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 February:
“The Changing Face of Irish Writing”
Lecture by Brian Ó Conchubhair, Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame
Tuesday, February 28 at 3:30pm Department of Rare Books and Special Collections,
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)
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.
“Tonight will bring … one of the most unique athletic contests ever witnessed” wrote the Riverside Enterprise newspaper in March 1947 before a wheelchair basketball game between the local Riverside College basketball team and the Rolling Devils from the Corona Naval Hospital in Corona, California, on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
This is one of many clippings from a significant new acquisition by the Joyce Sports Research Collection—a scrapbook documenting the short career of the Corona Rolling Devils, one of the first successful and popular wheelchair basketball teams in the country. The 12×15 inch scrapbook features about 20 double-sided leafs and contains newspaper clippings, ephemera, and about 30 original photographs documenting the career of the Rolling Devils during the spring and summer of 1947.
As recounted in the recent book Wheels of Courageby David Davis, wheelchair basketball was originally devised in 1946 by Bob Rynearson, the Assistant Athletic Director at the Birmingham Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in Van Nuys, California, to provide recreation and rehabilitation for World War Two veterans who were paralyzed. Due to medical advances during the 1940s, it became increasingly common for soldiers to survive spinal cord injuries, and, in the aftermath of the war, the VA rushed to provide care for an unprecedented number of veterans with paralysis. Rynearson’s adaptation of rules for wheelchair basketball was an immediate hit among veterans at the hospital.
In early 1947, Dr. Gerald Gray, a reconstructive surgeon at the Corona Naval Hospital, visited colleagues at the nearby Birmingham VA hospital and happened to see patients there playing the new wheelchair basketball game. After conferring with Rynearson, Dr. Gray immediately introduced wheelchair basketball at the Corona Naval Hospital and organized a team, who dubbed themselves the “Rolling Devils.”
In February 1947, the wheelchair basketball team from the Birmingham VA traveled to Corona to play the Rolling Devils. The visiting team was victorious in one of the first recorded wheelchair basketball games in American history. The Rolling Devils quickly recovered from this loss, however, and went undefeated for the rest of 1947, garnering significant public attention in the process.
The newly acquired scrapbook documents the Rolling Devils impressive winning streak. Most of their opponents were teams composed of non-disabled players who had to quickly adapt to playing basketball while in a wheelchair. The Rolling Devils’ victories over teams like Riverside College, the La Verne American Legion, the Pomona Veterans, and the Bonita All Stars are documented in newspapers stories, programs, advertisements, and photographs. The Devils also convincingly won a return match with the Birmingham VA hospital 41-10.
As recounted in the scrapbook, in the spring of 1947, the Rolling Devils made two trips to Northern California. The Devils beat the varsity basketball teams from St. Mary’s College and the University of California. In a game in May sponsored by the Oakland Tribune, the Devils also defeated the semi-pro Oakland Bittners, a top AAU team led by former Stanford star and future Minneapolis Laker Jim Pollard. The Devils even invited California governor Earl Warren to their sold-out game against the Oakland Bittners, but he telegraphed his regrets.
Throughout their winning streak, the Rolling Devils received praise for their skill. After beating St. Mary’s, a local reporter enthused, “The veterans, who learned to use the chairs through necessity, scooted around the floor like a bunch of spiders, while the college boys gave the spectators a three-ring circus by running into everything in sight and alternating between falling on their noses and backs.”
Some accounts of the Rolling Devils exploits, though, were tinged with a patronizing sentiment towards the wheelchair athletes. Before the game against the Bittners, for example, Alan Ward, a sports columnist for the Oakland Tribune, melodramatically recounted “the moral courage which prompts 10 young men to perform a collective feat which verges on the impossible.”
In mid-June, the Rolling Devils visited Sacramento for what would prove to be their final hurrah. They beat a local college all-star team in a fundraising game to record, reportedly, their 22nd consecutive victory. After the game, the Devils visited the California legislature and finally met Governor Earl Warren who presented the players with honorary scrolls. Upon returning home, however, the Rolling Devils abruptly disbanded. As the United States military began discharging or transferring patients out of the Corona Naval Hospital, players on the team went their separate ways.
Despite the team’s relatively short existence, the Rolling Devils had been instrumental in popularizing the sport of wheelchair basketball and educating the public about expanded athletic opportunities for people with disabilities. Author David Davis explains in Wheels of Courage that, “Thanks to the publicity generated by events like the Rolling Devils’ groundbreaking road trips, the spread of adaptive sports beyond the VA hospitals was on the horizon.”
The Rolling Devils scrapbook is available to the public in the Joyce Sports Research Collection.
The spring exhibit Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts will feature selected books from the Hesburgh Libraries’ Special Collections to demonstrate the art and craft of the Irish book since 1900. The exhibit, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, will open in January and run through the semester.
The current spotlight exhibits for are Hesburgh Library Special Collections: A Focus on W. B. Yeats (November 2022 – January 2023) and The Ladies Flower-Garden of Ornamental Annuals (December 2022 – January 2023). Later in the month, we will be installing the spring semester spotlight, which will explore changes in language within select Middle English manuscripts and early printed books from the 15th through 17th century (January – April 2023).
Classes in Special Collections
Throughout the semester, curators teach sessions related to our holdings. If you’re interested in bringing your class or group to work with our curators and materials, please contact Special Collections.
Due to OIT infrastructure work being done in the Hesburgh Library, Special Collections is closed today, Monday, December 19, 2022.
Rare Books and Special Collections is open Tuesday through Thursday this week (December 20-22, 2022). After that, we will be closed from Friday, December 23, 2022, through Monday, January 2, 2023, in participation with the campus-wide holiday break for all faculty, staff, and students. Special Collections will reopen on Tuesday, January 3, 2023.
This is the last blog post for 2022. Happy Holidays to you and yours from Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections!
Generations of Irish children first experienced the theatre at the Christmas Pantomime. This year’s panto offerings in Ireland include The Jungle Book, Sleeping Beauty, and a number of variations on Jack and the Beanstalk such as Olly, Polly and the Beanstalk.
The tradition probably found its way from Britain to Ireland in the eighteenth century, and has delighted children since then. Peculiarly, its popularity has not spread across the Atlantic.
The typical pantomime has a basic story, presented with an abundance of song and dance, great hilarity, and often with predictable gender cross-over as we shall see below. Scenes of slapstick comedy are interspersed with witty dialogue for the grown-ups in the audience. Pantomimes are peppered with current political references, from the setting and characters to the scripted or perhaps ad-libbed asides in the performance.
A selection from our extensive Irish Theatre Program collection gives us a glimpse of the genre in Ireland, as we look at a handful of Dublin theatre programs.
The 1904 pantomime at Dublin’s Theatre Royal was Dick Whittington. According to the program, it was written specially for this theatre by William Wade. In the tradition of pantomime, Dick Whittington is played by a female, Carlotta Levey.
An Irish Times review includes particular praise for Carlotta Levey: “Miss Levey has proved herself to be one of the very best Principal Boys we have had in Dublin for very many years, and has made a host of friends for herself…”
The above program is also a Book of Songs, and includes pages of songs in addition to photographs of some of the cast. Once again, Carlotta Levey plays the principal boy, while Mother Goose is played by a male actor, Martin Adeson.
A newspaper review tells us that local references ‘largely directed against Dublin Corporation, and many of which provoked a good deal of laughter, are furnished.’ (Irish Times 22 Jan 1907, p. 7)
The Olympia Theatre’s annual pantomime in 1928 was Cinderella, a perennial pantomime favorite. The Irish Times review praised almost every element of the show: the scenery, costume, lighting, music, songs, and indeed the actors. The reviewer provides an example of a witty (at that time) local reference: ‘“There are two gentlemen at the door,” says Chris Sylvester as Buttons. “How do you know they are gentlemen?” asks Dick Smith, as Baron Touch. “They have Cork accents,” says Buttons.’ (IT 10 January 1928, p. 4.)
An Óige, the Irish Youth Hostel Association, held their pantomimes in the Olympia theatre from 1941. Our two programs of their pantomimes staged during the “Emergency” (World War II) suggest shows loaded with commentary on the scarcity and rationing of the Emergency years.
From the 1942 program for Turfyella, we can be confident that the reference to turf in the title is connected to the fact that all fuels, among other commodities, were rationed during the Emergency—but as turf, also known as peat, could be cut from the ground in Ireland’s bogs, there was much activity cutting and gathering turf.
Turf was harvested at a frantic rate. The main avenue of the Phoenix Park was eventually flanked on both sides by ton upon ton of turf destined for the fires of the people of Dublin. The avenue was soon christened The New Bog Road.
The same article tells us a little about the ‘glimmer’ of the following year’s an Óige pantomime Gone with the Glimmer, by Éamon Byrne. During the Emergency, the use of gas was limited to certain times of the day. A small flow had to be maintained in the pipes, but people were forbidden to turn on their stoves to use this tiny flow of gas.
Hence the arrival of that fearsome figure who still haunts Dublin folklore – the Glimmer Man. Emergency or no emergency there were babies’ bottles to be warmed, and many mothers used the glimmer in desperation to soothe a crying baby. The Glimmer Man had extraordinary powers: he could legally enter your house and check for recent illegal usage of gas by placing his hands on the cooker ring. Guilty parties could have their supply cut off forthwith.
As we glance over the years of programs, we find Cinderella repeated often, from major city theatres such as the Theatre Royal (no longer in existence), the Gaiety (still staging a popular Christmas pantomime), to smaller theatres and local dramatic societies. The above covers are from programs for the Theatre Royal in 1946 and St. Anthony’s Theatre in 1957, while the program below is from the Gaiety’s 1956 pantomime.
While the Gaiety’s pantomime has been a regular event since 1873, it was only during the mid-twentieth century, under the management of Louis Elliman, that their pantomime became home-produced rather than imported. The cast list here shows Jimmy O’Dea playing Buttons, a very important role in the pantomime Cinderella, and Maureen Potter playing the maid, Dolores.
Mícheál Mac Liammóir and Milo O’Shea, must have been a great sight as the sisters Marigold and Myrtle, while the valet Dandini is played in another gender cross-over by Maureen Toal.
Our theatre program collection began with some two hundred Abbey theatre programs, and has expanded to include programs of many theatres throughout Ireland. The Abbey, Ireland’s National Theatre, began its Irish-language pantomimes in 1945 with Muireann agus an Prionsaby Mícheál Ó hAodha, based on The Golden Apple by Lady Gregory.
Our program for the 1961 Abbey pantomime, or geamaireacht, is for another tale with a princess and a magical kingdom. In An Sciath Draíochta, Princess Clíona is banished from Tír na nÓg by the witch, Muiregáin. The hero, Aonghus, rescues her with the help of the magical shield of the title, and after many adventures.
In some later pantomimes, the magical setting takes the form of an overt parallel to Ireland. The plot of the Abbey’s Flann agus Cleimintín (1963) would not be clear to a very young audience. The mythical land of youth, Tír na nÓg, is partitioned and therefore vulnerable. However, the opportunistic sea-god and the emperor of China are foiled in their tracks when the border is abolished. The synopsis provided in the program was probably essential to follow this plot.
Partition is once again the subject of the 1964 pantomime, Aisling as Tír-na-nÓg. The story begins with dissatisfaction with the Irish Partition, and a request to an ancient king to come from Tír na nÓg and reunite the country. The call is answered by the king’s son Conall who travels the land and ends up crowned king of Ireland, along with his queen, the heroine of the title, Aisling.
The examples selected here are from a very large collection of programs of many kinds of performance in theatres throughout Ireland, over a century and more. They are currently being cataloged, and these titles will eventually be added to the existing list of programs on our archival finding aid.
Due to OIT infrastructure work being done in the Hesburgh Library, Special Collections will be closed on Monday, December 19, 2022.
Rare Books and Special Collections possesses a small collection of Greek coinage donated largely by Robert (ND ’63) and Beverly (SMC ’63) O’Grady. The collection is mainly Hellenistic (ca. 323 BC – 31 AD) with an emphasis on the coins of Alexander the Great and Lysimachus, but there are also numerous Seleucid types and coins of other major Hellenistic personages. However, four Byzantine coins were also donated by the O’Grady’s which stand in stark contrast to the Hellenistic examples because they feature Christian imagery.
One such coin is this “two-thirds miliaresion” struck in Constantinople under Constantine X Doukas, the Byzantine emperor from 1059 to 1067 AD and the founder of the Doukid Dynasty. He lost much of the Byzantine territories in Italy and the Balkans, and was also defeated by Alp Arslan, the second sultan of the Seljuk Empire, resulting in the loss of the Armenian capital.
The obverse of the coin depicts Mary as the Theotokos (i.e. Mother of God) in the orans pose (praying with outstretched arms). The miliaresion (μιλιαρήσιον) was the name given to various Byzantine silver coins, most of which were made during the 8th-11th century. During the 11th century, the miliaresion was minted in fractions of one third and two thirds (shown here). This denomination ceased to be used after 1092 and was replaced by the Komnenian emperors.
The text on reverse of coin contains the inscription:
ΘΚΕ ΒΟ ΗΘΕΙ ΚΩΝ ΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΩ ΔΕΣΠΟΤΗ ΤΩ ΔΟΥΚΑ
Θεοτόκε βοήθει Κωνσταντίνῳ δεσπότῃ τῷ Δουκᾳ
Mother of God, help the emperor Constantine Doukas
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).
Due to OIT infrastructure work being done in the Hesburgh Library, Special Collections will be closed on Monday, December 19, 2022.
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!
For example, chapter one concerns the excommunication of prelates (cardinals, bishops, nuncios, etc.) by the Pope himself; chapter two covers lesser clerics, chapter four, nuns and chapter six, Inquisitors. Chapter seven deals with secular lords and nobility, while chapter eight discusses various professions, including magistrates, university rectors, governors, and scholars. Chapter ten concerns all those who can be excommunicated by a bishop alone.
In addition, manuscript annotations add interest to this particular copy, attesting perhaps to various canon law interpretations prevalent during this period.
We have found no other copies of this title held by other North American libraries.