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Available for proofreading: History of Orrin Pierce

orrinOur latest proofreading project comes from the Sherman Thackara Collection: a Sunday School reader called History of Orrin Pierce, published in 1847 by the American Sunday-School Union (an organization which still exists today under the name InFaith).

The book tells the story of a young boy named Orrin Pierce, and being a Sunday School reader, it frequently uses the events of his life to teach religious lessons.  The volume contains many drawings, some of which have been hand-colored by a previous owner in our copy.

If you want to help preserve this vintage book in electronic format, you can join in at the project page. To learn more about the proofreading process, see this earlier post.  This is a short one, so join in now — it won’t be around for long!

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The unexpected delights of old letters

I always love looking through the various letters that we’ve digitized because I always find something interesting and/or exciting about these snapshots of life in a time gone by. Today’s historical encounter: Nellie Bly. She was a late-19th/early-20th-century reporter, best known for going undercover to expose the awful conditions of insane asylums and travelling around the world to recreate Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days and attempt to beat Phileas Fogg’s 80-day record.

So when I found a reference to Nellie Bly in a letter while researching a separate blog post, I was quite excited. In the snippet of letter posted below, Ellie Sherman Thackara writes to her father: “Too bad about Miss Bisland’s being beaten, but Nellie Bly’s friends are rejoicing.” (In Nellie’s around-the-world adventure, she was actually competing against another reporter, Elizabeth Bisland.)

This one-line snippet is the only mention of Bly in the letter—just a quick remark on current events that Ellie included in a letter to her father. And that’s another interesting thing: this really was a current event, hot off the presses. Ellie’s letter is dated only Jan. 25th, no year, but an archivist later added an uncertain “[1890?]” at the top of the letter. In fact, this casual mention of Nellie Bly beating “Miss Bisland” gives a remarkably specific timeframe for the letter: Nellie Bly returned to Hoboken, NJ (her original point-of-departure) on January 25, 1890 at 3:51pm. The very same day that Ellie’s letter is dated! From this, we can imagine that Ellie read the news in an evening paper and was still thinking of it while composing a letter to her father later that same evening.

This letter is part of the Sherman-Thackara Collection. You can find more letters throughout our Digital Library Collections—and do let us know if you find anything exciting!

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Her Semester Abroad: Ellie Thackara’s Jaunt in the Dominion of Canada

Posted by: Jean Turner, Digital Library Intern Spring 2011

You may think you have nothing in common with Eleanor Mary Sherman Thackara, the 19th century daughter of the famed General Tecumseh Sherman on whom the Digital Library has many records, but let me ask you this: Have you gone abroad?  When I first sat down to read “A Summer Jaunt in the Dominion of Canada,” Ellie’s published accounts of her traveling in Canada, I admittedly worried I might not be able to relate to someone from such a different time and position.  But traveling has been the only time I have ever had the self-discipline to maintain a thorough journal.  So, while my day-to-day life will depend upon memories, my trips to Italy and Southeast Asia and my time on a small sailboat in the Caribbean are documented in well-weathered notebooks on my shelves.  Quite surprisingly, Ellie’s passages printed in The New York Ledger, like mine, regale the readers with asides about local history, imaginative descriptions of the landscapes, and many anecdotes of the interesting and unique people she meets along the way.  If you’re a student hoping to go abroad, a traveler with journals and memories of your own, or just a student of human nature read on!

In Ellie’s first installation she remembers remarking to a landlady that her “object in coming so far, aside from all the joy of beautiful scenery, was an interest in these foreign parts, their people, and their history.”   She proves this love for history by retelling tales of local importance for many of her destinations, whether it was the long-ago residence of a French martial city and convent or a famed Indian council attended by Champlain and Lescarbot in 1603.  Her satisfaction upon matching these facts to buildings and valleys is much like my own pride at recognizing a piece of history in front of my own eyes, and I don’t think Ellie and I are alone.

In an age where social networking allows us to share our traveling pictures with anyone and everyone, we might overlook Ellie’s attempts to put all of the beautiful sights she encounters into words.  Yes, she was prosperous enough to have several photographs taken and included in her accounts.  Despite this trailblazing technology, she further honors the uniqueness of each of her experiences by attempting to keep the scenery alive with her own pen.  From the decks of one boat, Ellie wrote, “The moon is a russet orange, from which the great bear must have had a bite, and long lines of clouds streak its face.  It is close upon our stern horizon, and before many moments will go down into the liquid darkness.”  Unable to snap a picture of every gorgeous sight she sees, Ellie includes many descriptive passages in her account to remind herself and share with others the landscapes one sees while traveling in Canada.

A look at several scenes Ellie came across.

It wouldn’t be a travel journal, at least it wouldn’t be like mine, without a cast of kooky characters that one meets along the way.  Ellie’s three pieces include tales of a guide who answered every question with his two-word vocabulary, “Yish, um,” and “Naw, um,” a Scotch-faced steward aboard one of her ships with an interesting “checkered double-visored cap” and lastly a “most artistic tramp” that she finds lying on a hillside as she disembarks from a boat.  Travelers everywhere meet those who wish to play a trick on tourists and this self-proclaimed blind man was such a person.  But after his farce was exposed and they knew they had been fooled, the newcomers begged for a photograph of the actor with his bald head and tattered garments “stuffed here and there with straw.”  As he knelt for them he dramatically exclaimed, “My name is George, G-O-R-G.  You are quite welcome.”

A look at the beggar George!

Not all of our travel memories are destined for publication or kept in the holdings of Villanova’s or any other university’s special collections, but it’s likely that they contain similar stories to those you’ll find if you read more of Eleanor Mary Sherman Thackara’s accounts.  After all, aren’t many of our reasons for traveling, whether for school or vacation or adventure, also the joy of beautiful scenery and an interest in foreign places and their people?  Read some more of Ellie’s accounts or explore the pictures in any of her three articles, all named A Summer Jaunt in the Dominion of Canada, found in the Sherman Thackara Collection of Villanova University’s Digital Library.

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Shakespearian “Sex in the City”, 19th century edition.

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: February 23, 2011
  • Filed Under: Sherman-Thackara

Posted for David Burke:

Within the large assortment of letters and photographs comprising the Digital Library’s Sherman-Thackara collection is an untitled draft of a play written by Eleanor Sherman Thackara (the daughter of Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman).  It features four characters, each named after a heroine from one of Shakespeare’s plays: Rosalind (As You Like It), Desdemona (Othello), Katherine (Taming of the Shrew), and Viola (Twelfth Night).  They have been moved to nineteenth century New York and given prominent careers, but their dialogue frequently quotes actual lines from Shakespeare’s plays.  And they spend the time discussing romantic relationships—in short, a Shakespearian Sex in the City in the nineteenth century.

In terms of what American society was like at the time, Thackara’s imagination is quite radical.  First, the characters are not just housewives but have full-fledged careers, including a lawyer and stock broker.  Furthermore, the discussion the characters have comes out of Desdemona’s desire to divorce her husband—still a rare and scandalous event for the time.  Furthermore, she wants the divorce because her husband (Othello, of course) keeps losing large amounts of money through bad investments and refuses to help with the child-rearing.  Viola, on the other hand, takes great pride in having remained single, exclaiming, “What fools you women are to marry!”

The play ends with the women citing lines extolling the virtues of love, seeming to end on a happy note—though it is not clear Desdemona has agreed to call off the divorce (or even if the play is definitively finished).  The draft is hand-written, and there is no evidence the play was ever performed.  But written on the last page, Eleanor wrote a final, hopeful message, “May be.”

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More Heavenly Than Pure Love

Posted for Marylyle McCue, Digital Library Intern, 2010.

st1
Detail from A.M. Thackara’s Letterhead.

The Sherman Thackara Collection is comprised of private letters, photographs and other documents belonging to General William Tecumseh Sherman and his family. Three entire boxes contain the love letters of Eleanor Mary Sherman Thackara, one of the four daughters of General Sherman and his wife Ellen Ewing Sherman. Eleanor (aka Ellie) and Alexander Montgomery Thackara (aka A.M. or Mont) kept up a passionate correspondence for many years both before and after they were wed on May 5th, 1880. The letters range in date from 1879-1897. Mrs. Thackara is believed to have donated these letters to Villanova some time around 1897.

Recently I had the pleasure of transcribing several of Mont’s letters to Ellie, as well as to read many of the letters written by Ellie to Mont. One consideration when reading someone else’s letters is that over time you come to recognize the author’s idiosyncrasies and the letters become much easier to read, as if they were written in the hand of an old friend. Certain letters may be a struggle to read until one has become more familiar with the process and with the author’s handwriting, while others may just be a lost cause. Reading letters in a digital format presents different advantages and disadvantages in comparison to reading them in person. In person, one can hold the work in their hands (or gloves) and look closely, perhaps even using a magnifying device. Of course, the archives may not be within a close distance, they may not be open during convenient hours, require an appointment or have room for only a few researchers on any given day. Though one cannot physically examine a digital document, image correction can be used to make it more readable. Contrast, brightness and sharpness can be adjusted to make an image more legible than it would be in person. They can also be printed and written on when otherwise, at best, they would need to be photocopied by a librarian or at worst the researcher would have to make painstaking notes. Barring an Internet outage or major site upgrade, digital library images are available to you in your home or office 24 hours a day. As a countermeasure, when there was a delay in the project due to a site upgrade for the Villanova Digital Library, I saved a stockpile of digital letters as PDF images to my computer to prevent any further delays. It is certainly not an exaggeration to say that digital collections have forever changed the face of historic research.

st2
Business card from Tiffany’s with Miss Sherman’s (possibly Ellie’s) ring size written on back.

One popular misconception about the Victorians is that their personal lives were devoid of romance or passion. On the contrary, during this period the notion of marrying for love became common and accepted in middle and upper class society. The Victorians were simply very private about their personal lives and extremely careful of when, where or in front of whom this side of them was displayed. A person would share their most personal feelings, fears and desires only with their beloved. However, it was understood that physical consummation of this passion would only be acceptable within the boundaries of marriage. The written word was then the most common and effective way to express these powerful emotions.

There are countless examples of the devotion and sheer adoration that this couple felt for one another throughout their letters. Only a few examples can be shared in this post, but they offer a glimpse of the letters’ contents along with a few recurring themes common in love letters of the time. In one note, Mont wonders to his sweetheart if she can imagine anything “more heavenly than pure love” and how those who have never felt it cannot truly conceive of it.

st3
“My Little Darling- Oh! You know so well that every day my love for you is growing stronger. Every day you become more dear.” A detail from one of Mont’s letters to Ellie.

Like other Victorian lovers, Mont and Ellie were also very careful to keep their correspondence private. Ellie writes, “Today I put one of your dear letters into the book and its clasp that locked them from all but myself.” There are many instances where they have referred indirectly to events as if to protect those secrets from even the most prying of eyes. For instance in one letter, Mont alludes to a disagreement involving other unnamed parties that has upset Ellie greatly and he attempts to console her. He generously offers:

“I do not think it strange that you should wait to tell me of your troubles. Don’t you think that I have shown myself to be a friend that would sympathize with you. where in the beast dislikes fire, who knows my affection for her will never hesitate. I hope you call on me in any trouble that may arise, Oh! That I could do something believe this […] happens, that I could take to burden myself. Is there anything that I can do?”

Another example shows Mont simply wondering what important and mysterious matter Ellie plans to discuss with him that evening that she would not write to him in a letter. He ponders, “I am prepared for a serious talk my Darling on what subject I cannot fancy, still I will soon find out.” It is also likely that there could have even been some letters deemed too personal for donation.

Another notable convention present in love letters of the period is “testing,” where one lover ensures the devotion of the other through self-deprecation, admitting to or attempting to provoke jealousy. The author seeks a response assuring them of the other’s love and faithfulness, as well as of their own good qualities. Mont and Ellie often tease one another about trying the other’s patience, while also offering reassurance to the other. Each also claims to fear that they are completely unworthy of the other, as well as revealing a hope that the relationship will improve their own individual characters. Ellie refers to herself as “a good for nothing little body” and looks to Mont to dispel her fears that another lady will catch his fancy. Mont attempts to ease them in one note where he has “not seen any of the young ladies of this place yet, nor have I any desire to see them. All I want is to see you again.” Mont himself reveals, however, a terror that when their wedding day arrives, though he finds that he loves Ellie more than before, she will discover that she does not love him at all. A man of this time period and society would likely have had few, if any, outlets for expressing insecurities other than to his beloved.

The Victorian masculine ideal was strength tempered by gentlemanly restraint while the feminine ideal called for “piety, purity, submission and domesticity” [Welter, pp. 151–174]. Evidence of period gender roles and expectations are apparent throughout both Mont and Ellie’s letters. Mont repeatedly describes Ellie as “pure” and lauds her for her piety. He also refers to “how happy I will be to know that a darling little soul will look up to me for […] protection and how proud I will be to protect her from any harm.” Ellie in turn writes of, “how happy I shall be in waiting upon you caring for you, learning better + better to anticipate your wishes and to please you.” Each vows to take care of the other, albeit in gender appropriate ways. Mont wants to shelter his “timid little one” from the wider world, while Ellie wants to nurture her “spoiled boy Mont” inside the confines of their household.

Mont and Ellie’s letters provide a variety of possibilities for research regarding the mid- to late 19th century United States, including topics such as correspondence, courtship, marriage, and gender roles. Judging by the fact that they had a long and happy marriage, Mont appears to have kept true to his promises of eternal love to Ellie:

“You can always feel certain that during the time we will have to pass before the spring and forever after, that I will have towards you the same undying affections and imperishable love that I have now.”

Further Reading:

Bederman, Gail. Manliness & Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Lystra, Karen. Searching the Heart: Women, Men, and Romantic Love in Nineteenth-century America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Welter, Barbara. “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820–1860.” American Quarterly, 18.2 (1966): 151–174.

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Words, words, words

One of the most fun aspects of transcribing letters is getting a glimpse of a different time period with its different manners, customs, and turns of phrase—not to mention different styles of penmanship! I recently transcribed a letter from Philemon “Cump” Sherman to Eleanor “Ellie” Sherman Thackara, in which Cump asks Ellie’s advice about the area around the Adirondack Mountains. (Read the letter here.) Ellie had written an article about a trip to the Adirondacks and Cump wanted to know about the navigability of the lakes and rivers of the area.

Two words in this letter caught my interest, and I do love looking things up in the OED and other logophile sources, so I am sharing my findings below.

his nibs

Near the beginning of the letter, Cump refers to the plans of “his nibs,” a word that—according to the Oxford English Dictionary—originally referred to the person in question or the person being alluded to, but which later became an ironic method of referring to a person in authority, often with the “implication that the person referred to has an excessive sense of his or her own importance.” Used with a possessive such as his or her, nibs acts as a mock title, in the style of references to members of the British aristocracy (e.g., “his lordship”).

In concluding the letter, Cump writes: “The gyascutus is rejoicing as the time to go home approaches.”

gyascutus

The gyascutus is a “fearsome critter” from Anglo-American folklore. The Encyclopedia Brittanica describes the gyascutus as “an imaginary, large, four-legged beast with legs on one side longer than those on the other, for walking on hillsides.” The Wikipedia entry gives several variant names for the creature and further notes that the animal is unable to stand on level ground due to the uneven length of its legs.

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Santa comes to town

Posted for Susan Ottignon:

The customary ‘Dear Santa’ letters, written by children every December 24th on Christmas Eve, is a time honored tradition. I encountered 3 such letters, from Mont and Ellie Thackara’s children, when I started transcription work for the Digital Library.

sant1a

In child-like cursive writing the letters to Santa, by each Thackara child, were penned with unique salutations to the ‘Jolly Old Man,’ and included spelling errors that endear us more to these letters We read from Eleanor’s letter “My dear Santa-Clause,” her brother, Sherman wrote, “Dear St Nick,” with the youngest sibling, Lex ,penned “Santy.” The boys knew Santa’s ‘address’ which they either included in the body of the letter or addressed it directly to him. Santa address, according to Lex, was “Master Santy Clause Up the chimney.” Sherman boldly demanded of St Nick, “Unhitch your horses from the North Pole.”

The ‘wish lists’ penned to Santa by Eleanor, Sherman and Alexander (“Lex) Thackara reflect each child’s deepest longings and are shared by today’s children whether one has been ‘naughty or nice.’ Such things as “a pair of skates and a little iron and iron holder” requested by Eleanor. Sherman wanted Santa to “bring me a sled.” Lex was ‘all boy” when he wrote, “Please bring me a rifle a pen-knife and a kodact.” My guess for Lex’s wish was for a Kodak camera available since 1888.

Dear Santy

Alongside the Santa’s letter, tradition beckons children to hang stockings for him to fill with gifts and sweets. The stocking is mentioned in 2 of the letters. Eleanor plainly states:

“. . . fill my stocking full to the brim I am going to hang up an
extra stocking and please fill it to”

Sherman notes his behavior as a good reason for his filled stocking.

“Please fill my stockings very full and do not think me a greedy boy.”

While working on these letters, I marveled over the simplicity of the times and experienced a child’s excitement in the penned letter to Santa on Christmas Eve. I enjoyed transcribing these pieces and many other of the Thackara correspondence. With over a thousand pieces in need of transcription the Sherman-Thackara Collection in the Digital Library has reassured me there many more items to still transcribe.

Dear Santa

Here is a link to the Finding Aid for this part of the Sherman-Thackara Collection.

Alex., Sherman & Eleanor S. Thackara to A. M. & E. S. Thackara (parents)
Corresp., 1892-1897, (including 3 letters to Santa Claus):
William T. Sherman Thackara, (1887 – 1983)
Eleanor Sherman Thackara Cauldwell, (1880s? – ?)
Alexander Montgomery Thackara, Jr., (d. December 27, 1921):

7/5/9
Letter, To: “Dear Papa and Mama” (Ellie and A. M. Thackara) From: “Lex” (A. M. Thackara, Jr.), Christmas 1893.
Xmas blessing to parents by Alex

7/5/10
Letter, To: “My dear Father” (A. M. Thackara) From: “Eleanor” (Eleanor Thackara Cauldwell), Christmas 1893.
Xmas bear story Eleanor

7/5/11
Letter, To: “Santa Claus” From: “Eleanor” (Eleanor Thackara Cauldwell), [December, 1895?].

7/5/22
Letter, To: “Dear Father” (A. M. Thackara) From: “Sherman” (William T. Sherman Thackara), December 1896. Xmas Blessing Sherman

7/5/23
Letter, To: “Santy” From: “Your loving friend Lex” (A. M. Thackara, Jr.), December, [1886?].

7/5/24
Letter, To: “St. Nick” From: “Sherman” (William T. Sherman Thackara), December 20, 1896.

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William Tecumseh Sherman’s Civil War Uniform: a treasure returns

An important part of the Sherman Thackara Collection has been returned to Falvey Memorial Library from a long term loan to the Civil War Museum. General William Tecumseh Sherman’s U.S. Civil War frock coat had been reunited with the papers, photographs, and other items donated by the Sherman Thackara family, making this a unified collection once again. This specific coat was worn during the period when Sherman was a major general. Sherman was promoted to this rank officially on August 12, 1864, but it was likely he wore the uniform much earlier from 1862 when he was promoted to Major General of Volunteers just after Shiloh, so this coat was likely worn during the fateful Georgia Campaign and the subsequent Union army “March to the Sea”. One can almost smell the whiff of burning Atlanta!

Frock Coat

The physical coat is on prominent display on the 2nd floor of Falvey Memorial Library in the climate controlled and secure Special Collections Rare Book Room which houses other treasures of the University. A digital surrogate can be viewed online as part of the Digital Library’s Sherman Thackara Collection which documents Sherman’s family especially his favorite daughter Elly Sherman Thackara and her husband Alexander Thackara.

As can been seen in this photograph of the coat, the army’s regulations stipulated an organization of buttons to designate the rank of general officers. The buttons on a major general’s frock coat, like Sherman’s, were grouped in three sets of three; those on a brigadier general’s coat were arranged in four sets of two. This helps us date the garment to a specific date range.

Here is a detailed photograph of the buttons from the Sherman coat, which were specific to the General Staff, and worn on Union general’s coats:

General Staff buttons

Two period photographs from the Library of Congress’s Civil War Photograph Collection showing Sherman wearing his Major General’s coat follow:

Sherman on Horseback

Sherman leaning on cannon

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From Ellie with Love

Posted for Scott Grapin, Digital Library Team:

ellie2.jpg

Sometime in the 1890s, the love letters shared between Eleanor Mary Sherman (Ellie) and Alexander Montgomery Thackara (Mont) were donated with the rest of the Sherman-Thackara Collection to Villanova College, presumably by Ellie herself. Surely, Ellie saw the value of preserving documents pertaining to her famous father, General William Tecumseh Sherman, as well as to her husband Mont, who was appointed to serve as a U.S. Consul at Le Havre, France in 1897. As the library and its patrons have been discovering, this collection also reveals much about Philadelphia and the Main Line toward the end of the nineteenth century and is a rich primary source for studies of middle-class Victorian life. Because they are available in both Falvey’s Special Collections and Digital Library, these letters are also situated to reflect how different technologies might impact the ways we write and receive personal correspondence.

Although Ellie could not have envisioned their digitization, wide dissemination, and nearly instantaneous accessibility, her donation ensured that letters to Mont would become letters to each of us. At the same time, personal letters are characteristically private. We generally ensure this privacy by sealing a letter in an envelope intended for one recipient. Privacy, therefore, also personalizes the document. Letters may be sealed by drops of wax imprinted with a unique stamp or by glue moistened with the sender’s own mouth. In her letters, a young Ellie repeatedly claims this sort of private intimacy with her “own dearest, dearest Mont” , anticipating the days when she would be his wife in singular devotion. Until that time, the tangible letters would often serve as a surrogate presence when Ellie and Mont were apart. Just as we can see, touch, and smell one of these letters in Special Collections, Ellie would repeatedly delight in her beloved’s epistolary touch, even were Mont unable to drop by to share one of their customary four o’clock walks.

Combined with Special Collections, digital availability might seem to compromise the private intimacy of these personal letters. However, while electronic communications are popularly blamed for the handwritten letter’s fall from favor, the Digital Library potentially balances the direction of influence between electronic and written texts. Generally, the investment of personal time, energy, and attention valued by letter writers is deemed an unnecessary expense by digital correspondents. But a digital transcriber steadily gains an intimate appreciation of Ellie’s letters as he faithfully reconstructs them, collaboratively renewing her creative energy and attention. Any reader can likewise peruse digital images of Ellie’s letters and participate in the slower pace of time and human correspondence in which intimacy deepens.

A reader will also witness the impassioned frequency of Ellie’s letters, sometimes several in a day (see, for instance, March 12, 1880; letters 381, 382, and 383), whose impatience is necessarily tempered by the tension of time required for Mont’s response. Ellie creatively delights in these spans of time. In one instance, she opportunely poses an impromptu riddle to Mont and promises an answer for when they next meet, thereby sweetening the expectation of their intimacy. This game may seem quaint in an age of truncated text and instant messaging, when cascades of emails often overwhelm our ability to respond, let alone contemplate, our textual relationships. Here in the Digital Library, however, some of the best qualities of electronic and handwritten correspondence complement one another. Right now, everyone can repeatedly examine and enjoy any image in the collection, much as Ellie would have pored over Mont’s letters. In time, users will be able to search transcriptions for particular keywords with a virtual familiarity akin to Ellie’s attentive devotion. In the process, the digital medium will preserve and exhibit—and possibly inspire us to participate in—the kind of correspondence we can savor like an intimate walk with a companion … perhaps Ellie, Mont, or someone else we’ve been meaning to write.

ellie1.jpg

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No Time like the Present, For a Timeline

As some readers may know we have been diligently working with students and staff members here at the library to provide transcriptions for handwritten letters. This project was piloted with the Sherman-Thackara collection and the number of letters transcribed continues to grow. At this point those letters are not available for viewing in the Digital Library software but excerpts have occasionally been posted to this blog.

The first long transcription project was completed last March by an undergraduate intern, Brittany Dudas. As a history major here at Villanova University she worked with the digital library on transcription during a for-credit internship. A talented transcriber, she was able to transcribe far more letters than we were able to review at any given time so it was decided that perhaps a longer project was in order.

In 1872-1873 Alexander Montgomery Thackara wrote a diary while out to sea on the USS Nipsic. His tour of duty brought him to the then “West Indies.” Among other places, he visited Key West, Samana Bay, Puerto Plata, Havana, and St. Thomas. His journey lasted roughly six months and resulted in nearly 50 pages of diary entries. This entire diary has been transcribed and reviewed, but is much too long to post here. Instead, I would like to share snippets of the diary as used in a timeline.

Dipity LogoDipity is an emerging software that allows users to create an online, interactive timeline. You can include links from any number of online sources, such as Google books, Wikipedia, Flickr, blogs, and much, much more. Moreover there is a feature that allows you to “map” locations on your timeline. This seemed like the perfect venue to create a resource that would allow users to experience Mont’s Journal in a completely new way.

Most entries are titled with the page upon which the text appeared in the actual diary. Next, the date was added for that entry, and usually a link to either the scanned page from the digital library, or to a Wikipedia article that helps explain the location or subject at hand. A fun addition was linking the book, as scanned in by “Google Books”, that Mont was reading while on this voyage. Locations were also added to most entries so they could be mapped and images were used to brighten things up. Dipity allows users to view timelines in four different ways, as a timeline (the standard way), a list, a flipbook, or as a map. The map feature is especially fun for this project as it allows users to “play events” and view the events as they are listed on the map. In this case it allows users to virtually sail around with Mont.

This was certainly an enjoyable project and something that could be an asset for some of our other long transcription projects. I hope that you will check out the timeline and I would love to hear any feedback you may have.

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Last Modified: July 17, 2008