Tours of the exhibit may be arranged for classes and other groups, and additional curator-led tours are available at 12 noon on the upcoming Fridays: March 10 and 31, April 7 and 21.
An exhibit lecture, “The Changing Face of Irish Writing” by Brian Ó Conchubhair (Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame), will be held this spring in Special Collections, at a date that will be announced later.
The March spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and “That Just Isn’t Fair; Settling for Left-Overs”: African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines (February – March 2023).
We join with 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 Memorial Museum in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines
We celebrate Black History Month with a selection of magazine articles by or about African American women from a number of popular, feminist periodicals created across the decade of the 1970s that RBSC has recently added to our collections. In these publications, which largely targeted white audiences, Black women claimed new platforms for their voices and ideas.
African American women were a foundational part of the United States’ women’s movement and 1970s feminism. The athletes interviewed in womenSports, for example, identified how sexism intersected with racism in sports and in larger contemporary society.
womenSports magazine, founded in 1974 by tennis star Billie Jean King in conjunction with the Women’s Sports Foundation, was one of the earliest popular magazines focused on women athletes. The glossy publication reported on professional and amateur sports and also provided practical tips to readers on everything from self-defense to the recently enacted Title IX legislation.
womenSports covered the athletic triumphs and biographies of African American women and often introduced Black sportswomen to wider reading audiences for the first time. Writers and editors frequently documented and wrote about the gender discrimination experienced by women athletes–Black and white–but they tended to devote less attention to racial prejudice encountered by African American women in sports. Black athletes themselves frequently spoke to the entwined race and gender bias they encountered.
In the pages of womenSports in 1974, Wyomia Tyus, the Olympic champion sprinter, described economic consequences of prejudice she faced on the professional track circuit. After a corporate sponsor dropped her event, Tyus explained, “all the women in our event are black, but if we had a white woman in it, I think the … company would’ve picked us up.” And about a recent meet in San Francisco, Tyus observed, “the men who won got television sets, and the women who won got medals. That just isn’t fair. Settling for left-overs.”
Two years later Olympian Madeline Manning Jackson, a middle-distance runner, pointed to the lack of funding for a sport that featured many African American women athletes. Jackson had recently declined an invitation to compete in the Pan American Games for the United States after the Amateur Athletic Association, which governed track and field events, failed to fund her trip or provide any compensation. “I could have gone even if they didn’t pay,” she explained, “but it made me mad–not just for me but for all the other girls who have to put up with this kind of treatment. . . . I could have gone. I just wouldn’t.”
In addition to womenSports, the library recently acquired two titles that bracket the 1970s and represent different voices within the American feminist movement. Cellestine Ware’s article, “Black Feminism,” appeared in an annual publication of the radical wing of the movement, Notes From the Third Year: Women’s Liberation. Ware was a member of the Stanton-Anthony Brigade, a circle of radical feminists in New York City, and author of Woman Power: The Movement for Women’s Liberation (1970). In this article, Ware articulates a model of Black feminism and warns that the “complaint that black women challenge black men is further proof of the threatening nature of female independence to most men.”
The oral history of Texan Annie Mae Hunt, a 70-year old African American woman and civil rights activist, appeared at the end of the decade in Chrysalis, a Magazine of Women’s Culture. Hunt described her life of work, childbearing and rearing, political activism, and reflected on inequalities she experienced because of her race and sex.
The athletes in womenSports identified how racial and gender discrimination intersected. Ware’s new Black feminist theory and Hunt’s history explained how race, gender, and class inequality developed historically. African American women created a platform for their ideas within these 1970s feminist magazines.
Rare Books and Special Collections holds a growing collection of printed and other material documenting African Americans and women during the late twentieth century. The publications described here will be on exhibit in RBSC through March.
“Anybody here speak English? / Non dovete avere paura, non c’è ragione”: Dubbing as Translation and Rewriting in Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna, by Santain Tavella
The Infernal Arno: Mapping the Arno in Dante’s Hell through the Lens of Purg. XIV, by Toby Hale
Tuesday, February 28 at 3:30pm | Exhibit Lecture: “The Changing Face of Irish Writing” by Brian Ó Conchubhair (Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame). This lecture has had to be rescheduled—a new date will be announced later.
The spring exhibit, Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts, features selected books from the Hesburgh Libraries’ Special Collections that demonstrate the art and craft of the Irish book since 1900. The exhibit, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, will run through the semester.
The February spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and “That Just Isn’t Fair; Settling for Left-Overs”: African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines
(February – March 2023).
Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed from 11:30am to 2:00pm on Thursday, February 9, 2023.
The spring exhibit Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts will feature selected books from the Hesburgh Libraries’ Special Collections to demonstrate the art and craft of the Irish book since 1900. The exhibit, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, will open in January and run through the semester.
The current spotlight exhibits for are Hesburgh Library Special Collections: A Focus on W. B. Yeats (November 2022 – January 2023) and The Ladies Flower-Garden of Ornamental Annuals (December 2022 – January 2023). Later in the month, we will be installing the spring semester spotlight, which will explore changes in language within select Middle English manuscripts and early printed books from the 15th through 17th century (January – April 2023).
Classes in Special Collections
Throughout the semester, curators teach sessions related to our holdings. If you’re interested in bringing your class or group to work with our curators and materials, please contact Special Collections.
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).
Due to OIT infrastructure work being done in the Hesburgh Library, Special Collections will be closed on Monday, December 19, 2022.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.