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ATLA Historical Monographs: Not Just for Church Historians and Theologians

With the acquisition of the ATLA Historical Monographs collections, Falvey has added close to 30,000 new core titles in religion to its digital collections. Why would historians be interested in this collection? Read on to find out or simply visit the collection online to browse or search its content. Titles in the collection have been published between the 16th century and 1923 and cover a wide range of subjects. In addition to the more predictable histories of congregations, topics range from personal recollections of missionaries, including accounts of the opium war, to missions to Native American peoples, to the position of different churches vis-à-vis slavery in North America. This collection adds a wealth of new primary sources to the Library’s collection.

As with many other digital collections, this collection was originally filmed on microform for preservation and mass distribution purposes. Today these core titles are available in digital format as two distinct collections: ATLA Historical Monographs Collection: Series 1 (16th Century to 1893) and ATLA Historical Monographs Collection: Series 2 (1894 to 1923). Falvey owns both collections. Hyperlinks to ATLA Historical Monographs Series 1 and Series 2 can be found on the Library’s Databases A-Z list and the online catalog has records with links for each individual work.

Religion and philosophy are the core subjects, but interested readers will also find works on science, medicine, history and law. While theology is its own distinct discipline today, early modern theologians were often also scientists, doctors, historians, lawyers or philosophers. Therefore, a fair number of works from other disciplines are covered in this collection. Eight overview essays, located on the virtual reference shelf, give the reader a better understanding about the time periods in which works in the collection were written. The essays cover topics such as the Great Awakening, the history of the Catholic Church in America, the changing role of religion in the U.S. from 1850 to 1923, Cristian missionaries in China, and the economics of religious publishing in 19th century America.

This EBSCO collection offers a range of features which include PDF files and abstracts of all works, permalinks, bookmarking, personal notes, personal accounts, citations in all major styles, and an export function to RefWorks or EndNote. The full text view, a.k.a. the Digital Archives Viewer, makes it easy to jump to any page, illustration or chapter; browse a work page by page; bookmark individual pages; and search individual pages or the complete work. The full-text search is executed by optical character recognition software (OCR), and the reliability of search results depends on the quality of the original microfilm. The majority of titles are written in English with a strong showing of German, French, Latin, and Ancient Greek. The virtual reference shelf on the search and results screen includes a handy link to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Pre-19th Century Terms & Definitions to assist the reader in understanding the texts at hand.

Questions or comments?  Contact me directly (jutta.seibert@villanova.edu) or post your comments online.




Open Access Rules in France: Persée, érudit, and revues.org

Interlibrary loan is often the only way to get hold of foreign-language-journal articles here at Villanova, given the University’s focus on undergraduate education and the limited demand for academic journals in languages other than English. The library’s foreign language subscriptions are generally only available in print, further complicating access in a time when online access is the norm. The French academic publishing environment took its time to embrace online access, but the wait was well worth it. Today the archives of a large number of humanities and social sciences journals published in France and Quebec are freely available online. Three open access platforms preserve French scholarship: Persée, érudit and revues.org. All three platforms are partially integrated with each other to improve content discovery.

Named after Perseus, the legendary hero of Greek mythology, Persée is an open access archive of French academic journals initiated by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research in order to preserve and disseminate French scholarship. Over the years Persée has expanded to include social sciences journals, besides the original humanities journals, as well as French Canadian journals and dissertations archived on the érudit platform. Most of the journals archived in Persée have a moving access wall restricting access to current content to subscribing institutions. Persée currently archives more than 135 academic journals and over 400,000 articles, mostly in French. It indexes an additional 38 French Canadian journals which are archived on the érudit platform. Anybody with an internet connection can search the complete archive and browse individual journals.

Like Persée, revues.org is an open access journal platform. It is part of the OpenEdition portal run by the Centre pour l’édition électronique ouverte (Cléo) in Marseille. While the back issues of all 381 journals archived on this platform can be accessed freely by anyone, the access to current content of some journals is restricted to subscribers. In some cases free online access is limited to html format, and only subscribers are permitted to download articles as PDF files. The archives of some journals are divided between the Persée and revues.org platforms with the deep back files stored in Persée and the more recent years available on revues.org.

Both the Persée and the revues.org platforms include central search boxes which will search the content of all archived journals while also allowing the reader to search or browse individual journals. Aside from proper names, search terms should be entered in French since most of the publications are in French. Interested readers can bookmark their favorite journals or set up email alerts (via an RSS feeds) for new content. The journal articles archived in Persée and revues.org are at least partially indexed in various library databases, such as the International Medieval Bibliography, Historical Abstracts, and L’Année Philologique. The familiar blue Find It button will link directly to the open access journal titles archived in Persée. The library is still in the process of establishing a similar link to journals on the revues.org platform. All articles include citations with a date stamp, URL and sometimes a digital object identifier (DOI). Persée also has a citation export function which will download citation information to EndNote and RefWorks.
Most of the journals archived in Persée and revues.org are not part of the Library’s journal subscriptions, so that adding these platforms to the Library’s full-text-link service considerably expands access to foreign language journals. As for the limited number of French journals to which Falvey subscribes, among them Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale, the Annales historiques de la Révolution française and the Revue philosophique de Louvain, adding these titles to the Library’s E-Journal Finder will increase overall accessibility.

I hope this description will encourage you to take a look at these open access journal platforms and to browse available journals in your subject area. What is your favorite open access scholarly resource? Email the name and URL directly to me (jutta.seibert@villanova.edu) or post it online, and I will feature it in a future blog post.


Intimate Insights: Primary Sources of the American Founding Era

  • Posted by: Jutta Seibert
  • Posted Date: November 27, 2012
  • Filed Under: History

Are you or your students working on projects related to James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Dolley Madison, Eliza Lucas Pinckney or Harriott Pinckney Horry? When you need to consult the print sets, do you typically need it at a time when the library is closed? Are you frustrated by the limitations of print indexes? If you answered in the affirmative to one or all of the above questions, then you will be glad to hear that the papers and correspondence of these five founding-era individuals are now available online via the American Founding Era digital collection. Published online by the University of Virginia Press, the content of the collection is based on the most recent critical editions, such as the 27 volumes set of the Papers of Alexander Hamilton edited by Harold C. Syrett, and it includes all editorial annotations. Also available are the papers of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams and documents related to the History of the Ratification of the Constitution. The papers of John Jay, John Marshall and Andrew Jackson will be added in the near future and will further enhance the value and importance of the collection.

Each collection includes an introduction to the digital edition with detailed information about content sources and editorial history. Collections can be browsed in chronological order or by corresponding print volume. Aside from 24/7 access, the digital editions present unique opportunities to scholars and students alike, making it easy to locate keywords and names in individual collections as well as to search simultaneously across the complete American Founding Era collection. Results are tagged with collection-specific icons which identify the source collection (see image at right). Each document includes the page numbers of the original print edition in brackets together with a page icon which will open a jpeg image of the print page (). Each document also includes a reference to the print volume, a canonical URL and a recommended citation.

Correspondents are indexed as authors and recipients. The correspondent search function has an auto-complete feature which brings up matching names and the number of available documents for each author and recipient (see image at left).

The records for the print editions in the library’s catalog include links to the online collection. A link to the American Founding Era collection has been added to the Databases A-Z list.

Questions or comments?  Contact me directly (jutta.seibert@villanova.edu) or post your comments online.


Want to know a secret? Look into declassified documents.




Try Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS) (available until Sept. 28)


In 1998, the systematic digitization and online publication of Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS) was initiated by Gale Cengage Learning.  The process involves indexing, abstracting, and capturing on microfiche a large selection of U.S. government documents obtained from presidential libraries. These libraries receive declassified documents from various government agencies, including the White House, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, and others. As researchers visit these presidential libraries and request documents, the libraries photocopy and provide for filming. The result is a collection of more than 75,000 documents, consisting of more than 465,000 pages, that has literally been built by researchers themselves for nearly two decades.


DDRS supports basic and advanced searching.  Basic search includes keyword and full-text searching.  Advanced discovery provides for searching by keyword/subject, title/abstract, source institution, and full-text, including the use of Boolean logic. Searches can be limited to a range of issue dates, a range of declassified dates, document type (such as bill, agenda, cable, airgram), source institution (such as agency, department, Supreme Court, Warren Commission), sanitized or unsanitized, completeness, number of pages.

Search history can be accessed during a search session. An InfoMark at the top of any page indicates that the URL of the page is persistent and can be bookmarked or copied for future reference.  Help links and search tips are also available.

Document facsimiles can be viewed as electronic text.  Document facsimiles can be scaled for ease of viewing, by choosing a size percentage. Facsimile documents can be viewed or printed as a PDF version but due to some excessive sizes cannot be emailed. Electronic texts of the documents can be emailed and printed.

Questions or comments? Contact me directly (merrill.stein@villanova.edu) or post your comments online.


New Online Tutorial on Chicago-Style Citations

Are you tired of repeating the basics of Chicago Style notes and bibliographies to your students?
Are your students confused about how to format first and subsequent notes following Chicago style?

Clear up some of your students’ confusion by referring them to Falvey’s Brief Introduction to the Chicago Manual of Style.  Research Center intern Matt Ainslie has created a brief online tutorial (4 min.) in which he demonstrates step-by-step how to cite a sample source in the first note, in subsequent notes and in the bibliography.

The tutorial includes a link to the Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide, which is basically a short list of templates for first notes, subsequent notes and the full bibliographic entries for commonly cited sources such as books, chapters, journal articles, dissertations and even web sites.  The Quick Guide is easy to use and a great reference tool for undergraduate and graduate students alike.  It includes a link to the full text online version of the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.

Please contact me with your ideas and suggestions for additional tutorials.


Slavery and the Law: Court Petitions and Slavery Statutes

  • Posted by: Jutta Seibert
  • Posted Date: May 22, 2012
  • Filed Under: History

Race, Slavery and Free Blacks, a primary source collection of court petitions and slavery statutes which was originally published on microfilm by University Publications of America, has received a second lease on life as a digital collection.  It has been re-released in Proquest’s History Vault and is now called Slavery and the Law.

The collection covers the years 1777-1867 and consists of petitions to state legislatures and Southern county courts as well as state slavery statutes.  The reproductions of the handwritten petitions are accompanied by petition analysis records (PAR) to facilitate access to the document.  Each PAR contains an abstract of the petition besides dates, location, names of petitioners and defendants, the repository of the original document and subjects.  As an added bonus the collection also includes the contents of two classical scholarly works related to the subject:  Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and the Negro (1926) by Helen Catterall and James Hayden and The Law of Freedom and Bondage in the United States (1862) by John Hurd.

Slavery and the Law is now available as a trial until November 22, 2012.
Questions or comments?  Contact me directly (jutta.seibert@villanova.edu) or post your comments online.







Genealogy Made Easy: HeritageQuest & Ancestry.com

Genealogical research has a passionate following outside of the academic world, a fact that is reflected in the often impressive genealogy collections of public libraries.  Now Villanova faculty members are planning to add genealogical research projects to their undergraduate history syllabi.  Welcome to the digital new world of genealogy: like in so many other areas of research, the time of dusty old books and reels of microfilm has passed and online databases have taken their place. 

Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest are two of the major genealogical research tools currently on the market.  Both are available on trial basis until March 15 to Villanova faculty and students.  Discover a wealth of genealogical materials such as U.S. census data (1790-1930), church records, county census data, immigration ship lists, passport applications, Freedman’s Bank records, Revolutionary War pension applications, even international data from the UK, Canada and Germany.

I strongly encourage you to evaluate both resources and send me feedback about their usefulness in the classroom. For more detailed information about the contents of ancestry library edition and HeritageQuest Online, please consult the comparison chart provided by Proquest.  Contact me directly (jutta.seibert@villanova.edu) or post your comments online.



AAS Historical Periodicals Collection on Trial

  • Posted by: Jutta Seibert
  • Posted Date: February 7, 2012
  • Filed Under: History

The Historical Periodicals Collection of the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) is currently available on trial basis.  Described as “the most comprehensive collection of American periodicals published between 1691 and 1877,” the collection includes more than 7,600 magazines and journals with more than seven million digitized pages. The digitization of series 5 which extends coverage up to 1877 has just been completed.

Series 1: 1691-1820
Series 2: 1821-1837
Series 3: 1838-1852
Series 4: 1853-1865
Series 5: 1866-1877
Series 1-5: 1691-1877

Don’t miss the twelve collection overview essays which can be found on the lower right hand corner of the results screen via the Reference Shelf link.  The essays discuss the research value of the AAS periodicals collection. Included are titles such as Doing Women’s History at the American Antiquarian Society and An Overview of the American Antiquarian Society Periodicals Collection. The essay on the periodical literature in the Revolutionary War Era includes detailed descriptions of selected periodicals.

The Publications link at the top of the search screen brings up a complete title list with publication start and end dates. Search results can be limited by types of publication, document and image. The collection is available on the familiar EBSCO platform.

The trial will run until April 2.  Give the AAS Historical Periodicals Collection a try and let me know what you think.  Your feedback is important.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments that you may have.


Spotlight on U.S. Political History

2010 saw the publication of two important new reference works on American political history: The Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History, published in seven volumes by CQ Press, and the Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History, published in two volumes by Princeton University Press. Both encyclopedias are available online through the library’s catalog.

The Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History is organized in chronological order from the colonial period to the present. The chronological organization belies the print origin of this reference work and results in multiple entries for different time periods on topics such as woman suffrage and civil rights. However, a reader interested in the early republic may choose to browse the e-Table of Contents of the second volume only.

A Reader’s Guide brings together entries on broad topics such as Elections & Electoral Politics, Wars & Foreign Policy, and Domestic Policy & Policy Issues to give some examples. Entries are between three and six pages long and can be downloaded as PDF files. Each entry includes a persistent URL for easy sharing with colleagues and students. Other options include citation tools, export links to RefWorks and EndNote, as well as email, print and download icons. Cross references are highlighted as Related Entries. Each entry includes a bibliography and suggestions for further reading. In some instances the bibliographies include web links. One such link took me to A New Nation Votes, a digital collection of election returns from 1787 to 1825, a collaborative project of the American Antiquarian Society and Tufts University. Illustrations such as photos, maps, graphs, and cartoons are part of some entries.

Explore the variety of topics covered in the Encyclopedia. Here are some sample entries to whet your appetite: public opinion polling, third parties, conservation policy, reconstruction, Election of 1928, suffrage.

Although much smaller in size, the Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History edited by Michael Kazin holds its own next to the Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History. Its entries tend to be broader in scope and are in some cases split up to cover different time periods. The entries on Women & Politics are divided into five time periods: up to 1828, 1828-1865, 1865-1920, 1920-1970, and 1970 to the present. Available through the Gale Virtual Reference Library, the Princeton Encyclopedia has the same features as the Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History. I invite you to take a closer look at the selected sample entries below: cartooning, Catholics & politics, environmental issues & politics, television & politics.

Other reference titles at Falvey, both online and in print, include The Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections, The Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, The Encyclopedia of U.S. Campaigns, Elections, and Electoral Behavior, and many more.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments that you may have.


Black Abolitionist Papers on Trial

  • Posted by: Jutta Seibert
  • Posted Date: September 21, 2011
  • Filed Under: History

Local book author and Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Dan Biddle teaches a course on 19th century civil rights in the Honors Program this fall.  His students are using a range of primary sources from the library’s collection.  Although much is available online, some primary sources remain hidden away on microfilm reelsThe Black Abolitionist Papers and the Papers of the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society are a case in point.  For a limited time students and faculty have access to the online version of the Black Abolitionist Papers until the trial ends on October 14.  The online collection includes over 15,000 items which can be browsed by document type, name, source, location and date.  It covers the period 1830-1865 and contains the correspondence of major African American leaders, selected speeches, lectures and sermons, as well as articles from more than 200 newspapers.  Interested faculty and students are strongly encouraged to review the online version and send their feedback to Jutta Seibert.  The library will endeavor to add the Black Abolitionist Papers to its permanent collection if there is enough interest.

Biddle’s students will also be working with the African American Newspapers collection, the African American Studies Center and the American Periodicals Series to name but a few of the many digital collections available at Falvey.  Find more resources related to 19th century civil rights with the help of the library research guide Discovering 19th Century Civil Rights.  Many of you will remember Dan Biddle from the 2011 Black History Month Lecture at Falvey.  He and his co-author Murray Dubin discussed their book Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments that you may have.


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Last Modified: September 21, 2011