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Distinctive Collections: The Smallest Item

What is the smallest item in your collection?

While our Distinctive Collections have many small and fascinating items (a Sumerian clay tablet, a miniature edition of Shakespeare’s plays), the smallest item has to be this tiny seed pod amazingly filled with even tinier carved ivory animals. This item belongs to the James D. Reap, Jr. World War II Collection, which coincidentally also houses one of the largest items from Distinctive Collections (see: Scanning a Panoramic Sketch).

 

The little red seed comes from the red sandalwood tree, common in India and other tropic areas. Sometimes called the Red Lucky Seed, Circassian Seed, Jumbi-Bead, or magic charm bean, the hollow seeds filled with carved ivory animals (usually elephants) were likely sold or distributed as souvenirs that would bring good luck with each animal inside. This seed, like a fancy perfume bottle, has a carved stopper on top that fits just right. Inside easily and comfortably fits thirteen paper-thin little animals. The animals are intricately carved and some are quite recognizable. There is a camel and a giraffe, an elephant, and other four-legged creatures. Each one is only about 4 mm tall (the giraffe is 6 mm tall) and the seed with stopper measures 8 mm wide and 12 mm height.

We are not sure where Reap acquired it, but it was certainly while overseas between 1944-1946. After enlisting in the Navy in November 1943 and training at Bainbridge, MD and Fort Lauderdale, FL, he was then ordered to San Diego to join the Japanese invasion force. The USS White Marsh took Reap to Pearl Harbor, HI, where he was assigned to the USS Proteus, a submarine tender, as a radar and communications technician. He was stationed at various times at: Guam; Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands; Japan; and Panama. After the war, Reap was honorably discharged from Naval service on April 6, 1946.

Earlier this summer we had a chance to revisit this collection with James D. Reap, Jr.’s son and great-granddaughter during their visit to campus. They fondly remembered the little “ivory zoo” and son James J. Reap recalled his father proudly rolling out the sketch of Yokosuka Naval Base in his basement to show family and friends. The family is happy that the collection is now being preserved with Villanova University’s Distinctive Collections, and excited to see items shared online in the Digital Library.

 

James J. Reap, ’69 and his granddaughter, Abby, pose with items from the James D. Reap, Jr. World War II Collection.

 


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Map Quest

In my quest for “complex” items from our Distinctive Collections to add to Villanova University’s Digital Library (see: Scanning a Panoramic Sketch) I was drawn to the many beautiful hand-colored maps in The John F. Smith, III, and Susan B. Smith Antique Map Collection. While a few unframed maps and prints were already added to the Digital Library, the majority of the collection holdings to date are custom framed and previously unscanned (See: The John F. Smith, III and Susan B. Smith Antique Map Collection: A Recent Addition to Special Collections). Making use of past exhibition posters, I was able to utilize the large poster boards to remove or minimize the reflective glare from the framed glass to digitally capture these wonderful and unique images.

Pair of maps depicting the surface of the moon, based upon the models of Johannes Hevelius and Giovanni Battista Riccioli.

There are currently 62 items from the collection now in our Digital Library, 35 items are currently on display at Picotte Hall at Dundale, and we are expecting another installment of items for donation from the Smiths this summer. In addition to the items in the Digital Library, Distinctive Collections Librarian Laura Bang is developing a web exhibit for the collection, featuring Mr. Smith’s personal reflections on each map. We are excited to highlight and provide access in a myriad of ways to these historic documents as part of our academic mission.

This 18th century map of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York features an elaborate cartouche showing William Penn trading with natives, local flora and fauna, and a wild turkey. This Smith map is especially fine with ornate and expert hand-coloring, compared with another example, below, in our Special Collections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selections from this collection were also previously on display in Around the World: Selections from the Smith Antique Map Collection, an exhibit on the first floor of Falvey Memorial Library in Spring 2018. Alongside these selections were other map and cartographic items from Special Collections, including a curious dissected map – an early precursor to the modern jigsaw puzzle! This item had also not yet been digitized, so I enlisted my colleagues to help assemble the pieces in preparation for digitizing.

Beaudry Allen, Preservation and Digital Archivist, and Laura Bang, Distinctive Collections Librarian, practice their geography skills.  

Some of the earliest surviving dissected maps were sold in London in the 1760s by mapmaker John Spilsbury. Originally a method of teaching geography to the children of the aristocracy, puzzle maps became more accessible to a broader range of clientele as new methods of manufacturing made the process cheaper. Our example came in a wooden box, with a handwritten inscription on the bottom: “with dear Papa’s best love and wishes, December 31st 1849.”

We did it! After successfully completing the (educational and entertaining!) puzzle, here is the finished product – which you can see dissected and undissected –  in the Digital Library: Map of Asia, by James Wyld.


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Scanning a Panoramic Sketch

 

 

 

Recently added to the Digital Library is a unique item from the James D. Reap, Jr. World War II Collection. The item is a 16 ½ foot panorama sketch of Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, drawn by Reap over the course of two weeks in 1945, while stationed on the USS Proteus in Tokyo Bay after the end of the war.

James Domenico Reap, Jr. was born on February 25, 1923. Originally from Berwick, PA, he attended Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, and the V-12 Navy College Training Program at Villanova University. Reap enlisted in the Navy in November 1943. He was assigned to the USS Proteus, a submarine tender, as a radar and communications technician. The Proteus arrived at Yokosuka Naval Base in August of 1945, where it was anchored near the USS Missouri for the formal signing of Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945.

The sketch consists of 9 separate drawings taped together to form one long panoramic view. Each drawing (except one) is dated in the lower right corner: September 20, 1945 A.M.; September 20, 1945 P.M.; September 28, 1945 P.M.; September 29, 1945 P.M.; September 30, 1945; September 30, 1945; No Date; October 2, 1945; October 4, 1945. The final sketch is signed on the verso.

In order to digitally capture such a large artifact, each section was scanned as a separate file and then manually stitched together in Adobe Photoshop. A few inches of extra overlap on the edges of each image helped to ensure a good match. Pairing the images together at the taped seams further aided in the creation of a cohesive image. Even if the item could be scanned as a single image, the resolution and quality would not be great enough. Scanning multiple images and stitching them together preserves the details and archival quality of the image.

Reap also sketched a view of Mt. Fuji, on August 29, 1945. This sketch is stored with the panoramic image in our Special Collections, but appears to be meant as a separate entity.

View of Fujiyama, Elevation 12390 Feet.

Selected items from this collection have already previously been scanned. As Distinctive Collections Coordinator, part of my job includes daily oversight and supervision of the Digitization Lab, and “complex digitization as needed.” I will be adding more complex items from this collection and others in the future. Stay tuned!


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Falvey Scholar Award Winners: Honoring Rising Research Stars

We are proud to announce that the following students have been selected as our 2019 Falvey Scholar award winners: Jubilee Marshall, Matthew Fagerstrom, Erica Ferrara, Erin Donnelly, Elizabeth O’Brien, and Ritesh Karsalia.

Each winning student will give a short presentation about the content and findings of the research involved in the writing of their thesis or creation of their project report at an event on Friday, April 26, 9:15–11 a.m., in room 205 of Falvey Memorial Library. This event is free and open to the public.

Find the schedule of presentations here.

Falvey Scholars, a collaborative initiative of the Library and the Center for Research and Fellowships, is an annual program that recognizes outstanding undergraduate research at Villanova University. Winners of the Falvey Scholar award are selected from a pool of candidates submitted by a senior Villanova University student or a group of students working on a senior project together with the recommendation of the advisor to the senior thesis or capstone project completed for academic credit.

Falvey Scholars is one of the keynote events of the annual Villanova Spring Research Exposition, a week-long series of events that celebrates the scholarly achievements of Villanova’s researchers and showcases a year’s worth of innovation and creativity.

Digital copies of the winning papers are maintained in Falvey’s Digital Library.


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A Victorian family history in watercolors and prints

One of our recent acquisitions is a scrapbook compiled by Edith Isabella Good (1849-1922), accompanied by a few loose leaves from a scrapbook begun by her brother Frederick. Their father, Clements Good, served as the Consul General for Denmark in Hull, England for fifty years from 1846 to 1896, and was also the principal partner of a shipping firm.

Edith was a talented artist whose work was included in juried group exhibitions in England and Ireland. Her scrapbook includes some beautiful watercolors, pen & ink drawings, and silhouettes. The art primarily consists of portraits of women and children from her family, but there are also a few landscapes and floral studies.

Landscape showing a cabin near the top of a mountain with a dusting of snow, more mountains visible in the distance and an eagle flying overhead. Two profile portraits of women wearing hats.

Page [4] of Edith’s scrapbook, with a landscape and two portraits.

Among the portraits are three of young women dressed to play lawn tennis, which was just becoming popular at the time. The portraits are noteworthy for depicting the costumes worn for playing tennis, including early tennis shoes with India rubber soles and tennis rackets.

Young woman in a blue calf-length dress with small bustle, wearing a straw sunhat and early tennis shoes, holding a tennis racket in her left hand.

Page [20] of Edith’s scrapbook, with a portrait of a young woman in a tennis outfit.

Also of interest is a watercolor image depicting the family’s two Bengali nannies with a group of six white children.

Watercolor portraits of the heads of 2 white boys and a group portrait, also in watercolor, of 2 Bengali nannies with 6 white children.

Page [24] of Edith’s scrapbook, showing the family’s Bengali nannies.

Edith’s brother Frederick de Coninck Good (1852-1887) was a graphic artist in addition to joining his father in the family businesses. He enjoyed creating print illustrations for family and local occasions. Sadly, Frederick died by suicide at the age of 34. The loose leaves of his scrapbook include Frederick’s own works as well as contributions from his sister, Edith, and their father, Clements.

Line drawing of the Royal Royal Danish Warship Heimdal, with a Danish Navy escort, coming into port in Hull.

Page [8] of Frederick’s scrapbook leaves, with an illustrated printed menu in honor of the July 1884 visit of Prince Carl of Denmark to Hull.

You can browse through these scrapbooks in the Digital Library. Also included is a PDF containing further biographical notes compiled by the seller and included when they sent us the scrapbooks.


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“The Man Who Saved The Betsy Ross House”

Imagine you’ve come across a box or a forgotten drawer stuffed with photographs, old programs, or tickets from a time you do not want to forget. Maybe you go out to the store and buy an album with blank pages, colorful papers and embellishments, and then get to work with some scissors and glue. Today scrapbooking is a thriving hobby and industry with millions of products sold to help you preserve your memories. Scrapbooking is not a new phenomenon however, and before these modern conveniences were available it would not have been uncommon practice to reuse or repurpose an old unwanted book.[i]

One unique example from Villanova’s Distinctive Collections has just recently been scanned and is now available in our Digital Library. In this case, the book was not entirely unwanted – the compiler did save a good portion of the book, but cut out the middle section, inserted yet another book, and pasted over other pages to create an entirely new book “for keeps.” A handwritten “Note” on the front flyleaf explains the author’s discovery of forgotten documents and prints in a cupboard when preparing for a move.


“This book in store among forgotten lore, came to life once more.

It might have been consigned to the scrap heap – I chose to use it for my scraps for keeps.” (Front flyleaf 2, recto).

 

The book, a 1910 edition of the Register of Members of “one of Massachusetts honored societies – The Sons of the American Revolution” was probably chosen for its handsome blue binding with gold gilt (which the scrapbook author extra-embellished with a handmade clasp attachment), but also for its patriotic association.

The author of this scrapbook is Charles William Smith (1843 – 1934). We know from the many newspaper clippings he compiled here, that he was born in New Haven, CT, came to Philadelphia as a coal merchant, and was a member of the Union League, the Sons of the American Revolution, the Masonic Lodge, many other patriotic societies, and evidently how he most wished to be remembered – “the man who saved the Betsy Ross House.” A clipping near the end of the book suggests Smith’s motive in this scrapbook’s creation. A poem written by Smith, published in The Frankford Gazette, April 11, 1924, begins:

 

My dear Patriotic friend

Way back in the year 1892

I would not now mention my act

That happened then—not even to you,

I am prompted to do so however—I am told

There is some person this late day,

trying to rob me of my just dues[ii]

 

Indeed, the person most credited for saving the Betsy Ross House is Charles W. Weisgerber. You won’t find much about Charles William Smith.[iii] This is not for a lack of trying on his part. It seems that for several years on Smith’s birthday, or even Flag Day, the Philadelphia newspapers would reprint Smith’s story.[iv] In one case, Smith published a thank you to the Editor the next day.[v] As he tells it, Smith heard in 1892 that the house was to be torn down to build a factory. He then “awakened the interest of patriotic men and women,” raising money to eventually buy the house in 1905 by selling ten cent subscriptions to 1,040,270 persons. These certificates were sold through the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association, of which both Smith and Weisgerber were founding members. But who had the initial idea to save the house? Did Betsy Ross even live at 239 Arch Street? Did she really sew the first flag? The legitimacy of Betsy’s story and the house has long been questioned. And this scrapbook is Charles William Smith’s personal attempt to stamp out any doubt of the answers to all three questions.

 

[Parry Scrapbook, 8-9]

Smith has gathered various publications in the form of newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and books. They are joined with signed letters, sworn statements and endorsements by historians, Betsy’s descendants, President Warren G. Harding, and even notarized documents.[vi] Some of the items may seem disparate, but to Smith they may all share a patriotic meaning, and an intent to authenticate his claims.

The assemblage of the scrapbook begins with the SAR Register book, which remains intact up until the List of Members. This is where Smith’s scrapbook begins. After eleven pages, a second book is inserted, Betsy Ross and the United States Flag, A Paper Read Before the Bucks County Historical Society, 1909, by Oliver Randolph Parry. This portion of the scrapbook is scanned open as two-page spreads, with page numbers identifying the published book as “Parry, #”, and the scrapbook pages within as [Parry Scrapbook, #]. When the Parry book ends, the Scrapbook pages of the outer book resume, and then we have the remainder of the SAR Register book preserved. The final pages contain some inserts of personal documents: Smith’s membership to The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (January 24, 1898); his acceptance degree as a Master Mason of St. Alban Lodge #529 (May 6, 1886); and membership to the Athletic Club of the Schuylkill Navy (November 12, 1892). Within these pages are also bits of wood from Valley Forge National Historic Park and Independence Hall; with mention of a gavel made of wood from the floorboards of the Betsy Ross House. There is correspondence with O.H. Oldroyd, collector and historian of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia. And there is of course the use of red, white, and blue colors throughout, and the lyrics and music sheet for The Star-Spangled Banner.

 

[Parry Scrapbook, 16-17]

By making this scrapbook, Smith has attempted to give permanence to these items by pasting them down and preserving them for posterity. The scrapbook has been in Villanova’s collection since 1956, when it was donated by an alum, Dr. Edward A. Mallon. The connection between Smith and Mallon (if there is one) is unclear, and how it came to be in Mallon’s possession is a current mystery.

I have missed Smith’s February 7th birthday by more than a week with this blog post, but he probably wouldn’t mind seeing his name in print once more anyway: Today, Charles William Smith, “the man who saved the Betsy Ross House,” would have been 176 years old.

 


[i] “As one scrapbook maker whose family was busy cutting and pasting papers in 1873 explained, they were not ‘using up good printed books’… rather “there is nothing in them that we want, and so we propose putting in something, rather than have them stand idle…. Some of them are old school-books, not much worn, but out of date. Almost every library has some useless books.” See “Writing and recording with scrapbooks,” Ellen Gruber Garvey, OUPblog, https://blog.oup.com/2012/05/writing-recording-with-scrapbooks-history/.

[ii] Page 229.

[iii] See newspaper columnist, James Smart’s history of the Betsy Ross House: http://www.jamessmartsphiladelphia.com/betsy-s-house.html.

[iv] Clippings in this scrapbook date from 1922-1924.

[v] Scrapbook, 2.

[vi] The Harding letter is a copy only, [Parry Scrapbook, 12-13].


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Oíche Cois Tine – Two Nights Beside The Fire: A Window Into The Rich Literary World of Dr. Douglas Hyde, and A Musical Voyage to Irish Newfoundland

PORTAL_CEILIDuring the 1980s the Philadelphia Ceili Group hosted a cultural evenings series under the title “Oíche Cois Tine”, Gaelic for “Night Beside the Fire”. These events celebrated a wide range of Irish culture: music and dance performances by prominent Irish and Irish-American artists, demonstrations of uniquely Irish musical instruments such as the uilleann pipes, and lectures on topics such as Irish literature, history, travel, and the Irish-American experience. This week we added two new recordings of academic lectures from this series to the Philadelphia Ceili Group collection of Villanova University’s Digital Library. These items, freely available for streaming and download, highlight the amazing breadth of materials on Irish history and culture present in the Ceili Group collection and augment in sound the huge array of Irish textual and visual materials in other areas of the Digital Library.

“Irish Songs and Singers of Newfoundland”, 1982.

This lecture from the Spring of 1982 features the renowned folklorist and scholar Dr. Kenneth Goldstein, presenting on his adventures visiting with musicians and archiving Irish folk music in Newfoundland, Canada. Kenny Goldstein was a hugely influential figure in Irish folk music, having collected and published thousands of folksongs across several continents. He was also instrumental to the success of the Philadelphia Ceili Group’s activities in past decades, as attested to in this tribute to him from the 1996 Festival Program.

If you want to hear some incredible stories and some unique takes on some well-known Irish tunes, have a listen to Dr. Goldstein’s fascinating exploration of the music of a lesser-known corner of the Irish diaspora.

“The Importance of Douglas Hyde to the Irish Literary Renaissance”, March 12, 1982.

This lecture from 1982 features an extended discussion by the late Dr. Lester I. Conner, a Professor of English at Chestnut Hill
College from 1962-1990, on the unique contributions of Douglas Hyde to the Gaelic revival of the late-nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. His contributions, according to Dr. Conner, to the reestablishment of the Irish language as a living tongue,
the formation of a de-anglicized Irish identity, Irish nationalism, and especially the Irish literary renaissance, cannot be overestimated. Dr. Conner illuminates the literary world of Douglas Hyde with spark and enthusiasm, and brings to life the voices of famous contemporaries such as Lady Gregory and W. B. Yeats in an engaging presentation packed with quotes and anecdotes.

This new addition to the Philadelphia Ceili Group collection is also a perfect entry point to the study of Dr. Hyde’s influence in the scores of primary documents available throughout the Digital Library. If you’re interested in exploring further, try this list of documents concerning Douglas Hyde.

 

Stay tuned for more links to recordings from the Oíche Cois Tine series!


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DH in the Classroom: Aurelius Digital Humanities Launches Second Project

During the spring semester, the Aurelius Digital Humanities Initiative launched its second project, a digital edition of El Peru en sus tradiciones en su historia, en su arte. The project was commandeered by Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish Chad Leahy, PhD, who worked with his special-topics Spanish class to digitize and transcribe the text. Guidance was also provided by Laura Bang, digital and Special Collections curatorial assistant, and David Uspal, senior web specialist for library services and scholarly applications. Dr. Leahy explains that the materiality of text as object, the smell and feel of the item itself, has a story to tell us and digital humanities as a new technology has a way of opening this aspect of the text to the world.

chad-repl

  El Peru en sus tradiciones en su historia, en su arte is a 133 page multimedia scrapbook that contains postcards, newspaper clippings, drawings—more than 160 distinct visual objects in all. In many cases, these entries are copied without original sources, raising difficult questions regarding authorship, provenance and purpose. There is no way to prove authorship, but Dr. Leahy speculates that the text may have originated through the Augustinian missions in Peru and was probably a gift. The latest internal date, 1924, suggests that the scrapbook was produced in the latter half of the 1920s. In addition to studying the Peruvian text, Dr. Leahy’s class had the opportunity to develop hands-on digitizing skills while scanning the text Los dramas de la Guerra, a serialized account of the First World War published in Barcelona during the war years.

Phone

Participants loved the way the website reformatted for easy reading on hand held devices.

David Uspal wrapped up the event by explaining the development behind the website. Uspal said, “in addition to the transcription work by the undergraduate students, technical support for the project was provided by Falvey [Memorial] Library’s Technology Development Team, with a large contribution by technology graduate assistant Pragya Singhvi.  Pragya’s work on importing transcription documents and automatically producing TEI and HTML versions of these documents will both help reduce the work necessary on future translation projects (and thus, more likely to get more and varies projects approved) and allow these projects to adopt open standards which will allow for greater use in the academic community.”


Laura Hutelmyer is the photography coordinator for the Communication and Publications Team and special acquisitions coordinator in Resource Management


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Last Modified: May 20, 2014