New exhibit: “Now far from home”: the ending of the Great War in Popular Imagination and Culture”

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: October 4, 2018

Now on display from October 4, 2018 through February 20th, 2019, on the 1st floor of Falvey Memorial Library, Villanova University, the exhibit “Now far from home”: the ending of the Great War in Popular Imagination and Culture tells the story of American involvement in World War I and the ending of the war, curated by Michael Foight, Director of Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement, with curatorial and installation support from Laura Bang, Allison Floray, and Demian Katz, and graphic support by Joanne Quinn.

On Monday, November 12 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner, proximate to the exhibit location, the library will host an event, “Now Far From Home: Exhibit Launch and the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice Ending the Great War.” Foight, will give a brief overview of the new exhibit, which features photographs, photo albums, newspapers, games, scrapbooks, paper toys and other rare remembrances and artifacts from the Great War time period. This event, which is sponsored by Falvey Memorial Library, is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

New Online Exhibit: Blood and Soul: The Russian Revolutions of 1917

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: April 3, 2017





View the extensive companion online exhibit created to support the physical Blood and Soul exhibit, on display at Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library through September 1, 2017.  Featuring video from the Memorial Service, extensive and detailed audio exhibit tour and commentary by the curators, historical contextual information, related events and an extensive bibliography, this online display provides a continuing resource about the Russian Revolutions and resources to help understand their continuing impact on the world.

“The Russian Revolutions of 1917, unlike the state vs. church French Revolution or the later Christianity vs. a revived paganism in Hitler’s Germany, enacted on the grandest stage possible the emerging contest between those who denied and those who asserted the very existence of God. For the first time ever, under Lenin’s orchestration, Marx’s philosophical scientific atheism with its assertion that “religion is but the false sun revolving around man while he is not yet fully self-aware” was to be practically implemented, first by  intimidation and then by raw terror.  This exhibit instructionally portrays the secularization process by which the politically-motivated Bolsheviks sought to replace the prior monarchist, divine right, religiously-founded culture of Russia with the Marxist/Leninist utopian worldview possessing its own “salvation” incentives, cultural expressions (calendar of holidays, artwork, clothing styles, service decorations, etc.) and communist order.”

“Now comes the news of battle”: July 1, 1916 – the Somme

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: July 1, 2016


While primarily considered a British offensive, the Battle of the Somme,  which started on July 1, 1916,  one hundred years ago this week, involved troops of many nationalities.  This bloodiest battle of the Great War which would kill over a million soldiers and which serves to this day as the icon for the war’s futility, was also the source of patriotic pride and sacrifice for  for Irish soldiers under arms for king and county.

The Ulster Division’s sacrifice on July 1, 1916 is clearly depicted in the rare unit history: With the Ulster division in France : a story of the 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (South Antrim Volunteers).   Available in digital reproduction from Villanova University’s Digital Library this work was published in Belfast from the manuscript of Arthur Purefoy Irwin Samuels killed in action in 1916, and created for veterans by veterans.  With photographs, maps, and a roster of the Battalion, this unit history of the 11th Battalion R.I.R. (S.A.V.)  reaches greatest poignancy when one notes the penciled in status on the unit roster showing “Killed” next to the names of the dead by the book’s former owner – one of the survivors.  These faces still gaze out of the page with hope and resignation.























The poem, The Red Hand of Ulster: Somme – July 1st, 1916  starts on page 57.  This literary work gives immediate voice to the emotions of sacrifice shared by the closest of companions.  From stanza 4:

Now comes the news of battle-

The long awaited roll

Of our great Western rampant-

A wall of thews, and soul-

And Ulster’s sons are writing

Their names upon a scroll.



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Last Modified: July 1, 2016