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.
On July 2, 1887, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper marked the upcoming Fourth of July holiday with a cover illustration that graphically depicted the expansion of the United States. The serial was a popular weekly American publication of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Rare Books and Special Collections is pleased to highlight here a significant recent acquisition of the first 73 bound volumes from 1855 through 1891.
The image, titled “Independence Day—A Case of Vigorous Growth,” features a giant Uncle Sam wearing a top hat labeled “1887” standing astride the continental United States from New York to San Francisco. He extends his hand to greet a much smaller man standing on the Atlantic seaboard wearing a tri-corner hat labeled “1776.” “1887” Uncle Sam asks, “How are you, old man?”; and “1776” responds, “Bless my soul, boy, how you have grown!”
The 1887 Fourth of July issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper followed up its striking cover image with a centerfold, titled “New York—Welcome to the Land of Freedom,” emphasizing the common contemporary belief that the growth of the United States had been fueled by the constant arrival of new Americans. The two-page spread shows immigrants huddled together on the deck of an ocean liner enthusiastically watching and pointing at the Statue of Liberty as the ship sails past.
The image references a short accompanying article, also titled “Welcome to the Land of Freedom” (p. 327). The text explains that the scene shows the arrival of the ocean steamer Germanic carrying immigrants from several European countries motivated, according to the the article, “by the belief that here they will escape the burdens and limitations which in the Old World abridge individual freedom and the exercise of rights which are felt to be inherent.”
“The first glimpse of this Land of Promise,” Frank Leslie’s elaborates, “must indeed be inspiriting and joyful … as they sail up our beautiful bay and for the first time see the majestic statue of Liberty, standing, so to speak, at the very gateway of the Republic.” The article concludes stirringly: “May all who sail past it to these hospitable shores find every just expectation realized, and prove in all things worthy of the citizenship which the land of freedom confers upon them.”
This week Special Collections is open Monday (July 3), CLOSED on Tuesday (July 4), and open Wednesday through Friday (July 5-7).
“And now…. Jackie Robinson’s life in a comics magazine!!!”
The Atlanta Daily World, a leading national African American newspaper, excitedly informed readers of its September 23, 1949, issue about a new Jackie Robinson comic book. “So great is the aura of stardom surrounding this greatest of Negro athletes,” the World explained, “that a special magazine bearing his name is being released.” Published by Fawcett Publications, the 32-page comic book titled, Jackie Robinson: Baseball Hero, related the life story of the Brooklyn Dodgers star.
Fawcett, best known for creating the character Captain Marvel in the 1930s, published popular comic books for a national audience and teamed on the project with Robinson, the first acknowledged African American to play major league baseball in the twentieth century. Jackie Robinson: Baseball Hero proved to be a hit, and Fawcett followed up with five more titles about Robinson over the next three years and also collaborated with other early African American major leaguers like Larry Doby, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe on comic books about their lives.
These Fawcett publications, recently acquired by the Joyce Sports Research Collection, are among the earliest American comic books to feature positive, non-stereotypical, and non-demeaning portrayals of African American characters. They were also some of the earliest comic books from a mainstream publisher targeted to a national audience that featured African Americans as main characters.
Jackie Robinson: Baseball Hero told Robinson’s biography from his youth in Pasadena to his career as a multi-sport athlete at UCLA to his early years in organized baseball—first at Triple A Montreal and then with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In its opening pages, the comic book proclaimed that “Jackie has overcome all handicaps to become a symbol of the fighting spirit of the American boy!”
The comic book did not shy away from depicting the troubles Robinson faced in breaking major league baseball’s color line. The book illustrated, for example, the threats he received from the Klu Klux Klan, the opposition to integration from some major league owners, and the harassment he experienced on the field from other teams.
The book graphically detailed Robinson’s many successes on the ballfield, but it also highlighted Robinson’s awareness of his importance as a role model, particularly for African American children.
In one scene, for example, after he was scouted by the Dodgers, Robinson witnessed a group of African American boys playing in an alley and thought to himself, “If I ever play in the Majors, I’ll give kids like this some hope of making good.” The book also illustrated his work coaching children at a gym in Harlem.
Jackie Robinson: Baseball Hero was such as success that Robinson—who was seeking ways to capitalize on his fame and to earn money outside of baseball—collaborated with Fawcett on a recurring series of five more editions through 1952. The subsequent issues continued to tell stories about Robinson’s baseball and athletic career and also featured fictional vignettes that showed Robinson mentoring children and rescuing them from a life of crime or disreputable behavior.
Jackie Robinson #4, for example, included a seven-page story titled, “Jackie Robinson and the Human Cat,” in which Robinson worked to redeem a star white teenage baseball player who had turned to criminal activities. The story’s tagline read, “Jackie has always claimed that youthful errors do not necessarily mean a boy has criminal tendencies. Yet he found his creed put to the acid test when he sought to reclaim Mickey Ryan from society’s scrap heap!”
The Lary Doby, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe comic books broadly followed the same model as the earlier Jackie Robinson: Baseball Hero issue, telling the inspirational stories of the players’ rise to the major league. The graphics illustrated their early years as athletes, the difficulties they faced due to their race, and their successful ascent to the big leagues.
The comics also tended to emphasize the good community work the players did, and the books continued to hold up these accomplished athletes as role models for children. The Fawcett “Baseball Hero” comic books provided all young readers—both Black and white—with otherwise hard to find positive and largely realistic portrayals of talented African American men.
Larry Doby: Baseball Hero, for example ended with a scene highlighting this message. The final page of the comic recounted Doby’s triumphant return to his hometown of Paterson, New Jersey, after his first season in the major leagues. Although he was greeted by the Mayor, Doby was most excited to return to his alma mater of Eastside High School.
The comic’s final panel pictured Doby counseling and providing advice to the Black and white members of the Eastside High School basketball team. The eight players all listened intently to the major league star, and the final caption read: “Larry Doby… is loved by all, not only for his prowess on the field of play, but for his character and warm human understanding!”
For further reading:
“Jackie Robinson’s Life in Comics on Newstands Today [sic],” Atlanta Daily World 23 September 1949, p. 3.
Rare Books and Special Collections recently acquired limited runs of two American periodicals from the 1940s, New York’s View and The Texas Spectator. Each captures part of the zeitgeist of the 1940s, war-time to peace-time.
View, a quarterly magazine published in New York City, covered the avant-garde and surrealist art scene from 1940 through 1947. The publication drew American artists—like Georgia O’Keeffe, Man Ray, and Alexander Calder—and also featured European artists, many of whom were wartime refugees. These included Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, André Masson, and Marc Chagall, and writer André Breton.
As shaped by the editorial hands of artist and writer Charles Henri Ford and author and film critic Parker Tyler, View unabashedly popularized surrealism in the US while also challenging the European movement’s sexual conventionalism.
The Texas Spectator newspaper, published weekly in Austin, maintained a progressive, sardonic eye on Texas politics between 1945 and 1948. The paper featured reporting by liberal journalist and novelist Hart Stilwell, and western writer J. Frank Dobie.
The newspaper’s motto—from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline—conveyed its raison d’etre: “Fear no more the frown o’ the great . . . Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke.” It championed civil rights, education, and labor, and scrutinized the state’s powerful oil and gas companies and their political surrogates.
At first glance View and The Texas Spectator’s differences seem obvious. The former promoted a cultural movement propelled by elements of surprise and spontaneity, while the former engaged in a David vs. Goliath struggle over political power. Yet they share an optimism about the possibility of social and political change for a better future.
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 upcoming Friday: April 21.
The April spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and Hagadah shel Pesaḥ le-zekher ha-Sho’ah – Pessach Haggadah in memory of the Holocaust (April – May 2023).
We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history by celebrating Women’s History Month.
RBSC recently acquired a long, but incomplete run of the Women Strike for Peace’s Legislative Alert, the organization’s monthly newsletter. It notified members about Congressional and other governmental actions around nuclear weapons treaties and military initiatives, as well as anti-peace developments around the world. Hesburgh Library’s copies span from 1983 to 1999 with some gaps, as well as the first two issues, from 1963 when the Legislative Newsletter (as it was called then) began.
Women Strike for Peace was an anti-nuclear, anti-war activist group founded in 1961, during a particularly fraught period of the Cold War and its nuclear arms race. The Soviet Union had announced resumption of above-ground nuclear testing and one Washington, D.C. woman, Dagmar Wilson, responded by organizing a one-day demonstration of women for peace and disarmament. That grass-roots action, on November 1, 1961, brought together 50,000 women and girls across 60 US cities and focused the attention of President Kennedy. In its aftermath Women Strike for Peace (WSP) formed.
With their slogan, “End the Arms Race not the Human Race,” WSP contributed to the successful signing of a nuclear test-ban treaty between the US and the Soviet Union in 1963 (Kennedy himself credited the group with this achievement). The organization became one of the most successful social movements in US history as part of the global Cold War peace movement. WSP leaders skillfully used their identities as mothers and homemakers to argue for peace and disarmament, a strategy that appealed to like-minded women around the world and also proved difficult for their opponents to counter.
Opposition to the war in Vietnam became WSP’s main concern during the late 1960s and early 1970s. By the 1980s, however, the group refocused on nuclear disarmament and ending nuclear testing, as well as opposing US military interventions around the world.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the Legislative Alert featured several illustrations on its cover page—a small graphic in the upper right corner of women demonstrating and holding signs for disarmament (an homage to the 1961 event that began the movement)—and a political cartoon that captured that month’s peace and disarmament challenges. In its content, the publication sought members’ support of or opposition to pieces of Congressional legislation or presidential military actions or treaties.
In the fall of 1983, for example, WSP criticized President Ronald Reagan’s invasion of Granada, a tiny, independent island nation in the Caribbean with a Communist government. The next spring WSP featured opposition to the president’s nuclear arms buildup as reflected in the administration’s military budget. The accompanying cartoon compares Reagan’s military aspirations to a school boy’s Star Wars-like fantasy. By 1993, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, WSP kept its attention on the world’s dangerous stockpile of nuclear weapons. A fall newsletter shows a cavernous storage unit stuffed with old military hardware in front of which President Bill Clinton considers “Post Cold War Problems.” At the end of the decade WSP continued to push for arms reduction, urging members to ask their representatives to support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which would ban nuclear weapons testing worldwide and slow arms development.
The Women Strike for Peace’s Legislative Alert adds to the library’s collections on the history of peace movements in the United States and globally, and is now available to researchers!
Due to renovation work, RBSC (and the west entrance to the Hesburgh Library) will be closed during Notre Dame’s Spring Break week, March 13-17, 2023.
RBSC staff and curators will be available via online channels.
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).
We join with The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines
We celebrate Black History Month with a selection of magazine articles by or about African American women from a number of popular, feminist periodicals created across the decade of the 1970s that RBSC has recently added to our collections. In these publications, which largely targeted white audiences, Black women claimed new platforms for their voices and ideas.
African American women were a foundational part of the United States’ women’s movement and 1970s feminism. The athletes interviewed in womenSports, for example, identified how sexism intersected with racism in sports and in larger contemporary society.
womenSports magazine, founded in 1974 by tennis star Billie Jean King in conjunction with the Women’s Sports Foundation, was one of the earliest popular magazines focused on women athletes. The glossy publication reported on professional and amateur sports and also provided practical tips to readers on everything from self-defense to the recently enacted Title IX legislation.
womenSports covered the athletic triumphs and biographies of African American women and often introduced Black sportswomen to wider reading audiences for the first time. Writers and editors frequently documented and wrote about the gender discrimination experienced by women athletes–Black and white–but they tended to devote less attention to racial prejudice encountered by African American women in sports. Black athletes themselves frequently spoke to the entwined race and gender bias they encountered.
In the pages of womenSports in 1974, Wyomia Tyus, the Olympic champion sprinter, described economic consequences of prejudice she faced on the professional track circuit. After a corporate sponsor dropped her event, Tyus explained, “all the women in our event are black, but if we had a white woman in it, I think the … company would’ve picked us up.” And about a recent meet in San Francisco, Tyus observed, “the men who won got television sets, and the women who won got medals. That just isn’t fair. Settling for left-overs.”
Two years later Olympian Madeline Manning Jackson, a middle-distance runner, pointed to the lack of funding for a sport that featured many African American women athletes. Jackson had recently declined an invitation to compete in the Pan American Games for the United States after the Amateur Athletic Association, which governed track and field events, failed to fund her trip or provide any compensation. “I could have gone even if they didn’t pay,” she explained, “but it made me mad–not just for me but for all the other girls who have to put up with this kind of treatment. . . . I could have gone. I just wouldn’t.”
In addition to womenSports, the library recently acquired two titles that bracket the 1970s and represent different voices within the American feminist movement. Cellestine Ware’s article, “Black Feminism,” appeared in an annual publication of the radical wing of the movement, Notes From the Third Year: Women’s Liberation. Ware was a member of the Stanton-Anthony Brigade, a circle of radical feminists in New York City, and author of Woman Power: The Movement for Women’s Liberation (1970). In this article, Ware articulates a model of Black feminism and warns that the “complaint that black women challenge black men is further proof of the threatening nature of female independence to most men.”
The oral history of Texan Annie Mae Hunt, a 70-year old African American woman and civil rights activist, appeared at the end of the decade in Chrysalis, a Magazine of Women’s Culture. Hunt described her life of work, childbearing and rearing, political activism, and reflected on inequalities she experienced because of her race and sex.
The athletes in womenSports identified how racial and gender discrimination intersected. Ware’s new Black feminist theory and Hunt’s history explained how race, gender, and class inequality developed historically. African American women created a platform for their ideas within these 1970s feminist magazines.
Rare Books and Special Collections holds a growing collection of printed and other material documenting African Americans and women during the late twentieth century. The publications described here will be on exhibit in RBSC through March.
“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.
“Most journalists have the intractable purpose of reshaping the times according to their system, not reshaping their system according to the times.” 1
This two-line manifesto by Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart (March 24, 1739-October 10,1791), the publisher of the Vaterländische Chronik (also known as the Deutsche Chronik and Teutsche Chronik in its earliest incarnation), shows how his approach to both journalism and “the times” of the late eighteenth century may have differed from that of other, contemporary publishers. Contents of the Chronik, from the beginning, were not limited to simply reporting in dispatches, narrative descriptions, or just-the-facts observations, but included opinions, commentary, poetry, and other types of prose. Published from 1774-1778 and again from 1787-1791, the Chronik had a circulation of about 4000 per issue at its height.2
Schubart had been a schoolmaster, was considered a keyboard virtuoso, and had influence on Enlightenment poets like Goethe and Schiller. He considered himself a patriot, and provided incisive commentary on the way that rulers wielded their power, as well as the way that some authority figures used superstition to maintain or increase their own positions. As a patriot himself and a believer in a freer society, he also took a great interest in the conflict in the colonies that became the American Revolution.3 He was imprisoned in 1777 in the fortress of Hohenasperg on the orders of the Duke of Wurttemberg, in part due to Schubart’s printing of the rumor (as “legend”) that the duke was lending 3000 troops to England to fight the revolutionaries in North America; Schubart had already reported the selling of troops by other nobles to the British. He remained imprisoned, initially under deplorable conditions—without a trial—for more than ten years. Although he continued to write poetry from prison, even while subject to a re-education program under the tutelage of a pietist and archenemy (“Intimfeind” in German) whom Schubart had frequently criticized in print.4
Notre Dame’s copy (Rare Books Small DD 193 .S35 1787/1788), was published under the title used after his imprisonment, Vaterländische Chronik. It covers the last half of 1787, including the July and December quarterly issues. Perusing this later segment of the Chronik allows the reader entry into Schubart’s perspective and publishing program after his imprisonment. By choosing several pieces, we can see examples of the way his views did and did not alter during this time of extreme stress and so-called “re-education.”
In the piece at the beginning of the July issue (erstes Stück) “In mein Vaterland” shows, where Schubart draws a comparison between the pillars of flame and cloud that led the Israelites from their imprisonment to their homeland and his own experience of prison and release into the type of freedom among his fellow citizens that awaited him in his own homeland. Unlike mere metaphorical, poetically emotional understanding of restraint presented in the work of Romantics, Schubart provides experience of the outside world that only someone who had experienced imprisonment could understand.
Schubart later reports the case of the well known robber Hannikel, whose gang was responsible for multiple thefts and murders over the period of decades, resulting in their execution by hanging in July of 1787. Hannikel eventually became a character who appears in the costumed festival Fasching which occurs before the beginning of Lent. Schubart’s report shows that, even before his death, Hannikel may have been thought of in a somewhat positive light, because Schubart’s short piece includes admonishing commentary about the creation of a “legend” about the thief when, in reality, those who leave the path of goodness, preferring to take the road of lies and degradation, are not to be commended, especially when that degradation includes the plunder, injury, and murder of unsuspecting travelers. Following this report is his own poem “Freundschaft,” on the ideal of friendship.
Finally, in the seventh part of the July 1787 issue (Siebentes Stück), we see his thought-piece, “Aufklarung” (“On the Enlightenment”), where he draws on contemporary poetry about the spirit of enlightenment to discuss the principles of enlightened thought. This allowed Schubart to return to the intellectual point of mediation between the Sturm und Drang proponents of the Enlightenment and their severest critics, forging a position which embraced lofty ideals but wished to harness them in educational and political reality, to the benefit of his fellow citizens. This and the foregoing examples from Notre Dame’s volume of the Chronik provide insight into the thought and work of a now lesser-known German poet and journalist, one whose own life was also worthy of observation and report.
1. “[D]ie meisten Journalisten haben die hartknäckigen Vorsatz, die Zeiten nach ihrem System und nicht ihr System nach den Zeiten umzubilden.” Christian Friedrich Schubart, ed. Deutsche Chronik, Jahrgange 1774-1777 (4 Bde), Heidelberg, 1975, 1:3, cited in Wolfgang Albrecht, “Aufklärungstrategien in Schubarts Chronik, 1774-1776 (in Potthast, ed., Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart- Das Werk, Heidelberg, 2016, pp.171-94), 172, n. 7.
3. The German public was intensely interested in the goings on in North America, especially due to the involvement of former Prussian army advisor, Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who was in great part responsible for the professionalization and training of the colonial troops at Valley Forge and remained an advisor to George Washington after the war, serving as inspector General of the Military. He was the author of Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States.