Two Years On, and Over 150 Years Ago

by Anne Elise Crafton, Ph.D. Candidate, Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute

Reflecting on the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, one can find historical parallels. A recent addition to the Hesburgh Library, a collection of Harper’s Weekly magazines from the 1850s to the 1890s, reveals that late-nineteenth century Americans were also worried about how to stay safe during epidemics. The magazines document events during turbulent periods of American history: the Civil War, Reconstruction, and multiple epidemics. Numerous articles, cartoons, and advertisements reflect widespread concerns for how best to combat national health crises.

In 1858, a group of rioters attacked a hospital, known as “The Quarantine,” that held patients with smallpox, yellow fever, and cholera; at least two men died. The rioters feared that the quarantined patients represented a threat to the local community rather than necessary protection, as it was believed that disease spread through a miasma in the air.

Since bacteria had yet to be discovered and cures were not readily available, others looked to make a profit from those desperate to stay well. One 1864 advertisement for “Dr. T.B. Talbot’s Medicated Pineapple Cider” suggests that consumers snuff pineapple cider to cure the influenza. The fine print notes that customers might have to wait six months before being cured.

In 1879, America attempted to combat the rising cases of yellow fever by creating a National Board of Health, which ceased operations by 1884 due to various funding and operational issues. 

Despite these ups and downs it is also clear that in the midst of national anxieties, people found joy in life. For instance, each edition of Harper’s Weekly included a section of new chapters of ongoing novels. One of the most popular authors to publish a chapter-a-week was Charles Dickens, whose novels featured prominently in Harper’s Weekly.

The newspaper also frequently printed stories from far-off places; the images provided a taste of the world beyond America for those unable to travel.

Advertisements for the latest Parisian fashions, recipes for the at-home chef, and poetry accompanied news of politics and warfare. During the height of the Civil War, one cartoonist took a break from political imagery to joke about the ever-widening skirts of women’s’ fashion.

The Harper’s Weekly collection reminds us that while many things have changed and some haven’t, we have always found ways to endure.


COVID Policy Update: For fully vaccinated Notre Dame faculty, staff, students and visitors, masking is now optional indoors on campus. Those students, faculty, staff and visitors who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks inside campus buildings, including in Rare Books & Special Collections spaces. Anyone who would prefer to wear a mask in any setting is welcome to do so.

The Breastplate of Saint Patrick — Thomas Kinsella and the Dolmen Press

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

For St. Patrick’s Day, we feature The Breastplate of Saint Patrick, translated by Thomas Kinsella.

Thomas Kinsella, recently deceased, was one of Ireland’s most highly-regarded poets of recent times. In addition to his poetry, he translated many literary texts from Old Irish and Modern Irish to English. Prominent among these are his translation of the epic Táin Bó Cuailgne, and also his translated poems in An Duanaire: Poems of the Dispossessed. Liam Miller’s The Dolmen Press published many of Kinsella’s works, usually with the close collaboration of poet, printer and artist. 

The Breastplate of Saint Patrick (front cover) by Thomas Kinsella, published by Dolmen Press, 1954 (left) and Faeth Fiadha: The Breastplate of Saint Patrick translated by Thomas Kinsella from the Irish (front cover), published by Dolmen Press, 1961.

The 1954 edition of The Breastplate of Saint Patrick is decorated with designs by H. Neville Roberts, based on early Christian art. On the cover is a picture of the Shrine of the Bell of Saint Patrick, an ornate shrine made around 1100 to house the older relic, the Bell of Saint Patrick, which is held in the National Museum of Ireland. The image, and the designs within the book, are appropriate to the text, which is a hymn found in an eleventh-century manuscript, the Liber Hymnorum, thought to date to the eighth century.

On the left is the first page of the hymn in the 1954 edition, and on the right is the first page of the hymn in the 1961 edition.

A note in this Dolmen Press edition states that this text is from the manuscript in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. This is one of two Liber Hymnorum manuscripts. The other is part of the Franciscan Manuscripts collection at UCD Archives, also in Dublin. Both manuscripts have been digitized and images of the text may be viewed and studied online.

According to the introduction, Patrick composed the hymn to shield him and his monks from ‘deadly enemies who were ambushing the clerics.’

The manuscript introduction announces that the hymn is called ‘fáeth fiadha’. This is usually translated as the ‘deer’s cry’ and is the title given to a later Dolmen Press edition, also by Thomas Kinsella. 

Our other Dolmen Press edition, published in 1961, is also a translation by Thomas Kinsella. There are textual variations, as can be seen from a comparison of the initial lines. ‘I arise today’ and ‘Today I put on’. The Old Irish caused more difficulty for earlier translators. George Petrie, who translated the text in the nineteenth century, decided the word ‘atomriug’ must have been two words, and that ‘tomriug’ was a form of ‘Tara’. Subsequent research in Old Irish language sources show that ‘atomruig’ may be translated as ‘I arise’.

We end with an image of the best-known part of the text. The prayer beginning with ‘Christ by me, Christ before me’ is sung in many variant arrangements. this is from the 1954 edition.

Upcoming Events: March and early April

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

Thursday, March 24 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “We, the People: Strategies of Representation in the Italian Novel” by Roberto Dainotto (Duke). The Spring lectures are being planned in a hybrid online and in-person format; registration for online access is available via the event description page. Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

DATE & TIME UPDATED – Tuesday, April 5 at 4:00pm | “Piranesi’s Lost Book” by Heather Minor (Notre Dame).

Thursday, April 7 at 4:30pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and Remembering Early England (March – April 2022, opening soon).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.

Seamus Heaney’s translation of Henryson’s “The Testament of Cresseid”

by Anne Elise Crafton, Ph.D. Candidate, Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute

In addition to his original works, the Irish poet Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) is also known for his adaptations of ancient and medieval literature. The most famous of these is his translation of the Old English epic Beowulf, but he also adapted a lesser-known medieval poem, The Testament of Cresseid.

The Testament of Cresseid was composed by the 15th-century Scottish poet, Sir Robert Henryson. He was a part of a group of writers dubbed “The Scottish Chaucerians,” for their love of Geoffrey Chaucer (d. 1400), the author of The Canterbury Tales, a poem in Middle English. The Testament of Cresseid was Henryson’s direct response to Chaucer; in fact, it was meant to be a sequel to Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, one of the first poems to use rhyme. This epic poem tells of the tragic love story of two Trojan youths during the Trojan War. Despite their love, Criseyde is given to the Greeks as a prisoner of war and takes another lover, the Greek warrior Diomedes. While Chaucer’s account ends here, Henryson adds a cruel fate for Criseyde: Diomedes abandons the beautiful Cresseid. The Trojan maiden cries out to the goddess of love, Venus, about her poor luck in love, but the goddess vengefully strikes her with leprosy and blindness. Cresseid goes to live among the beggars by the city gate, where the noble Troilus passes by; however, due to her blindness she cannot see him, and due to her deformity, he does not recognize her. Eventually when they do recognize each other, Cresseid regrets her treatment of Troilus and gives a mournful soliloquy then dies shortly afterwards.

Henryson’s poem was written in Middle Scots. This language, confusingly known as Inglis (English), is not the same as Middle English. Middle Scots was informed heavily by Irisch (i.e., Scots Gaelic not Irish) and maintains unique spellings such as substituting quh- for wh-, and ane for one, an, or a. For example:

Henryson’s Middle Scots (15th c.)

Ane doolie sessoun to ane cairfull dyte Suld correspond and be equivalent: Richt sa it was quhen I began to wryte This tragedie…

Heaney’s Modern English (21st c.)

A gloomy time, a poem full of hurt Should correspond and be equivalent. Just so it was when I began my work On this retelling…

Seamus Heaney cites three motives for his translation which distinguish it from others: the “advocacy for the work in question,” a “refreshment from a different speech and culture,” and “the pleasure of writing by proxy.” However, Heaney also admits in the preface that when he went to translate the poem, despite these grandiose motives, he found himself already stumped by the opening scenes. Both the complexity of Middle Scots and the phonetic power of Henryson’s verse were difficult to render into modern English, especially if Heaney wanted to retain the essence and feel of the original. However, the Middle Scots reminded Heaney of the Ulster-dialect of his family and as he continued his translation, he found himself “entirely at home” with Henryson’s poetry.

The Hesburgh Library owns the 2004 de luxe edition of The Testament of Cresseid signed by Heaney and illustrator Hugh O’Donoghue. Hugh O’Donoghue is an English artist known for exploring the universality of the human experience – a theme fitting for a poem so interested in love, loss, and fate. The deluxe edition does not include the Middle Scots text next to Heaney’s translation, unlike other editions. This situates Heaney as the sole access to the medieval past.

O’Donoghue’s paintings give the harsh poem an unexpectedly ethereal quality. The reader can revel in Cresseid’s legendary beauty, brought to life by O’Donoghue, and shudder at what she becomes in the end. By pairing O’Donoghue’s compelling art with Heaney’s translation, the edition fundamentally changes the experience of the poem. Altogether, the project expands beyond translation and continues a cycle of storytelling that transcends multiple languages, nationalities, and poetic traditions: Chaucer’s 14th-century English imagination of a mythic Mediterranean past, Henryson’s 15th-century Scottish response, and a 21st-century exploration of art, poetry, and memory by an Irish poet and English artist.

Black History Month 2022

by Greg Bond, Sports Archivist

For several years, I’ve been on the hunt for Claude Monroe Paris, a largely unheralded African American basketball pioneer from the early twentieth century whose name does not appear in the standard books about the history of African Americans in basketball. A native of Waupaca, Wisconsin, Paris excelled on the court and was one of the few African Americans to compete on high-level integrated basketball teams in the early 1900s. Usually playing at forward or center, he received wide praise for his abilities, and his teams competed in national amateur basketball tournaments in Chicago.

Basketball was in its infancy and—compared to sports like baseball or college football—often received less coverage. So, it has sometimes been difficult to uncover information about early basketball players like Claude Paris. Fortunately, in my new position as the Sports Archivist at Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library, I can use the incomparable resources of the Joyce Sports Research Collection to better document Claude Paris’s trailblazing athletic career.

After starring at Waupaca High School, Paris joined the region’s top amateur team sponsored by the nearby Stevens Point Athletic Club in 1901. He quickly gained local fame, with one reporter describing him as “a well known colored basket ball player.” The state press routinely praised him as a “crack forward,” and one sportswriter said simply that Paris “is said by players of experience to have been the best forward in the state.”

The Stevens Point Athletics were one of the top teams in Wisconsin, and in 1901, they were invited to Chicago to compete in an eight-team basketball tournament billed as the “National Amateur Championship.” Other teams in the field included Kenton, Ohio; Chicago’s West Side YMCA; the University of Nebraska, and the Silent Five of Brooklyn, New York, a team composed of deaf players.

Before the tournament, the Chicago Chronicle, wrote that Stevens Point “has this year made a very enviable reputation and has an undisputed right to be classed among the best teams in the country.” The Chronicle singled out Paris for “the star playing of the team” and noted that “Paris, who is an unusually small man for the position he fills, is an excellent player and is looked upon as one of the strongest of the team.” 

Paris played well in Chicago, but the tournament ended without a clear champion as Stevens Point and Kenton, Ohio, both finished with records of 3-1.

Over the years, I have tracked Claude Paris and the Stevens Point Athletics “championship” team through newspaper stories, but the Joyce Sports Research Collection—namely, its nearly complete run of Spalding’s Official Basket Ball Guide—has now let me put a picture to these words. Spalding Guides routinely featured hundreds of team photographs from every level of competition, and these images are a fantastic resource for researchers to study and to document the development of sports.

The Joyce Collection’s 1901–02 Spalding’s Official Basket Ball Guide includes on page 60 a team photograph of the “Stevens Point A.C. Basket Ball Team.” Claude Paris (identified as number 7) sits on the left side of the first row, providing a visual record—seen around the country in the popular Spalding Guide—of this early integrated basketball team and graphically documenting Claude Paris’s participation at the highest levels of amateur basketball.

After Stevens Point, Paris attended and continued his basketball career at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, for two years. But his career after Lawrence is not well documented. Further investigation in the Joyce Collection, though, has led to more information. I discovered that the 1905­–06 Spalding’s Official Basket Ball Guide pictured Claude Paris (identified as number 6) with the 1905 Menasha (Wisconsin) Young Men’s Social Club Basketball team—providing additional evidence of Paris’s trailblazing career as an African American basketball player on predominantly white teams. 

Unfortunately, little information has survived about the specifics of Claude Paris’s experiences against white competitors, but visual evidence of his participation on integrated teams is an important addition to our knowledge about the history of African American athletes in this era.

Some contemporary observers also noticed the significance of Claude Paris. In April 1903, the Milwaukee Sentinel published a lengthy article about Paris, then a student at Lawrence. The Sentinel described him as “studious and industrious” and “of quiet manner and engaging personality.” 

The article also noted that “Paris finds time to devote considerable attention to athletics… [and] he has an excellent record. Before he came to Lawrence he played on the Stevens Point basket ball team which tied the team of Kenton, O., for the national championship in 1901.”

The Milwaukee Sentinel ultimately used Claude Paris to make an overtly political point. In an era that witnessed increasing legal segregation and racial violence and growing restrictions on African American rights, the Sentinel held up Paris’s example as a direct refutation of the racist philosophy of segregationists exemplified by notorious South Carolina Senator “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman:

“Claude M. Paris of Waupaca… in every detail of his personality and every incident of his career gives the lie to Senator Ben Tillman’s dictum that the negro is and must always remain… inferior.”

I am grateful that the Joyce Sports Research Collection has helped me to further document and honor the life of Claude Monroe Paris, an unsung African American athletic pioneer.

Oliver Twist — An Affordable Edition

by Daniel Johnson, English; Digital Humanities; and Film, Television, and Theatre Librarian

The Household Edition of Charles Dickens was a new, quarto-sized version of the novelist’s works published by Chapman and Hall starting in 1871, after the author’s death, answering “calls for a truly popular and affordable edition of Dickens that were being voiced even before Dickens’s death” (Louttit 2014, 323). Like the novels in their original run, the Household Editions were printed both serially (either weekly or monthly) and as whole volumes. The whole-volume printings were themselves subject to “two methods of volume release: the distinctive green cloth and gilt boards (which adorn many of the volumes in circulation today) at 4s., and a cheaper ‘stiff paper wrapper’ priced at 3s” (2014, 326).

The history of the Hesburgh Library’s recently-acquired volume is not clear, but if it was originally purchased in whole volume form, it is a curious one — it does not bear “distinctive green cloth and gilt boards,” and for good reason. It is a Sammelband, seamlessly binding the Household Dickens Great Expectations together with Oliver Twist. The other method of whole volume distribution, via “stiff paper wrapper,” means the book would have come with no cover, making it cheaper to purchase but also enabling the book owner to order custom book binding. In either case, whether obtained serially in parts or as whole volumes, the book was bound by custom order, as can be further confirmed by the stamp on the back cover, “Bound by W. Drewett, Printer, Binder, Stationer.” Why a person might join together two Dickens novels with no apparent contiguity (Oliver Twist was the first book in the Household Editions, Great Expectations in the middle, and the novels were originally published decades apart) would be a worthy subject of exploration.

Title page, with frontispiece: “The evidence destroyed”.
The first page of Chapter 1, headed with an illustration of Oliver asking for more, while the boys around the table lick their fingers, their spoons, or their empty bowls.

In more general terms, collecting witnesses of the Household Edition can help scholars make comparative analysis against the volumes printed during the author’s lifetime (such as the handsome, two-volume first edition of Our Mutual Friend which the library purchased in 2016). Indeed, the Household Edition is receiving renewed attention, particularly for its visual content. By the late twentieth century, it had become commonplace to read Dickens as inextricable from his original illustrators – George Cruikshank, Hablot Knight Browne, and Phiz – which is logical enough. Many period readers would have closely tied the novels to the caricature-like images of these artists.

But approbation was not universal. As Chris Louttit shows, many who wrote on Dickens in the late nineteenth century “preferred instead the more realistic and less emblematic productions of the generation of artists including Fred Barnard, Charles Green and James Mahoney” who adorned the Household Edition (Mahoney was illustrator of the Household Oliver Twist) (2019, 150). Indeed, one Victorian critic, Edwin Pugh, claimed the original illustrations “are as unlike the creations of the Master’s brain as a painted, stuffed wax effigy is unlike the warm, breathing body of a beautiful woman or man” (ibid). Much could be made about the reading of the text based on the visual commentary available to readers at a given period.

The Household Edition of Oliver Twist (and Great Expectations) joins over a hundred other Dickensian special collections holdings of various kinds in the Hesburgh Library, including a Cruikshank-illustrated first edition of Oliver Twist, with a fireside plate “canceled in later issues.”

Title page and frontispiece of Great Expectations ‘with thirty illustrations by F. A. Fraser.
Sources consulted:

Louttit, Chris. 2014. “‘A Favour on the Million’: The Household Edition, the Cheap Reprint, and the Posthumous Illustration and Reception of Charles Dickens.” Book History 17 (1): 321-64. http://doi.org/10.1353/bh.2014.0013

—–. 2019. “Boz without Phiz.” In Reading Dickens Differently, 149-64. John Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119602262.ch8.

Upcoming Events: February and early March

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

Wednesday, February 9 at 2:00pm – 5:00pm | Celebration: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The semester-long Ulysses exhibition will be supplemented by a temporary ‘pop-up’ display of books and art. Visitors are welcome to come during any part of the afternoon. At 3:30, there will be a short talk titled “Joyce, Proust, Paris, 1922” by Professor Barry McCrea.

Registration is encouraged but not required. Read more and register


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibits both feature materials relating to the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and David Lilburn’s Eccles Street Print (January – February 2022).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.

The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. The current exhibit is constituted in celebration of this anniversary and brings some of the University’s finest medieval manuscripts and early imprints to the fore, drawn from the Hesburgh Library, Snite Museum of Art, and the McGrath Institute for Church Life.

The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond features Bibles and Biblical texts from the 12th through 21st century, including numerous illuminated Bibles from Italy, France, England, and Bohemia, a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, chant manuscripts, and the Saint John’s Bible. The exhibit seeks to show the varying contexts of the medieval Bible as well as its early modern successors: in the schools through interpretation and commentary, in public through the liturgy and preaching, in private through prayer and devotion.

Cod. Lat. a. 2, folios 139v and 140r

This exhibit is curated by Dr. David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts). This and other exhibits within the library are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is on view from January – June 2022 in Rare Books & Special Collections. Contact Dr. David T. Gura to schedule tours and class visits.

Ulysses 100 at Hesburgh Libraries

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

The event scheduled for February 2 has been postponed, due to weather concerns.

At Hesburgh Libraries, along with the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, we look forward to participating in the worldwide celebration on February 2nd of the one hundredth anniversary of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The very first copies of the first edition of Ulysses were received from the printer on Joyce’s fortieth birthday, February 2nd, 1922. Sylvia Beach, the publisher, delivered a copy to James Joyce on that day. 

Of the thousand copies printed in that first edition, almost one hundred are currently in U.S. libraries. Our copy will be on display in our exhibition room throughout the semester.

Parts of Joyce’s novel had earlier been published serially in America in The Little Review, a magazine edited by Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap. This came to the attention of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, and eventually the magazine had to cease publication of the novel and it was banned by the United States Post Office.

Joyce subsequently had difficulty finding a publisher, and Sylvia Beach, owner of Paris bookshop and lending library Shakespeare and Company, agreed to publish the book. Every detail along the way, from finding typists who would agree to type the text through distributing (sometimes smuggling) the book to readers, forms an interesting story. Much of the story is recounted in Noel Riley Fitch’s book, Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation (1983).

Another great champion of Joyce’s writing was publisher Harriet Weaver, whose Egoist Press in England published a number of his works. Her edition of Ulysses was also published in 1922 and our copy is on display. 

Also in the display case is a magazine in which unauthorized episodes were published, alongside a printed copy of the protest, signed by 167 artists and writers, against this piracy.

In a separate case, we will exhibit a print by the late Irish artist David Lilburn – Eccles Street, from In Medias Res: The Ulysses Maps: A Dublin Odyssey. This print will be available for viewing through the month of February.

The Celebration

On Joyce’s 140th birthday, we will host a special event in the Hesburgh Library, with the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.

Professor Barry McCrea will speak on ‘Joyce, Proust, Paris, 1922’, and the launch of the ‘100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses‘ exhibit will be complemented by a one-afternoon temporary display.

Further information on this event is available here: https://irishstudies.nd.edu/events/2022/02/02/celebration-100-years-of-james-joyces-ulysses/

Seventeenth Century Dominicans Supporting the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a rare, early modern compilation of works by four authors from the Dominican Order supporting what was then the still controversial doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Virgin Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception. This doctrine was not elevated to the status of dogma until 1854, when Pope Pius IX issued his bull, Ineffabilis Deus.

The volume, Monumenta dominicana: ex quatuor auctoribus Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum qui pro Immaculata Virg. Conceptione ex professo scripserunt (Lovanii, 1666), was compiled by Pedro de Alva y Astorga and features the earliest appearance in print of Tommaso Campanella’s De Immaculata Conceptione. Campanella (1568-1639), a philosopher, theologian and poet, was known as a strong supporter of Galileo during the latter’s first trial; Campanella’s astrological speculations and opposition to the authority of Aristotle led to his prosecution by the Roman Inquisition in 1594. He was confined to a convent until 1597.

Other writers in this compendium include Ambrogio Caterino Politi (1487-1553); Vincenzo Giustiniano Antist (d. 1599), and three sermons by Guillaume Pepin (d. 1533). Interestingly, the Dominicans (including Thomas Aquinas) had mostly opposed the doctrine during the Middle Ages, but by 1431 the Council of Basel declared Mary’s Immaculate Conception “a pious opinion” consistent with faith and Scripture and in the 16th century, the Council of Trent—while not making a definitive pronouncement on the subject—exempted her from the universality of original sin.

We have found only one other North American holding of this title.