Collection highlights, news about acquisitions, events and exhibits, and behind-the-scenes looks at the work and services of Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) at Notre Dame.
Rare Books and Special Collections is located on the main floor of the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame in northern Indiana, and is open to students, faculty, visiting researchers, and members of the community Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm (closed weekends and major holidays).
The story about a female pope—Pope Joan—circulated widely from the early thirteenth century and was generally accepted. Allegedly, a woman disguised herself as a male in order to attend university with her lover. She quickly ascended through the ecclesiastical hierarchy and was elected pope under the name John. She reigned for two and a half years before her true identity was revealed when she fell to the ground and gave birth.
Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an interesting and very rare example of a French Protestant writer refuting another Protestant author’s denial of the Pope Joan legend.
We join the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Sergio Sánchez Santamaría is a printmaker, illustrator, and muralist who was born in Tlayacapan, Morelos, Mexico. Also trained in Mexico, Sánchez Santamaría has exhibited his work throughout Latin America and Europe, in the United States, and in Japan and China.
Among Sánchez Santamaría’s collections of linocut prints is a small volume called 500 años, México, printed at the San Jerónimo workshop in Tlayacapan. The 14 impressions comprising this piece offer a visual history of Mexico, from the age of the Mexica (Aztecs) to the late twentieth century. A jaguar and feathered serpent are among the engravings representing the nation’s indigenous past. Also portrayed are major figures historical figures such as national hero and president, Benito Juárez (in office 1858-1872), and the best-known female intellectual of the colonial era, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
Rare Books and Special Collections holds the second of the six copies of 500 años, México produced by Sánchez Santamaría. Depicted here are two images from this copy.
Both prints illustrate the deep relief and heavy ink on cartridge paper characteristic of Sánchez Santamaría’s work. The style and the subject matter of his work tie him to the Taller de Gráfica Popular, a well-known artists’ print collective formed in 1937 that produced artwork designed to promote and advance the causes of the Mexican Revolution.
Sánchez Santamaría’s work often treats topics in Mexican history and popular culture. In 2016 he released a series of linocuts entitled Personajes de Morelos depicting figures central to the history of his home state. This collection was also printed in Tlayacapan. Rare Books and Special Collections holds copy fourteen of this collection, along with an actual linocut created by Sánchez Santamaría, shown below.
This image and linocut – number fourteen within this collection – depicts Zapatista colonel, Cristino Santamaría. According to Sánchez Santamaría, Cristino Santamaría, a musician and leader of the Banda Brigido Santamaría, fought alongside Emiliano Zapata during the Mexican Revolution. Santamaría’s face is obscured by his oversize sombrero, from under which his trumpet emerges. He is flanked by two figures wrapped tightly in traditional serapes. The print’s heavy lines contrast boldly with the white cartridge paper background.
Close examination of the linocut reveals something of Sánchez Santamaría’s technique. Cuts are of varying depth, to achieve different sorts of impressions. Outlines of the figures and blue pen shading can also be discerned.
The fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture, continues to be on display through December 15, 2017. Public tours of the exhibit are offered Tuesdays at noon and Wednesdays at 3pm, and are also available by request for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences. If you are planning to bring a group to Special Collections or would like to schedule a special tour, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.
The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America, has been extended through October. The fall spotlight exhibit, opening in November, will feature highlights from the department’s collection of approximately 400 pieces of baseball related sheet music.
Oscar Wilde’s book for children, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, published in 1888, has attracted many artists and printers over the years. The stories have also been adapted for stage performances including, as I discovered recently, a ballet which will be performed in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2018.
Wilde’s stories, in the tradition of literary fairy tales such as those of Hans Christian Andersen, depict poverty, suffering, cruelty and arrogance, with sacrifice or martyrdom occurring more than once. In the title story, the statue of a prince who had been sheltered in luxury while he lived, could now view from his pedestal the poverty and suffering in his city, and so he convinced a swallow to carry each of the statue’s jewels to someone in need. The Happy Prince and Other Tales consists of the following five stories: ‘The Happy Prince’, ‘The Selfish Giant’, ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, ‘The Devoted Friend’, and ‘The Remarkable Rocket’.
Wilde published a second collection of fairy tales, The House of Pomegranates in 1891. These stories are generally more complex and dark, but over the following century many books have included a selection drawn from both books. Out of the four stories in this book, ‘The Star Child’ and ‘The Young King’ are more likely to be included in selections intended for children. ‘The Fisherman and his Soul’ and ‘The Birthday of the Infanta’ are rarely considered suitable for child readers.
A glance at the editions in our collection, with their range of illustrations and book production styles, demonstrate ambivalence in terms of identifying the appropriate audience for Wilde’s stories. Illustrators Walter Crane and P. J. Lynch both illustrated the book for a child audience, while many editions produced in the intervening century are more appropriately seen as gift books for adults.
The Happy Prince and Other Tales was first published in 1888 by Alfred Nutt and is illustrated throughout. The frontispiece is by Walter Crane, as are a plate illustrating ‘The Selfish Giant’ (shown below) and one illustrating ‘The Remarkable Rocket’. Crane (1845-1915) is frequently cited along with Randoph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway as one of the premier illustrators of children’s books in Victorian Britain.
Small illustrations by illustrator and engraver Jacomb Hood decorate the head of each story. The stories are also richly decorated with vignettes or small decorations.
Another early edition was illustrated by Charles Robinson (1870-1937), one of three brothers who were all prolific book illustrators. This 1913 edition includes eleven color plate illustrations in addition to the frontispiece. As these plates are tipped-in, or attached to pages of the book, it is rare to find an original copy with all plates intact.
With over fifty pages decorated by Robinson, this is what booksellers would call a ‘lavishly-illustrated book’, and these illustrations are reproduced in many later editions and adaptations.
The Overbrook Press produced a limited edition of The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde with wood engravings by Rudolph Ruzicka. This 1936 edition is part of the Hesburgh’s collection of 135 books from the Overbrook Press of Stamford, Connecticut.
Another fine printing, clearly not intended for the hands of children, is the silk-bound edition published by Kurt Volk, New York, in 1955. This book includes the title story, a short essay on ‘Oscar Fingall O’Flahertie Wilde’, and a slightly abbreviated version of W. B. Yeats’ introduction to a 1923 edition of The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales. [i]
One of the most recent editions is illustrated by leading Irish illustrator P. J. Lynch, also known for the award-winning book The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and his recent book The Boy who Fell off the Mayflower. This edition of Wilde’s Stories for Children, published in 1990, includes ‘The Young King’ in addition to all five stories from The Happy Prince. Lynch has not placed ‘The Happy Prince’ in first place—rather, the book begins with ‘The Selfish Giant’.
Authors of introductions range from W. B. Yeats, who knew Oscar Wilde, to Stephen Fry, the actor who played Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde.
The bibliography below lists the editions held in the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections.
[i] The full text of this introduction is online in The W. B. Yeats Collection (a Chadwyck-Healey subscription database) which includes the following source information: Introduction to Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales (1923). According to catalog records such as in the Hathi Trust, this appears to be volume 3 of a multi-volume collection of the works of Oscar Wilde.
“We are in fact convinced that no human experience is without meaning or unworthy of analysis, and that the fundamental values, even if they are not positive, can be deduced from the particular world which we are describing.”
–Primo Levi, If This is a Man
In Se questo è un uomo (If This is a Man), Primo Levi articulates that all experience informs our thinking and understanding about what it means to be human. Levi’s own experience as a chemist and a human subjected to extreme suffering in Auschwitz resonates throughout his works on display here.
Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture, the current exhibit in Special Collections to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Levi’s death, is curated by Tracy Bergstrom with assistance from Vittorio Montemaggi (Lecturer, Religion and the Arts, King’s College London) and Valentina Geri (PhD candidate, Italian). Tracy is the Program Director for the Specialized Collection Services Program and the curator of the Zahm Dante and early Italian imprints collection at Notre Dame. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Italian Studies and Art History from Smith College, a Master of Arts in Archaeological Studies from Yale University, and a Master of Library Science from Southern Connecticut State University.
The exhibit invites viewers to engage with the works on display to explore Levi’s life and work. Tracing the development of Levi’s writings and their reception, Elements of Humanity demonstrates how they are interconnected. The books on display challenge viewers to reflect on what they see, on how art and history are related, on the connections between truth and fiction, on the relationship between scientific and humanistic knowledge.
Elucidating this synthesis is Levi’s Il sistema periodico (The Periodic Table). His scientific knowledge and analysis are woven with his literary skills, illuminating his experiences—personal, social, and political. In the series of short stories, each bears the name of an element which Levi uses as a metaphor for particular experiences from his life. On display, set in front of stunning images created by the Japanese artist, Yosuke Taki, is the opening of “Carbon” in which Levi traces the journey of a single carbon atom across time and space, a journey reflecting the experiences of the writer himself.
Most of the books in this exhibit are part of the Primo Levi Collection in Special Collections. Beginning in 2009, Hesburgh Libraries and Italian Studies partnered to develop this as a new collection that deepened the Italian holdings’ reach to include contemporary Italian literature. At the launch for this collection in Fall 2011, Father Hesburgh spoke about the importance of Notre Dame holding such a collection to use for teaching and research. The Levi Collection now includes all first editions of Levi’s works printed in Italy during his lifetime and of notable translations, especially in German and English, and adaptations that document Levi’s importance outside of Italy.
The Primo Levi Collection in addition to the Zahm Dante Collection and the other Italian literature collections held by the Libraries continue to support teaching and research for the campus and international visitors, and it also provides an invaluable resource for a new PhD program in Italian. These collections are heavily used by undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty at Notre Dame and by visiting scholars. Over the past few years, Italian Studies has made increasing use of these materials for the seminars it holds related to Italian Holocaust Studies. Of note, in 2012, Robert Gordon (Serena Professor of Italian at the University of Cambridge) examined the collection, gave a talk titled “Outrageous Fortune: Luck and the Holocaust,” and met with graduate students.
Works from the Italian literature collections have been exhibited on numerous occasions. Between 2008 and 2011, rotating exhibit cases featured topical exhibits: “Petrarch in 16th-Century Translation” and “Dante for Children.” A spotlight exhibit, “Plumb Crazy: Dante and Music,” ran October 3-28, 2016. “The Sixth Centenary Festival of Dante” was on display in Fall 2015, displaying works to commemorate the 600th anniversary in 1865 of Dante’s birth. Italian collections were also featured in All Roads Lead to Rome: New Acquisitions Relating to the Eternal City (Fall 2011).
Elements of Humanity opened on September 5, 2017 with remarks by Tracy Bergstrom, Vittorio Montemaggi, and Valentina Geri. The exhibit will remain on display through December 15, 2017. The exhibit is free and open to the public, Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm.
• Tuesdays, noon
• Wednesdays, 3pm
Tours for classes or other groups, including K-12 requests, are available. Please contact Tracy Bergstrom at email@example.com or (574) 632-1763 to schedule a class or tour.
The Cristero Rebellion (La Cristiada) (1926-1929) was a major uprising by Mexican Catholics against the violently anti-clerical presidential administration of Plutarco Elías Calles. Together, the Cristero Rebellion Martyrs photo album and postcard collection include some 73 photographs, many of them portrait-style prints of individuals executed under authority of President Calles. These images, and others like them, document the persecution of clerics and lay devotees who protested against the closure of churches and restrictions on the exercise of faith during the Calles era. They were also collected by devout Catholics during and after the Cristero Rebellion and served as reminders, or even relics, of the courage demonstrated by the Mexican faithful in the face of persecution.
Friday, September 15 at 4:00pm | Dedication program for Emily Young’s sculpture Lethos, to be followed by a reception in the Carey Courtyard View Area (Second Floor – Hesburgh Library). Sponsored by the Hesburgh Libraries and the Alumni Committee for Poetry and Sculpture.
The monthly spotlight exhibit for September is The Art of Botanical Illustration: Philip Miller’s Gardeners Dictionary.
The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America, continues to be on display through September and features seven volumes from Special Collections’ manuscripts of North America holdings.
Teaching a class at Notre Dame? We invite you to bring your students to Special Collections: freshmen, undergraduates of all levels, grad students, or fellow faculty for that matter.
Teaching a class elsewhere in the Michiana area? We invite you to bring your students—of any age level—to Special Collections, too.
Special Collections offers a wide range of instruction from show-and-tell sessions that introduce students to materials from 2400 BC to present to specialized instruction tailored to course syllabi and assignments. Our staff is more than happy to work with instructors to tailor sessions to meet their needs.
We hold strong collections pertaining to: Dante, Italian literature, American Catholicism, Antebellum and Civil War America, American Sports, History of Science, Irish Literature and History, and Latin American and Early Modern Hispanic Literature and History. We also have a growing collection of medieval manuscripts as well as a substantial collection of medieval manuscript facsimiles. Our political and cultural materials of the Soviet Union and the Russian Diaspora to Europe and the United States is another area of recent development for the department.
Special Collections also runs our own workshop series. We currently offer Archival Research Skills and Introduction to Special Collections: From Clay Tablet to Graphic Novel. Coming in 2017-18 are two new workshops: History of the Printed Book in the West and The Book as Object. All of these workshops provide hands-on experience working with materials to reinforce the concepts covered.
Examples of classes we have taught sessions for recently:
Published in succession from 1944 to 1946, this collection of 10 pamphlets was produced by the Republic of China’s Ministry of Information’s United Kingdom Office. Together they offer an interesting perspective on the Chinese Nationalist (Guomindang) government’s information campaign outside of China during the 1940s.
The pamphlets cover a wide range of topics on China and are intended for different audiences. The first, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth works in the collection discuss history, classics, art, education and philosophy and were designed for the general public. The second pamphlet, produced for British military and diplomatic personnel during World War II, gave them a general overview of the geography of China.
Remaining pamphlets introduce readers to the situation of China immediately following World War II. The third pamphlet, on the Guomindang, gives a general discussion of the history of China’s governing party at the time. It describes the party’s ideology, political agendas and brought readers up to date on the Guomindang’s conflicts with the Chinese Communist Party, which had led to civil war during the 1940s. Pamphlet four, discussing agriculture in China, assesses the reason behind the country’s poverty. It argues that China’s rural masses can only be uplifted from poverty through gradual measures such as tax reform, improved agricultural methods and industrialization. The sixth pamphlet gives an overview of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives, a program that encouraged and provided assistance to small scale rural industrial enterprises in the country. Started by a group of Chinese and foreign benefactors in World War II, the program was supported by the Guomindang and was seen as a way to both economically sustain the country during wartime and offer employment for idle rural inhabitants and refugees.
The pamphlets in general were created for an educated audience, with good knowledge of western high culture, geography and economic issues. Due to this they were written with remarkable sophistication. The works were authored by a variety of experts on China, both within and outside of the country, including Neville Whymant, a well-known British oriental scholar at the time, Lu Guangmian (卢广绵), a founder of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives and Wu Yuanli (吴元黎), a respected Chinese economist. Works on Chinese history and philosophy, though brief, attempt to stimulate intellectual curiosity towards China. They introduce readers to sources on classical China and draw their conclusions on Chinese civilization from a variety of scholarly resources. Such works also contain useful guides for understanding China, such as charts on Chinese dynasties, reign dates of Chinese emperors since 1368 and diagrams of Buddhist and Daoist symbols (See photos). Pamphlets also compare important events in Chinese history with developments in the West and differences and similarities between classical Chinese and Greek philosophy.
Pamphlets on contemporary China were produced with propaganda purposes in mind. They promoted the Guomindang’s view that China’s problems must be resolved by gradual reforms as opposed to the Communist agenda of radically changing the country through class revolution and redistribution of property and encouraged foreign assistance with Guomindang programs. However, to appeal to their specific audience the pamphlets took an approach of explaining issues through selected facts rather than slogans and moral exhortation. They discuss matters such as poverty and industrial development in China to great length, often citing statistics and other information from independent studies.
Information campaigns between the Guomindang and Chinese Communists towards foreigners during the 1940s are an important part of the history Sino-western relations. To some degree the Chinese Communists successfully swayed foreign opinion to their side in 1949, and their seizure of the country that year led to many discussions among foreigners on whether they were deceived or “lost” China due to their poor knowledge of the situation of the country. Pamphlets in the collection are a small piece of the Guomindang’s foreign outreach, and they offer insights on the party’s approach towards foreigners during the period.
Paul van Vlissingen, owner of the Dutch company SHV (Steenkolen Handels Vereeniging), commissioned the noted book maker Irma Boom to create a volume to commemorate the anniversary of his family’s firm. Boom had full access to the archives of the company and the family to aid her in conceiving what became a 2,136 page tome.
Given full artistic control and no budget, she spent five years fashioning the volume. It is a most unusual creation, incorporating a wide range of surprising and innovative design elements. As an example, the edge of the text block displays a field of tulips when its pages are flipped from left to right, but flipping them the opposite way reveals a poem.
The book’s contents are arranged in reverse chronological order, and are unnumbered to encourage accidental discovery. Pages are perforated and use different inks and typefaces. Irma Boom has received many awards, including a Gutenberg Prize, for her book designs. The SHV Think Book is her most celebrated work, and was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art as an international icon of Dutch design.