Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter, and Archival Collections

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

In honor of Juneteenth (the June 19th celebration of freedom from slavery) and Black Lives Matter (BLM), RBSC highlights several collections about African American life in the United States over the last century. We also reflect on how social and cultural changes—some of them the result of protest movements like BLM—have reformed and are reforming collecting and practices in special collections libraries and archives.

One important collection is the National Ideal Benefit Society records, an African American cooperative and fraternal organization that spanned more than 50 years during the early to mid-twentieth century. Another is a late 1920s ledger book for the Birmingham Black Barons, an elite Negro League professional baseball team, that recorded the team’s financial transactions with players. The collections provide sources about the economic and working lives of African Americans and the unequal labor and social contexts of twentieth-century America.

National Ideal Benefit Society advertisement, 1913.
National Ideal Benefit Society advertisement, 1913.
Advertisement for a concert by the National Ideal Benefit Society's choir, 1914.
Advertisement for a concert by the National Ideal Benefit Society’s choir, 1914.

The National Ideal Benefit Society was an African American insurance cooperative whose benefits supported people through illness, offered cultural events, and provided death benefits for survivors to assist with burial costs. The society was established in 1912 in Richmond, Virginia, by Alexander Watson Holmes (1861-1935). The collection holds correspondence from policy holders, official society publications and records, and letters to Holmes from individuals and institutions.

Convention program for the National Ideal Benefit Society, 1916, with portrait of A. W. Holmes.
Convention program for the National Ideal Benefit Society, 1916, with portrait of A. W. Holmes.

The Birmingham, Alabama, Black Barons were a professional baseball team during the sport’s long period of segregation. The ledger book records the club’s financial transactions with players over five seasons (1926-1930). The accounts include credits (monthly salaries) and debits (cash advances, equipment charges, fines, extra meals, taxi fare, phone calls, and so on). Satchel Paige was one of many notable players on the team.

These collections underscore the shift in collecting that has occurred over the last 40 years in special collections libraries.

Special collections such as ours, and archives also, collect unique and rare manuscripts and books to preserve our society’s cultural record. Until the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States that cultural record largely consisted of the records of elite, white men, mostly from the Northeast with ancestors who came from the British Isles. A number of changes in American society led to a major shift away from this cultural identity in archives and special collections libraries.

Social reform movements that culminated in the 1960s and 1970s—for the rights and full participation of African Americans, women, Native Americans, Latinx, LGBTQ, and others in American life—fueled demands for archival collections that more accurately reflected and included the diversity of American society.

At the same time the rise of social history demanded new sources. Focused on writing the history of ordinary people and changes that came from the many rather than the few (history from the bottom up), social historians relied on documents of everyday life as well as social movements—letters, diaries, ledger books, and scrapbooks of the non-famous, as well as ephemeral printed materials like posters, broadsides, menus, annual reports, and programs.

More recently, archivists and special collections librarians have, as a profession, begun seriously to grapple with questions of power in archives: who is represented and who is left out in our collections? Are collecting decisions made independently, or under institutional or donor guidelines? How are people of color and non-elites and their accomplishments described in catalogs and finding aids? Is the archive open to community members, or are there professional or membership requirements to use the collections? Do staff working in the archive represent the diversity of the collections and their users? As we honor Juneteenth and confront Black Lives Matter’s challenge to truly achieve the promises of American freedom and democracy, these questions become even more sharply relevant.

For reading on Black Lives Matter, see Lauren Michele Jackson’s “What is an Anti-Racist Reading List For?” and the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s Black Liberation Reading List.

For archives and power, see the American Library Association’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Section’s Statement on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Randall C. Jimerson, “Archives for All: Professional Responsibility and Social Justice,” The American Archivist, Vol. 70 no. 2 (Fall – Winter 2007): 252-281.

Earth Day 2020

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator of North Americana

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day—April 22, 2020—Rare Books and Special Collections offers an online exhibition, Describing, Conserving, and Celebrating the Earth: Primary Sources from Hesburgh Libraries. It displays sources about the earth in science, culture, public policy, and politics, from the 1750s to 2004. In keeping with the American origins of Earth Day in 1970 and the EPA, these sources are primarily from an American context.

Each section holds a primary source or group of sources that reflect different periods, kinds of materials (books, illustrations, posters, reports, etc.), and approaches to studying, appreciating, and preserving the earth. The library’s Rare Books and Special Collections resources are where some of these items come from; others are government documents that are available in the open stacks of Hesburgh Library (when the library’s print collection reopens).

We hope that this online resource will help faculty and students to Take 10 for the Planet this week.

      • A mid-eighteenth-century British naturalist’s illustrated description of wildlife and plant life in the American colonies.
      • The first issue of the Sierra Club Bulletin, a nature enthusiast’s magazine focused on the western United States.
      • A late nineteenth-century botanist’s findings, published in an early scientific journal.
      • A World War II poster by the United States Forest Service, urging people to preserve forests.
      • A mid-century warning about human damage to wildlife in the United States.
      • Examples of federal conservation before the advent of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): a conference report on pollution in the Lake Michigan watershed, and an international commission’s findings about pollution levels in boundary waters between Canada and the US.
      • A compilation of environment-inspired poems, published a few years after the first Earth Day.
      • An Earth Day-inspired speech by actor and environmentalist Eddie Albert.
      • Two EPA publications: an early catalog of agency-sponsored training programs for professionals responsible for pollution control, and a 2004 brochure about the conservation of the Chesapeake Bay.

Women’s History Month 2020

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.

Mary Taussig Hall and Social Reform

by Arielle Petrovich, Outreach & Instruction Librarian and Librarian-in-Residence and Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator of North Americana

In commemoration of Women’s History Month, RBSC highlights Mary Taussig Hall (1911-2015). Hall was a social worker, and an activist for child welfare, civil rights, and peace, from St. Louis, Missouri. Her career spanned most of the twentieth century and shaped social services policy in Missouri and the nation. As a lifelong advocate for peace, Hall’s reach extended internationally: as a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the United Nations Association in St. Louis.

Arielle Petrovich (Hesburgh Library’s Instruction & Outreach Archivist and Librarian-in-Residence) created a Special Collections spotlight exhibition on Hall for Women’s History Month. Because of the Coronavirus that exhibit is currently closed, so we share highlights and photographs from the show here:

    • Women’s Peace Party, St. Louis, secretary’s minutes, 1915-1916

In 1915, Progressive social reformer Jane Addams co-founded the Woman’s Peace Party (WPP), a pacifist organization established in response to the First World War. Florence Gottschalk Taussig, Mary Taussig’s mother, a political activist and a close friend of Addams, chaired the St. Louis chapter of the WPP. Local meetings centered on planning of educational speaking engagements and membership recruitment. (Mary Taussig Hall Papers, MSN/MN 0511, Box 7, Folder 200)

    • Jane Addams letter to Mary Taussig, 10 May 1933

After graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 1933, Mary Taussig was invited by Jane Addams to work as her private secretary and to volunteer at Hull House in Chicago. Addams had established Hull House to support recently-arrived immigrants to the city. Eventually it offered childcare for working mothers, job training, and other services. Mary eventually returned to St. Louis for a graduate degree in social work at Washington University, where she took up the cause of child labor reform among lead miners in Missouri. (MSN/MN 0511, Box 5, Folder 132)

    • FDR telegram to Florence and Mary Taussig, 1936

President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent this holiday telegram to Mary Taussig and her mother to thank them for their support during his reelection campaign that fall. As part of the affluent elite in St. Louis, Taussig and her mother’s social peers generally did not support FDR’s New Deal economic reforms or vote Democratic. Roosevelt applauded both women for maintaining their party loyalty. (MSN/MN 0511, Box 6, Folder 185)

    • The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom pamphlets, 1950s and undated

After World War One the Women’s Peace Party became the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Florence Gottschalk Taussig served on its national board and Mary Taussig Hall eventually chaired a joint committee to commemorate the centennial of Jane Addams’ birth in 1960. After World War Two the WILPF’s work broadened to include world disarmament, racial integration, civil rights, and international peace. (“Billions of Dollars…for What?” Pamphlet, c. 1955; “Integration” Pamphlet, c. 1958; and “The ABC’s of Civil Rights” Pamphlet, undated — all from MSN/MN 0511, Box 7, Folder 210)

MSN/MN 0511-29

The Mary Taussig Hall Papers also document Taussig Hall’s commitments to peace and disarmament in her personal correspondence. In a July 1933 letter to her parents, while she was working at Hull House, Taussig exclaimed, “I want so badly to follow in your footsteps Mum—and really play an important part in the W.I.L. [Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom]. I’m going to work at the Peace booth out at the Fair [1933 Chicago World’s Fair] too—won’t that be fun?”

Typescript letter, not transcribed.
MSN/MN 0511-121

Nearly thirty years later Taussig Hall received a personal note in a letter from Guy W. Solt, a staff member at the American Friends Services Committee in Philadelphia. On 29 June 1960 he wrote, “War is obsolete. But beyond the abandoning of war there remains the far more magnificent achievement of creating a strong spiritual bond between the peoples of the earth, and especially between the white and the colored peoples. Surely it is God’s plan that we live as one people. . . . I close with this quotation from above the door of a Catholic church in Boston: ‘Send forth thy spirit, and it shall be created, and thou shalt remake the face of the earth.’”

Taussig Hall remained active in peace and civil rights work in St. Louis through the early 2000s. RBSC holds a portion of her papers. The Missouri Historical Society holds most of her papers in the Mary T. Hall Papers, 1888-2003.

St. Patrick’s Day Postcards

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

To mark St. Patrick’s Day, this year we are featuring a small selection from our recently-acquired collection of Irish postcards.

Picture postcards, commercially produced in Ireland by the beginning of the twentieth century, became enormously popular as a means of communication. From a wide range of postcard types, we have selected a small sampling of the type of cards used as St. Patrick’s Day greetings.

MSE/IR 1403-165A

Postmarked in 1912, this postcard shows a boy wearing a large cross for St. Patrick’s Day, a custom no longer practiced now, but recorded in various sources. According to Cronin and Adair, crosses made by paper or card were commonly worn by children on St. Patrick’s day until early in the twentieth century. [i]

Searching the wonderful online source of Irish National Folklore Collection, Dúchas.ie, for references to St. Patrick’s Day crosses, we find some good primary sources. From 1937 to 1938, Irish schoolchildren interviewed older people in their homes and communities about folklore. In some of these accounts, people describe the ornate colored crosses they made as children for St. Patrick’s Day. The following is from a woman in County Kerry:

I used to make a beautiful cross for that day. The first thing I got was two pieces of stiff card-board, one piece longer than the other, then covered these pieces with some nice pieces of silk and I sewed them together in the shape of a cross.

For about a month before St. Patrick’s day I used to be gathering the nicest bits of silk or satin I could find to cut them into narrow strips to make nice, neat, fluffy little bundles of them. I then sewed one bundle on each of the four ends and one on the centre of the cross.

Then my cross was complete and ready to wear on my left arm on St. Patrick’s day and for a whole week after going to school. There wasn’t any “meas” [ii] on any little girl that had not a cross for St Patrick’s day. [iii]

Many postcards suggest nostalgia and homesickness for Ireland, and may have been produced with emigrants in mind. They feature stereotypically Irish decorations such as shillelaghs, Celtic crosses, harps, and of course, the shamrock, which is specifically associated with St. Patrick.

The shamrock has become the most popular symbol for St. Patrick’s Day, referring to the legend which tells that Patrick illustrated the concept of the Trinity by plucking a three-leaved shamrock from the ground. Thus, many cards include the shamrock, and in some it is the main feature.

MSE/IR 1403-89A

‘The Dear Little Shamrock’ song was composed by Limerick-born Andrew Cherry, an actor, playwright and theatre manager who was active from the 1770s until 1812. At the time of this postcard, the song must have been well known, being part of the repertoire of John McCormack, whose performances of Irish songs were very popular on his concert tours of the United States.

A 1904 recording, digitized by the Ward Archives in Wisconsin, allows us to hear McCormack’s voice. [iv]

This card was posted in September 1911 from Dublin to Middlesex, England.

MSE/IR 1403-109B

The Green Isle of Erin, posted in England, is a German-produced card full of standard references, i.e., the green isle, harp, emerald and shamrocks. Ann Wilson’s informative article on Irish picture postcards of the Edwardian Age tells us that Germany was the location of much of the early picture postcard production. [v]

MSE/IR 1403-109A

Though this card celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, it was posted in November 1904 from County Cork to South Africa.

When postcards first began to be used, a message was written on the front of the postcard and the address written on the back. It took time, after the development of picture postcards, for postal administrations to allow for a message written on the same side as the address. Though the British Post Office allowed a message on the left and address on the right from 1902, this was not generally accepted in other countries at the time this card was posted, hence the writing on the picture side of this card.

MSE/IR 1403-108B

Posted from Adrian, Michigan to Brooklyn, New York on March 15th, 1909, the cluster of items on this card suggest a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and an American celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

MSE/IR 1403-136B

St. Patrick’s Day Souvenir. Meeting of the Waters Killarney, sent from Shakopee, Minnesota to St. Paul, Minnesota. The Lakes of Killarney were among the most celebrated beauty spots for tourists to Ireland, and so this postcard imparts a romantic view of Ireland.

MSE/IR 1403-14A

The Crescent Embossing Company in New Jersey published many American patriotic cards such as Independence Day greeting cards. The signature on this card, as on other cards by Crescent, are of the owner, Fred C. Lounsbury, rather than of the artist.

As these cards suggest, celebrating St. Patrick’s day in the golden age of the postcard veered from a celebration of early Gaelic Ireland, with the symbols of Christianity such as the cross and round tower in this last postcard, to wistful nostalgia such as that depicted in the ‘Dear Little Shamrock’.

The postcard collection is currently being cataloged so that in time, it will be possible to locate each postcard from our online finding aid.

 

 

[i] Cronin, Mike, and Daryl Adair. The Wearing of the Green: A History of St. Patrick’s Day. Routledge, 2002.

[ii] Meas is the Irish word for ‘respect’.

[iii] Transcribed from the account of Mrs. J. D. Riordan of Barna Co. Kerry. The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0448, Page 198. https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/4706359/4706107

[iv] McCormack, John. Dear Little Shamrock. Record Label and Issue Number: Edison Bell 6442 (1904). Ward Irish Music Archive: Collection: Irish Fest Collection. WIMA ID: IF CYL 00-026 https://wardirishmusicarchives.com/Exhibits/Irish-Music-on-Cylinder-Recordings/Dear-Little-Shamrock-John-McCormack.htm

[v] Wilson, Ann. ‘Image Wars: the Edwardian Picture Postcard and the Construction of Irish Identity in the Early 1900s’, Media History 24:3-4 (2018), pp. 320-384.

A Halloween trip to Mexico

While Halloween has its origins in the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints), it has since spread to various other cultures. So too, the Special Collections holdings that relate to celebrations on or around Halloween are to be found in a variety of subject areas. This year, we bring you materials from our Latin American collections.

José Guadalupe Posada and the skull iconography of Mexico’s Dia de Muertos

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

As many Americans prepare to celebrate Halloween on October 31, Mexico and Latino residents of the U.S. ready themselves for Dia de muertos (Day of the Dead). Celebrated between October 31 and November 2, this holiday corresponds to the Catholic All Saints’ Day (known as Todos Santos in Mexico during the colonial era and nineteenth century) and All Souls’ Day, but is uniquely Mexican in its iconographic emphasis on calaveras, or “skulls.” Candy and papier-maché skulls adorn altars prepared with offerings to the deceased (ofrendas). Toy skulls and skeletons are sold in stores. And, party-goers decorate their faces with elaborate skull makeup.

Today’s Dia de muertos skull iconography is closely associated with the work of José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), a Mexican lithographer, woodcut artist, engraver and etcher renowned for his satirical broadsides and flyers. During the latter half of his career, Posada worked with the printing house of Antonio Vanegas Arroyo to produce loose sheets commemorating political events, natural disasters, crimes, and festivals. Often, his original work featuring calaveras meditates on death, even if it doesn’t directly refer to Dia de muertos, as is the case with the two broadsides here, “¡Calavera Zumbona!” and “La Calavera Taurina.”

Special Collections Broadsides, BS-1900-03-F1
Special Collections Broadsides, BS-1900-03-F1

“¡Calavera Zumbona!” (“The Mocking Skull”) is a satirical piece that pokes fun at various artisan groups in Mexico City, including carpenters, tailors, candy sellers, painters, barbers, pulque sellers and more while also pointing to the universality of mortality and death. Carpenters are described as drunkards while tinsmiths are overly-loquacious. Practitioners of all crafts wind up, in the image created by Posada, as skulls in a cemetery in the end. The offerings of food and the small, round “pan de muertos” bread roll in the lower left-hand corner of the image are both traditional of Dia de muertos.

Special Collections Broadsides, BS-1900-02-F1

“La Calavera Taurina” is an homage to deceased bullfighters, who had been eaten or consumed by the “taurine skull” of death.

Both of these prints are on very thin paper. “¡Calavera Zumbona!” is an imperfect print with lines striking out parts of the text and main image. These elements attest to affordability of the materials used by the Vanegas shop and to the rapidity with which broadsides were printed.

Posada was rediscovered by Mexican Revolution-era muralists not long after his death in 1913. Among them, Jean Charlot was among the first to highlight Posada’s calaveras. In 1947, he worked with the still-operating Vanegas Arroyo printhouse to issue 450 copies of a bilingual portfolio entitled 100 Grabados en madera por Posada (100 Woodcuts by Posada). Here, Charlot reproduces the smaller and lesser-know woodcuts produced by Posada. Many feature calaveras accompanied by verse. One (#12) even commemorates Todos Santos (All Saints Day / All Saints’ Eve / All Hallow’s Eve) by name.

Charlot translates the verse as follows:

12. All Hallow’s Eve.
At last the day of all the dead
has arrived.
On which they rejoice, replete
with pleasures without
number.
In place of sad mourning for ourselves,
Let us, with laughs and pulque,
go cry in our cups.

Es una verdad sincera
Lo que nos dice esta frase :
Que sólo el ser que no nace
No puede ser calavera.
– No te fíes de las gentes
Son muy traidoras, deveras.
– Pues, a mí, las calaveras,
Nomás me pelan los dientes…
¡Ay, ay, ay! la muerte ya viene
Y a toditos nos agarra,
Hay que suerte tan chaparra,
Pues creo que ni madre tiene.

Happy Halloween to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

Halloween 2016 RBSC post: Ghosts in the Stacks
Halloween 2017 RBSC post: A spooky story for Halloween: The Goblin Spider
Halloween 2018 RBSC post: A story for Halloween: “Johnson and Emily; or, The Faithful Ghost”

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2019

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 celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Latinx Ephemera Collection

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

In observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, Rare Books and Special Collections is pleased to highlight our newly acquired Latinx Ephemera Collection. This collection came to us from the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies. Many of the materials in the collection were acquired by Gilberto Cardenas, founding director of the institute and Professor of Sociology at Notre Dame.

This collection is comprised of pamphlets, reports, journal issues, flyers, and magazines related to Latinx culture that date primarily between 1966 and 1999. Some materials are political or historical in nature, addressing topics such as migrant labor, the work of iconic Latinx activists such as César Chávez, and grape boycotts. Others examine socio-economic conditions among Latinx populations, access to education, civil rights, employment, and immigration. Held together in one collection, these rare materials provide a diversity of insights into Latinx life and issues in and around the U.S. during the second half of the twentieth century.

A sample of collection highlights follows:

A report on the East Los Angeles Youth Speak-Out held on May 20, 1967. This event was attended by 175 delegates and adult leaders from the East Los Angeles Latinx community. Participants used the event to discuss activities available to local youth and to strengthen communication with local officials.

 

Volume 1, Issue, 1 of Encuentro Femenil, along with the initial letter to subscribers announcing the publication of the magazine and explaining its unique contribution to the field of Chicana literature.

 

A 1969 issue of Fiesta Magazine, dedicated to the spirit of Emiliano Zapata and presenting Latinx poetry and short literary pieces.

 

Number 132 of 1000 copies of Year 1, Number 1 of The Broken Line/La Linea Quebrada, a border arts publication from 1986. This innovative journal combines poetry with visual presentations to address key Latinx issues and present Latinx perspectives.

 

This collection is open for research. A full list of collection contents is available online.

Related Previous Blog Posts:

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2017: Sergio Sánchez Santamaría
National Hispanic Heritage Month 2018: Puerto Rican Artists

‘Take Care of my Ghost, Ghost’: Ginsberg and Kerouac

by Amanda Gray, MLS Candidate, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, and Special Collections Intern, University of Notre Dame

The Spotlight exhibit for June and July, “Take Care of my Ghost, Ghost: The Friendship of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac,” focuses on three items from the Robert Creeley Collection: Take Care of my Ghost, Ghost: Allen Ginsberg & Jack Kerouac; Declaration of Independence For Dr. Timothy Leary: July 4, 1971; and San Francisco Blues.

The Beats formed in the wake of World War II, a literary counter-culture set on exploring in all senses of the word; physical exploration through travel, mental exploration through psychedelic drug usage and sexual awakening, spiritual exploration through Eastern religions. Kerouac coined the name “Beat Generation.” In his spoken word album Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation, he reads the poem “San Francisco Scene,” where he describes a jazz club and all that he sees, “and everything is going to the beat. It’s the beat generation, it’s be-at, it’s the beat to keep, it’s the beat of the heart, it’s being beat and down in the world and like old time lowdown and like in ancient civilizations the slave boatmen rowing galleys to a beat and servants spinning pottery to a beat.”[i] (Listen to it here, the first track of the album.) To drill down on one word in particular, Kerouac calls it “be-at,” as in “beatific,” or blissfully happy or holy. Kerouac was Catholic, and maintained his Catholic faith while also supplementing it with Buddhism. Benedict Giamo, a University of Notre Dame American Studies professor who retired this year, once told me that Kerouac used Buddhism as a lens through which to view his Catholicism, and it shows in his writings. Kerouac saw what he and the other Beats were doing as holy, enlightened work that expanded human consciousness.

Kerouac and Ginsberg were in the epicenter of this movement, meeting at Columbia University in New York City when Kerouac was 22 and Ginsberg was 17. Around them gathered a host of people, and in subsequent travels across the U.S. (see On the Road, The Dharma Bums, and other works for journal-esque descriptions of their trips), they connected with the San Francisco Renaissance, a group of poets stationed in California with similar ideals. Robert Creeley from the Black Mountain Poets connected here, too, and became lifelong friends with Ginsberg. It’s his amazing collection from which these three works come, as well as the works in the pop-up exhibit, scheduled for June 10.

Turning to the objects in the exhibit, the goal was to highlight Kerouac and Ginsberg’s friendship while also showing their abilities outside of their “known” styles of writing. Kerouac, known mostly for his prose work, wrote poetry like a jazz musician, and San Francisco Blues is a great example of his abilities. Scraps of San Francisco Blues appear like breadcrumbs throughout other works and publications; bits of it in Heaven & Other Poems, another selection in Palantir, some lines in New Directions. Though he died in 1969, Kerouac’s full collection of the 79 choruses in San Francisco Blues were not published together until 1983. The cover shows a composite image of Kerouac, leaning against a brick wall while smoking, the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Kerouac called the completed work a “beautiful unity,” written while pondering the city of San Francisco from his room at the Cameo Hotel in 1954. He wrote about the dilapidated buildings, the people walking on the street, the feelings in his body as he pondered what he was doing with his life. The only limit to his poetry was the size of the page in the notebook in which he scrawled them — “like the form of a set number of bars in a jazz blues chorus,” he writes in the introduction  — creating poems that hit the consciousness like the music he listened to.

Kerouac had been writing for several years at the time he wrote these poems, with his first book The Town & the City published in 1950 He wasn’t published again until 1957 with On the Road, despite completing several novels and books of poetry. His journals from these years in between, including a few excerpts in Take Care of my Ghost, Ghost, show just how much the rejection he received impacted him as a writer and as a person. Rejection hurt him, but he also found elation once he was published.

Ginsberg, known for Howl and other fantastical, forceful works of poetry, is an electric prose writer with power and precision in every line. His defense of Dr. Timothy Leary is a masterful work of evocative but exact language. Ginsberg rallied the poetic troops with this piece, independently published in response to the arrest, charge, and conviction of Dr. Timothy Leary, who had a small amount of marijuana on his person when arrested in 1970, and who experienced a whole host of legal trouble in the years that followed. Leary had also published on drug usage, something which the federal prosecutors and judges “regarded as a menace,” according to Ginsberg.

Ginsberg made this piece a larger argument for freedom of speech, for a writer to write about whatever he or she wants to. It’s an engaging piece of prose from a man who’s most known for his manic approach and imagery in poetry. It’s rational, well-argued and had little to no impact on Leary’s legal troubles. Though his name is not listed on the piece as author, Ginsberg’s fingerprints are all over it. The evocative language, the subtle shift to near-poetry in the final lines, the intelligence carried in every line — it’s as apparently Ginsberg as Howl is. A flair for the dramatic, the group sent a contingent of poets to deliver it to the Swiss government on Bastille Day.

The two writers were constant influences on each other (for example, Ginsberg credits Kerouac for the title of Howl in the dedication page of the poem), but they were so much more than that. Take Care of my Ghost, Ghost shows scraps of communication from Ginsberg to Kerouac, as well as some excerpts from Kerouac’s journals. A humble item at first glance, the collection of correspondence between the two writers is printed simply; 34 sheets of 8.5×11 paper, three simple staples down the side. Within its pages, though, it shows a friendship fostered both in person and at a distance; while bumbling around Greenwich Village or from San Francisco; with friends, lovers, or within a mental institution.

Within their friendship they found a place to confide; their letters to each other reveal a rawness that only comes with the comfort of time. Scraps of poetry made their way into the letters, too; Ginsberg wrote to Kerouac on Oct. 6, 1959:

Leave the bones behind
They’re only bones
Leave the mind behind
It’s only thoughts
Leave the man behind
He cannot live
Save the soul!

According to one rare books seller, this was a “piracy edition” and was suppressed by Kerouac’s estate.[ii] In the back of the book, a page states that it was “published for friends in an edition of 200 copies.” A more extensive collection of their letters is part of our General Collection and able to be loaned.

Kerouac and Ginsberg were friends — sometimes with benefits, if Ginsberg’s Gay Sunshine Interview is any indication.[iii] They were companions. They were partners-in-crime. After Kerouac’s death in 1969 at the age of 47, Ginsberg mourned him, along with Neal Cassady, another Beat who died early in life.  In The Visions of the Great Rememberer, Ginsberg writes, “So I survived Neal and Jack — what for, all my temerity? This empty paradise? Nostalgia world?”[iv]

 

 

[i] Kerouac, J. 1960. “The San Francisco Scene.” Readings from Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation. Retrieved from https://genius.com/Jack-kerouac-the-san-francisco-scene-annotated.

[ii] PBA Galleries. (2018). Lot 334 of 450: Kerouac Ginsberg Take Care of My Ghost, Ghost. Retrieved from https://www.pbagalleries.com/view-auctions/catalog/id/189/lot/54835/Take-Care-of-My-Ghost-Ghost-From-the-letters-of-Allen-Ginsberg-to-Jack-Kerouac-1945-1959.

[iii] Young, A. (1974). Gay Sunshine Interview. Bolinas: Grey Fox Press. Pp. 3-4. Ginsberg talks about specific sexual encounters he had with Kerouac and Neal Cassady.

[iv] Ginsberg, A. (1974). The Visions of the Great Rememberer. Amherst: Mulch Press. Pg. 1. The title itself is a nod to Kerouac’s autobiographical work Visions of Gerard, as well as the posthumously published Visions of Cody, which focuses on Neal Cassady (called Cody in the book). The Visions of the Great Rememberer now publishes as an introduction for Visions of Cody.

Recent Acquisition: Hugo Achugar Papers

by Hannah E. Sabal, Processing Archivist for Special Collections

The Hugo Achugar Papers have been recently described and are open to students and researchers.

Hugo Achugar (1944-) is a Uruguayan literary critic and prolific writer of poetry and essays. He has held teaching positions at universities in both Latin America and the United States, including Universidad de la República, Uruguay; Universidad Católica, Venezuela; Northwestern University; and Dartmouth College. He currently serves as a member of the Emeritus Faculty at the University of Miami. Some of Achugar’s better-known works include Ideologías y estructuras narrativas en José Donoso, 1950-1970, a literary essay on the works of José Donoso; Hueso Quevrado (cuaderno de la Bahía), a collection of poetry; and Falsas Memorias: Blanca Luz Brum, a fictionalized account of the life of Blanca Luz Brum.

Conference Materials, 1991, 2008

The collection consists of manuscripts, photographs, clippings, and journals, all forming a record of Achugar’s professional career. Included are correspondence, notes and research files, lecture and conference materials, and poetry. The collection also includes Achugar’s personal library, which will soon be cataloged.

“Hueso Quevrado (Cuaderno de la Bahia),” Drafts, 2004-2006 (folder 1)

The highlight of the collection is the series of articles and drafts, comprised of drafts of both published and unpublished essays, poetry, and fiction. For some works, there are multiple drafts written at different points in time, allowing researchers to follow Achugar’s writing process. For example, in the series exist various drafts, notes, and preparatory materials for Hueso Quevrado, representing Achugar’s process from research to draft to revision.

“Hueso Quevrado (Cuaderno de la Bahia),” Drafts, 2004-2006 (folder 2)

For more information on this collection, please view the online finding aid.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

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

Thursday, January 24 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “German Presences: Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet and the Question of Authorship” by Prof. Alessia Ricciardi (Northwestern University).

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Friday, January 25 at 1:30pm |Panel Presentations in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, featuring William Collins Donahue (Director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies), Judy Shroyer (the Jewish Federation), and Kevin Cawley (University of Notre Dame Archives). After the panel discussion, all attendees are invited to the Scholars Lounge for a reception.

Sponsored by: The Nanovic Institute for European StudiesCushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, the Jewish Federation, and Hesburgh Libraries.

Wednesday, January 30 RESCHEDULED DUE TO WEATHER
Thursday, January 31 at 3:00pm
| Exhibit Lecture: The Saint Dominic’s Press 1916-1936 by curator Dennis Doordan (Emeritus Professor, Notre Dame School of Architecture).


The spring exhibitAs Printers Printed Long Ago: The Saint Dominic’s Press 1916-1936, curated by Dennis Doordan (Emeritus Professor, Notre Dame School of Architecture), opens in January and runs through the summer. The exhibition features different types of publications and posters produced by Saint Dominic’s Press, setting the story of the press within the larger history of the private press movement in England and examining its artistic as well as literary achievements.

The current spotlight exhibits are: Theresienstadt (Terezín), in remembrance of all the victims of the Holocaust (January – February 2019), and Creeley/Marisol: Presences, an exhibit occasioned by the 2018 publication of a critical edition of Presences, edited by Stephen Fredman, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Notre Dame (January – February 2019).

If you would like to bring a group to Special Collections or schedule a tour of any of our exhibits, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

Upcoming Events: September and early October

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

Friday, September 7 at 1:00pm | Operation Frankenstein: “Illustrated Frankenstein: The 200th Anniversary Edition” by David Plunkert (artist and illustrator). Operation Frankenstein is a semester-long series of interdisciplinary events taking place at the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s novel.

Thursday, September 20 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “The Face of Recent Italian Criminal Television: Gomorrah and Beyond” by Dana Renga (Ohio State). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The exhibit In Solzhenitsyn’s Circle: the Writer and his Associates runs through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Frankenstein 200 (August – December 2018) and A Modern Prometheus: Balancing Science and Ethics (September – October 2018).


RBSC is closed Monday, September 3rd, for Labor Day.