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eBook available: Her Dark Inheritance

Dark InheritanceThe latest eBook project we have completed with the help of Distributed Proofreaders is the 19th century melodrama Her Dark Inheritance by Mrs. E. Burke Collins. The story revolves around Beatrix Dane, a young girl whose past contains a secret so horrifying that its revelation eventually kills her adoptive father. While not as well-constructed as the generally similar works by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller, and containing several of the expected offensive stereotypes of the period, this is still a fun read, both for the shocking secret (which is nearly impossible to guess, and doesn’t actually make a whole lot of sense) and for some of the over-the-top dialog. Our heroine’s tortured (and constantly soliloquizing) Uncle Bernard offers some particular gems, such as this one:

Thought! Never think, Simons. Don’t let me ever hear again that you indulge in the pernicious habit of thinking! Great Heaven! what would I not give to drown thought—to bury it out of sight—deep, deep—so deep that nothing on earth would ever have the power to resurrect it! Thought—memory! Bah!”

For the rest of this speech, and a great deal more, you can find the full text of the novel online at Project Gutenberg, where it can also be downloaded in a variety of popular electronic formats.

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Now in proofreading: On an Irish Jaunting-car

On an Irish Jaunting-carOur latest Distributed Proofreaders project is a change of pace from the usual variety of popular fiction titles. On an Irish Jaunting-car through Donegal and Connemara is a travel narrative describing (and illustrating with photos) a variety of Irish scenes. This is one of several books written by Samuel G. Bayne, an author who appears to have made quite a lot of money in various business ventures when not traveling or writing about his adventures.

If you would like to help transform this vintage book into a new electronic edition, please read this earlier post to learn more about the process, then visit the project page.

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Content Roundup – Third Week – July 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: July 18, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup
p. 357, Alte und neue Welt [1877].

p. 357, Alte und neue Welt [1877].

This week finds a number of newly digitized items for your consideration, including the newly available finding aid for the recently donated James D. Reap, Jr. World War II Collection.

Catholica

Alte und neue Welt (volume added for year: 1877)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:265911]

Dime Novel and Popular Literature

Periodicals

p. 240, Frank Leslie's Boys' and Girls' Weekly.

p. 240, Frank Leslie’s Boys’ and Girls’ Weekly.

Frank Leslie’s Boys’ and Girls’ Weekly (July 24, 1875)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:351691]

The Saturday Evening Post, (May 30, 1829)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:353267]

The weekly herald, (August 17, 1839)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:353257]

Roman Catholic High School Alumni Association

Purple and Gold (13 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:207468?recordID=vudl%3A326577]

Special Collections

James D. Reap, Jr.

James D. Reap, Jr.

James D. Reap, Jr. World War II Collection (finding aid online)
[http://library.villanova.edu/about/librariesandcollections/specialcollections/collections/reap-wwii-collection/]

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eBook available: Motor Matt’s Daring; or, True to His Friends

Motor Matt's DaringLess than a month after the release of Motor Matt; or, The King of the Wheel, the second volume of the Motor Stories dime novel series has also been made available as an eBook. Motor Matt’s Daring; or, True to His Friends offers more of the same fast-paced, technology-driven action as the previous volume, this time featuring a story about a disputed gold claim. As before, the main adventure is supplemented by a short, unrelated (and unpleasantly racist) adventure story, this time centering on a dangerous night-time journey through an alligator-infested swamp to intercept a murderer.

Stay tuned for more Motor Matt adventures in the months to come. For now, you can find the full text of this issue online at Project Gutenberg, where it can also be downloaded in a variety of popular electronic formats.

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Content Roundup – Second Week – July 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: July 11, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup
Title page,  The Catholic periodical index, 1930-1933.

Title page, The Catholic periodical index, 1930-1933.

This week brings us a number of import new resources including the first volume of ledgers of the Bishop’s Bank of Philadelphia; the 1930-1933 volume of the Catholic periodical index; a few new Great War postcards; a new stereogram; a new issue of the New York Ledger from 1873; and 140 new ship’s papers from the Independence Seaport Museum’s Barry-Hayes Papers collection.

Americana

    Stereogram, 3: Rat on Toast - for dinner, 1898.

Stereogram, 3: Rat on Toast – for dinner, 1898.



Stereogram

Stereogram, 3: Rat on Toast – for dinner, 1898
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347526]

Catholic Library Association

The Catholic periodical index, 1930-1933
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:351709]

Dime Novel and Popular Literature Collection


Periodicals

The New York Ledger, v. XXIX, no. 3, March 8, 1873.

The New York Ledger, v. XXIX, no. 3, March 8, 1873.

New York Ledger (1 issue, 1873)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:351671]

Great War

Postcard, To: Ella Hammer.

Postcard, To: Ella Hammer.

Postcard, To: Frieda, December 9, 1917
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347713]

Postcard, To: Ella Hammer
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347717]

Independence Seaport Museum

Barry Hayes Papers

Printed Form, Receipt, To: Patrick Hayes, Ship Tontine.

Printed Form, Receipt, To: Patrick Hayes, Ship Tontine.

Series LVIII Ships’ Papers (140 items added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:318371]


Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center

p. 163,  Ledger, Bishop's Bank, vol. 1.

p. 163, Ledger, Bishop’s Bank, vol. 1.

Ledger, Bishop’s Bank, vol. 1
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:307096]

Postcard, To: Frieda, December 9, 1917.

Postcard, To: Frieda, December 9, 1917.

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eBook available: Stories of Robin Hood

Robin HoodIn the early twentieth century, a series of small, inexpensive pamphlets known as the Instructor Literature Series provided readings aimed at students in grades one through eight.

Our latest completed Distributed Proofreaders project is one of these publications, a collection of Robin Hood stories aimed at fifth graders. The slim volume, whose title is either The Story of Robin Hood or Stories of Robin Hood depending on which page you believe, contains six tales and one long poem covering Robin Hood legends ranging from the very familiar to the slightly more obscure. This is rounded out with a catalog showing the considerable breadth of the Instructor Literature Series.

You can read the book online in its entirety at Project Gutenberg, where it can also be downloaded in a variety of popular electronic formats.

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Content Roundup – Last Week of June / First Week of July – 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: July 3, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup
Pages 23-24, Newspaper Scrapbook, World War I, 1915-1917.

Pages 23-24, Newspaper Scrapbook, World War I, 1915-1917.

This two-week dose of newly available content comes before the Independence Day holiday and in the midst of summer vacation season. Enjoy your holiday and read a newly available old text!

Great War

P. 8, Newspaper Scrapbook, World War I, 1915-1917.

P. 8, Newspaper Scrapbook, World War I, 1915-1917.

Newspaper Scrapbook, World War I, 1915-1917
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:353124]

Dime Novel and Popular Literature Collection


Fiction

The Dreadnought boys on battle practice / by Captain Wilbur Lawton
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:353360]

Periodicals

Chimney Corner (1 issue added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:351653]

 The Daily Graphic, v. IV, no. 395, Thursday, June 11, 1874.


The Daily Graphic, v. IV, no. 395, Thursday, June 11, 1874.

Daily Graphic (1 issue added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:351681]

Flag of Our Union (2 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350783]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:351560]

Happy days : a paper for young and old, v. XLIV, no. 1144, September 16, 1916.

Happy days : a paper for young and old, v. XLIV, no. 1144, September 16, 1916.

Happy Days (1 issue added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:351596]

Joseph McGarrity Collection


Book

The lost Irish tribes in the South
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:353860]

Villanova Digital Collection

Undergraduate Honors Theses (30 these from 2014 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:353118]

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eBook available: Malaeska

MalaeskaShortly before the Civil War broke out, the publisher Beadle and Company (later Beadle and Adams) tried a publishing experiment: sell short novels for ten cents, providing inexpensive entertainment for the masses. This experiment proved to be incredibly successful, and thus the “dime novel” was popularized.

The very first story released as a Beadle’s Dime Novel was Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter, written by Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, an author who would continue to contribute to the series in years to come. This debut title is now available in electronic format through Project Gutenberg thanks to our work with the Distributed Proofreaders project.

Malaeska is definitely not what one might expect from the first dime novel — it does not set the template for what would follow. While there are some action sequences here and there, the overall tone of the book is nostalgic and mournful, filled with long descriptions of natural scenes and authorial asides on the “good old days” before the tiresome modernity of 1860.

It is also surprising that the subject of this initial experiment in popular literature is not frontier adventure, lost treasure, high romance or another crowd-pleasing standard but rather interracial marriage, a subject that was definitely not considered to be a positive thing in the 19th century. Needless to say, many of the attitudes and some of the language presented by the book have not aged well, though it is perhaps to the book’s credit that it is written ambiguously enough that the reader can choose to interpret it either as a cautionary tale against violating societal norms (perhaps, though not necessarily, the original intent) or as a condemnation of the senselessness of prejudice (a more satisfying modern reading).

To experience the story for yourself and make up your own mind about its significance, you can read the full text online or download it for your e-reader at Project Gutenberg.

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Now in proofreading: Little Nobody

"Little Nobody"

“Little Nobody”

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve posted a Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller proofreading project, so it’s time to revisit her body of work. The latest title is Little Nobody, a novel first serialized from July 31, 1886 to October 23, 1886 in the Fireside Companion story paper and later reprinted in the Hart Series (among others).

If you want to experience some of the crazy twists and turns of a Mrs. Miller novel while helping to create a modern electronic edition of a long-forgotten text, read about our proofreading efforts in this earlier blog post and then head over to the project page.

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eBook available: Motor Matt; or, The King of the Wheel

Motor Stories #1Last year, we reintroduced the heroic Motor Matt to the world by digitizing the complete series of Motor Stories dime novels. Today, the first of those adventures has been formatted into a convenient-to-read eBook with the help of the Distributed Proofreaders project.

Motor Matt; or, The King of the Wheel is an interesting beginning to the series. Published in 1909, at a time when dime novels were nearing the end of their reign, the story shows a very conscious effort to present itself as something new and modern within a tired and aging genre.

The story is almost certainly modeled on the incredibly popular adventures of Frank Merriwell first published in Tip-Top Weekly, with a focus on the athletic and social adventures of high school boys. However, a strong emphasis on technology sets it apart. Not only is the adventure largely centered on Motor Matt’s efforts to obtain his first motorcycle, but it also features wireless communication as an integral part of the plot.

In addition to emphasizing then-cutting-edge technology, the book also seems to look disparagingly on some past dime novel tropes. Comic relief is presented in the form of Welcome Perkins, an elderly, one-legged man with a broken gun who may or may not be a reformed outlaw. He frequently offers outbursts like this one:

“It’s plumb good for a ole outlaw like me to grip a honest pa’m. It helps to make me fergit what I was and to brace up an’ be what I ort. I’m a horrible example o’ what happens to a man when he cuts loose in his youth an’ bloom an’ terrorizes all outdoors—but I can’t begin to tell ye how pacifyin’ to my reckless natur’ is the grip of a honest hand.”

The outlaw who tries to reform his wild nature is a common theme in dime novels, typified by the adventures of Deadwood Dick, but here it is rendered intentionally ridiculous.

Also quite interesting is the Native American character portrayed here. Needless to say, “Indians” are frequently used as villains or insultingly-portrayed sidekicks in the dime novel universe, but here we are given Tom Clipperton, a character who initially poses a threat to Matt not because of his race but rather because of bitterness over the racism shown him by others, including one of Matt’s friends.

Before anyone gets too excited about how progressive this book is, it should be noted that the tale still has its moments of political incorrectness, and the filler story at the end about an African tiger hunt is downright cringe-inducing. Nonetheless, Motor Matt’s debut is a fun and readable adventure that serves as a document of changing times early in the 20th century, and as such, it’s worth a look.

The entire book can be read online or downloaded in a variety of popular eBook formats at Project Gutenberg.

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Last Modified: June 23, 2014