Interesting Irish Ephemera: A Religious, Political and Cultural Collection

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Ephemeral items such as political pamphlets, religious pamphlets, programs of commemorative events, and broadsides often do not last long enough to serve as historic documents. They may often be found in people’s homes when first printed, but they are not often collected by libraries. Such cheap printings, slight pamphlets, and event programs find their way to the trash can, or in Ireland, to the rubbish bin.

Collections of such material may help to trace the progress of a political or religious movement, and they also serve as a record of people and organizations involved in various activities.

Our Rare Books and Special Collections include many such ephemeral items.

Today we give some examples of Irish pamphlets.

Rev. P. J. Mullen. Pagan Missions. 1933

Pagan Missions, a 32-page pamphlet summarizing the activities of various Irish Catholic religious orders in mission work throughout the world, has cover art that tells much about attitudes of the time. This 1933 pamphlet is of the many publications of the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland.

Nano Nagle: Foundress of the Irish Presentation Nuns.

Another Catholic pamphlet that informs of Irish religious working overseas is the story of Nano Nagle. This 1937 publication is the fifth edition, from the Irish Messenger series on “Founders”.

Considering the large number of Irish women who joined the Presentation Order, it is unsurprising that a biography of its foundress, Nano Nagle, would be popular. The inside cover lists a number of other biographies including those of Mother Mary Aikenhead, Mother Genevieve Beale, and Mother McAuley.

These Irish pamphlets complement the Hesburgh Library’s Catholic Pamphlet Collection, a rich and diverse collection of over 3,400 pamphlets covering many aspects of Catholic thought and history.

Fifty Points Against Partition. Is Ireland a Nation? With Preface by William M. Murphy

The above eight-page production, Fifty Points Against Partition, published by Independent Newspapers in 1917, is by L. G. Redmond Howard. The preface describes it as an “arsenal of arguments against the mutilation of our country.”

Fr. Denis Faul and Fr. Raymond Murray. The Sleeping Giant: Irish Americans and Human Rights in Ireland. Undated.

We continue to add to our Northern Ireland collection, and this pamphlet by Fr. Denis Faul and Fr. Raymond Murry is a recent addition. The Sleeping Giant: Irish Americans and Human Rights in Ireland is on the treatment of political prisoners in Northern Ireland. Along with a large collection of ephemera related to Northern Ireland in the Rare Books and Special Collections, the Hesburgh Library also has access to the digitized collection of the Linen Hall Library, Divided Society: Northern Ireland. 1990-1998, available to the Notre Dame community via the Library’s database page.

Feis na Mumhan 1910

We have many programs of cultural events throughout our collections. These include programs of plays, of commemorative events, and in this case, of Feis na Mumhan, a three-day festival held in Cork in September, 1910, that included a concert, a céilí, a conference and many competitions. The ‘feis’ is a festival that celebrates and encourages Irish traditional music and Irish language culture. This program has pencilled in notes of the winners of singing contests.

Our last example here is of a recipe book. Following last week’s blogpost on the Moosewood Cookbook we would like to mention Irish cuisine, and one of the most popular Irish cookbook writers of the twentieth century.

Maura Laverty. Christmas Fare.

Maura Laverty was a regular presenter on the Electricity Supply Board’s sponsored program on Radio Éireann, Ireland’s national radio station in the 1950s. This book of Christmas recipes, published in 1957, is a revised and enlarged edition of one published two years earlier. It includes recipes for roast goose with sage-and-onion stuffing or potato stuffing, plum pudding with brandy sauce along with a variety of familiar Irish Christmas recipes. Also included is a section on ‘Christmas Specialties from Many Lands.’

An example from the ‘Many Lands’ section is the recipe for Hungarian ‘Boszorkanyhab’ (Witch’s Froth), as follows:

2 lbs. cooking apples, whites of 2 eggs, 6 tablesps. sugar, 1 teasp. lemon juice, 1/4 pint cream, small tin fruit salad.

Bake the apples until very soft. Remove peel and core and rub pulp through a sieve. Beat the egg whites until very stiff; fold in the sugar and lemon juice. When the apple pulp is quite cold, fold it into the egg mixture. Pile on a glass dish and decorate with the whipped cream and drained fruit salad.

Maura Laverty: Christmas Fare, 1957

While the examples above are only a small selection of the Irish pamphlets in the Hesburgh Library Rare Books and Special Collections, it is a fairly representative sample. We welcome opportunities to incorporate these materials into class work.

Acquiring Moosewood Cookbooks to Support Student Research

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

As we approach the end of the term, when research projects materialize like spring flowers, Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) highlights some recent acquisitions that emerged from a student’s research interests.

Last fall a history major inquired about sources RBSC held about new thinking about food during the latter part of the twentieth century. We began talking about alternative cooking and restaurants and the vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York came up. RBSC didn’t hold any of the famous cookbooks (of the same name) that emerged from that 1970s collective, so we purchased three editions (1977, 1992, and 2000).

Cover of the 1977 edition

Mollie Katzen, one of the founders of the Moosewood collective, compiled, wrote, illustrated, and self-published the original book of recipes in 1974. That first edition (with several reissues) circulated in a spiral-bound notebook format and in limited numbers.

Three years later, in 1977, a small, independent publishing house in Berkeley, California, Ten Speed Press, published the cookbook. (The press also produced What Color Is Your Parachute? (1970).) In this first commercial publication, Katzen described herself as the volume’s compiler and editor and she listed all of “The Moosewood People” who contributed to the book’s content. The book’s multiple sources is one of its central themes. Recipes come from different cooks as well as a variety of food cultures.

1977 edition

Commitment to a plant-based diet is another main focus. In the 1977 edition Katzen included a quotation by William Blake that announces the book’s vegetarianism, and her illustrations reinforce the idea throughout (see the speaking duck above the recipe for Chinese duck sauce).

Page 70 of the 1977 edition
1992 edition

Katzen retained important visual aspects of the 1974 book in later editions. Her original drawings, page layouts and cartouches, as well as her hand lettering, were translated into the commercialized editions and provide some of the book’s most identifiable characteristics over its long publication history. 

For all its warm, visual familiarity, The Moosewood Cookbook has also changed over time. Katzen has revised its content, layout, and format. In 1992 she added “A Personal History of This Book” section, which has appeared in all later editions, and photos of the Moosewood Restaurant were removed. The 2000 edition includes glossy, professionally staged photographs.

2000 edition

Each edition presents the reader with differences (in format, content, and flavor). Holding multiple editions, a researcher gains side-by-side access for comparative analysis. Libraries and special collections often acquire complete or near complete runs of editions to support research questions that such comparisons can spark.

Spotlight Exhibit: Remembering Early England

The April spotlight exhibit, Remembering Early England, brings together diverse materials that reveal the power of memory. Featuring an eleventh-century coin, a fifteenth-century medieval manuscript, an early printed grammar book, and a Victorian map, this exhibit is a sample of the breadth of the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections. Each object represents the different ways that each generation has depicted the early English period (ca. 449 – 1066), whether or not their version of history reflected reality.

For 500 years, the area now conceived of as England was inhabited by diverse populations: the Welsh, Picts, Cornish, Angles, Jutes, Saxons, Danes, Franks, Icelanders, Irish, and Frisians. In fact, England was not considered a unified country until the tenth century when Aethelstan became the first King of the English. However, later inhabitants of England, particularly those in power, portrayed early England as homogenous, stable, and a romantic pre-figuration of themselves and their ideals.

This exhibit was co-curated by Dr. David T. Gura, Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts, and Anne Elise Crafton, PhD Candidate in the Medieval Institute and Graduate Curatorial Assistant, and can be viewed in 102 Hesburgh Library from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm on weekdays.

Upcoming Events: April and early May

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

Tuesday, April 5 at 4:00pm | “Piranesi’s Lost Book” by Heather Minor (Notre Dame).

POSTPONED—NEW DATE WILL BE ANNOUNCED WHEN KNOWN: Thursday, April 7 at 4:30pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).

Rare Books and Special Collections will be open regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (April 27 – May 5). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and Remembering Early England (March-April 2022).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed April 15 in observance of Good Friday.

We will resume regular hours
(Monday – Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm)
on Monday, April 18.

Women’s History 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 commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history by celebrating Women’s History Month.

The Feminine “Math-tique”

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

A lot of recent attention has been paid to the disparity between the numbers of men and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Concomitant differences in professional status, pay, and influence, from Silicon Valley companies, to academic departments, to classrooms, are also part of this discussion. It echoes debate by second-wave feminists more than 70 years ago.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Rare Books and Special Collections highlights a new acquisition about women and STEM: The Feminine “Math-tique” by mathematician and psychologist Lynn M. Osen (1920-2003). In this 1971 article, Osen applied Betty Friedan’s idea of the feminine mystique to ways in which women and girls’ potential as mathematicians and ambitions in math-related fields were suppressed and funneled away into the social sciences and humanities. In The Feminine Mystique (published in 1963) Friedan had shown how social expectations and structures established heterosexual domesticity as the singular ambition for post-war American women (particularly white women), to the exclusion of education or professional expertise. Osen finds similar gender-fueled pressures against women and girls in math. “The mathtique,” Osen observes, “perpetuated the idea that mathematics in its various guises is a male domain.” (p. 2)

Like Friedan, who had articulated an unnamed problem experienced by middle class housewives in the post-war period, Osen identifies a similarly unnamed problem in the field of mathematics: how it had become defined as masculine and inimical to women.

“[Mathtique] encourages the socialization process which reinforces and promotes this assumption. It also serves to perpetuate the destructive and pervasive myths concerning women’s aptitudes, accomplishments and ambitions in mathematical endeavors. It breeds and institutionalizes graceless jokes and stereotypes about the helpless, checkbook-bumbling female, the mindless housewife, the empty-headed husband-chasing coed, the intuitive (but illogical) woman who ‘hates arithmetic.'” (p. 2)

To break down the feminine mathtique Osen analyzes the social science and education literature of the previous decade, whose authors had begun to notice that girls and young women were not equally represented with their male peers in math and science study. Answers to questions about the causes of this disparity became part of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1957 the USSR had launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. The Soviets’ bold breakthrough into space elevated anxiety in the US about Soviet military capabilities into a scientific and technological race as well. As American schools beefed up their math and science curricula to fight this new Cold War front, however, educators and scholars noticed that girls and young women were largely absent from the surge for math and science expertise. The disparity was alarming for the waste of brain power and potential competitive advantage against the USSR. It also became a political embarrassment, as comparative studies of the two nations uncovered no obviously similar gender differences in the USSR.

Osen uses the Soviet example to argue that cultural and social differences, not innate abilities, caused women and girls to lag behind men and boys in math. She cites a 1966 British study of women in the Soviet economy in which Russian educators reportedly expected girls and women to perform as well as their male counterparts in math and science. This confidence in female students, the report concluded, “appears to be borne out by the academic records of students . . . the performance of girls was comparable to that of boys in mathematics and physics.” (p. 7)

Osen also uses an historical argument to show that gender differences in mathematical abilities were not innate but contingent. She compares the number of women awarded doctorates in mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley from 1920 to 1949, and from 1950 to 1968. In the post-war period (the “mathtique” era), the percentage of women awarded doctorates in mathematics decreased by nearly half (from 10-11% before 1950 to 5-6% after 1950). Likewise, the percentage of women on the faculty plunged from 20% in 1928-29 to zero in 1968-69. She notes dryly that women did not suddenly lose their abilities to study advanced mathematics after World War II; other factors—cultural expectations, psychological conditioning—were in play (pp. 6-7). Osen concludes that “there is no scientific evidence that any inherently female characteristic enfeebles one as far as intellectual activities are concerned. . . . In countries, cultures, times and intellectual climates in which women have been encouraged to develop their potential, they have obliged by doing so. They can do so again.” (p. 11)

Osen followed this article three years later with Women in Mathematics (1974), a history of “the impact women have had on the development of mathematical thought,” and further dispelling mathtique’s distorted narrative. She included an abridged version of The Feminine “Math-tique” as the book’s concluding chapter.

Two Years On, and Over 150 Years Ago

by Anne Elise Crafton, Ph.D. Candidate, Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute

Reflecting on the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, one can find historical parallels. A recent addition to the Hesburgh Library, a collection of Harper’s Weekly magazines from the 1850s to the 1890s, reveals that late-nineteenth century Americans were also worried about how to stay safe during epidemics. The magazines document events during turbulent periods of American history: the Civil War, Reconstruction, and multiple epidemics. Numerous articles, cartoons, and advertisements reflect widespread concerns for how best to combat national health crises.

In 1858, a group of rioters attacked a hospital, known as “The Quarantine,” that held patients with smallpox, yellow fever, and cholera; at least two men died. The rioters feared that the quarantined patients represented a threat to the local community rather than necessary protection, as it was believed that disease spread through a miasma in the air.

Since bacteria had yet to be discovered and cures were not readily available, others looked to make a profit from those desperate to stay well. One 1864 advertisement for “Dr. T.B. Talbot’s Medicated Pineapple Cider” suggests that consumers snuff pineapple cider to cure the influenza. The fine print notes that customers might have to wait six months before being cured.

In 1879, America attempted to combat the rising cases of yellow fever by creating a National Board of Health, which ceased operations by 1884 due to various funding and operational issues. 

Despite these ups and downs it is also clear that in the midst of national anxieties, people found joy in life. For instance, each edition of Harper’s Weekly included a section of new chapters of ongoing novels. One of the most popular authors to publish a chapter-a-week was Charles Dickens, whose novels featured prominently in Harper’s Weekly.

The newspaper also frequently printed stories from far-off places; the images provided a taste of the world beyond America for those unable to travel.

Advertisements for the latest Parisian fashions, recipes for the at-home chef, and poetry accompanied news of politics and warfare. During the height of the Civil War, one cartoonist took a break from political imagery to joke about the ever-widening skirts of women’s’ fashion.

The Harper’s Weekly collection reminds us that while many things have changed and some haven’t, we have always found ways to endure.


COVID Policy Update: For fully vaccinated Notre Dame faculty, staff, students and visitors, masking is now optional indoors on campus. Those students, faculty, staff and visitors who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks inside campus buildings, including in Rare Books & Special Collections spaces. Anyone who would prefer to wear a mask in any setting is welcome to do so.

The Breastplate of Saint Patrick — Thomas Kinsella and the Dolmen Press

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

For St. Patrick’s Day, we feature The Breastplate of Saint Patrick, translated by Thomas Kinsella.

Thomas Kinsella, recently deceased, was one of Ireland’s most highly-regarded poets of recent times. In addition to his poetry, he translated many literary texts from Old Irish and Modern Irish to English. Prominent among these are his translation of the epic Táin Bó Cuailgne, and also his translated poems in An Duanaire: Poems of the Dispossessed. Liam Miller’s The Dolmen Press published many of Kinsella’s works, usually with the close collaboration of poet, printer and artist. 

The Breastplate of Saint Patrick (front cover) by Thomas Kinsella, published by Dolmen Press, 1954 (left) and Faeth Fiadha: The Breastplate of Saint Patrick translated by Thomas Kinsella from the Irish (front cover), published by Dolmen Press, 1961.

The 1954 edition of The Breastplate of Saint Patrick is decorated with designs by H. Neville Roberts, based on early Christian art. On the cover is a picture of the Shrine of the Bell of Saint Patrick, an ornate shrine made around 1100 to house the older relic, the Bell of Saint Patrick, which is held in the National Museum of Ireland. The image, and the designs within the book, are appropriate to the text, which is a hymn found in an eleventh-century manuscript, the Liber Hymnorum, thought to date to the eighth century.

On the left is the first page of the hymn in the 1954 edition, and on the right is the first page of the hymn in the 1961 edition.

A note in this Dolmen Press edition states that this text is from the manuscript in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. This is one of two Liber Hymnorum manuscripts. The other is part of the Franciscan Manuscripts collection at UCD Archives, also in Dublin. Both manuscripts have been digitized and images of the text may be viewed and studied online.

According to the introduction, Patrick composed the hymn to shield him and his monks from ‘deadly enemies who were ambushing the clerics.’

The manuscript introduction announces that the hymn is called ‘fáeth fiadha’. This is usually translated as the ‘deer’s cry’ and is the title given to a later Dolmen Press edition, also by Thomas Kinsella. 

Our other Dolmen Press edition, published in 1961, is also a translation by Thomas Kinsella. There are textual variations, as can be seen from a comparison of the initial lines. ‘I arise today’ and ‘Today I put on’. The Old Irish caused more difficulty for earlier translators. George Petrie, who translated the text in the nineteenth century, decided the word ‘atomriug’ must have been two words, and that ‘tomriug’ was a form of ‘Tara’. Subsequent research in Old Irish language sources show that ‘atomruig’ may be translated as ‘I arise’.

We end with an image of the best-known part of the text. The prayer beginning with ‘Christ by me, Christ before me’ is sung in many variant arrangements. this is from the 1954 edition.

Upcoming Events: March and early April

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

Thursday, March 24 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “We, the People: Strategies of Representation in the Italian Novel” by Roberto Dainotto (Duke). The Spring lectures are being planned in a hybrid online and in-person format; registration for online access is available via the event description page. Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

DATE & TIME UPDATED – Tuesday, April 5 at 4:00pm | “Piranesi’s Lost Book” by Heather Minor (Notre Dame).

Thursday, April 7 at 4:30pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and Remembering Early England (March – April 2022, opening soon).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.

Seamus Heaney’s translation of Henryson’s “The Testament of Cresseid”

by Anne Elise Crafton, Ph.D. Candidate, Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute

In addition to his original works, the Irish poet Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) is also known for his adaptations of ancient and medieval literature. The most famous of these is his translation of the Old English epic Beowulf, but he also adapted a lesser-known medieval poem, The Testament of Cresseid.

The Testament of Cresseid was composed by the 15th-century Scottish poet, Sir Robert Henryson. He was a part of a group of writers dubbed “The Scottish Chaucerians,” for their love of Geoffrey Chaucer (d. 1400), the author of The Canterbury Tales, a poem in Middle English. The Testament of Cresseid was Henryson’s direct response to Chaucer; in fact, it was meant to be a sequel to Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, one of the first poems to use rhyme. This epic poem tells of the tragic love story of two Trojan youths during the Trojan War. Despite their love, Criseyde is given to the Greeks as a prisoner of war and takes another lover, the Greek warrior Diomedes. While Chaucer’s account ends here, Henryson adds a cruel fate for Criseyde: Diomedes abandons the beautiful Cresseid. The Trojan maiden cries out to the goddess of love, Venus, about her poor luck in love, but the goddess vengefully strikes her with leprosy and blindness. Cresseid goes to live among the beggars by the city gate, where the noble Troilus passes by; however, due to her blindness she cannot see him, and due to her deformity, he does not recognize her. Eventually when they do recognize each other, Cresseid regrets her treatment of Troilus and gives a mournful soliloquy then dies shortly afterwards.

Henryson’s poem was written in Middle Scots. This language, confusingly known as Inglis (English), is not the same as Middle English. Middle Scots was informed heavily by Irisch (i.e., Scots Gaelic not Irish) and maintains unique spellings such as substituting quh- for wh-, and ane for one, an, or a. For example:

Henryson’s Middle Scots (15th c.)

Ane doolie sessoun to ane cairfull dyte Suld correspond and be equivalent: Richt sa it was quhen I began to wryte This tragedie…

Heaney’s Modern English (21st c.)

A gloomy time, a poem full of hurt Should correspond and be equivalent. Just so it was when I began my work On this retelling…

Seamus Heaney cites three motives for his translation which distinguish it from others: the “advocacy for the work in question,” a “refreshment from a different speech and culture,” and “the pleasure of writing by proxy.” However, Heaney also admits in the preface that when he went to translate the poem, despite these grandiose motives, he found himself already stumped by the opening scenes. Both the complexity of Middle Scots and the phonetic power of Henryson’s verse were difficult to render into modern English, especially if Heaney wanted to retain the essence and feel of the original. However, the Middle Scots reminded Heaney of the Ulster-dialect of his family and as he continued his translation, he found himself “entirely at home” with Henryson’s poetry.

The Hesburgh Library owns the 2004 de luxe edition of The Testament of Cresseid signed by Heaney and illustrator Hugh O’Donoghue. Hugh O’Donoghue is an English artist known for exploring the universality of the human experience – a theme fitting for a poem so interested in love, loss, and fate. The deluxe edition does not include the Middle Scots text next to Heaney’s translation, unlike other editions. This situates Heaney as the sole access to the medieval past.

O’Donoghue’s paintings give the harsh poem an unexpectedly ethereal quality. The reader can revel in Cresseid’s legendary beauty, brought to life by O’Donoghue, and shudder at what she becomes in the end. By pairing O’Donoghue’s compelling art with Heaney’s translation, the edition fundamentally changes the experience of the poem. Altogether, the project expands beyond translation and continues a cycle of storytelling that transcends multiple languages, nationalities, and poetic traditions: Chaucer’s 14th-century English imagination of a mythic Mediterranean past, Henryson’s 15th-century Scottish response, and a 21st-century exploration of art, poetry, and memory by an Irish poet and English artist.

Black History Month 2022

by Greg Bond, Sports Archivist

For several years, I’ve been on the hunt for Claude Monroe Paris, a largely unheralded African American basketball pioneer from the early twentieth century whose name does not appear in the standard books about the history of African Americans in basketball. A native of Waupaca, Wisconsin, Paris excelled on the court and was one of the few African Americans to compete on high-level integrated basketball teams in the early 1900s. Usually playing at forward or center, he received wide praise for his abilities, and his teams competed in national amateur basketball tournaments in Chicago.

Basketball was in its infancy and—compared to sports like baseball or college football—often received less coverage. So, it has sometimes been difficult to uncover information about early basketball players like Claude Paris. Fortunately, in my new position as the Sports Archivist at Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library, I can use the incomparable resources of the Joyce Sports Research Collection to better document Claude Paris’s trailblazing athletic career.

After starring at Waupaca High School, Paris joined the region’s top amateur team sponsored by the nearby Stevens Point Athletic Club in 1901. He quickly gained local fame, with one reporter describing him as “a well known colored basket ball player.” The state press routinely praised him as a “crack forward,” and one sportswriter said simply that Paris “is said by players of experience to have been the best forward in the state.”

The Stevens Point Athletics were one of the top teams in Wisconsin, and in 1901, they were invited to Chicago to compete in an eight-team basketball tournament billed as the “National Amateur Championship.” Other teams in the field included Kenton, Ohio; Chicago’s West Side YMCA; the University of Nebraska, and the Silent Five of Brooklyn, New York, a team composed of deaf players.

Before the tournament, the Chicago Chronicle, wrote that Stevens Point “has this year made a very enviable reputation and has an undisputed right to be classed among the best teams in the country.” The Chronicle singled out Paris for “the star playing of the team” and noted that “Paris, who is an unusually small man for the position he fills, is an excellent player and is looked upon as one of the strongest of the team.” 

Paris played well in Chicago, but the tournament ended without a clear champion as Stevens Point and Kenton, Ohio, both finished with records of 3-1.

Over the years, I have tracked Claude Paris and the Stevens Point Athletics “championship” team through newspaper stories, but the Joyce Sports Research Collection—namely, its nearly complete run of Spalding’s Official Basket Ball Guide—has now let me put a picture to these words. Spalding Guides routinely featured hundreds of team photographs from every level of competition, and these images are a fantastic resource for researchers to study and to document the development of sports.

The Joyce Collection’s 1901–02 Spalding’s Official Basket Ball Guide includes on page 60 a team photograph of the “Stevens Point A.C. Basket Ball Team.” Claude Paris (identified as number 7) sits on the left side of the first row, providing a visual record—seen around the country in the popular Spalding Guide—of this early integrated basketball team and graphically documenting Claude Paris’s participation at the highest levels of amateur basketball.

After Stevens Point, Paris attended and continued his basketball career at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, for two years. But his career after Lawrence is not well documented. Further investigation in the Joyce Collection, though, has led to more information. I discovered that the 1905­–06 Spalding’s Official Basket Ball Guide pictured Claude Paris (identified as number 6) with the 1905 Menasha (Wisconsin) Young Men’s Social Club Basketball team—providing additional evidence of Paris’s trailblazing career as an African American basketball player on predominantly white teams. 

Unfortunately, little information has survived about the specifics of Claude Paris’s experiences against white competitors, but visual evidence of his participation on integrated teams is an important addition to our knowledge about the history of African American athletes in this era.

Some contemporary observers also noticed the significance of Claude Paris. In April 1903, the Milwaukee Sentinel published a lengthy article about Paris, then a student at Lawrence. The Sentinel described him as “studious and industrious” and “of quiet manner and engaging personality.” 

The article also noted that “Paris finds time to devote considerable attention to athletics… [and] he has an excellent record. Before he came to Lawrence he played on the Stevens Point basket ball team which tied the team of Kenton, O., for the national championship in 1901.”

The Milwaukee Sentinel ultimately used Claude Paris to make an overtly political point. In an era that witnessed increasing legal segregation and racial violence and growing restrictions on African American rights, the Sentinel held up Paris’s example as a direct refutation of the racist philosophy of segregationists exemplified by notorious South Carolina Senator “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman:

“Claude M. Paris of Waupaca… in every detail of his personality and every incident of his career gives the lie to Senator Ben Tillman’s dictum that the negro is and must always remain… inferior.”

I am grateful that the Joyce Sports Research Collection has helped me to further document and honor the life of Claude Monroe Paris, an unsung African American athletic pioneer.