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TBT: Modes of Transportation

Pullman car on a passenger train, ca. 1910s

Pullman car on a passenger train, ca. 1910s.

This year traveling to see family for the Holidays may not look the same with plane rides and road trips, but travel has evolved over the years and continues to evolve to this day.

Travel is becoming more virtual, to which you may think “How? Virtual can’t be traveling!” But through interacting with family via Zoom, reading a travel novel, or taking part in a virtual cross-cultural experience (Airbnb does them a lot) people are finding new ways to explore their world.

Throwing it back to the 1830s, the newest way to travel was by train. Trains made it so that people could get from one place to another in a few hours or days rather than weeks. This made it so that families could see each other, even if just for a weekend, and vacations were not solely month-long affairs. To read more about the history of travel, visit Falvey’s digital exhibit “Are We There Yet?”

Through advancements in technology, traveling is continuing to evolve, this time in a more digital way. Where will you be traveling (either safely in person or virtually) this holiday season?

Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department. Current mood: Not ready to virtually travel to work today.


Let’s Take a Trip! Primary Sources on the History of Travel and Tourism

By Susan Turkel

Stuck at home and feeling antsy? You’re not alone! Humans have experienced the travel bug for a long, long time. If you’d like to experience some armchair tourism, read on to learn about digitized collections that let us travel the world—and back into history—through the magic of library and archival collections!

Travel and tourism blossomed for Americans and Europeans during the 19th century, thanks to developments in technology and increasing prosperity for many people. The Villanova community now has access to an amazing set of primary resources that document this growth in tourism: the online collection Leisure, Travel and Mass Culture: The History of Tourism, produced by Adam Matthew Digital. This resource is linked from the Library’s Databases A-Z list.

Leisure, Travel, & Mass Culture: The History of Tourism (Adam Matthew Digital) splash page

This online collection is comprised of digitized guidebooks, brochures, leaflets, travel journals, maps, and promotional films sourced from a variety of libraries and archives in the US and UK. Key themes covered include accommodation, hospitality, and entertainment; the great outdoors; health and medical travel; historical, cultural, or religious travel; package tours, cruises, and organized travel; road, rail, and air travel; urban tours and city breaks; and women and tourism.

Inspired to dip a toe into this rich collection? Start with this online tour, and then read the essay Travel Chronicles: Tourism, Memory, and the Emergence of Modern America by Anthony Stanonis, PhD, lecturer in the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s University, Belfast, written specifically to provide context for this resource.

The collection includes online exhibitions focusing on eyewitness travels (detailed, illustrated accounts of travel by seven different adventurers); a comparison between two iconic seaside resorts, Coney Island, N.Y., and Blackpool, England; and a detailed listing of tourism businesses and organizations that are mentioned throughout the resource.

You might also want to visit the image gallery which allows browsing and searching of photographs, illustrations, and maps, indexed by key themes. Another useful feature is the interactive world map, which allows you to find documents by clicking through locations on a spinning globe.

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Can’t get enough of these historical travel materials? Falvey Memorial Library’s Special Collections holds a wide array of materials documenting travel and tourism, including hundreds of items that have been scanned and made available to the public via our Digital Library! Here are three online exhibits that feature such treasures.

Are We There Yet? exhibit sign

Are We There Yet? Travel, Tourism and Exploration is a digital exhibit that highlights many interesting items. This exhibit was co-curated by Kayla Van Osten (Digital Library Intern, Spring 2016) and Laura Bang (Distinctive Collections Librarian), with graphics by Joanne Quinn (Director of Communication and Marketing). It features narrative essays, images, and links to scanned documents on such diverse themes as modes of travel, guidebooks & travel narratives, around the world, religious travel, and imaginary travel.

Exhibit sign featuring a decorative scrapbook cover with the title.

Scraps for Keeps exhibit sign

You’ll also find travel memorabilia in our recent scrapbook exhibition, Scraps for Keeps: Scrapbooks and Photo Albums from Distinctive Collections, which was also curated by Laura Bang with graphics by Joanne Quinn. This exhibit includes scrapbooks and photo albums produced during the 19th and 20th centuries by people in the US and western Europe. The section on Travel & Tourism includes images of scrapbook pages highlighting postcards, photos, and colorful receipts collected during memorable trips. To find more scrapbooks that have been digitized by Falvey’s Special Collections team, try a keyword search in the Digital Library for scrapbook or album.

Finally, our digital exhibition Rambles, Sketches, Tours: Travellers & Tourism in Ireland, again curated by Laura Bang with graphics by Joanne Quinn, “highlights Irish travel narratives and related materials, primarily from the Joseph McGarrity Collection, in Falvey Memorial Library’s Special Collections. The site is broken into sections that highlight the methods of travel to and within Ireland, the motives of some of the most influential and popular writers, and the development of the tourism industry. In addition, there are five sections that look at some of the most popular travel destinations.”

In addition to these online exhibitions, you may wish to browse all of our Digital Library offerings with the subject label “Description and travel.” Highlights include a recently transcribed manuscript, Tour of Spain, 1896, in which the traveler provides a firsthand description of political unrest in Spain as well as observations about Spanish customs, architecture, and ancient Moorish ruins. This travel journal also includes hand-drawn route maps and ink sketches.

Enjoy your trip!

Susan Turkel is a Social Sciences Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library. When this is all over, she hopes to travel to Italy.




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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.


How we spent our summer vacations

At the beginning of the summer, we acquired and digitized a scrapbook documenting a road trip across America in 1924. It’s a fascinating glimpse of cross-country motor vehicle travel in its early days as well as providing photographic peeks into average American towns. I love recreating old photos when the opportunity presents itself (as previously demonstrated by my Paris sojourn), so I was eager to recreate the scrapbook’s California photos when I headed out to the Golden State for a conference and vacation trip. When I learned that two of my colleagues would also be traveling to states featured in the scrapbook, I enlisted their help as well. Here are the photos we took along with the originals from the scrapbook. A lot of the photos were of generic landscapes or portraits, but we had fun finding similar perspectives, even if not always from the exact same place.

(Click the images to enlarge.)

Demian Katz, South Dakota:

A family portrait, 1924 and 2015:

A family in South Dakota, 1924 A family in South Dakota, 2015

“Some Boy,” 1924 and 2015:

"Some boy" in South Dakota, 1924 "Some boy" (South Dakota), 2015

The Badlands, 1924 and 2015:

Badlands (South Dakota), 1924 Badlands (South Dakota), 2015

“Some of the Road in S.D.,” 1924 and 2015:

Some of the road in South Dakota, 1924 Some of the road in South Dakota, 2015


Laura Bang, California:

Redwoods, 1924 and 2015:

CA redwoods, 1924

CA redwoods, 2015 CA redwoods, 2015

Bridge in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, 1924 and 2015:

Japanese Tea Garden Bridge (San Francisco, CA), 1924 Japanese Tea Garden Bridge (San Francisco, CA), 2015

Atascadero Community House, 1924, and Atascadero City Hall, 2015:

Community House (Atascadero, CA), 1924 City Hall (Atascadero, CA), 2015


Laura Hutelmyer, Arizona:

The Grand Canyon, 1924 and 2015:

The Grand Canyon, 1924 The Grand Canyon, 2015

The Grand Canyon, 1924 The Grand Canyon, 2015

Bright Angel Trail (Grand Canyon), 1924 and 2015:

Bright Angel Trail, 1924 Bright Angel Trail, 2015

Bright Angel Trail, 1924 Bright Angel Trail, 2015

Fortunately none of us drove into in a ditch, like our 1924 predecessors!

"Our first hard luck," 1924

Take a look through the scrapbook to view all the adventures of Paul Haines, Warren Bridegam, and George Spang across 1924 America.


eBook available: The Scientific Tourist through Ireland

The Scientific Tourist through IrelandAfter several months of hard work at Distributed Proofreaders, another book from our digital collection has been released in a new electronic edition. The Scientific Tourist through Ireland, published in 1818, is a guidebook for readers planning to visit Ireland. After a general introduction to some of the types of sights to be seen, the bulk of the volume consists of a county-by-county breakdown of noteworthy sites. The “Scientific” aspect alluded to by the title is the fact that, in addition to historical and cultural destinations, the book also notes the locations of interesting plants and minerals across the island.

Not surprisingly, much of the volume is a fairly dry read, written in a terse, abbreviated style to cram the maximum amount of information into relatively few pages. However, the author does still find time for the occasional unexpected anecdote or aside, such as this one, in reference to a ruined Divinity School in the district of Fenaught:

The E. window is considered as a specimen of very curious workmanship; and the tourist must not fail to notice a line drawn across the middle of the eastern gable, with a figure on the N. side, about 12 feet from the ground, said to represent an evil spirit who was very troublesome to St. Cullin, the founder, during the period of its erection, this black gentleman acting the part of Penelope towards her suitors, and pulling down in the night what the Saint and his holy comrades had set up during the day. To check the troublesome intruder, the Saint blessed some ropes and drew them one night along the top of the building, when the Spirit, like a fly in a spider’s nest, got entangled in the ropes, and being unable to extricate himself, was caught by the monks in the morning, who gave him some sound correction for his offence, but set him loose again upon the public, as is too often done by our modern police, and pretty much, perhaps, for similar purposes.

For those wishing to learn more about what the early 19th century traveler could discover in Ireland, the entire text may be read or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


Now in proofreading: The Scientific Tourist through Ireland

The Scientific Tourist through IrelandAnother Distributed Proofreaders project using images from Villanova’s Digital Library has just opened up. The Scientific Tourist through Ireland is an 1818 travel guide discussing “antiquity, art, science, and the picturesque” in Ireland, “arranged by counties.” In addition to all of this information, the book also includes several maps and plates.

If you’re interested in seeing what travelers were interested in nearly two centuries ago, please join us in preserving this vintage book as a new electronic edition. First, read our earlier blog post about how the proofreading process works, then dive in at the project page.


eBook available: On an Irish Jaunting-car

On an Irish Jaunting-carOur latest completed Distributed Proofreaders project is Samuel G. Bayne’s On an Irish Jaunting-car through Donegal and Connemara, the author’s commentary on a trip to explore a variety of scenic and historic sites in Ireland.

The book is rather peculiar, mixing stretches historical summary and topographical description with personal observations and anecdotes. Neither the terrain nor the author’s journey is given enough detail to make this feel like either a travel narrative or a travel guide; instead, it reads more like a lightly edited personal notebook.

While it doesn’t exactly provide a satisfying whole, the book does contain a variety of unusual little episodes, such as this description (accompanied by a photo) of transporting livestock by curragh:

We had a drove of pigs on board, and their feet were tied together with ropes, the four in a bunch, and the animals piled up in the curraghs till the boats would hold no more; then they were taken near the shore, liberated, and allowed to swim to land themselves. Their squealing and grunting was like an untrained Wagnerian band. There was a cow on board, and she was pushed from the gangway by main strength, plunging headlong into the waves; there was a short pause, when she reappeared, swam ashore, shook herself, and unconcernedly began eating grass, none the worse for her bath.

Swimming Cow

The rest of the book, which includes many further photographs, can be viewed online or downloaded in a variety of popular electronic formats at Project Gutenberg.


Now in proofreading: On an Irish Jaunting-car

On an Irish Jaunting-carOur latest Distributed Proofreaders project is a change of pace from the usual variety of popular fiction titles. On an Irish Jaunting-car through Donegal and Connemara is a travel narrative describing (and illustrating with photos) a variety of Irish scenes. This is one of several books written by Samuel G. Bayne, an author who appears to have made quite a lot of money in various business ventures when not traveling or writing about his adventures.

If you would like to help transform this vintage book into a new electronic edition, please read this earlier post to learn more about the process, then visit the project page.


Her Semester Abroad: Ellie Thackara’s Jaunt in the Dominion of Canada

Posted by: Jean Turner, Digital Library Intern Spring 2011

You may think you have nothing in common with Eleanor Mary Sherman Thackara, the 19th century daughter of the famed General Tecumseh Sherman on whom the Digital Library has many records, but let me ask you this: Have you gone abroad?  When I first sat down to read “A Summer Jaunt in the Dominion of Canada,” Ellie’s published accounts of her traveling in Canada, I admittedly worried I might not be able to relate to someone from such a different time and position.  But traveling has been the only time I have ever had the self-discipline to maintain a thorough journal.  So, while my day-to-day life will depend upon memories, my trips to Italy and Southeast Asia and my time on a small sailboat in the Caribbean are documented in well-weathered notebooks on my shelves.  Quite surprisingly, Ellie’s passages printed in The New York Ledger, like mine, regale the readers with asides about local history, imaginative descriptions of the landscapes, and many anecdotes of the interesting and unique people she meets along the way.  If you’re a student hoping to go abroad, a traveler with journals and memories of your own, or just a student of human nature read on!

In Ellie’s first installation she remembers remarking to a landlady that her “object in coming so far, aside from all the joy of beautiful scenery, was an interest in these foreign parts, their people, and their history.”   She proves this love for history by retelling tales of local importance for many of her destinations, whether it was the long-ago residence of a French martial city and convent or a famed Indian council attended by Champlain and Lescarbot in 1603.  Her satisfaction upon matching these facts to buildings and valleys is much like my own pride at recognizing a piece of history in front of my own eyes, and I don’t think Ellie and I are alone.

In an age where social networking allows us to share our traveling pictures with anyone and everyone, we might overlook Ellie’s attempts to put all of the beautiful sights she encounters into words.  Yes, she was prosperous enough to have several photographs taken and included in her accounts.  Despite this trailblazing technology, she further honors the uniqueness of each of her experiences by attempting to keep the scenery alive with her own pen.  From the decks of one boat, Ellie wrote, “The moon is a russet orange, from which the great bear must have had a bite, and long lines of clouds streak its face.  It is close upon our stern horizon, and before many moments will go down into the liquid darkness.”  Unable to snap a picture of every gorgeous sight she sees, Ellie includes many descriptive passages in her account to remind herself and share with others the landscapes one sees while traveling in Canada.

A look at several scenes Ellie came across.

It wouldn’t be a travel journal, at least it wouldn’t be like mine, without a cast of kooky characters that one meets along the way.  Ellie’s three pieces include tales of a guide who answered every question with his two-word vocabulary, “Yish, um,” and “Naw, um,” a Scotch-faced steward aboard one of her ships with an interesting “checkered double-visored cap” and lastly a “most artistic tramp” that she finds lying on a hillside as she disembarks from a boat.  Travelers everywhere meet those who wish to play a trick on tourists and this self-proclaimed blind man was such a person.  But after his farce was exposed and they knew they had been fooled, the newcomers begged for a photograph of the actor with his bald head and tattered garments “stuffed here and there with straw.”  As he knelt for them he dramatically exclaimed, “My name is George, G-O-R-G.  You are quite welcome.”

A look at the beggar George!

Not all of our travel memories are destined for publication or kept in the holdings of Villanova’s or any other university’s special collections, but it’s likely that they contain similar stories to those you’ll find if you read more of Eleanor Mary Sherman Thackara’s accounts.  After all, aren’t many of our reasons for traveling, whether for school or vacation or adventure, also the joy of beautiful scenery and an interest in foreign places and their people?  Read some more of Ellie’s accounts or explore the pictures in any of her three articles, all named A Summer Jaunt in the Dominion of Canada, found in the Sherman Thackara Collection of Villanova University’s Digital Library.

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Philly and the Railroads of PA – A View From 1875

The Pennsylvaniana Collection in the Digital Library is the perfect place to go if you want a detailed look at the life and layout of 19th Century Philadelphia – in particular a very interesting old book entitled “Philadelphia and its Environs, and the Railroad Scenery of Pennsylvania.” This engaging little volume, published in 1875 by J. B. Lippincott and Co., catered richly to my penchant for poring over street maps, and taught me much about Philly’s geographical development over its multi-century history; and beyond the reports of long-gone former features of familiar locations within the original city bounds, throughout the districts consolidated in 1854, and even into the western and northern suburbs, the adventure stretches deep into the Pennsylvania countryside, illustrating the Keystone State’s unique place in the history of American railroads.

It’s fairly common knowledge that the famous Dock Street, site of William Penn’s original landing, was a winding creek before unsanitary conditions led the city to level and pave it over, but in this book I learned about several other lesser-known bygone landmarks that imparted names to prominent Center City streets: the creek running east to the Delaware which began at a spring at what is now the corner of 6th and Spring Garden; and the eastern terminus of Arch Street, which sunk into a ravine west of Front Street and was crossed at that junction by an arch. (Front Street, which once outlined a river bluff mandated for preservation by William Penn as a public promenade, of course now overlooks Interstate 95.) And did you know that Race Street used to be called Sassafras, and that South Street used to be Cedar?

fountain at Franklin Square

fountain at Franklin Square

Intended as a guide for tourists paying a visit to Philadelphia, the book leads the reader to a host of historical landmarks, buildings, and natural features, many of which – Independence Hall and the Betsy Ross House, for example – are still kept alive in memory today as current attractions; but the perspective of 1875 also brings to life many sleeping giants within present-day Philly. Fairmount Park in particular must have been very beautiful, judging by the detailed descriptions of the parks and monuments at sites like Lemon Hill, and the woodcut illustrations of views from various bluffs above the Schuylkill. This was the eve of the Centennial Exposition, and especially noteworthy is the mention of ongoing construction of the permanent hall, the building that was “saved” in 2008 by the Please Touch Museum. Overall this virtual tour is very thorough; reading this section of the book one gets the sensation of systematically traversing the streets of Philadelphia and experiencing them as they must have appeared in 1875, buildings, parks, railroads and all.

on the grade

A Pleasure Tour on PA Railroads

Also very thorough, vivid, and exciting is the tour given in the second half of the book – an imaginary journey through the entirety of Pennsylvania’s unique and wonderful railways. This author takes you on a memorable ride through the dips and turns of the Delaware Water Gap and the Lehigh Valley, up and down the ingenious locomotive-free switchbacks of the “gravity railroad” at Mauch Chunk, and west into the coal country developed by Stephen Girard (namesake of Girard Avenue), where the grades were some of the steepest in the world, and where horseshoe curves existed such that “engineers going over the road with long coal-trains, on dark nights, have been signaled to stop by a red light on the track ahead, which, on investigation, proved to be the customary signal-lamp on the end of their own trains.” These descriptions held a special interest for me, as I had recently heard mention of these very same areas by Engineering professor Dr. Ronald Chadderton in the course of his lecture in Falvey Library on the 1889 Johnstown flood. And of course, roads closer to the source (Philly) are described in detail which illustrates how much of our surroundings in Southeast PA – the “Main Line”, and the riverside route down the Delaware toward Ridley Park and Chester – were already venerated fixtures of the region even as far back as 135 years ago.

Porcelain Teeth

Porcelain Teeth

And last but never least, a popular publication of the 19th century is always a great place to browse antique advertisements. In this volume, look for Samuel S. White’s Porcelain Teeth, Marcy’s Sciopticon (a primitive projector of some kind), W. J. Wilcox’s Lard Refinery, and Atmore’s Mince Meat (source of the cow on the Pennsylvaniana Collection’s banner image). Point your browser to, and go back to 1875 for a fascinating trip around Philadelphia and Its Environs.

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Last Modified: February 8, 2011

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