Early Modern Ireland class delves into original documents and maps: Blue Electrode column
Villanova’s Digital Library team has been busy working on developing and mounting content from collaborative efforts with individuals, other institutions and faculty here at Villanova University. One exciting project from the fall semester that the Digital Library undertook was a cooperative effort with Dr. Craig Bailey, assistant professor of history.
Dr. Bailey selected more than 100 images from Falvey’s Special Collections titles for his Early Modern Ireland class to study. Some images digitized for this class included maps and illustrations from several books in the Joseph McGarrity Irish history collection. Once the images were scanned and mounted to the web, Special Collections Librarian Bente Polites explained the Collections’ practices and policies to the class. The students then came in at appointed times to study their chosen image.
Describing his experience with Falvey’s Digital Library, Dr. Bailey noted,
The digitization project is an exciting initiative. Not only does it give scholars outside the Philadelphia area immediate access to an important collection, but it also creates unique opportunities for teaching history here at Villanova. By working with the documents online in conjunction with visits to the Special Collections room, students develop an awareness of the complex nature of historical sources. Instead of replacing ‘the original,’ digitized resources become a vehicle through which students can encounter and question the format, presentation and purpose of primary source material. It is a valuable process that ultimately enriches the learning experience and encourages an appreciation of rigorous, scholarly inquiry.
The students also responded positively to their experience. Douglas Stadler said,
I really appreciated my research project and all the help I received from Special Collections in Falvey. [The] project showed me that historians do much more than simply read thick text books. They take unknown artifacts/documents, attribute them to certain primary sources, discover more about the primary source through secondary sources, and finally, they eloquently and articulately communicate what they have learned to interested audiences. …I would recommend visiting Special Collections to any ‘wanna be’ historian.
Another student in the class, Michael Goulet said, “It was very interesting to get a glimpse into how real historians actually do their research by going to primary sources. I think more students should become aware of the opportunities Special Collections has to offer.”
The Digital Library and Special Collections are excited to be able to provide this type of service to the University community. One of the Digital Library’s goals is to provide a greater, perhaps even global, audience for some of the treasures in Special Collections. This effort can be achieved by working collaboratively with members of the University community and beyond.
To view the images used in this project visit the Image Collection.
If you have an idea for a cooperative effort or would like to learn more about such possibilities, please contact Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator at 610.519.5185.
Contributed by Teri Ann Incrovato