Narratives about the Corby Statues—at Gettysburg and on Campus

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

The story behind the statues is well known: a young CSC priest, William Corby, offered a general absolution to members of the Irish Brigade, part of the Second Corps of the Union’s Army of the Potomac, minutes before the soldiers engaged in fierce fighting late on the second day of the battle at Gettysburg (July 2, 1863).

Corby served as chaplain to the 88th New York Infantry, which was part of the famous Irish Brigade. This group of soldiers were mostly Irish and Irish-American Catholics from New York and Philadelphia who were formed from five regiments: three from New York (the 69th Infantry, 63rd Infantry, and 88th Infantry), the 28th Massachusetts Infantry, and the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry. After the war Corby returned to the University of Notre Dame where resumed his teaching position; he later became the school’s president.

The priest had given general absolution to his flock of mostly Irish Catholic soldiers before, most notably at Antietam in September 1862, just before the brigade suffered heavy casualties. But this time, as fighting raged around the soldiers at Gettysburg, when Corby climbed up on a boulder and spoke, not just the Irish Brigade but the whole Second Corps fell silent. It was a moment that many officers and soldiers remembered later. For many Catholics it came to mean recognition, if not full acceptance, by their non-Catholic fellow Americans.

Less well known is how the statues materialized. The Catholic Alumni Sodality of Philadelphia spearheaded the project and reported it in this pamphlet. The sodality had been formed in 1902 to promote faith and collegiality among Catholic men who were college graduates. The sodality implemented the statues’ financing and creation, but it acted on an idea of St. Clair Mulholland, commander of the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment and witness to Corby’s actions at Gettysburg.

The Irish-born Mulholland was just 23 years old when he began serving as a Lieutenant Colonel of the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry in 1862. He fought in some of the war’s major battles, including Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and of course, Gettysburg.

After the war Mulholland dedicated himself to commemorating Civil War soldiers, particularly the Irish Brigade. In 1888 he led the initiative to raise a monument to the brigade at Gettysburg. The Alumni Sodality of Philadelphia embraced the idea of creating a memorial to Corby only after a member heard Mulholland speak movingly about the incident. It was a speech the old soldier had given countless times over the years.

The sodality hired sculptor Samuel Murray to create the monument. It was placed at Gettysburg, amid an extensive program of speeches and dignitaries, on October 29, 1910. A replica, created by the artist, was mounted on Notre Dame’s campus on Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day), 1911.

Mulholland and the sodality were not unique in remembering those who served. Between the end of the war and the 1930s thousands of Civil War monuments rose around the nation. As we have seen in recent disputes over monuments in the United States, public statues have multiple uses and their meanings change over time. Monuments evoke the past even as they convey contemporary expectations about class, race, gender, and religion.

As this pamphlet reminds us, Corby’s memorialization was about more than the priest’s service. It created a narrative of Catholic loyalty and patriotism at a time when American nativism was again on the rise, sparked by large immigration from southern and eastern Europe. By focusing on a priest rather than on Catholic soldiers, the statue’s creators deemphasized the larger Irish Catholic experience of the war, fueled as it was by a mix of American patriotism, Irish Republicanism, and economic need. The image reinforced instead a message of cleric-led, middle-class Irish American respectability. [1]

 

 

[1] Randall M. Miller, “Catholic Religion, Irish Ethnicity, and the Civil War,” in Religion and the American Civil War, Randall M. Miller, Harry S. Stout, and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds., (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 285-86.


A happy Memorial Day to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

2016 post: Memorial Day: Stories of War by a Civil War Veteran
2017 post: “Memorial Day” poem by Joyce Kilmer
2018 post: “Decoration Day” poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
2019 post: Myths and Memorials


During June and July the blog will shift to a summer posting schedule, with posts every other Monday rather than every week. We will resume weekly publication August 10th.

Upcoming Events: April and early May

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

Thursday, April 4, 5:00pm | Medieval Institute Byzantine Series Lecture: “The Gospel of John in the Byzantine Tradition” by Fr. John Behr (St. Vladimir’s Seminary)

Thursday, April 11, 4:00pm | The Work of Our Hands Exhibition Guided Walking Tour and Discussion

The tour will commence at 4:00 p.m. in the Hesburgh Library Lobby and will continue to three sites across campus where liturgical vestments are exhibited. Guests will be guided through the Sacristy Museum at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Rare Books and Special Collections at the Hesburgh Library, and the Scholz Family Gallery at the Snite Museum of Art.

A panel discussion will be held in the Annenberg Auditorium of the Snite Museum of Art (lower level) following the tour, and then a reception in the Atrium of the Snite.

Thursday, April 18 at 5:00pmThe Italian Research Seminar: “De Sica’s Genre Trouble: Rom-Coms against Fascism?” by Prof. Lorenzo Fabbri (Minnesota, Twin Cities).

Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.


The spring exhibitAs Printers Printed Long Ago. The Saint Dominic’s Press 1916-1936, curated by Dennis Doordan (Emeritus Professor, Notre Dame School of Architecture), opened in January and runs through the summer. The exhibition features different types of publications and posters produced by Saint Dominic’s Press, setting the story of the press within the larger history of the private press movement in England and examining its artistic as well as literary achievements.

The current spotlight exhibits are: Purchas his Pilgrimes and John Smith (March 2019), and The Work of Our Hands: A multi-venue exhibition of liturgical vestments organized in conjunction with the Notre Dame Forum 2018-19: “The Catholic Artistic Heritage: Bringing Forth Treasures New and Old” (March – early June 2019).

If you would like to bring a group to Special Collections or schedule a tour of any of our exhibits, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.


Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed April 19
in observance of Good Friday.

We will reopen at 9am on Monday, April 22, 2019.

Upcoming Events: February and early March

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

Thursday, February 21 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: Presentations by M.A. Students in Italian: Gabriella Di Palma and Guido Guerra.

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Tuesday, February 26 at 3:30pm | Book Celebration: Roman Sources for the History of American Catholicism, 1763–1939.

Welcome and remarks by: Diane Walker (Hesburgh Libraries); Angela Fritz (University Archives); Jean McManus (Hesburgh Libraries); Stephen Wrinn (Notre Dame Press); and Kathleen Sprows Cummings (Cushwa Center). Refreshments to follow.

Sponsored by Hesburgh Libraries, University Archives, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, and Notre Dame Press.

Thursday, February 28, 9:00am to 11:00am | Documenting Girls and Girlhood — Library Collections on Display.

In association with the International Girls Studies Association meeting, and the University of Notre Dame’s International Gender Studies Conference, Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections will host a display on the culture, literature, and history of girls and girlhood. Drawing on the Irish and American collections, there will be a fascinating array of books, manuscripts, periodicals, posters and artifacts demonstrating religious, rebellious, domestic, and literary girlhoods. Rachel Bohlmann, American history and gender studies librarian, and Aedín Clements, Irish studies librarian, will be available to provide tours and answer questions.


The spring exhibitAs Printers Printed Long Ago. The Saint Dominic’s Press 1916-1936, curated by Dennis Doordan (Emeritus Professor, Notre Dame School of Architecture), opened in January and runs through the summer. The exhibition features different types of publications and posters produced by Saint Dominic’s Press, setting the story of the press within the larger history of the private press movement in England and examining its artistic as well as literary achievements.

The current spotlight exhibits are: Theresienstadt (Terezín), in remembrance of all the victims of the Holocaust (January – February 2019), and Creeley/Marisol: Presences, an exhibit occasioned by the 2018 publication of a critical edition of Presences, edited by Stephen Fredman, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Notre Dame (January – February 2019).

If you would like to bring a group to Special Collections or schedule a tour of any of our exhibits, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

Anti-Semitism, Catholics, and Jews around WWII in the Library’s Catholic Pamphlet Collection

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian

This Sunday, January 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The library is commemorating it in a number of ways: a program on Friday, January 25, centered on American Catholic newspaper coverage of the Holocaust; a small exhibition on prisoners held at the German Nazi concentration camp, Theresienstadt (Terezín); and this post, which features selections from one of the library’s most notable collections, Catholic pamphlets. The pamphlets shown here display a range of views held by Catholics about Jews, although the larger collection also includes pamphlets published by non-Catholics (Jews and Protestants) about anti-Semitism and Jews.

In 1937 the Catholic Association for International Peace in Washington, D.C. published an English translation of The Church and the Jews: A Memorial Issued by Catholic European Scholars. It had first been published in German, anonymously, as its writers argued against German anti-Semitism even as they called for the conversion of Jews to Christianity.

Three years later Thomas F. Doyle, an American priest, published The Sin of Anti-Semitism in which he stated flatly that “anti-Semitism has long existed in the United States.” He admonished his fellow Catholics to remember the commandment to love your neighbor. It was an idea, he argued, that for Catholics, made a mockery and an insult of anti-Semitism.

In Jewish Problems? by “a Christian Israelite” published in 1944, convert David Goldstein addressed Christian misconceptions about Jews and Judaism. He also quoted then Bishop James Frances McIntyre, that the “Church is anti-sin and not anti-any persons, no matter what their religious beliefs may be.”

Another Jewish convert to Catholicism and a cleric, John (originally Johannes) M. Oesterreicher, fled German-held Austria in 1938. In a pamphlet first published in 1942, The Blessed Virgin and the Jews, he condemned Nazis’ anti-Semitism (and their attacks on Catholics) and called for Jews to convert, and he cited examples of Jews who had done so.

The collection also includes virulent anti-Semitic views, as in The Rulers of Russia, an American edition of an Irish pamphlet by a priest, Denis Fahey C.S.Sp. Published in the US in 1940, Fahey attacked the Soviet Union in part because he claimed that an international cabal of Jews had dominated the Bolshevik Revolution and subsequent Communist rule there.

The pamphlets shown here represent just a few examples of the debate over anti-Semitism during this critical period. We highlight them to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Upcoming Events: November and early December

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

Tuesday, November 6 at 3:00pm | Workshop: Alternate Careers in Rare Books, Special Collections, Archives, and Museums.

Wednesday, November 7 at 3:30pm | Black Catholic History Month: “The Black Catholic Movement: The First 50 Years, 1968–2018” by Fr. Clarence Williams, CPPS, Ph.D. Co-sponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, Hesburgh Libraries, and the University Archives.

Thursday, November 8 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Fascist Im/Mobilities: A Decade of Amedeo Nazzari” by Alberto Zambenedetti (Toronto). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Friday, November 9 at 3:00pm | Operation Frankenstein: “Melodramatic Frankenstein: Radical Content in a Reactionary Form” by Jeff Cox (University of Colorado Boulder). Co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Indiana Humanities Council.

Tuesday, November 13 at 3:00pm | Workshop: Archival Skills. CANCELED

Thursday, November 15 at 4:30pm |  Iberian & Latin American Studies: “Language and Power: Searching for the Origins of Catalan Linguistic Identity” by Vicente Lledó-Guillem (Hofstra University). Co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Medieval Institute, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures.

Thursday, November 29 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Dante’s Florentine Intellectual Formation: From Quodlibets to the Vita nuova” by Lorenzo Dell’Oso (Ph.D. Candidate, Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The exhibit In Solzhenitsyn’s Circle: the Writer and his Associates runs through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Frankenstein 200 (August – December 2018) and Delamarche’s États-Unis de l’Amérique septentrionale: The United States in 1785 (November – December 2018).


RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s
Thanksgiving Break (November 22-25, 2018)
.

Upcoming Events: April and early May

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

Thursday, April 5 at 5:00pm | A talk on the reception of Medieval Catalan poet Ausiàs March in Early Modern Iberia, by Albert Lloret (UMass Amherst). Sponsored by Iberian and Latin American Studies, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Wednesday, April 11 at 4:30pm | “Centering Black Catholics, Reimagining American Catholicism” by Matthew Cressler (College of Charleston). Sponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism.

Thursday, April 19 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “From Surface to Symptom and Back Again: Reading Isabella d’Este’s Correspondence” by Deanna Shemek (University of California, Santa Cruz). Co-sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame and the William and Katherine Devers Program in Dante Studies.

Thursday, April 26 at 5:00pm | “Towards a New Biography of Dante Alighieri” by Paolo Pellegrini (Verona). Co-sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame and the William and Katherine Devers Program in Dante Studies.

Friday, May 4 at 1:00pm | Awards ceremony for the annual Undergraduate Library Research Award (ULRA), followed by a reception in the Special Collections Seminar Room (103 Hesburgh Library).


The main exhibit this spring is In a Civilized Nation: Newspapers, Magazines, and the Print Revolution in 19th-Century Peru. This exhibit is curated by Erika Hosselkus and draws on strengths of Rare Books and Special Collections’ José E. Durand Peruvian History collection. Together these items offer diverse perspectives on Peruvian political events and cultural and religious practices and preferences from the colonial era, through the country’s birth in 1825, and beyond the turn of the twentieth century.

The spotlight exhibits during early April are From Distant Waters: Whaling Manuscripts in Special Collections and Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, both curated by George Rugg. The baseball exhibit will end mid-month, with the exhibit Chaste, Choice and Chatty: Irish-American Periodicals of the Nineteenth Century, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, opening for the second half of the month and continuing through the summer.

“‘Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith’: Catholics in the Early American Republic” digital exhibit

This digital exhibit expands on the current exhibit on display in Special Collections. It displays examples of American Catholicism expressed through (mostly) printed texts from 1783 through the early 1840s. They include the earliest Catholic bibles published by Mathew Carey, and editions of Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ used and produced in the United States; polemical pamphlets with sexual and political subtexts that flew back and forth across the Atlantic; no-holds-barred dueling sectarian newspapers; books and pamphlets created in reaction to mob violence against the Ursuline convent school near Boston; and official reports that mapped the Church’s growth and growing pains.

Questions and comments may be directed to Rachel Bohlmann and Jean McManus. The physical exhibition continues to be open to the public through August 11, 2017.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Upcoming Events: May and through the summer

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

Thursday, June 1 at 2:00pm | Exhibit Talk“21st Century Digital Approaches to Rethinking 19th Century Catholic Print” – Kyle Roberts (Loyola University Chicago).

Monday through Friday, June 12-16 at 9:00am to noon | RBSC Nuts & Bolts — ARCHIVES! Intensive Workshop for Conducting Archival Research – Rachel Bohlmann, Ph.D. (Notre Dame, American History Librarian) and Julie Tanaka, Ph.D. (Notre Dame, Curator in Special Collections).

 

The current exhibit, “Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic, will run through the summer and close on August 11, 2017.

The current spotlight exhibit, “Exhibition of Artifacts from Mother Cabrini’s Archive”, will close May 19. The summer spotlight exhibit will highlight North American Antebellum friendship albums and will open the following week.

Rare Books and Special Collections is open
regular hours during the summer —
9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

RBSC will be closed for Memorial Day, May 29th,
and the Fourth of July.

Upcoming Events: April and early May

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections (102 Hesburgh Library):

Thursday, April 13 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar“Visualizing Fascism” by Ruth Ben-Ghiat (New York University). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Thursday, April 27 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar“Living on borders: Cityscapes in transformation in Italian literature and cinema of the ‘Economic Miracle’ ” by Alberto LoPinto (Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

The current exhibits are:

“Preserving the Steadfastness of your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic.

To schedule a class or group tour, please contact Rachel Bohlmann via email or phone: (574) 631-1575.

Spotlight Exhibit: Exhibition of Artifacts from Mother Cabrini’s Archive

Color Our Collections: Catholics in the Early American Republic exhibit

Today’s coloring sheet comes from our current exhibit, “Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic. This exhibition displays examples of American Catholicism expressed through (mostly) printed texts from 1783 through the early 1840s and is curated by Rachel Bohlmann (U.S. History & American Studies)and Jean McManus (Catholic Studies).

The exhibit is open to the public through August 11, 2017.