Exhibit Opens – “Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic

“Under these distressful feelings, one consideration alone relieved me . . . and that was, the hope of vindicating your religion to your own selves at least, and preserving the steadfastness of your faith.” — John Carroll, An Address to the Roman Catholics of the United States of America

With these words, John Carroll, head of the fledgling Catholic Church in the United States and future bishop, encouraged his fellow Catholics in 1784. Catholics held a precarious position in the Early Republic despite having gained more freedom to practice their religion after the Revolution. By the 1840s, in the face of increasing sectarian-driven violence, Catholicism had taken firm institutional root.

This exhibition displays examples of American Catholicism expressed through (mostly) printed texts from 1783 through the early 1840s. They include the earliest Catholic bibles published by Mathew Carey, and editions of Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ used and produced in the United States; polemical pamphlets with sexual and political subtexts that flew back and forth across the Atlantic; no-holds-barred dueling sectarian newspapers; books and pamphlets created in reaction to mob violence against the Ursuline convent school near Boston; and official reports that mapped the Church’s growth and growing pains.

This exhibition is curated by Rachel Bohlmann and Jean McManus and is open to the public through August 11, 2017.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

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

Thursday, Jan. 26 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “John Paul II’s canonization policy: the Italian case” — Valentina Ciciliot (Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

A new exhibit opens January 16: “Preserving the Steadfastness of your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic. This exhibition displays examples of American Catholicism expressed through (mostly) printed texts from 1783 through the early 1840s. They include the earliest Catholic bibles published by Mathew Carey, and editions of Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ used and produced in the United States; polemical pamphlets with sexual and political subtexts that flew back and forth across the Atlantic; no-holds-barred dueling sectarian newspapers; books and pamphlets created in reaction to mob violence against the Ursuline convent school near Boston; and official reports that mapped the Church’s growth and growing pains. The exhibition is curated by Rachel Bohlmann and Jean McManus.

Continuing on display during the month are the two spotlight exhibits: Birds! Winged Wonders in Naturalists’ Eyes and The Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Notebook, ca. 1634-1645

Upcoming Events: December and early January

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed for Christmas and New Year’s Break (December 23, 2016, through January 2, 2017). In addition, RBSC will be closed December 6, 11:00am to 2:00pm, and December 12, 2:30-5:00pm, due to Christmas celebrations.

We otherwise remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams, and welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.

The exhibits during December are:

Ingenious Exercises: Sports and the Printed Book in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 | What was the nature of sports in the early modern era, before the widespread preoccupation with rules, records, and Reeboks? And what kinds of books did people write about them? “Ingenious Exercises: Sports and the Printed Book in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800,” addresses precisely these questions. This exhibit of volumes from the Joyce Sports Collection is open to visitors 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday.

Spotlight Exhibits: Birds! Winged Wonders in Naturalists’ Eyes and The Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Notebook, ca. 1634-1645

Upcoming Events: October and early November

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

Thursday, Oct. 6 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Where Do Ideas Come From? Of Critical Method and/or Historical Materialism” — Joseph Francese (Michigan State). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Monday, Oct. 10 at 4:00pm | Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness special event: “Shaping or Shaped by the Land: Native American Ecology” — Dr. Gary Belovsky (Department of Biological Sciences and Gillen Director of the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center).

Thursday, Nov. 10 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “The Dynamic Psyche: Italian Pragmatism and Fascism” — Francesca Bordogna (Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

The current exhibits during October are:

Ingenious Exercises: Sports and the Printed Book in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 | What was the nature of sports in the early modern era, before the widespread preoccupation with rules, records, and Reeboks? And what kinds of books did people write about them? “Ingenious Exercises: Sports and the Printed Book in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800,” addresses precisely these questions. This exhibit of volumes from the Joyce Sports Collection is open to visitors 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday.

Spotlight Exhibits: Plumb Crazy: Dante and Music and The Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Notebook, ca. 1634-1645

Special Collections will be open regular hours during the Notre Dame fall break.

Summer Adventure: A Curator Attends the Western Archives Institute

WAI2016_GroupPhotoIn July, with support from Hesburgh Libraries, one of our curators attended the 30th annual Western Archives Institute (WAI) held at Santa Clara University (SCU) in Santa Clara, CA. Julie Tanaka was one of 26 participants who came from locations across the United States. Though many were from California, others flew in from Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, and Maine. The group spent over 80 hours in the classroom during the two-week institute learning the fundamentals of archives from Tom Wilsted, former Director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut and principal faculty member for the 2016 WAI, and 10 other professional archivists from corporations, public libraries, universities, and government agencies.

Background

WAI is an intensive, two-week, residential institute co-sponsored by the California State Archives and the Society of California Archivists. The institute was founded in 1986 to fill an existing gap in archival training on the West Coast. Modeled on the National Archives and Records Administration’s Modern Archives Institute founded in 1945 and the Georgia Archives Institute founded in 1967, WAI distinguished itself by becoming the only program that trains both people who already have appointments as archivists and those who do not consider themselves to be archivists but who manage archival materials as part of their job.

Scope

The institute provides participants with intensive instruction in archival theory and practices. Sessions cover more than thirteen major topics including an introduction to the archival profession, managing an archives program, grant funding, and professional ethics. Some of the topics related to practice include records management, arrangement and description, preservation, photographs, and electronic records.

WAI gives participants the opportunity to observe a variety of archives in operation and to gain different perspectives from practicing archivists.

Site tours included the Computer History Museum Archives in Fremont, the Society of California Pioneers at the Presidio, and the Santa Clara University Archives.

ComputerHistoryMusuem
Computer History Museum Archives, Fremont, CA
Image of archives
Society of California Pioneers, San Francisco, CA
A Typical Day

Each day began at 8:15 in the morning and ran to around 5:00 in the afternoon and was divided into two sessions. Because of the nature of the institute, many sessions devoted a significant portion to lectures in order to cover the required content. There were ample opportunities, however, to discuss particular questions people had, to seek advice from one another, and to share practices and ideas already in place at participants’ home institutions.

Some of the most memorable parts of the institute were sessions which featured a practicum. One practicum was devoted to arranging and describing a collection that contained correspondence, financial records, disciplinary records of a ship’s crew, and documents about individual crew members. Groups of five surveyed the collection and made decisions about how to arrange the collection before writing a preliminary description of its scope and contents.

Image of Treatment exampleAnother practicum was devoted to conservation. Participants had the opportunity to get hands-on experience doing some minor treatments such as flattening a crumpled document with a mist sprayer. Their finished treatments were then housed in polyester L-sleeves for storage.

After the second session concluded, the majority of participants who were staying on campus for the duration of the WAI had dinner together in the SCU’s dining commons. Conversations about the day’s sessions continued but often steered toward lighter topics and gave everyone the opportunity to decompress before heading back to the dorm to spend another 2-3 hours reading in preparation for the next day.

Take Aways

Two weeks of intensive archival training will not turn a newcomer into an archivist overnight, but this institute provides a solid foundation and the basic skills someone needs to work in and with archives. WAI provides participants first and foremost with an understanding of the profession, from the development of modern archives in France as a by-product of the French Revolution to the code of ethics that governs the profession.

WAI is an invaluable experience. The intensive, residential format encourages attendees to focus their attention on all things archival and to draw connections between policies, procedures, and practices. Participants all agreed that well-defined policies and procedures about the archives’ mission, collecting, access, use of materials, and preservation as well as for processing collections in a timely manner are critical to the professional integrity of an archives and help ensure equitable, high-quality, consistent services.

In addition to gaining knowledge of archival theory and practices, participants at WAI develop new friendships within the community of archivists. These connections form the beginning of a support network that will continue to grow and also serves as points of first contact to which the 2016 WAI participants may turn when questions arise and they need advice.

Upcoming Events: August and early September

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

Thursday, August 25 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Sandro Botticelli on Facing in Dante’s Paradiso” – Heather Webb (Cambridge). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

In other news, the July spotlight exhibit featuring a recently acquired Piranesi volume will soon be changed out for the August spotlight exhibit highlighting the Elisabeth Markstein Archive.

The spring and summer exhibit Vestigia Vaticana will remain on display through August 15. After that, the fall exhibit will be installed: Ingenious Exercises: Print and Physical Culture in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800.

Watch for news about a new Fall semester spotlight exhibit soon!

Summer Archives Workshop in RBSC

RBSC_NB_Flyer_ArchivesWorkshop-Sum16
Click for PDF.

This intensive workshop targets graduate students interested in conducting archival research. Participants will acquire a solid foundation in archival terminology, how to identify and use archives, and other fundamental skills.

The workshop will introduce best practices and some of the crucial cultural and practical differences between libraries and archives. It will also give attendees hands-on practice reading and transcribing different handwritings from various time periods, identifying important parts of manuscripts, and reading historical maps. We will also cover select participant-requested topics.

Monday-Friday, August 1-5, 2016
9 am-noon
Special Collections Seminar Room
(Hesburgh Library 103)

Register Online

Led by:
Rachel Bohlmann, Ph.D.
U.S. History and American Studies Librarian

Julie Tanaka, Ph.D.
Curator, Special Collections and Western European History Librarian

Questions or requests? Please email either Rachel or Julie.

ND’s Conservation Lab Looks at our Pico: Is it human?

by Sue Donovan, Rare Books Conservator

The conservation lab, a unit within Hesburgh Libraries Preservation, has been part of a collaborative effort to determine if a book owned by the University since 1916 was bound in human skin. The book, a volume of the works of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, a 15th-century humanist writer, contains newspaper clippings and handwritten affidavits attesting to the book’s past. These documents purport that the book was owned by Christopher Columbus and was bound in the skin of a Moorish chieftain, which had been obtained after the conversion of the Muslim population of Granada to Catholicism by the zealous Cardinal Cisneros in 1500. After contradictions were found in the provenance records, the conservation lab engaged in identifying the nature of the skin used for the binding.

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Opera Joannis Pici Mirandule Comitis Concordie, by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Argentinus: diligenter impressit industrius Ioannes Prüs Ciuis Argentinus Anno salutis 1503 Die vero XV Marcij i.e., 15 March 1504).

In January of 2015 two samples were taken—one from the purported human skin binding and one as a control from a book with a similar binding and of the same time period and country of production as the Pico volume. Finding an area that was relatively untouched was important so that there would be no contamination from proteins and grime from centuries of handling and consultation. Accordingly, small samples were taken from underneath the paper pastedowns of each book, and they were sent to the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), where they were analyzed through protein mass spectrometry. Proteins are more stable than DNA, and because of the unique patterns and mutations that exist across species, they can be used to determine whether a binding has been made with pig, sheep, calfskin, or human skin.

In the meantime, Conservator Liz Dube and I took the volume to the photo macroscopy lab on campus to see if we could determine any information about the origin of the skin through the pore and follicle patterns, but we left just as perplexed—perhaps even more so!—than when we arrived.

Based upon in-house tests, it was uncertain whether the Pico book was bound in human skin. We turned next to our outside collaborators for their expertise. To find out what they uncovered, read John Nagy’s article, “The Truth Uncovered,” in the Spring 2016 issue of Notre Dame Magazine.

Thanks to George Rugg for his research on the provenance of the Pico volume, Donald Siegle of the NYC OCME for his correspondence regarding protein mass spectrometry, and John Nagy for his research into the personalities behind this book’s ownership and for bringing the information together in his article.

 


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

Fighting Words digital exhibit

Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections is home to perhaps the strongest institutional collection of boxing-related books and periodicals in the United States. A selection of these wonderful materials may now be experienced virtually, via the digital exhibit Fighting Words: English and American Boxing Literature from the Joyce Sports Collection.

Modern prizefighting is of English origin, and had developed a distinctive culture with a rich and abundant literature by the turn of the nineteenth century. Fighting Words includes many scarce items from this so-called golden age of English pugilism (ca. 1790-1830). It then carries the story forward to the United States, which by the second half of the 19th century had become the fight game’s new center of gravity. Publishers like Richard Kyle Fox (The National Police Gazette) and Nathaniel “Nat” Fleischer (The Ring) were central to prizefighting’s emergence from illegality into the American sporting mainstream. The exhibit concludes with materials from the 1950s, hearkening the erosion of U.S. boxing culture in the second half of the 20th century.

Questions and comments should be directed to George Rugg, the Joyce Collection’s curator.