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: September and early October

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

Thursday, October 7 at 4:30pm | Dante in America, Session V: Dante, Jazz, and American Modernism” by Joseph Rosenberg (University of Notre Dame), and “‘Was Then Your Image Like the Image I See Now?’ Dante’s Face in America” by Kathleen Verduin (Hope College).

The Dante in America lectures are sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies and the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies.

The fall exhibit “Bound up with love…” The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection is now open and will run through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are The Ferrell Manuscripts (August – December 2021) and A Limited Edition Photo Album of the Sistine Chapel (August – September 2021).


RBSC is closed Monday, September 6th,
for Labor Day.

Recent Acquisition: A Frenchman in Constantinople and Lebanon

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an extremely rare biography, François Marchetty’s La Vie de Monsieur de Chasteuil, Solitaire du Mont-Liban (Paris, 1666).

François de Gallaup de Chasteuil (1588-1644) was an orientalist who, after accompanying a French embassy to Constantinople, joined a Maronite hermitage in the Qadisha valley of Lebanon and lived the rest of his life as a hermit there, studying Sacred Scripture.

The work is a fine source for the study of the religious practices and ecclesiastical organization of the 17th-century Maronites, an Eastern Catholic Church that is part of the historical and liturgical heritage of Syriac Christianity. It is officially known today as the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch.

We have found only one other North American holding of this title.

Welcome Back! Fall 2021 in Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections welcomes students, faculty, staff, researchers, and visitors back to campus for Fall ’21! We want to let you know about a variety of things to watch for in the coming semester.

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

Due to the spread of highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus, and our inability to verify the vaccination status of those outside our highly vaccinated campus community, masks will be required (except when eating and drinking) of both vaccinated and unvaccinated faculty, staff, students, and visitors in some campus spaces during times when those spaces are generally open to the public. The first two floors of the Hesburgh Library (including Rare Books and Special Collections) are among the spaces where masks are required in public areas, including for those who are fully vaccinated.

Up-to-date information regarding campus policies is provided at covid.nd.edu, and a complete list of these campus spaces will be updated regularly here.

New Leadership at the Hesburgh Libraries

K. Matthew Dames

K. Matthew Dames, previously university librarian at Boston University, has been appointed the Edward H. Arnold University Librarian at the University of Notre Dame by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., effective August 1. Dr. Dames succeeds Diane Parr Walker, who has retired after serving 10 years as librarian.

Read the full press report online.

Fall 2021 exhibit: “Bound up with love …” The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection

This year, the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, we are celebrating the legacy of the Zahm Dante Collection and the remarkable accumulation of rare Italian material acquired at the University of Notre Dame over the past century. 

Highlights of the exhibition include rare printings of the three crowns of Italian literature – Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio – as well as verse anthologies of poetry and other tools such as grammars and dictionaries that would have assisted 16th century readers of vernacular literature.

Fall 2021 Spotlight exhibit featuring the Ferrell Manuscripts

The Fall Spotlight Exhibit features six medieval manuscripts donated to the University of Notre Dame by James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell. The collection features a diverse group of manuscripts from the thirteenth through fifteenth century including a historiated Bible, book of hours, a tarot card, and illuminations. The Ferrell Collection can be discovered digitally.

Monthly rotating spotlight exhibits

Despite the challenges of the last academic year and thanks, in no small part, to the generosity of our donors, Special Collections’ holdings continued to grow. This spotlight exhibit celebrates one recent gift: the three-volume limited edition photo album of the Sistine Chapel. An anonymous donor presented this magnum opus to the Hesburgh Libraries in February 2021.

Drop in every month to see what new surprise awaits you in our monthly feature!

Special Collections’ Classes & Workshops

Throughout the semester, curators will teach sessions related to our holdings to undergraduate and graduate students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College. Curators may also be available to show special collections to visiting classes, from preschool through adults. If you would like to arrange a group visit and class with a curator, please contact Special Collections.

Archival Research Lab I: Locating Materials and Preparing to Go
Wednesday, October 6, 10:00am to 11:15am

Archival Research Lab II: Inside the Archive
Wednesday, October 13, 10:00am to 11:15am

This two-session workshop provides an introduction to advanced archival research. In session one, you will learn strategies for finding and evaluating relevant archival collections and steps you’ll need to consider before you go to an archive. In session two, you will “enter the archive,” completing the registration process and handling and examining different archival materials and formats. This workshop is designed to introduce those who have not previously done archival research to the world of archives and special collections, and also as a refresher and skill-building opportunity for those planning to visit archives again in the post-COVID environment.

Events

Fall 2021 Lecture Series: Dante in America — In commemoration of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, in 2021 the Center for Italian Studies and Devers Family Program in Dante Studies are hosting a series of lectures on the topic “Dante in America.” During the Fall Semester, the lectures are open to the public and will be held in person and streamed via Zoom, with the first lecture Thursday, September 2, 4:30pm to 6:30pm.

Learn more about the series. 

Recent Acquisitions

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

Speaking about Catholicism in China with a Unified Voice

by Hye-jin Juhn, East Asian Studies Librarian

The goal of the Catholic Central Bureau (CCB), founded by Archbishop Riberi in 1946, was to ensure that the country’s Catholic missions, which were independently run by various denominations, would communicate a unified message about Catholicism and the Catholic world view to the Chinese intellectuals and youths, who were increasingly being attracted to Communism. The CCB, in an attempt to fight off the image of Catholicism as an imperialist and non-scientific religion, actively translated and published European Catholic materials about social reforms. In June 1951, the Chinese government disabled the CCB’s activities and arrested and imprisoned many of its members.

RBSC has two editions of Tian zhu jiao qian shuo (天主教淺說) or An Introduction to Catholicism, authored/edited by Zhang Jiemei and published by the CCB.

Its first edition (106 pages), published in Beijing in 1948, introduces Catholicism “more frankly and objectively” (更坦白,更客觀的方式) than the existing publications about Catholicism. It begins with the questions: “What is religion?,” and “What is Catholicism?,” and discusses the doctrines, organization, rituals of Catholicism, and the Bible.  The sixth edition (156 pages), published in Shanghai in 1951, begins with the question, “What is human?,” addresses evolution theory, and explains the relationship between science and Catholicism. The final page gives the statistics of Catholic faiths by country. An example: Of almost 1.2 billion population in Asia, almost 30 million were Catholic; of the almost 463 million Chinese, approximately 3.5 million were Catholic.

Sample opening from the sixth edition.
References:

Wong, Yee Ying Bibiana. “The Catholic Central Bureau: A Short-lived Church Authority set up around the Time of the Communist Takeover of China.” Lumen: A Journal of Catholic Studies 5, no. 1 (2017).

Treasures from the Butler Collection of Maps of Ireland

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Central to our Irish map collection is the David J. Butler Collection of Maps of Ireland, given to the Hesburgh Libraries thirty years ago by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. McGrath. The collection is named for Betty McGrath’s father, ‘a native Irishman who loved this school’, and the maps were collected over many years by Thomas C. McGrath during his eventful career as a naval officer, a businessman, a lawyer and a congressman. The David J. Butler Collection consists of seventy-two maps of Ireland, printed in the sixteenth, seventeen and eighteenth centuries.

We are fortunate in having a transcript of the lecture given by Mr. McGrath, ‘The Joy of the Chase’ which describes his hobby of collecting maps and sea charts. His interest in sea charts arose naturally from his time in the U.S. Navy, and he gave these to the Hesburgh Libraries separately, this collection named for his parents, Thomas and Helen McGrath, whose sacrifices, he says, permitted him to study briefly at Notre Dame. (He was enrolled for one year prior to joining the U.S. Navy during World War II.)

Many of the maps were published in atlases, and were removed from those books a long time ago. The Butler collection includes maps by Mercator, Speed and other European map makers and atlas publishers.

This small sample provides a tantalising glimpse (we hope) of the range and richness of the collection. In our incomplete information on these maps, the reader will note that there is much scope for continued research to provide accurate catalog information on each map.

MAI 1612-01-F1

This map, for example, is one where our information is quite incomplete. It appears to be from an edition of Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published in many editions from 1570. We have seen a similar map on the website of the Library of Congress, dated 1598, but we have not seen any copy with the image of Queen Elizabeth I illustrating the cartouche. Our map has a page describing Ireland (Hibernia) in Latin on the verso.

As in a number of earlier maps, the orientation has the west uppermost on the page, rather than the now accepted convention of north being at the top of the page.

Printed at the top of the map, that is, on the Atlantic Ocean to the west of Ireland, is a peculiar selection from the Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales.

A translation of the original text reads,

There is an island called Aren, situated in the western part of Connaught, and consecrated, as it is said, to St. Brendan, where human corpses are neither buried nor decay, but, deposited in the open air, remain uncorrupted. Here men can behold, and recognise with wonder, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and great-great-grandfathers, and the long series of their ancestors to a remote period of past time.

There is another thing remarkable in this island. Although mice swarm in vast numbers in other parts of Ireland, here not a single one is found. No mouse is bred here, nor does it live if it be introduced; when brought over, it runs immediately away and leaps into the sea. If it be stopped, it instantly dies.

Giraldus Cambrensis, 64

Another note on the map mentions Sir Thomas Smith, an English colonist who received a royal grant of the Ards peninsula and Clandeboye in Co. Down in 1571.

It would be interesting to learn more about the publication of this map, and if it was, in fact, part of an Ortelius collection.

John Speed’s map of Leinster is one of the four province maps included in the section on Ireland in Speed’s The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, the first atlas with detailed maps of the provinces of Ireland, published in London in 1611. This map was engraved by Jodocus Hondius, who engraved the plates for Speed’s atlas from 1607 on, and bears the date 1610. This does not mean, however, that the map is from the 1611 edition as the same engravings were used in subsequent editions. It does, however, appear to match the 1611 edition of the Theatre of the Empire, which we can examine in digital form.

Map of Dublin, inset from MAI 1611-01-F2

Speed’s maps of the Irish provinces include insets, for Leinster, the inset is a map of Dublin, possibly the earliest printed map of Dublin still in existence. Maps of Cork and Limerick are inset in his map of Munster.

MAI 1676-01-F2 (upper left quarter of map)

Like many maps of the time, Speed’s maps are embellished with ships and sea creatures. Did the engraver foresee the spread of Irish music across the Atlantic when he added a fanciful image of a harpist riding a winged fish west from the Kerry coastline?

We hope, over time, to make some of our map collection available in digital form on our new platform Marble, so that more people can enjoy and learn from this remarkable collection.

References

Giraldus, Cambrensis, 1146?-1223?, Thomas Forester, Richard Colt Hoare, and Thomas Wright. The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis: Containing the Topography of Ireland, And the History of the Conquest of Ireland. London: G. Bell & sons, 1913.

Further reading on Irish maps

Ireland in maps : an introduction J. H. Andrews. Dublin: Dolmen Press, 1961

Shapes of Ireland : maps and their makers 1564-1839 / J. H. Andrews. Dublin : Geography Publications, 1997

John Speed: Maps of Ireland / Andrew Bonar Law. c. 1979.

The printed maps of Ireland to 1612 / andrew Bonar Law. Morristown, N. J. : Eagle Press, c1983

The printed maps of Ireland 1612-1850 / Andrew Bonar Law. Dublin : Neptune Gallery, 1997


A Perspective on the Spanish Civil War, Mallorca, 1936

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was a complex and divisive conflict that defines Spanish identity to this day. This recent acquisition, a cash book and diary (dietario) kept by a wealthy woman living on Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands, highlights daily life in 1936, during the first year of the war. 

The largest of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca was a locus of nationalist sentiment from early on. Republican forces waged a hard fought battle to win the island back, between July and September of 1936, but were ultimately defeated by the nationalists’ superior air power. On September 4, the island was definitely taken and, over the course of the war, Mallorca served as an important air and naval base for Franco’s fascist forces. 

From January to June, before the war touched Mallorca in any major way, this cash book’s owner, a resident of the city of Manacor, recorded mundane details of daily household life. These included expenses – money spent on food, amounts paid to household servants for cleaning, and pious donations to parish churches, religious orders, and the local hospital. She also recorded income, primarily from a rental house located at the port of Palma, and provided occasional recipes, written in a mix of Catalan and Spanish. 

This page, from January 31, includes a recipe for coques, a traditional sweet or savory pastry common in the Balearic Islands, Catalonia, and adjacent regions. 

By July, however, observations related to the war begin to appear in the diary and these become its main content through the end of the Battle of Mallorca, on September 4.  As early as July 20, an entry reports fighting between republican and nationalist contingents, in the streets of the city of Palma de Mallorca. “This afternoon at the town hall there was fighting between the town guards and the fascists and national police. The national police gave up, seeing that they didn’t have the numbers and not one shot was fired, thanks be to God.”

On August 16, when Republican forces, supported by destroyers and coast guard ships, disembarked at Palma de Mallorca, the cash book states, “this morning at 5 am, an alarm was rung, and the communists entered the port to take possession of everything and the troops came from Palma and the fascists and the rest of our countrymen, with rifles, and they [all] went to defend us…” There were “miles of reds,” and many victims, according to the entry.

Subsequent entries describe the altercations, bombings, gunfire, and the deaths that occurred, primarily in the port city of Palma de Mallorca, before the island was definitively taken by the nationalists on September 4, 1936. 

In addition to war-related details, the writer lists magazine subscriptions, organization memberships, and birth and death dates for her family members in the rear of the book.

This cash book and diary complements other materials related to the Spanish Civil War in our rare collections and offers an intriguing research opportunity for a budding student of history!

Preparing a Parchment Fragment for Posterity

By Maren Rozumalski, Gladys Brooks Conservation Fellow

The recent acquisition of a late Byzantine Greek manuscript fragment gives us an excellent opportunity to highlight the relationship between Rare Books and Special Collections and the library’s Analog Preservation Department.

The more degraded “flesh” side of the parchment bifolio.

The fragment is a single sheet of parchment, approximately ten inches tall by sixteen inches wide, folded down the center to create a bifolium. It is written on both sides in iron gall ink with red pigment initials. This piece is believed to be from the 13th-14th century and is yet to be identified fully. Initial studies indicate it contains sermon extracts, but the exact genre of the manuscript is unknown; all texts are unidentified currently. It will primarily be used in the teaching of graduate level Greek Paleography.

“Hair” side of the parchment bifolio.

The fragment came to the library in a delicate state. It has not lived an ideal life over the centuries, and as such, it was important to have the preservation department evaluate its condition before it was allowed to be handled in classes and by researchers. One of the main issues was that some of the text was obscured due to creases resulting from moisture damage. Moisture damage is problematic when dealing with parchment, because it is not reversable and any moisture introduced during treatment has the potential of furthering the degradation.

Microscopic examination of the parchment confirmed that it has water damage and that the degradation and darkening were at least partially due to mold damage. There was no evidence of active mold. Magnification also revealed that the surface layer of parchment on the flesh side of the parchment was lifting and flaking off in the areas with the most degraded areas.

Together with RBSC, the following treatment goals were decided:

1. Flatten the parchment to reveal the obscured text where possible.
2. Remove staining to improve text legibility as needed, and where possible.
3. Mend tears and areas of loss to stabilize the fragment.
4. Provide housing for handling and storage support.

Each treatment was done selectively, so that the parchment was as undisturbed as possible and other treatment goals could be accomplished. This approach is best for the longevity of the parchment and also leaves the possibility of a theoretical codicological reconstruction to determine the original construction of the codex to which this fragment once belonged.

The humidification zones.
Diagram of the Gortex humidification pack.

Four zones were identified as needing “flattening” (more like gentle stretching) to gain access to the obscured text. Humidification, though not ideal, was deemed the only option. A system was devised which allowed each zone to be humidified in isolation. I settled on a Gortex pack sandwich method, which introduced the moisture evenly from both sides of the parchment. This way the parchment became workable more quickly than if moisture were only being introduced from one side and needed to permeate all the way through. Each area was humidified until it was pliable, but never felt wet. The parchment was gently stretched once it was workable and held in its new position as it dried. The stretching worked better in some areas than others, but all of the text is now partially visible making the text more visible.

In-progress surface cleaning.

The darkest areas of parchment with text were surface cleaned with a 50/50 solution of ethanol and deionized water. A damp cotton swab was rolled over the lines of text, lifting up the surface dirt as it went. The ethanol in the mix helped the water evaporate more quickly so it would soak into the damaged parchment.

A patch of parchment roughly the size of a quarter was lifting and about to pop off the document. This was consolidated using a 3% gelatin mousse, which is comprised of cold gelatin strained through a very fine sieve until it is light and frothy.  Gelatin mousse is much easier to control than liquid gelatin since it stays in place after brushing, and because as a drier adhesive it does not permeate the substraight as much as other adhesives.

The tear repairs and bridge mends were done using pre-coated tissue made with wheat starch paste that was reactivated using the same gelatin mousse. The repairs were done on both sides of the parchment so a thin translucent paper could be used but the repairs would still be strong.

UV photograph of “flesh” side of parchment.

UV photography was the last step before making permanent housing for the fragment. Iron gall ink appears darker in UV light than it does in visible light, so the Greek text will be easier to read in UV photographs than in normal light photos or in person. These photographs will aid users working with the fragment.

The final challenge before returning the fragment was housing. Developing a housing system was the most important aspect of this treatment so the fragment can safely maintain its active life. After experimenting with several models, a double-sided window mount was designed, which I adapted from the British Library’s housing for burnt fragments from the collection of Sir Robert Cotton. The parchment is contained within a packet of polyethylene strips and various weights of polyester sheeting. The strips on one side instead of two solid sheets allow for plenty of airflow so there is no danger of creating microclimates. This also helps minimize polyester’s tendency toward static electricity build-up. The fragment was then secured between two window mattes made of corrugated board.

Diagram of the double-sided window mount.
The fragment after treatment and in its housing.

All of the treatment goals were reached using a “less is more” approach, and sturdy housing was constructed. The fragment is back in the library ready for active use.

Fáinne an Lae — Advertising to the Irish

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

New to our collection is a very nice bound volume Fáinne an Lae , A Weekly Bilingual Newspaper for the Advancement of the Irish Language. Páipéar Seachtmhaine Dá Theanga chum Gaedhilge do Chur ar Aghaidh. Vol. 1, no. 1,  January 8th, 1898 to the last volume, Vol. 5, no. 134, July 28th, 1900.

This pioneering work was taken on by printer Bernard Doyle (Brian Ó Dubhghaill), who owned and edited the newspaper, in cooperation with Conradh na Gaeilge (the Gaelic League).

Differences between the owner and Conradh na Gaeilge developed, and eventually Conradh na Gaeilge founded their own paper, An Claidheamh Soluis, which replaced Fáinne an Lae in 1900. Further information on the intertwined history of the two newspapers may be read in Fáinne an Lae agus an Athbheochan, 1898-1900, by Caoilfhionn Nic Pháidín (1998)

When this handsome volume arrived, we began to explore it, examining the content of the first issue (editorial on the need to revive the Irish language, summaries of Irish and overseas news items, and news of the Irish language and of the Gaelic League), but we soon became engrossed in the advertisements on the back page of each issue.

While most advertisements are in English, some are written in Irish, including this one from Madigan Brothers, tea merchants, of Henry Street, Dublin.

Tá tae “thar barr” ag Muintir Mhadagháin. (The Madigan family’s tea is superlative). The price of a pound of their tea ranges from 1/4 (one shilling and four pence) to two shillings.

A barber advertises his services — one wonders if the conversation in 180 Townsend Street was often in Irish, and how successful this ad was in bringing an Irish-speaking clientele. Surely he was not the only Irish-speaking barber in all of Ireland, but the claim might refer to Dublin city center.

As we might expect, many advertisements were directed not only to Irish language enthusiasts, but to those who supported Irish industry. In the spirit of Douglas Hyde’s groundbreaking essay, ‘The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland’ (1892), calling for Irish people to embrace Irish products as well as Irish culture and language, the advertisements promote Irish handkerchiefs, clothes, jewellery, whiskey and books.

Bernard Doyle’s biography in ainm.ie tells us that he was involved in the planning of centenary commemoration events for the 1798 Rising, and so it isn’t surprising to find an ad for ’98 commemorative items in his paper. Irish poplin, the material noted here for ties, sashes, and the Wolfe Tone badges, is a silk fabric that was woven in Dublin since the since the seventeenth century.

This Belfast jeweller advertises brooches complete with Celtic cross, harp, and what looks like a round tower.

Christmas cards with Irish language greetings , ‘the latest novelty’ are advertised below Tierney’s ad for rented china, glass and delph. Delph, or delf, a word rarely heard in America, is a common term in Ireland for earthenware dishes, cups, plates etc.

Kelly Brothers, above, advertise their large stock of wine, but only as a footnote to their altar wine.

Having read and enjoyed the advertisements, we will now send the volume for cataloging, and look forward to making it available for students and visitors.

On the Retirement of Joseph T. Ross

A guest essay by Lou Jordan, Associate University Librarian

Joe Ross and his wife, Nancy, examining a manuscript bible.

As we wish you a celebratory Independence Day, we also mark the retirement of longtime rare books cataloger, Joe Ross. We thank Lou Jordan. Associate University Librarian, who was for many years the Head of Rare Books and Special Collections, for contributing an essay on Joe’s career.

As an undergraduate Joe pursued an interest in theology. He was awarded a BA in religion in 1973 from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA, and went on to obtain a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Joe also studied the history of science, spending the 1975-76 academic year as a research assistant at the Institut für die Geschichte der Medizin, Tübingen.

Joe took his first library job in 1979 as a library assistant at Emory University. In 1981, Joe was hired at Notre Dame by Maureen Gleason as a library technical assistant to work with the collection development librarian Joe Huebner. His workspace was centrally located, close to the circulation desk in the room where the current shipment of new books from our North American approval plan were displayed for decisioning. Also located in that room were the 3×5 book slips for our approval plan from German publishers. Consequently, most subject librarians and many Arts and Letters faculty stopped by the room on a regular basis to peruse the latest publications and at the same time also got to know Joe. Joe quickly gained a reputation as a linguist and a scholar, assisting a wide array of librarians and teaching faculty procure needed titles. During this time Joe renewed his interested in the history of science, taking one course at a time and finally in 1991 completing an MA in the History of Science program at Notre Dame, focusing his study on Hegel.

In 1992, Joe resigned his staff position in order to pursue a Masters of Library Science degree full-time at Indiana University in Bloomington. Following his MLS, Joe accepted a library faculty position at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C as the Bibliographer for Philosophy, Theology, and Humanities. In 1996 Notre Dame advertised for a rare books cataloger; Joe applied for this position and was hired at the rank of a staff librarian as the first full time Rare Books Cataloger at Hesburgh Library. In 1997 he took on the added duties as liaison to the program in the History and Philosophy of Science and in 1999 was promoted to Assistant Librarian.

Joe is a master linguist, fluent in German and with a command of Greek, Latin, most major Western European languages, as well as Arabic and even Sanskrit. His language ability and meticulous scholarship are his signature traits. Joe surrounded himself with rare books and the reference works needed to catalog these texts. There was hardly any open space in his office—even the chair he reserved for visitors was often filled with the past month’s copies of The New York Times.

Joe consistently produced high level original cataloging for rare materials no matter what language they were in. He was especially diligent with complex works that most catalogers would put aside. He accurately described each individual text in our numerous neo-scholastic theological anthologies that has come from various Olmütz monastic libraries. Similarly, he clearly distinguished the numerous lectures, poems and dissertations collected in our 17th century German university miscellanies. Joe also meticulously documented provenance information, tracing down handwritten signatures and ex-libris annotations as well as identifying many hitherto unrecorded early book stamps and labels. 

During his 25 years as a rare book cataloger Joe provided thousands of original catalog records for early imprints unlocking the content of these important resources for the Notre Dame community and for scholars around the world.

Best wishes in your well-deserved retirement Joe, we shall miss you.


Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed on Monday, July 5th, in observance of Independence Day. For research visits to Special Collections, please make an appointment by contacting us at rarebook@nd.edu.

Wishing you and yours a happy Canada Day (July 1)
and a festive Fourth of July!