Appy Hour: WordReference

App: WordReference
By:, LLC
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

Whether you’re a foreign language major or just want to look up one word, the WordReference app is a valuable reference tool. The app translates Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish. You can search an English word and get the foreign translation or vice versa. WordReference provides all the standard features of a dictionary, such as pronunciation and parts of speech. In addition, each definition of a word comes with an example sentence. For instance, the English word “mouse” would have a sentence for the meaning of small rodent and another sentence for the meaning of computer accessory. This is followed by compound words (e.g. “field mouse” or “mouse pad”) and then a list of other dictionary entries containing that word (e.g. “double click” or “squeak”). All of that is pretty standard for a foreign language dictionary, but the rest of the app’s features make it even more useful. Every entry lists related forums, where native and non-native speakers answer questions that are not addressed by the word’s definition. One forum debates the French equivalent of “Mickey Mouse degree” while another forum seeks a Spanish translation of the medical term “mouse strain.” You can also use the app to launch a Google text or image search for the word. Finally, you can save a term if you find yourself looking up a word or phrase often.

The Archivist’s Nook: “A Wonderful Tonic” – A Wartime Hollywood Romance

Wedding photo, 1936.

“My Sweetheart, today is your birthday. There is so much to say that I am not going to attempt to use words and paper and pencil. I think you know how I feel about our separation – and the war which caused it – and my prayers and hopes for our future.”

Thus begins a letter sent from the Department of National Defense in Ottawa, Canada to an address in Los Angeles, California. The author was Hollywood director and screenwriter John Farrow, who was wishing his wife, actress Maureen O’Sullivan, a happy birthday. Despite the challenges of distance and wartime censorship, the pair continuously worked to maintain regular contact on all topics, both good and ill.  

We have highlighted the life and career of Farrow in a previous post, but his relationship with O’Sullivan was but one of many topics covered. The Australian-born director and Irish-born actress married in 1936. They welcomed their first child, Michael, three years later in 1939. Almost immediately after his birth, the couple and their newborn experienced several years of separation and long-distance communication.

Sunday News, Oct. 1, 1939.

In August of that year, O’Sullivan traveled to the United Kingdom to film her latest feature. Unfortunately, the clouds of war were gathering on the Continent, and she soon found herself trapped in Britain. Her husband frantically sought safe passage for her return home. Both Farrow and MGM Studios worked to secure a flight or ship back for the actress, but passage was difficult as the uncertainties of the new conflict produced repeated cancellations. Ahead of one of the many canceled return trips, Farrow wrote to his wife:

“This letter is arriving by the plane that is bringing you back. To use the local vernacular – am I glad. I never realized before how much of a part you play in my life. In fact you are my life and I am thoroughly miserable without you.”

In the same letter, however, Farrow tells his wife that he wishes to heed the call to service. He would find an opportunity to follow this call, after O’Sullivan managed to return in late September. With the US not yet involved in the conflict and himself being a British subject, Farrow traveled to Vancouver in November 1939 to enlist in the Royal Canadian Navy. O’Sullivan remained behind in Los Angeles, taking care of their infant son and continuing her acting career.

In the coming years, Farrow would move around during his assignments with both the Canadian and British navies. He was stationed at various times in Ottawa, Nova Scotia, and Trinidad. Despite where he headed, his wife wrote to him frequently:

“My Dearest, what a wonderful treat I received last night. Two letters from my sweetheart….I can tell you I enjoyed every word. And after I finished reading them do you know what I did? I took all your letters, now a lovely big heap, and read through them too.”

The family reunited during a visit.

While O’Sullivan and Michael did manage to visit him – during one visit, John warned Maureen that she may be swamped by fans – the couple maintained most of their contact long-distance during his service. In addition to notes of affection, Farrow discussed his take on wartime events, O’Sullivan’s contract negotiations with the studio, and even explained the importance of mothers to young Michael. However, for Farrow, the most “wonderful tonic” for his melancholy at being apart happened to be his wife’s voice during their weekly phone calls:

“My sweetheart, wasn’t it fun to talk together. But for so long! I forget to reverse the charges so probably a month’s pay will go to the phone company. We are extravagant and must really discipline ourselves to a limit of say – 10 minutes. Yes? But anyway I have no regrets. It was so nice.”

Farrow would continue his service with the Canadian and British navies until he was invalided due to a contraction of typhus fever in January 1942. Throughout the remaining war years, he would be intermittently called back to service, while working on such wartime features as 1942’s Wake Island. A film for which Farrow received an Oscar nomination for direction.

A note Farrow sent to O’Sullivan.

While the separation of the war years weighed heavily on the couple, O’Sullivan and Farrow would remain married until his passing in 1963. They had seven children together over the following years, and remained active in both Hollywood and Catholic circles.

O’Sullivan, who donated the John Farrow Papers to the CUA Archives in 1978, kept the letters her husband sent her during the war years. Nestled between materials on his film career and involvement in religious societies, the wartime correspondence with his wife highlights a personal side of the famed director’s life that mattered deeply to him.


News & Events: February 13, 2017

Main Reading Room Book Display: “Literature, Literally” – Authors often employ figurative language and colorful expressions for titling their works. In this exhibit, we’ve interpreted the titles of several literary classics literally, yielding some rather humorous results! Can you guess which works are represented? Check it now in the Main Reading Room, second floor of Mullen Library. Designs conceived and constructed by librarian Kristen Fredericksen.

Gilding Demonstration – Artist Kay Jackson ( will provide a gilding demonstration Wednesday, February 15, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM in the May Gallery of Mullen Library. The event is free and open to the public. To request accommodation, please contact Joan Stahl at or 202-319-6473 at least one week before the event. The event is in conjunction with the current exhibit in the May Gallery of Jackson’s work, “On the Verge of Extinction: Gilding Techniques & Vanishing Species.”

Meet with a Librarian – CUA students and faculty can now schedule a consultation with a librarian through Meet with a Librarian. Our librarians are available to meet with you about finding useful information resources, using a citation style, developing a research strategy, and much more. Please allow at least 24 hours between requesting a meeting and your suggested meeting times.

Appy Hour: &pizza

App: &pizza
By: LevelUp Consulting, LLC
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

You’ve probably already visited the delicious restaurant &Pizza, but did you know it has an app? The number one reason to get the app is the rewards program. Every time you pay for your pizza using the app, you get credit toward a free pizza. Spend $100 and get a $10 credit. It’s that easy. It’s also super convenient to pay with the app. All you have to do is link your credit or debit card to the app, then scan your phone at a reader near the register. There’s no need to have cash on hand or carry your credit card around. If you want to pay the traditional way, you can still get credit for your purchase by scanning your rewards code at the register.

The &pizza app also allows you to order ahead so you can beat the line. First choose one of seventeen locations in DC, Maryland, Virginia, or Pennsylvania. The app will remember your choice the next time you open it, but you can change it if necessary. The app will also remember your past orders so you can select your favorites quickly. Feel like trying something different? Just like in the store, you can choose one of the pizzas on the menu or create your own. Finish your order with soda, water, or tea. When you arrive at the restaurant, go straight to the till to pick up your pizza, then pat yourself on the back for being so efficient.

The Archivist’s Nook: Irish Love Letters from English Prisons

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa (center). From the Fenian Brotherhood Records and O’Donovan Rossa Personal Papers.

“Moll my Love, why don’t you write to me every day? You know it pleases me to get your letters. Did you know the desire I used to have to hear from you before we were married, and did you know how little that desire has weakened you would write to me every day. After these times are passed it is possible they may leave us unable to write to each other.”

So wrote Irish Fenian leader Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa to his wife Mary Jane (“Moll” to him) while confined in an English prison. O’Donovan Rossa and several other Fenian leaders – including James Stephens, John O’Leary, and  Thomas Clarke Luby – were arrested by the British government and charged with treason in 1865. Their poor treatment while imprisoned was immortalized in his book “O’Donovan Rossa’s Prison Life: Six Years in Six English Prisons” in 1874.

Mary Jane and O’Donovan Rossa were married only a year when he was arrested, and their first child together was born 7 months afterwards. O’Donovan Rossa was by no means a model prisoner, and often lost letter and visiting privileges as a result. Mary Jane and their infant son were not permitted to visit until almost a year after the arrest, when little James was three months old. She sent a photograph of herself and the baby, which O’Donovan Rossa never received. After it was returned to her with a note explaining photographs were not permitted, she composed a poem:

Letter excerpt. Richmond Prison, September 25, 1865. From the Fenian Brotherhood Records and O’Donovan Rossa Personal Papers.

Was it much to ask them, Baby,
These rough menials of the Queen,
Was it much to ask to give him
This poor picture, form and mien,
Of the wife he loved, the little soul
He never yet had seen?

Here at the American Catholic Research Center and University Archives, the prison letters of O’Donovan Rossa to Mary Jane are full of longing and love, but also share details of his case and plans for her future. In a letter dated September 25, 1865, O’Donovan Rossa encouraged his wife to pawn his watch and chain to  fund her passage to America. She did, and made something of a sensation on a speaking tour describing the suffering of the Fenian prisoners and reading her nationalist poetry.

August 9, 1870, O’Donovan Rossa wrote a letter laying out his plan to give evidence before the Commission looking into his case. As he worried Mary Jane would not approve of this decision, he explained “I would not leave it in the gentlemen’s power to say that any refusal to give evidence was proof that the statements could not be substantiated.” Both Rossa and his wife had lost much of their hope that he would be released; as he wrote “I am really pleased Moll that you are so strong, that that sickness of expectation + hope deferred is left you, and that you have made up your mind for the worst, for it is only thus that you can act for the best.”

However, in 1870, O’Donovan Rossa and many other Fenians were pardoned with the understanding they could not return to England or Ireland for the remainder of their sentences. In a letter of December 28, 1870, before he knew exactly when he would be released, O’Donovan Rossa wrote one last tender note to his wife:

“I wish that these lines may find you well. Settle down for a few days or it may be a few weeks, but settle so to be ready to start up immediately, since you are willing to remarry one who has nothing to offer you but increased love.”

Jeremiah and Mary Jane “Moll” O’Donovan Rossa would go on to America together and had a total of thirteen children. Their descendants still live in the United States today.

Per the instructions, “The Convict’s writing to be confined to the ruled lines of these two pages,” but O’Donovan Rossa was often in trouble for writing too small and too much on his allocated prison paper. From the Fenian Brotherhood Records and O’Donovan Rossa Personal Papers.
Mary Jane O’Donovan Rossa. From Fáilte Romhat.


Newest in Popular Reading: The Case against Sugar, Rogue One, Mastering Civility, Storm in a Teacup, and Own It

In the dead of winter, the lives of mortals come alive………………with a good book!  Come and see some of the latest titles in our Popular Reading collection located on the first floor of Mullen Library in the Reference Reading Room. There you will find an assortment of best sellers and other popular titles.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ Augustine of Hippo

Some of our newest titles are listed below. Hold your cursor over the Title to see a short description of the book, or click to view the catalog record. The status of the book is shown beside the call number.

Title Author Status
The Case Against Sugar Gary Taubes
Rogue One (Star Wars) Alexander Freed
American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus Lisa Wade
Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery Caren Cooper
Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future David Grinspoon
The Boy Who Escaped Paradise J.M. Lee, Trans by Chi-Young Kim
Extreme Makeover: Apocalypse Edition Dan Wells
A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind Siri Hustvedt
Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace Christine Porath, with Christine Pearson
The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire Brad Stone
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life Helen Czerski
Own It: The Power of Women at Work Sallie Krawcheck
Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success Angela Morgan, Courtney Lynch, and Sean Lynch
Small Admissions Amy Poeppel
Are Numbers Real?: The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World Brian Clegg
The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters Emily Esfahani Smith

Looking for more options? You can always see a full list of our Popular Reading books in the catalog, by searching under keyword, “CUA Popular Reading.”
For more great information from CUA Libraries, follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

Mullen Library Facebook; @CUAlibraries
Religious Studies, Philosophy, and Canon Law Library Facebook; @CUATheoPhilLib
CUA Science Libraries Facebook; @CUAScienceLib
CUA Architecture & Planning Library Facebook; @CUArchLib
CUA Music Library Facebook; @CUAMusicLib

News & Events: February 6, 2017

GILDING DEMONSTRATION – Artist Kay Jackson ( will provide a gilding demonstration Wednesday, February 15, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM in the May Gallery of Mullen Library. The event is free and open to the public. To request accommodation, please contact Joan Stahl at or 202-319-6473 at least one week before the event. The event is in conjunction with the current exhibit in the May Gallery of Jackson’s work, “On the Verge of Extinction: Gilding Techniques & Vanishing Species.”

DISTANCE LEARNERS – If you are a student in one of CUA’s online programs through Engage, or if you are a graduate student completing your dissertation away from campus, please visit our page for Distance Learners. This page conveniently places all the tools you need to access the library’s resources from afar.

CENTER FOR ACADEMIC SUCCESS AND WRITING CENTER – Need some extra help in one of your courses? Want to take your writing to the next level? Check out the the Center for Academic Success and the Writing Center on the second floor of Mullen L ibrary. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment online please visit the Center for Academic Success’s website at or the Writing Center’s website at

Appy Hour: MyFitnessPal

App: MyFitnessPal MyFitnessPal icon
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

It’s one month into the new year. Have you lost steam on your resolution to eat right and exercise more? MyFitnessPal can help get you motivated again. This app makes it super easy to set goals and follow through on them. You can also share your progress with friends to motivate each other. Finally, MyFitnessPal has a ton of useful articles on all kinds of health topics, from nutritious recipes to workout guides to ways to improve your sleep.

When you first set up your free MyFitnessPal account, you enter some basic information about your height, weight, goals, and activity level. Although the app focuses on weight loss, some people use it to help themselves gain weight, especially bulking up muscle. Based on your weight goals, MyFitnessPal recommends daily goals for calorie, carbs, protein, and fat intake. You can also customize these goals instead of using the automatic recommendations. To track your progress on these goals, you can log the beverages and food you consume each day, as well as the amount of exercise you got and that day’s weight. The app lets you set reminders if you forget to log in and record this data. What makes MyFitnessPal so appealing is that you don’t have to calculate calories and nutrients yourself. It has a massive database of foods, so you can enter something as simple as “Caesar salad” or as specific as “Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Light Frappuccino Blended Coffee.” You can also look up foods by scanning the barcode on packages. However you search for it, the database is bound to have all the nutrition information for that item. If the information in the database is wrong, you can correct it or add a new item manually. One helpful feature is the ability to save meals or foods you make or buy often so you don’t have to search for them all the time.

There’s a similar system for entering your exercise data. You can select from a long list of activities ranging from the common (running) to the unexpected (horse grooming). You can use the app’s recommendation for the number of calories burned for each exercise or change it manually. Once again, you can make a list of frequent exercises for easy input. MyFitnessPal deducts the number of calories burned from the number you consumed to give you a net total for each day.

MyFitnessPal also integrates with lots of other apps and devices. Connect it to your smart scale or your Fitbit. You can even let it access your phone’s Apple Health or Google Fit apps to count your steps automatically. If you want to get more engaged with working out, use the app to book fitness classes through Mindbody. Browse by type of class (e.g. yoga or kickboxing) or search a studio near you.

There’s a strong community aspect to MyFitnessPal as well. There are thousands of discussion forums on nearly every health topic imaginable. Chat with other members about body building, personal success stories, or just fun stuff unrelated to fitness. You can also connect to people you know in real life. View their progress or share yours.

MyFitnessPal has so many awesome features, so get back on track with your health today.

The Archivist’s Nook – Catholic Archives in the Digital Age: The Fate of Religious Order Archives

Franciscan Sister Mary Aquinas Kinskey, pictured teaching at CUA in the 1940s, received a special citation of honor from the U.S. Air Force Association in 1957 for her contributions to the advancement of air power in the interest of national security. She taught aerodynamics here at Catholic University during the Second World War.

Catholic religious orders hold a unique place in the European settlement of what is now the United States, indeed some of the earliest Catholic colonial settlers came as members of religious orders. The Jesuits, for example, founded in 1534 by the Spanish Ignatius of Loyola, was the first order to send missionaries to propagate the faith among Native Americans. Franciscans followed soon after. The record of the interactions between these two orders and the Native American populations forms an important record of the early encounter between the two groups.

Women religious, for their part, also settled in the territory that became the United States, with French Ursulines arriving in modern-day Louisiana in 1727 and Elizabeth Seton founding the Sisters of Charity (later the Daughters of Charity) in Maryland in 1809. These two orders played a unique role in the establishment of Catholic women’s presence in the U.S., and helped lay the foundations of the American Catholic education system.

Fortunately, we have well-cared for records and wonderful histories of much of the Jesuit, Franciscan, Ursuline, and Sisters/Daughters of Charity experience. But this is not the case for all religious orders and their records. Religious orders in the U.S. held different missions, locations, and administrators. Many held houses in multiple provinces and countries. As they have expanded and contracted over time, their archival records have experienced a range of fates.

Father Gilbert Hartke with a CUA student in an undated photo. Father Hartke was a member of the Dominican Order. He founded and headed the CUA Drama Department from 1937 – 1974, training and meeting many theater luminaries on the way. His papers are housed in the CUA Archives.

The Catholic Archives in the Digital Age: The Fate of Religious Order Archives Conference is the third in a series of conferences under the theme of how Catholic archives are evolving in the digital age. The specific focus arose as after the American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives worked with the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart in Baltimore to preserve their valuable archives as they moved from one location to another, will address aspects of the question of religious order archives in the United States. We figure Catholic University is a great place for such a conference–surrounded by religious houses from its origins, the University has historically served as a center of education for members of religious orders from around the country.

The free conference will be held on the CUA campus in the Pryzbyla Center on March 29th, 2017 and will feature a range of scholars and archivists of the American Catholic experience and archival stewards of religious order records. For the full schedule and to register, visit the website:   The conference is generously funded by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute, and sponsored by the American Catholic History Research Center/University Libraries, the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, and the Department of Library and Information Science.

On the Verge of Extinction: Gilding Techniques & Vanishing Species

The University Libraries is proud to be showcasing the work of local artist, Kay Jackson, in an exhibit titled “On the Verge of Extinction: Gilding Techniques & Vanishing Species.” Jackson’s unique style employs ancient gilding practices to draw attention to at-risk and endangered wildlife. Describing her work, Jackson writes:

For the past twenty-five years, the environment and endangered species have been the major focus in my work. Using gilding techniques originating in ancient Egypt and perfected by European artists during the 14th and 15th centuries, I have attempted to bring attention to fragile ecosystems and vanishing animal populations with a medium that is also in danger of being lost. Medieval and Renaissance artists used these same materials and techniques to create some of the world’s most beautiful and enduring religious artwork. The light reflected from a gilded surface represents a spirituality that awakens reverence in the viewer and, even in today’s world, mesmerizes us with its symbolic optical power. I hope the golden aura illuminating from this work helps shine a light on endangered species and allows the viewer to reflect on our interdependence with nature and all God’s creatures.

Kay Jackson received a MFA in painting from George Washington University in 1984 after studying at Virginia Tech and the Corcoran School of Art. Her work has been shown in private galleries across the United States and exhibited at the National Academy of Sciences, the National Sporting Museum in Middleburg, Virginia, The College of William and Mary, American University and George Washington University. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Academy of Sciences, the Muscarelle Museum at The College of William and Mary, The Federal Reserve, the U.S. Department of State and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. To learn more about Jackson and her other works, visit

The exhibit is on display in the May Gallery on the first floor of the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library now through March. A gilding demonstration with the artist will be held Wednesday, February 15, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM in the May Gallery of Mullen Library. The event is free and open to the public. To request accommodation, please contact Joan Stahl at or 202-319-6473 at least one week before the event.