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Philadelphia Firemen on Tour

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In November 1858, the firemen of Hibernia fire engine company no. 1 of Philadelphia went on tour of New York, Boston, Brooklyn, Charlestown and Newark with their state of the art equipment and a desire to bring the knowledge of this state of the art technology to their fellow fire fighters along the East Coast. Upon their return they created a commemorative volume filled with a history of the company, illustrations of the current members, and recounting the experiences and equipment of the trip; this has now been digitized as part of the Pennsylvaniana Collection.

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The history of the Hibernia fire engine company is interesting. Incorporated in February, 1752, and reputed to be the oldest organized fire company in America, the Hibernia fire engine company no. 1 served as the premier fire fighters of Philadelphia vowing:

“upon hearing of a fire break out repair to the same with our buckets, bags & Baskets & there employ our utmost endeavors to preserve the Goods & Effects of such of us as shall be in danger; and if — more than one of our Goods, Houses and Effects be in danger at the same time, we will divide ourselves as near as may be, to be equally helpful, and such of us as may be spared may assist others in like danger; and to prevent as much as in us lies suspicious persons from coming into or carrying any of the Goods out of such of our houses as may be in danger, two of our Number shall constantly attend at the doors, until all the Goods & Effects that can be saved, are pack’d up and convey ‘d into some place, where one or more of us shall attend until they are delivered to or secur’d for the owner. — And upon our first hearing of Fire, we will immediately cause two or more Lights to be placed in our windows, and such of our Company whose Houses may he in Danger shall place Candles in every Room to prevent Confusion & that their Friends may be able to give the more speedy & effectual assistance. — And further as this Association is intended for General benefit, we do mutually agree, that in case a fire should hereafter break out in any other of the Inhabitants’ Houses and when none of our own Houses, Goods and Effects are in Danger, we will immediately Repair thither with our Buckets, Bags & Baskets, and give our utmost assistance to such of our Fellow Citizens as shall stand in need thereof.”

Notable among the early members of the Hibernia fire engine company No. 1 was John Barry, listed, according to the commemorative volume, on the membership rolls for 1785. Barry was the celebrated Irish naval officer and the first Commodore in the American navy who lived in Philadelphia after the Revolutionary War until his death in September 1803.

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Few print copies of the commemorative volume have survived the vagaries of time but now this rare peek at the daily lives of Americans from 1859 is available to all. One of the first titles scanned and made available in the Digital Library, added September 8, 2006, this title has also just been scanned (August 2008), by the Internet Archive.

The future progression of technology and the advancement of new and superior file formats makes it difficult to be certain that any particular copy of a file will be migrated to the new, usable, and likely superior contemporary format. As few print copies of this work have survived to 2009, making multiple digital copies of works helps ensure the enjoyment of future generations of readers and researchers.

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Villanova boys … grow fat (PALINET Mass Digitization Collaborative)

Villanova-Monthly

I am pleased to announce the completion of Villanova University’s participation in the pilot phase of the PALINET Mass Digitization Collaborative (MDC). For more information on the program itself, please see the pages on the PALINET website at:
http://www.palinet.org/dshome.aspx

In the pilot project, staff members from various institutions worked with Internet Archive and PALINET representatives to develop digitization policies and procedures for the broader membership. Villanova’s participation included testing the functionality of digitization of microfilm materials scanned at the main San Francisco scanning center of the Internet Archive. The titles scanned and now available on the Internet Archive site in perpetuity are two Villanova student newspapers: first, The Villanova Monthly, from Jan 1893 to Jan 1897, and second, The Villanovan, from November 1916 to June 1926. These are currently available in 3 volumes based on the original microfilm reel at the Villanova University page on the Internet Archive at: http://www.archive.org/details/villanova_university The page images have also been OCRed (Optical Character Recognition), so the pdf file format for each volume can be searched for keywords; this is machine OCR and so not all words will have been accurately recognized.

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Links to the individual volumes :

http://www.archive.org/details/villanovamo1897_p_rs

http://www.archive.org/details/villanovan1926_p_rs
http://www.archive.org/details/villanovan1921_p2

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Villanova University has committed to support these collaborative digitization efforts, assisted in part by grant support from the Sloan Foundation to PALINET. As part of that commitment in the non-pilot phase of the program, Villanova University will continue to grow the available issues of The Villanovan over the coming year, with the goal of making the entire run available. In addition to the remote access provided by hosting materials on the Internet Archive site, Villanova’s Digital Library will be harvesting the images and OCRed text of these works to eventually create locally hosted copies, organized in the more easily readable and browsable format of individual issues.

These student newspaper provide a unique view of the history and community life of Villanova University. Not only are the early volumes filled with interesting articles, alumni notes, and photographs of campus, students, events, and athletic competitions, but they also include a wealth of poetry and local Main Line advertisements.

One advertisement from 1916 reads:

Villanova Boys
Eat
Wanklin’s Candy
and grow fat

Here are two poems from 1921:

ODE TO AUTUMN

Richest season of the year
Bringing men abundant cheer,
Soothing heart and eye and ear-

Glad Autumn!

Following fast on Summer’s train,
Filling fields with golden grain,
Purpling vineyards on the plain-

Ripe Autumn!

Trees their royal garments spread
Purple, crimson, scarlet, red;
Golden glories crown their head

In Autumn.

Birds returning paint the sky
Rainbow hues of various dye
Watch the vagrant migrants fly

With Autumn!

Halcyon day and skies serene,
Climes that keep the golden mean,
Tepid airs and frosts not keen.

Gives Autumn!

Rarest ripeness bursts its molds!
Winter’s snows and icy colds
Dormant lie within the folds

Of Autumn!

Francis A. Rafferty

CHRISTMAS

Over the snow-white hills of Judea
A gleaming star shed its beckoning light,
Gliding three kings from the red land of morning
Who traveled on through the darkness of night.

They followed the star over the hills and through valleys
Rich treasures and spices and incense they bore;
And they watched it move ever steadfast and silent
Till it rested o’er Bethlehem and wandered no more.

Behold there a stable of rude planks erected
To shelter the sheep from the winds and the sleet,
And there in a crib lay the world’s Infant Saviour
While Mary and Joseph bent low at His feet.

Angelic choirs sang His praise and His glory,
From the hills the poor shepherds had come to adore;
The beasts with mute eyes paid reverence and homage,
While their warm breast gave comfort. They could give no more.

Then from the far-distant rim of the East Land
The sun slowly rose o’er the whole world so still.
And a day so long prayed for was born with this message,
“All peace on earth, to men of good-will!”

William J. Meter

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(Photos are one of the San Fransisco Internet Archive microfilm scanning stations and the Villanova microfilm awaiting digitization. – Photos courtesy of Laurie Gemmill).

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Last Modified: December 9, 2008