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eBook available: Step Lively!

Hair-Raising Tales

Hair-Raising Tales

When we rediscovered century-old paper-covered books in our basement a couple of years ago, the collection included four volumes from Street & Smith’s Humor Library. We have previously converted three of these (Atchoo!, Jiglets and What’s Your Hurry?) into eBooks, and now the fourth and final title in our collection has also become available.

Like two of the three aforementioned volumes, Step Lively! was written by vaudevillian George Niblo and consists of a transcript of one of his comedy routines accompanied by cartoons. Like the other volumes, the humor here relies largely on puns and stereotypes and is unlikely to induce much laughter from a modern reader. Still, it provides further documentation of a once-popular entertainment form from an earlier time.

If you care to read the entire book, you can find it on Project Gutenberg for download or online reading. If for some reason you just can’t get enough George Niblo, you can find one more volume of the Humor Library on the Internet Archive, courtesy of Harvard University: There and Back; or, A Little Trip to Humorville.

 

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Available for proofreading: The Dreadnought Boys on Battle Practice

Dreadnought Boys on Battle PracticeA few months after the release of our previous Captain Wilbur Lawton eBook, The Ocean Wireless Boys on War Swept Seas, we have begun another Distributed Proofreaders project for a title by the pseudonymous author. The Dreadnought Boys on Battle Practice is the first of six volumes about adventures in the navy, released just a few years before the beginning of World War I.

To help bring this century-old adventure into the digital age, you can learn how the proofreading process works in this blog post, then proceed to the project page to begin work.

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And the new champion is….

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: October 17, 2014
  • Filed Under: Statistics

For many years the most frequently used item in the Digital Library had been the boxing title: Portrait gallery of pugilists of America and their contemporaries by Billy Edwards. This title published in Philadelphia by the Pugilistic Publishing Company gives an overview of the leading champions of the ring, circa 1894.

Title page, Portrait gallery of pugilists of America and their contemporaries.

Title page, Portrait gallery of pugilists of America and their contemporaries.

Dan Creedon, Portrait gallery of pugilists of America and their contemporaries.

Dan Creedon, Portrait gallery of pugilists of America and their contemporaries.

However the scales have finally tipped, and a new “high-use” champion of the Digital Library has entered the ring and been crowned with over 2,500 independent views:
How to make magic toys : containing full directions for making magic toys and devices of many kinds by A. Anderson from 1902, part of the Ten Cent Handbook Series.

Front cover,  How to make magic toys.

Front cover,
How to make magic toys.

It cannot escape notice that the magic toys depicted on the cover are of robotic boxers or wrestlers! Does this signal a research shift away from the human to the mechanical arena? Only time will tell…

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Content Roundup – Third Week – October 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: October 17, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup
Letterhead, from: Letter, To: "Dear Parents" From: William C. White, February 3, 1862.

Letterhead, from: Letter, To: “Dear Parents” From: William C. White, February 3, 1862.

This weeks marks the completion of the important American Civil War William C. White letter collection. As well a number of other additions including a new title from noted Dime Novelist Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller add to the enjoyment of an Autumn reading.

American Catholic Historical Society

Letter, To: "Dear Father" From: William C. White, July 13, 1869.

Letter, To: “Dear Father” From: William C. White, July 13, 1869.

William C. White Letters (collection complete: 21 items including partial transcription added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:364084]

Dime Novel and Popular Literature Collection


Fiction

Countess Vera; or, The oath of vengeance / by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:365885]

Periodicals

Happy days : a paper for young and old, v. XLV, no. 1160, January 6, 1917.

Happy days : a paper for young and old, v. XLV, no. 1160, January 6, 1917.

Happy Days (1 issue added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:360846]


Historical Society of Montgomery County

Cover, Easter Issue, Ardmore Chronicle, 1914.

Cover, Easter Issue, Ardmore Chronicle, 1914.

Ardmore Chronicle (1914: 7 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:356010]

Independence Seaport Museum

Barry-Hayes

Series LXII Index, Ledger (1 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:365766]

Series LXIII Notes re: Estate and Genealogy of Barry, Austin and Keen Families.
(22 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:365797]

Philadelphia Ceili Group

“The Green Fields of America”, May 5, 1979 (5 tracks added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:366331]

Rear cover, Countess Vera; or, The oath of vengeance / by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller.

Rear cover, Countess Vera; or, The oath of vengeance / by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller.

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eBook available: Motor Matt’s Race

Motor Stories #5Hot on the heels of Motor Matt’s “Century” Run comes another issue of Motor Stories: Motor Matt’s Race; or, The Last Flight of the Comet. In this adventure, the series’ conflicted view of race is brought to the fore: the plot revolves around Matt’s part-Native American friend Tom Clipperton being wrongfully accused of a crime. He is unwilling to present evidence that could save him because it would further expose him to the community’s racism; he also takes a fatalistic view due to the all-white jury. At the same time, Tom himself readily uses slurs against other races, and the book itself portrays other Native Americans in as offensively stereotypical a way as it possibly could. All of this makes the book an interesting (and sometimes disconcerting) sociological study.

Following the main story, the book contains some filler material that further emphasizes that this is a product of a different time: an article about strange fish found near Cape Cod (including an obscure creature called the “horse-mackerel” or “tuna” that is sometimes eaten overseas) and an explanation of how fireflies generate light using vacuums and the ether.

The whole book can be read online or downloaded from Project Gutenberg.

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Content Roundup – Second Week – October 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: October 10, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup
[1 p.]. Subscription for the Relief of the Suffering Inhabitants of the Cape de Verde Islands, January 25, 1833, Barry-Hayes Papers.

[1 p.]. Subscription for the Relief of the Suffering Inhabitants of the Cape de Verde Islands, January 25, 1833, Barry-Hayes Papers.

This week brings more William White letters, a number of Happy Days issues, financial documents from the Barry-Hayes Papers, and an audio musical set, vintage 1979, “Knock na Shee” from the Philadelphia Ceili Group. Read, listen, and enjoy Fall Break 2014!

American Catholic Historical Society

Front,  Letter, To: "Dear Parents" From: William C. White, February 3, 1862

Front, Letter, To: “Dear Parents” From: William C. White, February 3, 1862

William C. White Letters (24 letters added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:364084]

Dime Novel and Popular Literature

Periodicals

    Happy days : a paper for young and old, v. XXXVIII, no. 988, September 20, 1913.

Happy days : a paper for young and old, v. XXXVIII, no. 988, September 20, 1913.

Happy Days (8 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:360918]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:360936]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:360954]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:360972]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:360990]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:361008]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:361026]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:361044]

Independence Seaport Museum

Barry-Hayes

Series LXI. Financial Papers (49 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:361953]

Philadelphia Ceili Group

“Knock na Shee”, 1979 (12 parts added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:365251]

Cover illustration, Happy days : a paper for young and old, v. XL, no. 1024, May 30, 1914.

Cover illustration, Happy days : a paper for young and old, v. XL, no. 1024, May 30, 1914.

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Available for proofreading: Lancaster’s Choice

Lancaster's ChoiceOur latest Distributed Proofreading project is yet another Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller novel: Lancaster’s Choice. This title, reportedly one of the author’s personal favorites, was originally published in the short-lived New York Monthly Fashion Bazaar, a departure from the more mainstream story papers that hosted most of Mrs. Miller’s stories. The edition we have digitized is a later reprint from the Arthur Westbrook Company’s Hart Series.

To learn more about how you can help create a modern electronic edition of this long-forgotten novel, read this earlier post. When you’re ready to begin work, you can visit the project page to get started!

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eBook available: Motor Matt’s “Century” Run

Motor Stories #3It’s been a few months since we released the second issue of Motor Stories through Project Gutenberg. After a bit of a wait, the third issue is now here. In Motor Matt’s “Century” Run; or, The Governor’s Courier, heroic motor enthusiast Matt King finds himself helping local law enforcement break up a gang of smugglers who defy the Chinese Exclusion Act.

As is usual for the series, there’s plenty of fast-paced action as well as some signs of the changing times in which the story was written. Perhaps most interesting is the tension, also seen in earlier volumes, between clearly racist views (blood determines behavior, ethnic slurs are part of normal conversation) and more open-minded perspectives (characters question the fairness of Chinese exclusion, the villains aren’t portrayed simply as one-dimensional evil-doers). While the contemporary reader will undoubtedly see a lot more bad than good here, it is nonetheless interesting to see even small cracks in the racist assumptions of the period’s literature, as well as to observe discussions of contemporary social issues in what is otherwise a lightweight adventure novel for youthful readers.

More Motor Matt adventures will be coming soon. In the meantime, you can find the full text of this issue online at Project Gutenberg, where it can also be easily downloaded to the reading device of your choice.

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Content Roundup – First Week – October 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: October 3, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup
Chicago Ledger, v. XLV, no. 50, December 15, 1917.

Chicago Ledger, v. XLV, no. 50, December 15, 1917.

This week find us starting a new series of historical letters from the American Catholic Historical Association: the William C. White letters. White (dates of birth and death are unknown) was an Irish Catholic Union soldier from Philadelphia. He began his Civil War service as a volunteer with the 69th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers on August 19, 1861 and served in some of the bloodiest and most important battles of the War – Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. This collection contains letters from White to his parents in Philadelphia, recounting his experiences during the war. Of note are the letterhead stationary used by White; this week only the first few letters are available; check back soon for the next set.

As well a number of new popular culture titles are offered for your study. Especially interesting is: “How to be a detective”- a newly acquired part of the “Ten Cent Handbooks” series- some of the first modern how-to books to have been published in the United States. Finally take a look at a few of the World War I periodicals, newly digitized, such as “Needlework”, “Everyday life”, or “T. P.’s journal for men and women”.

American Catholic Historical Society

Letterhead, Letter, To: "Dear Parents" From: William C. White, November 8, 1861.

Letterhead, Letter, To: “Dear Parents” From: William C. White, November 8, 1861.

William C. White Letters (7 letters added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:364084?recordID=vudl%3A363923]

Dime Novel and Popular Literature

Fiction

Dick Darling’s Money, or the Rise of an Office Boy / by a Self-Made Man
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:363144]

Non-Fiction

How to be a detective (Ten Cent Handbooks)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:360705]

Periodicals

Happy Days (1 issue added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:360900]

 Lifebuoy Soap ad, Inside front cover, T. P.'s journal for men and women, v. V, no. 60, March, 1917.


Lifebuoy Soap ad, Inside front cover, T. P.’s journal for men and women, v. V, no. 60, March, 1917.

T. P.’s journal for men and women (5 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:357973]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:358003]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:358033]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:358067]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:358097]

p. 2,  Needlecraft, September 1917.

p. 2, Needlecraft, September 1917.

Needlecraft (1 issue added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:358123]

Chicago Ledger (2 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:357665]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:357632]

Everyday life (1 issue added: April, 1914)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:357374]


Historical Society of Montgomery County

Ardmore Chronicle (6 issues from 1914 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:356010]

Independence Seaport Museum

Barry-Hayes

Series LX. Legal Papers (11 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:361952]

Series LXI. Financial Papers (33 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:361953]

Everyday life, v. IX, no. VII, April, 1914.

Everyday life, v. IX, no. VII, April, 1914.

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eBook available: Fame and Fortune Weekly, no. 801

Fame and Fortune Weekly, no. 801

Fame and Fortune Weekly, no. 801

The “boy’s success story” genre made up a relatively small but significant percentage of the dime novel and story paper universe. Within this genre, the long-running Fame and Fortune Weekly was one of the most notable titles. Our latest eBook release through Distributed Proofreaders is one of the later issues of this publication, no. 801, from February 4, 1921.

The bulk of each issue of Fame and Fortune was devoted to a short novel. This issue’s offering is Dick Darling’s Money; or, The Rise of an Office Boy. While some of the success fiction of the time was often designed to inspire its readers to better behavior — and, indeed, the hero of this tale is a nice guy who is richly rewarded — the actual narrative shows little direct correlation between good behavior and financial benefits. Instead, in true dime novel fashion, a series of random incidents occur, culminating with Dick Darling becoming rich, not because of his skill or personality, but by sheer dumb luck. This ending is foreshadowed through encounters with a gypsy fortune-teller (perhaps not the sort of Fortune usually alluded to by the periodical’s title). Interestingly, the story’s portrayal of gypsies, while highly stereotypical, is at the same time surprisingly positive.

Fame and Fortune Weekly, no. 341

Fame and Fortune Weekly, no. 341

The rest of the issue is filled out with an astonishingly brief serial installment, a short story, capsule articles of unusual news (such as a discussion of a school where conflicts are resolved through teacher-moderated fist-fights), and many advertisements (one of which features a product that rather shockingly promotes itself to children by encouraging them to play pranks on people of other races).

The whole issue can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg. Readers might also be interested in seeing the original page images in our Digital Library or in comparing this issue to Fame and Fortune Weekly no. 341, which features a more colorful cover and includes an earlier appearance of Dick Darling’s Money in a slightly longer form.

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Last Modified: October 1, 2014