Through the Students’ Eyes – Working in Special Collections

by Shannon Gaylord, RBSC Student Employee

When people enter the Hesburgh Library, they may walk right by the Rare Books and Special Collections department without glancing inside. They may have never heard of this department or do not know what is inside. This department is what I tell people is the “hidden gem” of the library. The people who do walk through the large doors enter what I think is one of the most beautiful rooms on campus. They stand in a room of large wooden shelves and glass cases that are full of histories and stories. The weathered books along the wall invite visitors to think about time. People who find their way to Rare Books will be amazed at the extensive collections as well as the knowledge and dedication of the excellent staff. There are several students who work in this department during the summer as well as the school year. They have unique backgrounds, jobs, and perspectives about this lovely department.

My name is Shannon Gaylord and I have been working at Rare Books and Special Collections for the last four years. I just recently graduated from Notre Dame where I majored in Psychology and minored in Education, Schooling, and Society. I am a student worker in the department, but I like to call myself the “Executive Book Manager” because it is a fun title and I primarily work directly with the books in the various collections. I have done a large variety of tasks during my time here such as assisting with stacks management which includes reshelving books, pulling materials, and shifting collections. I enjoy getting the chance to come in contact with so many ancient texts in all of the work that I do. I have worked with many of the department’s materials such as the American Colonial Currency collection and the Lohmann collection. I have assisted with the preparations for many of the classes and lectures that occur in the department. I also work at the department’s front desk where I assist patrons with materials and book scans as well as monitor those who are using the reading room.

While the collections at Rare Books are wonderful, my favorite part about working here is the group of people that make up this department. These people work together to create an incredibly welcoming environment that promotes curiosity and learning. They have so much knowledge that they willingly share with patrons and students. I am very thankful to have had a chance to work alongside and learn from each of these staff members over the last couple of years. I find it hard to believe that I had never heard about Rare Books until I walked into the department for a job interview during my freshmen year. Now when I walk into the department, I feel at home because of the people here who welcomed me into the Rare Books family. I am so happy that I could continue working at Rare Books this summer and look forward to using the skills and knowledge from this job in the future. This fall, I will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for my Masters in Social Work.

This summer, I’ve also had the pleasure to work with RBSC’s crew of summer student employees. Most of them are either undergraduate or graduate students at Notre Dame, but there are a few visitors. I’ve talked to them about what the work they are doing in RBSC. Here’s a look at all the things happening this summer.

Laura Weis is a PhD Candidate in History and Peace Studies at Notre Dame. Laura says that “working in Special Collections has provided a unique opportunity to sharpen my skill set as an aspiring historian, as well as a chance to explore topics and time periods outside of my usual area of research.” Laura has been working on several collections this summer, including the Bellamy-Smart family papers and the Price family papers. She says that the Bellamy-Smart family papers offer a glimpse into early 19th century courtship rituals and plantation life and the Price family papers “opened my eyes to the northern anti-abolitionist and ‘Copperhead’ political sentiments that threatened, for a time, to derail the Union war effort, in general, and emancipation, in particular.” Laura is currently working on the Mary Taussig Hall papers/Taussig family papers which are a large collection of personal and professional correspondence among the Taussig family members. She says that “the collection includes exchanges with Jane Addams, as well as additional materials concerning 20th century peace and justice advocacy.” Laura says, “Going forward, I know I will point to my experience working in Special Collections this summer as one that has been both personally and professionally fulfilling.”

Hannah Benchik is a rising sophomore at Saint Mary’s College where she is studying Business with a minor in German. This summer, Hannah has been working at the front desk of the department. She explains that her job is much more complex than merely sitting at the front desk. Hannah says, “While the specific work that I do daily depends on the department’s specific needs for that day, my tasks can range from stamping books, answering phone calls, and assisting patrons in the reading room. I also monitor the reading room to make sure that the rare materials are handled correctly, shift books in the basement, and scan documents for ILL requests or for specific patrons.” Hannah enjoys the organizational aspect of this job, which is crucial for her work. Her favorite part of the job has been having the opportunities to examine priceless and rare books such as Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Bible and Hartmann Schedel’s Nuremburg Chronicle. Hannah says that “it has been so amazing to see important and famous works of literature that most students my age have not been exposed to before.”

Samantha Awad is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she graduated in English with Distinction. During her time there, she worked at the Rare Book and Manuscripts Library. This fall, she will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she will study Library Science and Public Administration. This summer, she is responsible for photographing rare books and manuscripts as well as digitizing her work. Amanda says that she has “worked with German children’s literature from the world wars that is being exhibited at the library, books in the Petrarch collection, and a medieval manuscript that contained sheet music for a class this fall.”

Augusto Rocha Ramirez is a PhD candidate in History. He is currently working at Rare Books under the supervision of Erika Hosselkus, Curator of Latin American collections. He is arranging materials into series and ensuring that they are filed properly for future retrieval. These materials include Uruguayan political ephemera from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Liam Maher is working with Aedín Clements, the Irish Studies Librarian. He has assisted with archiving several special collections within the Irish Studies Collection. The first was a small collection of papers, letters, and books on peacemaking & reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland between the Presbyterian and Catholic Churches. The materials date from the mid 1970s through the early 2000s. The majority of his work, however, has been focused on another collection. Arlen House, an historic feminist publishing house in Ireland, recently sent their documents to Hesburgh Library. He has been leafing through boxes of their papers and sorting them into archival categories: manuscripts, proofs, correspondence, brochures, photographs, business documents, etc. In Liam’s own words, “It is fun to piece together the story of Arlen House as I work through all of their materials!”

Sara Quashnie graduated from Notre Dame in 2015 with a BA in History. She is back this summer completing a practicum for her Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Though she is not officially on RBSC’s payroll, she is doing some work in the department. She co-curated a spotlight exhibit, “War as Child’s Play: German Children’s Literature from the World Wars,” is describing a collection of original drawings tipped into an album created by British civilians held prisoner in a German internment camp during the First World War and creating a finding aid for it, and will be authoring a blog post about that collection.

Sae Rome Choi, a junior Chemical Engineering major, has worked for the department for three years. She assists one of our rare book catalogers, Bo Karol, processing rare and medium rare books. Sae Rome adds copy specific notes to the bibliographic records and also prints the flags for the books so that they can be shelved in their proper locations.

Thank you for taking a look at the Rare Books and Special Collections department through the eyes of its student workers. If you have not visited this department yet, we encourage you to stop by! This “hidden gem” is waiting just behind the doors.

Congratulations to Our Seniors

Both images: MSE/EM 110-1B, Diploma, University of Padua, 1690

Special Collections thanks our six graduating seniors for the work they have done for us processing collections, assisting visitors, reshelving books, shifting collections, scanning documents, and assisting our rare book catalogers.

Rob Browne, American Studies

Brendan Coyne, Classics

Shannon Gaylord, Psychology

Hannah Herbst, History

Gabrielle Rogoff, Anthropology

Zach Trewitt, Mathematics

Who’s Who in RBSC: Rachel Bohlmann and Jean McManus

The two fencers in Domenico Angelo’s L’Ecole des armes saluted, closing Ingenious Exercises, and welcomed Matthew Carey and the transatlantic story narrated in “Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic. The new Spring exhibit features printed books, newspapers, and pamphlets that document the flow of ideas about Catholicism between the United States and Europe.

Bringing coherence to the flurry of ideas represented by the diverse artifacts on display are Rachel Bohlmann and Jean McManus. Rachel and Jean (U.S. History & American Studies librarian and Catholic Studies librarian, respectively) teamed up to explore what our collections held on Catholic America. As they began this seemingly daunting task, they soon realized they first needed to address what exactly Catholic literature in America was and what it meant to be a Catholic in America.

For Jean, these questions stemmed from Notre Dame’s 2014 acquisition of the The Holy Bible printed in 1790 in Philadelphia by Matthew Carey, more commonly referred to here [on campus? at Notre Dame?] as the Badin Bible. This bible is a copy of the first authorized Catholic bible in English and was translated from the Latin Vulgate  in 1568 by members of the English College, a Catholic seminary in Douai in northern France. Its publisher, Matthew Carey, was an Irish Catholic who emigrated to Philadelphia. Known for standing against the British Parliament in defense of Irish nationalism and Catholic emancipation, Carey became a successful Catholic publisher in the U.S. Jean questioned what it meant to  be a publisher who was Catholic and, more broadly, what it meant to be Catholic in America.

For Rachel, a common theme that emerged among these sources was their transatlantic identity. As she and Jean chose particular stories to tell, each story connected to Britain or Europe, often in multiple ways. These ties could be in the form of refugees as in the case of Stephen Badin who fled Revolutionary France or ideas such as the pamphlets that circulated between the US, Europe, and Britain and, sometimes, the ties involved both refugees and ideas.

Turning to the principal Catholic Studies reference book, Wilfrid Parson’s Early Catholic Americana, they compared Special Collections’ holdings to the works listed in Parson and selected most of the items on exhibit based upon their inclusion in this work. Their selections represent American Catholicism defined by early printed works that include books, pamphlets, newspapers, official reports, and maps. What emerges is a six-chapter, multinational story beginning in the 1780s and running through the 1840s of early Catholicism in America and its ties to European Catholicism.

The exhibit runs January 16 – August 11, 2017. Weekly tours led by Rachel and Jean on Thursdays begin at 12:30 and will be offered through the end of March. Class tour are also available. Please contact Rachel to schedule a tour.

Upcoming Exhibit Events

“Saint Elizabeth Seton: A Reading Life”
Catherine O’Donnell, Professor of History, Arizona State University
March 22, 2017, 4:00 pm, Special Collections

Historian and former Cushwa Center Fellow Catherine O’Donnell’s talk explores Elizabeth Ann Seton’s spiritual journey as it intersected with Catholic history during the early American Republic. O’Donnell is the author of “John Carroll and the Origins of an American Catholic Church, 1783-1815” and Men of Letters in the Early Republic: Cultivating Forums of Citizenship (2008). She is currently completing her second book, Elizabeth Seton: a Life.


“21st Century Digital Approaches to Rethinking 19th Century Catholic Print”

Kyle Roberts, Professor of Public History & New Media and Director of the Center for Textual Studies & Digital Humanities, Loyola University Chicago
June 1, 2017, 2:00 pm, Special Collections

This talk explores the ways in which new digital humanities projects, such as the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project, have allowed us to recover the central importance of print to American Catholics. Roberts is also the author of Evangelical Gotham: Religion and the Making of New York City, 1783-1860 (2016).

Who’s Who in RBSC: George Rugg

The double-sided banner outside of Special Collections invites passersby to pop in and check out the new exhibit, Ingenious Exercises: Sports and the Printed Book in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800. For the curious who take a moment to stop, they find Domenico Angelo’s L’Ecole des armes (School of Fencing) opened to two fencers demonstrating the proper form to parry against an outside thrust under the wrist, known as a quinte thrust. Angelo’s book is accompanied by other early editions from the Joyce Sports Collection, highlighting various aspects of sports and physical culture including swimming, hunting, wrestling, and football.

Image of George RuggBehind the design of Ingenious Exercises is George Rugg, the curator for Americana and the Joyce Sports collections. As curator, George is responsible for the acquisition, care, and interpretation of collections related to the history and cultural heritage of the United States as well as sports and physical culture. He identifies and acquires materials available on the market or from private collectors that relate to existing collection strengths in Special Collections. Once these materials arrive, George ensures that all of the documentation is complete for the library to take physical and intellectual control of the materials. He assesses the condition and works with Hesburgh Library’s conservation staff to determine if treatment is needed to prevent deterioration and to address any special needs to protect the materials. George also researches and interprets the collections in order to help students and visitors understand the significance of the materials, show relationships between them, or contextualize them within our cultural heritage. The main ways he shares this knowledge with students and the public are through teaching classes and by designing exhibits.

Since becoming a curator, George has designed numerous exhibits that feature significant works from the collections. These exhibits cover a range of topics including Civil War manuscripts, Abraham Lincoln, American diaries from the 18th and 19th centuries, baseball literature prior to 1900, boxing literature, and cover art of college football programs. He has also created spotlight exhibits that highlighted the lithographs of the Scottish painter David Roberts (1796-1864), a historical map of the Great Lakes region by the renowned Italian cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli (1650-1718), and the manuscript business records of the Birmingham Black Barons, the elite black professional baseball team.

Also on current display is a spotlight exhibit featuring an important journal George recently acquired that enhances the Colonial Manuscript collection. The Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Notebook contains the sermon notes of Nathaniel Rogers (1598-1655), a Puritan minister who emigrated from England to Massachusetts in 1636. George offers visitors an opportunity to view this rare work while sharing his research on and curatorial concerns for the book. He includes Cotton Mather’s providential history of 17th century New England, the Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), opened to the beginning of Mather’s eulogy of Rogers which provides what little information is known about the minister’s life. George also describes the original condition of the sermon book and the treatments performed by Hesburgh Libraries Preservation to stabilize the notebook so that researchers may safely use it.

For each of these exhibits, George selects materials from Special Collections’ holdings that not only have significance but also capture the imagination. Selected items might represent important works in a bibliographic tradition such as Nicolaes Petter’s Klare Onderrichtinge der voortreffelijcke Worstel-konst (1674). This work is an illustrated self-defense manual that represents one of the finest examples in the tradition of illustrated martial arts manuals, a tradition traceable to a German fencing manual from the 1320s. In the case of the business records of the Birmingham Black Barons, the records provide a look into the history of American baseball in the era of segregation. They document financial transactions between the team and its players during the years when the Black Barons were full members of the Negro National League and before financial pressures generated by the Great Depression forced the team to return to the Negro Southern League in 1931.

George’s current exhibits, Ingenious Exercises and The Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Book, will be on display through December 2016. He will also be giving public tours of Ingenious Exercises on Wednesdays at noon during October and November.

 

Who’s Who in RBSC: Our Summer Student Employees

Summer is always an exciting time for the department. This is when we take advantage of hiring students who have more time in their schedules to work on some of our larger projects and to assist with other departmental needs.

When RBSC hires students, our intent is not just to have them do work for us. We also introduce them to our world—manuscripts, rare books, maps, broadsides, prints, posters, ephemera—teaching them skills that often complement their studies and that, in some instances, provide the foundation for better understanding the materials they are using in their own research. Sometimes we are even delighted to hear that spending the summer working in RSBC inspired them to consider either doing research based on special collections or pursuing a career in our profession.

Our students’ work, though, often goes unnoticed because it is hidden in the processed collection, the online finding aid, the reorganized collections. To highlight our students’ efforts to make these materials accessible to students, faculty, and visiting researchers, we’d like to feature them in this week’s post.

Thomson Guster, MFA in Creative Writing
I assisted George Rugg with creating finding aids for two collections of letters. The first is for letters received by Jack Pfefer, a Russian emigre to the U.S. who, from the 1930s to the 1960s worked as “New York’s foremost wrestling impressario,” managing and promoting professional wrestlers. He helped transition wrestling from something regarded as a sport (like boxing) to the more theatrical entertainment it has become today. The second finding aid is for a collection of American Civil War letters written by two brothers from North Carolina, William Lafayette Barrier and Rufus A. Barrier, to their father, Mathias Barrier, while they served in the Confederate Army. William Lafayette served in the 1st North Carolina Cavalry and Rufus served in the 8th North Carolina Infantry. Only Rufus survived the war.

This summer gave me an appreciation for the laborious process of organizing and making available special collections like these—how all this hard work, done incrementally and by many people over many years, ends up producing a quality database that will, hopefully, be used by researchers to come.

Arnaud Zimmern, Ph.D. English
I worked with Julie Tanaka to process two collections; one of French manuscripts and printed documents related to funerary practices and laws, the other of telegrams from the Havas French Press. For both, I organized and described the materials in the collections and then drafted EADs for them.

When I started this summer, I had never worked on archival collections, so I had to learn the basics of organizing and describing a collection. After ten weeks or so, I learned quite a bit about thinking like an archivist and about inhumation practices in Napoleonic-era France.

Halfway through the summer’s work, I could already tell that few things get me as excited as making sense of old documents and seeing a story unfold from otherwise inert tree pulp. I guess that confirms to me that I am an aspirant researcher, although I know I still have long strides to make in terms of developing stamina (sitting for long hours is not my favorite) and in terms of sharpening my curiosity and intuitions. For one, I have yet to really build up the habit of taking nothing in a document for granted. But conversely, I now know experientially what it means to let primary sources enter into your imagination and breathe for themselves, tell their story. To illustrate what I mean, the turning point in my work this summer was when it finally struck me that the burial practices that Napoleon established in 1805-1806, of which I was holding some of the foundational documents, were effectively identical to those in place at my grandmother’s burial a year and a half ago in Paris. Research is me-search, as the saying goes, but I never expected archiving to be me-archiving.

Kelly Koerwer, Senior, Program of Liberal Studies and Medieval Studies
I worked on the Patrick McCabe papers. McCabe is a contemporary Irish author who is best known for his novels, The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto, both of which were made into films. Under the guidance of Aedin Clements, the Irish Librarian, I sorted through the many boxes of papers McCabe sent the University. Among others, there were drafts and fragments of plays, poems, short stories, novels, and screen plays of his many works, both published and unpublished, as well as financial information and business and personal correspondences.

My summer in RBSC has provided valuable insight into the world of archiving. I began interning in RBSC because I am writing my thesis on the relationship between archiving and the creation and destruction of memory. By working in an archive, I learned that just as human memory can be selective, so can an archive’s memory. It is the duty of the archivist to provide as complete a picture as possible with the materials available. I loved working in RBSC, and I know that because of this experience, I am better equipped to understand the art of archiving.

Eve Wolynes, Ph.D. History
I assisted Dave Gura with reorganizing the collection of rare book vendors’ sales catalogs. This collection provides important documentation about book sales such as prices, provenance, vendors, and when a copy of a particular book was last on the market. In many cases, the catalogs provide the only documentation of the locations rare manuscripts are held in private collections and that would otherwise be untraceable. I helped assess the collection. I then organized the remaining sales catalogs. In addition, I assisted Dave with copyediting the incipit indices (index of the beginning words or line of Latin texts) for his forthcoming descriptive catalog of medieval manuscripts held at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College.

The behind-the-scenes work was only a part of my summer in Special Collections. I also staffed the front desk where I was the first point of contact for visitors. I answered numerous questions about the department and its collections, registered researchers, and set them up to use materials in the reading room.

Nelia Martsinkiv, Ph.D. History
I worked with Ken Kinslow and Natasha Lyandres in Special Collections since November of 2015. This summer, I was able to continue some projects that I had started earlier. During the academic year I was able to work only for a couple of hours a week while this summer gave me the opportunity to concentrate on more comprehensive projects that will prove useful for my dissertation. In particular, I organized and described the papers of a notable Soviet dissident, Boris Tsukerman. These papers are of a great importance for scholars working within the field of human rights in modern Europe and Russia as they help to reveal the legalist dimension of the dissident movement at the time. Also I plan to work on the Tsukerman collection this fall, but this time for the purposes of my research paper. Outside of working on the Tsukerman Papers, I assisted with other minor projects. Specifically, I assisted in the cataloging efforts for the Natalia A. and Irina V. Roskina, the Eleonora P. Gomberg-Verzhbinskaia, and the Iiuliia Markovna Zhivova and Ivan Dmitrievich Rozhanskii papers.

Work at the Special Collections this summer gave me a broader perspective of what I can do after completing my dissertation. Specifically, sorting and cataloguing Tsukerman Papers revealed how some very important dissidents are understudied and therefore generally unknown in the academic world. This persuades me that outside of working with already catalogued collections, I have to pursue opportunities to acquire new and unsorted papers and make them known to scholars of human rights and political dissidence.

Elizabeth Kramer, JuniorAnimation major, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, IN
Elizabeth, home for the summer from the University of Saint Francis, in Fort Wayne, IN, worked with Sara Weber on a number of digital imaging projects. For a project that was begun during the school year, she finished organizing and foldering materials in a collection of baseball sheet music and locating records in WorldCat for the materials that had them.  She entered this information into a Google doc so that this metadata could be imported when the digital collection is created in the fall, then scanned the pieces not in copyright. She also took digital photographs for other projects including the fall exhibit, Ingenious Exercises: Sports and the Printed Book in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800, the forthcoming digital exhibits on basketball and the Durand collection, and also a project underway pertaining to a collection of medieval manuscript fragments.

When asked about her experience working Notre Dame’s Special Collections, Elizabeth had this to say:

I enjoyed being able to work hands on with the rare books. I especially enjoyed the more decorative books and the ones with an abundance of old illustrations and prints. Hopefully I can incorporate what I’ve seen and worked with into my future work.

Who’s Who in RBSC: Dave Gura

Dave Gura joined Rare Books and Special Collections in August 2010 as Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts. Trained in Greek and Latin with particular interests in textual criticism, Latin paleography, and manuscript studies, Dave earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. His doctoral research examined the transmission of the Roman poet Ovid in the Middle Ages and culminated in his dissertation, “A Critical Edition and Study of Arnulf of Orléans’s Philological Commentary to Ovid’s Metamorphoses,” under the supervision of Professor Frank T. Coulson.

Since coming to Notre Dame, Dave has been engaged in numerous projects that have brought attention to the library’s Medieval manuscript collection. He co-curated an exhibit with his colleague, David Sullivan, titled Readers Writing Books: Annotation in Context, 1200-1600 in Spring 2012 that featured medieval annotations in printed texts. Then in Spring 2013, Dave curated his first full exhibit, Hour by Hour: Reconstructing a Medieval Breton Prayerbook, and a version of this was put on display at the Snite Museum at Notre Dame for the Medieval Academy of America annual meeting in Spring 2015. This exhibit featured a fifteenth-century Book of Hours from Brittany, France that had been cut apart so that individual leaves could be sold. In curating this exhibit, Dave aimed to reconstruct the entire manuscript, searching for the various leaves that had been sold, and to inform viewers about the practice of book breaking.

Dave’s current exhibit features papal manuscripts, books, and other materials related to the Vatican. Vestigia Vaticana: An exhibition of papal manuscripts, books, and more in conjunction with the conference “The Promise of the Vatican Library” at the University of Notre Dame opened May 4, 2016, to coincide with the conference.

In addition to highlighting the collection through exhibits, Dave uses the medieval manuscript collection to teach a variety of classes that range from individual tutorials on Western codicology to graduate courses on Latin paleography. Students get hands-on experience analyzing these manuscripts. They learn basic aspects of Western codicology—the study of books as physical objects—including how to read different styles of Latin handwriting, identify bindings, and estimate the period in which the text was written.

Both his classes and exhibits reflect how Dave views his role as curator. He works with manuscripts in the RBSC collections, researching their provenance and content and using them to teach students, faculty, and the public. One of his main goals is to help undergraduates and graduate students develop the skills they need to conduct their own research with these types of materials.

A consummate scholar, Dave has an active research agenda. He recently completed his book entitled A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, which is forthcoming from the University of Notre Dame Press. Having finished installing his exhibit, he plans to resume research on a newly acquired fragment that is an unknown witness to a 13th-century French poem to Charlemagne’s mother.

From the hours he spends examining 13th-century papal bulls to evaluate their legitimacy to his dream of acquiring a perfectly glossed, complete, 13th-century copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Dave’s passion for what he does is quite apparent to all of us in Special Collections. To keep up with his research on ND’s medieval collections, follow him on Twitter.

Who’s Who in RBSC: Aedín Clements

Aedin Clements, Irish Studies LibrarianStanding beside oversized reproductions of two issues of The Cork Examiner from May 8-9, 1916, Aedín Clements commented how delighted she is that Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) has such an extensive collection of historical newspapers from Ireland. She explained that these newspapers are important sources for understanding Irish society and, thus, must be preserved and made discoverable and freely accessible to researchers here and worldwide. This has become one of her many projects as Irish Studies librarian.

Aedín, a native of Dublin, studied Irish literature, language, and folklore at University College Dublin from which she earned her bachelor’s and library degrees. She also earned a master’s degree in English literature from Western Michigan University. In 2005, Aedin joined the Library as Irish Studies librarian. She was attracted to this job because of Hesburgh Library’s extensive 20th-century Irish language collection, one that covers a broad range of disciplines and includes children’s literature, Irish language and literature, traditional songs and ballads, and more. She admits a special place in her heart for the O’Neill Collection, which has a little something for everyone. In December 2015, Aedin also became Interim Head of the Area Studies and Global Affairs unit within the Hesburgh Libraries. Her expertise and work in Irish Studies are evident in many ways including invitations to speak at conferences and events and the multiple exhibits she has curated for RBSC. Her scholarship and service to the profession have been recognized by Notre Dame: Aedín was awarded the 2013 Rev. Paul J. Foik, C.S.C., Award by Hesburgh Libraries and was elected in September 2015 as a Faculty Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.

Aedín has a list of to-dos that is perpetually growing because she is always on the lookout for enhancing existing areas of collecting strengths—18th- and 19th-century literature and history—and keeping up with all of the new or evolving research interests of faculty and students on campus. She is always thinking about how to make Hesburgh’s collections more accessible and, equally important, how to educate people about these collections. Recently, she partnered with a newly established network of librarians, the Libraries and Archives Group of the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS), to develop innovative ways for better developing collections. The network will take up this very issue at the upcoming roundtable discussion during the ACIS conference at Notre Dame, March 30-April 3, 2016.

After discovering that Hesburgh Libraries holds a wealth of sources documenting the Irish American perspective, Aedín developed an interest in Irish American history. When asked if there was a particular item that caught her attention, she smiled and said, “Yes, McGee’s Illustrated Weekly!” This was a newspaper founded by an American, James Redpath, who gave Americans a glimpse into Irish life, spattered with a bit of Irish and American humor, the latest fashion trends, and portraits of prominent Irishmen. Yet, Aedín’s love of the Irish language always draws her back. She is currently immersed in reading Visions of Ireland: Gael Linn’s Amharc Éireann Film Series, 1956-1964 by B. Mairéad Pratschke.

Aedín can often be found digging through the Irish collections in RBSC. None of her colleagues is ever surprised when she comes skipping down the hall with the biggest smile you can imagine, as she did when she discovered that we have a large collection of yet-to-be processed historical Irish newspapers. It turned out that this is where she unearthed the copies of the Cork Examiner. Aedín’s wide-ranging knowledge of and curiosity about all things Irish can be seen in her current exhibit, Easter, 1916: The Irish Rebellion, which is on display in Rare Books Special Collections through April 28, 2016.

Who’s Who in RBSC: Dan Johnson

Dan JohnsonWith his excitement barely contained, Dan Johnson reveled in what a great addition this would be for RBSC—a map of Middle Earth annotated by J. R. R. Tolkien himself! Dan went on to explain that this map was recently discovered stuck in the renowned illustrator, Pauline Baynes’ personal copy of The Lord of the Rings and that it promises to be an important piece of Tolkien ephemera. “If only we had a Tolkien collection to justify pursuing this,” he lamented.

Dan’s enthusiasm and appreciation for the Inklings is among his many literary interests. He studied English literature, earning his BA from Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN, and then went on to earn an MA from Wake Forest University. He is currently researching the supernatural in the 18th century. Part of this research examines the work of Charles Brockden Brown, the first major American novelist and Gothic fiction pioneer. He is finishing his dissertation, “Visible Plots, Invisible Realms,” en route to earning his PhD in English literature at Princeton University. All the while he is learning the ropes of the library world as the new English Literature and Digital Humanities librarian for Hesburgh Libraries.

Having come to Notre Dame in August, Dan quickly immersed himself in getting to know the collections, faculty, and students. Within the first couple of weeks, he was meeting with English students and faculty, and preparing classes that featured rare materials, including the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He pulled out multiple editions of The Ancient Mariner and along with Professor Yasmin Solomonescu guided the students through Coleridge’s marginal glosses, talking about the book as artifact.

Tightly integrated with Dan’s interests in American and British literature from the 18th and 19th centuries is his fascination with how technology can enhance research in the Humanities. Dan founded and manages a digital archive of texts and digital humanities projects related to 18th- and 19th-century British and American literature called Scholar’s Grotto. This includes his own project, a scholarly edition of The Relief; or, Day Thoughts (1754), a parody and critique of graveyard poetry by Henry Jones, the “bricklayer poet.”

Dan is quite excited about enhancing RBSC’s literary collections. He has acquired two significant additions: a 1725 edition of Shakespeare’s works edited by Alexander Pope and the 1818 second edition of The Family Shakespeare in Ten Volumes edited by Thomas Bowdler. Both of these will be featured in his upcoming Shakespeare spotlight exhibit in RBSC—this will be the first exhibit Dan has ever curated. It will coincide with RBSC’s hosting of First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s touring exhibit that will bring a First Folio of the bard’s plays to each of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Dan will also lead guided tours of both exhibits and invites everyone to brave the snow and come out to learn about Shakespeare.

 


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Who’s Who in RBSC: Natasha Lyandres

nlyandresLetters written by and to Lady Byron—these are among the many rich surprises Natasha Lyandres has found in Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) since she joined the department in Fall 2013 as Head of Special Collections.

Before joining RBSC, Natasha studied Art History at Moscow State University and then earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University. She has held positions as Special Projects Librarian for the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford University, Reference Librarian for the Joyner Library at East Carolina University, and Head of Acquisition Resources and Discovery Services at Notre Dame.

The main focus for her, according to Natasha, is working with her staff to make RBSC collections more visible and accessible to students, faculty, and researchers. This involves processing collections and making them discoverable in the library’s online catalog and on the department’s website. She and her staff also make the intellectual content of their collections understandable to specialists and non-specialists alike by providing descriptions on the RBSC website, talking to individuals, teaching classes in RBSC, and co-teaching courses with campus faculty.

Natasha is also curator of Russian and Eastern European collections. She continually searches for rare and unique materials that support the existing collection strengths and the research interests of Notre Dame teaching faculty. Among her recent acquisitions are avant-garde Russian and Polish rare books, materials by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky, both recipients of the Nobel Prize for Literature, as well as documents about extraordinary lives of their interesting but less well-known contemporaries. Currently, she is working with the department’s manuscript processor, Ken Kinslow, to finalize the processing of and finding aid for the Elizabeth Markstein papers she acquired.

When asked if there is an item she dreams about acquiring for RBSC, Natasha replied without hesitating, “Kazimir Malevich’s On New Systems in Art: Statics and Speed—this is a phenomenal work by one of the most important artists of the twentieth century!” Natasha’s interests extend beyond art and manuscripts. She is currently immersed in The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio by Andrea Mays. This page-turning read is setting the stage for the upcoming exhibit RBSC is hosting, First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, January 6-30, 2016. Notre Dame is the sole Indiana site to host the Folger Shakespeare Library’s national traveling exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Natasha’s parting words returned us to the department and its staff. Admitting that she really enjoys working with the breadth of RBSC’s collections, she said in no uncertain terms that the highlight for her is “working with the people first and foremost because of the knowledge they possess about so many different things and because they are all so enthusiastic about what they do.”

 


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