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Falvey’s Distinctive Collections Hosts Tricks or Treats

Courtesy of Falvey Library
Attendees placed stickers on campus buildings they find eerie or haunted.

There was a little less reading and a little more scaring going on at the Falvey Library this past Halloween. 


Falvey’s Distinctive Collection and Digital Engagement staff hosted “Tricks and Treats from the Vault” in the Speaker’s Corner on Tuesday, Oct. 31. Originally started in 2019, this was the fourth consecutive year of the event. 


The main focus of “Tricks and Treats from the Vault” was to highlight various Halloween-related pieces that Villanova has in its archived collections at Falvey. Beaudry Allen, Falvey’s Digital and Preservation Archivist, wanted to display pieces from these collections in order to entertain as well as educate. 


“This is meant to bring some levity for the students as well as spread the word about special collections in University archives as a resource for student research,” Allen said. 


Some of the spooky pieces displayed at the event included issues of the Weird Tales series from the Dime Novel Collection, The Amateur’s Guide to Magic and Mystery and the Black Art: Fully Exposed, a copy of a late 1800s letter about exorcism that was sent to a Villanova priest, Irish Witchcraft and Demonology and a handwritten Halloween-themed card from Oct. 22, 1925. Both Irish Witchcraft and Demonology and the card were from Villanova’s McGarrity Collection, which archives various pieces of Irish literature. 


One of Allen’s favorite pieces displayed was the card. Despite being nearly one-hundred-years old, it remains in great shape, complete with full-color drawings of jack-o-lanterns and fruit. 


“It’s really cute to see the illustration of jack-o-lanterns from the past and how Halloween used to be talked about,” Allen said. 


Besides showing items from Villanova’s various collections, “Tricks and Treats from the Vault” also featured Halloween-themed prints designed by Michael Sgier, one of Falvey’s Distinctive Collections Coordinators. Shawn Proctor, Falvey’s Communications and Marketing Program Manager, said that this was a very popular station at the event. Visitors enjoyed getting to learn about the printing process. 


“He created the print blocks to make those prints by hand,” Proctor said. “[They were] really nicely done, and it shows off how much talent he has.” 


In addition, Christoforos Sassaris, another Distinctive Collections Coordinator at Falvey, presented a haunted map of Villanova’s campus. Visitors were encouraged to place a sticker on any building on the map that they either heard was haunted, had a supernatural experience in themselves or were just generally creeped out by.  


Allen and Proctor both enjoyed the inclusion of the map at the event. Allen liked that it got students and faculty members talking to each other about specific parts of the campus that stuck out to them, strengthening the Villanova community overall. 


“Everybody has a good time telling stories of when the lights accidentally turned off or something like that,” Allen said. “I think that not only brings us the ability to have conversations with students and staff, but I think that brings people together [to talk] about how big and fun Villanova as a campus is, and [people are] sharing stories about what dorms they used to live in and where they hang out now. It’s really wonderful to hear that stuff.”


Proctor enjoyed this part of the event because it provided some background as to what some of the buildings on campus were used for in the past and how they have changed over the course of Villanova’s history. For example, Allen mentioned that Alumni Hall was used as a hospital during the Civil War, and Proctor talked about how St. Mary’s Hall was once a convent. 


“I think people, when they’ve been on campus for a year or two, start to take a lot of it for granted,” Proctor said. “There are a lot of really interesting places, not necessarily unsettling and scary, but it makes you more curious about the stuff that you’re seeing every day. What’s the history of it? What was its prior purpose? How has it been transformed over the years?” 


Overall, Allen believes that the importance of events such as “Tricks and Treats from the Vault” comes from their spreading the word about the archives and collections that Villanova possesses. 


“The archives represent the Villanova community,” Allen said.  


Proctor praised the events organized by Allen and the rest of the Distinctive Collection and Digital Engagement staff, particularly how they make them interactive for the students who attend them. 


“Their area does a great job of trying to make sure that they find ways to engage with students and do things that are really exciting,” Proctor said. “[They] bring out a lot of these neat treasures that they have in their collections to make them accessible for students.”


Proctor and Allen think that it helps to host these types of events in Falvey because it is a central location for all students, regardless of their different majors. 


“When we have an event and we have a panel of people and we’re trying to appeal to people to come in, this central location is really great because it allows people to know that this event is for everybody,” Proctor said. 


“The library is not only a resource for research for your actual major,” Allen said, “But it’s also an opportunity to dive deeper into your own interests, as well as be exposed to new interests and new opportunities and learn about new things.”

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