Rare Books and Special Collections recently acquired limited runs of two American periodicals from the 1940s, New York’s View and The Texas Spectator. Each captures part of the zeitgeist of the 1940s, war-time to peace-time.
View, a quarterly magazine published in New York City, covered the avant-garde and surrealist art scene from 1940 through 1947. The publication drew American artists—like Georgia O’Keeffe, Man Ray, and Alexander Calder—and also featured European artists, many of whom were wartime refugees. These included Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, André Masson, and Marc Chagall, and writer André Breton.
As shaped by the editorial hands of artist and writer Charles Henri Ford and author and film critic Parker Tyler, View unabashedly popularized surrealism in the US while also challenging the European movement’s sexual conventionalism.
The Texas Spectator newspaper, published weekly in Austin, maintained a progressive, sardonic eye on Texas politics between 1945 and 1948. The paper featured reporting by liberal journalist and novelist Hart Stilwell, and western writer J. Frank Dobie.
The newspaper’s motto—from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline—conveyed its raison d’etre: “Fear no more the frown o’ the great . . . Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke.” It championed civil rights, education, and labor, and scrutinized the state’s powerful oil and gas companies and their political surrogates.
At first glance View and The Texas Spectator’s differences seem obvious. The former promoted a cultural movement propelled by elements of surprise and spontaneity, while the former engaged in a David vs. Goliath struggle over political power. Yet they share an optimism about the possibility of social and political change for a better future.
The current spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – early May 2023) and Hagadah shel Pesaḥ le-zekher ha-Shoʼah – Pessach Haggadah in memory of the Holocaust (April – May 2023).
Rare Books and Special Collections is open regular hours during the summer — 9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.
RBSC will be closed Monday, May 29th, for Memorial Day and Tuesday, July 4th, for Independence Day.
This week Special Collections highlights an online exhibition created by Notre Dame students in their fall 2022 class, Stories of Power and Diversity: Inside Museums, Archives and Collecting. The exhibition, Hidden Depths: Resurfacing the Overlooked and Underrepresented, brings together materials from the University of Notre Dame’s campus repositories–Rare Books and Special Collections, the Snite Museum of Art, and University Archives–selected and interpreted by the students.
The items displayed here vary in format, time period, medium, style, and content–abstract painting, sculpture, installation art, photographs, and collections of historic documents–and are created by people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Their selection reflects the themes of the class, which were to explore the history of collecting in Europe and North America and some of the field’s major questions, including, what has been left out? Where are there gaps and silences in collections and archives?
Eight students applied a curatorial gaze to these materials, to examine how they do and do not intersect with themes of diversity. While these curators recognize the diverse identities of the creators of these objects, the showcases comprising this exhibition point viewers to hidden depths. They ask that we consider how identities are nuanced through regional conditions, educational background, economic forces, and personal trauma. And just as importantly, the curators of the show consider how identity and diversity are not always directly linked in one’s art or expression. They also demand that consumers of these pieces of art and historical sources work to apprehend the complexities behind their creation. By extension, they suggest that we take a careful second look in other contexts, beyond the online gallery or the museum.
This exhibition offers interpretation, but it also asks questions, and challenges viewers even as it invites them to connect with holdings in the University of Notre Dame’s campus repositories. Information about the student curators and their experiences in this course can be found in the personal statements at the end of each showcase.
Hidden Depths showcases ways in which students engaged with special collections materials over a semester-long project. The result is a display that uncovers, refocuses and takes an imperative second look.
The exhibition displays materials from Rare Book and Special Collections that place Mike Curato’s novel into social and historical context. The show includes sources about the Boy Scouts, Catholic pamphlets on contemporary devotional practices—including images of the sacred heart, which figure prominently in Flamer—Catholic pamphlets about pastoral care of LGBTQ people, and a selection of LGBTQ documents on sports and humor. Each section explores themes in the novel that may resonate with readers. We hope the show will encourage discussion of this award-winning book.
Tours of the exhibit may be arranged for classes and other groups, and additional curator-led tours are available at 12 noon on the following upcoming Friday: April 21.
The April spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and Hagadah shel Pesaḥ le-zekher ha-Sho’ah – Pessach Haggadah in memory of the Holocaust (April – May 2023).
The Treaty of 1922 resulted in the formation of the Irish Free State. This tenth anniversary book, published under the Minister for Industry and Commerce and edited by Bulmer Hobson, is intended to show the world how Ireland has developed in all areas, from science and industry to education and art. The book is profusely illustrated.
The cover design by Art O’Murnaghan (1872-1954), is clearly making reference to the style of early Irish illuminated manuscripts. This decorative style, based on the art of illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow, became very popular during the Celtic Revival of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
An earlier example of the celebration of early Irish art is found in ‘The Cromlech on Howth’, a book that combines the fascination and research into Irish art and literature with a poem by Samuel Ferguson, decoration by Margaret Stokes, and an essay on Irish script by George Petrie.
Shamrocks and harps, however, have been used as emblems of Ireland for centuries, and in America in particular, book bindings of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries proclaim the Irish context with a harp, a decoration of shamrocks, or both. In The Days of a Life, by “Norah” (Margaret Dixon McDougall), is a story of Ireland showing the plight of the laborers and the abuse of the landlord class, from the perspective of a young Canadian visitor. The additional images of a round tower and the ruins of a castle or monastery are also typically suggestive of Ireland’s history.
The tiny edition of Thomas Moore’s extraordinarily popular Irish Melodies shown here includes a ‘female harp’ combining the harp, a symbol of Ireland with the female personification of Ireland. Among Moore’s Melodies, ‘The Harp that Once Through Tara’s Hall’ is one of Moore’s many references to the harp.
The harp that once through Tara’s hall The soul of music shed, Now hangs as mute on Tara’s walls As if that soul were fled. So sleeps the pride of former days, So glory’s thrill is o’er, And hearts, that once beat high for praise, Now feel that pulse no more.
No more to chiefs and ladies bright The harp of Tara swells: The chord alone that breaks at night, Its tale of ruin tells. Thus freedom now so seldom wakes, The only throb she gives, Is when some heart indignant breaks. To show that still she lives.
A Philadelphia edition of Mrs. S. C. Hall’s stories, Wearing of the Green, or, Sketches of Irish Character, published in 1868, has a winged woman as part of the harp.
This bound set of issues of Duffys Hibernian Magazine, published in Dublin in 1860, bears the bookplate Mathew Dorey of Dublin.
Tours of the exhibit may be arranged for classes and other groups, and additional curator-led tours are available at 12 noon on the upcoming Fridays: March 10 and 31, April 7 and 21.
An exhibit lecture, “The Changing Face of Irish Writing” by Brian Ó Conchubhair (Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame), will be held this spring in Special Collections, at a date that will be announced later.
The March spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and “That Just Isn’t Fair; Settling for Left-Overs”: African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines (February – March 2023).
We join with 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 paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines
We celebrate Black History Month with a selection of magazine articles by or about African American women from a number of popular, feminist periodicals created across the decade of the 1970s that RBSC has recently added to our collections. In these publications, which largely targeted white audiences, Black women claimed new platforms for their voices and ideas.
African American women were a foundational part of the United States’ women’s movement and 1970s feminism. The athletes interviewed in womenSports, for example, identified how sexism intersected with racism in sports and in larger contemporary society.
womenSports magazine, founded in 1974 by tennis star Billie Jean King in conjunction with the Women’s Sports Foundation, was one of the earliest popular magazines focused on women athletes. The glossy publication reported on professional and amateur sports and also provided practical tips to readers on everything from self-defense to the recently enacted Title IX legislation.
womenSports covered the athletic triumphs and biographies of African American women and often introduced Black sportswomen to wider reading audiences for the first time. Writers and editors frequently documented and wrote about the gender discrimination experienced by women athletes–Black and white–but they tended to devote less attention to racial prejudice encountered by African American women in sports. Black athletes themselves frequently spoke to the entwined race and gender bias they encountered.
In the pages of womenSports in 1974, Wyomia Tyus, the Olympic champion sprinter, described economic consequences of prejudice she faced on the professional track circuit. After a corporate sponsor dropped her event, Tyus explained, “all the women in our event are black, but if we had a white woman in it, I think the … company would’ve picked us up.” And about a recent meet in San Francisco, Tyus observed, “the men who won got television sets, and the women who won got medals. That just isn’t fair. Settling for left-overs.”
Two years later Olympian Madeline Manning Jackson, a middle-distance runner, pointed to the lack of funding for a sport that featured many African American women athletes. Jackson had recently declined an invitation to compete in the Pan American Games for the United States after the Amateur Athletic Association, which governed track and field events, failed to fund her trip or provide any compensation. “I could have gone even if they didn’t pay,” she explained, “but it made me mad–not just for me but for all the other girls who have to put up with this kind of treatment. . . . I could have gone. I just wouldn’t.”
In addition to womenSports, the library recently acquired two titles that bracket the 1970s and represent different voices within the American feminist movement. Cellestine Ware’s article, “Black Feminism,” appeared in an annual publication of the radical wing of the movement, Notes From the Third Year: Women’s Liberation. Ware was a member of the Stanton-Anthony Brigade, a circle of radical feminists in New York City, and author of Woman Power: The Movement for Women’s Liberation (1970). In this article, Ware articulates a model of Black feminism and warns that the “complaint that black women challenge black men is further proof of the threatening nature of female independence to most men.”
The oral history of Texan Annie Mae Hunt, a 70-year old African American woman and civil rights activist, appeared at the end of the decade in Chrysalis, a Magazine of Women’s Culture. Hunt described her life of work, childbearing and rearing, political activism, and reflected on inequalities she experienced because of her race and sex.
The athletes in womenSports identified how racial and gender discrimination intersected. Ware’s new Black feminist theory and Hunt’s history explained how race, gender, and class inequality developed historically. African American women created a platform for their ideas within these 1970s feminist magazines.
Rare Books and Special Collections holds a growing collection of printed and other material documenting African Americans and women during the late twentieth century. The publications described here will be on exhibit in RBSC through March.
Please note that the corridor outside RBSC is temporarily narrowed to a pedestrian tunnel due to ongoing library renovations, but we generally remain open during our regular hours (Monday through Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm.)
This semester’s exhibit, “Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts” curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, invites visitors to look beyond the text and consider other aspects of books in our Irish collection.
To highlight the influence of early art on Irish book decoration and illustration in the early twentieth century, we have ‘borrowed’ the fine art facsimile Book of Kells from the Paleography Room on the 7th floor.
Chapters of the history of the book in Ireland include the stories of printing presses, and we have selected a small sampling from our extensive collections of important presses such as the Cuala Press founded by the Yeats sisters, Colm Ó Lochlainn’s Three Candles Press, and the Dolmen Press of Liam Miller. Contemporary printing presses are also represented, with a limited edition from Salvage Press and the 1916 commemorative book 16 which was published by Stoney Road Press.
The exhibit’s title poster incorporates an illustration by Liam Miller, from the cover of Ten Poems by Padraic Colum, which is featured in the first case. The fonts in the poster, American Uncial and Pilgrim, were selected to reflect choices made by Irish printers. The poster was designed by Sara Weber.
The Irish language posed particular challenges for printers up to the 1960s when the standard of Irish language became the Roman alphabet. Throughout the exhibition, various examples are displayed of the styles of lettering used for Irish language titles and text.
The aspect of typefaces in the Irish language will be the subject of a lecture later in the semester:
“The Changing Face of Irish Writing”
Lecture by Brian Ó Conchubhair, Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame
The date of this lecture will be announced later.
The exhibit is open Monday – Friday, through July 2023.
Tours of the exhibit may be arranged for classes and other groups, and additional curator-led tours are available at 12 noon on the following Fridays:
“Anybody here speak English? / Non dovete avere paura, non c’è ragione”: Dubbing as Translation and Rewriting in Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna, by Santain Tavella
The Infernal Arno: Mapping the Arno in Dante’s Hell through the Lens of Purg. XIV, by Toby Hale
Tuesday, February 28 at 3:30pm | Exhibit Lecture: “The Changing Face of Irish Writing” by Brian Ó Conchubhair (Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame). This lecture has had to be rescheduled—a new date will be announced later.
The spring exhibit, Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts, features selected books from the Hesburgh Libraries’ Special Collections that demonstrate the art and craft of the Irish book since 1900. The exhibit, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, will run through the semester.
The February spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and “That Just Isn’t Fair; Settling for Left-Overs”: African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines
(February – March 2023).
Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed from 11:30am to 2:00pm on Thursday, February 9, 2023.