Upcoming Events: January and early February

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

Thursday, January 24 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “German Presences: Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet and the Question of Authorship” by Prof. Alessia Ricciardi (Northwestern University).

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Friday, January 25 at 1:30pm |Panel Presentations in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, featuring William Collins Donahue (Director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies), Judy Shroyer (the Jewish Federation), and Kevin Cawley (University of Notre Dame Archives). After the panel discussion, all attendees are invited to the Scholars Lounge for a reception.

Sponsored by: The Nanovic Institute for European StudiesCushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, the Jewish Federation, and Hesburgh Libraries.

Wednesday, January 30 RESCHEDULED DUE TO WEATHER
Thursday, January 31 at 3:00pm
| Exhibit Lecture: The Saint Dominic’s Press 1916-1936 by curator Dennis Doordan (Emeritus Professor, Notre Dame School of Architecture).


The spring exhibitAs Printers Printed Long Ago: The Saint Dominic’s Press 1916-1936, curated by Dennis Doordan (Emeritus Professor, Notre Dame School of Architecture), opens in January and runs through the summer. The exhibition features different types of publications and posters produced by Saint Dominic’s Press, setting the story of the press within the larger history of the private press movement in England and examining its artistic as well as literary achievements.

The current spotlight exhibits are: Theresienstadt (Terezín), in remembrance of all the victims of the Holocaust (January – February 2019), and Creeley/Marisol: Presences, an exhibit occasioned by the 2018 publication of a critical edition of Presences, edited by Stephen Fredman, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Notre Dame (January – February 2019).

If you would like to bring a group to Special Collections or schedule a tour of any of our exhibits, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

Some Satirical Musings for Christmas

by Julie Tanaka, Curator, Special Collections

Vanity Fair, Saturday, Dec. 22, 1860—this was the first Christmas issue featuring a series of satirical columns and illustrations beginning with Richard Henry Stoddard’s account of poor, unemployed John Hardy thinking about “money, money, money” on Christmas Eve. Following this was some  “Christmas Cheer” in England  and a “Christmas Jingle.” Then Heine Heine’s lonely, shivering pine tree covered in snow dreaming about the palm tree in the warm southern lands. At center, a two-page spread of Virginia cavaliers celebrating the holiday.

“Christmas among the Cavaliers, in the Early Days of Virginia.” This satirical wood engraving drawn by E. Leutze and engraved by Andrew and Filmer was featured in the December 22, 1860 issue of Vanity Fair.

Vanity Fair was a popular title used for three subsequent magazines and should not be confused with the current one published by Condé Nast. The issue featured was from the American satirical magazine published by Louis Henry Stephens and edited by his brothers William Allen Stephens and Henry Louis Stephens. Vanity Fair was published with interruptions caused by problems obtaining paper on which to print between December 31, 1859 and July 4, 1863. Noted for its cartoons and satire columns, this magazine was critical of the Civil War’s progress and Abraham Lincoln’s policies.


Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed for Notre Dame’s Christmas and New Year’s Break (December 24, 2018, through January 1, 2019). We are open our regular hours during Exams, and welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.

Road Trip! Long-distance Driving in 1920

by George Rugg, Curator, Special Collections

Long-distance driving in the early days of the automobile was no joke. This fact is conveyed in indelible fashion by the text of an unattributed diary acquired by the Libraries in 2012, whose entries describe a 1920 auto trip from Long Beach, California to Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Despite an exponential growth in car sales in the 1910s, and the annual publication of a route guide called The Official Automobile Blue Book, trips still proceeded from point to point on local, often unpaved and unidentified roads. Rain and mud limited travel, and snow precluded it.

The author of the diary is a young woman of perhaps 20, making the trip with her parents in the family Ford. The journey took almost seven weeks of near constant travel, across the southwestern desert to El Paso and thence to Cleveland by way of New Orleans, Memphis, and Louisville. Ideally, the family spent their nights in campgrounds, but this was not always possible. The journey across the desert was especially difficult:

Thursday [October] 14th … Got off road to Niland [California]. We went up a sandy mountain & thru revines on low mostly. About 50 miles bad road all up grade. We struck civilization just before dusk. We sure was glad to see some one. We went 100 miles and never saw a dwelling. Sand and more sand. We camped beside a well all alone near a store.

Nor was food always readily available; sometimes “Dad” went hunting for birds and rabbits. Frequent tire punctures and breakdowns came to a head in Hot Springs, New Mexico (“the worst city in the world I believe by a dam site”), where the family was forced to remain for a week. Sometimes they took a break to enjoy local sights, but mostly the schedule called for day after day on the road. Just like travelers on the Oregon Trail, cars welcomed the company of other vehicles, for companionship and safety and for help with the inevitable breakdowns. Expense accounts in the diary indicate that in their first month of travel the family spent around $150.00. Gas seems to have run about 40 cents per gallon. On one occasion the author notes progress of 185 miles in a day, but this was certainly exceptional.

Even the very end of the trip was eventful:

It has rained all day. About 12 miles from Cleveland the darned tire had another puncture. Just got out of the main part of Cleveland & the front left tire went down. Before we got to Lorain the front left tire blew out. Dad said let it go so we drove on it & the left hind tire punctured so we took it off & went on the rim. We got stuck in the mud in Chagrin Falls & walked a couple blocks to Aunt Eustella’s at 10:30 P.M.

In the 20s the government sought to rationalize long-distance auto travel with the introduction of the U.S. Highway System; by late 1926, our travelers might have followed Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago. The 50s saw the development of the Interstates. But in 1920, the amenities offered by modern highways were few and far between.

Thanksgiving from the Margins

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian

This Thanksgiving we’re highlighting a book of poetry and prose that is part of a group of avant-garde American literary works called the Small Press/Mimeograph Revolution, 1940-1970s collection. Millbrook Thanksgiving, by poet and writer Walter Schneider (1934-2015), is a panegyric to the psychedelic-fueled community Timothy Leary created in upstate Millbrook, New York from 1963 to 1967. A psychologist interested in the effects of synthetic drugs on human consciousness, Leary settled in Millbrook after being fired from Harvard University for using the substances he was studying (LSD was legal in the US at that time). In the wake of local police harassment that led to Leary’s repeated arrests for minor drug infractions, he moved to California where he crossed paths with Schneider, a PhD student at Berkeley.

Schneider’s spirited defense of Leary’s counter culturalism places the book’s content in the cultural vanguard of 1971. But so does the book’s production. Printed as a small run of just 3,000 copies, its design—from the soft cover, typography, and heavy paper, to its eclectic illustrations—signals the book’s origins outside of mainstream American publishing. Mad River Press, the small California-based operation that produced Millbrook Thanksgiving, specialized in experimental poetry and creations like Schneider’s. The press released very small runs of poetry chapbooks, which were short (40 pages or less), inexpensively constructed, soft-cover booklets. Some were published anonymously and with no identifying publication information, indicating that publisher and author rejected the authority of copyright law.

Mad River Press and its authors also placed important visual pieces in their publications. Millbrook Thanksgiving used the first photograph in Robert Frank’s The Americans (published 1958), an extended photo essay that captured Americans in real life. Beat writer Jack Kerouac, who introduced the 1959 edition, noted that “he [Frank] sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film.” His book of photographs remains an important visual text of post-war America. In a chapbook of poetry by Fred Glazer also published in 1971, Mad River Press included an image by the African American painter Louis Delsarte.

The library’s Small Press/Mimeograph Revolution, 1940-1970s collection holds more than 350 items. Some, like Millbrook Thanksgiving, were produced by small, experimental presses, while others were created by individuals or small collectives using relatively inexpensive copying technologies like the Ditto machine (remember the smell of those purple ink pages?) or the mimeograph. The collection is searchable in the library’s catalog.


RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Thanksgiving Break (November 22-25, 2018). We wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 2015 RBSC post: Thanksgiving and football
Thanksgiving 2016 RBSC post: Thanksgiving Humor by Mark Twain
Thanksgiving 2017 RBSC post: Playing Indian, Playing White

Upcoming Events: November and early December

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

Tuesday, November 6 at 3:00pm | Workshop: Alternate Careers in Rare Books, Special Collections, Archives, and Museums.

Wednesday, November 7 at 3:30pm | Black Catholic History Month: “The Black Catholic Movement: The First 50 Years, 1968–2018” by Fr. Clarence Williams, CPPS, Ph.D. Co-sponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, Hesburgh Libraries, and the University Archives.

Thursday, November 8 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Fascist Im/Mobilities: A Decade of Amedeo Nazzari” by Alberto Zambenedetti (Toronto). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Friday, November 9 at 3:00pm | Operation Frankenstein: “Melodramatic Frankenstein: Radical Content in a Reactionary Form” by Jeff Cox (University of Colorado Boulder). Co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Indiana Humanities Council.

Tuesday, November 13 at 3:00pm | Workshop: Archival Skills. CANCELED

Thursday, November 15 at 4:30pm |  Iberian & Latin American Studies: “Language and Power: Searching for the Origins of Catalan Linguistic Identity” by Vicente Lledó-Guillem (Hofstra University). Co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Medieval Institute, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures.

Thursday, November 29 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Dante’s Florentine Intellectual Formation: From Quodlibets to the Vita nuova” by Lorenzo Dell’Oso (Ph.D. Candidate, Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The exhibit In Solzhenitsyn’s Circle: the Writer and his Associates runs through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Frankenstein 200 (August – December 2018) and Delamarche’s États-Unis de l’Amérique septentrionale: The United States in 1785 (November – December 2018).


RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s
Thanksgiving Break (November 22-25, 2018)
.

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2018

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.

Also in recognition of the anniversary of Hurricane María and Puerto Rico’s ongoing recovery struggle, this post highlights the island’s artistic heritage.

Puerto Rican Artists

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

Puerto Rican artists Félix Rodríguez Báez, José A. Torres Martinó, Lorenzo Homar, and Rafael Tufiño (members of the Generation of ’50) formally established the Centro de Arte Puertorriqueño in 1950. This studio, art school, and gallery was influenced by the Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico and its mission of educating the public through art. At the same time, the member artists of the CAP used their work to express and assert a uniquely Puerto Rican identity.

This portfolio of 8 prints, published in the late 1960s by the Centro de Artes Gráficas Nacionales, includes two works by each of four key members of the Generation of ’50, Lorenzo Homar, Carlos Raquel Rivera, Rafael Tufiño, and J.A. Torres Martino. The pieces are reproduced from original prints and were chosen to portray the development in aesthetic of each artist since 1951, when the CAP issued its first portfolio.

Carlos Raquel Rivera’s first print, “Marea Alta,” owes much to the influence of the Taller de Gráfica Popular in both the social commentary made through its content and in its style. His second print, “El Pegao,” reflects what had become Rivera’s signature style, driven by a strong black/white contrast.

The contrast between the two prints submitted by Lorenzo Homar is striking also. “La Tormenta” a depiction of a man peering over his shoulder at an oncoming storm is poetic and suggestive while “La Vitrina,” a critical depiction of tourism in Puerto Rico is bold and aggressive in style.

As a whole, this collection attests to the strength and evolution of print-making as an activist art form in mid-century Puerto Rico.

Suspenders: An Epic Poem

by George Rugg, Curator, Special Collections

Rare book and manuscript collections can grow in unexpected ways. Sometimes, items encountered on the market are simply too much fun to pass up. Such was certainly the case with the manuscript featured in this week’s blog, acquired by the Libraries in 2016.

The item in question is a small (12.5 cm.) handmade pamphlet of 8 leaves, with paper wraps, bound with thread. The front wrap doubles as a title page; accomplished in purple copying pencil, it reads: “Suspenders. An Epic Poem by Kreuzer. MK. Illustrated.” An inscription on the verso of the cover, reading “For ‘Key’ to the following – See local column Lawrence Journal. March 2d ’72” provides a possible association of the author with Lawrence, Essex County, Massachusetts. The rectos of each leaf contain framed narrative scenes drawn in pencil, with secondary figural and decorative elements in the margins. The scenes are rendered in great detail; the representational style tends towards the naive but the compositions are quite sophisticated. Each scene is accompanied by verse, written by Kreuzer in a miniscule hand.

The narrative is outwardly simple. A miserly youth, finding his suspenders worn out, journeys to the city to buy a new pair (1r-3r).

In a shop he is shown some that prove a perfect fit, but he ultimately fails to buy them because he finds the price too dear (4r-6r).

In returning home along the railroad tracks he narrowly avoids being hit by a train, and tears his sagging pants as he scrambles over a fence (7r).

That night he sees a pair of suspenders, radiant, in a dream, but wakes to find himself in his old predicament (8r).

The tale is humorous and patently moralizing, more like a fable than a mock epic, but the story in the local paper that provoked it remains for the present a mystery. The moralizing content is underscored by marginal figures outside the central narratives: for example, a man in a tug-of-war with the Devil, each holding an end of a pair of suspenders (5r). The inside of the back cover bears the scribbled pencil notation “March 20th 1872,” less than three weeks after the article mentioned in the front of the pamphlet.

Nothing is known of Kreuzer, and the rationale for his creation of this delightful little manuscript has yet to be determined. Comments are welcome.

Francis Scott Key’s Poem Before It Became the Star Spangled Banner

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian


“Some Beautiful Verses Written under the Circumstances”


This was how Maria Nicholson Montgomery, a Baltimore resident and wife of the city’s future mayor, described Francis Scott Key’s poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry,” in a letter to her brother in November 1814. Fort McHenry was the US garrison in Baltimore harbor and the British military’s target on September 12-14, 1814, during the War of 1812. Key had been detained on a British vessel a few miles away from the city. At dawn on the 14th, after a long night of bombardment, he spied the American flag over the fort and quickly drafted four stanzas on the American victory, set to a popular English tune, “Anacreon of Heaven.”

Key showed the poem to his brother-in-law (and Montgomery’s cousin) Joseph Nicholson, who had commanded a company of volunteers at the fort. He was enthusiastic and helped Key publish them quickly in a broadside on September 17, 1814. By October a Baltimore music store had begun selling copies as sheet music retitled as “The Star Spangled Banner.”

[ Facsimile of first newspaper printing of The Star Spangled Banner] Library of Congress
In her letter to her brother, Montgomery enclosed a clipping of Key’s poem from a Baltimore newspaper (nonextant). Several papers published the verses, and Montgomery could have sent this one, from the Baltimore Patriot on September 20, 1814 (a fitting platform for Key’s poem). She also couldn’t resist tweaking the politics of the situation, calling Key “a federalist,” although in an admiring way (“would they were all such federalists”). Montgomery herself was part of a prominent anti-Federalist family in Baltimore and New York. (Anti-Federalists generally opposed a strong federal government; for example, they disapproved of Alexander Hamilton’s plan to create a national bank.) Montgomery’s father had served in the American navy during the Revolutionary War and later became active in anti-Federalist circles, and three of her four sisters married politically prominent men (one of whom was Albert Gallatin, Secretary of Treasury under Jefferson and Madison).

Montgomery’s letter is part of the James Witter Nicholson Family Letters (MSN/EA 5002) held in Rare Books and Special Collections. The correspondence reveals the everyday details of life as well as a family’s political and social ambitions during the early republic.


Special Collections will be closed on Wednesday for the holiday but will be open regular hours (9am-5pm) the rest of the week. 

We wish you and yours a safe and happy Fourth of July!


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Developments in Description and Discoverability

by Patrick Milhoan, Lead Processing Archivist

John Nichols Journal (MSN/EA 10003)

Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections boasts some truly remarkable collections with items covering a multitude of topics. From collections totaling 17 cubic feet, such as the Vagrich and Irene Bakhchanyan Collections, to single-item manuscripts totaling a few pages, such as the John Nichols Journal, the collections are not only diverse in content, but also in size. Just as the collections at Notre Dame are diverse, so too are the descriptive tools used to make them discoverable

Descriptive or discovery tools used in special collections and archives come, traditionally, in two forms—the archival finding aid and a MARC record. However, not all collections items fit within the scope of use for these two tools. Finding aids are useful for large collections that require much more in-depth description than a current MARC record allows for when considering the hierarchical nature of collections. In the case of collections with only a few items, the collection does not need in-depth description and does not utilize the descriptive power that a finding aid provides. The traditional MARC record, however, is inadequate because the conventions for bibliographic description do not accommodate enough of the information required to describe an archival collection.

Recognizing that the current tools were insufficient, members of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Rare Book and Manuscript Section (RBMS) of the American Library Association (ALA) set out to create a new descriptive standard that would combine archival descriptive standards within existing bibliographic frameworks. These efforts culminated in the publication of a new bibliographic standard in 2016 for single-item manuscripts called DCRM (MSS)—Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Manuscripts).

As previously mentioned, Rare Books and Special Collections holdings consist of materials both large and small. In fact, a majority of the collections consist of very few pages, often just a single item. In the past, these items were made discoverable by listing the items in a register on the department’s website. With the advent of the new descriptive standard, we are able to create catalog records that describe both the artifactual information and the contextual information of small collections, especially ones with single items, that traditional MARC records did not allow for. We have decided to create a few test records for our collections using this new standard.

One of the first items we decided to describe using DCRM (MSS) was the John Nichols Journal (MSN/EA 10003). Nichols, born in Rhode Island, was a 19th-century sailor and smuggler who wrote about his exploits in a 4-section journal. In the journal, Nichols describes his voyages to the West Indies, including smuggling operations in Cuba and Brazil. In addition, Nichols also describes an invention he has termed the “sidereal dial” for navigation at night. Accompanying the entries are numerous hand-drawn maps and profiles of locations Nichols encountered throughout his journeys on the General Hamilton and the Caledonian.

Using DCRM (MSS) as our descriptive standard allows for a greater level of discoverability for our collections items. Not only are our collections browsable on our website, but they are now searchable through the Hesburgh Libraries catalog as well as the Online Computer Library Center online catalog (OCLC WorldCat)—the world’s largest online public access catalog—and ArchiveGrid—an online database containing over 5 million records for archival materials located in repositories in the US and internationally. In addition, DCRM (MSS) has been an effective way to systematically reduce our processing backlog and refine our procedures in accordance with newly adopted best practices and standards of the profession.

Memorial Day 2018

To honor all who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Originally, Memorial Day was celebrated as Decoration Day.

“Decoration Day,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was published posthumously—first in June 1882 in The Atlantic and later that same year in In the Harbor, a book containing previously unpublished poems. The poem “pays tribute to what was then a new form of civic observance: a day set aside to commemorate those who had perished in the Civil War by placing flags and flowers on soldiers’ graves, a custom that gradually gave rise to our modern Memorial Day honoring all who give their lives in military service.” (David Barber, The Atlantic, May 30, 2011)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82) was but five years old when he witnessed the War of 1812 devastate his hometown. This event had a long-lasting impact on him.

Wordsworth would go on to Bowdoin College, graduating along with Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1825 before traveling through Europe, where he gained mastery over seven languages. On his return to the US, he taught languages first at Bowdoin and later at Harvard, and also spent much time writing textbooks and essays on languages, particularly French, Italian, and Spanish. While at Harvard, Longfellow’s literary career took off. He travelled to Europe twice more before resigning from Harvard in 1854 to devote his full attention to writing.

Less than a decade later—in 1861—not only did his beloved wife, Fanny, die but the Civil War broke out and his son, fighting for the Union, was wounded. The invalid had to be escorted home by his father and brother. To cope with these tragedies, Longfellow immersed himself in his literary endeavors including a full translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (completed in 1864). Against memories of the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the traumatic loss of a wife and the injury of a son, Longfellow continued to write. In some of his last pieces, including “Decoration Day,” one cannot help but notice Longfellow’s solemnity and poignancy.

Memorial Day 2017 blog post

Memorial Day 2016 blog post


During June and July the blog will shift to a summer posting schedule, with posts every other Monday rather than every week. We will resume weekly publication on August 13th.