Recent Acquisition: Defending Tycho Brahe’s cosmology

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries have just acquired the first edition of an important work on astronomy by the early modern Jesuit polymath, Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680), entitled Itinerarium exstaticum quo mundi opificium (Rome, 1656). The work generally defends the theories of Tycho Brahe, who combined elements of both the Ptolemaic and Copernican views of our solar system. Although the Jesuits had officially adopted Brahe’s cosmology by this time, the work apparently ran afoul of sixty-five theses listed in their own Ordinatio pro studiis superioribus, issued in 1651.

These difficulties led to a second edition being published in 1660 (Iter extaticum coeleste). This revision accomplished by Kircher’s friend, Gaspar Schott, contained twenty-seven pages of apologetics. Our Medieval Institute Library holds a 2004 facsimile of the Iter, so that now—with both editions available here at Notre Dame—scholarly comparisons of both works are possible.


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

Recent Acquisition: Letter Collection from the Italian Renaissance

by Julie Tanaka, Curator of Rare Books

Bound in modern calf decorated with blind stamped ornaments is a collection of letters written by the sixteenth-century Italian writer, Paolo Giovio. Known as a historian, Giovio became one of the foremost and innovative letter writers of his time. He drew upon his historical knowledge of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to recount in vivid detail contemporary events including the sack of Rome, the election of Pope Hadrian VI, and the Marquis of Pescara’s troops plundering his native home, Como. He made his biting political commentary about these events all too clear in the letters contained in this volume. Giovio practically turned the art of letter writing into a new genre; his letters in many ways were a precursor to journalism.

Giovio, Paolo. Lettere volgari di mons. Paolo Giovio da Como, vescovo di Nocera. Raccolte per messer Lodovico Domenichi. Et nuouamente stampate con la tauola. Venice: Giovanni Battista et Melchior Sessa, 1560.


This collection of letters, titled Lettere volgari di mons, is the first edition published by Lodovico Domenichi. It bears the publisher’s dedication to Matteo Montenegro, a Genoese nobleman, dated April 1, 1560. There are annotations in two hands throughout and also a printed bookplate bearing the name of William Wickham.

Paolo Giovio (1483-1552), a native of Como, began studying Greek language and literature in Milan but moved to Pavia within a year to pursue medical science and philosophy, earning his degree from the University of Padua in 1511. Fleeing an outbreak of plague, Giovio settled in Rome around 1516, where he wrote the work for which he is best known, Historiarum sui temporis (History of His Time). Among his other notable works are De Romanis piscibvs (On Roman Fish) and Descriptio Britanniae, Scotiae, Hyberniae, et Orchadum (Description of Britain, Scotland, Ireland, and the Orkneys).

Recent Acquisition: Northern Ireland — A Collection on Peace and Reconciliation

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Ronald Wells, emeritus professor at Calvin College, Michigan, is author of a number of books and articles on peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. In the course of over two decades of research, he gathered together a collection of material on the work of groups, particularly religious groups, working towards peace and reconciliation. Many of the materials are ephemeral—newsletters and communications on the activities of those groups—and the collection is a valuable source for understanding the work of those groups, the environment in which they worked, and the obstacles they faced.

In 2017, Dr. Wells donated his research materials to the Hesburgh Libraries. The collection is arranged mainly according to organization and accompanied by Dr. Wells’ notes on each group, and it extends to five boxes of papers, mainly print ephemera, and a number of pamphlets and books.

The materials on the Clonard-Fitzroy Fellowship, one of the groups represented, provide insight into the relationship between a Catholic monastery and a Presbyterian congregation, which came about because of the friendship between the Rev. Dr. Ken Newell of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church and Fr. Gerry Reynolds of Clonard Monastery. Included are sermon texts, press releases, programs, newsletters, letters, and newspaper clippings.

Copies of four typed transcripts of sermons, displayed overlapping against a black background.

The Wells Collection includes also materials from The Gospel in Conflict Program of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, The Hard Gospel Project of the Church of Ireland, the Columbanus Community of Reconciliation, Healing Through Remembering, the Evangelical Contribution on Northern Ireland (ECONI), and The Consultative Group on the Past.

The print materials of these groups provide a documentary glimpse into their work and the issues they faced. The well-produced publications of the Healing Through Remembering project trace the ideas and work of this organization from the initial event that led to its founding, the 1999 visit to Northern Ireland of Dr. Alex Boraine, Deputy Chairman of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

Included in the collection are pamphlets and reports.  Many are on peace and reconciliation, and some are publications of a more propagandistic nature, such as Ian Paisley’s address, ‘The Ulster Problem’,  delivered at Bob Jones University in South Carolina in 1972.

Ian R. K. Paisley. The Ulster Problem. Spring 1972. A Discussion of the True Situation in Northern Ireland. Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1972. 10 p.

Books in the collection include books on Northern Ireland and also on peacebuilding in general, as in the example shown here.

Tristan Anne Borer, John Darby and Siobhán McEvoy-Levy. Peacebuilding After Peace Accords: The Challenges of Violence, Truth, and Youth.  University of Notre Dame Press, 2006. 105 p.

In this book’s preface Dr. Scott Appleby describes the project directed by John Darby, professor at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies until his death in 2012, to study peace accords and their implementation. The project mentioned in the book, the Peace Accords Matrix database, is now available online at

To learn more about the collection, please consult the online finding aid. Books and pamphlets which are cataloged separately may be identified by searching in the library catalog for ‘Ronald Wells Collection on Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland’.

Recent Acquisition: A Christian Archaeologist’s work on Medieval Mosaics in Churches of Rome

Rossi, Giovanni Battista de. Musaici cristiani e saggi dei pavimenti delle chiese di Roma anteriori al secolo XV: Tavole cromo-litografiche con cenni storici. Roma: Libreria Spithöver de Guglielmo Haass, 1899.

by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian

Giovanni Battista de Rossi (1822-1894) was a distinguished scholar of early Christian archaeology. Born in Rome, he attended the Collegio Romano and La Sapienza, earning a doctorate. After finishing his studies he was appointed scriptor at the Vatican Library, where he cataloged manuscripts. In addition to his expertise in archaeology, de Rossi was skilled in epigraphy and was an authority on the topography of ancient and medieval Rome. His studies of the apse mosaics in Roman churches continue those of the seventeenth-century scholars Jean l’Heureux and Giovanni Giustino Ciampi. He travelled widely, and was acquainted with the foremost European scholars of his day.

De Rossi was a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Antiquarian Society. A devout Catholic, he heard Mass every day. As his health failed, Leo XIII gave him use of an apartment at Castel Gandolfo, where de Rossi died in 1894.

Detail from Plate 10 showing the winged lion of St Mark.

De Rossi published a number of works in the second half of the nineteenth century, among which is this recent acquisition by the Hesburgh Libraries. The Musaici cristiani e saggi dei pavimenti delle chiese di Roma anteriori al secolo XV [“Christian Mosaics and Specimens of the Floors of the Churches of Rome Prior to the 16th Century”] originally was published in 27 fascicles between 1872 and 1896. The Libraries’ set is bound into two folio volumes, the first being the text and the second featuring 53 plates of illustrations. William Jackson of Aberdeen, Scotland was responsible for its binding. This set was presented to a monastery library by Lady Cecil Kerr (1883-1941), a Catholic author who wrote historical and devotional works.

Plate 10: Abside di Sta Pudenziana

The illustrations in the second volume are fine examples of chromolithography, which was a technique developed in the nineteenth century for the mass production of color images. The process of chromolithography used multiple blocks or stones, each of a different color, which were printed successively to develop each image. The Libraries’ copy includes some highlights in gold.

Plate 13: Arco di Placidia nella Basilica di S. Paolo e Frammenti della Medesima Basilica
Plate 18: Abside di Sta. Agnese fuori le mura


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

Recent Acquisition: Executing Justice in England

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an interesting work from the Reformation period, De iustitia Britannica, siue Anglica, quae contra Christi martyres continenter exercetur (Ingolstadii, 1584).

This title has been variously attributed to Cardinal William Allen, Robert Parsons and Nicholas Sander, but seems to actually be the work of an unidentified author who explicitly states that it is intended as a supplement to Allen’s A briefe historie of the martyrdom of xii priests (Rheims, 1582). The title clearly references—and is a response to—Iustitia Britannica (Londini,1584), the Latin translation of William Cecil Burghley’s The execution of justice in England, which defended the execution of Edmund Campion and other Catholics in 1581.

This acquisition is the first and only edition of the work; we have identified only six other North American holdings.

Recent Acquisition: Defending Pope Joan

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The story about a female pope—Pope Joan—circulated widely from the early thirteenth century and was generally accepted. Allegedly, a woman disguised herself as a male in order to attend university with her lover. She quickly ascended through the ecclesiastical hierarchy and was elected pope under the name John. She reigned for two and a half years before her true identity was revealed when she fell to the ground and gave birth.

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an interesting and very rare example of a French Protestant writer refuting another Protestant author’s denial of the Pope Joan legend.

Pierre Congnard’s Traite contre l’eclaircissement donne par M. Blondel en la question, si une femme a este assise au siege papal de Rome, entre Leon IV et Benoist III (Saumur: Ian Ribotteau & Antoine Rousselet, 1655) is a Protestant response to a work by the Calvinist pastor, David Blondel (1591-1655). Blondel, similar to many Catholic writers, attempted to dispel the Pope Joan story on the basis of his own scholarly research. Congnard, however, supports the claim that there was indeed a female Pope.

There is apparently only one other copy of this title held by a North American institution.


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

Recent Acquisition: Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and Other Tales

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Oscar Wilde’s book for children, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, published in 1888, has attracted many artists and printers over the years. The stories have also been adapted for stage performances including, as I discovered recently, a ballet which will be performed in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2018.

Wilde’s stories, in the tradition of literary fairy tales such as those of Hans Christian Andersen, depict poverty, suffering, cruelty and arrogance, with sacrifice or martyrdom occurring more than once. In the title story, the statue of a prince who had been sheltered in luxury while he lived, could now view from his pedestal the poverty and suffering in his city, and so he convinced a swallow to carry each of the statue’s jewels to someone in need. The Happy Prince and Other Tales consists of the following five stories: ‘The Happy Prince’, ‘The Selfish Giant’, ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, ‘The Devoted Friend’, and ‘The Remarkable Rocket’.

Wilde published a second collection of fairy tales, The House of Pomegranates in 1891. These stories are generally more complex and dark, but over the following century many books have included a selection drawn from both books. Out of the four stories in this book, ‘The Star Child’ and ‘The Young King’ are more likely to be included in selections intended for children. ‘The Fisherman and his Soul’ and ‘The Birthday of the Infanta’ are rarely considered suitable for child readers.

A glance at the editions in our collection, with their range of illustrations and book production styles, demonstrate ambivalence in terms of identifying the appropriate audience for Wilde’s stories. Illustrators Walter Crane and P. J. Lynch both illustrated the book for a child audience, while many editions produced in the intervening century are more appropriately seen as gift books for adults.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales was first published in 1888 by Alfred Nutt and is illustrated throughout. The frontispiece is by Walter Crane, as are a plate illustrating ‘The Selfish Giant’ (shown below) and one illustrating ‘The Remarkable Rocket’. Crane (1845-1915) is frequently cited along with Randoph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway as one of the premier illustrators of children’s books in Victorian Britain.

Small illustrations by illustrator and engraver Jacomb Hood decorate the head of each story. The stories are also richly decorated with vignettes or small decorations.

Another early edition was illustrated by Charles Robinson (1870-1937), one of three brothers who were all prolific book illustrators. This 1913 edition includes eleven color plate illustrations in addition to the frontispiece. As these plates are tipped-in, or attached to pages of the book, it is rare to find an original copy with all plates intact.

With over fifty pages decorated by Robinson, this is what booksellers would call a ‘lavishly-illustrated book’, and these illustrations are reproduced in many later editions and adaptations.

Frontispiece from the 1913 edition: “The King of the Mountains of the Moon”

The Overbrook Press produced a limited edition of The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde with wood engravings by Rudolph Ruzicka. This 1936 edition is part of the Hesburgh’s collection of 135 books from the Overbrook Press of Stamford, Connecticut.

Another fine printing, clearly not intended for the hands of children, is the silk-bound edition published by Kurt Volk, New York, in 1955. This book includes the title story, a short essay on ‘Oscar Fingall O’Flahertie Wilde’, and a slightly abbreviated version of W. B. Yeats’ introduction to a 1923 edition of The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales. [i]

One of the most recent editions is illustrated by leading Irish illustrator P. J. Lynch, also known for the award-winning book The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and his recent book The Boy who Fell off the Mayflower. This edition of Wilde’s Stories for Children, published in 1990, includes ‘The Young King’ in addition to all five stories from The Happy Prince. Lynch has not placed ‘The Happy Prince’ in first place—rather, the book begins with ‘The Selfish Giant’.

Authors of introductions range from W. B. Yeats, who knew Oscar Wilde, to Stephen Fry, the actor who played Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde.

The bibliography below lists the editions held in the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections.



The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Illustrated by Walter Crane and Jacomb Hood. London: David Nutt, 1888. (1,000 copies printed)
Special Collections: in process.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Illustrated by Charles Robinson. London, 1913.
Special Collections: in process.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. New York: R. K. Haas, c. 1925.
Special Collections Rare Books XSmall PR 5818 .H27 1925z

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Wood engravings by Rudolph Ruzicka. Stamford, Conn.: The Overbrook Press, 1936. (Limited edition of 250 copies).
Special Collections Rare Medium Z 232 .O87 W53 1936

The Happy Prince, and The Selfish Giant; Fairy Tales. With a foreword by Hal W. Trovillion. Herrin, Ill.: Trovillion Private Press, 1945.
Special Collections Rare Medium PR 5818 .H211 1945

The Happy Prince. Designed by Meyer Wagman and edited by Charles Brodie. New York: K. H. Volk, c. 1955. (Issued in a box. “…bound in moire silk and stamped with genuine gold.”)
Special Collections Rare Medium PR 5818 .H211 1955

The young king and other fairy tales. Introduced by John Updike. Illustrated by Sandro Nardini and Enrico Bagnoli. NY: Macmillan, 1962.
Special Collections Rare XLarge PR 5811 1962

The Happy Prince. T. D. R. Powell, 1970. (Limited edition of 275 copies, signed by the publishers and the paper-makers, Sheepstor Handmade Papers.)
Special Collections Rare Medium PR 5818 .H211 1970

Fairy Tales and stories. Octopus, 1980.
Special Collections (MR) Medium PR 5816 1980

Stories for Children. Illustrated by P. J. Lynch. New York: Macmillan, 1991.
Special Collections (MR) Large PR 5811 1991

Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde. Illustrated by P. Craig Russell. NY: Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine, c. 1992. (Five volume set.)
Special Collections (MR) PN 6727 .R85 F35 1992


[i] The full text of this introduction is online in The W. B. Yeats Collection (a Chadwyck-Healey subscription database) which includes the following source information: Introduction to Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales (1923). According to catalog records such as in the Hathi Trust, this appears to be volume 3 of a multi-volume collection of the works of Oscar Wilde.


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.

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