There are no public events currently scheduled for August. Please check back for events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections during September.
The exhibition Making and Unmaking Emancipation in Cuba and the United States will open mid-August and run through the fall semester.
The August spotlight exhibits are Football and Community at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (August – December 2023) and Centering African American Writing in American Literature (August – September 2023).
RBSC will be closed Monday, September 4th, for Labor Day.
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.
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.
Museums, special collections, and archives acquire materials in a variety of ways, most commonly through donation and purchase. Hesburgh Libraries is no exception.
Last fall, students in the multi-disciplinary class, Stories of Power and Diversity: Inside Museums, Archives, and Collecting, created acquisition proposals for Hesburgh Libraries. Class members were asked to put themselves in the shoes of curators and select materials that would develop the library’s collection in diverse and inclusive ways. The formats of prospective purchases were left fairly open; students could consider a wide range of types of materials–from books to manuscripts to posters and even artifacts (realia). As an incentive (and as a gesture to how libraries and archives compete for and manage resources), the most deserving proposal (determined by class vote) would be purchased, placed in the library’s collections, and featured on the library’s social media (this blogpost!).
Students searched vendor websites and online catalogs and considered some of the following questions.
How complete is this item or collection? Are there significant gaps or pieces missing?
If a collection of photographs, are they identified or identifiable, in terms of locations, dates, names of people?
If it is a printed item (a book, posters, pamphlet), how rare is it? (Use WorldCat.)
Does HL already own it? (Check the library catalog, ask librarians/instructors.)
If the item is a manuscript (not printed or published), does the library hold related items?
What might be the research value? How might researchers (in different disciplines–history, gender studies, art history, etc.) make use of this item(s)? What perspectives does the item convey? What can we learn from it?
The students presented their proposals in class and discussed some of the challenges and satisfaction they discovered along the way. Timi Griffin, who assembled a small but significant collection of printed materials and realia from different vendors about Civil Rights activist, presidential candidate, and comedian Dick Gregory, won the class’s vote for best proposal. Congratulations Timi!
Timi argued that the library should purchase items relating to Gregory’s 1968 presidential campaign, including a poster, flier, buttons, and fake dollar bills with the candidate’s portrait in place of Washington’s, and a signed copy of his 2000 memoir. Taken together, the items contextualize Gregory’s activism and prominence in the Civil Rights movement and American culture and politics in the last decades of the twentieth century.
The students’ presentations showed that they had taken seriously the assignment’s task of strengthening diversity and inclusion in the collections. Rare Books and Special Collections decided to purchase all of the items they proposed adding to the collections. These are:
–a 1914 photograph of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute Football Team, an African American school in Hampton, Virginia.
–a signed, fine press copy of the first chapter of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin with an original print by Yoko Ono; created to raise funds to fight AIDS in Africa (2008).
–an issue of Black Fire, the newspaper of the Black Students Union at San Francisco State University from 1969.
–a collection of nine mid-century lesbian pulp fiction paperbacks and reprinted novels, and a related work.
–an album of photographs, probably by an American, of the Pacific and South-East Asia, including Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, Ceylon, India, and the Himalayas, circa 1905.
–diaries of Thaddeus Hayes of Connecticut, created between 1795 and 1803.
–two photographic essays about Japan by W. Eugene Smith and associates: Japan–a Chapter of Image (1963) and Minamata : Life – Sacred and Profane (1973).
These new acquisitions are welcome additions to the library’s special collections, adding particularly to sources about Southeast and East Asia, and materials created in the last 30 years. The collections need to be strengthened in all of these areas. The newly-purchased materials are currently in the process of being cataloged, organized, and housed so that they can be accessed and used by present and future generations of library users.
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).
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.
Materials displayed in this spotlight exhibit come from the collections of Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) and The University of Notre Dame Archives. Please note that the corridor outside RBSC has construction barriers, but we remain open to all.
The Sisters of Loretto (SL) founded 1812 as The Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross, Washington County, Kentucky
The Oblate Sisters of Providence (OSP) founded 1829, Baltimore Maryland
The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) founded 1849, Wisconsin
These three distinct societies of women religious, featured in the June-July Special Collections spotlight exhibit, have their origins in the 19th century United States, on the frontier, among immigrant Catholics in the east, and in the Midwest, with varying experiences in relation to slavery, racial segregation, and discrimination in the American Catholic milieu. In their different places and motherhouses, these groups of sisters have cared for orphans and widows, educated children, and all have continuously responded to the “needs of the time,” in the words of Sister Rita Michelle Proctor, OSP, the current Superior General of the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Gender, race, religion, and place shaped and continue to shape their stories.
Sisters of Loretto
The Sisters of Loretto were founded as the Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross in 1812, among the earliest sisterhoods established in the United States. The founding Sisters—Mary Rhodes, Ann Havern, and Christina Stuart—worked with Belgian missionary Fr. Charles Nerinckx, who became their clerical founder. Nerinckx supported the new society by writing their Rule, helping to build Little Loretto, their first home, and commissioning the print displayed here. The landscape in the engraving is fantastically rendered via the European imagination by the Belgian printer, but also rather accurate in portraying the rough hewn buildings, barefoot sisters, and split rail fence around their buildings.
The Sisters of Loretto relied on enslaved people to provide labor at their several missions before Emancipation, and also brought some African American women into the society as oblates, with different rules and professions. The story is not simple or altogether documented in the archives. The Sisters of Loretto today are present in the United States, and around the world, and center education, peace and justice in their work. More historical investigation appears in the LOREtto blog posts, written from the archives at the motherhouse in Kentucky. In 2000, the community erected a memorial to honor persons enslaved at their missions. Sisters of Loretto continue reckoning with their historical relationships with people of color at Little Loretto and other places, as they research their own and related archives regarding slavery and Native American children at Loretto-run schools.
Oblate Sisters of Providence and Mother Mary Lange
Foundress Mother Mary Lange of the Oblate Sisters of Providence was still alive in Baltimore when members of the order responded to the invitation of Rev. Ignatius Panken, S.J., to educate Black Catholic children in St. Louis in 1880. They marked anniversaries of service in education and care of orphans in 1905 with a celebration and printed souvenir. The extension of their mission to St. Louis was consistent with the principles of their founding.
In 1828, Elizabeth Lange, who was born into a Catholic family and educated in Cuba, had emigrated to a French-speaking Catholic enclave in Baltimore and was already teaching Black children at a school in her home. Urged by the French Sulpician priest who became their ecclesiastical director, Fr. James Joubert, Elizabeth Lange (who became Sister Mary Elizabeth Lange) with fellow teacher, Maria Balas (who became Sister Mary Frances), Rosine Boegue (who became Sister Mary Rose), and Almaide Duchemin (who became Sister Mary Therese) began the work to minister to the children of Haitian refugees by making formal professions in July 1829. As the OSP website history proclaims, “The Oblate Sisters of Providence is the first successful Roman Catholic sisterhood in the world established by women of African descent.” The cause for sainthood for Mother Mary Lange recognizes her heroic virtue in founding and sustaining the Oblate Sisters of Providence to educate African American Catholic children in Baltimore and beyond. Her cause for beatification was opened in 2004, and she is a Servant of God.
Oblate Sisters of Providence moved to St. Louis in 1880 and taught Black Catholic children at St. Elizabeth School. Changes in parish makeup led the Sisters to establish St. Frances’ Orphan Home (1882-1952) and St. Rita’s Academy (1912-1950), both ministering originally to girls. Eventually the order founded schools in eighteen states–by the 1950s there were over 300 OSP Sisters teaching and caring for Black children.
The two items featured in this exhibit point to 25 years of sustained effort and growth by the OSP Sisters in the St. Louis area. The interior pages feature an iconic photograph of foundress Mother Mary Lange, with a short history of the order. Also included are photographs from the St. Louis missions, such as the “First Communion class of the orphans, 1902,” showing 18 girls, two Oblate Sisters, and one white priest. Later, in 1930, a Golden Jubilee was celebrated, marking 50 years in the St. Louis area. The challenging circumstances faced by the OSP Sisters in St. Louis are well documented in Ann Rosentreter’s 2016 thesis, Black, Catholic, and female : the Oblate Sisters of Providence in St. Louis, Missouri, during the interwar years.
Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and Sister Thea Bowman
Finally, we have a glimpse of the work of the Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, Sister Thea Bowman, now a Servant of God, who was educated by the FSPA Sisters in her home town of Canton, MS, became a convert to Catholicism at age 9, and entered the order as a determined 15 year old girl. She taught and worked for racial reconciliation in the Catholic church, and evangelized through song, particularly advocating for a Black Catholic tradition. Sister Thea Bowman died in March, 1990, and weeks later the University of Notre Dame honored her with the Laetare Medal, the first time the medal was given posthumously.
The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have long pursued their mission of education along with their devotional practice of perpetual adoration. The Sisters continue to lift up Sister Thea Bowman by supporting her cause for sainthood, and the foundation started with her input and name. The Sister Thea Bowman Black Catholic Education Foundation provides scholarships for Black students to attend Catholic colleges and universities.
One result of Sister Thea’s evangelization and ministry is this 1987 hymnal, Lead Me, Guide Me, a collaborative project with a host of Black Catholics that includes her essay, “The Gift of African American Sacred Song.” The hymnal signature book includes hundreds of signatures, many dated May 23, 1987, a month after the publication of Lead Me, Guide Me. Perhaps it was a book launch and celebration? Sr. Thea Bowman was part of it, as her signature attests.
It reeks to always walk with tense shoulders, shoved upwards A knife hidden under my tongue Rear wheel mirrors
— Karla Cristina Sobre el hombre y otros sistemas de colapso (La Impresora, 2020)
In this blog post, we showcase a collection of zines, chapbooks, and posters published by the independent, women-led Puerto Rican press La Impresora(“the printer,” in Spanish). This collection is one of the most recent acquisitions to augment Rare Books and Special Collections’ holdings of Hispanic Caribbean literature.
La Impresora is an experimental workshop headquartered in northwestern Puerto Rico. It is a small-scale risograph press, which combines the aesthetic and uniqueness of stencil and screen-printing with the expediency and convenience of digital copiers. Sincethe inception of risograph technology in 1940s Japan, this technology has allowed artists around the world to conveniently and inexpensively reproduce and disseminate their creations. In addition, La Impresora seeks to be more than just a printing press: as part of its vision, creators and artists are actively involved in the reproduction of their art in what the press’ founders call a book-making school, “a space to learn and share knowledge that is not formally taught in Puerto Rico, which is usually mediated or limited by the supply and demand of the publishing market.”
The selection currently held by Rare Books and Special Collections is composed of 62 items, a polyphonic kaleidoscope of form and lived experience. Much of this work captures—textually and visually—the lingering stasis that haunts a generation of Puerto Ricans. To differing degrees, the archipelago’s youth have experienced systems of limbo, collapse, and crisis. These predicaments arise from socio-natural disasters (and postponed recoveries), neocolonialism, corrupt and impotent local government, and crippling (largely illegal) public debt. The pieces created by this collective comment on and represent both the everyday and large-scale manifestations of the Puerto Rican crisis.
In addition to the pamphlet-sized zines and chapbooks, the collection includes a limited run of eight posters (11 x 17″) published by the collective, the majority of which were the result of a collaboration between the press and female Puerto Rican artists between 2019 and 2021.
Some of the posters are the result of historical processes in the history of gender rights and relations in Puerto Rico. In “HISTÉRICA,” illustrator Adriana García centers the gendered attribute of “hysterical” in a minimally-illustrated piece. Written in red letters across a drawing grid, she embraces the gendered epithet and proclaims, in smaller, black font, to hysterically await a moment in which women “can live peacefully.” In slightly larger uppercase letters, she echoes contemporary demands for gender-perspective school curricula, an ongoing debate since at least 2008, split along partisan lines in the archipelago.
Part of the 2019 art exhibition “Oda a nuestra sangre” (trans. “ode to our blood”) held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Lorraine Rodríguez’s print hopes to challenge societal taboos surrounding menstruation. In her piece, Rodríguez centers a minimally drawn menstrual cup, surrounded by blooming dandelions, a moon, and stars. In this landscape, menstruation is as natural as the blooms and celestial bodies that surround it. Moreover, the print seeks to desexualize and normalize female anatomy.
With the exception of Rodríguez’s piece (printed in 2019), the collection posters highlighted in this post were produced and distributed by La Impresora in 2021. This is far from a coincidence, as the year 2021 saw a record-breaking number of femicides and incidents of gender-based violence in Puerto Rico, averaging one a week. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that Puerto Rico has the highest per capita rate of femicides against women over 14 years of age. These statistics include high-profile cases such as the murder of Keishla Rodríguez by rising boxer Felix Verdejo. In a way, many of the artworks in this collection emerge from the 2021 protests that demanded the enactment of a state of emergency by Governor Pedro Pierluisi in response to gender-based violence. Initially set to expire in June 2022, this state of emergency was recently extended: to this date, 24 women have been murdered in Puerto Rico, three times the number of 2021.
Echoing these demands, photographer Nina Méndez Martí highlights the black-and-white photograph of a woman’s torso. Hands in the air, the words “ESTADO DE EMERGENCIA” (trans. “State of emergency”) are emblazoned across her chest and abdomen in bold, black, uppercase letters.
Lastly, Yvonne Santiago’s “Seguimos luchando,” depicts a woman drawn in purple lines, her right fist raised in the air. The color purple has a long and important history in feminist activism, from its association to women’s suffrage to Alice Walker’s famous analogy, “womanism is to feminism as purple is to lavender.” The woman depicted by Santiago has two tattoos: a pot (cacerola) with a cooking spoon on her tricep and a machete on her forearm. Both the cacerola and the machete are important symbols of resistance, especially in Puerto Rico.
The pot refers to the cacerolazo, a protest tradition which consists of banging pots cacophonously as a way of amplifying anger and dissatisfaction amid protests. In Puerto Rico, cacerolazos became a popular protest form during the Verano del 2019 protests, which called for the resignation of former governor Ricardo Rosselló.
The machete symbolizes pro-independence struggle and political nationalism on the island, most commonly associated with 20th-century armed pro-independence militancy, primarily with the Boricua Popular Army, known as Los Macheteros (trans. “Machete wielders”), and the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN). However, the machete, as a political symbol, dates to the original Revolutionary Anthem of Puerto Rico, written in 1868 by Lola Rodríguez de Tió. The hymn’s lyrics were deemed too controversial and revolutionary and were subsequently changed for a less political version in 1902.
Nosotros queremos la libertad Y nuestros machetes nos la dará
We want Freedom And freedom, our machetes will grant us
Yvonne Santiago’s piece chants its own hymn of subversion and defiance, lest we forget.
For the women in my life For the ones I have lost For the ones to come We will keep fighting
Elithet Silva-Martinez & Jenice Vazquez Pagán, “El abuso económico y la violencia de género en las relaciones de pareja en el contexto puertorriqueño,” Prospectiva, 28 (2019): https://doi.org/10.25100/prts.v0i28.7264
He was Norman Bethune (1890-1939), a “surgeon, communist, humanitarian” from Canada, who volunteered to participate in three foreign wars outside of his home country. His role was not to fight and kill, but to treat the wounded and save lives.
In World War I he was a stretcher bearer of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. In the Spanish Civil War he organized and operated the Canadian Blood Transfusion Service, providing blood to the frontline wounded—an innovative concept that had not been tried before.
In late 1937, at the start of the Second Sino-Japan War, he joined the Communists’ side of the United Front, and was stationed in the Jin-Cha-Ji Border Area. According to his letters and reports, in the area of 130 million residents and 150,000 armed troops, he was the only qualified doctor. He again organized and operated mobile medical units, providing a medical care for the villagers in need, and training local medical staff. He started a medical school, and wrote books with hand-drawn illustrations on how to treat battle wounds. Lacking trained personnel and resources, he reportedly performed 110 operations in 12 days. When surgical gloves became unavailable, he operated bare-handed.
In spite of the challenging circumstances he was in, in his August 1938 report, he wrote:
“It is true I am tired but I don’t think I have been so happy for a long time. I am content. I am doing what I want to do. Why shouldn’t I be happy—see what my riches consist of. First I have important work that fully occupies every minute of my time from 5:30 in the morning to 9 at night. I am needed. More than that—to satisfy my bourgeois vanity—the need for me is expressed…”
He died in November 1939 in a small village near Baoding in Hebei Province. The cause of death was septicemia, caused by an infection from a bare-handed surgery he had performed a few days earlier.
Bethune, or Bai Qiu’en 白求恩, his Chinese name, became one of the national heroes of China for his contributions to the defeat of the Japanese invaders and the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He was posthumously honored and eulogized by Mao Zedong. He became a popular role model during the Cultural Revolution. There are statues of Bethune found in parks, schools, and museums. The Norman Bethune Health Science Center of Jilin University was established to succeed his medical school in the Jin-Cha-Ji Border Region that had been destroyed during the war.
The first poster was printed by the Hebei People’s Publishing House in 1969. The original painting, by Zhang Xin’guo (张辛国, 1926-), is probably from the 1950s while Zhang was working for Hebei People’s Fine Arts Publishing House. The message at the bottom, “Time Is Life” (时间就是生命), is a quote from Lu Xun’s Outsider’s Chat about Written Language (门外文谈) (1934). Why Lu Xun? Lu Xu’s symbolic status as a “doctor” who tried to create a “literature that would minister to the ailing Chinese psyche” is pretty well-known. But what’s the connection between his essay about the Chinese writing system and Bethune? For now, we’d like to reserve this topic for our future researchers.
The second poster was made for a special exhibition at Dongfanghong (East Is Red) Park in Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province to commemorate Bethune. Though there is no year of publication or of the event, the poster was likely made sometime between 1968 and 1980. (The park had different names before and after this time period. See 石家庄长安公园.) The text in-between the images of Mao Zedong and Bethune is an excerpt from Mao’s 1939 eulogy:
“A foreigner selflessly took the liberation of the Chinese people as his own mission. What should we call this spirit? This is the spirit of internationalism, and the spirit of Communism. Every member of the Chinese Communist Party should learn from this.”
The most important message that this poster conveys is perhaps the wisdom of Mao, who recognizes the role model. Bethune’s image support that as he humbly looks up to Mao, while holding in his hand On Protracted War, a series of Mao’s speeches from 1938.
Bethune remained relatively unknown in Canada until the early 1970s. Today he is listed among the “100 Canadians in the First World War” on the Library and Archives Canada website. There are multiple biographies, and fictionalized versions of his life, some made into movies and plays. An annual interdisciplinary conference, the Bethune Round Table (BRT), is held to discuss “the challenges of providing accessible, high-quality surgical care to marginalized patients in low-resource settings.”
If interested in learning more about Bethune, check out the biographies, fiction, and plays about him that the Hesburgh Libraries offer. Notre Dame users can also watch a ten-minute documentary that has footage of Bethune in China in 1938-1939.