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TBT: Two Scoops, Please

Image features the Student Programming Council scooping ice cream in 1992.

Some things are mint to be like summer and ice cream! July is National Ice Cream Month and this week’s Throwback Thursday (#TBT) features the Student Programming Council scooping ice cream in 1992. Photo courtesy of the Villanova University Digital Library.

What’s the best ice cream flavor? Let us know in the comments.

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey 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.


WWI at Sea

We recently digitized the Photograph collection of Walter Timothy, Jr., an African American from Philadelphia who served in the United States Navy from 1911 to 1919. The collection consists of photos mainly from Timothy’s years in the Navy, but includes a few earlier photos as well.

Walter Timothy, Jr., was born on November 12, 1894 to Walter Timothy, Sr., and Rosa Timothy. The collection includes 2 photos of Timothy Jr. as a 16-month-old toddler. A few other uncaptioned portraits may depict family members.

The bulk of the photos document Timothy’s time as an enlisted sailor in the United States Navy. Timothy enlisted in April 1911 and was honorably discharged in February 1919. While in the Navy, he served as a mess attendant and cook on several different ships. (The U.S. armed services were racially segregated until the latter half of the 20th century, with African Americans often relegated to support roles, such as stewards and mess workers.) The ships on which Timothy served were primarily assigned to convoy duties.

Photos of Navy life include several of Timothy’s shipmates, some in silly poses. There are also numerous photos of different kinds of ships, including several in “dazzle camouflage,” a technique in which ships were painted in bold geometric patterns in order to make them more difficult targets. Airships, airplanes, and submarines are depicted a few times as well. There are also a few photos of shipboard pets or mascots, including a cat, a dog, and a goat.

After the war, Timothy worked as a letter carrier. He married Laura Christine Ford in the 1920s and they do not appear to have had any children. Timothy died in May 1985.

Further reading:

A Short History on Segregation in the Navy: From the War of 1812 through World War II, U.S. Naval Institute blog, February 26, 2019.

General Mess Manual and Cook Book, U.S. Navy, 1902.

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The Dog Days of Summer

The sunny, sultry days of July and August are often referred to as the “dog days” of summer. Ancient civilizations noticed what they thought was a correlation between the hottest days of summer and the heliacal (or, at sunrise) rising of the star Sirius in the constellation known as Canis Major (the “Big Dog”). Although Sirius does not actually have an effect on the temperature, its heliacal rising does coincide with some of the hottest days of summer in many parts of the northern hemisphere. “Canicular days” (from the Latin word for dog) made their first appearance in print in English in 1398. The Old Farmer’s Almanac puts the timing of the Dog Days as July 3 through August 11.

As we sweat our way through the dog days of summer, here is a selection of dog images from our collections!

From the Photo Album of Laird C. Robinson of Philadelphia, 1904:

Photo: Man with hunting rifle and dog Photo: The Whole Family and the Dog


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How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Santa Barbara, 1919 and 2016

Earlier this year, we digitized a photograph album of Southern California from 1919-1920. The people in the scrapbook are unidentified, but they did label and date their excursions around Southern California. Locations pictured include many places in the greater Los Angeles area and the San Fernando Valley, San Diego, and Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara happens to be my hometown and I love taking then & now photographs (previously: Paris and the USA), so I took some comparison shots while I was home on vacation in June. The people in the photo album took their trip to Santa Barbara in 1919, so these photos are 97 years apart.


Wave coming in to shore, 1919.


Wave coming in to shore, 2016. There were no distinguishable landmarks on the 1919 beach, so I chose Goleta Beach, near my parents’ house.


Unidentified woman on a beach, 1919.

Unidentified woman with kelp, 1919.

Laura on a beach, 2016.

Laura with kelp, 2016.


Unidentified woman and man, 1919.


Liz and David, 2016. My parents joined in on the photo recreating fun!


Santa Barbara Mission, 1919.


Santa Barbara Mission, 2016.


Because they cut off the height of the Mission, I also took a broader view of the facade, 2016.


Covering the Celt

Dust jackets offer a representation of a book’s content as well as an opportunity to provide an iconic and memorable marketing medium for a publisher. For books without illustrative matter the dust jacket is the only pictorial representation that will help create and focus the lens of the mind’s eye. Publishers and graphic designers work long and hard on the jacket design especially that most important aspect of the design: the front cover.

The newly published book, The Dream of the Celt by Nobel Prize in Literature winner Mario Vargas LLosa, recently reviewed in the Guardian, is a fictional account of the life of Irish Nationalist Sir Roger Casement who was hanged by the British government during the First World War. Several of Casement’s manuscripts are in Special Collections; as well, other materials which were collected by his friend and ally Joseph McGarrity are housed in the Joseph McGarrity Collection in Falvey Memorial Library. All of these materials have been digitized and are made available in Villanova’s Digital Library. Prominently featured on the front cover of the English language translation of the Dream, (translated by Edith Grossman, Farrar, Straus and Girous, 2012) is a photograph of Roger Casement drawn from the McGarrity Collection. Credit is appropriately given for use of the photograph on the rear flap of the dust jacket by the designer Eric Fuentecilla.

Not only does this evocative cover image help depict Casement to the reader’s imagination, but also the citation and acknowledgement act as an advertisement for scholars and researchers to the wealth of additional information available in the Joseph McGarrity Collections and to the role of Villanova University in preserving and making access available to these internationally significant Irish heritage materials. According to Brian McDonald, a Digital Library Intern currently reading The Dream, citations to Joseph McGarrity “can be found on pp. 146, 148, 317, 319, 320, 331, 332, and 334.”


A beachy summer in the digital library

Posted for: Alexandra Edwards (Falvey Memorial Library intern and digital library student employee)

Though the school year has been over for nearly two months, summer only officially began last week, on June 21.  The season of beach visits and beach reads has truly begun.

Summer vacation at the beach is hardly a recent cultural development.  Families have been going “down the shore” for at least 150 years, to prime oceanside destinations such as Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The first hotel commercial hotel built in the vacation hotspot appeared in 1853, and since then, visitors have been making the trek, by rail and road, in droves.

Joseph McGarrity, whose personal papers can be found in Special Collections, visited Atlantic City with his family sometime around the turn of the 20th century, and had their photograph taken on the beach.  (A caption for the photo can be found here.)

In the Sherman-Thackara collection, an 1865 photograph shows five Naval midshipmen on the beach, probably at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.  Though not on vacation, the five men nonetheless strike a casual pose on the sandy shore.

American beaches aren’t the only ones on display in the Digital Library, either.  Jack Butler Yeats drew images of the Irish coast, including the one below.

The small card, an advertisement for Player’s Cigarettes, contains an explanation of the Irish word sceire (skerries) on the back.


The ocean is an important image in Irish travel writing and poetry as well.  Rambles on the Irish Coast by William Hellier Baily not only explores the beach from a factual perspective, but it also includes excerpts like the following, from “The Cromlech on Howth” by Samuel Ferguson:

“They heaved the stone; they heaped the cairn;”
Said Ossian, “In a queenly grave
We leave her, ‘mong her fields of fern,
Between the cliff and wave.
The cliff behind stands clear and bare,
And bare above, the heathery steep
Scales the blue heaven’s expanse to where
The Danaan druids sleep.
And all the sands that, lest and right,
The grassy isthmns ridge confine,
In yellow bars lie bare and bright
among the sparkling brine.”

This small tour through the Digital Library’s beachy materials has only whetted (get it?) our appetite for a day at the ocean, whether it be down the shore like the McGarrity family or further afield, rambling on the Irish coast.



We’re on Flickr!

The Digital Library is now on Flickr! I created our account in June and have since added 85 images (and counting!).

A view of Philadelphia from the Delaware River in 1753.

Most of the images come from our collections on the Digital Library and I’ve created image sets that mirror some of the main collections there, as well as two new collections: Adverts and Scenes. As you might guess, the Adverts set contains advertisements from the pages of some of the books in our Digital Library. I’ve pulled the ones that struck me as interesting or noteworthy in some way.

Advertisement for Villanova.

The Scenes set contains Flickr-exclusive images that don’t fit into any of our regular collections. These will mainly be random photos I take while wandering around campus photographing trees.


The majority of these images are all available on the Digital Library, of course, but our Flickr account provides another point of access and highlights some of the interesting images that are easy to miss if you don’t look through every page of every item on the Digital Library. In addition, Flickr allows you to interact with our images by adding notes, tags, and comments.

Come check us out! I know I’m having fun finding images to post there, so hopefully you’ll find something new and interesting, too!


Captain Rita Ficchi’s WAAC Handbook


The power of the network can leverage even a small number of personal artifacts and materials on a very specific subject into a visceral and meaningful engagement with history. One such item is the Handbook for the Woman’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Fort Des Moines Iowa, dated 1943. Enclosed in the Handbook is a photograph of the Fort’s First Officer Captain Rita A. Ficci. It was donated to Falvey’s Special Collection by an Augustinian, Father Thomas Roland, in 1962. The Woman’s Army Auxiliary Corp was a division of the U.S. Army for citizens of the female gender, created in 1942 and moved to active status in 1943 during World War II. Women served their country actively in this conflict.


Reading this Handbook, which was designed to be given to each new arrival at the Fort, brings to mind another time, and gives guidance on the transition from civilian to military life. Specific instructions are given on uniforms, military bearing, what to wear, hair care, saluting, and the military police. Even a map of the post is included.


Organizations such as the Women Veterans Historical Collection at the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, collect and display large collections of these resources. While the Fort Des Moines Museum also strives to document the past, in this case the mission is to preserve information about a place; the museum’s online photo gallery of Army Women at Fort Des Moines, Iowa 1942-1945 shows the training and service of women like Captain Ficchi. But in an online environment resources at any one institution, even an institution with a small collection of unique items, can add to the total body of information available about a subject. In the case of primary materials like Captain Ficchi’s photograph and this handbook, small pieces of a puzzle can be added together to create a more complete whole.



Last Modified: January 23, 2009

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