Collection highlights, news about acquisitions, events and exhibits, and behind-the-scenes looks at the work and services of Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) at Notre Dame.
Rare Books and Special Collections is located on the main floor of the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame in northern Indiana, and is open to students, faculty, visiting researchers, and members of the community Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm (closed weekends and major holidays).
“At the end of the 1520’s and especially in the course of the 1530s, the Italian market offered a wide range of anonymous books in the vernacular that were merely translations, often partial, of Lutheran texts disguised behind seemingly innocent titles… To the complete absence of reaction by controversialists … there had been one significant exception… Giovanni of Fano offered the uneducated reader a Luther skilled in controversy, a violently anti-Roman, systematic theologian and subverter of tradition, presenting, together with a ‘clearer notice’ of the fundamentals of Catholic doctrine, a fully detailed picture of Lutheran errors.”
The first chapter of the work treats the handling of all kinds of heretics. Fano subsequently introduces his lay reader to the usual anti-Lutheran responses found in Latin treatises of the time: on the unity of the Church; St. Peter and the Apostolic Succession; on faith, Confession, the Eucharist, indulgences, Purgatory, idolatry, prayer, and finally on the celibacy of the clergy.
We have located only one other North American institutional holding of this title.
Rare Books and Special Collections recently acquired limited runs of two American periodicals from the 1940s, New York’s View and The Texas Spectator. Each captures part of the zeitgeist of the 1940s, war-time to peace-time.
View, a quarterly magazine published in New York City, covered the avant-garde and surrealist art scene from 1940 through 1947. The publication drew American artists—like Georgia O’Keeffe, Man Ray, and Alexander Calder—and also featured European artists, many of whom were wartime refugees. These included Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, André Masson, and Marc Chagall, and writer André Breton.
As shaped by the editorial hands of artist and writer Charles Henri Ford and author and film critic Parker Tyler, View unabashedly popularized surrealism in the US while also challenging the European movement’s sexual conventionalism.
The Texas Spectator newspaper, published weekly in Austin, maintained a progressive, sardonic eye on Texas politics between 1945 and 1948. The paper featured reporting by liberal journalist and novelist Hart Stilwell, and western writer J. Frank Dobie.
The newspaper’s motto—from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline—conveyed its raison d’etre: “Fear no more the frown o’ the great . . . Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke.” It championed civil rights, education, and labor, and scrutinized the state’s powerful oil and gas companies and their political surrogates.
At first glance View and The Texas Spectator’s differences seem obvious. The former promoted a cultural movement propelled by elements of surprise and spontaneity, while the former engaged in a David vs. Goliath struggle over political power. Yet they share an optimism about the possibility of social and political change for a better future.
The Henry Grattan Pamphlet Collection, purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries some twenty years ago, deserves to be highlighted in a blogpost.
Henry Grattan (1746-1820), was a prominent Irish politician, closely associated with the Irish parliament so that from 1782 until the Act of Union of 1800, it was known as ‘Grattan’s Parliament.’
The collection of books and pamphlets, bound together in nine volumes, comprise part of his personal library. These nine volumes became separated from the rest of the Grattan Library which was sold at auction in 1888. These volumes were discovered some hundred years later in a country house in Ireland.
The thematically-arranged volumes are handsomely bound with a title on each spine and a list of contents inside, hand-written in ink by Henry Grattan and another person. Many of the publications also have marginal pencil marks and some have annotations.
The volumes are as follows:
1. Ireland. Free Trade & Independence 2. Ireland. 3. Ireland. 1798 4. Ireland. Catholics 5. Ireland. Catholics 6. Ireland. Catholics 7. Ireland. Union 8. Ireland. Union 9. Ireland. Union
The fourth volume shown here has the usual listing of contents written on the inside cover, and this volume also has Henry Grattan’s name inscribed in ink.
Grattan’s careful reading of some of the publications may be inferred from pencil marks in the margins. In this example, the penciled annotations appear to have been cut when the pamphlet was trimmed for binding.
While the individual pamphlets are rare in libraries, digitized copies of various editions are available. Therefore, it is the provenance and the selection and grouping together of these publications that makes them so interesting, as part of the working library of an Irish politician.
The current spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – early May 2023) and Hagadah shel Pesaḥ le-zekher ha-Shoʼah – Pessach Haggadah in memory of the Holocaust (April – May 2023).
Rare Books and Special Collections is open regular hours during the summer — 9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.
RBSC will be closed Monday, May 29th, for Memorial Day and Tuesday, July 4th, for Independence Day.
This week Special Collections highlights an online exhibition created by Notre Dame students in their fall 2022 class, Stories of Power and Diversity: Inside Museums, Archives and Collecting. The exhibition, Hidden Depths: Resurfacing the Overlooked and Underrepresented, brings together materials from the University of Notre Dame’s campus repositories–Rare Books and Special Collections, the Snite Museum of Art, and University Archives–selected and interpreted by the students.
The items displayed here vary in format, time period, medium, style, and content–abstract painting, sculpture, installation art, photographs, and collections of historic documents–and are created by people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Their selection reflects the themes of the class, which were to explore the history of collecting in Europe and North America and some of the field’s major questions, including, what has been left out? Where are there gaps and silences in collections and archives?
Eight students applied a curatorial gaze to these materials, to examine how they do and do not intersect with themes of diversity. While these curators recognize the diverse identities of the creators of these objects, the showcases comprising this exhibition point viewers to hidden depths. They ask that we consider how identities are nuanced through regional conditions, educational background, economic forces, and personal trauma. And just as importantly, the curators of the show consider how identity and diversity are not always directly linked in one’s art or expression. They also demand that consumers of these pieces of art and historical sources work to apprehend the complexities behind their creation. By extension, they suggest that we take a careful second look in other contexts, beyond the online gallery or the museum.
This exhibition offers interpretation, but it also asks questions, and challenges viewers even as it invites them to connect with holdings in the University of Notre Dame’s campus repositories. Information about the student curators and their experiences in this course can be found in the personal statements at the end of each showcase.
Hidden Depths showcases ways in which students engaged with special collections materials over a semester-long project. The result is a display that uncovers, refocuses and takes an imperative second look.
Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a copy of an important and rare early modern title in Catholic theology with an interesting provenance. Jean Garet (d. 1571) wrote a number of works aimed mainly at exposing the doctrinal errors of Protestantism and illustrating the truth of Catholic teachings; his works were highly esteemed during his lifetime and he was read widely throughout the seventeenth century. This work, De sanctorum invocatione liber (S. Manilius, 1570), deals with the efficacy of the intercession of the saints.
This copy is of particular interest as it was owned by the English Benedictine Priory of St. Edmund King and Martyr in Paris during the seventeenth century and is recorded in their library catalogue of 1702. Benedictine monasticism in England effectively ended when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries between 1536 and 1540; however, it lived on through the various colleges and religious houses which were established on the continent. St. Edmund’s priory was founded in 1615 when monks from the English Benedictine priory in Lorraine arrived in Paris to establish a house of studies; in 1619, the community joined the revived English Benedictine Congregation which was formally established that year.
After a number of moves, the community settled in the Rue Saint Jacques (1632) where the monks were to remain until the French Revolution. Their library grew in size and importance from that date, given that the monastery was a house of studies. The first complete catalogue of the library is that of Dom Benet Weldon (1674-1713); it was finished in 1702. The catalogue is important for bibliographical research today because the library of St. Edmund’s priory was dispersed during the French Revolution; this work is recorded in Weldon’s catalogue with shelfmark 7 E 7. The entry is written in Weldon’s hand, indicating that it was present in the library in 1702 and was not a later addition.
Only 117 books—out of a total of approximately 5,800—from the library at St. Edmund’s priory have been traced, and until now all of the identified copies are in institutional libraries in Europe or the United Kingdom. Thus, this is the first book from St. Edmund’s (and the first copy of the work itself) to be held by a North American institution.
The exhibition displays materials from Rare Book and Special Collections that place Mike Curato’s novel into social and historical context. The show includes sources about the Boy Scouts, Catholic pamphlets on contemporary devotional practices—including images of the sacred heart, which figure prominently in Flamer—Catholic pamphlets about pastoral care of LGBTQ people, and a selection of LGBTQ documents on sports and humor. Each section explores themes in the novel that may resonate with readers. We hope the show will encourage discussion of this award-winning book.
Tours of the exhibit may be arranged for classes and other groups, and additional curator-led tours are available at 12 noon on the following upcoming Friday: April 21.
The April spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and Hagadah shel Pesaḥ le-zekher ha-Sho’ah – Pessach Haggadah in memory of the Holocaust (April – May 2023).
Museums, special collections, and archives acquire materials in a variety of ways, most commonly through donation and purchase. Hesburgh Libraries is no exception.
Last fall, students in the multi-disciplinary class, Stories of Power and Diversity: Inside Museums, Archives, and Collecting, created acquisition proposals for Hesburgh Libraries. Class members were asked to put themselves in the shoes of curators and select materials that would develop the library’s collection in diverse and inclusive ways. The formats of prospective purchases were left fairly open; students could consider a wide range of types of materials–from books to manuscripts to posters and even artifacts (realia). As an incentive (and as a gesture to how libraries and archives compete for and manage resources), the most deserving proposal (determined by class vote) would be purchased, placed in the library’s collections, and featured on the library’s social media (this blogpost!).
Students searched vendor websites and online catalogs and considered some of the following questions.
How complete is this item or collection? Are there significant gaps or pieces missing?
If a collection of photographs, are they identified or identifiable, in terms of locations, dates, names of people?
If it is a printed item (a book, posters, pamphlet), how rare is it? (Use WorldCat.)
Does HL already own it? (Check the library catalog, ask librarians/instructors.)
If the item is a manuscript (not printed or published), does the library hold related items?
What might be the research value? How might researchers (in different disciplines–history, gender studies, art history, etc.) make use of this item(s)? What perspectives does the item convey? What can we learn from it?
The students presented their proposals in class and discussed some of the challenges and satisfaction they discovered along the way. Timi Griffin, who assembled a small but significant collection of printed materials and realia from different vendors about Civil Rights activist, presidential candidate, and comedian Dick Gregory, won the class’s vote for best proposal. Congratulations Timi!
Timi argued that the library should purchase items relating to Gregory’s 1968 presidential campaign, including a poster, flier, buttons, and fake dollar bills with the candidate’s portrait in place of Washington’s, and a signed copy of his 2000 memoir. Taken together, the items contextualize Gregory’s activism and prominence in the Civil Rights movement and American culture and politics in the last decades of the twentieth century.
The students’ presentations showed that they had taken seriously the assignment’s task of strengthening diversity and inclusion in the collections. Rare Books and Special Collections decided to purchase all of the items they proposed adding to the collections. These are:
–a 1914 photograph of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute Football Team, an African American school in Hampton, Virginia.
–a signed, fine press copy of the first chapter of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin with an original print by Yoko Ono; created to raise funds to fight AIDS in Africa (2008).
–an issue of Black Fire, the newspaper of the Black Students Union at San Francisco State University from 1969.
–a collection of nine mid-century lesbian pulp fiction paperbacks and reprinted novels, and a related work.
–an album of photographs, probably by an American, of the Pacific and South-East Asia, including Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, Ceylon, India, and the Himalayas, circa 1905.
–diaries of Thaddeus Hayes of Connecticut, created between 1795 and 1803.
–two photographic essays about Japan by W. Eugene Smith and associates: Japan–a Chapter of Image (1963) and Minamata : Life – Sacred and Profane (1973).
These new acquisitions are welcome additions to the library’s special collections, adding particularly to sources about Southeast and East Asia, and materials created in the last 30 years. The collections need to be strengthened in all of these areas. The newly-purchased materials are currently in the process of being cataloged, organized, and housed so that they can be accessed and used by present and future generations of library users.