Cristero Rebellion Martyrs photo album and postcard collection

Warning: this article includes graphic images that some readers may find disturbing.

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

The Cristero Rebellion (La Cristiada) (1926-1929) was a major uprising by Mexican Catholics against the violently anti-clerical presidential administration of Plutarco Elías Calles. Together, the Cristero Rebellion Martyrs photo album and postcard collection include some 73 photographs, many of them portrait-style prints of individuals executed under authority of President Calles. These images, and others like them, document the persecution of clerics and lay devotees who protested against the closure of churches and restrictions on the exercise of faith during the Calles era. They were also collected by devout Catholics during and after the Cristero Rebellion and served as reminders, or even relics, of the courage demonstrated by the Mexican faithful in the face of persecution.

The Cristero Rebellion Martyrs photo album is a set of 32 silver gelatin photographs, each with a leaf of accompanying, semi-hagiographic, text. The Cristero Rebellion Martyrs postcard collection includes 41 black and white postcards and photographs, some with descriptive information. (Full descriptions of these two collections can be accessed at the linked finding aids.)

Continue reading Cristero Rebellion Martyrs photo album and postcard collection

Upcoming Events: September and early October

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

Tuesday, September 5 at 4:00pm | Opening reception for the fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture. This exhibit is curated by Tracy Bergstrom (Curator, Italian Imprints and Dante Collection) and opens on August 21.

Friday, September 15 at 4:00pm | Dedication program for Emily Young’s sculpture Lethos, to be followed by a reception in the Carey Courtyard View Area (Second Floor – Hesburgh Library). Sponsored by the Hesburgh Libraries and the Alumni Committee for Poetry and Sculpture.

Thursday, September 21 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Titian’s Icons” by Christopher J. Nygren (Pittsburgh). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

The monthly spotlight exhibit for September is The Art of Botanical Illustration: Philip Miller’s Gardeners Dictionary.

The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America, continues to be on display through September and features seven volumes from Special Collections’ manuscripts of North America holdings.

Bringing Classes to Special Collections

Teaching a class at Notre Dame? We invite you to bring your students to Special Collections: freshmen, undergraduates of all levels, grad students, or fellow faculty for that matter.

Teaching a class elsewhere in the Michiana area? We invite you to bring your students—of any age level—to Special Collections, too.

Special Collections offers a wide range of instruction from show-and-tell sessions that introduce students to materials from 2400 BC to present to specialized instruction tailored to course syllabi and assignments. Our staff is more than happy to work with instructors to tailor sessions to meet their needs.

We hold strong collections pertaining to: Dante, Italian literature, American Catholicism, Antebellum and Civil War America, American Sports, History of Science, Irish Literature and History, and Latin American and Early Modern Hispanic Literature and History. We also have a growing collection of medieval manuscripts as well as a substantial collection of medieval manuscript facsimiles. Our political and cultural materials of the Soviet Union and the Russian Diaspora to Europe and the United States is another area of recent development for the department.

Special Collections also runs our own workshop series. We currently offer Archival Research Skills and Introduction to Special Collections: From Clay Tablet to Graphic Novel. Coming in 2017-18 are two new workshops: History of the Printed Book in the West and The Book as Object. All of these workshops provide hands-on experience working with materials to reinforce the concepts covered.

Examples of classes we have taught sessions for recently:


Contact us for more information about how to bring your class to Special Collections.

More information and examples of materials pulled for instruction sessions can be found on the Class Instruction page on our website.

Chinese Ministry of Information Pamphlets

by Yang Wu, Librarian in Residence

Published in succession from 1944 to 1946, this collection of 10 pamphlets was produced by the Republic of China’s Ministry of Information’s United Kingdom Office. Together they offer an interesting perspective on the Chinese Nationalist (Guomindang) government’s information campaign outside of China during the 1940s.

The pamphlets cover a wide range of topics on China and are intended for different audiences. The first, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth works in the collection discuss history, classics, art, education and philosophy and were designed for the general public. The second pamphlet, produced for British military and diplomatic personnel during World War II, gave them a general overview of the geography of China.

Remaining pamphlets introduce readers to the situation of China immediately following World War II. The third pamphlet, on the Guomindang, gives a general discussion of the history of China’s governing party at the time. It describes the party’s ideology, political agendas and brought readers up to date on the Guomindang’s conflicts with the Chinese Communist Party, which had led to civil war during the 1940s. Pamphlet four, discussing agriculture in China, assesses the reason behind the country’s poverty. It argues that China’s rural masses can only be uplifted from poverty through gradual measures such as tax reform, improved agricultural methods and industrialization. The sixth pamphlet gives an overview of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives, a program that encouraged and provided assistance to small scale rural industrial enterprises in the country. Started by a group of Chinese and foreign benefactors in World War II, the program was supported by the Guomindang and was seen as a way to both economically sustain the country during wartime and offer employment for idle rural inhabitants and refugees.

The pamphlets in general were created for an educated audience, with good knowledge of western high culture, geography and economic issues. Due to this they were written with remarkable sophistication. The works were authored by a variety of experts on China, both within and outside of the country, including Neville Whymant, a well-known British oriental scholar at the time, Lu Guangmian (卢广绵), a founder of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives and Wu Yuanli (吴元黎), a respected Chinese economist. Works on Chinese history and philosophy, though brief, attempt to stimulate intellectual curiosity towards China. They introduce readers to sources on classical China and draw their conclusions on Chinese civilization from a variety of scholarly resources. Such works also contain useful guides for understanding China, such as charts on Chinese dynasties, reign dates of Chinese emperors since 1368 and diagrams of Buddhist and Daoist symbols (See photos). Pamphlets also compare important events in Chinese history with developments in the West and differences and similarities between classical Chinese and Greek philosophy.

Pamphlets on contemporary China were produced with propaganda purposes in mind. They promoted the Guomindang’s view that China’s problems must be resolved by gradual reforms as opposed to the Communist agenda of radically changing the country through class revolution and redistribution of property and encouraged foreign assistance with Guomindang programs. However, to appeal to their specific audience the pamphlets took an approach of explaining issues through selected facts rather than slogans and moral exhortation. They discuss matters such as poverty and industrial development in China to great length, often citing statistics and other information from independent studies.

Information campaigns between the Guomindang and Chinese Communists towards foreigners during the 1940s are an important part of the history Sino-western relations. To some degree the Chinese Communists successfully swayed foreign opinion to their side in 1949, and their seizure of the country that year led to many discussions among foreigners on whether they were deceived or “lost” China due to their poor knowledge of the situation of the country. Pamphlets in the collection are a small piece of the Guomindang’s foreign outreach, and they offer insights on the party’s approach towards foreigners during the period.


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

Recent Acquisition: Icon of Dutch Design – SHV Think Book

by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian

Paul van Vlissingen, owner of the Dutch company SHV (Steenkolen Handels Vereeniging), commissioned the noted book maker Irma Boom to create a volume to commemorate the anniversary of his family’s firm. Boom had full access to the archives of the company and the family to aid her in conceiving what became a 2,136 page tome.

Given full artistic control and no budget, she spent five years fashioning the volume. It is a most unusual creation, incorporating a wide range of surprising and innovative design elements. As an example, the edge of the text block displays a field of tulips when its pages are flipped from left to right, but flipping them the opposite way reveals a poem.

The book’s contents are arranged in reverse chronological order, and are unnumbered to encourage accidental discovery. Pages are perforated and use different inks and typefaces. Irma Boom has received many awards, including a Gutenberg Prize, for her book designs. The SHV Think Book is her most celebrated work, and was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art as an international icon of Dutch design.

Irma Boom. SHV Think Book (1996-1896). Utrecht: SHV Holdings, 1996.


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

Life in Camp: Drawings from British prisoners interned at Ruhleben Camp during the First World War

by Sara Quashnie, M.L.I.S. Candidate, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

At the outbreak of the First World War, there were approximately 10,000 British nationals within the borders of the German Reich. Some were on holiday while others had resided in the country their entire lives or were passing through as sailors aboard merchant vessels. Regardless of background, their British citizenship marked them for suspicion in the eyes of the German government as well as retaliation for the plight of German nationals in Great Britain. Therefore, it was determined that male British nationals of military age were to be arrested and interned for the duration of the war (though with the possibility for freedom through prisoner exchanges). While various camps were hastily constructed to house these detainees, Ruhleben was the only camp that was entirely populated by civilian prisoners.

Constructed on the grounds of a horse racing track on the outskirts of Berlin, Ruhleben would house over 4,000 prisoners at its height. Inmates were barracked in repurposed stables in extremely poor condition due to the inadequate facilities. Over time and with the intervention of the American ambassador, Ruhleben would grow to include not only upgraded barracks and latrines, but also a library, school, stores, and post office. Lack of privacy was a perpetual concern for the men while at the same time they were virtually cut off from the rest of civilization apart from Red Cross parcels and short letters from home. As a result the camp formed its own community complete with newspaper, theater productions, sports teams, and various clubs to keep boredom at bay.

Printed version above (MSE/MD 3829-3B) and scrapbook version below (MSE/MD 3829-1B) of a dual advertisement.

One such endeavor was In Ruhleben Camp and its successor The Ruhleben Camp Magazine. Special Collections recently acquired a full set of these issues in two bound volumes accompanied by a bound, two-volume scrapbook containing original drawings from the magazine. Published fortnightly, the magazine included stories and cartoons parodying camp life as well as reports of camp activities such as reviews of musicals, sports recaps, and advertisements for lectures. A marked tone of humor is prevalent throughout, in keeping with the unofficial camp slogan “Are we downhearted? No!” An in-depth chronicle of camp life, the magazine represents some of the best documentation of the Ruhleben experience.


The highlight of this collection is the two-volume scrapbook. Bound in pasteboard and measuring 16.5″ x 12.75,” the scrapbook contains 53 original drawings in pen-and-ink, watercolor, and graphite. Although the purpose of the scrapbook is not certain, material on the front cover indicates that the scrapbook was a mock-up for a London publisher, George Newnes Ltd., to use for the publication of a book to be called, “The Lighter Side of Lager Life.” Who compiled the scrapbook is also unknown, but it may have been one of the magazine’s editors, Louis Egerton Filmore or C. G. Pemberton.

The scrapbook volumes include original illustration, many of which did not appear in the printed magazines. The drawings depict camp life in a vivid display of the camp’s signature humor. Original artwork is paired with clippings that parody classic British texts such as “Alice Through the Lager Glass” and Shakespeare rewritings. These parodies were some of the most popular types of entries in the printed magazine. Other literary pieces included poetry known as “Ruhlimericks” which poked fun at camp conditions and life or humorous advertisements for various services.


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

Upcoming Events: August and early September

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

Thursday, August 31 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Talking Heads: Relics, Rituals, and Diplomacy in Renaissance Rome” by Margaret Meserve (Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame. (This event was originally scheduled for August 24.)

Tuesday, September 5 at 4:00pm | Opening reception for the fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture. This exhibit is curated by Tracy Bergstrom (Curator, Italian Imprints and Dante Collection) and opens on August 21. (This event was originally scheduled for August 31.)

The spring/summer exhibit “Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic will remain on display through August 4.

The monthly spotlight exhibit, War as Child’s Play: German Children’s Literature from the World Wars, continues through August. The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America, continues to be on display through September and features seven volumes from Special Collections’ manuscripts of North America holdings.

Please note that Special Collections will be closed to the public the week of August 7-11 due to facilities maintenance.

Through the Students’ Eyes – Working in Special Collections

by Shannon Gaylord, RBSC Student Employee

When people enter the Hesburgh Library, they may walk right by the Rare Books and Special Collections department without glancing inside. They may have never heard of this department or do not know what is inside. This department is what I tell people is the “hidden gem” of the library. The people who do walk through the large doors enter what I think is one of the most beautiful rooms on campus. They stand in a room of large wooden shelves and glass cases that are full of histories and stories. The weathered books along the wall invite visitors to think about time. People who find their way to Rare Books will be amazed at the extensive collections as well as the knowledge and dedication of the excellent staff. There are several students who work in this department during the summer as well as the school year. They have unique backgrounds, jobs, and perspectives about this lovely department.

My name is Shannon Gaylord and I have been working at Rare Books and Special Collections for the last four years. I just recently graduated from Notre Dame where I majored in Psychology and minored in Education, Schooling, and Society. I am a student worker in the department, but I like to call myself the “Executive Book Manager” because it is a fun title and I primarily work directly with the books in the various collections. I have done a large variety of tasks during my time here such as assisting with stacks management which includes reshelving books, pulling materials, and shifting collections. I enjoy getting the chance to come in contact with so many ancient texts in all of the work that I do. I have worked with many of the department’s materials such as the American Colonial Currency collection and the Lohmann collection. I have assisted with the preparations for many of the classes and lectures that occur in the department. I also work at the department’s front desk where I assist patrons with materials and book scans as well as monitor those who are using the reading room.

While the collections at Rare Books are wonderful, my favorite part about working here is the group of people that make up this department. These people work together to create an incredibly welcoming environment that promotes curiosity and learning. They have so much knowledge that they willingly share with patrons and students. I am very thankful to have had a chance to work alongside and learn from each of these staff members over the last couple of years. I find it hard to believe that I had never heard about Rare Books until I walked into the department for a job interview during my freshmen year. Now when I walk into the department, I feel at home because of the people here who welcomed me into the Rare Books family. I am so happy that I could continue working at Rare Books this summer and look forward to using the skills and knowledge from this job in the future. This fall, I will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for my Masters in Social Work.

This summer, I’ve also had the pleasure to work with RBSC’s crew of summer student employees. Most of them are either undergraduate or graduate students at Notre Dame, but there are a few visitors. I’ve talked to them about what the work they are doing in RBSC. Here’s a look at all the things happening this summer.

Laura Weis is a PhD Candidate in History and Peace Studies at Notre Dame. Laura says that “working in Special Collections has provided a unique opportunity to sharpen my skill set as an aspiring historian, as well as a chance to explore topics and time periods outside of my usual area of research.” Laura has been working on several collections this summer, including the Bellamy-Smart family papers and the Price family papers. She says that the Bellamy-Smart family papers offer a glimpse into early 19th century courtship rituals and plantation life and the Price family papers “opened my eyes to the northern anti-abolitionist and ‘Copperhead’ political sentiments that threatened, for a time, to derail the Union war effort, in general, and emancipation, in particular.” Laura is currently working on the Mary Taussig Hall papers/Taussig family papers which are a large collection of personal and professional correspondence among the Taussig family members. She says that “the collection includes exchanges with Jane Addams, as well as additional materials concerning 20th century peace and justice advocacy.” Laura says, “Going forward, I know I will point to my experience working in Special Collections this summer as one that has been both personally and professionally fulfilling.”

Hannah Benchik is a rising sophomore at Saint Mary’s College where she is studying Business with a minor in German. This summer, Hannah has been working at the front desk of the department. She explains that her job is much more complex than merely sitting at the front desk. Hannah says, “While the specific work that I do daily depends on the department’s specific needs for that day, my tasks can range from stamping books, answering phone calls, and assisting patrons in the reading room. I also monitor the reading room to make sure that the rare materials are handled correctly, shift books in the basement, and scan documents for ILL requests or for specific patrons.” Hannah enjoys the organizational aspect of this job, which is crucial for her work. Her favorite part of the job has been having the opportunities to examine priceless and rare books such as Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Bible and Hartmann Schedel’s Nuremburg Chronicle. Hannah says that “it has been so amazing to see important and famous works of literature that most students my age have not been exposed to before.”

Samantha Awad is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she graduated in English with Distinction. During her time there, she worked at the Rare Book and Manuscripts Library. This fall, she will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she will study Library Science and Public Administration. This summer, she is responsible for photographing rare books and manuscripts as well as digitizing her work. Amanda says that she has “worked with German children’s literature from the world wars that is being exhibited at the library, books in the Petrarch collection, and a medieval manuscript that contained sheet music for a class this fall.”

Augusto Rocha Ramirez is a PhD candidate in History. He is currently working at Rare Books under the supervision of Erika Hosselkus, Curator of Latin American collections. He is arranging materials into series and ensuring that they are filed properly for future retrieval. These materials include Uruguayan political ephemera from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Liam Maher is working with Aedín Clements, the Irish Studies Librarian. He has assisted with archiving several special collections within the Irish Studies Collection. The first was a small collection of papers, letters, and books on peacemaking & reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland between the Presbyterian and Catholic Churches. The materials date from the mid 1970s through the early 2000s. The majority of his work, however, has been focused on another collection. Arlen House, an historic feminist publishing house in Ireland, recently sent their documents to Hesburgh Library. He has been leafing through boxes of their papers and sorting them into archival categories: manuscripts, proofs, correspondence, brochures, photographs, business documents, etc. In Liam’s own words, “It is fun to piece together the story of Arlen House as I work through all of their materials!”

Sara Quashnie graduated from Notre Dame in 2015 with a BA in History. She is back this summer completing a practicum for her Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Though she is not officially on RBSC’s payroll, she is doing some work in the department. She co-curated a spotlight exhibit, “War as Child’s Play: German Children’s Literature from the World Wars,” is describing a collection of original drawings tipped into an album created by British civilians held prisoner in a German internment camp during the First World War and creating a finding aid for it, and will be authoring a blog post about that collection.

Sae Rome Choi, a junior Chemical Engineering major, has worked for the department for three years. She assists one of our rare book catalogers, Bo Karol, processing rare and medium rare books. Sae Rome adds copy specific notes to the bibliographic records and also prints the flags for the books so that they can be shelved in their proper locations.

Thank you for taking a look at the Rare Books and Special Collections department through the eyes of its student workers. If you have not visited this department yet, we encourage you to stop by! This “hidden gem” is waiting just behind the doors.

July-August Spotlight Exhibit and a Color Our Collection page

War as Child’s Play: German Children’s
Literature from the World Wars

Patriotism and militaristic pride abound in colorful picture books from the World Wars. Good German boys aid troops and boy-soldiers defeat the enemy in the name of their Fatherland.

The spotlight exhibit for July and August features Hurra! Ein Kriegs-Bilderbuch by Herbert Rikli and Manövertag: Ein Soldatenbilderbuch by Erich Rohden and illustrated by Fritz Koch-Gotha.

This exhibit is co-curated by Sara Quashnie, a MLIS Candidate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Julie Tanaka, Curator of Rare Books.

Today’s coloring sheet comes from the materials featured in the spotlight exhibit.

Recent Acquisition: American Foreign Aid during the Great Famine in Ireland

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

… on Sunday, the 29th March, at 8½ A.M., we cast off from the Yard, with a fine breeze at the N. W., and clear cold weather, the steam Tug, “R. B. Forbes,” in company, with some of the members of the Committee, on board. In about one hour we parted from them, with hearty cheers, and made sail on our course.

A remarkable voyage to bring relief to the Irish in the Great Famine is the subject of Captain R. B. Forbes’ report, The Voyage of the Jamestown on Her Errand of Mercy, published in Boston in 1847. His report for the “Committee of Distribution” combines his account with a substantial appendix of correspondence and other documentation.

A lithograph by Massachusetts artist Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865) depicting the USS Jamestown leaving Boston Harbor. The lithograph is listed in the catalog of Lane’s works.

After the Irish potato crop failed due to blight in 1845 and again in 1846, knowing that the potato provided most of the subsistence for a large part of the Irish population, concern for this famine grew throughout the world, but especially in places such as Boston where there was a considerable population of Irish birth or descent. Those who provided assistance in early 1847 expected that the harvest later that year would bring an end to famine, but in fact the blight persisted and the Great Irish Famine lasted until 1852. [i]

Continue reading Recent Acquisition: American Foreign Aid during the Great Famine in Ireland