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eBook available: The Liberty Girl

The Liberty GirlA few months ago, we helped produce an eBook of The Brighton Boys in the Trenches, an interesting example of the fiction marketed to boys during the first World War. Our latest release, The Liberty Girl by Rena I. Halsey, complements this as a specimen of Great War fiction intended for reading by girls.

Released in 1919, it seems likely that this was written during the war under the assumption that the conflict would still be raging upon its publication. The book continues the narrative of Nathalie Page, a character introduced in the non-war-themed Blue Robin, the Girl Pioneer. Nathalie begins the book with mixed feelings about the war, and several other characters are also critical of the conflict — offering slightly more moral shading than one might expect here — but the story is clearly designed to convince the reader of the justice of the cause, and everyone finds significant patriotic fervor by the end of the tale.

Obviously, a key distinction between Brighton Boys and Liberty Girl is that the boys were able to enlist and fight the battle directly, while Nathalie can only offer support from the home front. In spite of that limitation, the book is not solely about domestic activities; there are discussions of girls going overseas to support the troops, and some gruesome battlefield narratives are offered by way of a character returned from the front.

Of interest to dime novel readers is the fact that author Rena I. Halsey is the daughter Harlan P. Halsey, also known as “Old Sleuth,” a prolific dime novelist. The use of coincidence and disguise in the narrative here betrays at least traces of the Halsey family’s dime novel roots.

If you wish to read the book for yourself, it can be found at Project Gutenberg, where you can view the text online or download it in a variety of popular electronic formats.


Content Roundup – January to mid-February – 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: February 14, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup


With the upgrade of the VuDL software late in 2013, processing of new content was suspended. As testing has progressed, some new content has been added to the offerings of the Digital Library. Scanning – of course – continued since this moratorium in November 2013 and the large backlog of content that has been created will be described and made available over the next several months.

In the mean time, sit back and enjoy the following newly available offerings:

American Catholic Historical Society

Church Lithographs (Packard, Butler and Partridge Lithographs (30 more added)


Official Catholic Directory

The Metropolitan Catholic Almanac and Laity’s Directory for the year of our Lord 1841.

Dime Novel and Popular Literature

Paratextual Materials

[The Saturday Blade and The Chicago Ledger agent solicitation], To: Sam Albert, July, 1911.



Saturday Night (9 issues added)


Edward T. LeBlanc Bibliography of Story Papers, Dime Novels, and Libraries

Binder 7 (Munro’s Library of Popular Novels – New York Comic Library)

Independence Seaport Museum


Barry Hayes Papers

Series LVIII Ships’ Papers [71 items added]

Joseph McGarrity Collection


The Politics of Catholics Proved Loyal : a sermon preached at the laying of the first stone of the Catholic Church of St. Mary, Derby, on June 28, 1838, the day of Her Majesty’s Coronation / by the Hon. and Rev. George Spencer/

The story of Kilcrowley wood; or, fate of Peter O’Neill Crowley / James F. O’Regan.


The Gaelic American (8 issues added)



eBook available: Wild Margaret

columbusIt has been a good week for proofreading projects, with another one completing today: Wild Margaret, by Geraldine Fleming, which is actually a misattributed reprint of His Guardian Angel; or, Wild Margaret by once-famous British novelist, Charles Garvice.

Wild Margaret effectively demonstrates both why Garvice was so popular in his day and also why he has since been forgotten. The book has a certain charm to it, both through a distinctly British tone to its narration and through dialogue that displays at least slightly more wit and playfulness than is found in many other romances of the same period. Unfortunately, these favorable features do not overcome the limitations of the novel. The titular heroine, though given some self-sufficiency and periodically described as having a history of being “wild” or “madcap,” generally displays all the wildness of a house plant. The hero, though superficially appealing, is hard to sympathize with due to his all-around foolishness. The fairly simple plot doesn’t hold a candle to the more outrageous works of Mrs. Miller; it’s a very familiar “lovers meet, are separated, suffer, and are reunited” affair with relatively few surprises.

If you want to see all this for yourself, you can read the entire book online (or download it in a variety of popular formats) at Project Gutenberg.


eBook available: Kathleen’s Diamonds

Kathleen's DiamondsHot on the heels of Little Golden’s Daughter comes another Mrs. Miller novel, Kathleen’s Diamonds; or, She Loved a Handsome Actor, which proved to be the most challenging of our eBook projects thus far.

The challenge of this project came from the fact that, like many of Mrs. Miller’s works, this novel was first serialized in a story paper (in this case, the Fireside Companion), and later reprinted as a paper-covered book (in this case, from publisher Arthur Westbrook). Normally, it is easier to use the book as the source for creating an eBook, since all of the text can be found in a single volume. However, Westbrook was not always the most careful of publishers, and in the case of Kathleen’s Diamonds, the text contains errors that could not be resolved without consulting the story paper originals. Upon resolving those errors it was discovered that the reprint also omitted large amounts of poetry found in the original appearance of the story. For the sake of completeness, we determined to track down and restore all of the missing text.

Finding the original poetry was quite a challenge, given the fragility of the story papers in our own collection and the scarcity of other copies. Fortunately, with the help of two private collectors and one other university library, we were able to obtain all of the lost verse and release what is likely the most complete version of the novel ever distributed.

Was it worth the effort? Read the book and judge for yourself — if you enjoyed The Bride of the Tomb, you probably won’t be disappointed. It is available at Project Gutenberg for online reading or download in a variety of popular formats.


Meet Ruth Martin, Spring 2014 Digital Library Intern

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: February 1, 2014
  • Filed Under: People

Ruth Martin began working for the Digital Library as a volunteer intern over the 2013 summer semester and after volunteering throughout the fall 2013 semester, she continues her service this semester as one of the part-time staff Digital Library interns.

Ruth loves the idea of preserving old documents and making them accessible. She is looking forward to using the skills she learns during her internship to help local historical societies and churches preserve their history when they don’t have resources.

Ruth loves to rollerblade, but hasn’t found a good place to skate around here, so she’s taken up running instead. History is a hobby as well as profession. She is currently making her way through “The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Space and Time” by Wolfgang Schivelbusch. She looks forward to reading fiction again some day, when she has a bit more time.

If she could travel anywhere, Ruth would like to go somewhere in the United States in the mid-19th-century because that was the point when a more traditional order began changing to a more modern order.


eBook available: Little Golden’s Daughter

Little Golden's DaughterAnother of our Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller proofreading projects has been completed, and Little Golden’s Daughter is now available as an eBook.

Many of Mrs. Miller’s works feature recurring themes, and this particular title uses a number of ideas that were subsequently recycled in the later, but rather similar, Dainty’s Cruel Rivals: a crumbling and allegedly haunted estate, a Cinderella theme, and (to the likely chagrin of modern-day readers) a stereotypical “black mammy” character in a prominent role. Neither Little Golden’s Daughter or Dainty’s Cruel Rivals can be counted among Mrs. Miller’s better works — newcomers are advised to sample The Bride of the Tomb first — but they still hold some interest for completists.

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


Now in proofreading: Malaeska

MalaeskaFalvey Memorial Library’s Special Collections is fortunate enough to hold a copy of Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter by Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, the very first of Beadle’s Dime Novels. As this important title has not yet been published in Project Gutenberg, it was a natural choice for a proofreading project.

The novel is now available at the Distributed Proofreaders site, so you can help create a new electronic edition and find out what all the fuss was about back in 1860. To join the fun, first read more about our proofreading project and then visit the project page for Malaeska.


Ghost hunting in Paris

  • Posted by: Laura Bang
  • Posted Date: January 16, 2014
  • Filed Under: Americana

We are in the depths of winter in the Northeastern U.S., so now seems like a good time to recall my summer vacation.

Last June, I finished the digitization and description of a two-volume set of scrapbooks kept by one Frank R. Steed, an Army Field Clerk in the American Expeditionary Forces stationed in Paris during the end of World War I. After spending so much time going through the scrapbooks, I felt some fondness for Steed, who arrived in France only two months before the end of the war and stayed until November 1919. His scrapbooks contain memos and other documents relating to his military service, but the majority of items relate to his leisure activities, which included attending dances, seeing numerous theatre productions, and taking plenty of photographs of the cities he visited, including Paris.

On June 30, I left for a three-week vacation in Paris. Before leaving the library, I did what any normal person would do when setting off on an exciting adventure (and much-needed break): I took some work with me. This assignment was entirely self-imposed, however, and it precisely fit my idea of a good time. I took some photos of Steed’s Paris photos to carry around with me on my phone while I wandered around Paris and attempted to recreate some of the scenes, 94 years after Steed was there. (more…)


eBook available: History of Orrin Pierce

  • Posted by: Demian Katz
  • Posted Date: January 14, 2014
  • Filed Under: Project Gutenberg
Reading in the Graveyard

Reading in the Graveyard

Another proofreading project has reached completion: History of Orrin Pierce, a Sunday School reader from 1847. Filled with simple illustrations (some hand-colored by a former owner), the book tells of a life of religious devotion in simple language. While the brief narrative probably won’t do much to capture your imagination, it offers a glimpse of the sort of fiction that many parents encouraged their children to read in the 19th century.

The entire book can be read online at Project Gutenberg, where it may also be downloaded for offline reading in a variety of popular formats.


Sent mail

Today in electronic communication, when an email is composed and sent, an automatic copy is routinely placed in a “Sent” mail folder. In the manuscript era, however the only way for an author of a letter or memo to keep a copy of the correspondence was to manually scribe a copy. This may have been a “fair copy” – a nearly exact copy of the sent letter, or a draft copy, which would included revisions and edits. Some authors kept these fair and draft copies as individual sheets, while in other cases, a bound book of blank pages was used.


The two letter books kept by Peter Cullen, during the 1832-1934 years, are good examples of the bound format of sent mail and document his ongoing commercial correspondence. These were draft copies as the numerous corrections and emendations can attest.


Over 90 leaves of letters are present in the 1832-1833 volume; the 20 leaves of the 1834 volume are newly available in a transcription by library staff member Frances DiLenge.


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Last Modified: January 10, 2014