The title of the exhibition, “Home Before the Leaves Fall,” comes from a statement attributed to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany during an Aug. 1914 speech addressed to troops being assigned to the front lines.
Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator, has served as editor, project organizer and curator of the online exhibition (HBTLF), and says this exhibition draws from rich holdings, “many little known or used,” of organizations and individuals in the mid-Atlantic region to tell the story of the Great War, World War I. “Home Before the Leaves Fall” commemorates the centennial of the first truly world-wide war. Foight tells us, “Collaborative by design, HBTLF is a multi-institutional project: articles curated by individual scholars and experts guide readers through the many threads that weave materials into a narrative tapestry, while social media spotlight newly digitized content, creative and educational use of materials, and news of other Great War commemorations. … New content will be regularly added.”
In addition to Foight, other curators from Villanova University are Laura Bang, Digital and Special Collections curatorial assistant; Demian Katz, Library Technology Development specialist; Barbara Quintiliano, nursing/life sciences and instructional services librarian; and Alexander Williams, temporary Research Support librarian. Two former Digital Library interns are also curators: Ruth Martin (2014) and Brian McDonald (2012). Other curators are affiliated with Swarthmore College, American Philosophical Society, Athenaeum of Philadelphia and Chemical Heritage Foundation.
The online exhibit includes the following sections: about—contains the “Curator’s Introduction” by Foight and a short video, “Das Lausejagd (The Lousehunter),” a dedication and acknowledgements; articles—written by various specialists; projects—(“Home Before the Leaves Fall News & Blog,” “Mail Call: A Podcast of News and Letters from the Great War”
, “The Fallen of the Great War: The Philadelphia Project [a genealogical research project],” and a list of participating institutions such as Fort Mifflin on the Delaware, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Villanova University and others); and resources—with links to “Letters, Diaries and Autobiographies,” “Materials” and “Works Consulted/Further Reading.” “Home Before the Leaves Fall” is not a static exhibit; new material is added frequently.
Falvey Memorial Library is hosting two corollary exhibits with graphics by Joanne Quinn, graphic designer and team leader of Communication and Service Promotion. On the first floor is “Home Before the Leaves Fall: Lost Memories of the Great War” curated by Laura Bang. This exhibit displays numerous items from Special Collections: two scrapbooks of French photographs, postcards, and books.
In the reference area of the second floor Learning Commons is a small exhibit, “WWI 100 Years: Lessons to be Learned,” designed by Joanne Quinn. This exhibit consists of books from Falvey’s collections selected by Sarah Wingo, subject librarian for English and theatre; Jutta Seibert, subject librarian for history; Merrill Stein, subject librarian for geography and political science; Linda Hauck, subject librarian for business; and Alice Bampton, an art historian. On the wall beside the exhibit are a large poster for “Home Before the Leaves Fall,” with the URL for the online exhibit and an arrow directing visitors to Special Collections. Also featured are reproductions of World War I posters, a world map showing the opposing nations and an illustrated timeline of the war.