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.

Speaking about Catholicism in China with a Unified Voice

by Hye-jin Juhn, East Asian Studies 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!

On the Retirement of Joseph T. Ross

A guest essay by Lou Jordan, Associate University Librarian

Joe Ross and his wife, Nancy, examining a manuscript bible.

As we wish you a celebratory Independence Day, we also mark the retirement of longtime rare books cataloger, Joe Ross. We thank Lou Jordan. Associate University Librarian, who was for many years the Head of Rare Books and Special Collections, for contributing an essay on Joe’s career.

As an undergraduate Joe pursued an interest in theology. He was awarded a BA in religion in 1973 from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA, and went on to obtain a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Joe also studied the history of science, spending the 1975-76 academic year as a research assistant at the Institut für die Geschichte der Medizin, Tübingen.

Joe took his first library job in 1979 as a library assistant at Emory University. In 1981, Joe was hired at Notre Dame by Maureen Gleason as a library technical assistant to work with the collection development librarian Joe Huebner. His workspace was centrally located, close to the circulation desk in the room where the current shipment of new books from our North American approval plan were displayed for decisioning. Also located in that room were the 3×5 book slips for our approval plan from German publishers. Consequently, most subject librarians and many Arts and Letters faculty stopped by the room on a regular basis to peruse the latest publications and at the same time also got to know Joe. Joe quickly gained a reputation as a linguist and a scholar, assisting a wide array of librarians and teaching faculty procure needed titles. During this time Joe renewed his interested in the history of science, taking one course at a time and finally in 1991 completing an MA in the History of Science program at Notre Dame, focusing his study on Hegel.

In 1992, Joe resigned his staff position in order to pursue a Masters of Library Science degree full-time at Indiana University in Bloomington. Following his MLS, Joe accepted a library faculty position at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C as the Bibliographer for Philosophy, Theology, and Humanities. In 1996 Notre Dame advertised for a rare books cataloger; Joe applied for this position and was hired at the rank of a staff librarian as the first full time Rare Books Cataloger at Hesburgh Library. In 1997 he took on the added duties as liaison to the program in the History and Philosophy of Science and in 1999 was promoted to Assistant Librarian.

Joe is a master linguist, fluent in German and with a command of Greek, Latin, most major Western European languages, as well as Arabic and even Sanskrit. His language ability and meticulous scholarship are his signature traits. Joe surrounded himself with rare books and the reference works needed to catalog these texts. There was hardly any open space in his office—even the chair he reserved for visitors was often filled with the past month’s copies of The New York Times.

Joe consistently produced high level original cataloging for rare materials no matter what language they were in. He was especially diligent with complex works that most catalogers would put aside. He accurately described each individual text in our numerous neo-scholastic theological anthologies that has come from various Olmütz monastic libraries. Similarly, he clearly distinguished the numerous lectures, poems and dissertations collected in our 17th century German university miscellanies. Joe also meticulously documented provenance information, tracing down handwritten signatures and ex-libris annotations as well as identifying many hitherto unrecorded early book stamps and labels. 

During his 25 years as a rare book cataloger Joe provided thousands of original catalog records for early imprints unlocking the content of these important resources for the Notre Dame community and for scholars around the world.

Best wishes in your well-deserved retirement Joe, we shall miss you.


Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed on Monday, July 5th, in observance of Independence Day. For research visits to Special Collections, please make an appointment by contacting us at rarebook@nd.edu.

Wishing you and yours a happy Canada Day (July 1)
and a festive Fourth of July!

Color Our Collections – End of the School Year Stress-Relief

Today’s coloring sheet features an illustration by Florence Harrison from Poems by Christina Rossetti (London, Glasgow & Bombay: Blackie and Son, Ltd., 1910). The image comes at the end of the poem ‘Summer’ — something most of us are looking forward to at this point!

If you’d like to see more of this item, make an appointment to visit us and ask to see the book in person — the call number is on the coloring page.

Good luck with the end of the semester, everyone!

The Private Theatre of Kilkenny

We added an attractive and interesting book to our collection on Irish Theatre, The Private Theatre of Kilkenny, with Introductory Observations on Other Private Theatres in Ireland, before it was opened. Privately printed in Kilkenny in 1825, the book covers the history of this theatre from its formation in 1802 until it ended in 1819.

Kilkenny, the home of an annual international arts festival, has a long history as a cultural city. Ask About Ireland, the Irish libraries and museums’ website of cultural and historical information for Irish students, features a page on Kilkenny Theatre, describing this Private Theatre as follows:

During the late 1700s, it became very fashionable for wealthy people to have private theatricals or plays performed at their houses. The popularity of this led to the formation of amateur acting companies, such as the one formed by Sir Richard Power in Kilfane. This company became so successful that it opened a public theatre in Kilkenny in 1802 called The Athenaeum. Most of its profits were donated to charitable organizations in the area.

Kilkenny Theatre: Glitz and Glamour, Learning Zone: Primary Students, AskAboutIreland.ie

The introduction discusses the history of theatrical activities in the area prior to the formation of the Theatre, during the years when plays were performed in the country homes of various landed families: “…about the end of the year 1774, a taste for Dramatic amusements was very prevalent in the County of Kilkenny. Plays were got up at Knocktopher, Farmley, and Kilfane, the Seats of the late Sir Hercules Langrishe, Mr. Henry Flood, of Parliamentary celebrity, and Mr. Gervais Parker Bushe … Mr. Henry Grattan … was a member of the Theatrical Society, which passed from one elegant and hospitable Mansion to another, for the purpose of enjoying their classic recreations: a little strolling community, of no mean talents, or ordinary pretentions.”

Each chapter provides the programs for the season, and also the text of the prologue and other commentary, for example an account of reviews or of visitors. The prologue shown above takes aim at critics of the theatre, including, apparently, The Globe of London:

But merit will have foes. Amus’d we find
We’ve whet the spleen of some malignant mind,
Who swells ouf fame, when he would wound and probe
Which, grateful for his labours, fill *The Globe.

Our copy is elegantly bound, and is a great example of the craft of an Irish bookbinder. The bookseller describes it thus:

Contemporary full burgundy morocco. Covers with double gilt frame, blind stamped Greek-key and acanthus rolls, ‘Gervase Bushe / Glencairne Abbey’ in gilt on upper cover. Spine divided into six panels by five raised bands, title in gilt direct in the second, the remainder tooled with a gilt floral device. Armorial bookplate of Benjamin John Plunket on front pastedown.

This book is from the library of Benjamin John Plunket, and bears his bookplate. The Hesburgh Libraries acquired it this year by purchase from Irish bookseller, Éamonn de Búrca.

Prayer Books of German Catholics in Eighteenth-Century America

by Jean McManus, Catholic Studies Librarian

We recently acquired a manuscript German Catholic prayer book, made in Pennsylvania in 1799. Following is a short description of what we know about this particular manuscript book, and a comparison with a printed German Catholic prayer book that was published in Baltimore around the same time (1795).

Kary, Simon.  Manuscript on paper, in German. Catholic prayer book. Pennsylvania, 1799. 136 pp. Original block-printed wrappers preserved inside; early inked annotations in German on inside of original front wrapper and elsewhere.

This beautiful manuscript’s opening page describes its contents:

…sich befinden in Andachtübung Gott deß Morgens, und Abends, bey den Heiligen Meß, Beicht und Kommunion Gebettern zu sprechen. Wie auch unterschiedliche Getbetter zu Christo, und Maria, auf die fürnehmsten FestTage deß Jahrs. Und auch Gebetter zu dem Heiligen Gottes zu finden sein. Zu grössern Ehr und Seelen Trost. Geschrieben worden von dem Simon Kary im Jahr 1799.

..they are [for] devotional practice to pray to God in the morning and in the evening, at the Holy Mass, confession and communion prayers. As well as different prayers for Christ and Mary on the most noble feast days of the year. And prayers to the Holy of God can also be found. To greater honor and consolation to souls. Written by Simon Kary in 1799

Simon Kary wrote his prayer book in the style that was current in the “Pennsylvania Dutch” region, a typical German-American fraktur style, including beautiful floral decorations and lettering. The 136-page manuscript even has its original block-printed paper wrappers, which shows that people took some care of it for over 220 years. The small book certainly had use, as smudges, dirt, oil, and handwritten additions attest. Perhaps most poignant is the inscription from a 19th c. owner opposite the manuscript title page, which reads in translation: “Forget not your father and your mother, for they have died. My most honored father died on 17th March in the year of the Lord [1]784. My beloved mother died on 6th December in the year of the Lord [1]801. The 14th November in the year of the Lord [1]803. M.S. in the sign of the fish.”

Who owned this unique prayer book? First, Simon Kary in 1799; then “M.S.,” who added the note about parents inside the front wrapper by 1803; later there is an early-19th-century ownership signature of “Anna Holzinger” on the title-page, and a pencil signature of “Theresa” in the lower margin of the title page. It would be hard to tell the particular story of this manuscript prayer book with only these clues, but it is an exemplar of a tradition of writing.

Our bookseller notes that German-American Catholic fraktur prayer books are rare but not unknown; there is a nearly contemporary example in the renowned collection of fraktur at the Free Library of Philadelphia, which contains a “Himmlischer Palm Zweig Worinen die Auserlesene Morgen Abend Auch Beicht und Kommunion Wie auch zum H. Sakrament In Christo und seinen Leiden, wie auch zur der H. Mutter Gottes, 1787” (item no: frkm064000). 

In 1799 the German population in the U.S. is estimated to have been between 85,000 and 100,000 individuals, the vast majority being Protestants of one stripe or another. German Catholics were a very small minority, and concentrated in Pennsylvania. A 1757 count of Catholics in Pennsylvania, both Irish and Germans, compiled from several sources, totalled only 1365 people. Pennsylvania German Catholics were served first by Jesuits sent from Maryland, where half the population was Catholic. German Jesuit missionaries established the mission of The Sacred Heart at Conewago (circa 1720) and Father Schneider’s mission church in Goshenhoppen (circa 1740). There was also a tradition of fraktur birth and baptismal certificates among Protestants and Catholics in this era. Nevertheless, the Kary prayer book now in the Hesburgh Library is exceptionally rare. 

Our bookseller, Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company, stated that “There were no German-language Catholic prayer books published in the U.S. until the 19th century, so those wishing to have one before then had to have a bookstore import it or engender one in manuscript.”

Catholisches Gebät-Buch. Baltimore: Samuel Saur, 1795.

Rare Books Extra Small
BX 2184 .C37 1795

However, we have a fine example of a German Catholic prayer book, printed in Baltimore in 1795 by Samuel Saur (1767-1820). Saur was a grandson of the Philadelphia (Germantown) printer Christopher Sauer (also Sower), famous for printing the whole bible in German in 1743. That 1743 bible was the translation of Martin Luther, and the Sauers were not Catholics. Printers such as the Irish immigrant Mathew Carey (arriving in Philadelphia in the 1780s) and later generations of Sauers, printed all manner of Catholic, Protestant, and secular materials, in a number of languages.

Samuel Sauer began his working life in Germantown, but eventually moved to Baltimore, where he advertised his unique-to-the-city skills of printing in English and German. One of his early Baltimore imprints was the Catholisches Gebät-Buch, published the year he set up shop in the city. Over the course of his 25 years in Baltimore, Saur printed a number of Catholic titles in German, as well as many Pietist works, almanacs, and newspapers. Certainly his location in Catholic Baltimore gave him the commissions for things Catholic, and the relative proximity of Baltimore to Pennsylvania gave him access to most of the German readers in the U.S. 

The Simon Kary German prayer book of 1799 likely represents the middle to end of the era of the self-made manuscript for Catholic devotional purposes, while the Catholisches Gebät-Buch of Samuel Saur shows the arc of the German language printers accommodating the differing religious affiliations of the German immigrants, in order to make a living. There remain many questions to ask about the particular prayers contained in these two works, and questions about their Catholic readers.

Thanks to the Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts proprietors for sharing their research with us.

For further information, see the articles below:

The Catholic Church in Colonial Pennsylvania, by Sister Blanche Marie
(Convent of St. Elizabeth, Convent, NJ). Pennsylvania History, vol. 3, no. 4, October 1936, pp. 240-258.

Durnbaugh, Donald F. “Samuel Saur (1767-1820): German-American printer and typefounder.” Society for the History of the Germans in Maryland, vol. 42nd Report, 1993, pp. 64-80.

Fairy Tales and Folk Tales — Two Books by Yeats

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Most of the books in our W. B. Yeats collection sit neatly on the literature shelves — in fact, the majority are in the ‘rare medium’ shelves as our special collections are organized in various size ranges. Exceptions, however, with variant editions found in the ‘rare small’ sections of folklore and children’s literature section, are Yeats’s Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry and his Irish Fairy Tales.

Fairy and folk tales of the Irish peasantry / ed. and selected by W.B. Yeats.
London: W. Scott, undated. Rare Books Small GR 153.5 .F34 1880z

Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry was one of Yeats’s earliest published books. At the time of this work, Yeats had been publishing in periodicals for about four years, mostly in the Dublin University Review. He had published one book of poetry, Mosada, now exceedingly rare, in 1886, and was working on having his next collection published — The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems. His published poetry and other writing of the time demonstrates a great interest in folklore, and in stories of fairies, ghosts and other phenomena of folklore, and his reading was complemented by encounters with the people of County Sligo in particular, where he spent much of his time.

To find Yeats discussing this publication, we can consult John Kelly’s great compilation, The Collected Letters of W. B. Yeats, which, fortunately, we have in digital form and so can easily search the letters for references to folklore and fairies. Thus we learn that Yeats was invited by his friend Ernest Rhys to produce a book of folklore for the Camelot Series of prose writing, to be published by Walter Scott. 

Yeats writes to his friend Katharine Tynan in February, 1888:

I am trying to get some sort of regular work to do however, it is neccessary, and better any way than writing articles about things that do not interest one — are not in ones line of developement — not that I am not very glad to do the Folklore book or any thing that comes to my hand.

Kelly, 47-48
Illustration by James Torrance from Irish Fairy and folk Tales, a later edition, circa 1893, published by W. Scott. The picture illustrates a story by William Carleton, ‘Frank Martin and the Fairies’.

Irish fairy and folk tales / selected and ed. with introduction, by W.B. Yeats. Twelve illustrations by James Torrance. London: W. Scott, [1893?]

In the letters we also find Yeats consulting with Douglas Hyde on the book.

Yeats’s selection includes stories written by those friends, Douglas Hyde and Katharine Tynan and other contemporaries, and also by earlier writers, among them Crofton Croker, whose early nineteenth century collections of folklore were very popular.

In the introduction to the 1888 book, Yeats discusses the context for storytelling in the community, and he argues the merits of the folklore collectors included in his book, saying that “they have made their work literature rather than science” and that they have “caught the very voice of the people” (xiv). 

Most of Yeats’s early encounters with the rural Irish were in Sligo, where his mother’s family lived, and here he introduces a story-teller of his acquaintance, Paddy Flynn, “a little, bright-eyed, old man, living in a leaky one-roomed cottage” who tells stories of Columkill (Colmcille) and who has told Yeats matter-of-factly of his sighting of the Banshee.

 Fairy and folk tales of the Irish peasantry / edited and selected by W.B. Yeats. London: W. Scott; New York: T. Whittaker, 1888. Rare Books Small GR 153.5 .F34 1888

The chapters demonstrate the editor’s interest in the various supernatural or magical creatures and phenomena found in Irish folklore. The sections on fairies are divided into ‘The Trooping Fairies’ and ‘The Solitary Fairies’. In the first are stories of Changelings, and of the Merrow (a sea-being), while the Solitary Fairies include the Leprechaun and his variants, and also the Pooka and the Banshee.

The stories collected from folklore are interspersed with verse, including, for example William Allingham’s ‘The Fairies’, with which the collection begins. In the section on the Changeling, we find an example of one of Yeats’s own compositions, his well-known poem ‘The Stolen Child’, with an early version of the refrain uttered by the fairies to entice the child to leave and join them:

Come away, O, human child!
To the woods and waters wild,
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than
you can understand.

W. B. Yeats, ‘The Stolen Child’, in Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888), p. 59.

The rest of the chapters cover characters ranging from ghosts to priests, and there is also a chapter called ‘Tyeer-Na-N-Og’ (Tír na nÓg — the land of youth).

Title page with frontispiece by Jack B. Yeats: an illustration from “The Young Piper” by Crofton Croker.

Irish Fairy Tales, edited with an introduction by W. B. Yeats. New York: Cassell, 1892.

Yeats’s Irish Fairy Tales, with illustrations by his brother, Jack B. Yeats, was published in a series for children in 1892. This book has a modest selection of fourteen stories, a lively introductory essay on ‘The Irish Storyteller’, and an appendix on the classification of Irish fairies.

In a note on the contents, Yeats explains that he has included no story that has already appeared in Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, and that he believes the two volumes to make “a fairly representative collection of Irish folk tales.”

With writers of the stature of W. B. Yeats, librarians and scholars have many resources for researching the bibliography, and in the case of Yeats, we have Allan Wade, A Bibliography of the Writings of W. B. Yeats, 3rd. ed., rev., Russell K. Alsbach (1968). Nevertheless, Yeats made so many changes in editions of his work, that it is always interesting to compare the variant editions of his work.

Dante and Women Authors in Sixteenth Century Italy

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

Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections holds one of the largest collections relating to the works of Dante Alighieri in print and, as such, supports research into the utilization of the Divina commedia at various times for a variety of political purposes. One of the rarities of our collection is the small, ephemeral pamphlet printed in 1575 titled Declamatione delle gentildonne di Cesena intorno alle pompe (Declamation of the Gentlewomen of the City of Cesena against Sumptuary Fines…). Eponymously written by a group of ‘Gentildonne’ to push back against recent strict sumptuary laws, the authors utilize quotations from Dante, Petrarch and a panoply of classical authors to argue for the necessity of ornamental clothing as it provides a means of communicating women’s identity.

Title page, Declamatione delle gentildonne di Cesena intorno alle pompe… , printed in Bologna by Alessandro Benacci in 1575.

Mid-16th century Italy saw a flourishing of publications authored by women. The collection of lyric poetry authored by the courtesan Tullia d’Aragona, first printed in Venice in 1547, is a fine example of this phenomenon. The volume includes poems by d’Aragona herself as well as sonnets addressed to her by her male contemporaries. 

Title page, Rime della signora Tullia di Aragona; et di diversi a lei, printed in Venice by Gabriel Giolito in 1547.

The period between 1560-1580, however, marks a time of decline in works published by women in Italy. As vernacular poetry declined in popularity and more academic discourse gained readership, this shift was not particularly conducive to women’s contributions. Thus, if the Declamatione delle gentildonne… was authored by women, as the title and content suggest, it is a rare example of a female polemical prose writing. As such, it is one of many examples within Special Collections’ extraordinary collection of Dante-related holdings with significant research potential for students and scholars alike.