The Villanova Digital Library recently added a title that had not been previously digitized elsewhere: a 1914 edition of Divry’s vest-pocket English-Greek and Greek-English dictionary, published in New York by Demosthenes Constantopoulos Divry (1877-1927). An introductory letter, written in the formal “katharevousa” form of Greek prevalent in writings of the time, describes the book as “a necessary and trustworthy advisor to the Greek in America.” To that end, the dictionary includes not only translations from English to Greek and vice versa, but also useful appendices on irregular English verbs, major holidays, units of measurement, currency exchange rates, epistolary conventions, USPS mailing conventions, and more.
It is evident that the book was heavily used by a previous owner, likely the “Andreas” mentioned in an inscription on the rear pastedown. As other inscriptions on the front pastedown and elsewhere indicate, a reader added words that were not already present in the dictionary. Moreover, the US map listed on the table of contents was seemingly torn out by a reader who presumably found it useful. It is uncertain whether the book was primarily used by a Greek immigrant adjusting to American society or a student of English in Greece. Inscriptions on the rear pastedown mention two streets located at the heart of Athens: Ermou and Papagianni. Ermou cuts through the Monastiraki neighborhood, which is adjacent to historic sites like Hadrian’s Library, the Stoa of Attalos, and the Acropolis of Athens. Monastiraki is known for its flea markets and shops that sell historical materials; Divry’s 1914 dictionary was found in one of these shops.
The Villanova Digital Library preserves and offers access to rare materials that shed light on human experiences during various periods of history, such as Divry’s 1914 dictionary. The book joins the growing number of titles on the Digital Library that relate to modern Greek history, like the recently digitized early-twentieth-century souvenir album with photographs of Corfu.