Skip Navigation
Falvey Library
You are exploring: Home > Blogs

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.


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.


eBook available: Cavalry Curt; or, The Wizard Scout of the Army

George Waldo Browne’s Cavalry Curt; or, The Wizard Scout of the Army is the latest book from our collection to be transformed into a Project Gutenberg eBook by the Distributed Proofreaders project.

This juvenile dime novel, first published in 1892, tells the story of “Cavalry Curt,” a Union scout trying to survive in Confederate territory during Sherman’s March to the Sea, and Mara Morland, a young woman whose brother is both a Confederate soldier and an old school friend of Curt. Much of the narrative focuses on Mara’s efforts to save Curt’s life at great risk to herself and her family.

Written less than thirty years after the events framing the narrative, the book serves as an interesting example of how the Civil War was portrayed to a young audience while it was still quite fresh in the national memory. Some of the complexities of the situation — particularly the conflicts between personal and political allegiances — are important to the narrative, though the causes and politics of the war are barely discussed, and the book’s portrayal of slavery and enslaved people is the sanitized version common to literature of this period. The book is also noteworthy for its portrayal of Mara Morland, who is an unusually brave and competent female protagonist for a “boys’ story” (though her motivations still largely align with predictable gender stereotypes).

If you would like to read the book for yourself, you can find it for online reading or download in common eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.


Connecting the shards of history

Finding and making available lost or hidden treasures from collections is one of the greatest satisfactions in working with heritage materials.   In processing collections for digitization one occasionally finds materials that don’t seem to fit with the other materials in a collection, especially when dealing with a partner’s materials that may not have been fully described in paper prior to the digitization.

I was quite shocked and amazed when in the box of the Eleanor C. Donnelly personal paper collection, which is owned by the American Catholic Historical Society, Villanova University’s first digitization partner, I found a bound volume that she had owned that didn’t fit with the remainder of the materials, which largely contained correspondence to and from Eleanor, primarily from priests and Bishops throughout the United States in answer to her requests for facsimiles of episcopal seals.  Eleanor Donnelly, who lived from  1838 to 1917, was a figure on the Philadelphia literary scene.  She was known as “The Poet of the Pure Soul” and was also a contributor to numerous Catholic magazines and newspapers.  She edited the Augustinian magazine “Our Lady of Good Counsel” for a period and wrote over 85 books.  She was also sister to the infamous Ignatius Donnelly so her collection had at least the possibility of being filled with unusual treasures.   But this newly discovered bound volume upon closer examination proved to be in fact a manuscript containing signatures of Confederate prisoners of war held at the Johnson’s Island prison during the Civil War.

The first step was to describe the newly discovered work. A careful count finds that the manuscript itself consists of 62 leaves of unnumbered pages filled with not only signatures but also place and dates of capture and sometimes even other information.

After describing the album, I next reached out to other organizations to communicate the new find.  A short Google search provided the name of the heritage organization that documents and collects information about the prison:  the Johnson’s Island Preservation Society.  A little further digging found that they also have a page of documentation about the C.S.A. autograph books which have already been digitized and collected.

Next I reached out to them to let them know the url and the title of the work.  They were very excited – as can be imagined – about the discovery.   They immediately saw the benefit of cross-linking to our content and we asked for and received permission to link to theirs; thus we are digitally uniting two disparate physical collections into one linked set of resources that connects together the shards of history heretofore lost by the vagaries of time and place.

The final step is the creation of a detailed hand transcription of the document that will provide readers an easy way to view the text, and searchers a way to discover the names and other content from search engines and tools like Google and the library catalog.  Indeed we have started this process already as  one of our student transcribers has specifically requested to work on this item because she shares her home town with many of the captured Confederate soldiers whose names were written in this memorial almost 150 years ago.



Last Modified: April 15, 2011

Ask Us: Live Chat
Back to Top