Upcoming Events: December 2022

Please note that the corridor outside RBSC is temporarily narrowed to a pedestrian tunnel due to ongoing library renovations, but we generally remain open during our regular hours.

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

Thursday, December 1 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Fellini, Film, and the Proliferation of Petroculture in Postwar Italy” – Lora Jury (University of Notre Dame).


Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame, an exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives curated by Elizabeth Hogan and reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame, will run through December 16th.

The current spotlight exhibits are Hesburgh Library Special Collections: A Focus on W. B. Yeats (October – December 2022) and The Ladies Flower-Garden of Ornamental Annuals (December 2022 – January 2023).

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed for Notre Dame’s Christmas and New Year’s Break
(December 23, 2022, through January 2, 2023).

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

Upcoming Events: November 2022

Please note that the corridor outside RBSC is temporarily narrowed to a pedestrian tunnel due to ongoing library renovations, but we remain open during regular hours.

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

Thursday, November 10 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Deadly Letters: Plague, Banditry, and Heresy in Early Modern Mail” – Rachel Midura (Virginia Tech).

Thursday, November 11 at 4:00pm | “Ireland’s Lament”: The Story of the Manuscript of a 17th-century Irish Historica Poem in the Hesburgh Library. A panel discussion on the recently-acquired manuscript, Tuireamh na hÉireann (Ireland’s Lament), with the Department of Irish Language and Literature and the Keough-Naughton Institute of Irish Studies.


Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame, an exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives curated by Elizabeth Hogan and reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame, will run through the end of the fall semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Hesburgh Library Special Collections: A Focus on W. B. Yeats (October – December 2022) and “Rosie the Riveters with a Vengeance” and Other Wartime Contributions by American Women (October – November 2022).

RBSC will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday,
November 24 – 25.

A Day in a Life of the Warsaw Ghetto in Photographs

by Natasha Lyandres, Head of Special Collections and Curator, Russian and East European Collections

Special Collections recently acquired two World War II era photo albums featuring original photographs from within and outside of the Warsaw Ghetto’s walls.

Although the albums lack dates and inscriptions, they probably belonged to а German soldier who visited Warsaw sometime after the establishment of the Ghetto in November 1940 and before the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in April 1943.  At the height of its existence in 1941, the Warsaw Ghetto included more than 500,000 Jews from Warsaw and surrounding towns. They lived in subhuman conditions in a small area segregated from the rest of the city by wire and brick walls. Fueled by years of massive Nazi propaganda, the occupied Warsaw was a popular destination for Wehrmacht soldiers who came here to see for themselves the “authentic” East European Jews and their culture. 

Three men standing in the Warsaw Ghetto. (MSE/REE 0042-1, fol. 4r)

The first album presents a broad spectrum of people and activities taking place inside the Ghetto walls.  It comprises twenty-four photographs probably taken during a single day as the photographer strolled through the streets documenting his encounters with the doomed inhabitants. The images vary from close up portraits of people directly facing the camera to more general depictions of the busy street life, misery, and suffering.

The photographer captured “typical Jewish” men with long beards wearing traditional attire, women with strollers in the park, rickshaws used for transporting people and goods, crowded marketplaces with inhabitants trying to make a living by selling potatoes, warm water, and the obligatory Star of David armbands, uprooted families arriving to the Ghetto from nearby towns, homeless children begging for food, and people collapsing and dying on the sidewalks from hunger and diseases.

The Old town. (MSE/REE 0042-2, fol. 18r)

The second album presents forty-seven photographs depicting mostly street views and buildings on the “Aryan” side of Warsaw, including images of the Ghetto wall (Ulica Graniczna), views of the Old town with its charming narrow streets and alleys, palaces with Nazi flags and German soldiers, and historical monuments, many of which were later destroyed. This album also contains several aerial views of the soon to be destroyed city and bridges over the Vistula river. 

Taken by a perpetrator, these photographs serve as important historical evidence of the Holocaust and Nazi atrocities in Poland.

The albums are currently on display as the September spotlight exhibit in Special Collections. After the exhibit closes, they will be digitized. They will soon be available on the Marble (Museums, Archives, Rare Books and Libraries Exploration) online platform.

RBSC is closed Monday, September 5th, for Labor Day.

Upcoming Events: September 2022

Please note that the corridor outside RBSC is temporarily narrowed to a pedestrian tunnel due to ongoing library renovations, but we remain open regular hours.

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

Thursday, September 1 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “How Contini Worked: The Critic’s ‘Scartafacci'” – Ryan Pepin (University of Notre Dame).

Friday, September 16 at 3:30pm | The Diary of Pelagia Rościszewska: Facts, Secrets, and Surprises – Dariusz Skórczewski (John Paul II Catholic University).


Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame, an exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives curated by Elizabeth Hogan and reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame, opened late-August and will run through the fall semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God (June – September 2022) and A Day in a Life of the Warsaw Ghetto in Photographs (August – September 2022).

RBSC will be closed Monday, September 5th,
for Labor Day.

Upcoming Events: August 2022

Please note that the corridor outside RBSC has construction barriers due to ongoing library renovations, but we remain open regular hours.

There are no public events currently scheduled for August. Please check back for events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections during September.


An exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame will open mid-August and run through the fall semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God (June – August 2022) and Fifties Flair and Seventies Feminism Presented by Two Magazines (May – August 2022). The latter exhibit will be replaced towards the end of August by an exhibit showcasing two recently acquired World War II era photo albums featuring original photographs from the within and outside of the Warsaw Ghetto’s walls.

RBSC will be closed Monday, September 5th,
for Labor Day.

Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God

Materials displayed in this spotlight exhibit come from the collections of Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) and The University of Notre Dame Archives. Please note that the corridor outside RBSC has construction barriers, but we remain open to all.

by Jean McManus, Catholic Studies Librarian

The Sisters of Loretto (SL) founded 1812 as The Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross, Washington County, Kentucky

The Oblate Sisters of Providence (OSP) founded 1829, Baltimore Maryland

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) founded 1849, Wisconsin

These three distinct societies of women religious, featured in the June-July Special Collections spotlight exhibit, have their origins in the 19th century United States, on the frontier, among immigrant Catholics in the east, and in the Midwest, with varying experiences in relation to slavery, racial segregation, and discrimination in the American Catholic milieu. In their different places and motherhouses, these groups of sisters have cared for orphans and widows, educated children, and all have continuously responded to the “needs of the time,” in the words of Sister Rita Michelle Proctor, OSP, the current Superior General of the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Gender, race, religion, and place shaped and continue to shape their stories. 

Sisters of Loretto

The Sisters of Loretto were founded as the Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross in 1812, among the earliest sisterhoods established in the United States. The founding Sisters—Mary Rhodes, Ann Havern, and Christina Stuart—worked with Belgian missionary Fr. Charles Nerinckx, who became their clerical founder. Nerinckx supported the new society by writing their Rule, helping to build Little Loretto, their first home, and commissioning the print displayed here. The landscape in the engraving is fantastically rendered via the European imagination by the Belgian printer, but also rather accurate in portraying the rough hewn buildings, barefoot sisters, and split rail fence around their buildings.

The Sisters of Loretto relied on enslaved people to provide labor at their several missions before Emancipation, and also brought some African American women into the society as oblates, with different rules and professions. The story is not simple or altogether documented in the archives. The Sisters of Loretto today are present in the United States, and around the world, and center education, peace and justice in their work. More historical investigation appears in the LOREtto blog posts, written from the archives at the motherhouse in Kentucky. In 2000, the community erected a memorial to honor persons enslaved at their missions. Sisters of Loretto continue reckoning with their historical relationships with people of color at Little Loretto and other places, as they research their own and related archives regarding slavery and Native American children at Loretto-run schools.

Klyn Loretten in Noord-America. Petit Lorette Etats Unis de L’Amerique. Little Loretto Kentucky United States of America. [Belgium], 1816. [Hesburgh Library, Special Collections Prints • PRINT-1816-01-F1]

Oblate Sisters of Providence and Mother Mary Lange

Foundress Mother Mary Lange of the Oblate Sisters of Providence was still alive in Baltimore when members of the order responded to the invitation of Rev. Ignatius Panken, S.J., to educate Black Catholic children in St. Louis in 1880. They marked anniversaries of service in education and care of orphans in 1905 with a celebration and printed souvenir. The extension of their mission to St. Louis was consistent with the principles of their founding.

Mother Mary Lange

From the souvenir program of the Silver Jubilee of the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Saint Louis, Missouri, 1905.

In 1828, Elizabeth Lange, who was born into a Catholic family and educated in Cuba, had emigrated to a French-speaking Catholic enclave in Baltimore and was already teaching Black children at a school in her home. Urged by the French Sulpician priest who became their ecclesiastical director, Fr. James Joubert, Elizabeth Lange (who became Sister Mary Elizabeth Lange) with fellow teacher, Maria Balas (who became Sister Mary Frances), Rosine Boegue (who became Sister Mary Rose), and Almaide Duchemin (who became Sister Mary Therese) began the work to minister to the children of Haitian refugees by making formal professions in July 1829. As the OSP website history proclaims, “The Oblate Sisters of Providence is the first successful Roman Catholic sisterhood in the world established by women of African descent.” The cause for sainthood for Mother Mary Lange recognizes her heroic virtue in founding and sustaining the Oblate Sisters of Providence to educate African American Catholic children in Baltimore and beyond. Her cause for beatification was opened in 2004, and she is a Servant of God. 

Oblate Sisters of Providence moved to St. Louis in 1880 and taught Black Catholic children at St. Elizabeth School. Changes in parish makeup led the Sisters to establish St. Frances’ Orphan Home (1882-1952) and St. Rita’s Academy (1912-1950), both ministering originally to girls. Eventually the order founded schools in eighteen states–by the 1950s there were over 300 OSP Sisters teaching and caring for Black children.

St. Frances’ Orphan Home First Communion, 1902.

From the souvenir program of the Silver Jubilee of the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Saint Louis, Missouri, 1905. [MO St Louis – OSP, 1905, PROW 10/02. University of Notre Dame Archives.]

The two items featured in this exhibit point to 25 years of sustained effort and growth by the OSP Sisters in the St. Louis area. The interior pages feature an iconic photograph of foundress Mother Mary Lange, with a short history of the order. Also included are photographs from the St. Louis missions, such as the “First Communion class of the orphans, 1902,” showing 18 girls, two Oblate Sisters, and one white priest.  Later, in 1930, a Golden Jubilee was celebrated, marking 50 years in the St. Louis area. The challenging circumstances faced by the OSP Sisters in St. Louis are well documented in Ann Rosentreter’s 2016 thesis, Black, Catholic, and female : the Oblate Sisters of Providence in St. Louis, Missouri, during the interwar years.

Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and Sister Thea Bowman

Left:  Lead Me, Guide Me : the African American Catholic Hymnal. Chicago: G.I.A. Publications, 1987.
[National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, CNBC 15/12. University of Notre Dame Archives.]

Center: Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA, portrait, ca. 1990 [University President Rev. Edward “Monk” Malloy (1987-2005): Graphics, GPML #1996-6 box B:37, University of Notre Dame Archives.]

Right: Lead Me, Guide Me–Book of Signatures, 1987 [National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, CNBC 15/62. University of Notre Dame Archives.]

Finally, we have a glimpse of the work of the Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, Sister Thea Bowman, now a Servant of God, who was educated by the FSPA Sisters in her home town of Canton, MS, became a convert to Catholicism at age 9, and entered the order as a determined 15 year old girl. She taught and worked for racial reconciliation in the Catholic church, and evangelized through song, particularly advocating for a Black Catholic tradition. Sister Thea Bowman died in March, 1990, and weeks later the University of Notre Dame honored her with the Laetare Medal, the first time the medal was given posthumously. 

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have long pursued their mission of education along with their devotional practice of perpetual adoration. The Sisters continue to lift up Sister Thea Bowman by supporting her cause for sainthood, and the foundation started with her input and name. The Sister Thea Bowman Black Catholic Education Foundation provides scholarships for Black students to attend Catholic colleges and universities.

One result of Sister Thea’s evangelization and ministry is this 1987 hymnal, Lead Me, Guide Me, a collaborative project with a host of Black Catholics that includes her essay, “The Gift of African American Sacred Song.” The hymnal signature book includes hundreds of signatures, many dated May 23, 1987, a month after the publication of Lead Me, Guide Me. Perhaps it was a book launch and celebration? Sr. Thea Bowman was part of it, as her signature attests.

Upcoming Events: May and through the summer

No events are scheduled to be hosted this summer in Rare Books and Special Collections.

Please note that beginning in July, our “Upcoming Events” posts will shift from running on the first Monday of the month to running on the last Monday of the preceding month (i.e., the post on July 25 will feature upcoming events in August, etc.).

The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – May 2022) and Fifties Flair and Seventies Feminism Presented by Two Magazines (May 2022).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.


Rare Books and Special Collections is open
regular hours during the summer —
9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

RBSC will be closed Monday, May 30th, for Memorial Day and Monday, July 4th, for Independence Day.

Spotlight Exhibit: Remembering Early England

The April spotlight exhibit, Remembering Early England, brings together diverse materials that reveal the power of memory. Featuring an eleventh-century coin, a fifteenth-century medieval manuscript, an early printed grammar book, and a Victorian map, this exhibit is a sample of the breadth of the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections. Each object represents the different ways that each generation has depicted the early English period (ca. 449 – 1066), whether or not their version of history reflected reality.

For 500 years, the area now conceived of as England was inhabited by diverse populations: the Welsh, Picts, Cornish, Angles, Jutes, Saxons, Danes, Franks, Icelanders, Irish, and Frisians. In fact, England was not considered a unified country until the tenth century when Aethelstan became the first King of the English. However, later inhabitants of England, particularly those in power, portrayed early England as homogenous, stable, and a romantic pre-figuration of themselves and their ideals.

This exhibit was co-curated by Dr. David T. Gura, Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts, and Anne Elise Crafton, PhD Candidate in the Medieval Institute and Graduate Curatorial Assistant, and can be viewed in 102 Hesburgh Library from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm on weekdays.

Upcoming Events: April and early May

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

Tuesday, April 5 at 4:00pm | “Piranesi’s Lost Book” by Heather Minor (Notre Dame).

POSTPONED—NEW DATE WILL BE ANNOUNCED WHEN KNOWN: Thursday, April 7 at 4:30pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).

Rare Books and Special Collections will be open regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (April 27 – May 5). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and Remembering Early England (March-April 2022).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed April 15 in observance of Good Friday.

We will resume regular hours
(Monday – Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm)
on Monday, April 18.

Upcoming Events: March and early April

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

Thursday, March 24 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “We, the People: Strategies of Representation in the Italian Novel” by Roberto Dainotto (Duke). The Spring lectures are being planned in a hybrid online and in-person format; registration for online access is available via the event description page. Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

DATE & TIME UPDATED – Tuesday, April 5 at 4:00pm | “Piranesi’s Lost Book” by Heather Minor (Notre Dame).

Thursday, April 7 at 4:30pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and Remembering Early England (March – April 2022, opening soon).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.