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).
Rare Books and Special Collections is a public research facility that houses over 175,000 volumes of printed books and periodicals, manuscript holdings that range from medieval codices to contemporary collections, and a variety of other formats including printed ephemera, maps, newspapers, and numismatic and philatelic items. All of these materials are available for use upon request. In order to expedite access to using these materials, this post offers some guidelines to our potential patrons.
The majority of our collections are located in our basement storage stacks and need to be retrieved when a patron requests to use them. Because of this, it is helpful for both you and the department if you email your requests at least 24 hours before you plan to visit. However, if you are unable to email in advance, please expect up to a 20 minute wait for us to retrieve your materials. When you email your requests for materials, please include the full location for books found in the Location tab of the catalog record or the manuscript number for manuscripts from our website. This is important because our stacks are separated by type of material (Rare Books, Medium Rare, Manuscripts, and Ephemera) and by size (Jumbo, Oversize, Extra Large, Large, Small and Extra Small).
Special Collections, Special Coll. Rare Books Small – PT 2473 .G4 R4 1831
Special Collections (MR), Special Coll. – PQ 7797 .B635 A23 1964
Lat. b. 2
When you arrive at the department and if it’s your first time visiting, you will be asked to read our policy and procedures and to fill out some paperwork. Once you have registered, you will be asked to check your bags and jackets in our locker room. During this time, we will enter your information into our database and set up the items you requested in our reading room.
We hope this information will help you become familiar with how to use our collections and expedite the process of retrieving materials for you in order to maximize your time in our department.
A newly acquired fragment (Frag. I. 33) provides a representative specimen of a historiated calendar from a fifteenth-century book of hours from France. The leaf contains the feast days of saints and other liturgical celebrations for the month of May. The entries are written in French using a double-graded system which invokes a deluxe presentation with a utilitarian element. Feasts written in gold are celebrated at a higher grade (e.g. as a solemnity) than the others. Those written in red and blue inks are celebrated at the same level, and the colors alternate purely for aesthetic purposes.
The outer border is decorated with black and gold rinceaux and contains acanthus leaves and other floral motifs. A similar piece border sprays from the initials KL in the upper inner margin (for Kalends, Latin for the first day of a month—hence our term ‘Calendar’).
The labors for the month of May are those of the nobility: courtly love and falconry. The lower margin features a miniature (below) which depicts both activities. The two lovers on horseback are engaged in courtship while on the hunt. The man holds a green branch, a symbol of fertility. A white hunting dog follows the couple closely on the ground, and the man’s falcon is perched on his left hand.
Though a product of biblioclasty from a period unknown, Frag. I. 33 still retains aspects which provide clues to its place of origin and location of use. For example, the Translation of the relics of St. Ouen celebrated on May 5 points towards the diocese of Rouen, which is located in the region of Upper Normandy. St. Ouen—also known as Audoin, Audoenus, or Dado—became bishop of Rouen in 641, and died in the last decades of the seventh century. A Gothic church bearing his name (the Basilica of St. Ouen) still stands in the city of Rouen.
Bibliography: David T. Gura, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College. Forthcoming 2016.
November 5 at 3:00pm | “The Meaning of the Troubles” – Ian McBride (King’s Cross London) November 5 at 4:30pm | “The Long War” – Ruán O’Donnell (University of Limerick)
Co-sponsored by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and the Brian J. Logue Fund for Northern Ireland.
2015 marks many anniversaries of Vatican II, including the upcoming 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in December of 1965. The Vatican II collection and Catholic Pamphlets collection in Rare Books & Special Collections provide a window into the Council. The Vatican II collection includes schemata, the outlines and drafts of the key documents of Vatican II, along with news service reports and other documents circulated during the Council. These primary sources contrast with the popular Catholic pamphlets produced during and after the Council. Our holdings include the Address delivered by His Holiness Pope John XXIII at the solemn opening of the Second Vatican Council October 11, 1962 and the Closing speeches: Vatican Council II, December 7-8, 1965. Between these sessions and even later, Vatican II provided the subject matter for many a popular Catholic pamphlet, bringing the Council to the people. Some examples: You and the ecumenical council (1962); Decree on Eastern Catholic churches (1966); Vatican II and youth (1967); What is the lay apostolate?: taken from Vatican II’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity – Apostolicam Actuositatem (1979).
In addition to exploring our library holdings, please visit the fascinating exhibit, Outsider at the Vatican: Frederick Franck’s Drawings from the Second Vatican Council. Curated by Catherine Osborne, postdoctoral fellow at the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, the exhibit displays rarely seen drawings by Franck that he produced during his visits to all the sessions of the Second Vatican Council. The exhibit runs through September 30, 2015 at the Notre Dame Center for Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture, 1045 West Washington Street, South Bend. Hours are Sunday 12:00-4:00 p.m. and Tuesday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
On Friday, September 11, 2015, the Fall exhibit, After Gutenberg: Print, Books, and Knowledge in Germany through the Long Sixteenth Century opened. Thomas A. Brady, Jr., a historian of sixteenth-century Germany and Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Berkeley, delivered the keynote address. Also marking the opening was a two-day conference, Beyond Tradition: Rethinking Early Modern Europe, which contextualized the exhibit and highlighted institutions, religious practices, and knowledge in Europe during the long sixteenth century.
After Gutenberg: Print, Books, and Knowledge in Germany through the Long Sixteenth Century features materials from Notre Dame’s rare books collection that represent an array of knowledge that circulated widely in Germany in the two centuries following Gutenberg’s breakthrough. Between the mid-fifteenth century and the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648, the printing press made it possible for Germans to learn about their own history as well as about peoples in distant lands; to read previously inaccessible texts in the original languages and in German translations; to explore artistic techniques and scientific principles; and to harness natural resources from untapped sources.
An expanded online exhibit will be released later in Fall that will feature additional images and explanations of the materials on display as well as other objects not in the physical exhibit. Watch for a blog announcement when this is released.
Happy Birthday, Dante! In May of 1865, the city of Florence honored the 600th birthday of Dante Alighieri with a lavish three-day festival that included public celebrations of the author’s works, concerts, and exhibitions.
From September 1st through December 10th, Special Collections will be open until 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays, instead of 5:00 p.m. Please submit your paging requests on Thursdays by 5:30 p.m. — in person, by phone (631-0290) or online.
A decision about our Spring 2016 hours will be made in the fall based on the feedback we receive from our patrons.
This summer I am spending my days in the Department of Special Collections at Notre Dame’s library, systematically making my way through 60-some of the most controversial-sounding titles of French books published during the French Revolution (of the 266 total). I am looking for clues about who read these books, what they liked, and when, as based on underlinings, marginalia, and any clues I can find on provenance; it is also interesting to learn about historical facets of book binding and illustration. The closest thing to being in a European library is being in a Rare Books room in the USA.
I am doing so in anticipation of the colloquium, Collecting the French Revolution, in Greoble and Vizille France, 23-25 September 2015. It will be fun to show how the collection of such materials ended up here, in the hinterlands of north-central Indiana!
So far, I have found some intriguing books. Two are interesting because of their ties to the university’s history: a 1794 book of revolutionary legislation is stamped “Treasure Room”–the former name of Special Collections–and a history of the Church dated 1791 is a living testimony to the ravages of fire and water damage which swept through the library in 1879. It was saved from the fire by a student, from whom it was returned years later.
The most intellectually vibrant example of marginalia has to be the 1795 copy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s incendiary work of political theory, Du Contrat social–which contains notions such as general will and popular sovereignty–once owned by a certain Elizabeth Ann Seton. Inside the front cover one finds this inscription: “This copy is curious as an example of the new and foolish computation of time that the Revolutionists, out of hatred for everything Christian, wished to force upon the people. My grandmother (afterwards known as Mother Seton) used this volume at a period of her early married life when she was so unfortunate as to become somewhat enamored of the French infidel literature.” It is signed Robert Seton (a monsignor in the Roman Catholic Church and titular archbishop of Heliopolis, who donated it to Notre Dame). Better than any work by the philosopher Theodor Adorno or the intellectual historian Jonathan Israel, this one book holds within it a cautionary tale on the dialectics of modern thought, and the errors of Enlightenment philosophy , considered as a cause of the French Revolution. It also shines some light on the evolution in Mother Seton’s thinking from a youthful age; she would have been 21 years old in 1795, living the life of a wealthy New Yorker after marrying a successful merchant in the import trade two years earlier. Perhaps he imported new ideas along with the other stock from Europe!
The closest connection between Indiana and the French Revolution has to be the memoirs of Simon Bruté, born in Rennes in 1779, died in Vincennes, IN, in 1839 after serving as the first bishop of Vincennes. Its subtitle promises: “sketches describing his recollections of scenes connected with the French revolution.” I was initially wondering if the anti-revolutionary views of the clergy would be reflected in the collection and they are. But there are also an abundance of sources representing other political views. Along with several works by the infamous conspiracy theorist Abbé Barruel, there is a gorgeous edition of the Enlightenment’s most radical work of information sharing—the first Wikipedia one might say—L’Encyclopédie(the entire 17 volume set, dated 1765, with the supplement and the plates from later editions). Some say that L’Encyclopédie did more to promote a revolutionary consciousness than any other book of the time, by making trade secrets on industrial processes and artisanal practices accessible to all. This makes Notre Dame a great teaching library: students have a rich archive to explore in the search of learning how people thought long ago, why revolution broke out in 1789, and what it meant to diverse observers after the fact.
I could write more, but this will doubtless suffice to show you how interesting it can be connect a scholarly interest in revolutionary France with the history of the university and the Holy Cross order.
4 volumes, 29 cm., 678 leaves, with typescript, photographs, postcards, maps and other published illustrations, typed and handwritten documents, and drawings tipped and bound in; 3 additional folders; 1 linear foot.
From August 1917 to May 1919 Humphrey Mahan Barbour (1894-1983) of Bloomington, Indiana served as an officer in the U.S. Army’s 150th Field Artillery Regiment, attached to the 42nd (Rainbow) Division. From February to November 1918 he saw periodic action on the Western Front, fighting at the 2nd Battle of the Marne, at Saint-Mihiel, and in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. On 1 July 1918 he was promoted from 1st lieutenant to captain, and command of the 150th Field Artillery’s Battery B.
At some point after the war Barbour compiled an extensive four-volume illustrated narrative of his military experiences, entitled “With the 42nd Division, 1917-19.” Around 220 typed pages of memoir, drawn by Barbour from wartime letters and perhaps a journal, are interspersed with more than 400 photographic prints, photo postcards, and published halftones relevant to the text. Also present are more than 500 printed, typed, and manuscript documents and bits of ephemera preserved by Barbour: division and regimental orders, memoranda, reports, and plans; handwritten notes from the battery commanding officer; fire orders and reports of fire; and drawings of sections of the front.
The Barbour scrapbooks were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2015.
Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute has recently added the Sacramentary of Henry II to its substantial original-format facsimile collection. Original-format facsimiles are reproductions of important works that are intended to mimic the original. They are highly detailed, specialized, and provide insights into various aspects of intellectual history.
This sacramentary was a ceremonial service book for Mass to be used by the celebrant, and commissioned by Henry II, the Duke of Bavaria. Henry was crowned Holy Roman Emperor (1014-1024) by Boniface VIII and was known as a builder of the empire north of the Alps, as well as for being deeply religious. He considered himself to be “the Ruler of the House of God,” following in the footsteps of his not-so-distant ancestor, Charlemagne (d. 814), and thus was a great patron of the Bavarian church. The founder of the See of Bamberg, Henry and his wife Kunegunde were both canonized and are interred in the cathedral of Sts. Peter and Georg there.
Henry’s sacramentary is the epitome of a deluxe manuscript; it is made of calf and sheep skin, and its luxurious illuminations, decorated initials, elaborately designed marginalia, use of gold and silver lettering throughout the manuscript, and sumptuous goldsmith’s decorated binding with ivory decorative plate made this a book truly worthy of an emperor and one that the emperor thought worthy to celebrate the sacred liturgy. The original was produced in the scriptorium of the Benedictine monastery of St. Emmeram at Regensburg, later made its way to Bamberg, and is now in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, leaving its location in the vault only rarely. Unlike the original, the facsimile, though not inexpensive to purchase, is not priceless. Because it is not the original medieval manuscript, it may be handled, offering students and scholars the opportunity to learn about the sacramentary itself and aiding them in gaining insight into the history of medieval book production, liturgy, and art history.