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).
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.
Maintain that summer travel state of mind with a visit to our August Spotlight Exhibit, “Photograph Albums of Travel to Cuba, ca. 1900.” The recently acquired collection features two albums, the Liebee Family Cuba Photo Album and the Gómez Souvenir Album. The two albums illustrate the manner in which late nineteenth-century travelers memorialized their journeys through photography.
The exhibit is open to the public 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, through September 30, 2015.
The Hesburgh Libraries recently acquired the papers of Irish writer Patrick McCabe. A leading Irish writer and former Distinguished Keough Visiting Professor at Notre Dame, McCabe has received much recognition for his novels, short stories, plays and film scripts.
Patrick McCabe was born in County Monaghan in 1955. For over thirty years he has been at the forefront of the Irish literary scene. Two of his novels, The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and have been adapted for film. McCabe’s fictional settings are the small towns of the Irish midlands, a setting that he has made his own, to the extent that his writing has been called “Bog Gothic”.
His papers, now held in Hesburgh Libraries Special Collections, include notebooks, early drafts, later drafts, papers relating to films, financial papers from publishers, correspondence, song lyrics, photographs and newspaper clippings. A preliminary organization has taken place, and thanks to the work of Amanda Bohne and Finola Prendergast, it is anticipated that the papers will be available for scholars to consult by 2016.
Natasha Lyandres and Julie Tanaka attended the 56th Annual Rare Books and Manuscript Section (RBMS) Conference on June 21-24, 2015 in Oakland and Berkeley, CA. This year’s conference, “Preserve the Humanities! Special Collections as Liberal Arts Laboratory,” was devoted to the roles special collections libraries have undertaken to shape teaching and research in the liberal arts. Natasha and Julie spent three-and-a-half days attending workshops, paper panels, and seminars as well as networking with rare book vendors, conservators, faculty, archivists, curators, librarians, and other rare book and special collections professionals. Here are some of the topics they learned about:
digital infrastructure and curating digital exhibits for special collections libraries
engaged collection development
special collections as the liberal arts laboratory
digital humanities and special collections: tools, challenges, and opportunities
creating new partnerships with faculty, campus offices, and outside organizations
leveraging technology to create virtual research environments
RBMS is a section of the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).
The Architecture Library, with the support of Italian Studies, Art, Art History & Design, and Humanities funding, is pleased to announce our newest addition to the collection, Giovanni Battista Falda’s Nuovo Teatro della Fabriche from 1665. This volume consists of the first three books in the series, bound together, which are a collection of engravings detailing the contemporary architecture of Rome. The volume, in its present form, is incredibly rare with only twelve copies housed in American collections.
The illustrations contained in the volume are of the Renaissance and Baroque architecture of Rome, and include general views, facades, interiors, and details of churches, monasteries, palazzi, public buildings, monuments, piazzas, as well as other sites of interest in the city. This volume, important in itself because of its study of Rome, also complements the current holdings of the Ryan Rare Book Room, which houses Falda’s Palazzi di Roma, a counterpart to Il Nuovo Teatro delle Fabriche, and together these books present a more complete picture of Renaissance and Baroque Rome.
This volume is also an important acquisition for the expansion of our SPQR-ND mobile application (available for iPad and iPhone) and other digitization projects we have underway in the Architecture Library. This work provides the reader with a snapshot of Rome in the seventeenth century and, in the words of Professor Carroll William Westfall, this book “sharpens one’s understanding of Rome as a place where change is constant and each era has important things to teach.” Cities are not static places and each new project leaves its mark. This work documents Rome in one of its most noteworthy periods.
A curious hieroglyphick Bible, or, Select passages in the Old and New Testaments, represented with emblematical figures, for the amusement of youth: designed chiefly to familiarize tender age, in a pleasing and diverting manner, with early ideas of the Holy Scriptures: to which are subjoined, a short account of the lives of the Evangelists, and other pieces: illustrated with nearly five hundred cuts. Worcester, Massachusetts: Isaiah Thomas, 1788.
Isaiah Thomas’s hieroglyphic Bible of 1788 is both a landmark piece of American children’s literature and a newly ambitious use of woodcut illustration in an American printed book. The idea of a hieroglyphic Bible, in which select scriptural passages were presented in a combination of words and images, was consistent with Thomas’s interest in works for children that simultaneously instructed and amused. He based his book on an English edition first published in 1783. In his preface—dedicated to the “parents, guardians, and governesses of the [newly constituted] United States of America”—Thomas notes the “considerable expense” involved in commissioning the hundreds of woodcuts that fill the book. Some of these, to the modern eye at least, seem a bit opaque; fortunately, Thomas printed the full text of each passage at the foot of the page. The present copy is a first edition, with all of its pages intact. It was acquired by the Libraries in January 2015.
This exhibition highlights the variety of medieval liturgical manuscripts and fragments housed in the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library which contain music. The manuscripts featured date from the eleventh through fifteenth century, and originate from various regions in France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. Some examples represent specific uses such as Carthusian monks or Dominican nuns. Other manuscripts in this exhibit were recovered from book bindings and serve as examples of older practices which may no longer exist in complete manuscripts.