New Digital Exhibit: Paws, Hooves, Fins, and Feathers Digital

In this digital exhibit, the curators, Erika and Julie, recreate the physical exhibit, including the unaltered text from the information cards as well as the accompanying rhino cards geared towards kids. They also offer a candid statement about their intent for the exhibit and how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted it. Paws, Hooves, Fins, and Feathers Digital documents this project in its entirety, from conception through planning, installation, and outreach.

Erika and Julie welcome questions about their original intentions and about how they made adjustments in light of the restrictions created by the COVID-19 outbreak. They would also like to hear from others who have undergone similar experiences or who are interested in doing something similar.

 

Earth Day 2020

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator of North Americana

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day—April 22, 2020—Rare Books and Special Collections offers an online exhibition, Describing, Conserving, and Celebrating the Earth: Primary Sources from Hesburgh Libraries. It displays sources about the earth in science, culture, public policy, and politics, from the 1750s to 2004. In keeping with the American origins of Earth Day in 1970 and the EPA, these sources are primarily from an American context.

Each section holds a primary source or group of sources that reflect different periods, kinds of materials (books, illustrations, posters, reports, etc.), and approaches to studying, appreciating, and preserving the earth. The library’s Rare Books and Special Collections resources are where some of these items come from; others are government documents that are available in the open stacks of Hesburgh Library (when the library’s print collection reopens).

We hope that this online resource will help faculty and students to Take 10 for the Planet this week.

      • A mid-eighteenth-century British naturalist’s illustrated description of wildlife and plant life in the American colonies.
      • The first issue of the Sierra Club Bulletin, a nature enthusiast’s magazine focused on the western United States.
      • A late nineteenth-century botanist’s findings, published in an early scientific journal.
      • A World War II poster by the United States Forest Service, urging people to preserve forests.
      • A mid-century warning about human damage to wildlife in the United States.
      • Examples of federal conservation before the advent of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): a conference report on pollution in the Lake Michigan watershed, and an international commission’s findings about pollution levels in boundary waters between Canada and the US.
      • A compilation of environment-inspired poems, published a few years after the first Earth Day.
      • An Earth Day-inspired speech by actor and environmentalist Eddie Albert.
      • Two EPA publications: an early catalog of agency-sponsored training programs for professionals responsible for pollution control, and a 2004 brochure about the conservation of the Chesapeake Bay.

Upcoming Events: March and early April

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

CANCELLED Thursday, March 26 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Points of View: ‘The People’ in the 19th-Century Italian Novel” by Roberto Dainotto (Duke).

Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

CANCELLED Saturday, March 28 at 10:00am-noon | Exhibit Event: “Animals, Animals, and More Animals: The Zoo Comes to Special Collections”

Scholars Lounge (10:00-11:00am)
Special Collections (11:00am-noon)

 In order to protect the health and wellness of our community, this event has been canceled. We will share more information on rescheduling, as appropriate, at a later date.

CANCELLED Thursday, April 2 at 5:00pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Niccolò Acciaiuoli: Contradiction and Interdisciplinarity in the Study of Trecento Italy” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).

Each year, thanks to the Albert J. and Helen M. Ravarino Family Endowment for Excellence, the Center for Italian Studies sponsors a public lecture by a distinguished scholar of Italian Studies.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, is open and will run through the summer. This is an exhibit of rare zoological books featuring early printed images of animals. We welcome classes and other groups of any age and would love to tailor a tour for your students and your curriculum — and if you can’t come to campus, the curators can bring the exhibit to you. Watch for forthcoming announcements of additional related events!

For more information about the exhibit or to set up a visit, contact curators Julie Tanaka and Erika Hosselkus.

The current spotlight exhibits are: John Ruskin and Popular Taste (February – April 2020), featuring materials from Special Collections relating to the Ruskin Conference that was held at Notre Dame in February, and The Papers of Mary Taussig Hall, a selection of items from the collection documenting her legacy and path to activism (March 2020).

RBSC is open regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm)
during Notre Dame’s Spring Break (March 9 – 13)

Color Our Collections: Spring and Summer 2020 Exhibit

Today’s coloring sheets come from our current main exhibit, Paws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800. This exhibition presents the animals of early modern European books of natural history — meet some of the animals featured in our exhibit, and more of their friends found in the early printed books on display, in this week’s coloring pages.

The exhibit is open to the public through July 2020. For more information or to schedule a tour for your class, organization, or interested group, please contact the curators, Erika Hosselkus and Julie Tanaka.

Spring and Summer 2020 Exhibit – Paws, Hooves, Fins, and Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800

In 1515 an Indian rhinoceros boarded a ship bound for Lisbon. Given as a gift to King Manuel I of Portugal, the animal was a sensation in Europe, inspiring drawings, paintings, descriptions and woodcut prints that circulated around the continent. Although he never saw the rhino, German painter and printmaker Albrect Dürer created an iconic woodcut image. His rhino served as the model for many of his contemporaries, including the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner, and endures in popularity even today.

This famous rhino appeared in his monumental Historia animalium (History of Animals) and its subsequent editions. The rhino printed in the 1583 German edition of Gesner’s work is a focal point of the exhibition, Paws, Hooves, Fins, and Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, open now and through the summer in Rare Books and Special Collections.

Like many of the animals reproduced in Gesner’s volume, this rhino’s appearance derives partly from second-hand observation, partly from classical descriptions, partly from the artist’s imagination and technical skill, and partly from the print technologies available in the early sixteenth century. In Gesner’s influential tome, the rhino shares space with domestic cats, farm animals, other exotic beasts such as elephants, as well as creatures of the imagination such as unicorns and sea monsters. Images of animals in early modern books were not entirely realistic, offering a unique window into the fluid spaces between art and science, legend and observation.

Along with our rhino, this exhibition features early printed images of an octopus, sloth, anteater, hippo, coot, emu, otter, and more. Some of these animals appear in wide-ranging catalogs of the flora and fauna of the entire world. Others are in works that offer systems of classification specific to a single type of animal. Still others live in the pages of books that describe animals of one part of the world, whether the Americas, Asia, or Australia.

Also on display as part of this exhibition are specimens on loan from the University of Notre Dame’s Museum of Biodiversity. If early modern naturalists were writers, they were also collectors. They populated cabinets of curiosity and proto-museums with animal and plant specimens represented in their books. In recognition of this link between early science and collecting, some of the specimens – an arctic fox, a turtle carapace, and a collection of moths – inhabit a miniature a cabinet of curiosity.

Special Collections invites animal lovers of all ages to join us for this exhibition. We look forward to sharing these materials with the South Bend community. We are especially excited to welcome students and educators from the South Bend School Corporation and PHM Schools for tours this spring and look forward to taking this exhibition on the road to South Bend and PHM Schools and to Marquette Montessori. We are currently hard at work on our homemade reproduction of an early modern natural history book, which features reproductions of images included in the exhibit!

Very special thanks to Sara Weber for her design work, image creation, and layout of our book. We extend our gratitude to our conservators, Jen Hunt Johnson and Maren Rozumalski, for creating a period binding for the reproduction, and to Neil Chase for mounting all of the materials for us. We are grateful to Barb and Ron Hellenthal of the Museum of Biodiversity for their generous collaboration.

For more information or to schedule a tour for your class, organization, or interested group, please contact the curators, Erika Hosselkus and Julie Tanaka.

Recent Acquisition: The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica

Patrick Browne’s The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica

by Joel Gabriel Kempff, PhD Candidate, English Department, University of Notre Dame

Rare Books and Special Collections is pleased to have acquired The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica. This 1789 edition of Dr. Patrick Browne’s description of the Caribbean Island, contains 49 stunning color plates, illustrated by Georg Dionysius Ehret, one of the period’s most lauded and influential botanical and entomological artists.  The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica includes an account of the British colony’s governmental and economic structure at the time, a description of the soil and fossil content of the island, as well as a comprehensive account of its flora and fauna.

Patrick Browne was born in Ireland in 1720. Educated as a botanist and physician, he made the harrowing transatlantic journey six times in his life, collecting, organizing, and cataloging the natural history of not only Jamaica, but several British sugar colonies of the West Indies. In his preface to the section which catalogues the animal life of Jamaica, Browne muses eloquently on the purpose of such a book as his. Beyond its scientific value as a simple taxonomy, the creatures cataloged in his book offer important knowledge to do with a range of topics.  Browne writes:

…the Naturalist endeavors to observe the peculiar forms, differences, classes and general properties of all. The nature of society we may learn from the Castor, and the rules of government, industry and friendship, from the Ant and the Bee. The little Nautilus has first taught us to sail; and the uses of the Paddle, the Lever, the Forceps, and the Saw, with a thousand other mechanical powers are daily shewn us by numbers of the insect tribe.

Browne goes on to suggest that works such as his Natural History offer a new, more respectful way of understanding so many of the world’s tiny creatures, which were before only regarded as pests that produce only “filth and putrilage.” Browne writes that is this new kind of scientific inquiry which allows humans to gain new respect, even awe, for all sorts of plants and animals. When one views such intricately drawn, to scale illustrations of a bell flower, a flying fish, or a lobster, one does indeed wonder at the complexity and beauty of such creatures and can’t help but reflect on what humans might still have to learn from the plant and animal kingdoms. At its time of publication, and even now, Browne’s work has been valued as an astonishing addition to natural philosophy and science.

Archives of Natural History notes that Browne’s work on Jamaica “is now considered one of the most significant natural history books of the mid-eighteenth century, in some respects second only to the earliest works of Carl Linnaeus.”[1] In fact, Linnaeus himself—the father of modern taxonomy[2]—wrote from Sweden to Browne, “I never coveted any Book, I know not by what instinct, with more ardour desire than yours .. [and having] obtained it I spent day and night reading it through, I read it over but never enough  … Good God how I was transported with desire of a book infinitly [sic] to be commended” and “you ough[t] to be honoured with a golden statue”.  Linnaeus also wrote to the English naturalist Peter Collinson that “No author did I ever quit more instructed.”[3] Patrick Browne’s collected physical specimens now reside in the Linnaean Society Collection.

Throughout his life, and during his retirement in Ireland, Browne catalogued the flora and fauna of County Galway and of his home, County Mayo. His manuscript on Irish flora was published in the handsome Flowers of Mayo: Dr. Patrick Browne’s Fasciculus Plantarum Hibernicae 1788, edited and with substantial commentaries by Charles Nelson of the Irish National Botanic Gardens. This book, with color plates by Wendy Walsh, may also be viewed in the Hesburgh Special Collections.

Dr. Browne was known as a gentle and generous man by his colleagues. He married an Antiguan woman who lived with him in Ireland until his death on August 29th, 1790.

 

 

[1] E. C. Nelson, ‘Patrick Browne’s The civil and natural history of Jamaica (1756, 1789)’, Archives of Natural History, vol. 24 (1997), p.327–36.

[2] Calisher, CH (2007). “Taxonomy: what’s in a name? Doesn’t a rose by any other name smell as sweet?”. Croatian Medical Journal. 48 (2): 268–270.

[3] Transactions of the Linnaean Society, iv (1798), 31–4.

Upcoming Events: February and early March

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

Thursday, February 20 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: MA student research presentations.

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, is now open and will run through the summer. This is an exhibit of rare zoological books featuring early printed images of animals. We welcome classes and other groups of any age and would love to tailor a tour for your students and your curriculum — and if you can’t come to campus, the curators can bring the exhibit to you. Watch for forthcoming announcements of additional related events!

For more information about the exhibit or to set up a visit, contact curators Julie Tanaka and Erika Hosselkus.

The current spotlight exhibits are: John Ruskin and Popular Taste (February – April 2020) and Ruskin, Turner, and Popular Taste (February 2020), both featuring materials from Special Collections relating to the Ruskin Conference being held at Notre Dame in February.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

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

Thursday, January 30 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “The Artist and the Police: Decameron 8.3″ by Justin Steinberg (Chicago).

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, curated by Erika Hosselkuss and Julie Tanaka, will open in January and run through the summer.

The current spotlight exhibit is: Irish Art and Literature from Graphic Studio Dublin (December 2019 – January 2020). The semester spotlight exhibit, featuring materials relating to the Ruskin Conference being held at Notre Dame in February, will be installed prior to the conference.


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

Recent Acquisition: Miniature Books on the Four Elements

by Julie Tanaka, Curator, Special Collections

Les Quatre élémens appeared around 1830 in Paris printed by Maulde and Renou. These four miniatures—a mere 3.25 x 2 inches—were designed to teach French children about the properties of the four elements: earth, fire, water, and air.

Each volume is a tricesimo-secondo, more commonly referred to as a “32mo”. In book production, these terms refer to a single sheet that has been folded to produce 32 leaves (64 pages).  Each volume has glazed pastel paper boards (covers) in lavender, yellow, green, and pink. Each front cover is blindstamped with a decorative frame that surrounds a raised vignette representing the element featured in the volume.

Inside of each book are two wood engravings. One of the engravings in La Terre depicts a family fleeing an earthquake (below) and its other shows farmers harvesting crops.

Le Eau contains wood engravings of a fisherman (above) as well as a flood. In Le Feu, children see a volcano erupting (below) as well as a display of fireworks.

In the fourth book, Le Air, a mother and her children look upon a hot air balloon (above) and in the other wood engraving, the winds blows a man’s hat off.

Special Collections’ acquisition of this fine example of nineteenth-century science education in France was a collaboration with Professor Robert Goulding (Program of Liberal Studies, Director of the Reilly Center, and Director of History and Philosophy  of Science). Professor Goulding states that this set is “probably one of the last publications to teach the old system of the elements as a scientific theory.”