The O’Neill Collection – A Digital Selection

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

While the Irish Studies collection in the Hesburgh Libraries has grown considerably in recent decades, one of the enduring treasures, and the collection most often inquired about, is the O’Neill Collection. This is the personal library of Francis O’Neill, the famous collector of Irish music who was once Chicago’s Chief of Police.

Francis O’Neill (1848-1936) left Ireland in his teens, travelled the world as a sailor, settled in America and after first qualifying as a teacher in Missouri, moved to Chicago where he joined the police force in 1873. By all accounts a larger-than-life figure, he was well-known both as a police officer and as one of the major experts on Irish traditional music.

In A Harvest Saved: Francis O’Neill and Irish Music in Chicago, Nicholas Carolan tells us how O’Neill’s music collecting began.

Sometime in the later 1880s… Francis O’Neill began to realize that there was yet much Irish traditional music to be collected and preserved that had escaped earlier collectors. He recruited James O’Neill to the project of collection and started to visit him regularly … so that the tunes remembered from Francis’ childhood in Cork could be noted down from his dictation in a private manuscript collection… [i]

As months and years passed and word of their enterprise spread others contributed tunes to the collection and James O’Neill began visiting musicians in their homes to note their music.

Carolan, 11

Nicholas Carolan goes on to describe how O’Neill’s project developed, his publication of O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903) and his other books, and of the enduring legacy of these books.

For generations of musicians who play Irish traditional music, O’Neill’s books are perceived as essential. Carolan aptly named his book ‘A Harvest Saved’ as O’Neill collected at a time and place where people had left the communities in which the music had thrived. The 75,000 Irish immigrants in Chicago carried with them the music of many parts of Ireland, and O’Neill was able to tap into the rich repository of their tunes and record them for posterity.

O’Neill was following in the footsteps of important collectors such as Edward Bunting and George Petrie, many of whose books are in O’Neill’s collection and bear pencilled annotations indicating his careful study of the contents.

From New edition of a general Collection of the ancient Irish music. Rare Books XLarge M 1744 .B868 G4 1796

This book is one of the most important works in the history of Irish music collecting. Edward Bunting began his life-long interest in the collection of Irish harp-music in 1792. He notated the music of performers at the Belfast Harp Festival that year, and this inspired him to continue for many years in his collection and study of Irish harp music.

This Dublin edition in O’Neill’s possession was printed some years after the first edition of 1797 which was published in London. For more information on the publication, see ‘Edward Bunting’s First Published Collection of Irish Music, 1797’ on the ITMA website.

The O’Neill Collection includes also Bunting’s two later collections, published in 1809 and 1840. O’Neill’s pencilled notes can be seen in the margins of these books.

Page detail from New edition of a general Collection of the ancient Irish music. Rare Books XLarge M 1744 .B868 G4 1796

The O’Neill Collection includes important works from Scotland including Orpheus Caledonius by William Thompson, one of the earliest published collections of Scottish songs. First published in two volumes in 1725, our O’Neill copy is volume I only of the 1733 edition. This copy has pencil annotations either by O’Neill or by an earlier reader. It also includes a subscribers list, which is not included in the facsimile edition published in 1962.

When Chief O’Neill offered his library to the University in 1931, he described it as having a ‘Hiberniana’ collection and a music collection. In each case, his library was exceptional. Our O’Neill Collection includes a valuable selection of books on Irish history and antiquities, and in the music section, a collection of many well-known collections of Irish music, along with lesser-known books of dance music, and books on the music and instruments of Ireland, England and Scotland in particular.

From A Selection of Scotch, English, Irish Foreign Airs. Properly Adapted for the German Flute, Violin or Fife. (1792) Rare Books Small M 5 .S4

Hoping to bring the O’Neill Collection to enthusiasts who cannot visit the Hesburgh, we selected thirty of the rarest books from the collection for digitization. We plan to share these digital collections in a number of ways — the Internet Archive being one — making it possible to study the books anywhere in the world.

The books currently digitized on the Internet Archive, found within the University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Libraries Collection, are as follows:

Alexander’s Select Beauties for the Flute. 3rd ed. London: Alexander. Rare Books Large M60 .A4

The Ancient Music of Ireland, Arranged for the Piano Forte; To Which is Prefixed a Dissertation on the Irish Harp and Harpers, Including an Account of the Old Melodies of Ireland. Edward Bunting. Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1840. Rare Books Large M 1744 .B868 G4 1840

Calliope, or, The Musical Miscellany: A Select Collection of the Most Approved English, Scots & Irish Songs Set to Music. London: C. Elliot, 1788. Rare Books Medium M 1738 .C3

A Collection of Irish Airs for the Flute, Violin or Flageolet, with New Symphonies, Arranged as Duetts or Solos. Dublin: McCullagh, c.1820. Rare Books Small M1 .C6

A Companion to the Ball Room, Containing a Choice Collection of the Most Original and Admired Country Dances, Reels, Hornpipes, Waltzes, and Quadrills… The Etiquette; And a Dissertation on the State of the Ball Room. London: D. Mackay, [1816]. Rare Books Small GV 1751 .B4 C6 1816.

The Edinburgh Musical Miscellany: A Collection of the Most Approved Scotch, English, and Irish Songs, Set to Music. David Sime. Edinburgh: Printed for W. Gordon… et al., 1792. Volume I. Rare Books Small M 1738 .S5 E3 1792
• Volume II has also been digitized and will be available soon.

Hail to the Shamrock. From the Songs of the Emerald Isle. This music collection lacks a title page. The title is assumed to be the title of the first page of music. Bound within the same volume: My Duet Book, nos. 1-3, June to August 1843; The Piano-Bijou, nos. 1-5, April to August 1843; National Melodist, no. 1; Musical Cabinet. Rare Books Small M1 .H3

A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland: Arranged for the Piano Forte; some of the Most Admired Melodies are Adapted for the Voice, to Poetry Chiefly Translated from the Original Irish Songs. Edward Bunting. London: Clementi, 1809. Rare Books XLarge M 1744 .B868 G4 1809

The Irish Song Book, with Original Irish Airs. Edited, with an introduction and notes by Alfred Perceval Graves. 2nd ed. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1895. Rare Books Small M 1744 .G783 I7 1895

Musicians Omnibus Complete: Contains 1500 Pieces of Music for the Violin. Boston: Elias Howe. Rare Books Medium M 40 MB

Orpheus Caledonius, or, a Collection of Scots Songs Set to Musick. William Thompson. London: Printed for the Author, 1733. Rare Books Medium M 1746 .T5 O7 1733

The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, Arranged for the Piano-Forte. Edited by George Petrie. Society for the Preservation and Publication of the Melodies of Ireland, 1855. Volume I. Rare Books XLarge M 1744 .P448 1855

Repository of Scots & Irish Airs Strathspeys, Reels &c. Vols. I [& II]. Two volumes bound together; the second volume lacks title information. Glasgow: McGoun, c. 1796. Rare Books Small M1 .R4

The Royalty Songster: And, Convivial Companion; A Collection of All the Most Esteemed English, Scotch and Irish Songs, &c. Sung with the Highest Applause at the Royalty Theatre, and Every Other Place of Public Entertainment. By Mr. Bannister … et al. To Which is Added, A Collection of Toasts and Sentiments, Hippesley’s Drunken-Man and Other Comic Pieces. London: Cleugh, Stalker, 1788. Rare Books Small M 1738

A Selection of Scotch, English, Irish & Foreign Airs, Properly Adapted for the German Flute, Violin or Fife. 2 volumes bound together. This lacks a title page or publication information.
Rare Books Small M5 .S4

 

 

[i] The Hesburgh Library’s O’Neill Collection has only two music manuscripts. It would be wonderful if O’Neill’s own manuscripts were still in existence and could be found.

Easter hymns from the Saint Dominic’s Press

Special Collections • Rare Books Medium • M 2150.2 .C66 1926

In honor of Easter, we are sharing images of the Easter hymns from The Common Carol Book: A Collection of Christmas and Easter Hymns (1926), a book printed by the Saint Dominic’s Press (SDP).

An exhibition which sets the story of the SDP within the larger history of the private press movement in England and examines its artistic as well as literary achievements is currently on display in Special Collections. The exhibition features different types of publications and posters produced by the SDP (though not this volume), is curated by Dennis Doordan (Professor Emeritus School of Architecture, University of Notre Dame), and runs through the summer.

Happy Easter to you and yours from Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Notre Dame.


After being closed April 19 in observance of Good Friday,
Rare Books and Special Collections reopens at 9am
on Monday, April 22, 2019.

Upcoming Events: April and early May

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

Thursday, April 5 at 5:00pm | A talk on the reception of Medieval Catalan poet Ausiàs March in Early Modern Iberia, by Albert Lloret (UMass Amherst). Sponsored by Iberian and Latin American Studies, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Wednesday, April 11 at 4:30pm | “Centering Black Catholics, Reimagining American Catholicism” by Matthew Cressler (College of Charleston). Sponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism.

Thursday, April 19 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “From Surface to Symptom and Back Again: Reading Isabella d’Este’s Correspondence” by Deanna Shemek (University of California, Santa Cruz). Co-sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame and the William and Katherine Devers Program in Dante Studies.

Thursday, April 26 at 5:00pm | “Towards a New Biography of Dante Alighieri” by Paolo Pellegrini (Verona). Co-sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame and the William and Katherine Devers Program in Dante Studies.

Friday, May 4 at 1:00pm | Awards ceremony for the annual Undergraduate Library Research Award (ULRA), followed by a reception in the Special Collections Seminar Room (103 Hesburgh Library).


The main exhibit this spring is In a Civilized Nation: Newspapers, Magazines, and the Print Revolution in 19th-Century Peru. This exhibit is curated by Erika Hosselkus and draws on strengths of Rare Books and Special Collections’ José E. Durand Peruvian History collection. Together these items offer diverse perspectives on Peruvian political events and cultural and religious practices and preferences from the colonial era, through the country’s birth in 1825, and beyond the turn of the twentieth century.

The spotlight exhibits during early April are From Distant Waters: Whaling Manuscripts in Special Collections and Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, both curated by George Rugg. The baseball exhibit will end mid-month, with the exhibit Chaste, Choice and Chatty: Irish-American Periodicals of the Nineteenth Century, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, opening for the second half of the month and continuing through the summer.

Upcoming Events: February and early March

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

Thursday, March 1 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar:  MA Presentations — “Alessandro Blasetti’s Cinema and the Fantastic: A Closer Look at the Unmarried Woman” by Genevieve Lyons, and “Representations of Self: Dante’s Use of First Person in the Vita Nova” by Katie Sparrow. Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

 

The spring exhibit, In a Civilized Nation: Newspapers, Magazines, and the Print Revolution in 19th-Century Peru, officially opens on February 9. The exhibit is curated by Erika Hosselkus and draws on strengths of Rare Books and Special Collections’ José E. Durand Peruvian History collection. Together these items offer diverse perspectives on Peruvian political events and cultural and religious practices and preferences from the colonial era, through the country’s birth in 1825, and beyond the turn of the twentieth century.

The spotlight exhibits during February are Reading the Emancipation Proclamation, curated by Rachel Bohlmann, and Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, curated by George Rugg.

Current Exhibits in Special Collections

The January-February spotlight, Reading the Emancipation Proclamation, highlights a print acquired by Rare Books and Special Collections in 2017.

Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. This 1864 steel engraving by James W. Watts was adapted from a drawing, Reading the Proclamation of Emancipation in the Slaves’ Cabin, by New York City artist Henry Walker Herrick. Very few pictorial depictions of the proclamation were made before Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 and this is the only contemporary image that offers an interpretation of how it might have been received by the people it was intended to free.

This exhibit is curated by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian.

 

The winter spotlight, Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, continues through February.

In 2015 RBSC acquired a collection of more than 450 examples of baseball-related sheet music, dating from before the Civil War to the late 20th century. On display in this spotlight exhibit is a small sampling of the collection, with items ranging from the early days of baseball to the end of the Tin Pan Alley era. The examples on display in this spotlight exhibit are selected from Special Collections’ Baseball Sheet Music Collection.

This exhibit is curated by George Rugg, Curator, Special Collections.

 

The fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture, was extended into January and closes on Tuesday the 23rd.

The spring exhibit, In a Civilized Nation: Newspapers, Magazines, and the Print Revolution in 19th-Century Peru, will open in early February — watch for more information on the blog!

Upcoming Events: November and early December

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

Thursday, November 16 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Alberti and Poetry” by Maria Sole Costanzo (PhD candidate, Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed for Thanksgiving Break (November 23-24, 2017). In addition, RBSC will be closed December 5, 11:00am to 2:00pm due to the Hesburgh Libraries Christmas lunch.

 

The fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture, continues to be on display through December 15, 2017. Public tours of the exhibit are offered Tuesdays at noon and Wednesdays at 3pm, and are also available by request for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences. If you are planning to bring a group to Special Collections or would like to schedule a special tour, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

The monthly spotlight exhibit for November and December is Building A Colonial Mexican Tavern: Archive of the Pulquería El Tepozán, curated by Erika Hosselkus. This exhibit features a manuscript archive which includes real estate, licensing, and planning documents for the pulquería El Tepozán. It was one of four such establishments built by nobleman don Pedro Romero de Terreros, the Count of Regla, in Mexico City, beginning in the final years of the 1770s.

The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America remains open for one more week. The winter spotlight exhibit, Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, will open in mid-November and highlights the department’s collection of approximately 400 pieces of baseball related sheet music.

Constable MS 4: a leaf from the so-called “Wilton Processional”

by David T. Gura, Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts

In August 2015, Giles Constable donated a small collection of fragments and charters in memory of his daughter, Olivia Remie Constable (1960-2014), who had been the Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame. The gift included a thirteenth-century leaf from a processional, later shown to be at Wilton Abbey, a women’s Benedictine house, until 1860. The parent manuscript was broken by Cleveland biblioclast, Otto F. Ege (1888-1951), who included leaves from it in his portfolio, Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscript. It was Leaf no. 8. Leaves from the processional were disseminated widely through Ege’s portfolios as well as from later dealers, and now are part of many American and Canadian collections. Processionals contain the antiphons and rubrics pertaining to the processions themselves. For example, Palm Sunday and the Visitatio sepulchri are included.

Constable MS 4 contains part of the procession for Palm Sunday. Of great interest, and rarity, is the use of feminine forms in the rubrics (e.g., ‘cantrix’). This shows intentional customization for a female religious community, whereas many other manuscripts often transmit the masculine forms even though they were used by women.

 

Bibliography

Alison Altstatt, “Re-membering the Wilton Processional,” Notes 72 (2016): 690-732.

David T. Gura, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2016), pp. 480-482.

Scott Gwara, Otto Ege’s Manuscripts (Cayce, SC: De Brailes, 2013).

 


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

Spotlight Exhibit: Plumb Crazy—Dante and Music

October 2016

1516i-DanteThis small exhibit highlights selections from the Hesburgh Libraries’ collections of musical adaptations of Dante’s works. On view are historical examples of compositions relating to Dante’s Divina Commedia and Vita Nuova. While Dante witnessed musical adaptations of his texts composed already in his own lifetime, they hit a high point in the mid-19th century when the author’s popularity surged in both Italian and translation readership.

This spotlight exhibit will be visible from October 3-28 in Rare Books & Special Collections on the ground floor of Hesburgh Library. The exhibit is presented in conjunction with Journeying La Divina Commedia: Desert, Discovery, Song, an interdisciplinary musical project, which will be performed at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame on October 8-9, 2016.

For more information about the exhibit or collections in this area, please contact Tracy Bergstrom, Curator of the Zahm Dante and Early Italian Imprints Collection.

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.