Recent Acquisition: The Fabulous Cockettes Host a Private Benefit

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

This small poster (11 ½” x 18”) advertises “The First Annual Miss de Meanor Beauty Contest” by the Cockettes, an avant-garde, hippie theater group that became known for experimental, free spirited performances of cross-dressing and musical theater. The ensemble formed in 1969 with men and women from the Kaliflower commune in San Francisco. They first gained attention by performing parodies of musical theater songs (in full costume and makeup) at the city’s Palace Theater before a regular Saturday night underground film showcase, the Nocturnal Dream Show. The Cockettes created shows titled, “Gone with the Showboat to Oklahoma,” and “Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma.”

The evening’s special feature, “Lady Divine,” refers to Divine, a drag queen and stage name of Harris Glenn Milstead. Divine had already achieved countercultural acclaim playing characters in John Waters’ films (Mondo Trasho, 1969; Pink Flamingos, 1972) before this San Francisco appearance. She joined the Cockettes at one of their Palace Theater shows (“Journey to the Center of Uranus”) and then as Miss de Meanor in this performance at the House of Good, another underground cultural venue in the city. Other characters in the show included Miss Shapen, Miss Used, and Miss Conception.

This poster is part of Rare Books and Special Collections’ Broadsides, Prints, and Posters collection.

Recent Acquisition: The persecution of Catholics in Elizabethan England

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an important work on the persecution of Catholics in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, De persecutione anglicana libellus, by the English Jesuit Robert Parsons (1546-1610). Parsons accompanied St. Edmund Campion on his mission to England in 1580, but while Campion was captured and eventually executed, Parsons was able to flee the country. He built a printing press in Rouen (France) and in 1597 became the rector of the English College in Rome.

This 1582 edition, published in Rome, includes two letters by the Jesuit martyr Alexander Briant, the first of which alludes to the interrogation of Campion.

Welcome Back

RBSC looks forward to an event-filled Spring ’20! As we welcome students, faculty, staff, researchers, and visitors back from the holiday break, we want to let you know about a few things to watch for.

Spring ’20 exhibit: Paws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800

This exhibit features mammals, sea creatures, and birds from our early modern rare book collection and is enhanced by images from our botanical collection as well as plant and animal specimens on loan to us from Notre Dame’s Museum of Biodiversity. We would like to extend our appreciation to Barbara Hellenthal (Curator) and Ronald Hellenthal (Director) for their help to make this possible.

Spotlight exhibit featuring works by and related to John Ruskin

This exhibit will open in February in conjunction with the Ruskin Conference at Notre Dame John Ruskin: Prophet of the Anthropocene, February 7-8, 2020. Guest curated by Professors Robert Goulding (History and Philosophy of Science) and Sara Maurer (English).

Monthly rotating spotlight exhibits

Drop in every month to see what new surprise awaits you in our monthly feature.

Special Collections’ Classes

Throughout the semester, curators will teach sessions related to our holdings to undergraduate and graduate students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College as well as from other local schools ranging from preschoolers to adults. If you’re interested in us doing instruction for your class or group, please contact Special Collections.

Italian Studies Research Seminar Series

The Spring ’20 series kicks off on Thursday, January 30 at 5:00pm. Join us for the first of four talks this semester.

Recent Acquisitions

Birds of Acid title pageWe acquire new material throughout the year. Watch for announcements about recent acquisitions. RBSC has already received new materials for our Irish, Latin American, Medieval manuscripts, Eastern European,  American, and European collections. We are awaiting the first installment of a new artist book, Birds of Acid by Parisian artist Didier Mutel some time this month.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

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

Thursday, January 30 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “The Artist and the Police: Decameron 8.3″ by Justin Steinberg (Chicago).

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, curated by Erika Hosselkuss and Julie Tanaka, will open in January and run through the summer.

The current spotlight exhibit is: Irish Art and Literature from Graphic Studio Dublin (December 2019 – January 2020). The semester spotlight exhibit, featuring materials relating to the Ruskin Conference being held at Notre Dame in February, will be installed prior to the conference.


If you would like to bring a class or other group to Special Collections, schedule a tour of any of our exhibits, or schedule another event, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

Recent Acquisition: an Italian Renaissance history of the persecution of Christians, with letters on a wide range of additional subjects

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries is pleased to announce that we have acquired the second edition of Boniifazio Simonetta’s De Christiane Fidei et Romanorum Pontificum Persecutionibus Opus, printed in Basel by Nicolaus Kessler, December 1509. This fascinating work is really encyclopedic in scope; the basic narrative deals with the history of the persecution of Christians, but also includes 179 letters by the author to a wide circle of his contemporaries, including such renowned figures of the Italian Renaissance as Lorenzo de Medici, Ludovico Sforza, Pico della Mirandola, and Pope Innocent VIII. This correspondence, interspersed throughout the text, treats a wide range of disparate subjects, including classical history, mythology, music, geography, botany, agriculture, medicine, physics, astronomy, and astrology. This second edition also includes a dedicatory preface by Jerome Emser, a prominent German theologian and Catholic opponent of Luther.

We have identified only other seven other North American holdings of this edition.

Sample page showing notation.
Front cover, showing binding in manuscript waste over vellum.
Back cover.

Upcoming Events: December and early January

There are no events scheduled to be hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections in December 2019 or early January 2020.

Rare Books and Special Collections will remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.


The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is open for just under three more weeks, closing December 19.

The current spotlight exhibits are Touchdowns & Technology: The Evolution of the Media and Notre Dame Football (September – December 2019), a display of selected materials from the University Archives, and Irish Art and Literature from Graphic Studio Dublin (December 2019 – January 2020) in conjunction with the Snite Museum’s exhibit “Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame.

RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Christmas & New Year’s Break (December 21, 2019 – January 1, 2020) and will resume regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm) on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

“Thanksgiving Greetings” from the Strunsky-Walling Collection

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

Like any person’s private possessions, family papers collected in Special Collections include heartfelt expressions. This scrap of paper, from the Strunsky-Walling Collection, contains a charming and original Thanksgiving greeting, created by Rosamond Walling (1910-1999) for Rifat Tirana (1907-1952). The piece is undated but must have been drawn during or after 1932, the year they met and married. At the time Walling was a recent Swarthmore college graduate who had traveled to Geneva to work as a journalist. Tirana, an Albanian Muslim, was a young economist working for the League of Nations.

“Thanksgiving Greetings For My Rifat,” Strunsky-Walling Collection, MSN/MN 0509-96, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Rosamond Walling grew up in an affluent and politically ambitious family in Greenwich, Connecticut. Her parents were Anna Strunsky Walling and William English Walling. Twenty-five years earlier they had made their mark in American Socialist circles and within social reform more broadly. William English Walling reported on the Springfield, Illinois race riot, which provided the spark for the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. Anna Strunsky Walling wrote about the Russian Revolution of 1905, advocated for socialism, and was a novelist.

The Strunsky-Walling Collection contains mostly family papers of Rosamond’s parents, including more than 500 letters (between Anna and English [as Rosamond’s father was known], and Anna and Rosamond, and letters from close friends), two diaries by Anna Strunsky Walling, miscellaneous manuscripts (like this drawing), printed ephemera, and photographs.

Related archival materials on these American radicals include the Anna Strunsky Walling Papers at Yale University Library; the Anna Strunsky Walling Papers in the Huntington Library; and the William English Walling Papers in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Rosamond Walling Tirana and her husband eventually settled in the United States. In 1941 Rifat Tirana published (under the pseudonym, Thomas Reveille) The Spoil of Europe: The Nazi Technique in Political and Economic Conquest, an exposé based on official German government documents. After World War II he worked for the US Mutual Security Agency, a post-war initiative to assist European allies with economic recovery. The couple had three children. Rifat Tirana died in 1952, aged 44. Although Rosamond Tirana married a second time, she chose to be buried with Tirana. She died in 1999.


RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Thanksgiving Break (November 28-December 1, 2019). We wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 2015 RBSC post: Thanksgiving and football
Thanksgiving 2016 RBSC post: Thanksgiving Humor by Mark Twain
Thanksgiving 2017 RBSC post: Playing Indian, Playing White
Thanksgiving 2018 RBSC post: Thanksgiving from the Margins

Recent Acquisitions: The Historical Slave Trade of Christians

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired two important works (bound together) concerning the historical slave trade of Christians. The first, Dominique Busnot’s Histoire du regne de Mouley Ismael, roy de Maroc, Fez, Tafilet, Souz, &c. (Rouen, 1714), treats the reign of Moulay Ismail ibn Sharif, Sultan of Morocco from 1672-1727, under whom the Kingdom of Morocco reached the zenith of its power and influence. Ibn Sharif controlled a fleet of corsairs based at Rabat which supplied him with Christian slaves and weapons through their raids in the Mediterranean and all the way to the Black Sea. The work also includes accounts of three voyages undertaken by the Trinitarian religious order to Ceuta and Meknes in Morocco in order to redeem some of these slaves and a list of names of the redeemed captives, as well as the lengths of their respective imprisonments.

Illustration from Busnot’s Histoire du regne de Mouley Ismael, roy de Maroc, Fez, Tafilet, Souz, &c. (Rare Books Small DT 323.5 .B87 1714)

The second work, Busnot’s La tradition de l’Eglise, dans le soulagement ou le rachat des esclaves, also published at Rouen in 1714, offers a more general study concerning the church’s practice of redeeming Christian slaves through the centuries.

We have found only one other North American holding for these works bound together that features separate title pages for each.

Finnegans Wake and Other Books: James Joyce in the Special Collections

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Visiting scholar Enrico Terrinoni will contribute to a round table discussion here in our reading room. On this occasion, he will present the Library with a valuable addition to our James Joyce collection, the six-volume Italian translation of Finnegans Wake, which he, along with Fabio Pedone, completed and which was published on May 4 this year.

The event, ‘Finnegans Wake: On Infinite Translation’, will be held at 4:30 on Monday, November 18, and is sponsored by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and the Center for Italian Studies. It is open to the public. Beginning at 3:30, we plan to host a ‘pop-up display’ of books from our Joyce collection, so those who come early may enjoy seeing rare and interesting items from our special collections.

A decade ago, a professor enquired about the sixty-three volume James Joyce Archive, a major publication containing facsimiles of manuscripts by Joyce, edited and annotated by Joyce scholars. As this was published before the establishment of Irish studies at Notre Dame, the Hesburgh is not one of the libraries that had purchased the expensive collection in 1978, and it was next to impossible to find a set on the market at this stage.

Having followed a number of online bookseller descriptions advertising expensive publications described as the James Joyce Archive, only to find that the publisher’s prospectus alone was the usual item for sale (and highly priced), eventually a phone call to Ohio resulted in a conversation with bookseller Daniel Wenzel. Not only did Mr. Wenzel have a large number of these volumes for sale, he had been collecting books related to Joyce and particularly to Finnegans Wake for many years, and was ready to part with his collection. So a purchase was made, greatly enriching the Hesburgh Library’s collection of Joyce, with critical works, editions of Joyce, translations, and adaptations.

Translations acquired at that time include Finnegans Wake in Japanese, Korean and German, and a Czech translation of Anna Livia Plurabella.  There are also creative works based on Joyce’s books, including musical arrangements, drawings, and fine press productions.

1922 first edition of Ulysses with original slipcase (Special Collections Vault PR 6019 .O9 U4 1922).

The collection acquired from Daniel Wenzel complemented the Joyce collection already in existence. Highlights of this collection are the first edition of Ulysses, the limited edition of Joyce’s Mangan, and a Limited Editions Club printing of Ulysses with illustrations by Henri Matisse. This book was a gift of Donald and Marilyn Keough at the time the Keough Institute (now the Keough-Naughton Institute) was founded, and it currently features in the Snite Museum’s Irish art exhibition, Looking at the Stars: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame. 

The Italian translation will be a very welcome addition to this collection, and we expect this collection to add to the enjoyment and inspiration of many scholars in the coming years.