The current spotlight exhibits are Libros de Lectura: Literacy and Education after the Mexican Revolution / Alfabetismo y Educación después de la Revolución Mexicana (June – August 2019) and Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album (August – September 2019).
RBSC is closed Monday, September 2nd,
for Labor Day.
Last year, Hesburgh Library acquired an album of drawings of the famous Edgeworth family of County Longford, Ireland. The album, showing the artistic endeavors of the family, shows a different side to a family best known to us for Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849), a leading writer of her time. It is Maria’s step-mother, Frances Edgeworth, and some of the children of Richard Lovell’s third wife, Elizabeth Sneyd, who are the artists of this album.
On August 17, 2019, Notre Dame’s Snite Museum opens a major exhibition of Irish art, “Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame. This exhibition includes items from Special Collections. To complement this exhibition, we are featuring an example of Irish art from our collection in our September 2019 Spotlight Exhibit, Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album. This spotlight exhibit runs through September 2019.
Frances Beaufort (1769-1864) was born in Navan, County Meath, where her father, Rev. Daniel Augustus Beaufort, was Rector. Having attended Mrs. Terson’s school in Portarlington, she had lessons in art from a number of artists including Frances Robert West, Master of the Dublin Society’s School of Figure Drawing.
The Edgeworth and Beaufort families were acquainted. When Frances was asked to provide sketches for a proposed illustrated edition of Maria Edgeworth’s The Parent’s Assistant, her relationship with Richard Lovell Edgeworth developed and soon they were married. In spite of being younger than her oldest step-daughter, renowned writer Maria Edgeworth, the women became close friends.
Both families were intensely interested in learning. Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817) was an inventor, writer and landowner, and was particularly interested in the education of children. In the Edgeworth household, children were instructed by other family members, and their reading and activities covered a broad and ambitious range. Emphasis on education is apparent in Maria Edgeworth’s books. Her opinions on education are clear not only in her books for children and parents, but in novels such as Belinda and The Absentee, which have examples of appropriate education—in one case, the scientific education of a family in the upper class, and in the other, the practical education that Edgeworth considered appropriate for the children of tenants.
Frances encouraged her children and step-children to draw. The subject matter of the drawings shows a marked interest in working people who might have been tenants, servants or estate-workers.
Most of the drawings in the album are by Frances and her step-daughter Charlotte, though other family members—Honora (1791-1857), William (1794-1829), Harriet (1801-1889), Lucy Jane (1805-1897), and Michael Pakenham (1812-1881)—may also have contributed.
Charlotte Edgeworth (1783-1807) was exceptionally talented, and though she died at twenty-four years of age, she was known for technical expertise, drawing, and poetry.
Many drawings in the album are illustrations for stories by Maria Edgeworth. The Parent’s Assistant includes the tale “Waste Not, Want Not”, in which a lazy and greedy boy is compared to his more virtuous cousin. The picture shown below illustrates the following passage from the story.
Hal came out of Mr. Millar’s, the confectioner’s, shop with a hatful of cakes in his hand. Mr. Millar’s dog was sitting on the flags before the door; and he looked up, with a wistful, begging eye, at Hal, who was eating a queen-cake. Hal, who was wasteful even in his good-nature, threw a whole queen-cake to the dog, who swallowed it for a single mouthful.
The Edgeworth Family Album is on display in Special Collections through August and September 2019.
The current spotlight exhibits are Libros de Lectura: Literacy and Education after the Mexican Revolution / Alfabetismo y Educación después de la Revolución Mexicana (June – August 2019) and Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album (August – September 2019).
RBSC will be closed Monday, September 2nd,
for Labor Day.
Visitors to the Special Collections usually notice our stained glass picture of Saint Patrick. However, this is far from the only reference to Ireland’s patron saint in the Special Collections. Among the many books, pamphlets and prints relating to Patrick, we have this Life of Saint Patrick, written by a woman known variously as the Nun of Kenmare, Margaret Anna Cusack, or Sister Mary Francis Cusack.
Sister Mary Francis Cusack, a prolific writer on Ireland and on the Catholic faith, was born in 1829. She grew up in County Dublin and also in England where she joined an Anglican religious order. In 1858 she converted to Catholicism and joined the Poor Clare order. 
In 1861, Cusack was among the founders of a new community of Poor Clares in Kenmare, County Kerry. In Kenmare, Cusack began to publish her writings, and became a well-known writer among Irish Catholics. Her writings found a market among Irish-American Catholics, contributed greatly to the convent’s income. She remained in Kenmare until 1880, and traveled to Knock, County Mayo, the site of an apparition in 1879. There she attempted to found a convent and industrial school. This endeavor failed, and she left for England.
In England, she established a new order, St. Joseph’s Sisters of Peace, with convents in Nottingham and Grimsby. She later moved to the United States and opened an American mother-house of the order, but this met with little success. Having had difficulty in her dealings with bishops, Cusack resigned from the order and left her convent. She left the Catholic Church and was a Methodist until her death in 1899.
The Life of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland was written while she was Sister Mary Francis Cusack, published in 1871, and clearly intended for a wide readership as the title page lists publishers in London, Dublin, Boston and Australia. The first edition had apparently been published in Kenmare, County Kerry in 1869, with an American Catholic publishing house listed also on the title page. 
The saint’s life, as explained by Cusack, who argues that Patrick was a Catholic, and emphasizes his miracles, takes up the first 368 pages of this book and includes many illustrations. Each page is framed in a decorative border. In fact, the book would be a handsome addition to any home library.
‘The Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland’, pages 369 to 502 of this book, is, according to the title page of this section, translated from the original Irish by W. M. Hennessy.
While nowadays we expect a scholarly translation of old manuscripts to include introductory information outlining the sources used and the language of those sources, this information is difficult to glean from Hennessy’s translation. William Maunsel Hennessy (c. 1829-1899), was a highly-regarded scholar of Celtic studies and of Irish manuscript literature.
Hennessy’s text here is an edition translated from manuscript sources dating from about one thousand years earlier, and therefore in Old Irish, quite different from the language spoken in the nineteenth century. While Hennessy does not specify his sources, Cusack, in her introductory chapters, describes the various accounts of St. Patrick’s life found in the Book of Armagh, of which she states that the Tripartite Life is the most important. She also mentions that it is regrettable that the Book of Armagh is now in a Protestant institution, Trinity College, but on balance, it is a good thing that it is safe and well cared-for.
In Hennessy’s text, he occasionally alludes to his manuscript sources, for example, following the story of Patrick and his sisters being sold as slaves in Ireland, the author states that a leaf is missing from both the Bodleian and British Museum MSS. of the Tripartite Life.
The text describes many miracles carried out by Patrick, from boyhood on. The following passage describes the event where Patrick is said to have lit a fire in defiance of the king.
As the people of Tara were thus, they saw the consecrated Easter fire at a distance, which Patrick had lighted. It illuminated all Magh-Bregh. Then the king said, “That is a violation of my prohibition and law; and do you ascertain who did it.” “We see the fire,” said the druids, “and we know the night in which it is made. If it is not extinguished before morning,” added they, “it will never be extinguished. The man who lighted it will surpass the kings and princes, unless he is prevented.” When the king heard this thing, he was much infuriated. Then the king siad, “That is not how it shall be; but we will go,” said he, “until we slay the man who lighted the fire.”
The druid Luchat Mael put a drop of poison into the goblet which was beside Patrick, that he might see what Patrick would do in regard to it. Patrick observed this act, and he blessed the goblet, and the ale adhered to it, and he turned the goblet upside-down afterwards, and the poison which the druid put into it fell out of it. Patrick blessed the goblet again, and the ale changed into its natural state. 
This Life of Saint Patrick calls out to be examined and researched. This lavishly-produced book invites questions about the readership and intended audience, the sources used, and many other questions. In fact, writing this blogpost was challenging because exploring the book raised more questions than answers. Where did the illustrations come from? Did W. M. Hennessy publish this translation anywhere else, and what were his manuscript sources? Who purchased copies of this book? As is the case with many of our books, a visit to the Rare Books and Special Collections to view this book up close would be very rewarding.
Concentrating on particular strengths in our Irish and American collections, we decided to highlight fiction for and about girls, creative work by girls, books on girls in sport, advice literature, and works on girls’ culture.
Selections from the Irish Fiction Collection will include examples of books from L. T. Meade and Rosa Mulholland, writers of the Victorian era, and contemporary fiction on girlhood.
L. T. Meade was one of the most prolific writer of stories for girls in her time, and she was also one of the first writers of girls’ school stories. In addition to her hundreds of books, she was for a time editor of Atalanta, a magazine for girls.
The display will feature at least one volume of the Atalanta magazine, which had a variety of serialized stories as well as articles on subjects such as careers for women, and also had a regular literary essay contest.
Also featured, from the Catholic Pamphlets collection, our display will include examples of the information and advice given to girls in the mid-twentieth century. This, and items from the American Sports Collection, will round out our display and provide a wide array of ideas for anyone considering research in this area.
Digitizing our books is one way to share our collections with a wider readership. An area where we have begun this digitization is our early print collection in Irish studies. The collection includes books on Ireland and Irish affairs, often from an English perspective, and also books by Irish authors on science, theology and other subjects. The core of the collection was acquired in 2007, and as many of the books are rare and particularly difficult to find in America, we are enthusiastic about sharing the digital images.
In addition to having copies stored in our own CurateND, the digital collection is made available on the Internet Archive and we have plans to share also on Hathi Trust. While Hathi Trust is limited to member libraries, the Internet Archive is freely available to all, and allows readers a number of ways to view the books, including ‘turning pages’ by clicking on a page.
This book is an example of the kind of primary document that makes a great impression on a student who can visit and see the physical book — printed shortly after the trial and execution, the book provides a tangible link to the events of the time.
The Loeber Collection of Irish Fiction, acquired by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2003, is the foundation of the Irish Fiction Collection. As suggested by the major bibliography, A Guide to Irish Fiction 1650-1900 by Rolf Loeber and Magda Loeber, the Loeber Collection began with the premise that fiction, regardless of its status in relation to the literary canon, is important for a variety of reasons.
As Seamus Deane observes, ‘fiction – quite as much as history, propaganda, or religious works – was a form of knowledge or, at the very least, a mode of writing that moulds attitudes towards knowledge’ (Loeber, xvii).
Since the Loeber Collection arrived, over two thousand editions have been added to the Irish Fiction Collection, including children’s fiction, detective novels, ‘Troubles Fiction’ of Northern Ireland, and romances. Novels from the nineteenth century and earlier are still sought and added.
Even where a text is available in multiple formats, such as scholarly edited texts of Maria Edgeworth or Sidney Owenson, early editions in their original printing and binding have many stories to tell us of the readership and of the value and popularity of individual novels.
Among the early examples of ‘Irish Gothic’ are Regina Maria Roche’s novels. The Children of the Abbey, first published in 1796, is her best-known novel today. It is referred to in Jane Austen’s Emma, an indication of its popularity. One of the most frequently reprinted novels of the nineteenth century (Loeber 1136), the Hesburgh collection holds many editions including illustrated editions and multi-volume editions. Shown here are two late nineteenth-century American editions, possibly abridged, both with illustrations by Philadelphia illustrator F. O. C. Darley.
The above cover shows The Girls of Kings Royal, a novel by one of the earliest and most prolific writers of stories for girls. L. T. Meade, or Elizabeth (Lillie) Thomasina Toulmin Smith, was born in County Cork in 1844 and spend most of her adult life in England. Besides stories of schoolgirls, she wrote fiction for adults, including crime novels featuring a female detective. With almost two hundred titles by L. T. Meade in the Hesburgh Irish Fiction Collection, possibly the largest L. T. Meade collection besides that at Cornell, it is probably only about two-thirds of her output.
The British edition shown here has gilt-edged pages and eight coloured illustrations by Gordon Browne. The collection includes also an American edition published by Hurst of New York also in 1913, and illustrated by Charles I. Wrenn.
Gerald Griffin’s The Collegians, a novel based on a murder that occurred in Limerick, was first published in 1829, and was popular throughout the nineteenth century, with many editions published. The story also inspired a play by Dion Boucicault. Editions in the Irish Fiction Collection span a century, from the first edition to the Talbot Press editions of 1919 and 1934 which have an introduction by Pádraic Colum.
Shown here is the Warne’s Library of Fiction edition copy which contains lists of novels from Warne’s various series in the inside covers. The back cover advertises Norton’s Camomile Pills, for ‘all who suffer from indigestion, sick headache, bilious and liver complaints, hearturn, and acidity of the stomach, depressed spirits, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, dispepsia, spasms, general debility, costiveness, &c.’
Katharine Tynan (1859-1931) wrote over one hundred novels along with poetry, memoirs, and articles of various kinds. She was involved in Irish literary society and was encouraged in her writing by W. B. Yeats, among others. Hesburgh Special Collections holds at least fifty titles by Tynan.
The Loeber Collection includes a first edition of The Dear Irish Girl, published in London by Smith and Elder in 1899, but the cover shown here is from the 1899 edition published in Chicago by A. C. McClurg. This copy came to us with the library of Captain Francis O’Neill, who gave his library to the University in 1931.
Thanks to the acquisition of the Loeber Collection and the continued work in building the Irish Fiction Collection, scholars of Irish Studies may find a large body of fiction from any time and in all genres, from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries.
This year’s American Conference for Irish Studies, or ACIS 2018, was held in the beautiful campus of University College Cork (UCC), in the south of Ireland. The biggest annual conference on Irish studies, it includes many disciplines, and over one hundred panels were convened during the five days in addition to plenary lectures, book launches and, importantly, regular breaks where colleagues could meet and discuss common interests.
An ‘ad hoc group’ of librarians and archivists has been active in ACIS for some years now, carving out a niche within the conference to come together and learn from one another. Presentations at the five library and archives events were stimulating, informative and well attended, and participants have returned to their libraries inspired and invigorated.
We learned about specific collections and books, and about exciting and innovative projects. We share a mission to collect and preserve our collections, and we also strive to make our collections visible and accessible. In fact, the Hesburgh Libraries’ mission, to connect people to knowledge across time and space, implies the collection and preservation of that knowledge and emphasizes the connecting element, which was a recurrent theme in this conference.
As the conference was in Ireland, American librarians and scholars had an opportunity to learn about exciting projects at the National Library of Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast, Dúchas and the National Folklore Collection, and the Irish Traditional Music Archive. We also learned from one another of interesting collections, both historic and newly-developed, and of interesting ways to make specific collections available digitally. An unexpected pleasure was a special visit offered by the Boole Library at UCC.
Some of the highlights are mentioned here, with links for further exploration.
Sharing and Making Collections and Data Accessible
RASCAL is a database of descriptions of collections relevant for the study of Ireland, held at libraries, archives and museums. Louisa Costello of Queens University Belfast described this project and the latest developments which include both a new-look website and an improved data entry form that will make it easier for librarians to submit information on collections. Currently, only one of Notre Dame’s Irish collections, the O’Neill Collection, has been entered in the RASCAL database, and so news of the new data submission form was very encouraging, and we expect that the database will be much improved in coming months by data entered by librarians at U.S. institutions.
Immediate examples of RASCAL’s utility could be seen throughout the conference. Ciara Ryan, pursuing her Ph.D. at UCC, has been working with a fascinating manuscript collection of an Irish-speaker and storyteller who worked as a miner in Montana. She demonstrated some of this collection from the Butte-Silver Bow Archives at the Digital Projects Showcase. The RASCAL database could provide a way for researchers to learn of this unexpected collection in a Montana archives.
Other collections were described during the conference and as RASCAL was explained, we were all considering how these could be included in the RASCAL database for increased visibility. These include the various collections at the Ward Irish Music Archives in Milwaukee, the collections at ITMA, the Dion Boucicault Collection which is being digitized at the University of South Florida and the P. S. O’Hegarty Collection at the University of Kansas. Researchers might consider searching the Irish Traditional Music Archive to find sources on Irish music and related culture, but it is unlikely that a scholar would stumble on the rich collection of P.S. O’Hegarty in Kansas without some guidance.
Discussion of Collections
The conference provided a forum for many descriptions of collections and even of single items. These were attended both by librarians, who are generally interested in all collections, and by scholars who wished to learn more about specific collections. Presentations on collections discussed issues of organization and digitization in ways that made the discussion accessible and relevant to scholars, librarians and archivists alike.
In all, three speakers addressed the National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin, and Fiontar, the digital humanities and Irish language group at Dublin City University that has developed websites on placenames, terminology and biography, and also the digitized folklore collection, Dúchas, or duchas.ie.
The National Folklore Collection, is recognized by UNESCO for its “outstanding universal value to culture”. Fiontar initially digitized the Schools Folklore Collection, and more recently the Photographic Collection has been added.
The Schools Folklore Collection was carried out in 1937-39 by the Irish Folklore Commission, the Department of Education and the Irish National Teachers’ Organization. Children in primary schools all over the 26 counties of the Irish Free State were asked to collect folklore, often interviewing their parents, grandparents or neighbors.
A remarkable collection was amassed in this way, hundreds of thousands of pages, from more than fifty thousand school pupils. This has now been digitized on Duchas.ie, and the riches of the collection are already apparent. The collection can now be searched by place, name and topic, and the revision of the classification system to enable better searching in the digital collection made for a fascinating talk by Jonny Dillon.
To enable full-text searching, for which the handwritten pages need to be transcribed, Dúchas.ie initiated a Meitheal, the Irish equivalent of the American barn raising or gathering of neighbors to share in the work. Volunteers of the Meitheal have transcribed many of the pages, and at this point, 24% of the 95,511 Irish language pages are transcribed, and 31% of the 348,812 English language pages are completed.
The page shown here is exemplary of one of the very understandable demands made of this collection: “Can I see the pages contributed by my family members?” This page on folk cures, including the use of fried frogs for toothache, is by Richard Forrestal of Convent View, Tullamore. Richard, my father’s cousin, is now in his nineties and living in Long Island, New York. Thanks to the initial data entry of names, places and titles, such pages can easily be found in the database. And some of this data entry was carried out by student interns from Notre Dame.
In contrast to the large collections of the National Folklore Collection, an engaging presentation by Crónán Ó Doibhlin of UCC’s Boole Library described one book, Leabhar Mór na hÉireann, The Great Book of Ireland, a spectacular artistic creation composed of art and manuscript poems and music by Ireland’s leading artists, poets and composers. Another single-book discussion was the round table discussion devoted to the production of The Atlas of the Irish Revolution, in which the tools of digital humanities were used to great effect.
In addition to traditional panel presentations, this conference offered a Digital Projects Showcase in which presenters demonstrated their projects as attendees moved around the showcase area. This new “showcase” format, organized by Kathleen Williams of Boston College, worked very well and we hope to replicate and develop it at future conferences. It allowed those interested mainly in music, for example, to stop at the tables of Beth Sweeney who demonstrated Boston College’s digitized collection of musician Séamus Connolly, and Jeff Ksiazek, archivist at the Ward Irish Music Archives.
The Boston Pilot has been used by Boston College to extract data from many of its advertisements asking for information on Irish immigrants. These advertisements, common in the nineteenth century, frequently provided information on the sought-for person’s native county and the date and place of their arrival in America. Kathleen Williams of Boston College discussed the migration of the data from the original newspaper ads to eight printed volumes (Ruth-Ann Mellish Harris and Donald M. Jacobs, The Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1989), to an online database, and finally, to a dataset in Dataverse. Segments of the Pilot and Boston Pilot have been digitized by Boston College. An article titled “The Boston Pilot in the 1840’s” is available online from Boston College Libraries.
Using digital technology to improve access to documents that are already available online, ‘born digital’ was described by Emilie Pine in an account of a database created to make a lengthy and dense report accessible and meaningful for readers and researchers. Industrial Memories offers a way to search and analyze the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (2009), known as the Ryan Report. The Ryan Report is a hefty five-volume document detailing the investigation into abuse of children in institutions in the Irish Republic from 1936 on. The Industrial Memories Project makes it possible to search the report and the project has also used digital tools to interrogate the report to find hidden patterns in the text. These are demonstrated on the Industrial Memories website.
A digitization project that is in process, described to us by Deirdre Wildy of Queens University Belfast, is the important Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing. This is exciting news for all in Irish studies, and it appears that the “women’s anthology”, or volumes 4 and 5 will be available from JSTOR before too long.
New Formats – New Collections
Joanna Finegan described the National Library of Ireland’s selective web archiving, and her data on the speed at which political web content disappears following an election made people sit up and realize the importance of the NLI’s project. Our collections here at Notre Dame include many political pamphlets printed around the time of the 1798 Rising; we have a good collection of Northern Ireland pamphlets and ephemera that helps students understand the political messages and propaganda of the time. But for recent referenda and elections, archived web pages will be invaluable for future historians.
From the National Library also, Elizabeth Kirwan described the development of the Irish Queer Archive, the most comprehensive collection of material in Ireland relating to homosexuality, LGBT literature and general Queer studies.
The presentation of Grace Toland, Director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive, also addressed the original formats of materials, and ways to both preserve and make accessible, recorded music performances. ITMA is exemplary of the new model of archive where sharing the archival resources is a major priority, and ITMA is also working to develop new and better ways to use digital methods to represent its collection.
The ACIS Conference
There was much information gathered at the conference that we would love to share more broadly. For anyone interested in learning more, a list of the libraries and archives panels mentioned above is appended below, followed by a list of links to the various collections and projects mentioned.
Libraries, Archives and Digital Projects at ACIS 2018
The Environments of Libraries and Archives in Irish Studies 1: Issues in DigitiSation
Monday 18 June, 4 p.m. Chair: Aedín Clements
Joanna Finnegan, The National Library of Ireland’s Web Archive: Resources for the Study of Ireland Online
Anna Bale and Conchúr Mag Eacháin, The Dúchas Project and the Digitization of the National Folklore Collection
Grace Toland, The Irish Traditional Music Archive
Matthew Knight and Elizabeth Ricketts, Shifting Environments in the Archives: Creating an Online Dion Boucicault Collection at the University of South Florida
Libraries and Archives
Tuesday 19 June, 2 p.m. Chair: Christian Dupont
Conor Carville, Poetry, Crisis and the Arts Institution in Northern Ireland 1971-1972
Emilie Pine, Swipe Right: Gender, Commemoration, the Decade of Centenaries, and the Politics of Digital Spaces
Elspeth Healey, Collecting Ireland: Politics, Literature, and Bibliography in the Library of P. S. O’Hegarty
The Environments of Libraries and Archives in Irish Studies 2: Special Collections and Archives in the New Environment
Tuesday 19 June, 4 p.m.
Chair: Aedín Clements
Crónán Ó Doibhlin, The Great Book of Ireland – Leabhar Mór na hÉireann
Christian Dupont, The Environments of Libraries and Archives in Irish Studies
Deirdre Wildy and Louisa Costello, Special Collections at Queens University Belfast
Jonny Dillon, Preserving Tradition into the Future: The National Folklore Collection in a Transitional Phase
Twentieth-Century Irish Literary Archives
Wednesday 20 June, 9 a.m.
Chair: Paige Reynolds
Round Table participants: Ken Bergin, Elizabeth Kirwan, Aedín Clements, Adam Hanna, Florence Impens, and Ruud van den Beuken
John Waters (New York University), Spatializing Subscription Lists and Topographical Poems
Jeff Ksiazek (WIMA), The Ward Irish Music Archives
Ciara Ryan (UCC), The Family Papers of Seán “Irish” O’Sullivan, Butte-Silver Bow (BSB) Archives, Butte, Montana
Kathleen Williams (Boston College), Information Wanted: A Database of Advertisements for Irish Immigrants in the Boston Pilot Newspaper: A New Version of the Data, Available on the Boston College Dataverse Site
Elizabeth Sweeney (Boston College), The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music
The Irish-American periodicals in Special Collections give rise to many questions:
Who produced these publications? What demand were they satisfying? Who were the readers? What aims did the editors and publishers have? How did these publications fit into the larger periodical literature of their time?
Surprisingly little has been written about these Irish-American publications. A deep exploration of Hesburgh Library’s Irish-American periodical collection would be rewarding for many reasons, including an increased understanding of networks of Irish in America, of the emerging culture of Irish-Americans, and of the ways in which Irish-Americans connected with Ireland.
Our ‘Spotlight’ exhibit currently displays five publications selected from over a dozen titles held by the Library to demonstrate the range and types of these periodicals.
O’Neill’s Irish Pictorial began its existence as the Irish Miscellany, launched in February 1858 by Jackson, Foynes and Company of Boston. According to the prospectus which was printed in the early issues, the magazine is “dedicated to the diffusion of a more intimate knowledge of the literary and political history of Ireland, and to the mental, moral and political elevation of the Celtic race on the continent.”
Within months, the magazine was listed under a different printer’s name, and by July, it credited Thomas O’Neill as publisher. The transfer was unpleasant, to say the least, and the editorial for May 8, 1858 includes allegations of mismanagement and foul play by the former owners. According to this editorial, the way the paper managed initially was unsustainable.
The following year it was renamed O’Neill’s Irish Pictorial, and it is this volume of issues from 1859 that Special Collections holds. It was subsequently named The Irish Pictorial and Irish Illustrated Weekly. In all, the magazine lasted from 1858 to 1861.
The illustration of Irish poverty displayed in this issue is a recurring theme in American publications, sometimes accompanied by an exhortation to provide aid to Ireland. An example found in an issue of McGee’s Illustrated Weekly calls on Irish-Americans to forego the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day as long as Irish people are starving.
A common theme in these magazines is also that of encouraging Irish immigrants to travel west rather than remain in the cities, and in fact McGee’s Illustrated Weekly maintains a sustained argument for traveling to the midwestern states. The issue in our display includes a picture of a flier advertising Bishop Ireland’s Irish-American Colonisation Company’s scheme to assist Irish to settle in Minnesota.
McGee’s Illustrated Weekly was a Catholic weekly that included stories and news of Ireland, and appears to have been directed largely towards an Irish readership. For some time it was edited by Maurice Francis Egan, later a professor of literature here at the University of Notre Dame.
The Irish Freeman describes McGee’s as follows:
McGee’s Weekly is the Catholic illustrated paper in bodily presence and mechanical form, like Harper’s Weekly, but in essence and spirit as opposite as it is possible to imagine. It is chaste, choice and chatty; interesting, independent, ingenious; pithy, pointed and pungent. Its illustrations are beautifully engraved and surprisingly various. It whacks small abuses in social and religious customs with the neatness of a black-thorn wielder, and the taste and delicacy of a French dancing master. No Catholic family that can afford it should be without the lively, literary, lightsome publication of McGee.
In 1880, McGee’s published a series of illustrations and commentary on “The Distress in Ireland.” McGee’s also reported on the funeral of Daniel O’Connell and on Irish political and social affairs. Additionally, small snippets to be found in the Personal Column include items such as the following:
Miss Cusack, the Nun of Kenmare, is at present engaged on a history of Irish literature . . . the proceeds to be devoted to the foundation and endowment of a home and school combined, where girls could spend some time, from a few weeks to a year, and learn plain sewing, cutting out, plain washing and cooking, housework, etc., and in some cases even fancy work and a few of the higher branches of education, sufficient to fit them for governesses.
Among the other periodicals displayed is An Gaodhal (The Gael) a magazine founded in New York in 1881 by Michael Logan (Mícheál Ó Lócháin), an Irish-speaker who emigrated in 1871. Logan was principal of a Brooklyn school and led an effort to promote the Irish language, teaching language classes in New York. The issue on display is edited by Geraldine Haverty, who became editor after Logan’s death.
Special Collections’ holdings of An Gaodhal was part of the gift received from Francis O’Neill, the Chicago police chief remembered for his collections of Irish dance music. His volumes of An Gaodhal are bound with extra pages inserted for a hand-written contents list.
A number of our periodicals were acquired from Rolf and Magda Loeber in a large collection of Irish periodicals of the nineteenth century. Special Collections holds at least a dozen titles, with runs varying from two issues to many years.
Also on display through the end of April:
From Distant Waters: Whaling Manuscripts in Special Collections
On display are three whaling manuscripts dating from the golden age of the American whaling industry in the first half of the nineteenth century. These include two ship’s logbooks, from the whaling vessels Meridian and Corvo, and a letter written aboard the whaler Columbus.