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Special Collections project on WWI to be featured on PCN broadcast

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Verizon Channel 9 – which is PCN, Pennsylvania’s non-profit cable network, broadcast a show entitled Philadelphia in World War I. For those who missed it, this program will be re-broadcast Saturday, July 26th at 5:35 pm and again on Sunday, July 27th at 04:35 am.

This program includes an interview with Special Collections and Digital Library Coordinator Michael Foight and other speakers involved with the “Home Before the Leaves Fall: a Great War Centennial Exposition” which features World War I content from Villanova University as well as other heritage organizations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Experience World War One as it happened day by day, 100 years ago at http://wwionline.org.

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Jersey Week: Another Bridge to N.J., Another Name Controversy

JERSEYPLANE

This week the Library News blog will be highlighting everyone’s second favorite mid-Atlantic state, New Jersey! So grab your flip flops and head east with us each day this week.

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My family didn’t take the Walt Whitman Bridge when we drove to the Jersey shore, at least not at first. My father wanted my brothers, sisters and me to experience crossing the Delaware River on a ferry. He must have known that mode of river-crossing was soon to vanish, for riding the Chester-Bridgeport ferry (pictures, video, map) to and from New Jersey each summer we witnessed the Commodore John Barry Bridge in its various stages of construction. It became the highlight of our commute; in comparison, our subsequent trek across New Jersey on Route 322, the “Black Horse Pike,” seemed interminable.

untitled-1A bridge by any other name?—The fourth longest cantilever bridge in the world, which connects Delaware County, Pa. with New Jersey, opened on February 1, 1974 after nearly five years of construction. Before its completion, though, controversy erupted when its name was announced. Denizens of Chester, Pa. preferred the name William Penn over that of a little-known military figure from the American Revolution. So strong were the objections that one state senator even predicted area residents would reject the name Commodore John Barry and refer to the span as the Chester-Bridgeport Bridge.

An 1801 Gilbert Stuart portrait of Barry.

An 1801 Gilbert Stuart portrait of Barry.

Still, proponents argued that John Barry, aka the “Father of the American Navy,” had ties to Chester. Barry had brought his Navy ship to Chester for repairs. Barry had also arranged for food in New Jersey, destined for the soldiers at Valley Forge, to be transported across the river to Chester. Despite that state senator’s prediction in 1973, people used the bridge’s proposed name (Source).

Cracks form—Mere months after it opened, engineers discovered cracks appearing in some of the bridge’s upright girders. Although the location and size of these cracks did not threaten the span’s safety, engineers added supports to fortify the structure and sensors to monitor it. At that time, people expressed doubts about the bridge’s structural integrity, but now—40 years later—the Commodore Barry Bridge still stands, carrying 35,000 vehicles per day between Delaware County, Pa. and New Jersey (Sources—Commodore Barry Bridge: Historic OverviewCommodore Barry Bridge).

 


Dig Deeper: Commodore John Barry, USN

Letter To Congress from Captain Barry, January 10, 1778.

Contrary to one state’s senator’s opinion, the enduring legacy of Commodore John Barry lives on – not just on the toll plaza of the bridge, but also by Commodore John Barry Hall on our main campus – home to the Villanova University Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. An even more personal way to get to know the Commodore is through perusing Villanova University’s Digital Library Barry-Hayes Papers. The Barry-Hayes Papers are the business, political and personal papers of John Barry, Captain of the United States Navy, and of his family, especially his nephew Patrick Hayes and grand-nephew, Patrick Barry Hayes. The collection includes correspondence, letterbooks, diaries, logbooks, legal and financial papers related to Barry’s career in the Navy, the business ventures of the Hayes, Keen and Somers families, and their personal lives. This collection brings together materials from the Independence Seaport Museum.

For information about preservation, access, and use of this historic collection visit the Barry-Hayes Papers project page.


Gerald info deskArticle by Gerald Dierkes, information services specialist for the Information and Research Assistance team, senior copy-editor for the Communication and Service Promotion team and a liaison to the Department of Theater. Special thanks to Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator.

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General Sherman Goes To Philadelphia (Actually Only His Coat Makes the Trip)

SHERMAN-COAT

Walking by Special Collections recently, I noticed that something was missing – General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Civil War frock coat, which had been on exhibit, highly visible from outside Special Collections since 2009. I have a special interest in this garment since it once spent a night in Falvey’s art-history slide collection room, where I worked at the time; it had been returned one evening from the Civil War Museum in Philadelphia and needed to be housed in a secure, temperature-controlled location until Special Collections and Digital Library Coordinator Michael Foight could retrieve it the next morning.

James G. Mundy, Jr., Director of Library & Historical Collections, The Union League, and Sherman's frock coat

James G. Mundy, Jr., Director of Library & Historical Collections, The Union League, and Sherman’s frock coat

The coat is now on exhibit at The Union League in Philadelphia as part of its exhibit, “Philadelphia 1864: The Year of Decision.” The coat will return to Special Collections after the exhibit closes.

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Judith Giesberg, PhD

How did this coat, worn by General Sherman (1820-91) on his “March to the Sea,” make its way to the Union League’s Heritage Center exhibit, one might wonder? Judith Giesberg, PhD, professor and graduate program director, Department of History, was instrumental in reminding The Union League of Philadelphia’s Director of Library and Historical Collections, James G. Mundy, Jr., of the coat’s existence although he had known about it previously. Dr. Giesberg had been a member of a Civil War roundtable and also had spoken at The Union League several times, which is how she met Mundy. When she learned about the planned exhibit, she told Mundy about the coat.

“Philadelphia 1864…” is the fourth is a series of such Civil War exhibits: “Philadelphia 1861: A Coming Storm,” “Philadelphia 1862: A City at War,” and “Philadelphia 1863: Turning the Tide” preceded the current exhibit. “Philadelphia 1864: The Year of Decision” focuses on major events, such as – the appointment of Ulysses S. Grant as Lieutenant General of the Union Army, – Grant’s Overland Campaign, – General William Tecumseh Sherman’s march through Georgia, – the election of Abraham Lincoln, – the U.S. Sanitary Commission’s Great Central Fair in Philadelphia, and it “will also draw attention to the growing activities of The Union League.” The exhibit includes over fifty artifacts from The Union League’s collections, the Philadelphia History Museum and other institutions. The exhibit will remain open until February 2015. It is open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays from three until six p.m. and on the second Saturday of each month from one to four p.m.

 

The Union League of Philadelphia was founded as a men’s club in 1862, the first of several Union Leagues created to support the Union and President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War (1861-65). RS7820_Union League sign(1)The Union League building, listed on the National Historic Register since 1979, was erected in 1865. John Fraser (1825-1906) was the architect of the original building. In 1909 Horace Trumbauer (1868-1938) designed an annex for the Union League at 15th and Samson Streets.


Article and Union League photos by Alice Bampton, digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Service Promotion team.

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Home Before the Leaves Fall: World War I Online Exhibit Launch

WIONLINE COUNTDOWN

Home Before the Leaves Fall: A Great War Centennial Exposition,” an online exhibit, will be launched Thursday evening, June 26, at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Peter John Williams—an attorney, an amateur historian with a special interest in World War I, and a life-long Philadelphia resident—will speak on life in Philadelphia during World War I (1914-1919). Williams is the author of Philadelphia: The World War I Years. Both digital and physical materials will be on display at the launch and reception.

keep-him-freeVillanova University, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, American Philosophical Society, Chemical Heritage Foundation, College of Physicians, Library Company of Philadelphia and Swarthmore College are current participants in the exhibit, which commemorates the centennial of World War I. The exhibit highlights little-known primary and secondary sources held by various institutions in the Delaware Valley region.

 

Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator, says “[T]his sprang out of an initial collaboration with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, with Villanova’s Special Collections and Digital Library team as the coordinators and hosts of this project. A large and growing number of institutions in the Mid-Atlantic currently contribute content as well as a number of academically affiliated and independent scholars and researchers, including several Villanova University faculty and graduate students.”

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Foight explains, “The goals over the next four years include to prioritize digitization of little-known primary and secondary sources on the Great War held by institutions in the mid-Atlantic and to share descriptions of held content for both the public and the scholarly community. The website itself will host a set of curated shorter articles authored with illustrations drawn largely from this newly available content. A number of Digital Humanities projects, including an independent crowd-sourced genealogical data collection and mapping of the Great War dead of Philadelphia, will be worked on with the scholars involved in the exhibition.”

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania explains that the website will contain images, memoirs, diaries, periodicals, “contextual essays, news of commemorative events, interactive data, and geographical information system (GIS) mapping. The project aims to promote the use of these materials to students, scholars and the public, and to commemorate the services and sacrifices of soldiers and civilians a hundred years ago.”


Article by Alice Bampton, digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Service Promotion team. Poster image from National Archives. Photo Kaiser William II. Digital Library@Villanova University

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Last Modified: June 25, 2014