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Saints, Students, a Scientist, and Other Sculptures

Over the summer, I’ve added a couple of new collections to the Digital Library. One of these new additions is the Villanova Sculpture Collection, documenting the sculptures found on campus. Eleven of the thirteen sculptures that I know of have been added, and I hope to photograph the remaining two by the end of this week (time and weather permitting, of course!). (Edited to add: All sculptures are now photographed and online! 9/16)

Augustine the Teacher
Augustine the Teacher.

I have taken photographs of the sculptures in full view from as many sides as possible, as well as detail views of interesting aspects or attributes. Most of the sculptures are depictions of saints, including two each of St. Augustine and St. Thomas of Villanova, but there are also some other notable people and some abstract shapes.

Gregor Johann Mendel.

Come take a scroll through our virtual sculpture garden!


Everyone’s favorite cookie

Last month, our friend Matt Herbison at the Independence Seaport Museum Library & Archives introduced me to Photosynth. Photosynth is a Microsoft product that stitches together multiple images into a 3D scene. It’s really fun to play around with some of the “synths” that are posted on the website!

Matt thought this venue would be a good idea for my tree project, but for my first trial I opted to do an outdoor sculpture instead. I took 72 photos of “Awakening,” a sculpture referred to on-campus as “the Oreo” because of its resemblance to a certain cookie, and you can see the resulting “synth” I created here.


Stay tuned for trees!


Life as the Sister of the Liberty Bell

Posted for Phylis Wright:

A recently digitized title from the Villanova Digital Collection, The Liberty Bell’s sister by Father Louis Rongione, O.S.A., provides a history and overview of the companion to the Liberty Bell that once rested in Falvey Memorial Library and now resides in the Augustinian Heritage Room of the Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery.


The history of the bell started on October 16th 1751 when the Pennsylvania Assembly voted that a bell weighing 2000 pounds costing between 100 and 150 pounds (sources disagree on the specific cost – ed.) should be purchased from Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London and then be provided for use in the new State House that was later called Independence Hall.

That historic bell cracked upon its first testing. It was felt by that same governing body that because of the need to recast twice after cracking, and the bells poor tone quality, a replacement should be purchased.

A bell of the same weight and cost was then ordered.

In the summer of 1754 the Liberty Bell’s sister arrived in Philadelphia.

On August 13, 1754 however, the Pennsylvania Assembly voted not to replace but to keep both bells, as the populace who once found the Liberty Bells’ tone annoying, had grown accustomed to it.

The original bell was hung in Independence Hall and the Sister Bell was hung on a special cupola in front of her, attached to the State House Clock, to toll the hours. She performed this task from 1754 to 1830, except for a brief period of time during the Revolutionary War.

Both bells rang for special occasions. One such occasion was the reading of the Declaration of Independence, July 8, 1776.

The Sister Bell is no stranger to political intrigue. On September 14, 1777 British forces were threatening invasion and then occupied Philadelphia. The bells were smuggled to secret location in Allentown to prevent the enemy from melting them down and using them for ammunition.

The British left Philadelphia June 27, 1778 and the sisters were returned to their home.

In 1830 the City of Philadelphia kept the original bell and sold the Sister Bell and Stretch Clock to Reverend Michael Hurley, O.S.A., Pastor of Saint Augustine’s Church, 4th and Vine Streets, Philadelphia.

On May 8th 1844 St. Augustine’s Church was burned to the ground by members of the Native American Party. The clock, library, paintings were totally destroyed and the bell cracked into pieces in the fire. Her fragments were gathered and given to Joseph Bernhard of Philadelphia for recasting.

In 1847 the Sister Bell was recast but she was greatly reduced in size. She was sent to Villanova College founded in 1842 by the same Augustinian Fathers who served St. Augustine’s Church.

From 1847- 1917 the Sister Bell hung in a locust tree and was used to call the students to class, chapel and their meals. In 1917 she was sent to Jamaica Long Island and was used in the steeple of St. Nicholas of Tolentine Augustinian Church, but on September 20th, 1942 she returned home to Villanova for the inauguration of the Centennial year 1942-1943.

Currently the Sister Bell has found a home in the Augustinian Heritage Room. She may be seen by appointment by calling Father Marty Smith: 610-864-1590.


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The Owl

The latest addition to the Villanova Digital Collection is The Owl. This student magazine published by Phi Kappa Pi, the Engineering Honor Society, highlighted student life and activities in the engineering community at Villanova from 1925 to 1933. In 1933 the title changed to The Villanova engineer. Currently online are the first two volumes with more to be added soon.

In addition to articles about new engineering projects in the Delaware Valley, The Owl carried news about students and engineering alumni. Photographs taken by engineering students are featured in most issues and show the vibrant and energetic Villanova, then college not university, campus of the 1920s. Sport also figures in many issues with photographs of athletic events and athletes, and a score roundup in most issues.

Here are photographs of the annual Engineer’s Banquet from the Spring of 1927, and engineering professors out of the classroom:



As can be seen in the following cartoons which are included in most issues, many highly talented and creative students produced The Owl. For example, in the “Snapshots of Tech Life”, students are whimsically portrayed in romantic scenes under the rubric of the serious “Astronomical Absurdities”.



Villanova student engineers were involved in drafting plans for the future development of campus as can be noted in this illustration taken from a published engineering study of a proposed new athletic field in the space where the Pavillion now rests.



One, two, three strikes: Villanova Baseball scorebooks


Students at Villanova College played baseball, and indeed had great sport at playing other teams. Not only did they play other local colleges but they also played amateur teams, like the St. Charles Seminary team, throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Two newly digitized scorebooks document these early Villanova College baseball games and show the historic development of collegiate baseball. Indeed the earliest recorded Villanova game of the “Villanova 9” just after the end of the U.S. Civil War, November 12, 1866 was a great blowout with the Villanova College team scoring a winning 46 runs to 13 against the amateur team, the “Picked Nine”.

As part of the growing Athletics Collection of the Villanova Digital Library, these box scores allow the reader to visualize the games as they transpired.


There is no one method of scoring a baseball game. Many different methods prevailed during the development of the modern game. In 1874 Henry Chadwick, known as the father of baseball score keeping, noted, “It is about time that one system of scoring should be adapted throughout the country” [Dickson, 9]. That development never happened, as different publishers produced competing versions. From the 1860’s to the mid-1890, Villanova used a more free form of scorebook, but Villanova scorers switched to the more detailed Caylor System in the late 1899s that included the now common “box score” for recording hits, runs, and fielding outs. The first known scorecard for a professional game was produced for the game between the Brooklyn Atlantics and the Philadelphia Athletics on October 11, 1866 [Light, 832]. Collegiate records are much more fragmented, but the dates of these Villanova scorebooks makes them among the earliest in the country.


Scorebooks remain an essential part of documenting athletic competitions. Indeed today every major league baseball game is required to have an official scorekeeper and scorebook [Light, 833].




Paul Dickson. The Joy of Keeping Score: How scoring the game has influenced and enhanced the history of baseball. New York: Walker and Company, 2007.

Jonathan Fraser Light. The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball. Second edition. McFarland & Company, 2005.


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Last Modified: February 13, 2009