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Now in proofreading: Her Dark Inheritance

Dark InheritanceWhile we have devoted a lot of our proofreading energy to the works of Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller, she was far from the only author writing twisty story paper melodramas in the late 19th century. One of Mrs. Miller’s many prolific contemporaries was Mrs. E. Burke Collins, a writer whose own life had some startling twists and turns, as alluded to in this article. Our latest Distributed Proofreaders release is one of Mrs. Collins’ works, a tale of a young woman with a terrible secret.

For a taste of the story, and to help produce a modern eBook edition of the text, you can first read about our proofreading efforts in this earlier article, then visit the project page to begin work.

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eBook available: The Boy Aviators with the Air Raiders

The Boy Aviators with the Air RaidersToday, we have contributed a fourth World War I-themed children’s novel to Project Gutenberg. This title, The Boy Aviators with the Air Raiders, was written in the early days of the war and published in 1915, and this gives it a significantly different tone from the other three titles we have released, all of which were produced later.

The books published after America’s entry in the war have a distinct flavor of propaganda about them, emphasizing patriotism and portraying Germans as distasteful stereotypes. This earlier title, produced at a time of America’s neutrality, has an entirely different tone, and indeed, neutrality features prominently in the plot.

As the book begins, the titular Boy Aviators are representing a company which has produced an advanced seaplane. A prototype was sent to France before the war broke out, and while American neutrality prevents further models from being shipped, it does allow royalties to be paid on French-built replicas of the prototype. The boys are tasked with demonstrating the plane to show its value to the French government and secure a contract. Of course, German spies are desperately trying to steal or destroy the plane before this can happen!

The centrality of German espionage to the plot is not surprising for the period; prior to the war, tales of German conspiracy and invasion were popular enough in the English-speaking world to nearly form a genre of their own. While this theme lends a certain air of paranoia to the book, the overall portrayal of the Germans is far more even-handed than what would come later. While the Germans are pitted against the book’s protagonists, the boys treat their adversaries with sympathy and admiration. In the words of young Frank, “while we may sympathize with the Allies in this struggle at the same time we do not hate the German people, but feel the warmest friendship for them.”

Of course, while the Germans get a surprisingly sympathetic portrayal, it would be hard to find a children’s series book of this period that didn’t feature some sort of character offensive to modern sensibilities, and in this instance, most of the cringe-inducing content arrives courtesy of Pudge, one of the heroes, but also a stereotypical “jolly fat boy,” clumsy, more cowardly than his peers, fixated on food, and prone to frequent alliterative exclamations such as “Sugar and sandwiches!” and “Tamales and terrapins!” It could be argued that even Pudge’s portrayal is, on the balance, positive, since he repeatedly performs heroic acts in defiance of his personal limitations, but his positioning as (unfunny) comic relief purely on the basis of a physical attribute is hard to ignore.

As with many of its peers, Boy Aviators with the Air Raiders is interesting as a study of its period, but weak as actual entertainment. While the book certainly delivers some action-packed flying sequences as the boys prove the worth of their plane in active war zones, it has little else to offer. Its prose is unengaging and filled with long, awkward sentences, and the theme of neutrality that runs through the story eventually brings the tale to a startlingly unsatisfying conclusion, perhaps the only ending possible given the many uncertainties of an ongoing conflict.

Since the entire book is available for online reading or download through Project Gutenberg, you are now free to read it and form your own conclusions. In spite of its low literary standards, it is a title worth studying as an example of an early, tentative attempt to use the novelty of an ongoing war to sell books to children.

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Content Roundup – Fourth Week – May 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: May 23, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup
Elijah and I by Alice Cary, p. 8, The New York Ledger, v. XIII, no. 52, March 6, 1858.

Elijah and I by Alice Cary, p. 8, The New York Ledger, v. XIII, no. 52, March 6, 1858.

This week brings to your attention antebellum issues of the New York Ledger; a number of items from the American Catholic Historical Society’s Kite Collection; further materials from the Independence Seaport’s Barry-Hayes Ship’s Papers and a new podcast chapter in the reading of “The Bride of the Tomb”.

American Catholic Historical Society

    Certificate. Elizabeth S. F. Kite Recognized by the Order of Franciscans (O.F.M.), January 16, 1923.

Certificate. Elizabeth S. F. Kite Recognized by the Order of Franciscans (O.F.M.), January 16, 1923.

Elizabeth Sarah Kite (37 added items)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:246243]


Dime Novel and Popular Literature

Periodicals

The New York Ledger, v. XIII, no. 45, January 16, 1858.

The New York Ledger, v. XIII, no. 45, January 16, 1858.

New York Ledger (1858: 9 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350456]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350466]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350476]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350486]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350496]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350506]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350516]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350526]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350536]

The Spare Change Library Podcast

The Bride of the Tomb (Chapter 33)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:286583]

Independence Seaport Museum

Barry Hayes Papers

Series VIII Ships’ Papers (42 item added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:318371]

Joseph McGarrity Collection

Books

The Russian constitution : adopted July 10, 1918
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350596]

Newspapers

Vossische Zeitung, No 564, Evening Edition, November 5, 1914.

Vossische Zeitung, No 564, Evening Edition, November 5, 1914.

Vossische Zeitung (4 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350095]

Das Dienstags=blatt (6 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:344779]

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Content Roundup – Third Week – May 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: May 16, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup
Illustration, p. 8, Saturday Night, v. XXV, no. 48, Saturday July 28, 1888.

Illustration, p. 8, Saturday Night, v. XXV, no. 48, Saturday July 28, 1888.

This week brings us lots of rain! So why not curl up in corner with an e-reader or tablet and start reading! You will be glad you did and here are some of the latest offerings to consider:


American Catholic Historical Society

Typescript. Edited, Manuscript: "From Twilight Into Day" On Kite's Religious Conversion

Typescript. Edited, Manuscript: “From Twilight Into Day” On Kite’s Religious Conversion

Elizabeth Sarah Kite (17 added items)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:246243]

Dime Novel and Popular Literature

Periodicals

p.8, Saturday Night, v. XXV, no. 20, Saturday January 14, 1888.

p.8, Saturday Night, v. XXV, no. 20, Saturday January 14, 1888.

Saturday Night (6 complete issues, 2 partial issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349727]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349787]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349797]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349737]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349747]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349757]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349767]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349777]

Independence Seaport Museum

Barry Hayes Papers

Series LVIII Ships’ Papers (19 items added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:318371]

Letter, on rice paper with envelope.

Letter, on rice paper with envelope.

Series LIX Letters (10 items added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:341329?recordID=vudl%3A339702]

Joseph McGarrity Collection

Newspapers

 Das Dienstags=blatt, August 28, 1917.


Das Dienstags=blatt, August 28, 1917.

Das Dienstags=blatt (37 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:344779]

Vossische Zeitung (1 issue added, collection created)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:344392]

Cover illustration, Saturday Night, v. XXV, no. 26, Saturday February 25, 1888.

Cover illustration, Saturday Night, v. XXV, no. 26, Saturday February 25, 1888.

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Content Roundup – Second Week – May 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: May 9, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup

This week brings us warmer weather, newly digitized Irish music and significant progress on the American Catholic Historical Society’s Elizabeth Sarah Kite collection of materials, and newspapers! So as the flowers bloom, take a moment to smell the digital roses and read!

American Catholic Historical Society

Inverted Negative : Mythological Images of American War and Liberty

Inverted Negative : Mythological Images of American War and Liberty

Elizabeth Sarah Kite (97 added items)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:246243]

Dime Novel and Popular Literature

Periodicals

New York Weekly (3 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349176]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349186]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349196]

Saturday Night (5 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349206]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349216]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349226]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349236]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349246]

The Spare Change Library Podcast

The Bride of the Tomb (Chapter 32 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:286583]


Joseph McGarrity Collection

Newspapers

Hamburger Fremdenblatt, Nr. 65b, March 6, 1915
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:344682]

Das Dienstags=blatt (29 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:344779]

Deutsche Kriegszeitung (4 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:349511]

Philadelphia Ceili Group

“An Evening of Song with Paddy Phelan”, March 6, 1992 (15 songs added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347704]

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eBook available: Deadwood Dick Jr. Branded

Deadwood Dick Jr. BrandedThe latest eBook to come out of the Distributed Proofreaders project using content from the Digital Library is Deadwood Dick Jr. Branded; or, Red Rover at Powder Pocket, a dime novel first published in 1896.

Deadwood Dick Jr. was the hero of close to one hundred adventures in Beadle’s Half-Dime Library. Borrowing the name of the famous outlaw-hero Deadwood Dick, the younger character occasionally acted as an outlaw himself but more frequently played the role of detective. In this story, Deadwood Dick Jr. and an outlaw known as Red Rover confront one another during a train robbery, and much of the text is devoted to their attempts to outmaneuver one another as Red Rover tries to get away with a fortune and Deadwood Dick Jr. tries to uphold the law.

Some of the usual dime novel standbys can be found here — gun fights, outlandish disguises, etc. — but a surprising amount of space is devoted to lengthy debates about matters of honor. This talkiness means that this is hardly the most exciting tale to be found in the dime novel universe, but it is an interesting portrait of a particular idealized vision of the Wild West.

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

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Using online translators for a Kite Collection French Language Poem

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: May 6, 2014
  • Filed Under: Transcription

Posted for Susan Ottignon, Digital Library and Special Collections Team:

When tasked with transcribing a French poem and prayers, written by Elizabeth Sarah Kite, and having no working knowledge of the language, I relied heavily on several online translators [1], so readily available these days, to decipher unfamiliar French words. The Villanova Digital Library, (VDL), digitized Kite’s papers and are available as part of the Catholica Collection.

After a few tries of copying/pasting words from the work into the varied translators which gave some interesting results. I decided to ‘dump’ entire verses into a translator and discovered rather quickly each system had its own distinct differences and many similarities in their translation. This wasn’t an exercise, on my part, to analyze the software or to provide an authoritative translation of Kite’s writings. My contribution, by using the translators, is an attempt to offer us, the non-French readers, an opportunity to read and feel the deep expressions of the author’s faith and love for the Lord. I leave to future researchers the task in executing an authoritative edition of Elizabeth Sarah Kite’s writings.

———–

[1] Online Translators used: Google Translation, ImTranslator ©2014 Smart Link Corporation, Bing Translator © 2014 Microsoft and Reverso Translation.

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Now in proofreading: The Spruce Street Tragedy

Spruce Street TragedyThe dime novels of the late 19th century introduced a lot of detective characters, many of them with “old” in their names: Old Cap Collier, Old Sleuth, Old Broadbrim, etc., etc. The hero of our latest Distributed Proofreaders project, a doctor-detective known as Old Spicer, is far from the most famous of these law enforcers, but he was successful enough to star in a series of mysteries that began in the late 1880′s and was still in print in the early 1900′s. The adventure at hand, The Spruce Street Tragedy; or, Old Spicer Handles a Double Mystery, published as part of the semi-monthly Old Cap Collier Library, has our hero investigating a double murder.

You can help shed some light on this mystery by assisting with the process of converting this vintage text into a modern eBook. To join the cause, first read this earlier post about how proofreading works, then dig into the work at the project page.

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Content Roundup – Fourth Week April and First Week May – 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: May 2, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup
Color Postcard, To: Elizabeth Sarah Kite, October 4, 1931.

Color Postcard, To: Elizabeth Sarah Kite, October 4, 1931.

Back from our Easter holiday, this two week – double helping – of newly available content should fill up your May reading lists with a plethora of goodness!

American Catholic Historical Society

Elizabeth Sarah Kite (31 items added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:246243]

Dime Novel and Popular Literature

Fiction

The house on the island / by Etta W. Pierce
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:346607]

Helen’s babies / by John Habberton
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:346677]

Periodicals

The flag of our Union, v. IX, no. 7, Saturday, February 18, 1854.

The flag of our Union, v. IX, no. 7, Saturday, February 18, 1854.

Flag of Our Union (4 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348127]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:333719]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348117]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348107]

    The Daily Graphic, v. XXXI, no. 3126, Tuesday, April 17, 1883.

The Daily Graphic, v. XXXI, no. 3126, Tuesday, April 17, 1883.

Daily Graphic (9 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348008]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348018]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348028]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347248]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347258]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347268]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347278]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347288]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347298]

 Saturday Night, v. XIX, no. 23, Saturday, February 11, 1882.


Saturday Night, v. XIX, no. 23, Saturday, February 11, 1882.

Saturday Night (4 issues added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348137]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348147]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348157]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348167]

Scholarship

LeBlanc Bibliography, Binder 6
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347681]

Magnet detective library : bibliographic listing / by J. Randolph Cox
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348053]

Spare Change Library Podcast

Bride of the Tomb, (Chapter 31 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:286583]

Great War

Gefreiter Heinrich Möllering Papers (2 postcards added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:344414]


Perkasie Historical Society

[3], Photographs, Sine World War I Collection.

[3], Photographs, Sine World War I Collection.

World War Scrap Book : In Memory of Those Who Died : 10,000 wooden crosses for every iron one
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347832]

Photographs, Sine World War I Collection
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347464]

Letter, To: “My Fellow Soldiers” From: John J. Pershing
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:348046]

Invitation, “For Soldiers, Sailors, and Nurses” to attend a “Welcome Home Demonstration”
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:347460]

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Internship project summary: William Robinson

Posted for William Robinson, Digital Library Intern, Spring 2014.

This Spring I worked as a Digital Library Intern at Falvey Memorial Library, working out of the Special Collections and Digital Library Team. I spent most of my time scanning primary sources, describing them with metadata, and making them available to the world on Villanova’s Digital Library.

As part of my main project as an intern, I scanned and described a significant portion of the Ships’ Papers Series, part of the Barry-Hayes Papers on loan for digitization from the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. I enjoyed reading and handling the vellum manuscripts that I scanned, and understanding what documents were necessary for a ship to complete a successful mercantile voyage. Through bills of lading, oaths of ownership, invoices, account statements, and consular documents, I could trace the voyage of a ship and understand how merchants exchanged goods.

I also came to understand how the Ships’ Papers reflected special circumstances in trade, such as shipwreck or war. I scanned and described marine protests, documents in which seamen testify to a consul or notary public about damage to a ship, meant to protect the owner of the ship against liability for damaged cargo (vudl:323486, vudl:324171). Several documents were produced during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 and reflected the realities of trade in wartime. In January, 1813, Henry Wellesley, the British Ambassador to Spain, signed a license of protection for the Brig Ranger, leaving Spain for the United States. The brig could proceed to any U.S. port “without molestation on account of the present hostilities.” (vudl:323355)

Henry Wellesley on Left

Henry Wellesley on Left (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Wellesley,_1st_Baron_Cowley)

Furthermore, the Ships’ Papers Series introduced me to interesting lives and stories from the early nineteenth century. For example, Benjamin Nones signed and notarized many proof of ownership documents in the Ships’ Papers as notary public of Pennsylvania (vudl:324233, vudl:324241, vudl:324024). Nones was a Jew who had fought in the Revolutionary War and served on the staffs of General Washington and Lafayette, and later settled in Philadelphia. As a Jeffersonian and father of fourteen, he defended himself from attacks written in Federalist newspapers about his religion and poor finances. In a passionate reply published in the Philadelphia Aurora, he defended his faith, reminded Federalists of his military service, and contrasted Republican defense of religious freedom with the persecution of Jews under European monarchies. The Ships’ Papers also include documents signed by William Jarvis, an American consul in Lisbon appointed by Jefferson (vudl:324171). During the French occupation of Spain in the Napoleonic wars, as well as a British embargo on wool exports to the U.S. that influenced the War of 1812, Jarvis bought and smuggled 3,500-4,000 merino sheep through Portugal to the U.S. He gave merino sheep as gifts to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and started a successful sheep farm in Vermont.

William Jarvis, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Jarvis_%28merchant%29)

William Jarvis, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Jarvis_%28merchant%29)

Because Special Collections often supports several projects at a time, contingencies allowed me to contribute to other interesting projects. I helped digitize materials from institutions in the Delaware Valley related to World War I, to be featured in Home Before the Leaves Fall: The Great War, 1914-1918, a web project to reveal local World War I sources for scholarship. I also contributed annotations to an upcoming republication of two dime novels by prolific author Frances Doughty. Everyday unique, rare, or just plain odd items passed before me: a tea bag enclosed in a pyramid made of edible paper, General Sherman’s frock coat, early twentieth century Hebrew and Irish joke-books, maps of late nineteenth century New York City, the scrapbook of a vaudeville entertainer, private detective, and ambulance chaser, and stolen library items from a repentant alumnus. In addition to gaining a firm understanding of resource description in digital libraries, as a digital library intern I reinforced my interest in history and the diverse stories it has to tell.

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Last Modified: May 1, 2014