A Byzantine Coin and a Prayer for an Emperor

by David T. Gura, Ph.D., Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts

Rare Books and Special Collections possesses a small collection of Greek coinage donated largely by Robert (ND ’63) and Beverly (SMC ’63) O’Grady. The collection is mainly Hellenistic (ca. 323 BC – 31 AD) with an emphasis on the coins of Alexander the Great and Lysimachus, but there are also numerous Seleucid types and coins of other major Hellenistic personages. However, four Byzantine coins were also donated by the O’Grady’s which stand in stark contrast to the Hellenistic examples because they feature Christian imagery.

One such coin is this “two-thirds miliaresion” struck in Constantinople under Constantine X Doukas, the Byzantine emperor from 1059 to 1067 AD and the founder of the Doukid Dynasty. He lost much of the Byzantine territories in Italy and the Balkans, and was also defeated by Alp Arslan, the second sultan of the Seljuk Empire, resulting in the loss of the Armenian capital.

Obverse: Theotokos orans. Constantine X Doukas Silver 2/3 miliaresion (1.72 g)

The obverse of the coin depicts Mary as the Theotokos (i.e. Mother of God) in the orans pose (praying with outstretched arms). The miliaresion (μιλιαρήσιον) was the name given to various Byzantine silver coins, most of which were made during the 8th-11th century. During the 11th century, the miliaresion was minted in fractions of one third and two thirds (shown here). This denomination ceased to be used after 1092 and was replaced by the Komnenian emperors.

Reverse: Inscription. Constantine X Doukas Silver 2/3 miliaresion (1.72 g)

The text on reverse of coin contains the inscription:

ΘΚΕ ΒΟ
ΗΘΕΙ ΚΩΝ
ΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΩ
ΔΕΣΠΟΤΗ
ΤΩ ΔΟΥΚΑ

Θεοτόκε βοήθει Κωνσταντίνῳ
δεσπότῃ τῷ Δουκᾳ

Mother of God, help
the emperor Constantine Doukas

Upcoming Events: December 2022

Please note that the corridor outside RBSC is temporarily narrowed to a pedestrian tunnel due to ongoing library renovations, but we generally remain open during our regular hours.

Please join us for the following public event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, December 1 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Fellini, Film, and the Proliferation of Petroculture in Postwar Italy” – Lora Jury (University of Notre Dame).


Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame, an exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives curated by Elizabeth Hogan and reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame, will run through December 16th.

The current spotlight exhibits are Hesburgh Library Special Collections: A Focus on W. B. Yeats (October – December 2022) and The Ladies Flower-Garden of Ornamental Annuals (December 2022 – January 2023).

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed for Notre Dame’s Christmas and New Year’s Break
(December 23, 2022, through January 2, 2023).

We otherwise remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams, and welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.

Turkey for the People

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

The painting of a wild turkey featured in this Thanksgiving post is also displayed in pride of place in the book in which it was printed: opposite the title page in Audubon’s American Birds, from Plates by J.J. Audubon, published in 1949 in London and New York by a British publisher, Batsford. As the title indicates, this is a book of reproductions of fewer than two dozen of John Audubon’s paintings from his monumental work of natural history and painting, Birds of America, published in London between 1827 and 1838.

Batsford, the publisher that produced this modest, post-war volume, wished to place Audubon’s accomplished paintings within reach of nearly everyone. The publisher asked Sacheverell Sitwell to write the introduction, which makes up (excluding the illustrations’ captions) the book’s text. Sitwell was a poet and a prolific writer, mostly on artistic themes and as an art critic. In this book on Audubon’s birds, Sitwell places Audubon’s work firmly within the history of British and American art.

Sitwell also underscored the publisher’s populist intent. The writer noted that books like Audubon’s original work, which was produced in the largest possible format—elephantine, was the “modern equivalent of the illuminated missals of the middle ages. They were accessible only in the houses of the rich and in public libraries.” (p. 10) Sitwell (who was himself both wealthy and titled) and Batsford made Audubon’s great nineteenth-century achievement accessible to popular audiences in Britain and the United States. Turkey for the people.


RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Thanksgiving Break (November 24-25, 2022). We wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 2021: The Thanksgiving that Gave Us a Song, a Movie … and a Cookbook!
Thanksgiving 2020: Happy Thanksgiving to All Our Readers
Thanksgiving 2019: “Thanksgiving Greetings” from the Strunsky-Walling Collection
Thanksgiving 2018: Thanksgiving from the Margins
Thanksgiving 2017: Playing Indian, Playing White
Thanksgiving 2016: Thanksgiving Humor by Mark Twain
Thanksgiving 2015: Thanksgiving and football


Due to renovation-related work being done in the department, on November 28-29 Special Collections will be closed to visitors, except for previously scheduled classes.

An Annotated 17th Century Handbook on Excommunications

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an interesting and extremely rare early modern work, Alessandro Ludovisi’s Catalogus Excommunicationum, quae extra Bullam Coenae Domini sunt reservarae Papae, vel Episcopo, vel Nemini, iussu illustrissimi… (Bononiae, 1613). Ludovisi (1554-1623), a native of Bologna who would later become Pope Gregory XV from 1621-1623, compiled what is essentially a handbook that details which types of persons—religious and secular—can be excommunicated, for what reasons, and who has the particular authority to do so.

For example, chapter one concerns the excommunication of prelates (cardinals, bishops, nuncios, etc.) by the Pope himself; chapter two covers lesser clerics, chapter four, nuns and chapter six, Inquisitors. Chapter seven deals with secular lords and nobility, while chapter eight discusses various professions, including magistrates, university rectors, governors, and scholars. Chapter ten concerns all those who can be excommunicated by a bishop alone.

In addition, manuscript annotations add interest to this particular copy, attesting perhaps to various canon law interpretations prevalent during this period.

We have found no other copies of this title held by other North American libraries.

Fall, Fruit, and American History in Edward Lee Greene’s Library

by Jacob Swisher, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, University of Notre Dame

As fall comes to a close and leaves blanket the landscape, there are still apples fit for picking and ideal carving pumpkins throughout much of Michiana. You may not find any such apples or pumpkins rolling around Rare Books and Special Collections this fall, but a journey into the books from Edward Lee Greene’s personal library is certain to furnish you with some fruity history about the connection between fruit and identity in American history. Edward Lee Greene (1843-1915) was an American botanist whose personal library of over 3,000 volumes is held in Rare Books and Special Collections. Though you won’t encounter a botanical history that explains the pumpkin spice latte in the stacks, Greene’s library does contain an intriguing manual that helps us to think about the role of fruit in American history and our daily lives from the perspective of a state well-known for its horticulture: California.

Written by Edward J. Wickson in 1889, The California Fruits and How to Grow Them is a manual that covers nearly every topic a novice California horticulturist would seemingly need to learn to begin cultivating fruit, whether in the late-nineteenth century or today. Wickson’s handbook begins with an overview of California’s climate and soils before moving into descriptions of the range and histories of various wild and introduced plant species, such as the California crabapple, the wild gooseberry, and the California jujube. Those eager to introduce their own varieties of common fruits could find more than enough help in the second half of Wickson’s The California Fruits and How to Grow Them. From recommendations for growing specific plants to guides on how to implement certain cultivation techniques, such furrow irrigation or grafting, an important method for propagating certain species like apple trees, Wickson’s volume contains an array of horticultural tips and tricks to help the aspiring horticulturist to get their backyard orchard up and running.

The California Fruits and How to Grow Them, however, is much more than just a horticultural manual. Wickson’s volume, like many others contained in the Edward L. Greene Collection, reveals much about the intersections between science, human-nature relationships, and American identity in the late-nineteenth-century United States. For Wickson’s readers, the scientific knowledge they gleaned from The California Fruits and How to Grow Them rendered history visible in the form of the very fruit they plucked from the California environment. Crabapple trees and evergreen shrubs such as manzanita became reminders of California’s indigenous histories as Wickson informed readers that these fruit-bearers were “highly esteemed by the Indians.” Other fruits conjured images of Spanish California, including “orange, fig, palm, olive and grape,” all of which, according to Wickson, Jesuit priests established at the Spanish missions that spread across the region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 

In Wickson’s view, however, “these early efforts at improvement of California fruits were but faint forerunners of the zeal and enterprise which followed the great invasion by gold seekers.” For Wickson, specific techniques typified this pioneer “zeal” and ushered California not only into a new historical period but a new era of fruit cultivation, such as grafting. Grafting is a technique of propagating a variety of fruit by inserting a bud of the chosen variety into the trunk of an existing tree (usually of a different species). Though grafting is an old technique for food production, one likely present in California since at least the Spanish colonial period, Wickson omits this detail in text instead associating grafting with other American technical innovations such as the use of railroad transportation to move fresh fruit in and out of the state. Instead, grafting and railroad transportation embodied the ways in which Wickson imagined Californians as ushering in a new and, by implication, better era of fruit cultivation throughout the state. Deploying nineteenth-century notions of progress and improvement to chart the place of American migrants in California’s natural and human histories, Wickson’s book transformed horticultural practices into metaphors that signified how and why California fit into American history, grafting Wickson, other Californians, and their recent possession of the California landscape onto the fruits of the California environment in the process.

Nineteenth-century Californians like Wickson understood fruit as more than simply a thing to cultivate. Fruit trees, vines, and shrubs were also botanical texts through which Californians could read themselves into the history of the state. Much like the apple orchards, pumpkin patches, or corn mazes many Americans will wander through this fall, orange groves and hillsides covered in gooseberries provided nineteenth-century Californians with experiences that may have helped them to anchor themselves in new places, communities, or environments. Fruit, as Wickson’s volume reveals, was central to being Californian–a thing California is not only known for, but through which people have historically come to know themselves and the state. Perhaps, with our autumn strolls through apple orchards or pumpkin patches, Americans today are not so different? Food for thought, I suppose. Happy fall everyone!

 

Further reading:

Sackman, Douglas. Orange Empire: California and the Fruits of Eden. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

Nash, Linda. Inescapable Ecologies: A History of Environment, Disease, and Knowledge. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

Ott, Cindy. Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Object. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012.

Pollan, Michael. The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World. New York: Random House, 2001.

Bolton Valencius, Conevery. The Health of the Country: How American Settlers Understood Themselves and Their Land. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

A Halloween Tale: “John Reardon and the Sister Ghosts”

by Sara Weber, Special Collections Digital Project Specialist

This year’s Halloween tale comes to you from Jeremiah Curtin’s Tales of the Fairies and of the Ghost World (London: D. Nutt, 1895). Curtin, a linguist, translator, and folklorist, was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Irish immigrant parents, and grew up in Milwaukee county, Wisconsin. With the aid of interpreters, he collected folklore in the Irish-speaking regions in the west of Ireland. Recent scholarship demonstrates that Alma Curtin, his wife, was an important partner in this work.1 He also translated Russian and Polish literature, and spent some years working for the Bureau of Ethnology in Washington, D.C., working with Native American peoples. He published three books of Irish folklore, of which this was the third.

“John Reardon and the Sister Ghosts” tells of bravery rewarded and wickedness punished—and of the special properties of “what belongs to a plough”. Enjoy!


Happy Halloween to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

Halloween 2021: A Welsh Witch in the Woods
Halloween 2020: Headless Horsemen in American and Irish
Halloween 2019: A Halloween trip to Mexico
Halloween 2018: A story for Halloween: “Johnson and Emily; or, The Faithful Ghost”
Halloween 2017: A spooky story for Halloween: The Goblin Spider
Halloween 2016: Ghosts in the Stacks

 

 

[1] Bourke, Angela. “The Myth Business: Jeremiah and Alma Curtin in Ireland, 1887–1893.” Éire-Ireland, vol. 44 no. 3, 2009, p. 140-170. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/eir.0.0043.

Upcoming Events: November 2022

Please note that the corridor outside RBSC is temporarily narrowed to a pedestrian tunnel due to ongoing library renovations, but we remain open during regular hours.

Please join us for the following public event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, November 10 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Deadly Letters: Plague, Banditry, and Heresy in Early Modern Mail” – Rachel Midura (Virginia Tech).

Thursday, November 11 at 4:00pm | “Ireland’s Lament”: The Story of the Manuscript of a 17th-century Irish Historica Poem in the Hesburgh Library. A panel discussion on the recently-acquired manuscript, Tuireamh na hÉireann (Ireland’s Lament), with the Department of Irish Language and Literature and the Keough-Naughton Institute of Irish Studies.


Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame, an exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives curated by Elizabeth Hogan and reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame, will run through the end of the fall semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Hesburgh Library Special Collections: A Focus on W. B. Yeats (October – December 2022) and “Rosie the Riveters with a Vengeance” and Other Wartime Contributions by American Women (October – November 2022).

RBSC will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday,
November 24 – 25.

“Everyone Has a First Love”: Revisiting the All American Girls Baseball League Collection in the Joyce Sports Research Collection

by Greg Bond, Sports Archivist and Curator, Joyce Sports Research Collection

“Action! Glamor! Travel! Thrills!”

A 1948 promotional flier for the All American Girls Baseball League (AAGBL)—which billed itself as “the tops in girls sports”—used these enticements to encourage women to try out for the league. Inside, the pamphlet further described “action-packed… All-American Girls baseball” as a “game of sensational growth and popularity with an equally brilliant future” and promised “a sport unlike any other in existence and one which offers real opportunities to the young girls of every city, village, and hamlet of America.”

1948 Promotional Flier Cover (MSSP 0014-167)

This flier comes from a remarkable All American Girls Baseball League manuscript collection housed in the Joyce Sports Research Collection in Hesburgh Libraries that documents the history of this important pioneering women’s sports league. A League of Their Own, a new Amazon streaming show about the league (that shares a name with the popular 1992 Geena Davis and Tom Hanks movie on the same topic) has re-focused attention on the actual history of the AAGBL and has also brought renewed interest in the unique AAGBL materials in the Joyce Sports Research Collection. Recent visitors and researchers to consult the AAGBL collection include Notre Dame undergraduate students from Professor Annie Coleman’s Sports and American Culture class and attendees at an AAGBL convention and reunion hosted in South Bend this past August.

Letter on AAGBL letterhead from AAGBL President Max Carey to South Bend Blue Sox Board Member Harold T. Dailey, May 17, 1948 (MSSP 0014-21)

Founded in 1943 by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley and other baseball and civic leaders who worried that World War Two labor demands could threaten the viability of professional men’s baseball, the All American Girls Baseball League provided high-quality women’s sports in (mostly) mid-sized Midwestern cities like South Bend, Indiana; Rockford, Illinois; Racine, Wisconsin; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and others. 

Although Wrigley quickly sold his stake in the league when it became apparent that major league baseball would survive during the war, the AAGBL continued for 12 seasons until 1954. In the league’s first seasons, the game was akin to fast-pitch softball, but, in ensuing years, the rules evolved—including overhand pitching and a smaller ball—to more closely resemble men’s baseball.

1947 South Bend Blue Sox yearbook cover (MSSP 0014-59)

The AAGBL manuscript collection consists chiefly of the personal and collected papers of two men involved with the South Bend Blue Sox—one of two franchises (along with the Rockford Peaches) to compete in all 12 league seasons from 1943 to 1954. Harold T. Dailey, a South Bend oral surgeon, was a team administrator for most of the Blue Sox’s existence and served on the team Board of Directors from 1945–1952. Chet Grant managed the Blue Sox in 1946 and 1947. 

Years later in the 1970s, Grant helped oversee the Joyce Sports Research Collection, and he facilitated the donation of these one-of-a-kind materials. The AAGBL collection includes a variety of formats, including correspondence, programs, yearbooks, photographs, financial records, scrapbooks, player questionnaires, clippings and more, all of which help to document the full history of the league.

1954 Harold T. Dailey AAGBL notebook (MSSP 0014-8-B, 46v-47r)

“A High Standard of Conduct”

One important theme of the new Amazon League of Their Own series—and one that is well reflected in the manuscript collection—is the League’s emphasis on conventional ideas of femininity. Perhaps because the players were exceptional athletes, the male owners and administrators always insisted on promoting images of traditional feminine appearance and behavior—from the required uniform skirts to elaborate rules and regulations that (hoped to) govern player conduct. The 1948 promotional flier, for instance, assured fans and prospective players that “All-American girls… are selected for their athletic ability and baseball ability as well as femininity, character, and deportment. A high standard of conduct and behavior is maintained at all times.”

Printed material from the league, too, consistently featured stylized images that emphasized conventional ideals of feminine appearance. A few examples from the AAGBL collection include the 1948 South Bend Blue Sox Yearbook, the 1946 Kenosha Comets Yearbook, and the 1950 Ft. Wayne Daisies Official Program.

Internal correspondence, also, addressed this issue. In a May 17, 1948, letter, for instance, League President Max Carey, a former major league baseball player, wrote Harold Dailey that “some of the girls from the National League [National Women’s Softball League] were out to our game the other night, and they were all dressed in slacks and looked like a bunch of bums, which in itself would not be an inducement to try and break into that league.”

Despite such precautions by the League and despite the AAGBL’s high-level of play and popularity in league cities, some in the public remained skeptical about the propriety of women participating in a traditionally male pastime. This undated clipping from the AAGBL collection, for example, asked “Do Girls Belong in Pro Baseball”?

“Do Girls Belong in Pro Baseball?” clipping (MSSP 0014-168)

The Amazon League of Their Own series also explores its characters’ sexuality and LGBTQ issues. League administrators in the 1940s and 1950s encouraged conventional heterosexual relationships for the players and promoted traditional heterosexual norms in their publicity material. Concerns about player sexuality do not seem to be often overtly mentioned in the surviving league records, but there are still some tantalizing glimpses of the issue.

The AAGBL manuscript collection, for example, includes a fascinating set of 76 promotional questionnaires completed by league athletes in about 1944. The forms solicited information about the players’ backgrounds, experiences, and interests, and instructed the women: “please don’t be bashful” with your answers. One question, though, did require more discretion. In a section about entertainment, the questionnaire invited players to name their “favorite star”—but then quickly stipulated that the answer “must be a man.” League administrators evidently wanted to avoid any suggestion that players might be interested in other women. 

Despite such contemporary gender and sexual politics that constrained the behavior and self-expression of players, more than 600 athletes appeared in the AAGBL during its 12 years of competition. These women excelled on the field, unabashedly exhibited their athletic prowess, demonstrated that there was an audience for high-caliber women’s sports, and, in their own way, helped to challenge and re-shape the very same strict societal gender norms the league sought to enforce. 

The athletes were doubtless aware of the league’s cultural significance. But many players were also simply thrilled to be playing ball and relished the opportunity to test their mettle against some of the best women athletes in the country. Pitcher Jo Kabick probably spoke for many of her league-mates when she wrote enthusiastically on her 1944 publicity questionnaire: “Everyone has a ‘first love’—mine was softball.”


The All American Girls Baseball League Collection is open to the public and available to researchers. Please email rarebook@nd.edu to make an appointment to consult the collection.

Rare Papal Bull in French to Convoke the Council of Trent

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an unusual and extremely rare document in early modern church history, a French-language edition of the bull issued by Pope Paul III to convoke the Council of Trent (1545-1563), La Bulle de nostre sainct Père le Pape Paul troisiesme sur le Concile general qui se celebrera, le quatriesme dimanche de la Caresme prochaine (Lyon, 1544). The Council was originally planned to begin in November 1542, but because of the conflict between King Francis I of France and Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, the convocation was delayed. This Council would prove to be a pivotal event in modern church history, essentially launching the Catholic Reformation across a range of important doctrinal issues.

Paul III, whose pontificate spanned the years 1534-1549, also published Latin-language versions in Cologne, Ingolstadt, Magdeburg, Nurnberg, and Rome, while a German edition was issued in Augsburg. In this edition, the bull is preceded by a letter written by the Pope to the Archbishop of Lyon concerning the Council.

We have located only one other copy of this French version among recorded holdings worldwide, in France’s Bibliotheque Nationale.

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2022

We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.

United Farm Workers

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

The United Farm Workers, an organization with deep ties to the Mexican American community, came into existence in 1965, under the leadership of labor leader Cesar Chavez. It merged two existing groups of farm workers, one primarily Mexican and one primarily Filipino. Under Cesar Chavez’s leadership, United Farm Workers became a highly influential, multi-racial labor movement. It orchestrated the most successful consumer boycott in American history, against California grape producers, between 1965 and 1970. By allying with national and local unions and building boycott houses in 10 major cities, the UFW effectively shut down the U.S. market for grapes in protest over treatment of farmworkers. In July of 1970, after a final, failed attempt to offload rotting grapes in Europe, twenty-six grape growers capitulated and signed collective bargaining agreements with the UFW, a major victory for the country’s farm workers.

This post highlights some of Rare Books and Special Collections’ ephemeral material related to the history of the United Farm Workers organization, a beacon of Chicano strength and power.

Andrew Zermeño, a graphic artist who created a number of political cartoons for United Farm Workers, produced this large bilingual poster in 1968. It connects the president-elect, Richard Nixon, to the abusive practices of California grape growers and warns that if “La Raza,” or the Mexican American population, doesn’t stop Nixon, he will stomp, or crush, them.

Portrayed in a grotesque fashion, Nixon waves his characteristic “V” for victory sign and greedily devours grapes. A grape grower is literally in Nixon’s pocket and farmworkers are crushed under his stomping feet. Small signs in Spanish and English refer to the boycott. A man representing La Raza lies inert in a pool of grape juice at the bottom of the poster. 

In 1969, the Scholastic, the University of Notre Dame’s student magazine, recognized the grape boycott. Its editors published the striking emblem of the Delano strike on the cover of the November 7 issue. Inside, the first of two articles on the farmworkers’ actions, authored by Steve Novak, describes the formation of the UFW and the history of the grape boycott. Novak observes that, “the Delano strike has done much for the Mexican-American people of the United States,” making them more visible, uniting them, and bringing their struggles to light. 

This final item is a modest poster promoting a United Farm Workers benefit held in Madison, Wisconsin, at Freedom House, a small venue. Likely also dating to the era of the grape boycott, the poster features the strike emblem and a group of three protestors, one with arm raised and one wearing a farm worker’s hat.         

Together, these items reflect the national impact of the Delano grape strike. It spawned protest posters by Mexican American artists like Zermeño, merited a place on the cover of university student magazine in South Bend, Indiana, and prompted organization of a benefit in Madison, Wisconsin. The impact of this event was widespread and impressive, and it is an important part of the legacy of the U.S.’s Mexican American population. 

Previous Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Posts: