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eBook available: Bolo the Cave Boy

The Distributed Proofreaders project continues to have a very productive November, with yet another Project Gutenberg release today derived from our Digital Library images.

Today’s release is an issue of the Instructor Literature Series, a set of thin booklets used as “graded readers” for educational purposes in the early 20th century. This volume, no. 256 in the series, is Katherine Atherton GrimesBolo the Cave Boy, which describes life in prehistoric times, imagining how cave people hunted mammoths, dealt with natural disasters, shared fire, and began to develop agriculture.

If you’d like to read the whole book, you can find it freely available for online reading or download in popular eBook formats at Project Gutenberg.


eBook available: Gay Life in Paris

The Distributed Proofreaders Project has continued to adapt issues from the Multum in Parvo Library, the “smallest magazine in the world,” into Project Gutenberg eBooks. The latest release is the June, 1895 issue: Gay Life in Paris.

While the title might suggest a light travel guide or a cheery celebration of a beloved city, the 16-page book is more of a sensational exposé, focusing in large part on the hardships faced by ballet dancers and also describing (in mostly vague terms) some locales and activities that were shocking to the sensibilities of the time.

The entire text can be read online or downloaded for free in popular eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.


Meg Piorko’s Weekly Picks

Meg Piorko’s Weekly Pick: Linguistic Stocks of American Indians, North of Mexico.

In honor of Native American Heritage month I will be highlighting materials in our Distinctive Collections relating to Indigenous peoples and experiences.

The Linguistic Stocks of American Indians, North of Mexico (1890) is a map of indigenous language groups of North America, published by John Wesley Powell (1834-1902). Powell was an American geologist and professor at Illinois Wesleyan University known for leading a three-month expedition along the Green and Colorado rivers, marking the first U.S. government supported passage through the Grand Canyon. Powell was named the first director of the Bureau of Ethnology at the Smithsonian for his work on linguistics and sociology.

Smith map

Linguistic Stocks of American Indians, North of Mexico, 1890.

Capturing a moment in North American colonial history

This map illustrates various Native American languages and the regions in which they were spoken in the late-19th century. In the coming years European colonists would continue to displace many of these indigenous groups westward in the name of imperialist expansion. A map produced in the early 20th century depicting the same language groups would look very different.

This and other historic maps are part of our John F. Smith, III and Susan B. Smith Antique Map Collection. Click here to listen to John Smith describe this map in his own words.

What to learn more about the Smith Map Collection?

Check out the current Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement exhibit titled, “Art of War: Illustrated and Military Maps of the Twentieth Century” located on the first floor of Falvey Memorial Library, co-curated by Rebecca Oviedo and Christoforos Sassaris.


Happy Anniversary, Falvey!

Program, Villanova University Falvey Memorial Library Dedication, Saturday November 16th, 1968.


On November 16, 1968, Villanova celebrated the dedication of Falvey Memorial Library’s new building. As part of the celebration, Dr. Francis M. Hammond of the U.S. Office of Education received an honorary Villanova degree in recognition of his contributions to interracial justice and higher education.

Dr. Hammond was serving as Higher Education Facilities Program Officer at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare at the time of his honorary degree. Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, he had previously taught at Seton Hall University and was the institution’s first African-American faculty member (1946). Photos of the event from University Archives are now online in the Digital Library.

Dr. Francis M. Hammond, 1911-1978.

Photograph, Falvey Memorial Library Dedication (Convocation), 1968.

Dr. Francis M. Hammond with wife and family, receiving an honorary degree from Rev. Robert J. Welsh O.S.A. (28th president of Villanova) at the dedication of Falvey Memorial Library.


After the presentation of the degree, Dr. Hammond delivered the address at the ceremony. You can read the text of the words he spoke to dedicate the new library building – now in the Digital Library here:


You can also read more about Dr. Hammond and the Falvey Memorial Library dedication ceremony on p.2 of the Villanovan (November 13, 1968) here: 


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





Corfu Through the Ages

A French souvenir photo album recently added to the Villanova Digital Library offers views of the Greek island of Corfu (or Kerkyra) from the early twentieth century.

A particularly significant landmark depicted on the album is the Achilleion (Αχίλλειον), a palace named after the hero of Homer’s Iliad. It was built in the nineteenth century for Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837-1898). Since then, the palace has served as a military hospital for WWI troops, an orphanage for Armenian children leaving Turkey, an Axis-held military base, a conference hall, a museum, and even a casino, featured in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981) starring Roger Moore (1927-2017).

Achilleion patio in the 1910/1920s. Page [27]. Souvenir de Corfou / A. Farrucia editeur.


A 1907 issue of the Saturday Globe, published not long before the souvenir album, features a photograph of the palace patio and announces the building’s conversion into “a hotel and sanitorium” by a “German-Swiss syndicate.” In the early twentieth century, Corfu also received attention in Italian publications, which is not surprising, as the island was under Venetian rule for centuries and the Italian influence is evident in much of the island’s architecture. The fourth issue of the Italian dime novel series Petrosino (the “Italian Sherlock Holmes”), originally published in 1909, features a story titled “Un covo di delinquenti a Corfù” (“A den of criminals in Corfu”).

Achilleion patio. Page 6. Saturday Globe, v. 26, no. 50, Saturday, April 27, 1907.

Cover. Un covo di delinquenti a Corfù. 1948 Reprint.














The souvenir photo album makes for some nice comparisons to photographs from more recent decades. The following photographs of my grandparents on the Achilleion grounds were taken in the late 1970s, while the palace was both a casino and a museum.

Pigi Giannea-Filiou at Achilleion in the late 1970s.

Pigi Giannea-Filiou and Miltiades Filios at Achilleion in the late 1970s.











The following three photographs, two of them pulled from personal/family collections, depict the same statue of the dying Achilles in the early twentieth century, in 1994-1995, and in 2021. Note the deterioration of the color on the statue over time.

“Dying Achilles” statue (marble, Ernst Herter, 1884) at Achilleion in the 1910s/1920s. Page [31]. Souvenir de Corfou / A. Farrucia editeur.

My dad, Yiannis Sassaris, with “Dying Achilles” statue (marble, Ernst Herter, 1884) at Achilleion in the early 1990s.

My girlfriend, Samantha Walsh, with “Dying Achilles” statue (marble, Ernst Herter, 1884) at Achilleion in 2021.


Similarly, the following three photographs depict the front of the palace during the same three periods.

Achilleion entrance in the 1910s/1920s. Page [31]. Souvenir de Corfou / A. Farrucia editeur.

Achilleion entrance in the early 1990s.

Achilleion entrance in 2020.


Another significant landmark whose history may be charted throughout the past century is the Old Fortress, which was built by Venetians on top of an earlier Byzantine structure.

Old Fortress of Corfu in the 1910/1920s. Page [5]. Souvenir de Corfou / A. Farrucia editeur.

My mom, Dimitra Filiou, at the Old Fortress of Corfu in the early 1990s.

Old Fortress of Corfu in 2021.


The following 2020 photograph of Arseniou Street in the city of Corfu, compared to a similar shot in the French album, demonstrates that some of the same buildings still stand a century later.

Arseniou Street in the city of Corfu. Page [3]. Souvenir de Corfou / A. Farrucia editeur.

Arseniou Street in Corfu in 2020.


Corfu is an island rich with history, where various cultures have intersected across many centuries. These layers of history are evident in structures all throughout the island. Corfu has inspired the likes of Jules Verne, who used the island as a prominent setting in his 1884 novel about the Greek War of Independence, The Archipelago on Fire (L’Archipel en feu). The Villanova Digital Library initiative preserves the unique histories of places like Corfu by digitizing rare publications such as the French souvenir album. As the above comparison of historical materials and personal/family archives indicates, the Digital Library also allows users to historically contextualize their own lives.


Meg Piorko’s Weekly Pick

Meg Piorko’s Weekly Pick: The Snow People by Marie Herbert

In honor of Native American heritage month I will be highlighting materials in our Distinctive Collections relating to Indigenous peoples and experiences.

The Snow People (1973) is a self-published, firsthand account of Marie Herbert’s experience living among the Inuit people for one year with her explorer husband, Wally Herbert, and their young child. Wally Herbert specialized in exploring lands considered the most remote and uncharted by Europeans.

The Snow People

Front cover, The Snow People

Wally’s goal in living among the indigenous people of northwest Greenland was to document their “vanishing culture”. Rather than record their lives via film or other technology-based documentary methods, the Herbert family attempted to assimilate with the Inuit people. Marie, Wally, and their ten-month old baby lived in a hut on a settlement located 90 miles north of a U.S. airbase, isolated by a frozen sea.

Personal photo

The Herbert’s did however take personal photos of their time with the Inuit.

In her book, Marie Herbert recounts the domestic experience of living as an Inuit woman. She learned skills such as how to collect ice for fresh water, skin a fox, make sealskin shoes and polar-bear pants, guide a sledge through hazardous rocks and ice, net migrating birds, make dog harnesses, and more! Marie’s daughter Kari learned to speak the local Inuit language before she could speak English.

What does Inuit language Inuktitut sound like? Click here for recordings of people speaking Inuktitut

Inuit with Herbert baby

Portraits of Inuit women and an Inuit man holding the Herbert’s baby

This and other arctic Distinctive Collections materials are part of the Jamie Wheeler Collection recently acquired by Falvey.

What to learn more about this new collection?

Check out the digital special collection exhibit, “That Fairytale of Ice”: Polar Exploration in Mind and Memory, curated by Distinctive Collections librarian Rebecca Oviedo.


eBook available: Volume of Anecdotes

This week’s Project Gutenberg release (assembled by the Distributed Proofreaders team from images found in our Digital Library) is Volume of Anecdotes, a tiny, 16-page chapbook from A. B. Courtney’s Multum in Parvo Library series.

This book is a companion to the earlier Unique Story Book; like that volume, it collects brief anecdotes about the American Civil War, reprinted from other (unattributed) sources. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it relates to the typographical error discussed in our blog post about the earlier book. That volume contains a story which is missing its final sentence. Amazingly, this volume includes the missing sentence from the other book, printed entirely out of context! It seems possible that a mix-up during typesetting caused the final few pages of the two books to be accidentally swapped, and since the formatting and subject matter are very similar, nobody noticed until it was too late! The error is retained even in later reprints of both books.

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


Meg Piorko’s Weekly Picks

This week’s pick is “The Rescue,” a poem by Horace F. Tussey

In honor of Native American Heritage month I will be highlighting materials in our Distinctive Collections relating to Indigenous peoples and experiences.

“The Rescue” tells the story of the capture and rescue of Olive Oatman from the perspective of Captain William F. Drannan who was aided by Nawassa, a young Apache woman who risked her life to help return Oatman to her people. Tussey includes photographs and personal illustrations throughout the manuscript, and compares the bravery of Nawassa to that of Pocahontas and Sacagawea.

Photo of Nawassa

Photograph of a Native American with the name Nawassa written across it.

This and other poems by Horace F. Tussey (Sapulpa Oklahoma, a. 1910-1920) are available in our Digital Library’s Americana Collection. Tussey wrote about frontier life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawing on urban legend and personal experiences, Tussey illuminates the famous historical tales as well as the mundane daily life of the Wild West in his unique poetic prose.

Did you know?

Pennsylvania is one of the few states that does not recognize an Indigenous tribe within its borders, despite the rich Indigenous cultural heritage across the occupied land. To get acquainted with the Indigenous communities of Pennsylvania and the world, check out this interactive map!


All Treats, No Tricks

A big thank you to all those who stopped by Distinctive Collection’s Halloween Haunts event yesterday. Our ghoulish games, snacks, and witch’s brew were a hit with those consumed with a thirst for regular-sized candy!


Treats Table

Our spookiest items on display can also be viewed in our Rare Book Room:

Case of Spooky Books

Display of items from Special Collections

The Amateur’s Guide to Magic and Mystery and the Black Art Fully Exposed

The Dance of Death

Los Vampiros del Aire

Exorcism Manual

The Game of Saturn: Decoding the Sola-Busca Tartocchi

Phadon: oder, Uber die Unsterblichkeit der Seele, in Drey Gesprachen 


Meg Piorko’s Weekly Picks

Welcome to the third spooky installment of Meg Piorko’s Weekly Picks!

The final Halloween themed rare book for the month of October (don’t worry—there will be more spooky content throughout the year)

Eynatten, R. D. Maximilien. Manuale Exorcismorum. Antwerp: Balthasarem Moretum, 1619.

The long title (translated from Latin) is Exorcism Manual: containing instructions for exorcism and casting out of evil spirits from possessed bodies, warding off evil, and checking for demon infestations

Exorcism Manual

Exorcism Manual, title page

A note hidden behind the front paste-down reads, “This book will be carefully preserved in sacrifice, that it may be found easily when in need”

Exorcism Manual

Front paste-down

The Science of Demonology

Throughout history, demonology was a very real concern for people of religion and science alike. Within Christian theology, demons are considered the evil counterpart to angels of God. These evil spirits were thought to be masters of deception, and healing mortals afflicted with spirit possession required a scientific process of evaluation. Exorcism manuals, much like this one here at Falvey, provide methods of expulsion based on ancient references and depictions of demons from the Bible. St. Augustine even wrote about demonology—arguing that a spiritual contract exists between humans and demons.

A Practical Guide to Exorcism used by Doctors and Priests alike!

The front flyleaf has provenance notes that a medical doctor by the name of Walter Franklin Atlee (1828-1910) gifted this practical guide to exorcisms to Father Thomas Cooke Middleton (1842-1923)—who was the Villanova College Librarian for 58 years until his death.

Exorcism Manual

Provenance notes

“For Father Middleton from Dr Atlee”

“Thurs, June 6th 1895, I was presented with this book by Walter F. Atlee, M. D. 210 South 13th St., Phila.”

Villanova holds the papers of Father Middleton, including his correspondence with Dr. Atlee on topics ranging from religion, the soul, and secret societies. The men frequently switch to writing in Greek at the end of the letters, possibly to obscure information.

Not Scared Enough?

Are you craving more spooky Distinctive Collections material? Stop by our Halloween Exhibit Event on Monday, October 31st outside the Holy Grounds to see this Exorcism Manual for yourself as well as play some haunted games with DCDE staff.


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Last Modified: October 28, 2022