of the highlights of the collection is A Broadside. Jack was the editor of the first series and provided over 250 drawings. While a handful of issues are discussed here, the complete first series is available online through the Digital Library.

Lament For The Death of Owen Roe O'Neil
Lament For The Death of Owen Roe O’Neil, February 1910 in Yeats, J. B. A Broadside for… Dublin: The Cuala Press, 1908-1915. Special Collections: McGarrity Collection.

As curator of this exhibit I had the rewarding experience of delving into the life of Jack B. Yeats. Prior to my research, my knowledge of the Yeats family was limited to his poet brother, William Butler Yeats, and his artist father John Butler Yeats. I had thought the artist Jack Yeats was the same person as his father. It was a mistake that I came to realize is often made when it comes to the art of Jack Yeats, both during his lifetime and today.

Preparing and researching the exhibit was a wonderful experience. Having an undergraduate background in history and graduate degrees in Irish Studies and Library and Information Science, the internship provided me with the unique opportunity of combining skills learned from all fields. The ability to handle rare and old materials on a daily basis was an adventure that can best be likened to being a kid in a candy store.

One of the most surprising aspects uncovered during the research phase was the large number of rare materials available in Special Collections. Among the items I was able to use were books signed by well-known Irish authors and rare volumes that are only held by a handful of libraries in the United States.

The most exciting moment was uncovering a letter written by a former president of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, taped inside one of his books, The Religious Songs of Connacht. The letter was written to a critic I could only determine to be named Bernard. The review this person wrote is taped inside the back cover of the same book.

Hyde letter from Diadha Chúige Connacht (The Religious Songs of Connacht
Hyde, D. (1906). Abhráin Diadha Chúige Connacht (The Religious Songs of Connacht). London: T.F. Unwin. Special Collections: McGarrity Collection.

Finding such unique materials on the shelves of Special Collections often made it difficult to stay on task. Despite the temptations, I managed to complete the exhibit in time for the start of the spring semester. I would like to thank Michael Foight, Bente Polites, Joanne Quinn, and David Lacy without whom this project would not have been possible.

Visit the exhibit on Falvey Library’s Second Floor or online at http://exhibits.library.villanova.edu/yeats

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Last Modified: January 22, 2010