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Available for proofreading: Nimble Ike, the Trick Ventriloquist

Quite a few years ago, we helped to create a Project Gutenberg edition of a dime novel called The Twin Ventriloquists; or, Nimble Ike and Jack the Juggler: A Tale of Strategy and Jugglery, which told the tale of a team-up between ventriloquist detectives and promised to reveal more about Nimble Ike’s origin story in a future volume. At long last, that future volume is available as our latest Distributed Proofreaders project.

You can learn how you can help turn the scans from our Digital Library into a modern eBook edition by reading our earlier blog post, Proofreading the Digital Library. If you decide to join in the work, you can visit the project page for an assignment until the project is completed.


Welcome to 1925 / 2021

This year, 2021, sees the release of works created in 1925 into the public domain in the United States. Many of these titles are of significant literary merit including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith. In the spirit of last year’s efforts to add to the number of titles available to the public we have digitized 5 titles from Distinctive Collections that are now available in the public domain for your enjoyment and research needs.

First is an brief history of St. Agath’s Church in Meadville Pa:

St. Agatha’s Church, Meadville, Pennsylvania: seventy-five years of history, 1849-1924 / Rev. Andrew J Weschler Pastor

Next, from the Joseph McGarrity Collection, is a book of poetry from Nathalia Crane who was only 12 years of age upon publication of this her second book of poetry:

Lava Lane, and other poems / by Nathalia Crane

A 1925 issue of the story paper Weekly Ledger is now available:

Weekly Ledger, v. LIII, no. 2, Saturday, January 10, 1925

As are these two 1925 published Dime Novels:

A Golden Shower; or, the Boy Banker of Wall Street and other stories / by a Self-Made Man

On time : or, Bound to get there / by Oliver Optic

For more on the public domain see:


Available for proofreading: A Lad of Mettle

While many of our past Distributed Proofreaders projects have come from American dime novels, our latest is a distant cousin to those books: a British yellowback edition of Nat Gould’s juvenile novel, A Lad of Mettle. Like dime novels, yellowbacks were cheaply-produced books designed to entertain a mass audience. The main difference is that yellowbacks were hardbacks (named for the distinctive color frequently used on their covers and spines), while dime novels were paper-covered.

While this book was originally intended to be somewhat disposable, you can greatly extend its life by helping to convert scans from our Digital Library into a new electronic edition on Project Gutenberg. To learn how the process works, you can read our Proofreading the Digital Library blog post. When you’re ready to join in the work, you can visit the project page for an assignment!


eBook available: The Airship Boys in the Great War

Another of our Distributed Proofreaders projects has been completed and added to the Project Gutenberg collection of free eBooks.

The Airship Boys in the Great War, published in 1915, is the eighth and final book in the “Airship Boys” series of aerial adventures. In this installment, the Airship Boys learn that a reporter friend has been held as a suspected spy in Germany at the outbreak of the first World War. They decide to use their high-speed aircraft, The Ocean Flyer, to rescue him, since the United States itself will not intervene due to its neutral position in the conflict.

This is a book of high adventure, without much regard to logic or plotting. The boys go from one incident to another as they explore the war zone, rescue their friend, and try to get home. As with many of the other juvenile war stories of the period, this book offers a glimpse into the way the conflict was represented to children.

While official American neutrality was still in full effect when the book was published, the author’s opinions certainly seem to show through in a few places. Paranoia about a German spy network operating in America is on full display here, and the book seems at least a little scornful of the neutral position, given that the plot involves the boys defying the American government to fulfill their mission. At the same time, the book glorifies the soldiers and emperor of Austria during its latter half.

If you are interested in taking a closer look at this small piece of history, the full text of the book can be read online or downloaded in popular eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.


Available for proofreading: The Mystery of Cleverly

Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project is a juvenile mystery novel: George Barton’s The Mystery of Cleverly, first published in 1907.

With a winter storm on the way, now might be the perfect time to curl up with a virtual book and help convert the scans of this long-forgotten work from our Digital Library into a new electronic edition on Project Gutenberg. To learn how it works, you can read our Proofreading the Digital Library blog post. When you’re ready to join in the work, you can visit the project page for an assignment!

We’re also open to feedback on what we should run through the process next; if there are any books in the collection that you’d like to see which haven’t received the proofreading treatment yet, feel free to leave suggestions in the comment section here!


From the Archives: Fall Zine

Zine Cover

Well another crazy semester for the record books!

COVID-19 has upended so much of our lives, yet here you are continuing to going to school and trying to stay connected with friends and family. To decompress from the whirlwind of finals and enjoy a well deserved break, enjoy the new issue of the University Archives Zine. This issue has a special game, created by our own Library Technology Developer, Chris Hallberg. The game is a re-imagined version of the game Manifold.

Download Vol.2 Issue 1 

If you want to contribute the next zine email with your idea 😆


From the Archives: Digitized Primary Sources on the 1918 Flu Pandemic

By Rebecca Oviedo

Preserved in Villanova University Archives and now available in the Digital Library are dozens of first-hand accounts and records from women religious of Philadelphia who volunteered to nurse the sick during the 1918-1919 “Spanish Influenza.” The accounts were solicited and collected by Rev. Francis E. Tourscher, O.S.A., who quickly took up the timely task to “assemble facts while they are still a living memory” and compiled that research as Work of the Sisters during the epidemic of influenza, October, 1918 / Philadelphia : American Catholic Historical Society, 1919.

Now we are making the original experiences and recollections written by the Sisters available online. Rev. Tourscher served as University Librarian from 1923-1939, and his papers are part of the Falvey Memorial Library records. His aim in gathering these facts was “to record the experiences and impressions of the Sisters, and incidentally to record their personal observations of the symptoms of the disease and conditions existing during the epidemic in private homes and hospitals.”

Senior Elizabeth Lyons works in the library as a Collections & Stewardship Technician in the scan lab and was eager to digitize the papers. “These papers were a crucial part of my research into volunteering efforts during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic in Philadelphia. They offered a unique insight into what it was like at the hospitals in Philadelphia. There weren’t a lot of personal accounts of what it was like to live through this period of time, so these offered a really unique perspective. I love working in the library and getting to interact with all sorts of historical documents. It’s really exciting to see what sorts of things have been preserved and what life was like back then! A lot of my fellow history majors were jealous that I get to keep working with primary sources like this, since most archives are closed right now.”

Further access to the manuscripts is provided through careful transcription of each handwritten document. Briana Felice is pursuing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is completing an internship at Falvey Memorial Library. She has been transcribing the Sisters’ recollections into machine-readable format (Microsoft Word document and PDF) where they are available alongside the digitized item in the Digital Library. This added process ensures that the papers are more easily accessible and findable for users when performing keyword searches. She observes, “With everything going on with the looming pandemic, these letters are very timely. It shows that history really does repeat itself. Hopefully, we can learn a little something from the past.”

Just as scholars today are examining these records of the past, we anticipate that future scholars, staff and students may wish to know and understand what it was like for the Villanova community living through the current COVID-19 pandemic. We invite you to submit your own story and be a part of history:




Rebecca Oviedo is Distinctive Collections Librarian/Archivist at Falvey Memorial Library.





Available for proofreading: Boy Scouts at Sea

The scouting movement was very popular in the early twentieth century, so it is not too surprising that a lot of juvenile novels were released featuring Boy Scouts and members of similar groups. Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project comes from this period: Arthur A. Carey’s Boy Scouts at Sea; or, A Chronicle of the B. S. S. Brightwing, first published in 1918.

As with all of our projects, you can volunteer to help turn the scans of this long-forgotten work from our Digital Library into a new electronic edition of the book on Project Gutenberg — just read our Proofreading the Digital Library blog post to learn how the process works, then sign up at the project page!


eBook available: Camping in the Winter Woods

Our latest project to graduate from Distributed Proofreaders to Project Gutenberg is Camping in the Winter Woods, a 1912 juvenile novel by Elmer Russell Gregor.

In the book, two young men spend a winter in the Maine woods with a mentor, learning about the environment and its inhabitants. The book is episodic in nature, with each chapter dealing with a new hunting expedition, danger, or discovery. Many of these adventures serve to describe wildlife behavior and illustrate outdoor survival techniques.

The author followed this up with a sequel the next year: Camping on Western Trails, in which the protagonists explore the Rocky Mountains.

If you’re interested in reading the first adventure, it is now freely available for online reading (or download in popular eBook formats) through Project Gutenberg.


Available for proofreading: Let Us Kiss and Part

Our latest title to join the Distributed Proofreaders project for inclusion in Project Gutenberg is Let Us Kiss and Part; or, A Shattered Tie, another novel by prolific story paper novelist Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller, author of The Bride of the Tomb (and countless other melodramas). The story was first serialized in Street & Smith’s New York Weekly story paper from November 20, 1897 to February 12, 1898, but we are working with a later paper-covered reprint from the early 20th century.

You can volunteer to help turn our scans of this long-forgotten work into a new electronic edition of the book — just read our Proofreading the Digital Library blog post to learn how the process works, then sign up at the project page!


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Last Modified: November 20, 2020