“Words on Play: Baseball Literature before 1900” digital exhibit

Among the harbingers of spring here in RBSC is the introduction of a newly completed digital exhibit of early baseball publications and manuscripts drawn from the holdings of the Joyce Sports Collection. “Words on Play: Baseball Literature before 1900” brings together recreational manuals, guidebooks, histories, biographies, fiction and other forms, including many of the subject area’s great rarities. The exhibit was created by RBSC’s Americana curator, George Rugg.

Over the course of the nineteenth century, American baseball evolved from a localized folk game of English origin to a codified sport of broad popular appeal, commonly cited as the “National Pastime.” Clubs of young men dedicated to playing the game began to appear in earnest in the New York City area in the second quarter of the century; the rules they established became the basis for the sport as we know it today. In the post-Civil War years baseball became thoroughly commodified: crowds of paying spectators gathered in enclosed “parks” to watch celebrated professionals compete at an elite level. By 1900 baseball had entered the mainstream of American popular culture, and had been imbued with many of the mythologies that would persist in the minds of its celebrants well into the twentieth century: baseball as pastoral ideal, baseball as an exercise in democracy, baseball as secular religion. As a recreational form, then, baseball originated in England, but as a form of sport it is American, for it was in America that the game became standardized, organized and popular—and, one might add, the subject of a literature.

The printed word both recorded baseball’s growth and stimulated it. In the first few decades of the nineteenth century the game is mentioned mainly in children’s recreational manuals. Baseball’s rapid rise after mid-century was accompanied by a growing commentary, mainly in sporting newspapers and paper-bound annual guides, describing, discussing, and otherwise publicizing the game. By the 1880s and 90s coverage of professional baseball in urban daily newspapers had became routine, and many of the familiar genres of baseball book had made their appearance. Baseball journalists—who authored many of the books in this exhibit—never tired of emphasizing their contribution to the game’s success, and that contribution was no doubt great. Still, the number of baseball monographs published in the nineteenth century was not large; “Words on Play” brings together copies of most of the key publications of baseball’s early history.

Questions and comments may be directed to George Rugg, Americana curator.

 


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African American History Month

“Paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society” – We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Museum to observe African American History Month.

 

African Americans and Populism
by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian

In this 1894 poster, the Democratic Party of Georgia felt the warm breath of third party competition on the back of its neck. The unnamed “Third Party” was the People’s Party of the United States, also known as the Populists.

The Populists were established in 1892 by a coalition of famers in the South and Midwestern plains states who believed that eastern banks and railroads, supported by government policies, exploited them with expensive credit and transportation. They were joined by industrial workers who criticized the major parties for being controlled by corporate and financial elites. In the 1892 election Populists won three governorships and 15 Congressional seats. It was the period’s most significant political insurgency.

In Georgia, the Populist wave had captured the allegiance of so many white Democrats by 1894 that the balance of political power had shifted to African Americans. If they swung their support from the minority Republican Party to the People’s Party, Democrats would lose control.

Panicked Democrats cravenly released broadsides like this one, which attempted to browbeat African American voters away from the People’s Party by threatening less public support for their children’s education. Despite such heavy-handed tactics, many African American farmers in Georgia supported Populism, as black farmers did across the South.

Georgia Democrats grimly hung onto power by mobilizing white voters against “Negro supremacy,” intimidating black voters, and outright vote fraud. Although Populism’s appeal had increased in rural states like Georgia in 1894, nationally the party lost ground. By the 1896 presidential election, the Democratic Party shrewdly absorbed part of the Populist’s platform and the agrarian revolt was checked.

Special Collections invites everyone to visit during African American History month to view or conduct research on materials such as the 1894 poster featured above. For more information, please contact us.


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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.

Recent Acquisition: Pre-Reformation pamphlet attacking concubinage

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

boo_004465051-01rHesburgh Libraries has just purchased a rare pre-Reformation pamphlet, Avisamentum de concubinariis non absolvendis (Strasbourg, 1507), that features a scathing attack on the practice of concubinage (consorting with prostitutes) among the clergy. Usually attributed to Jakob Wimpfeling, a humanist in the circle of Erasmus, this is an interesting example of the role print played in the disseminating works that detailed clerical abuses in the years leading up to the Reformation.

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Hesburgh’s copy is rubricated throughout and contains marginal annotations in two different contemporary hands. There are only four other known North American holdings of this edition.

 


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Reproducing Independence Day

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian

Vicksburg, Mississippi’s most famous Independence Day, July 4, 1863, marked the surrender of its Confederate forces to Union Major General U. S. Grant during the American Civil War. After a 47-day siege of the city, which sat atop a high bluff on the Mississippi River, Grant accepted a negotiated truce from Vicksburg’s Confederate Lt. General John C. Pemberton on July 3. He surrendered the next day. This victory marked a turning point in the war. The Confederacy lost control of the Mississippi River as well as access between the eastern Confederacy and the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy of Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana. At nearly the same moment, Union forces defeated Confederates at Gettysburg, a loss for Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia that decisively checked Confederate encroachment northward.

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1863-07-02-VicksburgMS_Daily Citizen_bJ.M. Swords, publisher of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen, fled the city but left the July 2, 1863 edition partially finished on his press. Occupying Union soldiers completed it with an addendum dated July 4. Paper supplies in the besieged city, however, were long depleted so they printed the newspaper on what they had—wallpaper. Swords had earlier resorted to the same measure, creating so-called “wall-paper editions” on June 16, 18, 20, 27, 30, and July 2.

The last line of the July 4 note proved correct: the paper became a valuable curiosity. More than 30 reproductions have been identified, including this one. The Library of Congress holds two originals and two reproductions and offers guidance on identifying copies. Although of little monetary value, reproductions nevertheless are significant historical documents. They surfaced very soon after the war, probably as souvenirs at soldiers’ reunions.

Although many copies of its famous Fourth of July newspaper exist, after its defeat and surrender the city of Vicksburg did not officially celebrate Independence Day until 1945.

 


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Spotlight Exhibit: The Catholic Pamphlet Collection

June 2016

SM-rbsc-june-spotlight-2016The Catholic Pamphlets Collection in RBSC includes more than 5000 pamphlets, published from the 1840s to the present. This extensive collection includes pamphlets on saints and sacraments, daily Catholic life, moral issues, and Catholic social thought and action—as highlighted by the thirteen pamphlets featured in this exhibit.

On display for just one more week (through June 24), this month’s spotlight exhibit is curated by Jean McManus, Catholic Studies Librarian, and is open to the public 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday.

“Vestigia Vaticana” Exhibit Opens

Frag_I_39-1r-cropped-v2Manuscripts, incunabula, seals, maps, engravings, and printed books from the thirteenth century to the present highlight how the Holy Father has left his mark on society. These materials from RBSC, together with a great bull on loan from Saint Mary’s College, are featured in the new exhibit “Vestigia Vaticana.” The exhibit’s opening coincides with the conference The Promise of the Vatican Library, being held May 8–10, 2016, at the University of Notre Dame.

These materials are like the Vatican’s footprints. They provide a trail for us to follow to get a glimpse of the official acts of the Holy Father, of books that belonged to popes, of events the general public wasn’t privy to. Take a stroll through the exhibit to see these papal bulls, apostolic briefs, a papal conclave print, a ground plan of Rome, and various other pieces.

“Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion” Exhibit Opens

This year marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, the rebellion that led to the eventual establishment of an Irish Free State. The University of Notre Dame’s Keough-Naughton Institute is at the forefront of the impetus to re-examine the events of 1916, with Professor Bríona Nic Dhiarmada’s three-part documentary, 1916 The Irish Rebellion which will be shown on public television in Ireland, the U.S. and at screenings throughout the world.

Notre Dame will also be the center of Irish studies for five days this spring as host to ACIS (the American Conference for Irish Studies). Over a thousand visitors are expected at this conference.

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In Hesburgh Libraries Rare Books and Special Collections, a special exhibit to mark this centenary is on display from February 12th until April 28th.

The exhibit draws from the Hesburgh Special Collections and includes books written by people involved in the events as well as contemporary accounts of the rebellion. Letters on display include one from Roger Casement. An extremely rare first edition of W. B. Yeats’s poem Easter, 1916 is part of the exhibit.

From the University Archives, a book recording the subscriptions of South Bend residents to an Irish government bond will be on display.

The exhibit is open to the public from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.

Leap Day

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII reformed the Julian calendar in order to bring the date for celebrating Easter closer in line with the date the early Church had celebrated it. He removed 10 days, skipping from October 4 to October 15, 1582, established February 29 as the official day to be added during a leap year, revised how leap years were determined, and also set January 1 as the first day of the year.

Although most Catholic countries adopted these reforms after they were enacted in 1582 by the papal bull Inter gravissimas, Protestant and Orthodox countries resisted. England and her colonies did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until almost two centuries later as this excerpt from the 1752 edition of Poor Richard Improved, an almanac published by Benjamin Franklin, explains.

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Thanksgiving and football

by George Rugg, Curator, Americana

Thanksgiving Day was instrumental to the growth of American football. A season-ending game between the previous year’s top two college teams was first scheduled for Thanksgiving in 1876. In 1880 the contest was moved to New York, where it evolved from game to social event, inaugurating the city’s winter season.

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By the time the 124-page “memento program” shown here was published, in 1893, the Thanksgiving game was attracting 40,000 people and earning the participating schools (in this case, Yale and Princeton) upwards of $10,000. It was also providing ample fodder for the dozens of New York dailies, whose exhaustive coverage brought college football to broad new constituencies. Many faculty and trustees had misgivings about all this attention, about the loss of old Thanksgiving traditions, and about students’ postgame celebrations in the city; these factors and others led to the abandonment of New York after 1897.

Football-shaped programs were published with some frequency in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the case of this 1893 Yale-Princeton Thanksgiving program, the rectos of each leaf contain athletic and school information of various kinds, while the versos contain decidedly upscale advertisements.

 


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