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Villanova University Partners with Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum to Digitize Historic Commodore John Barry Papers

May 13 event recognizes Falvey Memorial Library’s digitization of the Barry-Hayes Papers, making these once obscure documents easily accessible on the Internet

Villanova University has partnered with Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum to digitize historic documents related to the life of American Revolutionary War hero Commodore John Barry. Through this partnership, Falvey Memorial Library agreed to digitize the Barry-Hayes Papers Collection, which chronicle the legacy of the “Father of the United States Navy.”

The documents include correspondence, journals and financial papers of the families of both Barry and Patrick Hayes, a shipmaster who journeyed with Barry to Macao. Until now, these documents were accessible only by a scheduled visit to the Independence Seaport Museum.

Representatives from Villanova University and the Independence Seaport Museum join together May 13 at Falvey Memorial Library to celebrate the complete digitization of these historic documents. The event includes an overview of the project and demonstration of the newly digitized documents. Villanova University President, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., will speak at the 1 p.m. event, along with Lori Dillard Rech, president of Independence Seaport Museum.

The limited access to these important papers and the desire to preserve historic documents for future generations brought forth a need to microfilm and digitize the collection. Upon learning of the Museum’s needs, Villanova proposed a partnership to digitize the Barry-Hayes Papers and establish online access for the collection on both organizations’ Web sites. To view these historic documents, or for more information about the Digital Library, please visit

“I am especially excited about this project because of the way it brings together a number of elements that are really significant to Villanova, including the University’s longstanding relationship with the Navy, our connection with cultural institutions in the greater Philadelphia area, and our role in promoting and sustaining scholarship in the digital era,” said Joe Lucia, University librarian.

Commodore John Barry is commemorated in the Philadelphia area with a statue outside Independence Hall and a bridge spanning the Delaware River. He also is the namesake of John Barry Hall, a Villanova University building that houses the institution’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC). ┬áProviding the United States with Navy and Marine Corps officers for over 50 years, Villanova’s NROTC has produced 22 Navy admirals and Marine Corps generals.

Falvey Memorial Library began its overall digitization initiative in 2006. The goal of the project is to scan and mount digitized images of printed materials and manuscripts, to build online collections of historical documents and rare books, and to make them freely available on the Internet via┬áthe University’s Digital Library.

Since then, the Library’s digitization projects have included a partnership with the American Catholic Historical Society, headquartered in Philadelphia. Among the documents being digitized as part of that project are works about the 1844 Nativist riots in Philadelphia and the Mollie Maguires, miners in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania who organized into a union during the 1860s and 1870s. Also being digitized are the only known copies of the 19th century Catholic magazine, Redpath’s Illustrated Weekly, and the oldest continuously published Catholic periodical, Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia.

by Sarah Christy, Media Relations Associate

For more information, please contact Michael Foight.



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Last Modified: May 4, 2009

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