The current spotlight exhibits are Hesburgh Library Special Collections: A Focus on W. B. Yeats (October – December 2022) and The Ladies Flower-Garden of Ornamental Annuals (December 2022 – January 2023).
Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed for Notre Dame’s Christmas and New Year’s Break (December 23, 2022, through January 2, 2023).
We otherwise remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams, and welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.
The painting of a wild turkey featured in this Thanksgiving post is also displayed in pride of place in the book in which it was printed: opposite the title page in Audubon’s American Birds, from Plates by J.J. Audubon, published in 1949 in London and New York by a British publisher, Batsford. As the title indicates, this is a book of reproductions of fewer than two dozen of John Audubon’s paintings from his monumental work of natural history and painting, Birds of America, published in London between 1827 and 1838.
Batsford, the publisher that produced this modest, post-war volume, wished to place Audubon’s accomplished paintings within reach of nearly everyone. The publisher asked Sacheverell Sitwell to write the introduction, which makes up (excluding the illustrations’ captions) the book’s text. Sitwell was a poet and a prolific writer, mostly on artistic themes and as an art critic. In this book on Audubon’s birds, Sitwell places Audubon’s work firmly within the history of British and American art.
Sitwell also underscored the publisher’s populist intent. The writer noted that books like Audubon’s original work, which was produced in the largest possible format—elephantine, was the “modern equivalent of the illuminated missals of the middle ages. They were accessible only in the houses of the rich and in public libraries.” (p. 10) Sitwell (who was himself both wealthy and titled) and Batsford made Audubon’s great nineteenth-century achievement accessible to popular audiences in Britain and the United States. Turkey for the people.
RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Thanksgiving Break (November 24-25, 2022). We wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!
As fall comes to a close and leaves blanket the landscape, there are still apples fit for picking and ideal carving pumpkins throughout much of Michiana. You may not find any such apples or pumpkins rolling around Rare Books and Special Collections this fall, but a journey into the books from Edward Lee Greene’s personal library is certain to furnish you with some fruity history about the connection between fruit and identity in American history. Edward Lee Greene (1843-1915) was an American botanist whose personal library of over 3,000 volumes is held in Rare Books and Special Collections. Though you won’t encounter a botanical history that explains the pumpkin spice latte in the stacks, Greene’s library does contain an intriguing manual that helps us to think about the role of fruit in American history and our daily lives from the perspective of a state well-known for its horticulture: California.
Written by Edward J. Wickson in 1889, The California Fruits and How to Grow Them is a manual that covers nearly every topic a novice California horticulturist would seemingly need to learn to begin cultivating fruit, whether in the late-nineteenth century or today. Wickson’s handbook begins with an overview of California’s climate and soils before moving into descriptions of the range and histories of various wild and introduced plant species, such as the California crabapple, the wild gooseberry, and the California jujube. Those eager to introduce their own varieties of common fruits could find more than enough help in the second half of Wickson’s The California Fruits and How to Grow Them. From recommendations for growing specific plants to guides on how to implement certain cultivation techniques, such furrow irrigation or grafting, an important method for propagating certain species like apple trees, Wickson’s volume contains an array of horticultural tips and tricks to help the aspiring horticulturist to get their backyard orchard up and running.
The California Fruits and How to Grow Them, however, is much more than just a horticultural manual. Wickson’s volume, like many others contained in the Edward L. Greene Collection, reveals much about the intersections between science, human-nature relationships, and American identity in the late-nineteenth-century United States. For Wickson’s readers, the scientific knowledge they gleaned from The California Fruits and How to Grow Them rendered history visible in the form of the very fruit they plucked from the California environment. Crabapple trees and evergreen shrubs such as manzanita became reminders of California’s indigenous histories as Wickson informed readers that these fruit-bearers were “highly esteemed by the Indians.” Other fruits conjured images of Spanish California, including “orange, fig, palm, olive and grape,” all of which, according to Wickson, Jesuit priests established at the Spanish missions that spread across the region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In Wickson’s view, however, “these early efforts at improvement of California fruits were but faint forerunners of the zeal and enterprise which followed the great invasion by gold seekers.” For Wickson, specific techniques typified this pioneer “zeal” and ushered California not only into a new historical period but a new era of fruit cultivation, such as grafting. Grafting is a technique of propagating a variety of fruit by inserting a bud of the chosen variety into the trunk of an existing tree (usually of a different species). Though grafting is an old technique for food production, one likely present in California since at least the Spanish colonial period, Wickson omits this detail in text instead associating grafting with other American technical innovations such as the use of railroad transportation to move fresh fruit in and out of the state. Instead, grafting and railroad transportation embodied the ways in which Wickson imagined Californians as ushering in a new and, by implication, better era of fruit cultivation throughout the state. Deploying nineteenth-century notions of progress and improvement to chart the place of American migrants in California’s natural and human histories, Wickson’s book transformed horticultural practices into metaphors that signified how and why California fit into American history, grafting Wickson, other Californians, and their recent possession of the California landscape onto the fruits of the California environment in the process.
Nineteenth-century Californians like Wickson understood fruit as more than simply a thing to cultivate. Fruit trees, vines, and shrubs were also botanical texts through which Californians could read themselves into the history of the state. Much like the apple orchards, pumpkin patches, or corn mazes many Americans will wander through this fall, orange groves and hillsides covered in gooseberries provided nineteenth-century Californians with experiences that may have helped them to anchor themselves in new places, communities, or environments. Fruit, as Wickson’s volume reveals, was central to being Californian–a thing California is not only known for, but through which people have historically come to know themselves and the state. Perhaps, with our autumn strolls through apple orchards or pumpkin patches, Americans today are not so different? Food for thought, I suppose. Happy fall everyone!
A 1948 promotional flier for the All American Girls Baseball League (AAGBL)—which billed itself as “the tops in girls sports”—used these enticements to encourage women to try out for the league. Inside, the pamphlet further described “action-packed… All-American Girls baseball” as a “game of sensational growth and popularity with an equally brilliant future” and promised “a sport unlike any other in existence and one which offers real opportunities to the young girls of every city, village, and hamlet of America.”
This flier comes from a remarkable All American Girls Baseball League manuscript collection housed in the Joyce Sports Research Collection in Hesburgh Libraries that documents the history of this important pioneering women’s sports league. A League of Their Own, a new Amazon streaming show about the league (that shares a name with the popular 1992 Geena Davis and Tom Hanks movie on the same topic) has re-focused attention on the actual history of the AAGBL and has also brought renewed interest in the unique AAGBL materials in the Joyce Sports Research Collection. Recent visitors and researchers to consult the AAGBL collection include Notre Dame undergraduate students from Professor Annie Coleman’s Sports and American Culture class and attendees at an AAGBL convention and reunion hosted in South Bend this past August.
Founded in 1943 by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley and other baseball and civic leaders who worried that World War Two labor demands could threaten the viability of professional men’s baseball, the All American Girls Baseball League provided high-quality women’s sports in (mostly) mid-sized Midwestern cities like South Bend, Indiana; Rockford, Illinois; Racine, Wisconsin; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and others.
Although Wrigley quickly sold his stake in the league when it became apparent that major league baseball would survive during the war, the AAGBL continued for 12 seasons until 1954. In the league’s first seasons, the game was akin to fast-pitch softball, but, in ensuing years, the rules evolved—including overhand pitching and a smaller ball—to more closely resemble men’s baseball.
The AAGBL manuscript collection consists chiefly of the personal and collected papers of two men involved with the South Bend Blue Sox—one of two franchises (along with the Rockford Peaches) to compete in all 12 league seasons from 1943 to 1954. Harold T. Dailey, a South Bend oral surgeon, was a team administrator for most of the Blue Sox’s existence and served on the team Board of Directors from 1945–1952. Chet Grant managed the Blue Sox in 1946 and 1947.
Years later in the 1970s, Grant helped oversee the Joyce Sports Research Collection, and he facilitated the donation of these one-of-a-kind materials. The AAGBL collection includes a variety of formats, including correspondence, programs, yearbooks, photographs, financial records, scrapbooks, player questionnaires, clippings and more, all of which help to document the full history of the league.
“A High Standard of Conduct”
One important theme of the new Amazon League of Their Own series—and one that is well reflected in the manuscript collection—is the League’s emphasis on conventional ideas of femininity. Perhaps because the players were exceptional athletes, the male owners and administrators always insisted on promoting images of traditional feminine appearance and behavior—from the required uniform skirts to elaborate rules and regulations that (hoped to) govern player conduct. The 1948 promotional flier, for instance, assured fans and prospective players that “All-American girls… are selected for their athletic ability and baseball ability as well as femininity, character, and deportment. A high standard of conduct and behavior is maintained at all times.”
Printed material from the league, too, consistently featured stylized images that emphasized conventional ideals of feminine appearance. A few examples from the AAGBL collection include the 1948 South Bend Blue Sox Yearbook, the 1946 Kenosha Comets Yearbook, and the 1950 Ft. Wayne Daisies Official Program.
Internal correspondence, also, addressed this issue. In a May 17, 1948, letter, for instance, League President Max Carey, a former major league baseball player, wrote Harold Dailey that “some of the girls from the National League [National Women’s Softball League] were out to our game the other night, and they were all dressed in slacks and looked like a bunch of bums, which in itself would not be an inducement to try and break into that league.”
Despite such precautions by the League and despite the AAGBL’s high-level of play and popularity in league cities, some in the public remained skeptical about the propriety of women participating in a traditionally male pastime. This undated clipping from the AAGBL collection, for example, asked “Do Girls Belong in Pro Baseball”?
The Amazon League of Their Own series also explores its characters’ sexuality and LGBTQ issues. League administrators in the 1940s and 1950s encouraged conventional heterosexual relationships for the players and promoted traditional heterosexual norms in their publicity material. Concerns about player sexuality do not seem to be often overtly mentioned in the surviving league records, but there are still some tantalizing glimpses of the issue.
The AAGBL manuscript collection, for example, includes a fascinating set of 76 promotional questionnaires completed by league athletes in about 1944. The forms solicited information about the players’ backgrounds, experiences, and interests, and instructed the women: “please don’t be bashful” with your answers. One question, though, did require more discretion. In a section about entertainment, the questionnaire invited players to name their “favorite star”—but then quickly stipulated that the answer “must be a man.” League administrators evidently wanted to avoid any suggestion that players might be interested in other women.
Despite such contemporary gender and sexual politics that constrained the behavior and self-expression of players, more than 600 athletes appeared in the AAGBL during its 12 years of competition. These women excelled on the field, unabashedly exhibited their athletic prowess, demonstrated that there was an audience for high-caliber women’s sports, and, in their own way, helped to challenge and re-shape the very same strict societal gender norms the league sought to enforce.
The athletes were doubtless aware of the league’s cultural significance. But many players were also simply thrilled to be playing ball and relished the opportunity to test their mettle against some of the best women athletes in the country. Pitcher Jo Kabick probably spoke for many of her league-mates when she wrote enthusiastically on her 1944 publicity questionnaire: “Everyone has a ‘first love’—mine was softball.”
The All American Girls Baseball League Collection is open to the public and available to researchers. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment to consult the collection.
We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The United Farm Workers, an organization with deep ties to the Mexican American community, came into existence in 1965, under the leadership of labor leader Cesar Chavez. It merged two existing groups of farm workers, one primarily Mexican and one primarily Filipino. Under Cesar Chavez’s leadership, United Farm Workers became a highly influential, multi-racial labor movement. It orchestrated the most successful consumer boycott in American history, against California grape producers, between 1965 and 1970. By allying with national and local unions and building boycott houses in 10 major cities, the UFW effectively shut down the U.S. market for grapes in protest over treatment of farmworkers. In July of 1970, after a final, failed attempt to offload rotting grapes in Europe, twenty-six grape growers capitulated and signed collective bargaining agreements with the UFW, a major victory for the country’s farm workers.
This post highlights some of Rare Books and Special Collections’ ephemeral material related to the history of the United Farm Workers organization, a beacon of Chicano strength and power.
Andrew Zermeño, a graphic artist who created a number of political cartoons for United Farm Workers, produced this large bilingual poster in 1968. It connects the president-elect, Richard Nixon, to the abusive practices of California grape growers and warns that if “La Raza,” or the Mexican American population, doesn’t stop Nixon, he will stomp, or crush, them.
Portrayed in a grotesque fashion, Nixon waves his characteristic “V” for victory sign and greedily devours grapes. A grape grower is literally in Nixon’s pocket and farmworkers are crushed under his stomping feet. Small signs in Spanish and English refer to the boycott. A man representing La Raza lies inert in a pool of grape juice at the bottom of the poster.
In 1969, the Scholastic, the University of Notre Dame’s student magazine, recognized the grape boycott. Its editors published the striking emblem of the Delano strike on the cover of the November 7 issue. Inside, the first of two articles on the farmworkers’ actions, authored by Steve Novak, describes the formation of the UFW and the history of the grape boycott. Novak observes that, “the Delano strike has done much for the Mexican-American people of the United States,” making them more visible, uniting them, and bringing their struggles to light.
This final item is a modest poster promoting a United Farm Workers benefit held in Madison, Wisconsin, at Freedom House, a small venue. Likely also dating to the era of the grape boycott, the poster features the strike emblem and a group of three protestors, one with arm raised and one wearing a farm worker’s hat.
Together, these items reflect the national impact of the Delano grape strike. It spawned protest posters by Mexican American artists like Zermeño, merited a place on the cover of university student magazine in South Bend, Indiana, and prompted organization of a benefit in Madison, Wisconsin. The impact of this event was widespread and impressive, and it is an important part of the legacy of the U.S.’s Mexican American population.
In 2022, the University of Notre Dame celebrates fifty years of being a coeducational institution. Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame joins the year-long celebrations occurring throughout campus. This exhibit presents a selection of correspondence, articles, documents, and other materials from the Notre Dame Archives that record the journey toward coeducation.
The transition to fully include women in all aspects of student life was a long, winding, and sometimes bumpy road. Since the 1910s, women have been studying at and earning degrees from Notre Dame. For the most part, their experiences were exclusive to the Summer School Program, which was established in 1918. However, by the 1960s, it was clear that Notre Dame, like its peers, had to pursue coeducation to remain a relevant, top-tier university.
Notre Dame became coeducational in the fall of 1972, but it would take years for women to be fully integrated into undergraduate life. Women struggled for representation in the classrooms, in student organizations, and on the athletic fields. This exhibit takes a look back at the pioneering women who have helped shape Notre Dame for over one hundred years.
Friday, October 14, 3:00-4:00pm (Stanford Weekend)
Friday, November 4, 3:00-4:00pm (Clemson Weekend)
Friday, November 18, 10:30-11:30am (Boston College Weekend)
Stop by Hesburgh Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections exhibit gallery and explore “Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame.” Exhibit curator, Elizabeth Hogan, will be available to walk you through the exhibit and answer questions. No registration is necessary.
Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame, an exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives curated by Elizabeth Hogan and reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame, will run through the end of the fall semester.
The current spotlight exhibits are Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God (June – early October 2022) and A Day in a Life of the Warsaw Ghetto in Photographs (August – early October 2022). Later in October we will be installing two new spotlight exhibits: an exhibit featuring our William Butler Yeats Collection and discussing Yeats’ connection with Notre Dame (mid-October – December 2022), and an exhibit highlighting some recent acquisitions relating to women in World War II (mid-October – November 2022).
RBSC will be open regular hours, 9:30am – 4:30pm, during Notre Dame’s Mid-Term Break (October 17 – 21).
The Rare Books and Special Collections at Hesburgh Library welcomes visiting scholars whether they wish to consult one book or to spend many days immersed in our collections.
A number of research grants and awards are made available by a variety of institutions which may be of interest to people considering travelling for research visits. These are administered and funded by various groups, and so the information in this blogpost is intended to serve as a signpost to different opportunities, and to encourage readers to follow the links to the relevant grants and awards.
Dante Studies Travel Grants
With the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies, the Center for Italian Studies co-sponsors travel grants for faculty and graduate students from other institutions whose research would benefit from on-site access to Notre Dame’s special collections on Dante, the Ambrosiana archive, or other of its Italian holdings. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
The Italian Studies Library Research Award
The Center for Italian Studies and Notre Dame International jointly administer an Italian Studies Library Research Award. This award provides grant funding for scholars to use the collections of the Hesburgh Libraries for research in Italian studies. Research awards are intended to defray the cost of travel and accommodation for research visits of one to three weeks in duration. Applications from international locations are encouraged. Read more about this award and access the application on the Center for Italian Studies’ website.
Keough-Naughton Library Research Award in Irish Studies
The Keough-Naughton Library Research Award provides grant funding to assist scholars who travel to the Notre Dame campus to use the collections of the Hesburgh Libraries for research in all aspects of Irish studies. This award is funded and administered jointly by the Keough Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and Notre Dame International. Information and application instructions for this grant may be found on the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies website.
Cushwa Center Research Travel Grants
The Cushwa Center provides research grants for the Study of Catholicism in America. Information on their opportunities for research in the University of Notre Dame Archives and the Hesburgh Libraries may be found on the Cushwa Center’s Research Travel Grants page.
Hibernian Research Awards
Funded by an endowment from the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, these annual awards provide travel funds to support the scholarly study of Irish and Irish American history. This grant is administered by the Cushwa Center of Catholic Studies. Information is available on the Grant Opportunities page of the Cushwa Center’s website.
Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame, an exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives curated by Elizabeth Hogan and reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame, opened late-August and will run through the fall semester.
The current spotlight exhibits are Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God (June – September 2022) and A Day in a Life of the Warsaw Ghetto in Photographs (August – September 2022).
RBSC will be closed Monday, September 5th, for Labor Day.
The current spotlight exhibits are Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God (June – August 2022) and Fifties Flair and Seventies Feminism Presented by Two Magazines (May – August 2022). The latter exhibit will be replaced towards the end of August by an exhibit showcasing two recently acquired World War II era photo albums featuring original photographs from the within and outside of the Warsaw Ghetto’s walls.
RBSC will be closed Monday, September 5th, for Labor Day.