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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.





eBook available: Love’s Labor Won

The latest title added to Project Gutenberg by the Distributed Proofreaders project is another dime novel from our Digital Library: Love’s Labor Won, by Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth.

First serialized in the early 1860’s, this novel is set in the early days of America’s independence, spanning from the end of George Washington’s presidency through the War of 1812, though its historical backdrop is of limited significance to the actual plot. The focus of the story is on its characters and their relationships, and in particular on the corrosive effects of a single secret across two generations of a family.

If you’re interested in learning more, the entire book can be read online or downloaded in popular eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.

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eBook available: Little Hickory

The latest eBook released to Project Gutenberg by the Distributed Proofreaders project using images from our Digital Library is another dime novel from the Bound-to-Win Library: Little Hickory; or, Ragged Rob’s Young Republic, a “success story” in the mold of Horatio Alger, Jr.

Written by George Waldo Browne using his “Victor St. Clair” pseudonym, the book tells the story of “Ragged Rob,” a young New York bootblack who helps to save Elihu Cornhill, a naive visitor to the city, from scammers and thieves. In gratitude (and because he is horrified by urban living conditions), Cornhill decides to take Rob (plus his family and friends) back to the country to start a new life, but their reception is not quite what he had expected.

This book describes social problems like economic inequity and prejudice in a more detailed and realistic way than many of its contemporaries, but being a dime novel, it ultimately doesn’t try to address them in any serious way, resolving itself through expected genre conventions rather than any attempt at realism. Still, like other popular fiction of its time, it provides a time capsule of social attitudes (not to mention slang).

If you would like to try this one for yourself, you can read it online or download it in popular eBook formats for free through Project Gutenberg.


eBooks available: Neva’s Three Lovers / Neva’s Choice

Two more Project Gutenberg texts have recently been created by the Distributed Proofreaders project using images from our Digital Library. This time, the books in question are Neva’s Three Lovers and Neva’s Choice, a pair of novels compiled from an earlier story paper serial written by Harriet Lewis, the wife and frequent collaborator of fellow dime novelist Leon Lewis.

The two books are really one continuous story, split up purely because of the story’s length — the first book ends abruptly without so much as a cliffhanger, and the second picks up directly from that stopping point. This story tells of the trials of Neva Wynde, a British woman whose widowed father remarries while she is away at school, and whose new stepmother turns out to be far less noble than her father believes. In the fashion of most story paper serials of its type, there are quite a few romantic entanglements, wild coincidences, and dangerous situations before the inevitable happy ending. Veterans of this genre will probably see most of the plot twists coming, but if you’re not already familiar with the conventions of 19th century melodrama, there might be some surprises in store….

If you want to give the story a try, you can read both books online or download them in popular eBook formats by using the links above.


eBooks available: Dr. Courtney’s Guide to Happy Marriage / Book of Parlor Tricks

June continues to be an extremely productive month for the Distributed Proofreaders project, which has just released two new Project Gutenberg eBooks based on images from our Digital Library. Both are entries from the Multum in Parvo Library of miniature books.

The first title, Dr. Courtney’s Guide to Happy Marriage, an advice book for couples which contains a blend of practical advice and nineteenth-century sexism. The second title, Book of Parlor Tricks, contains instructions for tricks to amuse friends at parties, though some tricks require the reader to send money for further details, and others haven’t aged well — for example, now that the health risks of mercury are known, it is probably not a good idea to paint it onto your feet just to impress your friends with a fire-walking trick.

Both titles can be read in full (or downloaded in common eBook formats) by following the links above. While neither serves its original intended purpose very well, each is a bite-sized time capsule that sheds a little light on past attitudes and commercial practices.


eBook available: Under Blanco’s Eye

The Distributed Proofreaders project has continued adding eBooks to Project Gutenberg using images from our Digital Library. The latest release is the first issue of Starry Flag Weekly, a weekly series about the adventures of a young American boy during the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Under Blanco’s Eye; or, Hal Maynard among the Cuban Insurgents sets up the story to come, with Hal Maynard, the series’ young protagonist, being trapped in a hostile Cuba while trying to look after his employer’s interests. After being rescued from corrupt Spanish officials by a young Cuban, he decides to join the resistance and proves himself an effective strategist on the battlefield.

Dime novels had a long history of exploiting current events to sell novels, and this series is a striking example of that strategy. Claiming to be written by an author observing the conflict from the front lines, these stories were clearly designed to stoke American patriotism and advance the narrative of an unambiguous scenario in which the Spanish were uniformly evil, the Cubans long-suffering but noble and heroic, and the Americans ready to ride in and save the day. Needless to say, the real historical scenario was significantly more complex. In any case, new adventures incorporating the latest headlines about the war appeared on a weekly basis until the conflict ended and the market consequently dried up.

If you want to check this one out for yourself, you can read it online or download it in popular eBook formats through Project Gutenberg, and you can find most of the sequels in our Digital Library.


eBook available: Book of Brief Narratives

Our latest Project Gutenberg release, formatted with the help of the Distributed Proofreaders project, is another issue from the Multum in Parvo Library, a collection of tiny chapbooks covering a variety of subjects and billing itself as the “smallest magazine in the world.” This volume, from December, 1894, is the Book of Brief Narratives, another collection of mini-mysteries similar to the previous Book of Detective Stories.

This time around, there are five mysteries and one brief anecdote packed into the book’s sixteen pages. The stories are a bit more diverse than those in the previous collection, and while they are unlikely to astound the modern reader, they at least provide a bit of variety.

If you want to take a look for yourself, you can read the entire book online, or download it in popular eBook formats, through Project Gutenberg.


Christoforos Sassaris Joins Falvey as Distinctive Collections Coordinator

My name is Christoforos Sassaris, and I recently joined Falvey Memorial Library as a Distinctive Collections Coordinator. In this position, I take part in the Distinctive Collections and Digital collections, lovecraft, joyce, Engagement department’s efforts at preserving rare books, archives, and artifacts. This position is a perfect fit for me, as it nicely combines my interests in cultural heritage and digital technologies. I am particularly excited to digitize sources in the Scan Lab and make them accessible to students, researchers, and the public through Falvey’s website.

I was born in Athens, Greece (where I still visit as often as possible) and moved to the US in 2011. I got my BA in English literature at West Chester University (WCU), where I was both an intern and a research fellow at Francis Harvey Green Library’s Special Collections. These experiences imbued me with a passion for heritage librarianship, which I pursued through additional internships at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Brandywine River Museum of Art.

Just before joining Falvey, I was a Graduate Assistant in Villanova’s Writing Center and English department while I completed my MA. I also volunteered in two digital projects at Falvey, the Edward T. LeBlanc Memorial Dime Novel Bibliography and Honoring the Fallen: An Interactive Memorial Map. During the past two years, I developed a deep appreciation of Falvey’s collections, which I consulted during my studies.

When I was introduced to these collections, one item that immediately drew my attention was a journal of astronomical observations belonging to horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, whose fiction I examined in my MA thesis. Interestingly, the journal possibly contains the real-world inspiration for the short story “The Colour Out of Space.” I was also drawn to Falvey’s extensive holdings in Irish and Irish-American literature, such as an original copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses. This 1922 modernist novel was the focus of my final capstone paper at WCU, titled “‘A Last Attempt to Retrieve the Fortunes of Greece’: Joyce, Hellenism, and Addressing Arnoldian Attitudes in Ulysses.” I am enthusiastic about preserving and facilitating access to treasures such as Lovecraft’s journal and Joyce’s novel through my work at Falvey.

I look forward to working with the Falvey team and continuing my involvement in the Villanova community in the coming years. Feel free to visit me at my desk in Access Services on the first floor of Falvey, or contact me at!


New digitized items from The Museum of Nursing History

We are pleased to share that we have recently added new items from The Museum of Nursing History to their digital partner collection in the Digital Library. The latest additions include photographs, newspaper clippings, ephemera, letters, and documents relating to the nursing careers of several women spanning from a WWI U.S. Army nurse, a WWII U.S. Navy nurse, and a career school nurse who worked thirty-three years from 1952-1986.

The items were scanned during the fall semester by one of our student workers, Mikiahya Black ’21 B.S.N., pursuing her own career in nursing through Villanova University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.


eBook available: In the Volcano’s Mouth

The latest Project Gutenberg produced by the Distributed Proofreaders project from images in our Digital Library is In the Volcano’s Mouth; or, A Boy Against an Army, by Frank Sheridan.

The novel, first serialized as Madcap Max; or, The Man, the Mahdi and the Mamaluke during 1890 in the Golden Hours story paper, tells of the adventures of “Madcap Max,” a young American prankster whose trip to Egypt turns tragic when his father is murdered by bandits. He is rescued by a mysterious young woman, makes some new friends, then has a series of adventures, including deadly encounters with strange creatures in a subterranean river, and eventually becomes deeply involved in the Mahdist War.

Like many works of its time, the book requires a content warning. In addition to containing a startling amount of graphic violence and gore for a book marketed to children, it also includes racist and sexist language and ideas, and its “hero” frequently behaves in appalling ways — such as when one of his pranks ends in the gruesome death of an innocent bystander. However, in spite of these things, the book does contain more nuance than many of its contemporaries — some of its characters directly challenge various prejudices of its time, and its depictions of Muslim characters are more sympathetic than some found in much more recent entertainment media.

It seems unlikely that the author of this book set out to advance any particular social agenda; it is much more likely that his goal was simply to entertain with a series of “thrilling incidents” partially inspired by then-current events — the 19th century equivalent of an action movie. Whatever the motivation behind it, the book’s mixed messages and puzzling creative decisions make it an unexpectedly interesting read, perhaps raising more questions than are answered, but shedding some light on the complexity of the cultural landscape in which it was produced.

If you would like to see it for yourself (and can stomach some of the less tasteful aspects of the text), the entire book can be read online, or downloaded in popular eBook formats, through Project Gutenberg.


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Last Modified: May 27, 2022