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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.







The Other Side of the Story: Black Abolitionist Papers, 1830-1865

  • Posted by: Jutta Seibert
  • Posted Date: April 30, 2012
  • Filed Under: Uncategorized

The Black Abolitionist Papers (BAP) document the struggle for abolition from the perspective of African Americans both free and enslaved. The digital collection consists of the correspondence, speeches, sermons, lectures, editorials and poems of close to three hundred African American abolitionists. Some of the voices are familiar such as those of Harriett Tubman and Frederick Douglass, others are less well known or disguised behind pseudonyms. The original sources are located in over one hundred archives and libraries. Over thirty percent of the sources are hand-written letters and documents.

Previously only available on microfilm, the collection can now be accessed online by Villanova faculty and students.  Access links to BAP can be found under Databases A-Z, in the library catalog and under the primary sources tab of the history subject guide.

Collection contents can be browsed and results can be narrowed by document type, time period, subject, geographic location and source library.  A personal, password-protected archive is available to store documents, citations can be exported to RefWorks and persistent URLs make sharing with colleagues and students a snap.  Short online tutorials introduce the novice to the collection’s search features.

BAP includes the five companion volumes to the original microfilm collection edited by P. Ripley and published by the University of North Carolina Press.  The companion volumes add commentary, annotations and images to about ten percent of the primary sources in BAP and make the collection suitable for undergraduate students.  Look for the Full Text links (see image below) in the search results to locate commentary, notes and images or browse the companion volumes.  Use the links to explore two sample documents with commentary and annotations:

Charles Lenox Remond to Richard Allen, 7 January 1841 . Rhodes House—Oxford, England. MSS, British Empire, C154/202 . 7 January 1841.
“Bury Me in a Free Land” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Anti-Slavery Bugle . 20 November 1858.

Additional online resources with African American primary sources:

African American Studies Center Online
Includes biographies, subject entries, primary sources, maps, charts and tables.  Notable titles in this collection are the New Encyclopedia of African American History 1619-1895 and the African American National Biography Project.

African American Newspapers: the Nineteenth Century
Comprises major 19th century African-American newspapers such as The Christian Recorder (1861-1902), Freedom’s Journal (1827-1829), The North Star (1847-1851), and the Frederick Douglass’ Paper (1851-1863).

American Periodicals Series
Includes abolitionist periodicals such as the Liberator (1831-1865) and the Anti-Slavery Examiner (1836-1845).

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


Not Just Genealogical Research: What Ancestry Library Edition Can Do For You

  • Posted by: Jutta Seibert
  • Posted Date: April 24, 2012
  • Filed Under: Uncategorized

The waiting is over!  Ancestry Library Edition is now available at Falvey Memorial Library.  Earlier this year, the library ran simultaneous trials of two popular genealogical databases, Ancestry Library Edition and HeritageQuest. Faculty and students alike unanimously voted for Ancestry.  Access to Ancestry is available via the library’s Databases A-Z list as well as from the History and Biographies research guides.

Ancestry encompasses a vast collection of genealogical data which traces the history of millions of individuals going in some cases as far back as 1300.  The collection consists of census data, vital records, directories, photos, and more.  Faculty members in the history department are already planning student research projects with  Ancestry data sets for the coming semesters.

U.S. census data from 1790 to 1940, Indian census rolls, passenger lists from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, New South Wales and Hamburg, U.S. naturalization records, Irish immigrants arrival records, and London parish records are some of the data collections available through Ancestry.  An unexpected bonus are image collections, such as U.S. historical postcards, U.S. Civil War photos, U.S. war and conflict images (1765-1970), and the African American photo collection.  The photo of St. Rita Hall in this post is from the U.S. historical postcards collection.

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


Looking for Data? Data for Historians @ Falvey

  • Posted by: Jutta Seibert
  • Posted Date: March 22, 2012
  • Filed Under: Uncategorized

by Matt Ainslie (Falvey Research Center Intern)

Looking for scholarly historical data sets used by others in projects past?  The solution may be a resource about which most historians  have probably not heard.  It’s a clearinghouse of quality data, some historical, called the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.  ICPSR has grown from its 1962 founding into a data archive of more than 500,000 files of research in the social sciences.  Data files can be downloaded into statistical programs such as SPSS and a growing number of data sets can also be analyzed online with ICPSR’s own Statistical Data Analysis program.

The historical data sets in ICPSR are mainly raw data from surveys, censuses and administrative records.  You can browse by subject or use ICPSR’s search engine.  For example, subject browsing for historical resources leads to data sets of tax lists from Chester County, Pa. from 1693 to 1799, tax and census records in New York City in 1790,  and data from census records that reflect the social characteristics of Mexican-American families in Los Angeles from 1844 to 1880.  The search function is also excellent.  Searching using the keyword “riots” turns up, to name one example, demographic information about those arrested for participation in the insurrection in Paris, France: Analysis of Arrests in Paris, June 1848.  Results can be narrowed by subject, geography, author, and historical time period.  You can save your search and sign up to be notified of new results using RSS.  You can download the data in different formats after you set up an account.

Remember that research article by Goldin on the wages of single women during the progressive era which you recently read?  Are you interested in taking a closer look at the data she used?  A quick author search in ICPSR will establish whether Goldin archived her data sets in ICPSR as indeed she did.  The View Related Literature link will eventually lead you to her Woman and Child Wage Earners (1907, Philadelphia and New York) data files.  The study description lists the scope of the study, its data sources and the methodology.  In order to download the data files you need to create an account and log into ICPSR.

Feel free to contact your liaison librarian with any questions or comments that you may have.


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.


Oh, the books you’ll find and the things you can do! – When you take full advantage of the library’s catalog!

  • Posted by: Jutta Seibert
  • Posted Date: January 24, 2012
  • Filed Under: Uncategorized

Do you know that you can quickly find keywords in the library’s print books via the Google Preview link in the catalog?  Google Preview will take you deeper into a book than the best index.

Have you set up annotated reading or movie lists in the catalog and shared them with students and colleagues?  Read the Add to Favorites section of my blog post Falvey Favorites, Tags, and Lists for more information.



Use the Text this icon to text records and call numbers to yourself or others.  Cite this will generate instant citations in MLA and APA styles.  Need Chicago style?  Use Export Record to export references to RefWorks and EndNote.



Curious about new books and movies in the library’s collection?  Go to the New Items search.  Results can be narrowed with the now familiar facets in the catalog.  Options include format, classification, language, genre, publication year and era.  Click here to link to a list of new movies in the library’s collection.



Last but not least, if you switch over from Books & more to Combined Results, you will notice that your search results include journal articles, book reviews, and dissertations besides the traditional catalog fare of books, DVDs and journal records.  Falvey’s familiar blue FindIt button will link you to online journal articles or generate an interlibrary loan form.

Falvey’s technology team is continuously improving the online catalog and the fame of the little catalog that could is spreading around the globe.  I still remember when it all started as a home-grown open-source experiment here at Falvey Library back in 2006.  Vufind, as the catalog is known outside Villanova, is the brainchild of Joe Lucia, whose vision of a next generation catalog was recognized with the prestigious Mellon Award for Technology Cooperation in 2008.  Librarians at Villanova, initially nervous and cautious, had to overcome many roadblocks on the path to catalog bliss.  The funny things is, when things run smoothly, we take them for granted. Sometime last year, however, it dawned on me how much our little catalog was doing for me.  Others had noticed the catalogs capabilities too: A number of large and small, public and academic libraries nationally and internationally have adopted Villanova’s homegrown catalog.  Among them are the National Library of Ireland, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the library system at Yale University, the National Library of Australia and joining them soon, the Free Library of Philadelphia.

I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when I stopped complaining about software bugs to the technology team here at Falvey.  However, when I learned about the new Google Preview feature I was instantly excited.  Somehow I had always accepted that a catalog search is limited to authors, titles and subjects.  The addition of table of contents to the catalog was an enormous progress.  Who would have thought that a few years later it would be possible to search the full text of books in Falvey’s collection.  Google Preview is rapidly turning into a gateway to many a book on Falvey’s shelves.  A simple click on the icon will take you to Google Books where you can search the full text of the book for a reference, a name or any other keyword.  Text snippets reveal the page and context in which your keywords appear.   To read the entire book you still need to come to the library to check it out unless it is one of the library’s increasingly popular e-books.
The Google Preview plug-in was developed by a programmer at the National Library of Ireland who shared his code with the Vufind community.

Isn’t it time you took a fresh look at the library’s catalog?  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.


Library Construction Alert: Falvey World History Collection to move to new onsite location!

This summer Falvey Memorial Library will start a building renovation project with the goal of transforming the Library into a more inviting and welcoming space. During the first phase of this project, the second floor will be completely gutted, except for the Special Collections room. In preparation for this phase, all current second-floor books will be relocated to the former bound-periodicals stacks, located in the Old Falvey section of the building. While this move in no way affects the American history collection, most D call numbers, with the exception of African and Australian history, will be moved into Old Falvey.
Clean-up work in Old Falvey has already started. Facilities Management staff will rehab and repaint the Old Falvey stacks to make them more inviting and conducive to shelf browsing. While the Library will do its utmost to keep its collection accessible while it is in transit, there may be some short periods of interrupted access. Be prepared for noise or messiness when you visit the Library over the summer. All heavy-duty construction should be completed before the fall semester begins.
Please feel free to contact me with any concerns that you may have.


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Last Modified: May 18, 2011