By Nathaniel Haeberle-Gosweiler
Villanova University has a lot of history. However, some students and patrons are not aware just how much history is kept by the office of Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement (DCDE) at Falvey Memorial Library. Located on the second floor of the library, DCDE archives and displays books, articles, and artifacts that preserve and maintain history and cultural heritage.
Many people would be surprised what is available to view upon appointment, leading to experiences that Michael Foight, Director of Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement, says are critical for Villanova’s globally-minded students.
“The experience of touching an item that is hundreds if not thousands of years old can change a person’s life. It creates an appreciation of the ephemeral nature of our digital lives. Often it leads to students thinking about how to preserve their communication, whether that be emails or even tweets, for their children and generations to come,” he explains.
Maintaining this collection, containing thousands of historically valuable and culturally important materials, is just one more way Falvey Memorial Library provides a valuable context to academic research.
“For faculty, being able to talk about the history of printing calls to mind the period in which those people were teaching. For example, being able to peruse the first edition of St. Augustine’s The Confessions can lend students increased historical sensitivity when they are reading the book. Teachers making assignments with those artifacts, including transcribing or translating documents, gives back to the greater historical culture,” Michael Foight adds.
Here are some of the notable inclusions of the collections from DCDE, many of which might just surprise you!
What’s the oldest item in the Distinctive Collections?
A Sumerian clay cuneiform tablet, est. 2000 B.C.E., detailing the taxes paid on a cow!
What are the most requested items in Distinctive Collections?
- William T. Sherman’s frock coat from 1864 (pictured above)
- Gregor Mendel’s Experiments on Plant Hybridization paper
- Codex Atlanticus / Leonardo da Vinci (facsimile)
- John Maynard Keynes’s The economic consequences of the peace
- Commemorative Box with Sake cup—Celebrating the Invasion of Nanking, China–Seabag
University Archives Collections:
- Belle Air yearbooks
- Commencement Programs
- Villanovan issues
Nathaniel Haeberle-Gosweiler is a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Department at Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in Communication at Villanova University.