Tours of the exhibit may be arranged for classes and other groups, and additional curator-led tours are available at 12 noon on the upcoming Fridays: March 10 and 31, April 7 and 21.
An exhibit lecture, “The Changing Face of Irish Writing” by Brian Ó Conchubhair (Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame), will be held this spring in Special Collections, at a date that will be announced later.
The March spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and “That Just Isn’t Fair; Settling for Left-Overs”: African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines (February – March 2023).
“Anybody here speak English? / Non dovete avere paura, non c’è ragione”: Dubbing as Translation and Rewriting in Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna, by Santain Tavella
The Infernal Arno: Mapping the Arno in Dante’s Hell through the Lens of Purg. XIV, by Toby Hale
Tuesday, February 28 at 3:30pm | Exhibit Lecture: “The Changing Face of Irish Writing” by Brian Ó Conchubhair (Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame). This lecture has had to be rescheduled—a new date will be announced later.
The spring exhibit, Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts, features selected books from the Hesburgh Libraries’ Special Collections that demonstrate the art and craft of the Irish book since 1900. The exhibit, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, will run through the semester.
The February spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and “That Just Isn’t Fair; Settling for Left-Overs”: African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines
(February – March 2023).
Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed from 11:30am to 2:00pm on Thursday, February 9, 2023.
“Most journalists have the intractable purpose of reshaping the times according to their system, not reshaping their system according to the times.” 1
This two-line manifesto by Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart (March 24, 1739-October 10,1791), the publisher of the Vaterländische Chronik (also known as the Deutsche Chronik and Teutsche Chronik in its earliest incarnation), shows how his approach to both journalism and “the times” of the late eighteenth century may have differed from that of other, contemporary publishers. Contents of the Chronik, from the beginning, were not limited to simply reporting in dispatches, narrative descriptions, or just-the-facts observations, but included opinions, commentary, poetry, and other types of prose. Published from 1774-1778 and again from 1787-1791, the Chronik had a circulation of about 4000 per issue at its height.2
Schubart had been a schoolmaster, was considered a keyboard virtuoso, and had influence on Enlightenment poets like Goethe and Schiller. He considered himself a patriot, and provided incisive commentary on the way that rulers wielded their power, as well as the way that some authority figures used superstition to maintain or increase their own positions. As a patriot himself and a believer in a freer society, he also took a great interest in the conflict in the colonies that became the American Revolution.3 He was imprisoned in 1777 in the fortress of Hohenasperg on the orders of the Duke of Wurttemberg, in part due to Schubart’s printing of the rumor (as “legend”) that the duke was lending 3000 troops to England to fight the revolutionaries in North America; Schubart had already reported the selling of troops by other nobles to the British. He remained imprisoned, initially under deplorable conditions—without a trial—for more than ten years. Although he continued to write poetry from prison, even while subject to a re-education program under the tutelage of a pietist and archenemy (“Intimfeind” in German) whom Schubart had frequently criticized in print.4
Notre Dame’s copy (Rare Books Small DD 193 .S35 1787/1788), was published under the title used after his imprisonment, Vaterländische Chronik. It covers the last half of 1787, including the July and December quarterly issues. Perusing this later segment of the Chronik allows the reader entry into Schubart’s perspective and publishing program after his imprisonment. By choosing several pieces, we can see examples of the way his views did and did not alter during this time of extreme stress and so-called “re-education.”
In the piece at the beginning of the July issue (erstes Stück) “In mein Vaterland” shows, where Schubart draws a comparison between the pillars of flame and cloud that led the Israelites from their imprisonment to their homeland and his own experience of prison and release into the type of freedom among his fellow citizens that awaited him in his own homeland. Unlike mere metaphorical, poetically emotional understanding of restraint presented in the work of Romantics, Schubart provides experience of the outside world that only someone who had experienced imprisonment could understand.
Schubart later reports the case of the well known robber Hannikel, whose gang was responsible for multiple thefts and murders over the period of decades, resulting in their execution by hanging in July of 1787. Hannikel eventually became a character who appears in the costumed festival Fasching which occurs before the beginning of Lent. Schubart’s report shows that, even before his death, Hannikel may have been thought of in a somewhat positive light, because Schubart’s short piece includes admonishing commentary about the creation of a “legend” about the thief when, in reality, those who leave the path of goodness, preferring to take the road of lies and degradation, are not to be commended, especially when that degradation includes the plunder, injury, and murder of unsuspecting travelers. Following this report is his own poem “Freundschaft,” on the ideal of friendship.
Finally, in the seventh part of the July 1787 issue (Siebentes Stück), we see his thought-piece, “Aufklarung” (“On the Enlightenment”), where he draws on contemporary poetry about the spirit of enlightenment to discuss the principles of enlightened thought. This allowed Schubart to return to the intellectual point of mediation between the Sturm und Drang proponents of the Enlightenment and their severest critics, forging a position which embraced lofty ideals but wished to harness them in educational and political reality, to the benefit of his fellow citizens. This and the foregoing examples from Notre Dame’s volume of the Chronik provide insight into the thought and work of a now lesser-known German poet and journalist, one whose own life was also worthy of observation and report.
1. “[D]ie meisten Journalisten haben die hartknäckigen Vorsatz, die Zeiten nach ihrem System und nicht ihr System nach den Zeiten umzubilden.” Christian Friedrich Schubart, ed. Deutsche Chronik, Jahrgange 1774-1777 (4 Bde), Heidelberg, 1975, 1:3, cited in Wolfgang Albrecht, “Aufklärungstrategien in Schubarts Chronik, 1774-1776 (in Potthast, ed., Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart- Das Werk, Heidelberg, 2016, pp.171-94), 172, n. 7.
3. The German public was intensely interested in the goings on in North America, especially due to the involvement of former Prussian army advisor, Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who was in great part responsible for the professionalization and training of the colonial troops at Valley Forge and remained an advisor to George Washington after the war, serving as inspector General of the Military. He was the author of Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States.
The current spotlight exhibits are Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God (June – August 2022) and Fifties Flair and Seventies Feminism Presented by Two Magazines (May – August 2022). The latter exhibit will be replaced towards the end of August by an exhibit showcasing two recently acquired World War II era photo albums featuring original photographs from the within and outside of the Warsaw Ghetto’s walls.
RBSC will be closed Monday, September 5th, for Labor Day.
“The 30th day of May, 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. …”
What is now known as Memorial Day—a day to remember those U.S. military personnel who died while serving—was originally known as Decoration Day. Below are a selection of images from Harper’s Weekly published during the first decade after General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic first called for this official day of national mourning in 1868.
A happy Memorial Day to you and yours from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!
Rare Books and Special Collections is closed today (May 30th) for Memorial Day and will be closed on July 4th for Independence Day. Otherwise, RBSC will be open regular hours this summer — 9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.
During June and July the blog will shift to our summer posting schedule, with posts every other Monday rather than every week. We will resume weekly publication on August 1st.
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.
Living as we do in a world of live broadcasts and instant social media, it can be hard to remember just how long it could take information to reach parts of our nation in earlier days.
In last week’s post, we shared two letters from Special Collections written by James Monroe Meek to his wife Elizabeth in March 1869, focusing on his description of the events surrounding the first inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant as President of the United States. At the start of the first of these two letters, Meek indicates to his wife that he had received on the previous evening (March 3rd) a letter that she had written February 28th. This transit time is as good as—or perhaps better than—what we would expect today.
For those without a family member or friend to write home, there were of course various serial publications that conveyed the news of the world to the world. By the second half of the nineteenth century, newspapers typically covered such a significant event as an inauguration fairly quickly, thanks to recently expanded telegraph lines and railways—at least for those living in a city served by those technological advances.
Today’s elections, nearly everyone agrees, have become fiercely, even bitterly, partisan. In 1860, as southern states teetered toward secession, the presidential race divided along partisan and regional lines. Republicans, who were from the north and west, supported Abraham Lincoln, while Democrats split north and south; the former followed Stephen Douglas and the latter John Breckinridge. John Bell, the third party Constitutional Union candidate, took a few states in the upper south. Yet, in what was a bitter contest, the rhetoric of one of Lincoln’s campaign biographies was deliberately calm and unabashedly high-minded.
Rare Books and Special Collections holds a scarce piece of campaign literature from the 1860 presidential race—The Lives and Speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin—a book of more than 400 pages that introduced many Americans to Lincoln and his running mate for the first time. Our copy has an original cover and several illustrations, one of which is an engraving of Lincoln based on a photograph taken by Mathew Brady, the New York City photographer.
The volume appeared immediately after the June Republican convention in Chicago, where Lincoln had been chosen as the party’s presidential candidate. It contained a short biography of Lincoln written by a very young William Dean Howells (1837-1920), who would in later years, become a writer, editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and arbiter of American literature. The Lives and Speeches also held selected speeches of both men, including Lincoln’s February 1860 speech at the Cooper Institute in New York City, where he laid out his argument that slavery must not extend into the western territories. He ended with the stirring refrain, “Let us have faith that right makes might . . . let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” (p. 213)
Howells, who was at the time a 23 year-old journalist in Columbus, Ohio, interviewed people close to Lincoln to create a portrait of the candidate that emphasized the party’s Free Soil ideas. From friends who knew Lincoln since he was in his early 20s, Howells offered a narrative that included Lincoln’s self-made story, but also impressed on readers that the candidate had been supported along the way by people who recognized his abilities and character. After explaining in some detail how Lincoln had honored a financial debt as a young (and still poor) man, Howells summed up the incident with partisan boosterism, “that the old neighbors and friends of such a man should regard him with an affection and faith little short of man-worship, is the logical result of a life singularly pure, and an integrity without flaw.” (p. 43)
A few pages later Howells summed up his research by assuring his readers, “by the testimony of all, and in the memory of everyone who has known him, Lincoln is a pure, candid, and upright man, unblemished by those vices which so often disfigure greatness, utterly incapable of falsehood, and without one base or sordid trait.” (p. 48)
Howells also took pains to reassure readers, for whom Lincoln was relatively unknown outside of Illinois, that his opposition to slavery was long-standing, clear, and aligned with the Republican party’s 1860 platform. As proof, Howells pointed to an 1837 protest Lincoln had voiced in the Illinois Legislature against a resolution for suppressing abolition societies.
As a campaign piece must, Howells’ biography painted Lincoln as the principled candidate. Howells declared, “throughout his Congressional career, you find him the bold advocate of the principles which he believed to be right. He never dodged a vote. He never minced matters with his opponents.” (p. 57) Howells underscored Lincoln’s exemplary public record through his speeches, which gave the impression that “he has not argued to gain a point, but to show the truth; that it is not Lincoln that he wishes to sustain, but Lincoln’s principles.” (p. 65) To drive home the point that the candidate’s character connected to the presidency, Howells quoted Lincoln directly. “[Slavery],” Lincoln said, “forces so many really good men among ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty—criticising the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.”’ (pp. 75-76) For Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence, in which “all men are created equal,” was the nation’s foundational document and this ideal drove his ambition and service.
In a four-way race, Lincoln won less than 40% of the popular vote but 180 of 303 electoral votes, a decisive victory.