“Bound up with love…” Exhibiting the Extraordinary Legacy of Father Zahm

by Tracy Bergstrom, Curator, Zahm Dante and Early Italian Imprints Collection

This year marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, and people around the world are celebrating the milestone. In conjunction with this anniversary, our current exhibit showcases the preeminent Dante collection held by the University of Notre Dame. 

In the fall of 1902, Rev. John A. Zahm, CSC, negotiated the purchase of forty-eight important early print volumes of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy on behalf of the University. The purchase marked a convergence of Zahm’s growing interest in the works of Dante with his efforts to transform Notre Dame into a modern university. Zahm’s purchase of these volumes afforded the University an extraordinary collection on Dante, including magnificent early printings such as that produced in Florence in 1481 displayed below. It also provided a substantial foundation on which to base subsequent collecting activities. 

Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321. La commedia. Florence: Nicolaus Laurentii, 1481.

This edition of Dante’s Comedy features commentary by the Florentine humanist and philosopher Cristoforo Landino (1425-1498). Landino’s was the most influential commentary to Dante’s poem during the Renaissance. Sandro Botticelli designed the iconographic visual program, which was executed in an unfinished series of woodcuts by Baccio Baldini.

In 1995, William and Katherine Devers funded an endowment to support teaching and research on Dante across the University, including the purchase of rare materials in support of the Zahm Dante Collection. Highlights of our recent acquisitions include rare printings of the three crowns (le tre corone) of Italian literature – Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio – as well as verse anthologies of poetry and other tools such as grammars and dictionaries that would have assisted 16th century readers of vernacular literature. 

Nicolò Liburnio, 1474-1557. Le tre fontane di messer Nicolo Liburnio: in tre libbri diuise, sopra la grammatica, et eloquenza di Dante, Petrarcha, et Boccaccio. Venice: Per Gregorio de Gregorii del 1526, nel mese di Febraio, (1527).

Alongside the first grammar books, the earliest lexicons made their appearance in the first decades of the 16th century and soon became very popular. Written as a manual for beginners, with mainly young people and women as the target audience, the goal of this volume was to teach how to write correctly in the vernacular. The three “fountains” of the title refer to the three crowns of Italian literature: Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio.

The title of this exhibit comes from the final canto of Dante’s Paradise, in which Dante has arrived at the conclusion of his journey and beholds a vision of the universe “bound up with love together in one volume.” Father Zahm read a canto from the Divine Comedy daily, and the themes of unity and promise encapsulated within this title seem apt when considering his early efforts to build such an extraordinary collection. 

This exhibit was curated by Tracy Bergstrom (Curator, Italian Studies and Dante Collection), Chiara Sbordoni (Adjunct Professor in Italian, Rome Global Gateway), and Demetrio Yocum (Senior Research Associate, Center for Italian Studies). This and other exhibits within the library are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

The exhibit is on view from August 23 – December 17, 2021. Weekly free exhibit tours are offered on Wednesdays at 12:15pm in Rare Books & Special Collections. 

Upcoming Events: October and early November

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

Thursday, October 7 at 4:30pm | Dante in America, Session V: Dante, Jazz, and American Modernism” by Joseph Rosenberg (University of Notre Dame), and “‘Was Then Your Image Like the Image I See Now?’ Dante’s Face in America” by Kathleen Verduin (Hope College).

The Dante in America lectures are sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies and the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies.

Wednesday, October 13 at 3:45pm | “‘Bound with Love . . .’: The Extraordinary Legacy of the John A. Zahm, C.S.C., Dante Collection”, a panel discussion with Tracy Bergstrom, Theodore Cachey, and Margaret Meserve.

This panel discussion is part of the Founder’s Day series of events being held at the University Notre Dame on October 12-13, 2021.

The fall exhibit “Bound up with love…” The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection is now open and will run through the end of the semester. Public tours of the exhibit are offered every Wednesday at 12:15pm (except October 6). Tours are also available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request. No registration required and tours are free and open to the public.

The current spotlight exhibits are The Ferrell Manuscripts (August – December 2021) and A Limited Edition Photo Album of the Sistine Chapel (August – October 2021).


RBSC is open regular hours during
Notre Dame’s Mid-Term Break,
October 18 – 22
.

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

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.

Migratory History from a Child’s Point of View

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we share this Migratory History of La Raza coloring book, printed in 1974 by El Renacimiento, a branch of the Lansing, Michigan publisher Renaissance Publications. Emerging from the city’s vibrant and active Chicano community, the coloring book narrates the history of the U.S. Chicano population in pictures and bilingual text, for Michigan’s Chicano youth. Michigan-based Chicano artist, David Torrez, produced both the history and the drawings included in the title, which is as much textbook and activist statement as coloring book. 

The coloring book’s activist stance and message are evident even from its cover. Printed on glossy cardstock, it features a Chicano boy, dressed in Southwestern clothing, smiling and waving to a young girl who stands on the other side of a river – most certainly the Rio Grande. The young girl is dressed in the traditional clothing and head covering of the Tehuana, a female cultural type associated with the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of far southern Mexico. Through this image, Torrez links the U.S. Chicano population with residents of Mexico and extends Mexican cultural identity from the country’s border with Guatemala up into the United States – well beyond the country’s political boundaries. Two open and pleasant-looking bridges span the Rio Grand, connecting Mexican Americans and residents of Mexico and advocating friendship and camaraderie between them. 

The Montcalm County Intermediate School District, located in Stanton, Michigan, an agricultural area located north of Lansing and home to significant populations of migrant workers in the 1970s, contributed to the development of the coloring book as part of a migrant education project. The border and two small birds on the title page might appear entirely decorative, but they are an appropriation of symbols of Mexican – even indigenous Mexican – identity. They are Aztec eagles and they frame publication details, including a statement that the book was “Printed in AZTLAN” – the birthplace of the Aztecs. Like many Chicano initiatives of this era, Michigan’s activists found resonance in these Native references that seemed devoid of European influence or content. Through the eagles and references to Aztlan, they harkened back to an idealized indigenous past.   

Page 2 provides the children for whom this coloring book was created a brief, unbiased definition of “migrant child” in English and Spanish. It links the definition specifically to movement between school districts and to agricultural and food-processing industries, but not to race or ethnicity. The statement is a resource, or tool, to help migrant children consider and articulate identity as related to their mobile status.  

The inside of the coloring book recounts Chicano history by dedicating pages to each of the major indigenous groups of Mexico, depicting the events of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs as well as highlights of modern Mexican history, and pointing to important issues of the day. 

A page entitled “Contribution of the Migrant Workers” argues that, since 1900, migrant farm workers and their labor served as the basis of the U.S. economic structure. “Vida del Migratorio” observes that, despite this contribution, migrant housing is often substandard. This issue received attention from the federal government at the time that the coloring book was issued, though improvements for laborers were often slow and uneven.   

Along with this source geared toward children, El Renacimiento produced a newspaper of the same name that focused on the Chicano Rights movement and was published in Lansing from the 1970s through 1990s. David Torrez and Edmundo Georgi, both contributors to this coloring book also work on the newspaper, El Renacimento, which can be consulted on microfilm here in the Hesburgh Libraries.

Related Previous Blog Posts:

Recent Acquisition: Chinese women in post-Cultural Revolution posters

by Hye-jin Juhn, East Asian Studies and Metadata Librarian

These newly acquired Chinese posters include images that conform with, and defy the norms of the ideal Chinese women in the People’s Republic China.

Wang Dawei’s Fu nü neng ding ban bian tian guan jiao shan he huan xin yan 妇女能顶半边天 管教山河换新颜 (Women hold up half the sky, dare to change the mountains and rivers, 1975) depicts a female construction worker, seemingly strong as men, mentally and physically.

Two of the posters depict female characters from Cao Xueqin’s Qing novel, The Story of Stone.

Gao Jingbo’s Yi lu chun feng 一路春风 (2019 print of the 1980 original painting) depicts contemporary women of various social backgrounds. The relationship between the woman in urban clothing, and those in typical peasant clothing seems ambiguous. Are the rural women the followers of the city woman? Or are they sending the urban woman off with their best wishes?

In Wei le sheng huo geng mei hao 为了生活更美好 (1980), and in Jiang li mao 讲礼貌 (1981), we see images of contemporary Chinese women in rural and urban environments. One is a mother, content with a child on her back; the other is a teacher, who upon arriving at her work place on her bicycle, is respectfully greeted by a boy and a girl.   

Upcoming Events: September and early October

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

Thursday, October 7 at 4:30pm | Dante in America, Session V: Dante, Jazz, and American Modernism” by Joseph Rosenberg (University of Notre Dame), and “‘Was Then Your Image Like the Image I See Now?’ Dante’s Face in America” by Kathleen Verduin (Hope College).

The Dante in America lectures are sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies and the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies.

The fall exhibit “Bound up with love…” The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection is now open and will run through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are The Ferrell Manuscripts (August – December 2021) and A Limited Edition Photo Album of the Sistine Chapel (August – September 2021).


RBSC is closed Monday, September 6th,
for Labor Day.

Recent Acquisition: A Frenchman in Constantinople and Lebanon

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an extremely rare biography, François Marchetty’s La Vie de Monsieur de Chasteuil, Solitaire du Mont-Liban (Paris, 1666).

François de Gallaup de Chasteuil (1588-1644) was an orientalist who, after accompanying a French embassy to Constantinople, joined a Maronite hermitage in the Qadisha valley of Lebanon and lived the rest of his life as a hermit there, studying Sacred Scripture.

The work is a fine source for the study of the religious practices and ecclesiastical organization of the 17th-century Maronites, an Eastern Catholic Church that is part of the historical and liturgical heritage of Syriac Christianity. It is officially known today as the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch.

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

Welcome Back! Fall 2021 in Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections welcomes students, faculty, staff, researchers, and visitors back to campus for Fall ’21! We want to let you know about a variety of things to watch for in the coming semester.

The University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Libraries, Special Collections, and the current COVID situation

Due to the spread of highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus, and our inability to verify the vaccination status of those outside our highly vaccinated campus community, masks will be required (except when eating and drinking) of both vaccinated and unvaccinated faculty, staff, students, and visitors in some campus spaces during times when those spaces are generally open to the public. The first two floors of the Hesburgh Library (including Rare Books and Special Collections) are among the spaces where masks are required in public areas, including for those who are fully vaccinated.

Up-to-date information regarding campus policies is provided at covid.nd.edu, and a complete list of these campus spaces will be updated regularly here.

New Leadership at the Hesburgh Libraries

K. Matthew Dames

K. Matthew Dames, previously university librarian at Boston University, has been appointed the Edward H. Arnold University Librarian at the University of Notre Dame by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., effective August 1. Dr. Dames succeeds Diane Parr Walker, who has retired after serving 10 years as librarian.

Read the full press report online.

Fall 2021 exhibit: “Bound up with love …” The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection

This year, the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, we are celebrating the legacy of the Zahm Dante Collection and the remarkable accumulation of rare Italian material acquired at the University of Notre Dame over the past century. 

Highlights of the exhibition include rare printings of the three crowns of Italian literature – Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio – as well as verse anthologies of poetry and other tools such as grammars and dictionaries that would have assisted 16th century readers of vernacular literature.

Fall 2021 Spotlight exhibit featuring the Ferrell Manuscripts

The Fall Spotlight Exhibit features six medieval manuscripts donated to the University of Notre Dame by James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell. The collection features a diverse group of manuscripts from the thirteenth through fifteenth century including a historiated Bible, book of hours, a tarot card, and illuminations. The Ferrell Collection can be discovered digitally.

Monthly rotating spotlight exhibits

Despite the challenges of the last academic year and thanks, in no small part, to the generosity of our donors, Special Collections’ holdings continued to grow. This spotlight exhibit celebrates one recent gift: the three-volume limited edition photo album of the Sistine Chapel. An anonymous donor presented this magnum opus to the Hesburgh Libraries in February 2021.

Drop in every month to see what new surprise awaits you in our monthly feature!

Special Collections’ Classes & Workshops

Throughout the semester, curators will teach sessions related to our holdings to undergraduate and graduate students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College. Curators may also be available to show special collections to visiting classes, from preschool through adults. If you would like to arrange a group visit and class with a curator, please contact Special Collections.

Archival Research Lab I: Locating Materials and Preparing to Go
Wednesday, October 6, 10:00am to 11:15am

Archival Research Lab II: Inside the Archive
Wednesday, October 13, 10:00am to 11:15am

This two-session workshop provides an introduction to advanced archival research. In session one, you will learn strategies for finding and evaluating relevant archival collections and steps you’ll need to consider before you go to an archive. In session two, you will “enter the archive,” completing the registration process and handling and examining different archival materials and formats. This workshop is designed to introduce those who have not previously done archival research to the world of archives and special collections, and also as a refresher and skill-building opportunity for those planning to visit archives again in the post-COVID environment.

Events

Fall 2021 Lecture Series: Dante in America — In commemoration of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, in 2021 the Center for Italian Studies and Devers Family Program in Dante Studies are hosting a series of lectures on the topic “Dante in America.” During the Fall Semester, the lectures are open to the public and will be held in person and streamed via Zoom, with the first lecture Thursday, September 2, 4:30pm to 6:30pm.

Learn more about the series. 

Recent Acquisitions

Special Collections acquires new material throughout the year. Watch our blog for announcements about recent acquisitions.

Speaking about Catholicism in China with a Unified Voice

by Hye-jin Juhn, East Asian Studies and Metadata Librarian

The goal of the Catholic Central Bureau (CCB), founded by Archbishop Riberi in 1946, was to ensure that the country’s Catholic missions, which were independently run by various denominations, would communicate a unified message about Catholicism and the Catholic world view to the Chinese intellectuals and youths, who were increasingly being attracted to Communism. The CCB, in an attempt to fight off the image of Catholicism as an imperialist and non-scientific religion, actively translated and published European Catholic materials about social reforms. In June 1951, the Chinese government disabled the CCB’s activities and arrested and imprisoned many of its members.

RBSC has two editions of Tian zhu jiao qian shuo (天主教淺說) or An Introduction to Catholicism, authored/edited by Zhang Jiemei and published by the CCB.

Its first edition (106 pages), published in Beijing in 1948, introduces Catholicism “more frankly and objectively” (更坦白,更客觀的方式) than the existing publications about Catholicism. It begins with the questions: “What is religion?,” and “What is Catholicism?,” and discusses the doctrines, organization, rituals of Catholicism, and the Bible.  The sixth edition (156 pages), published in Shanghai in 1951, begins with the question, “What is human?,” addresses evolution theory, and explains the relationship between science and Catholicism. The final page gives the statistics of Catholic faiths by country. An example: Of almost 1.2 billion population in Asia, almost 30 million were Catholic; of the almost 463 million Chinese, approximately 3.5 million were Catholic.

Sample opening from the sixth edition.
References:

Wong, Yee Ying Bibiana. “The Catholic Central Bureau: A Short-lived Church Authority set up around the Time of the Communist Takeover of China.” Lumen: A Journal of Catholic Studies 5, no. 1 (2017).

A Perspective on the Spanish Civil War, Mallorca, 1936

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was a complex and divisive conflict that defines Spanish identity to this day. This recent acquisition, a cash book and diary (dietario) kept by a wealthy woman living on Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands, highlights daily life in 1936, during the first year of the war. 

The largest of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca was a locus of nationalist sentiment from early on. Republican forces waged a hard fought battle to win the island back, between July and September of 1936, but were ultimately defeated by the nationalists’ superior air power. On September 4, the island was definitely taken and, over the course of the war, Mallorca served as an important air and naval base for Franco’s fascist forces. 

From January to June, before the war touched Mallorca in any major way, this cash book’s owner, a resident of the city of Manacor, recorded mundane details of daily household life. These included expenses – money spent on food, amounts paid to household servants for cleaning, and pious donations to parish churches, religious orders, and the local hospital. She also recorded income, primarily from a rental house located at the port of Palma, and provided occasional recipes, written in a mix of Catalan and Spanish. 

This page, from January 31, includes a recipe for coques, a traditional sweet or savory pastry common in the Balearic Islands, Catalonia, and adjacent regions. 

By July, however, observations related to the war begin to appear in the diary and these become its main content through the end of the Battle of Mallorca, on September 4.  As early as July 20, an entry reports fighting between republican and nationalist contingents, in the streets of the city of Palma de Mallorca. “This afternoon at the town hall there was fighting between the town guards and the fascists and national police. The national police gave up, seeing that they didn’t have the numbers and not one shot was fired, thanks be to God.”

On August 16, when Republican forces, supported by destroyers and coast guard ships, disembarked at Palma de Mallorca, the cash book states, “this morning at 5 am, an alarm was rung, and the communists entered the port to take possession of everything and the troops came from Palma and the fascists and the rest of our countrymen, with rifles, and they [all] went to defend us…” There were “miles of reds,” and many victims, according to the entry.

Subsequent entries describe the altercations, bombings, gunfire, and the deaths that occurred, primarily in the port city of Palma de Mallorca, before the island was definitively taken by the nationalists on September 4, 1936. 

In addition to war-related details, the writer lists magazine subscriptions, organization memberships, and birth and death dates for her family members in the rear of the book.

This cash book and diary complements other materials related to the Spanish Civil War in our rare collections and offers an intriguing research opportunity for a budding student of history!

Preparing a Parchment Fragment for Posterity

By Maren Rozumalski, Gladys Brooks Conservation Fellow

The recent acquisition of a late Byzantine Greek manuscript fragment gives us an excellent opportunity to highlight the relationship between Rare Books and Special Collections and the library’s Analog Preservation Department.

The more degraded “flesh” side of the parchment bifolio.

The fragment is a single sheet of parchment, approximately ten inches tall by sixteen inches wide, folded down the center to create a bifolium. It is written on both sides in iron gall ink with red pigment initials. This piece is believed to be from the 13th-14th century and is yet to be identified fully. Initial studies indicate it contains sermon extracts, but the exact genre of the manuscript is unknown; all texts are unidentified currently. It will primarily be used in the teaching of graduate level Greek Paleography.

“Hair” side of the parchment bifolio.

The fragment came to the library in a delicate state. It has not lived an ideal life over the centuries, and as such, it was important to have the preservation department evaluate its condition before it was allowed to be handled in classes and by researchers. One of the main issues was that some of the text was obscured due to creases resulting from moisture damage. Moisture damage is problematic when dealing with parchment, because it is not reversable and any moisture introduced during treatment has the potential of furthering the degradation.

Microscopic examination of the parchment confirmed that it has water damage and that the degradation and darkening were at least partially due to mold damage. There was no evidence of active mold. Magnification also revealed that the surface layer of parchment on the flesh side of the parchment was lifting and flaking off in the areas with the most degraded areas.

Together with RBSC, the following treatment goals were decided:

1. Flatten the parchment to reveal the obscured text where possible.
2. Remove staining to improve text legibility as needed, and where possible.
3. Mend tears and areas of loss to stabilize the fragment.
4. Provide housing for handling and storage support.

Each treatment was done selectively, so that the parchment was as undisturbed as possible and other treatment goals could be accomplished. This approach is best for the longevity of the parchment and also leaves the possibility of a theoretical codicological reconstruction to determine the original construction of the codex to which this fragment once belonged.

The humidification zones.
Diagram of the Gortex humidification pack.

Four zones were identified as needing “flattening” (more like gentle stretching) to gain access to the obscured text. Humidification, though not ideal, was deemed the only option. A system was devised which allowed each zone to be humidified in isolation. I settled on a Gortex pack sandwich method, which introduced the moisture evenly from both sides of the parchment. This way the parchment became workable more quickly than if moisture were only being introduced from one side and needed to permeate all the way through. Each area was humidified until it was pliable, but never felt wet. The parchment was gently stretched once it was workable and held in its new position as it dried. The stretching worked better in some areas than others, but all of the text is now partially visible making the text more visible.

In-progress surface cleaning.

The darkest areas of parchment with text were surface cleaned with a 50/50 solution of ethanol and deionized water. A damp cotton swab was rolled over the lines of text, lifting up the surface dirt as it went. The ethanol in the mix helped the water evaporate more quickly so it would soak into the damaged parchment.

A patch of parchment roughly the size of a quarter was lifting and about to pop off the document. This was consolidated using a 3% gelatin mousse, which is comprised of cold gelatin strained through a very fine sieve until it is light and frothy.  Gelatin mousse is much easier to control than liquid gelatin since it stays in place after brushing, and because as a drier adhesive it does not permeate the substraight as much as other adhesives.

The tear repairs and bridge mends were done using pre-coated tissue made with wheat starch paste that was reactivated using the same gelatin mousse. The repairs were done on both sides of the parchment so a thin translucent paper could be used but the repairs would still be strong.

UV photograph of “flesh” side of parchment.

UV photography was the last step before making permanent housing for the fragment. Iron gall ink appears darker in UV light than it does in visible light, so the Greek text will be easier to read in UV photographs than in normal light photos or in person. These photographs will aid users working with the fragment.

The final challenge before returning the fragment was housing. Developing a housing system was the most important aspect of this treatment so the fragment can safely maintain its active life. After experimenting with several models, a double-sided window mount was designed, which I adapted from the British Library’s housing for burnt fragments from the collection of Sir Robert Cotton. The parchment is contained within a packet of polyethylene strips and various weights of polyester sheeting. The strips on one side instead of two solid sheets allow for plenty of airflow so there is no danger of creating microclimates. This also helps minimize polyester’s tendency toward static electricity build-up. The fragment was then secured between two window mattes made of corrugated board.

Diagram of the double-sided window mount.
The fragment after treatment and in its housing.

All of the treatment goals were reached using a “less is more” approach, and sturdy housing was constructed. The fragment is back in the library ready for active use.