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14 p., The Irish People, v. 1, no. 19, April 2, 1864

14 p., The Irish People, v. 1, no. 19, April 2, 1864

When digitizing newspapers rich stories are often hidden in the classified ads. In the April 2, 1864 issue of the Irish People, John M’Carthy wounded at Gettysburg and recovering at Camp Dennison seeks information on the whereabouts of his brother Denis, last seen in Buffalo, N.Y. The Irish People was published in Dublin so John was looking to connect to Denis by the fragile and tenuous network of hearsay and word-of-mouth communication. Did John ever find Denis, his long lost brother? Historical research may provide one answer.


Waterloo 200

Today, on the 200th anniversary of the epic Battle of Waterloo it is appropriate to show some of the Villanova University Special Collections holdings related to Napoleon. Most materials in Special Collection are from the Joseph McGarrity collection and include rare books and newspapers, and facsimile collections of materials as well a manuscript letter to the Emperor Napoleon himself from Herni Clarke, digitized and available in the Digital Library. McGarrity himself annotated and collected materials on Bonaparte. These and other works on the Napoleonic Wars and Revolutionary France are available for consultation in the Rare Book Room.


Summer Project: Bishops and Lepracauns

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: August 14, 2012
  • Filed Under: Catholica, McGarrity

Posted for: Lisa Kruczek, Summer 2012 Digital Library Intern.

As the Summer 2012 Digital Library Intern, I have recently completed scanning a portion of the historic papers of Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick, former Bishop of Philadelphia (1796-1863). Villanova is putting them online through a collaborative project with the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center, who owns the collection. Although the papers are largely in French and Latin, PAHRC has already created a finding aid for this collection, so the descriptions helped clarify the meaning of the documents. Some fascinating subjects are discussed in the correspondence of this collection, such as the Riots of 1844 and the beginning of the Civil War and how it was impacting the Catholic Church.

I was also given the opportunity to scan some books and manuscripts, most recently a book of poetry, handwritten by the author. I was able to enter all the metadata for these projects as well, which enabled me to gain more insight into this material. During my time here in the digital library, I have completed transcriptions of 19th century correspondence and created a Wikipedia article on “the Lepracaun Cartoon Monthly” from the Joseph McGarrity collection. I’ve received an education on topics such as Cataloging, Intellectual Property and Social Media, which has been an excellent supplement to my coursework. I’d like to thank Michael Foight and Laura Bang for taking the time to impart some of their vast knowledge so that I too may move on to become a professional and take part in the Digital Library Revolution!


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).


Brushing up on Elizabeth Yeats

Posted for: Lisa Kruczek, Summer 2012 Digital Library Intern.

Recently I had the opportunity to scan a lovely book from the Joseph McGarrity Collection, housed at Villanova University’s Digital Library. Published in 1900, “Elementary-Brush Strokes” by Elizabeth Corbett Yeats is an explanation of the process and merits of teaching the painting of foliage to young children. Yeats uses a dabbing technique that she assures the reader will work with most types of plants. She emphasizes the importance of children working from real flower arrangements which she suggests gives a better understanding of color and form. The book includes beautiful full color plates of her examples of flowers, plants, birds and fruit, with explanations for each plate of colors chosen and technique. Included is a materials list and instructions of how to adapt the paintings included for other flowers and plants.

The introduction mentions the next book in the series, “Brush Work Studies”, but it is not in Villanova’s collection, nor have I been able to find it anywhere else. I did find a reference to “Elementary Brush Strokes” in another book printed by her publisher, George Phillip & Son, Ltd. as part of an advertisement of Educational Publications (although it looks to be the revised 1905 edition which included the addition of some photographs). Yeats was the daughter of Irish artist, John Butler Yeats and after teaching art, went on to study printing and became a successful printer. She printed many of the works of her famous brother, William Butler Yeats



Covering the Celt

Dust jackets offer a representation of a book’s content as well as an opportunity to provide an iconic and memorable marketing medium for a publisher. For books without illustrative matter the dust jacket is the only pictorial representation that will help create and focus the lens of the mind’s eye. Publishers and graphic designers work long and hard on the jacket design especially that most important aspect of the design: the front cover.

The newly published book, The Dream of the Celt by Nobel Prize in Literature winner Mario Vargas LLosa, recently reviewed in the Guardian, is a fictional account of the life of Irish Nationalist Sir Roger Casement who was hanged by the British government during the First World War. Several of Casement’s manuscripts are in Special Collections; as well, other materials which were collected by his friend and ally Joseph McGarrity are housed in the Joseph McGarrity Collection in Falvey Memorial Library. All of these materials have been digitized and are made available in Villanova’s Digital Library. Prominently featured on the front cover of the English language translation of the Dream, (translated by Edith Grossman, Farrar, Straus and Girous, 2012) is a photograph of Roger Casement drawn from the McGarrity Collection. Credit is appropriately given for use of the photograph on the rear flap of the dust jacket by the designer Eric Fuentecilla.

Not only does this evocative cover image help depict Casement to the reader’s imagination, but also the citation and acknowledgement act as an advertisement for scholars and researchers to the wealth of additional information available in the Joseph McGarrity Collections and to the role of Villanova University in preserving and making access available to these internationally significant Irish heritage materials. According to Brian McDonald, a Digital Library Intern currently reading The Dream, citations to Joseph McGarrity “can be found on pp. 146, 148, 317, 319, 320, 331, 332, and 334.”


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.


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]


“Hallowe’en was in the air”

  • Posted by: Laura Bang
  • Posted Date: October 29, 2010
  • Filed Under: Holidays, McGarrity

Here is a timely snippet from the Joseph McGarrity personal papers collection. One of McGarrity’s daughters, Catherine Meave, sent her father Hallowe’en greetings on October 22, 1925 from Atlantic City. The letter and poem are transcribed below.

Halloween poem

Dear Papa,
    I made this poem up, and drew and painted this card for you for Hallowe’en.

It was Halloween night
And there was a pretty sight,
For the moon shown bright,
And witches were aflight.
Hallowe’en was in the air,
There were ghost here and there
Always giving you a stare.
And pretty costumes everywhere.
Music was playing happily,
People were rushing hurridly.
And thus came and went,

      Your loving daughter,
        Catherine Meave

Catherine also included a card with drawings of jack-o’-lanterns and fruit.

Halloween greetings

Unfortunately, we have no dates associated with Catherine, so we do not know how old she was when she sent these. We do, however, have McGarrity’s reply to Catherine, in which he praises her “gift of Poetry” and expresses his delight at receiving her card and poem. It is always a pleasure to find such connections among papers.

Halloween reply

Happy Hallowe’en from the Digital Library!


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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Last Modified: October 28, 2010