Welcome to Spring 2022 in Rare Books & Special Collections

The University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Libraries, Special Collections, and the COVID situation

Due to the spread of highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus, masks are currently required throughout the Hesburgh Library for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. This applies to all Rare Books & Special Collections spaces.

All visitors to campus are required to wear masks inside campus buildings at all times until further notice. Up-to-date information regarding campus policies is provided at covid.nd.edu.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

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

Thursday, January 27 at 4:30pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Scales of Responsibility: The Dark Side of Italo Calvino” by Maria Anna Mariani (University of Chicago). Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

Wednesday, February 2, from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm | Celebration: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses: An event celebrating the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses will be hosted in Special Collections, with a display of Ulysses-themed treasures from the vault of the Hesburgh Library and the reading of short excerpts from Ulysses in several languages.

Spring Semester Exhibits

The spring exhibit will feature Medieval Bibles and biblical texts and is in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. The exhibit, curated by David T. Gura, Ph.D., will open in January and run through the semester.

The spotlight exhibits for January and February will feature first editions of Joyce’s Ulysses and related items, in honor of the centenary of Ulysses publication.

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.

Recent Acquisitions

Special Collections acquires new material throughout the year. Watch our blog for announcements about recent acquisitions.

Medieval Manuscripts from the Ferrell Collection on Exhibit

by David T. Gura, Ph.D., Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts

In October 2017, six medieval manuscripts were donated to the University of Notre Dame from the private collection of James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell. The manuscripts have been accessioned into their own fond: “Ferrell Manuscripts.” Through Mr. and Mrs. Ferrell’s generosity, the breadth of the University’s collection of medieval and renaissance manuscripts has been augmented significantly.

The collection’s best examples of Northern High and Late Medieval illumination now come from the Ferrell fond: a fully historiated, complete Parisian Bible from the Vie de St. Denis Atelier (Ferrell MS 1),  a masterfully painted Book of hours in Grisailles from the “Betremieu Group” (Ferrell MS 2), and a miniature of the Trinity (Ferrell MS 3) from the “Master of the First Prayer Book of Maximilian”—the collection’s sole example of trompe l’oeil  borders, which were perfected in Dutch manuscript painting.

Likewise, the gift also constitutes the collection’s most illustrative examples of Late Medieval Italian illumination: a cutting of John the Baptist painted by “The Second Master of the Antiphonary M of San Giorgio Maggiore” (Ferrell MS 4), and a leaf from an Office Book illuminated by the Franciscan friar, Fra Antonio da Monza (Ferrell MS 6). In addition to these examples of Italian painting, a tarot card depicting the biscione (serpent) of  the Visconti-Sforza family of Milan (Ferrell MS 5) provides a rare example of Trionfi cards popular among the Italian elite. 

The Ferrell Collection is on exhibit for the Fall Semester 2021 in Rare Books and Special Collections and is also available digitally.

The Ferrell Bible (Ferrell MS 1)
The Ferrell Bible was illuminated by the artisans of the Vie de St. Denis Atelier in Paris, ca. 1240. The Vie de St. Denis Atelier was among the most active paintshops from 1230–1250, to which over forty different manuscripts have been attributed. The atelier painted small and large Bibles, liturgical and devotional manuscripts, civil and canon law books, and institutional volumes such as the privileges of St.-Martin des Champs and the Libellus of St.-Denis. A diverse clientele acquired books from the atelier, which included local patrons like the cathedral, St.-Denis, St.-Martin des Champs, St.-Maur de Fossés, and a Carthusian house in Paris. Regionally, clients from Copmiègne, Rouen, Sens, and Châlon-sur-Marne also visited the atelier for books.

View the entire Ferrell Bible.

The Ferrell Hours (Ferrell MS 2)
The Ferrell Hours was produced in French Flanders in the later fifteenth century. The manuscript forms part of the “Betremieu” Group, a small group of books of hours which were made in Hainaut ca. 1460-1470. All miniatures in the Ferrell Hours were painted using the Grisaille technique. Quite rare and luxurious, the Grisaille technique uses only hues of gray.

View the complete Ferrell Hours.

Miniature of the Holy Trinity (Ferrell MS 3)
This miniature of the Trinity belongs to a group of manuscripts associated with the “Master of the First Prayer Book of Maximilian,” who was active ca. 1475-1515. The recto side was originally blank as the miniature was painted on the verso and imported–one of the hallmarks of Flemish origin. The borders are extremely well executed examples of the trompe l’oeil technique, which was perfected in Dutch manuscript painting. Ferrell MS 3 is Notre Dame’s only example of trompe l’oeil in a medieval manuscript.
Cutting from a choirbook (Ferrell MS 4)
The painter of this historiated initial featuring John the Baptist is known as “The Second Master of the Antiphonary M of San Giorgio Maggiore.” The long sobriquet derives from an antiphonary illuminated for San Giorgio Maggiore by Belbella da Pavia c. 1467–1470, to which our painter contributed four initials. “The Second Master of the Antiphonary M of San Giorgio Maggiore” was active in the Veneto and also contributed paintings to a well-known set of choirbooks for the Benedictine Abbey of San Sisto in Piacenza. 
Visconti-Sforza Tarot Card (Ferrell MS 5)
This tarot card depicts the biscione—a heraldic crowned serpent shown consuming a human child. The biscione was first associated with the Visconti of Milan (1277–1477). The motif became emblematic of the Duchy of Milan, and was then used in the heraldry of the Sforza family. The Sforzas ruled the Duchy of Milan (1450–1535) after the Visconti family.
Fragment of an Office Book illuminated by Fra Antonio da Monza (Ferrell MS 6)
Fra Antonio da Monza was a Franciscan friar and manuscript illuminator who was active in Italy ca. 1480-1505. Several liturgical books and miniatures have been attributed to him since he was identified, including this manuscript which had previously been attributed to Giovan Pietro Birago (ca. 1480-1490).

Upcoming Events: March and early April

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

CANCELLED Thursday, March 26 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Points of View: ‘The People’ in the 19th-Century Italian Novel” by Roberto Dainotto (Duke).

Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

CANCELLED Saturday, March 28 at 10:00am-noon | Exhibit Event: “Animals, Animals, and More Animals: The Zoo Comes to Special Collections”

Scholars Lounge (10:00-11:00am)
Special Collections (11:00am-noon)

 In order to protect the health and wellness of our community, this event has been canceled. We will share more information on rescheduling, as appropriate, at a later date.

CANCELLED Thursday, April 2 at 5:00pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Niccolò Acciaiuoli: Contradiction and Interdisciplinarity in the Study of Trecento Italy” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).

Each year, thanks to the Albert J. and Helen M. Ravarino Family Endowment for Excellence, the Center for Italian Studies sponsors a public lecture by a distinguished scholar of Italian Studies.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, is open and will run through the summer. This is an exhibit of rare zoological books featuring early printed images of animals. We welcome classes and other groups of any age and would love to tailor a tour for your students and your curriculum — and if you can’t come to campus, the curators can bring the exhibit to you. Watch for forthcoming announcements of additional related events!

For more information about the exhibit or to set up a visit, contact curators Julie Tanaka and Erika Hosselkus.

The current spotlight exhibits are: John Ruskin and Popular Taste (February – April 2020), featuring materials from Special Collections relating to the Ruskin Conference that was held at Notre Dame in February, and The Papers of Mary Taussig Hall, a selection of items from the collection documenting her legacy and path to activism (March 2020).

RBSC is open regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm)
during Notre Dame’s Spring Break (March 9 – 13)

Upcoming Events: February and early March

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

Thursday, February 20 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: MA student research presentations.

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, is now open and will run through the summer. This is an exhibit of rare zoological books featuring early printed images of animals. We welcome classes and other groups of any age and would love to tailor a tour for your students and your curriculum — and if you can’t come to campus, the curators can bring the exhibit to you. Watch for forthcoming announcements of additional related events!

For more information about the exhibit or to set up a visit, contact curators Julie Tanaka and Erika Hosselkus.

The current spotlight exhibits are: John Ruskin and Popular Taste (February – April 2020) and Ruskin, Turner, and Popular Taste (February 2020), both featuring materials from Special Collections relating to the Ruskin Conference being held at Notre Dame in February.

Upcoming Events: October and early November

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

Thursday, October 3 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – “Reading the Medieval Mediterranean: Navigation, Maps, and Literary Geographies. Questions, Approaches, and Methods” by Roberta Morosini (Wake Forest).

The Italian Research Seminar is sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

Thursday, November 7 at 5:00pm | Professor Ege. With the Knife. In the Library. Solving the Murder of 200 Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in Twentieth-Century America” by Scott Gwara (University of South Carolina).

This lecture is co-sponsored by Rare Books & Special Collections and the Medieval Institute

 

The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is now open and will run through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Touchdowns & Technology: The Evolution of the Media and Notre Dame Football (September – December 2019) and Knute Rockne All American (October – November 2019). Both spotlight exhibits feature materials from the University Archives.

RBSC is open regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm)
during Notre Dame’s Fall Break (October 19 – 27)

Upcoming Events: September and early October

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

Thursday, September 5 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – “‘Gli occhi della fantasia.’ Mental Images and Poetic Imagery in Leopardi” by Sabrina Ferri (Notre Dame).

Thursday, September 19 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – “Parabola in Boccaccio (I.1; X.10)” by Ambrogio Camozzi Pistoja (Harvard).

Thursday, October 3 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – “Reading the Medieval Mediterranean: Navigation, Maps, and Literary Geographies. Questions, Approaches, and Methods” by Roberta Morosini (Wake Forest).

The Italian Research Seminar is sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

 

The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is now open and will run through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Libros de Lectura: Literacy and Education after the Mexican Revolution / Alfabetismo y Educación después de la Revolución Mexicana (June – August 2019) and Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album (August – September 2019).

RBSC is closed Monday, September 2nd,
for Labor Day.

Art in an Irish Country Home: The Edgeworth Family Album

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Last year, Hesburgh Library acquired an album of drawings of the famous Edgeworth family of County Longford, Ireland. The album, showing the artistic endeavors of the family, shows a different side to a family best known to us for Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849), a leading writer of her time. It is Maria’s step-mother, Frances Edgeworth, and some of the children of Richard Lovell’s third wife, Elizabeth Sneyd, who are the artists of this album.

On August 17, 2019, Notre Dame’s Snite Museum opens a major exhibition of Irish art, “Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame. This exhibition includes items from Special Collections. To complement this exhibition, we are featuring an example of Irish art from our collection in our September 2019 Spotlight Exhibit, Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album. This spotlight exhibit runs through September 2019.

The Artists

Frances Beaufort (1769-1864) was born in Navan, County Meath, where her father, Rev. Daniel Augustus Beaufort, was Rector. Having attended Mrs. Terson’s school in Portarlington, she had lessons in art from a number of artists including Frances Robert West, Master of the Dublin Society’s School of Figure Drawing.

The Edgeworth and Beaufort families were acquainted. When Frances was asked to provide sketches for a proposed illustrated edition of Maria Edgeworth’s The Parent’s Assistant, her relationship with Richard Lovell Edgeworth developed and soon they were married. In spite of being younger than her oldest step-daughter, renowned writer Maria Edgeworth, the women became close friends.

Both families were intensely interested in learning. Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817) was an inventor, writer and landowner, and was particularly interested in the education of children. In the Edgeworth household, children were instructed by other family members, and their reading and activities covered a broad and ambitious range. Emphasis on education is apparent in Maria Edgeworth’s books. Her opinions on education are clear not only in her books for children and parents, but in novels such as Belinda and The Absentee, which have examples of appropriate education—in one case, the scientific education of a family in the upper class, and in the other, the practical education that Edgeworth considered appropriate for the children of tenants.

Frances encouraged her children and step-children to draw. The subject matter of the drawings shows a marked interest in working people who might have been tenants, servants or estate-workers.

Most of the drawings in the album are by Frances and her step-daughter Charlotte, though other family members—Honora (1791-1857), William (1794-1829), Harriet (1801-1889), Lucy Jane (1805-1897), and Michael Pakenham (1812-1881)—may also have contributed.

Charlotte Edgeworth (1783-1807) was exceptionally talented, and though she died at twenty-four years of age, she was known for technical expertise, drawing, and poetry.

Many drawings in the album are illustrations for stories by Maria Edgeworth. The Parent’s Assistant includes the tale “Waste Not, Want Not”, in which a lazy and greedy boy is compared to his more virtuous cousin. The picture shown below illustrates the following passage from the story.

Hal came out of Mr. Millar’s, the confectioner’s, shop with a hatful of cakes in his hand. Mr. Millar’s dog was sitting on the flags before the door; and he looked up, with a wistful, begging eye, at Hal, who was eating a queen-cake. Hal, who was wasteful even in his good-nature, threw a whole queen-cake to the dog, who swallowed it for a single mouthful.


The Edgeworth Family Album is on display in Special Collections through August and September 2019.

Upcoming Events: August and early September

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

Thursday, September 5 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – “‘Gli occhi della fantasia.’ Mental Images and Poetic Imagery in Leopardi” by Sabrina Ferri (Notre Dame).

Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

 

The exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance will open mid-August and run through the fall semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Libros de Lectura: Literacy and Education after the Mexican Revolution / Alfabetismo y Educación después de la Revolución Mexicana (June – August 2019) and Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album (August – September 2019).

RBSC will be closed Monday, September 2nd,
for Labor Day.

Color Our Collections: “Libros de Lectura” spotlight exhibit

Today’s coloring sheet comes from our current spotlight exhibit, Libros de Lectura: Education and Literacy after the Mexican Revolution / Educación y Alfabetismo despues de la Revolución Mexicana. This exhibition highlights our growing collection of textbooks from the first half of the twentieth century in Mexico and examines literacy efforts in the decades before and after the formation of the National Free Textbook Commission, and is curated by Erika Hosselkus (Curator, Latin American Collections).

The exhibit is open to the public through August 2019.

Libros de Lectura: Education and Literacy after the Mexican Revolution / Educación y Alfabetismo despues de la Revolución Mexicana

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

Earlier this year, Mexico celebrated the 60th anniversary of the creation of its National Free Textbook Commission (Comisión Nacional de Libros de Textos Gratuitos, CONALITEG). This program began in 1959 under the auspices of minister of public education, Jaime Torres Bodet. Today, the commission prints some 200 million free textbooks for more than 25 million Mexican students every year. Mexican administrations continue to tout the duration and scope of this program and scholars highlight it among systematic efforts toward free, secular education that began in earnest in Mexico after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920).

“Libros de Lectura: Education and Literacy after the Mexican Revolution / Educación y Alfabetismo despues de la Revolución Mexicana”, a spotlight exhibit in Rare Books and Special Collections, highlights our growing collection of textbooks from the first half of the twentieth century in Mexico and examines literacy efforts in the decades before and after the formation of the National Free Textbook Commission. The exhibit showcases literacy-related materials sponsored, approved, or produced by Mexico’s Ministry of Public Education including textbooks for children and books promoting literacy among adults, whether workers or indigenous Popoloca-speakers.

Among the materials on display are Libro de lectura para el uso de las escuelas nocturnas para trabajadores (1938) and Cartilla, Campaña nacional contral el analfabetismo (1965). Both of these titles were produced by Mexico’s Ministry of Public Education.

Libro de lectura para el uso de las escuelas nocturnas para trabajadores is one in a series of three literacy textbooks created by Mexico’s League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists (LEAR) and was intended for workers enrolled in night classes. It was produced during the presidency of one of the country’s best-known leaders, Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940), an era when socialist ideals contributed explicitly to the development of national identity and also became explicit in literacy texts.

The book includes striking unsigned illustrations from prints by known Mexican artists. Heavy woodcut or linocut styles and strong imagery are characteristic of Mexico’s revolutionary art. The text begins by introducing the alphabet, vowels, and basic pronunciation. Later entries address aspects of daily life, familiar socialist themes, and even deliver public service announcements regarding, for example, the need for childhood vaccinations.

Libro de lectura para el uso de las escuelas nocturnas para trabajadores, 1er Grado, Mexico: Comisión Editora Popular de la Secretaría de Educación Pública, 1938. Medium PC 4115 .L53 1938

 

Cartilla, Campaña nacional contral el analfabetismo is evidence of a major literacy campaign undertaken by Mexico’s Ministry of Public Education in 1965. The National Free Textbook Commission (CONALITEG) printed an impressive 1,000,000 copies of this literacy primer as part of the nationwide effort. The text is meant to be used by any literate person to teach another person how to read. It provides lessons as well as instructions for use. The teacher is directed never to discourage a learner and instead to make her feel capable and successful. Helping a person learn to read, the primer states, helps to elevate the culture of the Mexican people.

Much like the earlier Libro de lectura para el uso de las escuelas nocturnas para trabajadores, this primer begins with pronunciation exercises and introduces more complex passages, including some clear government messaging, as appears on pp. 72-73 of this title. In this passage, entitled “They work and they study,” the family of Don Pepe works to educate laborers. When they encounter difficulty with part of the literacy text, Don Pepe consults the director of the local school, who tells him that the laborers need to practice a series of exercises to overcome their difficulty. In this way, the text promotes literacy among peasants and workers, facilitated by literate individuals, and offers a solution to challenges that might be encountered in the learning process.

Secretaría de Educación Pública, Cartilla, Campaña nacional contral el analfabetismo. Mexico: Comisión Nacional de Libros de Textos Gratuitos, 1965. Large PC 4115 .M5 1965

 

Other titles on display as part of the spotlight exhibit “Libros de Lectura: Education and Literacy after the Mexican Revolution/Educación y Alfabetismo despues de la Revolución Mexicana” are:

Francisco Cuervo Martínez, Mexico: Libro Nacional de Lectura V Año, (Ideologia Revolucionaria), Mexico: Editorial Patria, 1937. Medium PC 4113 .C83 1937

Leopoldo Mendez, En nombre de Cristo…han asesinado mas de 200 maestros. Mexico: Centro Productor de Artes Plasticas del Depto. de Bellas Artes, 1939. XLarge NE 546 .M4 E54 1939

Primer Cartilla Popoloca. Mexico: Instituto Lingüistico de Verano; Dirección General de Asuntos Indígenas de la Secretaría de Educación Pública, 1952. Medium PM 4206 .P67 1952

Carmen Domínguez A. and Enriqueta León G., Mi nuevo amigo, Libro segundo de lectura. Mexico: Empresas Editoriales, 1957. Medium PC 4115 .D59 1957