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Early Printed Books Recently Added to the Villanova Digital Library

Three early printed books were recently added to the Villanova Digital Library.

De antiquitate Judaica, [I, verso]

The first is a 1499 Latin edition of Flavius Josephus’ De antiquitate Judaica, or The Antiquities of the Jews. This history book, originally written around AD 93-94 in koine Greek under the tile Ἰουδαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία (Ioudaikē archaiologia), chronicles the history of the Jewish people, from the events of the Hebrew Bible to the First Jewish–Roman War, AD 66-73. Villanova’s copy was printed in Venice by Albertinus Vercellensis for Octavianus Scotus. Its printing date of 1499 makes this copy an incunable (or incunabulum), a book printed during the first 50 or so years after Johannes Gutenberg introduced the movable-type printing press to Europe. Interestingly, Villanova’s copy includes extensive inscriptions on the margins (or marginalia), made by a reader deeply engaged with the text.

Supplementum, Frontispiece

The second is another history book, Supplementum: supplementi de le chroniche vulcare. This Latin and Italian book was written by medieval historian and Augustinian monk Jacomo Filippo Foresti and first published in 1483 by Bernardino Benali. Villanova’s copy was printed in Venice in 1520 by Georgio di Rusconi. Interestingly, this book is illustrative of several book conservation practices, as is evident in the repaired page [i]. Another notable feature of the book is the list of year numbers that are included on the side of the text block closest to the “gutter” (the middle part where the two facing pages meet when the book rests open). The year numbers correspond to the events chronicled on the nearby text block and are divided into two categories: “Anno del Mondo” (years of the world) and “Anno de Xpo” (years according to Christian history). These year numbers not only allow us to compare two different conceptions of time; they are also indicative of the practical challenges in scanning such a book. Because of how the book was printed and bound, the year numbers are sometimes nearly lost inside the gutter; several times, we had to reposition the book on the scanner and experiment with various angles in order to capture the full contents of each page, including the year numbers.

Respublica, Frontispiece

The third and final book is the 1630 Respublica: sive statvs regni Scotiæ et Hiberniæ. A part of our Joseph McGarrity Collection of Irish and Irish-American books and other materials, the Respublica is significant not only for its historical content, but also for its size. Measuring at only 12 x 7 cm., the book is among the smallest hardcovers in our collection. The book’s size, combined with its somewhat uneven binding, posed a different kind of scanning challenge than the 1520 Supplementum. However, centering the text block rather than the binding, and using bone folders to ensure the book remained open at an appropriate angle, resulted in a comfortably readable digitized edition.

The Villanova Digital Library is regularly updated with newly digitized materials from our Distinctive Collections.


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New Exhibit – Art of War: Illustrated and Military Maps of the Twentieth Century

 

Our latest exhibit, Art of War: Illustrated and Military Maps of the Twentieth Century, is now on display on the 1st floor of Falvey Library and in select cases at the Prince Family Veterans Resource Center. Both locations feature a selection of two types of imagery: maps that are illustrated, highly pictorial, and created for public distribution; and topographic maps that have been created by government war offices for use in military conflict. The juxtaposition forces a close analysis of the very nature of maps. Often assumed as truthful and accurate, maps lead and guide the way, provide direction, and help us make decisions. Yet as with anything that is human-made there are things to consider – the knowledge or bias of the creator, the intended audience, the purpose of the document.

These examples, largely drawn from the John F. Smith, III and Susan B. Smith Antique Map Collection, explore major conflicts of the twentieth century and emphasize the inherently ephemeral quality of maps. These maps have urgency and are very much “of the moment” – whether they are illustrating a political viewpoint or guiding military forces – they compel us to consider the control, reliability, and availability of wartime information.

The exhibit was co-curated by Rebecca Oviedo, Distinctive Collections Archivist, and Christoforos Sassaris, Distinctive Collections Coordinator, with graphics created by Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing. Stay tuned for more information on a coordinating event and reception, to be held later this fall during the week of Veteran’s Day.

 

Military Mapping Maidens (3Ms) case in Falvey Library

 

Cases at the Prince Family Veteran’s Resource Center in Vasey Hall

 

 


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eBook available: Beautiful but Poor

Our latest Project Gutenberg release (courtesy of Distributed Proofreaders, using images from our Digital Library) is the novel Beautiful but Poor, by “Julia Edwards” (a pseudonym shared by several of publisher Street & Smith’s male writers).

This “working girl” romance tells of a young woman who sews folios for low wages in a bindery but who draws attention due to her unusual talent, beauty and kindness. This being a dime novel, she of course has a secret identity, and she survives several dangers (and disappoints multiple suitors) before all is revealed.

The book stands out due to its occasionally humorous and conversational tone, which periodically diverts from the narrative to rant about political matters or make dry comments. It is also somewhat self-referential, being about the publishing industry and featuring characters who are themselves aware of dime novels, as demonstrated by this exchange:

“Frank says he don’t know hardly how to begin, but he means to write a romance about it. He is going to call it ‘The Angel of the Storm; or, The Pilot’s Timely Warning.’”

“That will sound very grand,” said Mr. W——, with a smile. “It seems to me I saw a dime novel, published by one of our city small fry, called ‘The Angel of the Washtub—a Romance of Soap-Suds and Starch.’ It must have sold hugely.”

One authorial aside demonstrates both of the book’s distinctive traits by mentioning the prolific author of story paper sea tales (often for Street & Smith), Roger Starbuck:

That “old barnacle” (I got that idea from Roger Starbuck) couldn’t love anything but money and—her wretched old self.

If you’d like the experience the full text for yourself, you can find the novel in its entirety on Project Gutenberg, where it can also be downloaded in popular eBook formats.


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eBook available: The Unique Story Book

Our latest Project Gutenberg release (created by the Distributed Proofreaders team using scans from our Digital Library) is The Unique Story Book, a chapbook from the Multum in Parvo Library series.

This tiny, 16-page volume, published in 1895, contains six brief anecdotes relating to the American Civil War. Like many other Multum in Parvo Library volumes, the text appears to have been borrowed from other sources. In at least one case, the borrowing was rather poorly done, as an anecdote is entirely missing its punchline. (The transcriber’s notes at the end of the document list another source for the same story and provide the missing text).

You can read the entire book online (or download it in popular eBook formats) through Project Gutenberg.


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From the University Archives: Welcome to Class of 2026

From the University Archives: Welcome to Class of 2026

A Peek into First Year Orientation of the Past

New Student Orientation is designed to welcome and introduce students to what it means to be a Villanovan. During Orientation, first-year and transfer students participate in programs, presentations and activities designed to familiarize themselves with academic and cultural life at Villanova. In celebration of Villanova’s orientation tradition is photographs from orientation throughout the years.


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eBook available: Betrothed for a Day

Laura Jean Libbey was one of the most popular and well-known authors of story paper melodramas. Her success was so great that publisher Street & Smith dedicated an entire series to her works, an honor that they bestowed on only a small handful of authors. Our latest Project Gutenberg release (produced by Distributed Proofreaders from scans in our Digital Library) is the second volume of the Laura Series: Betrothed for a Day; or, Queenie Trevalyn’s Love Test.

The novel tells the story of John Dinsmore, a poor young author who falls in love with the beautiful Queenie Trevalyn after saving her life in an elevator accident, but whose marriage proposal is rejected when his beloved learns of his poverty. Being a melodrama of its time, there are quite a few of the usual twists and turns from here: sudden turns of fortune, wills with unusual conditions attached, railroad disasters, duels, impersonations and murders. The author never strays too far from the usual formula.

You can see how it all ends in the free eBook, available online or downloadable in popular formats, at Project Gutenberg.


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eBook available: The Handy Manual

Once again, a book from our Digital Library has been posted to Project Gutenberg with help from the Distributed Proofreaders project. This latest release is another entry from the Multum in Parvo Library of tiny chapbooks: The Handy Manual: A Veritable Mine of Useful and Interesting Statistics, Information, Etc.

As the title suggests, this book is a collection of random facts, starting with the lifespans of various animals and ending with the dates that American states were admitted to the union (ending with Wyoming in 1890). Like other books in the series, this one was clearly designed with commercial intent; some of the listings transition awkwardly into advertisements, like this set of “Interesting Facts:”

The Atlantic Ocean includes an area of 30,000,000 square miles. Suppose an inch of rain to fall upon only one-fifth of this vast expanse, it would weigh 360,000,000 tons, and the salt which, as water, is held in solution in the sea, and which, when the water was taken up as a vapor, was left behind to disturb the equilibrium, weighed 16,000,000 more tons, or nearly twice as much as all the ships in the world could carry at a cargo each. It might fall in a day; but occupy what time it might in falling, this rain is calculated to exert so much force—which is inconceivably great—in disturbing the equilibrium of the ocean. If all the water discharged by the Mississippi River during the year were taken up in mighty measure, and cast in the ocean at an effort, it would not make a greater disturbance in the equilibrium of the sea than the fall of rain supposed. And yet so gentle are the operations of nature that movements so vast are unperceived. Another interesting fact is that you can get a beautiful garnet and opal ring absolutely free. This great offer is made by a reliable firm to introduce their goods. Send twelve cents in stamps to W. S. Everett & Co., 113 Munroe Street, Lynn, Mass., requesting them to mail you a sample of their celebrated Perfumery, and they will mail free with it a beautiful garnet and opal ring. Send them strip of paper showing size around your finger.

If you’re interested in the rest of the text, you can find the entire book on Project Gutenberg, where you can read it online or download it in popular eBook formats for free.


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eBook available: Dick and Dr. Dan

The latest story to make its way to Project Gutenberg from our Digital Library (with significant help from the Distributed Proofreaders project) is a work of early science fiction: Dick and Dr. Dan; or, The Boy Monster Hunters of the Bad Lands. This story was serialized from March 17 to May 3, 1900 in the Happy Days story paper and was never collected in book form (until now).

The story tells of two boys sent by the National Museum to investigate reports of a Plesiosaurus sighting in the Bad Lands of Wyoming. In addition to featuring standard story paper subplots involving romance, the value of hard work, and stolen inheritances, the story has quite a bit of action involving prehistoric monsters, which is unusual for a paper whose stories were more frequently dominated by more down-to-earth themes like baseball and fire fighting. The fact that the story was quickly forgotten and had no immediate follow-ups or imitators suggests that it came out a bit ahead of its time; a few decades later, this type of story would generate a lot more excitement with young audiences. The similarity between the Plesiosaur’s first appearance here, as portrayed in the cover image, and that of Godzilla in his first film is striking, if almost certainly entirely coincidental.

If you want to check this one out for yourself, the full text can be read online or downloaded in popular eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.


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New Exhibit on Illustrated and Military Maps

Low, David, Caricature of Post-War Europe. [London]: Picture Post, 1952, SMITH VII-49.

Maps do far more than showing us the locations of places. They can persuade viewers and shape their perceptions of the world. They can also offer critical insight that leads to world-changing decisions, especially in times of war.

Art of War: Illustrated and Military Maps of the Twentieth Century, an upcoming exhibition co-curated by Rebecca Oviedo, Distinctive Collections Archivist, and Christoforos Sassaris, Distinctive Collections Coordinator, explores the creation and various uses of illustrated and military maps in the twentieth century. The maps are drawn mainly from the most recent addition of items generously donated to the John F. Smith, III and Susan B. Smith Antique Maps Collection. Several maps from this extensive collection have been digitized and can be viewed on Falvey’s Digital Library. You may also access an audio tour in which Mr. Smith comments on the maps’ significance.

Situation Map to Accompany Subj 5303/3. Münster. Central Europe 1:100,000. G.S.G.S. 4416 Published by War Office 1944. Revised, drawn and photolithographed at O.S. Army Map Service, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C., 1944. Reproduced at the U.S. Army Command and Staff College, 1947. SMITH VII-50.

The maps on view will range from strategic situation maps used by the US military to pictorial maps that implement satire and caricature to influence public perception of ongoing conflicts. Together, these maps shed light on how the spread of information—both textual and visual—took part in shaping major conflicts of the twentieth century.

Art of War: Illustrated and Military Maps of the Twentieth Century is co-hosted by Falvey Memorial Library and the Office of Veterans and Military Service Members, and will be viewable on both the first floor of Falvey Memorial Library and in the Prince Family Veterans Resource Center starting on September 8th through the remainder of the fall semester.

We hope to see you there!

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From the Archives: The Spires (1974-1984) now online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before Villanova Magazine there was The Spires, published from October 1974 to December 1984. The first issue introduces The Spires as a new publication that combined the Villanova Alumnus and The Capsule, previous publications that brought campus news to the alumni community.

The Spires takes its name from the twin gothic-styled towers atop the main chapel. They have been a landmark along the Main Line for more than three quarters of a century. The spires, which rise nearly 130 feet in the air, capture the eye of the visitor and dominate memories of the Villanova campus.

The Spires was published six times a year (October, December, February, April, June, and August) by the Public Relations Office, Villanova University, Austin Hall, Villanova, PA. Villanova Magazine is the current publication of the now-named Office of University Communication and Marketing.

Check out the newly digitized issues of The Spires in the Digital Library. Earlier issues of the Villanova Alumnus are available in the Digital Library as well.

 


Rebecca Oviedo is Distinctive Collections Archivist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 

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Last Modified: July 27, 2022