Recent Acquisition: The Papers of Patrick McCabe

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries recently acquired the papers of Irish writer Patrick McCabe. A leading Irish writer and former Distinguished Keough Visiting Professor at Notre Dame, McCabe has received much recognition for his novels, short stories, plays and film scripts.

McCabe-photo3Patrick McCabe was born in County Monaghan in 1955. For over thirty years he has been at the forefront of the Irish literary scene. Two of his novels, The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and have been adapted for film. McCabe’s fictional settings are the small towns of the Irish midlands, a setting that he has made his own, to the extent that his writing has been called “Bog Gothic”.

His papers, now held in Hesburgh Libraries Special Collections, include notebooks, early drafts, later drafts, papers relating to films, financial papers from publishers, correspondence, song lyrics, photographs and newspaper clippings. A preliminary organization has taken place, and thanks to the work of Amanda Bohne and Finola Prendergast, it is anticipated that the papers will be available for scholars to consult by 2016.


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

RBMS 2015

by Julie Tanaka, Curator, Special Collections, Western European History Librarian.

Bancroft_Library_-_University_of_California,_Berkeley_-_DSC04902Natasha Lyandres and Julie Tanaka attended the 56th Annual Rare Books and Manuscript Section (RBMS) Conference on June 21-24, 2015 in Oakland and Berkeley, CA. This year’s conference, “Preserve the Humanities! Special Collections as Liberal Arts Laboratory,” was devoted to the roles special collections libraries have undertaken to shape teaching and research in the liberal arts. Natasha and Julie spent three-and-a-half days attending workshops, paper panels, and seminars as well as networking with rare book vendors, conservators, faculty, archivists, curators, librarians, and other rare book and special collections professionals. Here are some of the topics they learned about:

  • digital infrastructure and curating digital exhibits for special collections libraries
  • engaged collection development
  • special collections as the liberal arts laboratory
  • digital humanities and special collections: tools, challenges, and opportunities
  • creating new partnerships with faculty, campus offices, and outside organizations
  • leveraging technology to create virtual research environments

rbms 2015RBMS is a section of the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

Recent Acquisition in the Architecture Library’s Ryan Rare Book Room

by Viveca Pattison Robichaud, Special Collections Librarian, Architecture Library & Institute for Latino Studies

Falda's Nuovo Teatro delle Fabriche, et Edificii, in Prospettiva di Roma Moderna
Falda, Giovanni Battista, Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi, et al. Nuovo Teatro delle Fabriche, et Edificii, in Prospettiva di Roma Moderna, Rome (Date in Luce da Gio. Iacomo Rossi dale sue Stampe in Roma), 1665.

The Architecture Library, with the support of Italian Studies, Art, Art History & Design, and Humanities funding, is pleased to announce our newest addition to the collection, Giovanni Battista Falda’s Nuovo Teatro della Fabriche from 1665. This volume consists of the first three books in the series, bound together, which are a collection of engravings detailing the contemporary architecture of Rome. The volume, in its present form, is incredibly rare with only twelve copies housed in American collections.

The illustrations contained in the volume are of the Renaissance and Baroque architecture of Rome, and include general views, facades, interiors, and details of churches, monasteries, palazzi, public buildings, monuments, piazzas, as well as other sites of interest in the city. This volume, important in itself because of its study of Rome, also complements the current holdings of the Ryan Rare Book Room, which houses Falda’s Palazzi di Roma, a counterpart to Il Nuovo Teatro delle Fabriche, and together these books present a more complete picture of Renaissance and Baroque Rome.

This volume is also an important acquisition for the expansion of our SPQR-ND mobile application (available for iPad and iPhone) and other digitization projects we have underway in the Architecture Library. This work provides the reader with a snapshot of Rome in the seventeenth century and, in the words of Professor Carroll William Westfall, this book “sharpens one’s understanding of Rome as a place where change is constant and each era has important things to teach.” Cities are not static places and each new project leaves its mark. This work documents Rome in one of its most noteworthy periods.


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Recent Acquisition: A curious hieroglyphic Bible

by George Rugg, Curator, Americana

Title page and frontispiece of A curious hieroglyphick Bible (Worcester : Printed at Worcester, Massachusetts, by Isaiah Thomas and sold ... at his bookstore, 1788).
Title page and frontispiece.

A curious hieroglyphick Bible, or, Select passages in the Old and New Testaments, represented with emblematical figures, for the amusement of youth: designed chiefly to familiarize tender age, in a pleasing and diverting manner, with early ideas of the Holy Scriptures: to which are subjoined, a short account of the lives of the Evangelists, and other pieces: illustrated with nearly five hundred cuts. Worcester, Massachusetts: Isaiah Thomas, 1788.

Isaiah Thomas’s hieroglyphic Bible of 1788 is both a landmark piece of American children’s literature and a newly ambitious use of woodcut illustration in an American printed book. The idea of a hieroglyphic Bible, in which select scriptural passages were presented in a combination of words and images, was consistent with Thomas’s interest in works for children that simultaneously instructed and amused. He based his book on an English edition first published in 1783. In his preface—dedicated to the “parents, guardians, and governesses of the [newly constituted] United States of America”—Thomas notes the “considerable expense” involved in commissioning the hundreds of woodcuts that fill the book. Some of these, to the modern eye at least, seem a bit opaque; fortunately, Thomas printed the full text of each passage at the foot of the page. The present copy is a first edition, with all of its pages intact. It was acquired by the Libraries in January 2015.

The nativity story as told by Luke from A curious hieroglyphick Bible (Worcester : Printed at Worcester, Massachusetts, by Isaiah Thomas and sold ... at his bookstore, 1788).
The nativity story as told by Luke.


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Spring & Summer Exhibit – Sacred Music at Notre Dame: The Voice of the Text

There’s still time to see the Special Collections spring and summer 2015 exhibit, Sacred Music at Notre Dame: the Voice of the Text, curated by Dr. David T. Gura, Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts.

library-web-graphicThis exhibition highlights the variety of medieval liturgical manuscripts and fragments housed in the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library which contain music. The manuscripts featured date from the eleventh through fifteenth century, and originate from various regions in France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. Some examples represent specific uses such as Carthusian monks or Dominican nuns. Other manuscripts in this exhibit were recovered from book bindings and serve as examples of older practices which may no longer exist in complete manuscripts.

The exhibit was featured as the cover story for ND Works in June 2015.

Select chants from the manuscripts on display were performed and recorded by Prof. Alexander Blachly (Department of Music, Notre Dame) and the Notre Dame Schola Musicorum. Audio files of these chants can be listened to online.

The exhibit is open to the public 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, through July 31, 2015.

Recent Acquisition: Malton’s Picturesque and Descriptive View of the City of Dublin (1791)

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian.

Over two hundred years before Google Maps photographed the buildings of Dublin, architectural draughtsman James Malton (c.1765-1803) depicted the grand public buildings of Dublin in his book, A Picturesque and Descriptive View of the City of Dublin Described. In a series of the most Interesting Scenes taken in the year 1791.

While the etchings from this book are well-known, both as framed reproductions and from the 1978 Dolmen Press edition, original editions, with their large and detailed prints, are very uncommon.

James Malton accompanied his father, an English architectural draughtsman, to Ireland and was employed for a time by the famous architect James Gandon, who was then working on Dublin’s Custom House. He was dismissed and later worked on a series of drawings of Dublin buildings, first published in six parts between 1792 and 1799 and later, in 1799, published in one volume.

The detail shown above is of the south end of Capel Street, looking across Grattan Bridge (then Essex Bridge) towards Parliament Street and City Hall.
The detail shown above is of the south end of Capel Street, looking across Grattan Bridge (then Essex Bridge) towards Parliament Street and City Hall.


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


I would like to welcome readers to Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections Blog. The postings will include highlights from our rich and diverse collections, news about acquisitions, events, and exhibits, our services, and behind-the-scenes looks at the work of our curators and conservators.

Hesburgh Libraries at the University of Notre Dame holds diverse collections of rare and unique materials that range from a Babylonian cylinder from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II to Jean-Pierre Hébert’s In Visible Cities—a twenty-first century artist book that meshes the poetry of Italo Calvino with data landscapes generated from computer code based on the artist’s interpretation of Calvino’s writings. Our holdings include manuscripts, archives, rare books, periodicals, photographs, artist books, ephemera, and other materials with particular strengths in Roman Catholic Studies, Medieval Studies, Irish literature, Italian literature, Latin American history and culture, 20th-century Russian history and culture, Botany, and American sports. Every year, we welcome undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, other researchers, and the general public to our department to use our collections and attend our exhibitions and programs.

For more information about our department and collections, I invite you to visit our website and subscribe to our RSS feed (

Natasha Lyandres, Head, Rare Books and Special Collections