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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.


eBook available: How to Become an Engineer

How to Become an EngineerAnother of publisher Frank Tousey’s Ten Cent Hand Books has been fully run through our proofreading process. The latest title is How to Become an Engineer, a guide to running real trains and building model versions at home, compiled by prolific dime novelist Francis W. Doughty under the pseudonym “an old engineer on the New York Central Railroad.”

Like other titles in this series, it is questionable how helpful this book actually was for aspiring engineers. The primary advice repeatedly offered by the book boils down to “work hard, pay attention, and you’ll learn what you need on the job.” The instructions for building model trains are complex, hard to follow, and at least a little bit dangerous (the steam-powered engines could explode if improperly built). In spite of these significant limitations, though, the book is more readable than some of its series-mates, with an enjoyable history chapter at the beginning and a conversational tone throughout.

Certain characteristics of past Tousey titles (tonal inconsistencies, references to sections that do not exist, etc.) have suggested that the publisher “borrowed” text from other sources. Further evidence was found during the production of this eBook, as it was discovered that some of the images here were lifted from the British publication Locomotive Engine Driving: A Practical Manual for Engineers in Charge of Locomotive Engines. If the graphics in this edition are difficult to read, going back to the earlier source offers clearer images.

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


Content Roundup – second week of December 2013 to first week of January 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: January 3, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup

Polar Bear

Happy New Year! As the snow falls and the hearth beckons, peruse some some of the new content added over the holiday season. The Digital Library will be undergoing a software upgrade during the middle of January; new content will resume once this is completed: so stay tuned for more exciting content…


American Catholic Historical Society

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

Dime Novel and Popular Literature


Addie’s husband; or, Through clouds to sunshine / By the author of “Love or lands?”

Harry Ashton: or, The will and the way / by J. F. Smith

Off for West Point : or, Mark Mallory’s struggle / by Lieut. Frederick Garrison

Pretty Geraldine, the New York salesgirl, or, Wedded to her choice / by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller

The magic disguise detective. An old-time detective romance / by “Old Sleuth.”

The Duchess / by the Duchess

Beadle’s Dime Dialogues (3 issues added)

Beadle’s Dime Speaker Series (1 issue added)

Trim Among the Esquimaux; or, A Long Night in the Frozen North / by the Author of “Nick Carter.”


A ride to Khiva / by Capt. Fred. Burnaby, Of the Royal Horse Guards



Saturday Night (21 issues added)

Paratextual Materials

Bertha Clay sign, ca. 1910

Letter, To: “My Dear Friends”, From: “Ann S. Stephens”, March 17, 1866.

Independence Seaport Museum



Series LVIII Ships’ Papers (123 items added)



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Last Modified: January 3, 2014