Pinterest, Posterity, and the 125-Year History of the University of Scranton


This summer, we’ve been experimenting with new ways of displaying and sharing all of the interesting items from the University Archives that we’ve uploaded into our digital collections. With the University’s 125th anniversary coming up next year, we’re especially looking for fun ways to share our campus history with University of Scranton students, alumni, and friends.

The Library’s Digital Services department has been putting together Pinterest boards to highlight some of our favorite photographs – and even our favorite Aquinas headlines – from the last 125 years. We’re still experimenting, so check out our pins and let us know what you think!

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Letterpress Library Christmas Card

It may be 90 degrees outside today, but we’re too excited to wait until December to share our latest project – letterpress printing our Library Christmas card!

Back in 2010, the Zaner-Bloser Company donated a rich collection of 19th and early 20th century penmanship materials to the University of Scranton Weinberg Memorial Library’s Special Collections.  In addition to original artwork by the masters of the Golden Age of Penmanship, the collection also includes some of the printing blocks used to publish their work.

We’ve partnered with Samantha Urbanick of Clarks Summit-based letterpress studio Hand Deliver Press to put some of those printing blocks back in action.

Our first project, the Library’s 2012 Christmas card, uses a Zaner-Bloser printing block from Christmas 1912. The block is based on a pen and ink drawing by master penman E. L. Brown and was used in the publication of the December 1912 issue of the professional penmanship journal The Business Educator.

Check out our photo set and video to see Hand Deliver Press and our Zaner-Bloser block in action!

Samantha Urbanick of Hand Deliver Press, with the Weinberg Memorial Library's first letterpress printed Christmas card

Digital Collections, New and Improved

We’ve just put a shiny, new interface on our digital collections, and we’d love for you to take a look!  Some of the new features we’re excited about:

  • A new homepage for Digital Collections
  • A new University History page where you can cross-search all of our University-related collections
  • Improved browsing, searching, and viewing
  • Easier ways to download and print photos and documents from our collections
  • Tagging, commenting, and sharing

Take our new collections for a test drive, and then let us know what you think! There are still a few quirks we’re working out, so if you run into any problems, just let us know at

There’s Still Time to Visit the Exhibit of Alphabets

Michael Knies, Special Collections Librarian at the University of Scranton’s Weinberg Memorial Library, oversees the exhibition of alphabet and penmanship samples. Image courtesy of The Times Leader.

The exhibit of alphabets from the Library’s Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Collection is currently on display through April 5th in the 5th Floor Heritage Room of the Library.

Want to learn more about the exhibit? Mary Therese Biebel from The Times Leader recently wrote an article about her visit to explore the alphabets, If you’d grown up in the late 1800s with a steady hand, artistic skill and perhaps the ability to not upset your inkwell too often, those attributes might have led you to a career.

About 70 alphabets are on display, and they provide a rare look at the art of American ornamental penmanship from the 19th and early 20th centuries, which very few people continue to pursue.  In fact, during her visit Bielbel interviewed Special Collections Librarian Michael Knies who noted that “some college students did not learn cursive, and they’re unable to read correspondence from the 19th and 20th century.”

So stop by the exhibit and brush up on your ABC’s! You can also browse through the alphabets online in the Library’s digital collection of alphabets from the Zaner-Bloser Collection.

Exhibit of ABC’s: Alphabets from the Zaner-Bloser Collection

The Heritage Room is currently featuring an eye-catching exhibit of Alphabets from the Zaner-Bloser Collection.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Zaner-Bloser was a leader in penmanship and calligraphy instruction.  The Company produced manuals providing examples of elaborate Roman, Medieval, Decorative, and Shaded or Spencerian alphabets.  The Company also retained the original large format penwork for the manuals and the exhibit will present approximately 70 examples of this original pen artwork.  The exhibit will emphasize the work done by Charles Paxton Zaner (The Zanerian Manual of Alphabets), Daniel Ames (Ames Compendium of Practical and Ornamental Penmanship), Henry Flickinger (Practical Alphabets), and S.C. Malone along with other scribes.

For a sample of some of the alphabets found in our exhibit, please check out our Pinterest Board of Zaner-Bloser Alphabets.

The exhibit opened January 30 and will run through April 5, during normal Library hours.

Please contact Michael Knies 570-941-6341 for more information.

Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives

There’s a great new resource available for anyone interested in local history.  The Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives, hosted by the Scranton Public Library and funded by a grant from the Willary Foundation, contains digitized photographs, manuscripts, maps, paintings, letters, and videos related to the history of the Valley and its surrounding areas.

While the Digital Archives will continue to grow, there are already three great collections available to the public:

We’re partial to the Out of the Wilderness collection since it contains Civil War era materials found, described, digitized, and transcribed last spring by University of Scranton history students in Dr. Kathryn Shively Meier’s Civil War class.

The Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives is a collaborative effort involving many of our local cultural heritage institutions, including the Scranton Public Library, the Lackawanna Historical Society, the Steamtown National Historic Site, the Scranton Times-Tribune newspaper library, the Anthracite Heritage Museum, and our own Weinberg Memorial Library.  In addition to the Willary Foundation, other funding partners include the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority and the Scranton Area Foundation. We’re looking forward to working together with all of our colleagues on more digital projects in the future!

For more information, see About LVDA or take a look at Go Lackawanna‘s 500 Vine column from November 20th, “New Digital Service Preserves History.”  You can also subscribe to the Digital Archives’ Facebook page for updates.

Happy Holidays…Zaner-Bloser Style!

New Year’s flourish, dated 1896, by C. F. Johnston.

It’s December 1st, temperatures are dropping, and the holiday season is in full swing!  Take a (brief) break from working on those final projects and browse a few images of festive holiday themed penmanship from our Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Collection.

Happy Halloween! Vote for your Favorite!

Haven’t quite decided on a Halloween costume yet?  Maybe these archived photos of past U of S theater students will provide inspiration.

Before the U of S became co-ed in 1972, the female roles in University plays were filled by male students.

Cast from "What Happened to Jones" during the mid 1920's. Frank O’Hara ’25, the late administrator who served the University for 53 years and for whom the O’Hara Awards are named, is seated third from the right.
Scene from "What Happened to Jones" during mid 1920's

Vote for your favorite “lady.” Who do you think was prettiest?

1. Leonard Fagan, Esq. ’25 as the lovely Amy Spettigue in “Charlie’s Aunt,” mid 1920’s

2. Frank O’Hara ’25 as the leading lady in “The Man from Mexico,” 1923

3. Thomas Knight ’26 as the enchanting Ella Delahay in “Charlie’s Aunt,” mid 1920’s

4. Joseph McGowan ’25 in “The Man from Mexico,” 1923

5. Rev. William Giroux as Donna Lucia D’Alvadorez in “Charlie’s Aunt,” mid 1920’s

[polldaddy poll=5619116]

Loyola, Old and New

Yesterday’s naming ceremony for the beautiful new Loyola Science Center had us thinking about its older counterpart across the street – Loyola Hall.  At the time of its 1956 dedication, Loyola Hall was considered a model of modernity, a “wonderland of science.” Costing just over $1.1 million, it brought together the University’s four science departments – engineering, physics, biology, and chemistry – under one roof, and even provided a penthouse suite for the University’s radio station.

At yesterday’s ceremony, speakers stressed how the glass walls in the new Loyola Science Center would make the process of science visible and open to all. But in 1956, different materials excited the community’s attention: an Aquinas article highlighted Loyola Hall’s Italian terrazzo floors and stairways, vinyl laboratory floors, and green porcelain and steel chalkboards.  Lockers and bulletin boards lined the halls, and best of all, the University’s scientists could enjoy the luxury of air conditioning as they studied and experimented.

Loyola Hall was the first step in an ambitious plan to construct a true campus for the University on the site of the Scranton Estate.  Then, in 1956, it was a symbol of things to come, a visible testimony to the brightness of the University’s future. Today, it is a vestige of another time, a reminder of how much the University has grown.

The University plans to raze Loyola Hall sometime in the next few years, when Loyola Science Center is complete and fully occupied.  For us, though we’re excited about the new building and look forward to a better view of the Estate, there will always be something special about that plot of land behind the Monroe Avenue wall.


Hands on Civil War History

We’re in the Scranton Times-Tribune today!  Many thanks to reporter Josh McAuliffe and photographer Michael Mullen for sharing the story of our exciting Civil War project.  Here’s what it’s all about:

This semester, students from Dr. Kathryn Shively Meier‘s Civil War and Reconstruction class (HIST314) partnered up with the Weinberg Memorial Library, the Lackawanna Historical Society, and the Everhart Museum to get a hands-on feel for local Civil War history.  Dr. Meier designed the class project in collaboration with Digital Services Librarian Kristen Yarmey to give the students a taste of what life as a historian, curator, or archivist is like while they simultaneously learned about the experience of the common man during the Civil War.

The class project kicked off with a visit to the Everhart’s exhibit “With bullets singing all around me”: Regional Stories of the Civil War, where the students got to chat with curator Nezka Pfeifer about how the exhibit came together.  The class of 33 students, most of whom are history majors, then split up into five groups, each with a specific task.  The first group worked at the Historical Society with executive director Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus and Pennsylvania Conservation Corps member Sara Strain, going through genealogical files to search for original, Civil-War era correspondence.  A second group of students focused on preserving those found letters in appropriate archival storage and prepared them to be lent to the Weinberg Library.

A third group of students spent time here at the Weinberg, digitizing the found letters and describing them.  The fourth group of students got a primer in 19th century handwriting from Dr. Meier and is currently working on transcribing the documents.  A final, fifth group of students will design a web page layout to interpret the digitized letters for the public.

The end result of the project will be a set of fully searchable, digitized, Scranton-related Civil War documents.  These documents will all be made freely available to the public as part of a local collaborative digital history collection called “Out of the Wilderness,” hosted by the Albright Memorial Library.