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eBook available: The Ocean Wireless Boys on War Swept Seas

The Ocean Wireless Boys on War Swept SeasHot on the heels of The Boy Aviators with the Air Raiders comes the release of another “Captain Wilbur Lawton” children’s adventure novel, The Ocean Wireless Boys on War Swept Seas. Like the Boy Aviators adventure that preceded this, War Swept Seas takes the heroes of an established line of books and faces them with the dangers of a brewing global conflict.

With this type of series book, it is often difficult to identify authors, since most titles were published pseudonymously, and some pseudonyms were shared. There was no real Captain Wilbur Lawton. It is known that at least some of the Lawton titles were actually the work of journalist John Henry Goldfrap, but it is possible that other authors contributed as well. If both Air Raiders and War Swept Seas are truly the product of the same pen, it shows significant growth between the two books, as War Swept Seas is a significantly more readable and interesting tale than its predecessor (and, for that matter, the previous Ocean Wireless Boys adventure, The Ocean Wireless Boys on the Pacific). You won’t find a whole lot of complex plot here, but the author throws in such a steady stream of action that it’s hardly missed.

War Swept Seas has much in common with Air Raiders: it is set at the very dawn of the war, and its American protagonists take a neutral posture in the conflict (in spite of having primarily German antagonists). Unlike the Boy Aviators, who sought to profit from the war, the Ocean Wireless Boys are simply innocent bystanders, first threatened by British war ships while passengers on a German vessel, and later endangered by all sides (and particularly a vengeful German professor) while on a peaceful mission in Europe. This allows the author to present a different perspective on war than is often found in similar but more hawkish series. Indeed, the book even goes so far as to give its protagonist, who is portrayed as faultlessly brave and heroic, an extended anti-war speech:

“Tell you what, Bill,” said Jack, as they returned to the hotel to breakfast, and found that the fire had been extinguished and the panic quieted down, “war is a pretty thing on paper, and uniforms, and bands, and fluttering flags, and all that to make a fellow feel martial and war-like, but it’s little realities like these that make you feel the world would be a heap better off without soldiers or sailors whose places could be taken by a few wise diplomats in black tail coats. It wouldn’t be so pretty but it would be a lot more like horse sense.”

A marked contrast to the more common message that war is hard but necessary, or even that war holds an unavoidable attraction to all boys. It would have been interesting to have seen if the message evolved in subsequent volumes after deeper U.S. involvement in the war, but sadly, Goldfrap died in 1917, and no further Captain Lawton adventures were published.

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

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Content Roundup – Last Week – May 2014

  • Posted by: Michael Foight
  • Posted Date: May 30, 2014
  • Filed Under: Content Roundup
[New York Family Story Paper advertisement, ca. 1873]

[New York Family Story Paper advertisement, ca. 1873]

Only a few new items to read this week, so take a break, clear your schedule for a few moments and examine:


American Catholic Historical Society

Facsimile. "Jeffersons Plan For The Federal City," [n.d.].

Facsimile. “Jeffersons Plan For The Federal City,” [n.d.].

Elizabeth Sarah Kite (8 added items)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:246243]

Dime Novel and Popular Literature Collection

Fiction

The motorboat boys down the Danube, or, Four chums abroad – Motorboat Boys Series
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350192]

Paratextual Materials

Family Story Paper money
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:350556]

Independence Seaport Museum

Barry Hayes Papers

Printed Form, Bill of Lading To: Brig Ontario Bound for Philadelphia, June 30, 1826

Printed Form, Bill of Lading To: Brig Ontario Bound for Philadelphia, June 30, 1826

Series LVIII Ships’ Papers (41 item added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:318371]

Joseph McGarrity Collection


Newspapers

Vossische Zeitung (3 issues from 1914 added)
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:346750]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:346758]
[http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:346772]

 Invoice of Cow Hides Shipped by W. A. Read by the Brig Ontario, February 3, 1825.


Invoice of Cow Hides Shipped by W. A. Read by the Brig Ontario, February 3, 1825.

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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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Last Modified: May 5, 2014