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).
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.
The Treaty of 1922 resulted in the formation of the Irish Free State. This tenth anniversary book, published under the Minister for Industry and Commerce and edited by Bulmer Hobson, is intended to show the world how Ireland has developed in all areas, from science and industry to education and art. The book is profusely illustrated.
The cover design by Art O’Murnaghan (1872-1954), is clearly making reference to the style of early Irish illuminated manuscripts. This decorative style, based on the art of illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow, became very popular during the Celtic Revival of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
An earlier example of the celebration of early Irish art is found in ‘The Cromlech on Howth’, a book that combines the fascination and research into Irish art and literature with a poem by Samuel Ferguson, decoration by Margaret Stokes, and an essay on Irish script by George Petrie.
Shamrocks and harps, however, have been used as emblems of Ireland for centuries, and in America in particular, book bindings of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries proclaim the Irish context with a harp, a decoration of shamrocks, or both. In The Days of a Life, by “Norah” (Margaret Dixon McDougall), is a story of Ireland showing the plight of the laborers and the abuse of the landlord class, from the perspective of a young Canadian visitor. The additional images of a round tower and the ruins of a castle or monastery are also typically suggestive of Ireland’s history.
The tiny edition of Thomas Moore’s extraordinarily popular Irish Melodies shown here includes a ‘female harp’ combining the harp, a symbol of Ireland with the female personification of Ireland. Among Moore’s Melodies, ‘The Harp that Once Through Tara’s Hall’ is one of Moore’s many references to the harp.
The harp that once through Tara’s hall The soul of music shed, Now hangs as mute on Tara’s walls As if that soul were fled. So sleeps the pride of former days, So glory’s thrill is o’er, And hearts, that once beat high for praise, Now feel that pulse no more.
No more to chiefs and ladies bright The harp of Tara swells: The chord alone that breaks at night, Its tale of ruin tells. Thus freedom now so seldom wakes, The only throb she gives, Is when some heart indignant breaks. To show that still she lives.
A Philadelphia edition of Mrs. S. C. Hall’s stories, Wearing of the Green, or, Sketches of Irish Character, published in 1868, has a winged woman as part of the harp.
This bound set of issues of Duffys Hibernian Magazine, published in Dublin in 1860, bears the bookplate Mathew Dorey of Dublin.
We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history by celebrating Women’s History Month.
RBSC recently acquired a long, but incomplete run of the Women Strike for Peace’s Legislative Alert, the organization’s monthly newsletter. It notified members about Congressional and other governmental actions around nuclear weapons treaties and military initiatives, as well as anti-peace developments around the world. Hesburgh Library’s copies span from 1983 to 1999 with some gaps, as well as the first two issues, from 1963 when the Legislative Newsletter (as it was called then) began.
Women Strike for Peace was an anti-nuclear, anti-war activist group founded in 1961, during a particularly fraught period of the Cold War and its nuclear arms race. The Soviet Union had announced resumption of above-ground nuclear testing and one Washington, D.C. woman, Dagmar Wilson, responded by organizing a one-day demonstration of women for peace and disarmament. That grass-roots action, on November 1, 1961, brought together 50,000 women and girls across 60 US cities and focused the attention of President Kennedy. In its aftermath Women Strike for Peace (WSP) formed.
With their slogan, “End the Arms Race not the Human Race,” WSP contributed to the successful signing of a nuclear test-ban treaty between the US and the Soviet Union in 1963 (Kennedy himself credited the group with this achievement). The organization became one of the most successful social movements in US history as part of the global Cold War peace movement. WSP leaders skillfully used their identities as mothers and homemakers to argue for peace and disarmament, a strategy that appealed to like-minded women around the world and also proved difficult for their opponents to counter.
Opposition to the war in Vietnam became WSP’s main concern during the late 1960s and early 1970s. By the 1980s, however, the group refocused on nuclear disarmament and ending nuclear testing, as well as opposing US military interventions around the world.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the Legislative Alert featured several illustrations on its cover page—a small graphic in the upper right corner of women demonstrating and holding signs for disarmament (an homage to the 1961 event that began the movement)—and a political cartoon that captured that month’s peace and disarmament challenges. In its content, the publication sought members’ support of or opposition to pieces of Congressional legislation or presidential military actions or treaties.
In the fall of 1983, for example, WSP criticized President Ronald Reagan’s invasion of Granada, a tiny, independent island nation in the Caribbean with a Communist government. The next spring WSP featured opposition to the president’s nuclear arms buildup as reflected in the administration’s military budget. The accompanying cartoon compares Reagan’s military aspirations to a school boy’s Star Wars-like fantasy. By 1993, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, WSP kept its attention on the world’s dangerous stockpile of nuclear weapons. A fall newsletter shows a cavernous storage unit stuffed with old military hardware in front of which President Bill Clinton considers “Post Cold War Problems.” At the end of the decade WSP continued to push for arms reduction, urging members to ask their representatives to support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which would ban nuclear weapons testing worldwide and slow arms development.
The Women Strike for Peace’s Legislative Alert adds to the library’s collections on the history of peace movements in the United States and globally, and is now available to researchers!
Due to renovation work, RBSC (and the west entrance to the Hesburgh Library) will be closed during Notre Dame’s Spring Break week, March 13-17, 2023.
RBSC staff and curators will be available via online channels.
Tours of the exhibit may be arranged for classes and other groups, and additional curator-led tours are available at 12 noon on the upcoming Fridays: March 10 and 31, April 7 and 21.
An exhibit lecture, “The Changing Face of Irish Writing” by Brian Ó Conchubhair (Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame), will be held this spring in Special Collections, at a date that will be announced later.
The March spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and “That Just Isn’t Fair; Settling for Left-Overs”: African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines (February – March 2023).
We join with The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines
We celebrate Black History Month with a selection of magazine articles by or about African American women from a number of popular, feminist periodicals created across the decade of the 1970s that RBSC has recently added to our collections. In these publications, which largely targeted white audiences, Black women claimed new platforms for their voices and ideas.
African American women were a foundational part of the United States’ women’s movement and 1970s feminism. The athletes interviewed in womenSports, for example, identified how sexism intersected with racism in sports and in larger contemporary society.
womenSports magazine, founded in 1974 by tennis star Billie Jean King in conjunction with the Women’s Sports Foundation, was one of the earliest popular magazines focused on women athletes. The glossy publication reported on professional and amateur sports and also provided practical tips to readers on everything from self-defense to the recently enacted Title IX legislation.
womenSports covered the athletic triumphs and biographies of African American women and often introduced Black sportswomen to wider reading audiences for the first time. Writers and editors frequently documented and wrote about the gender discrimination experienced by women athletes–Black and white–but they tended to devote less attention to racial prejudice encountered by African American women in sports. Black athletes themselves frequently spoke to the entwined race and gender bias they encountered.
In the pages of womenSports in 1974, Wyomia Tyus, the Olympic champion sprinter, described economic consequences of prejudice she faced on the professional track circuit. After a corporate sponsor dropped her event, Tyus explained, “all the women in our event are black, but if we had a white woman in it, I think the … company would’ve picked us up.” And about a recent meet in San Francisco, Tyus observed, “the men who won got television sets, and the women who won got medals. That just isn’t fair. Settling for left-overs.”
Two years later Olympian Madeline Manning Jackson, a middle-distance runner, pointed to the lack of funding for a sport that featured many African American women athletes. Jackson had recently declined an invitation to compete in the Pan American Games for the United States after the Amateur Athletic Association, which governed track and field events, failed to fund her trip or provide any compensation. “I could have gone even if they didn’t pay,” she explained, “but it made me mad–not just for me but for all the other girls who have to put up with this kind of treatment. . . . I could have gone. I just wouldn’t.”
In addition to womenSports, the library recently acquired two titles that bracket the 1970s and represent different voices within the American feminist movement. Cellestine Ware’s article, “Black Feminism,” appeared in an annual publication of the radical wing of the movement, Notes From the Third Year: Women’s Liberation. Ware was a member of the Stanton-Anthony Brigade, a circle of radical feminists in New York City, and author of Woman Power: The Movement for Women’s Liberation (1970). In this article, Ware articulates a model of Black feminism and warns that the “complaint that black women challenge black men is further proof of the threatening nature of female independence to most men.”
The oral history of Texan Annie Mae Hunt, a 70-year old African American woman and civil rights activist, appeared at the end of the decade in Chrysalis, a Magazine of Women’s Culture. Hunt described her life of work, childbearing and rearing, political activism, and reflected on inequalities she experienced because of her race and sex.
The athletes in womenSports identified how racial and gender discrimination intersected. Ware’s new Black feminist theory and Hunt’s history explained how race, gender, and class inequality developed historically. African American women created a platform for their ideas within these 1970s feminist magazines.
Rare Books and Special Collections holds a growing collection of printed and other material documenting African Americans and women during the late twentieth century. The publications described here will be on exhibit in RBSC through March.
“Without the incredible resource of the people in conservation… Rare Books and Special Collections would not be able to exist in the present or in the future. It wouldn’t be able to be a resource for students and for faculty.”
– Heather Hyde Minor, Professor, Art History
Rare books and special collections don’t preserve themselves. The Analog Preservation and Conservation Unit in the Hesburgh Libraries is a dedicated team of people to do just that: care for the University of Notre Dame’s overall collections in the hopes that the items will inspire research, learning, and teaching for generations to come.
Notre Dame Stories recently created this video to highlight this team and the important yet little known work they do to protect and renew some of our most precious items in the Libraries’ collections.