A French Nun’s Chronicle of 16th Century Geneva

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired the true first edition of one of the earliest French historical works written by a woman, Jeanne de Jussie’s Le Levain du Calvinisme, ou commencement de l’heresie de Geneve (Chambery, [1611]).

Jeanne de Jussie (1503-1561) was a French-Swiss nun who recounts her experiences living in Switzerland during the early years of the Swiss Reformation in this extremely rare work. Having entered the Convent of the Poor Clares in Geneva in 1521, Jeanne was appointed secretary of the Convent in 1530 and was responsible for its correspondence. Around the year 1535, she began writing in manuscript form what is now known as her “Short Chronicle,” intended to pass on current events and observations to future nuns, and which provides the basis for the book published here; an English translation of the manuscript (The Short Chronicle: a Poor Clare’s Account of the Reformation of Geneva, edited and translated by Carrie F. Klaus) was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2006.

The year 1535 also proved to be an important year in Jeanne’s life for another reason: religious opponents broke into the Convent and the sisters were threatened for weeks before obtaining permission to leave Geneva peacefully, and then moving to Annecy, where they lived in the Monastery of the Holy Cross. This and many other contemporary events are described in this work, one of the few efforts to offer a detailed look into life in the city of Geneva during this tumultuous period. Jeanne’s narrative has continued to interest scholars not only for its contemporary description of key events, but also for its female perspective; the author is clear in noting that female Catholics were often subjected to more abuse concerning their beliefs than men.

This is the first of two issues published in 1611 (ours lacks the printing date, while the second issue includes it and is four pages longer); we have found no other North American holdings of this true first edition.

Reading Gay Sports Magazine in Honor of Pride Month

by Greg Bond, Sports Archivist and Curator, Joyce Sports Research Collection

“Welcome to Gay Sports. As we all know—sports are an integral part of American society. This love of competition is as exciting to the Gay Community as it is to the Straight Community. In the months to come, this publication will bring you information about Gay men and women athletes competing in sporting events locally and nationally. Gay Sports is your publication. Keep us informed of what you are doing.”

Gay Sports Nov. 1982 (vol. 1, no. 1), page 4.

Publisher Mark Brown’s introductory note in the inaugural 1982 issue of the San Francisco-based Gay Sports announced the purpose of the new publication to readers. The monthly publication—one of the earliest serials devoted to sports in the gay community—would cover national sports news, but the focus of the magazine was on publicizing and building community among gay and lesbian athletes and their allies. In honor of LGBTQ Pride Month, Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) highlights the recent acquisition of two issues (vol 1, no. 1 – November 1982; and vol 2, no. 7 – September 1983) of this scarce publication.

The cover story in the first issue of Gay Sports—then called Bay Area Gay Sports—was a feature by Duke Joyce (Nov. 1982, p. 5) about former major league baseball player Glenn Burke, who had recently publicly acknowledged that he was gay. Burke played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s from 1976 to 1979, but he had struggled with his identity as a gay man while playing professional baseball. As the article explains, he “endured subtle, yet cruel innuendos” and discrimination from management. In the end, he wanted to be “truthful to himself” and not lead a “double life,” so he retired from baseball.

Joyce wrote that “being a homosexual in any homophobic environment is agonizing enough, but in the revered Major League, it is damn near sacreligious,” and he observed that there would likely be no room for “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Queers” any time soon. He applauded Burke’s courage in going public and hoped that he had “managed to further erode the stereotypical image of gays.” In closing, Glenn Burke, himself, observed: “It’s your life, and nobody else is going to live it for you. You’ve got to have self respect.”

Pictures from the 1983 Gay World Series in Chicago.
(Gay Sports September 1983, pp. 12-13)

Glenn Burke’s coming out was a prominent national news story, but most of the articles in Gay Sports focused on local and community-based sports leagues or competitions for gay athletes. The annual Gay World Series softball tournament routinely received lots of attention, as did the quadrennial Gay Games. (For more information about the Gay Games, please see also the Gay Games Collection, MSSP 10070, in RBSC or the recent digital exhibit “Papers Alight: Contextualizing Mike Curato’s Flamer“).

Images from the 1983 Bay Area Women’s Softball League.
(Gay Sports September 1983, pp. 6-7)

Most articles focused on local leagues and organizations that helped build communities and networks of support for gay and lesbian athletes in the Bay Area or in other cities around the country. These two issues are replete with articles about local softball leagues, tennis tournaments, swimming competitions, hiking outings, bicycling groups, billiards leagues, bowling tournaments, flag football teams, and many other types of sports and athletics.

Members of the San Francisco Different Spokes Cycling Club pose on the cover of the September 1983 issue of Gay Sports.

These sporting activities served a variety of roles and were an important part of many people’s lives. The organizer of an overseas bicycling trip described, for example, “the ease and comfort of traveling with an all gay group” (Sept. 1983, p. 8). The leader of a San Francisco cycling club noted the value in “informally representing a portion of the gay community to the bicycling world” (Sept. 1983, p. 10). But, for the most part, the various sports leagues were about safe spaces for friendship and community. The author of an article about bowling leagues simply wrote that competitors “come together not only to enjoy the sport, but also more importantly, to enjoy each other . . . . for therein lies the magic!” (Sept. 1983, p. 18).

These issues of Gay Sports are available to researchers. RBSC welcomes new donations of Gay Sports magazine to expand our holdings of this important title.

Influencing Opinion by Mapping the Early American Civil War

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

Rare Books and Special Collection recently acquired a Civil War broadside (a.k.a., poster) that was published very early in the conflict, probably in August or September 1861. Produced and printed in Boston, the map provided a Northern perspective on the war as it had unfolded to that point and offered reassurance about the conflict’s ultimate outcome. First, the broadside’s creators remind viewers that despite the Confederacy’s initial victories—at Fort Sumter in April and the Battle of Bull Run in July—the Union had prevailed in a battle for continued control of Fort Monroe, near Norfolk, Virginia, in May. The stronghold was strategically significant for Union designs on the Confederate’s capital at Richmond. Secondly, the broadside’s authors convey confidence that the North’s superior population and larger economy would ultimately prevail. 

Distance Maps. Map of the Atlantic States, Showing 50 Mile Distances from Washington. Map of the Battleground [at Manassas] Showing 5 Mile Distances from Washington. Map of the Fortress Monroe, Showing 1 Mile Distances from the Fortress. L. Prang & Co.: Boston, 1861.

The broadside’s most prominent feature is its three distance maps. The largest is a railroad map of the United States that shows distances from Washington, D.C. One of two smaller maps indicates distance from Washington to an unnamed battle ground, which people at the time would have understood as the Battle of Bull Run, just 30 miles from the capital. The Confederates had recently routed Union forces there, an outcome that worried many Northerners who had, until that point, expected a quick and decisive end to the war. 

The third distance map shows a detail of Norfolk Harbor and Fort Monroe, the site of a recent Union victory. The fortress remained in Union control throughout the war. 

Finally, this broadside provides population figures for the nation’s cities and towns, and states, as well as the number of enslaved people in states and territories. This data reinforced what even a glance at the railroad map implied: the North’s more developed industrial and economic infrastructure along with its superior numbers pointed to an eventual Union victory.

A happy Memorial Day to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

2023 post: A Woman’s Reporting on the Bonus Army in Depression-Era Washington
2022 post: Representing Decoration Day in a 19th Century Political Magazine
2021 post: An Early Civil War Caricature of Jefferson Davis
2020 post: Narratives about the Corby Statues—at Gettysburg and on Campus
2019 post: Myths and Memorials
2018 post: “Decoration Day” poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
2017 post: “Memorial Day” poem by Joyce Kilmer
2016 post: Memorial Day: Stories of War by a Civil War Veteran

Rare Books and Special Collections is closed today (May 27th) for Memorial Day and will be closed on July 4th for Independence Day. Otherwise, RBSC will be open regular hours this summer — 9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

An Extremely Rare Work of St. Charles Borromeo

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an extremely rare work, St. Charles Borromeo’s Decreta Edita, et Promulgata n Synodo Diocesana, Mediolanensi Quarta (Mediolani, 1575).

Borromeo (1538-1584) is well known as one of the administrative leaders of the Catholic Reformation. Following his appointment as archbishop of the diocese of Milan (Italy) in 1564, he worked tirelessly to implement in his archdiocese the decrees of the Council of Trent, which had concluded the year before the beginning of his episcopal tenure. His reforms largely centered on the revitalization of education for both clergy and laity. He convened a series of synods beginning in 1568, and by the time of his death in 1584 it appears that 11 such meetings were held. 

Apparently, not all of the synods’ decrees were published, and we have identified printed collections for only the first and fourth; the present work represents the work of the latter gathering, held in Milan in November 1574.

We have identified no other copies held by any other institution worldwide.

“Girls Really Play Baseball”: The National Girls Baseball League Collection

by Greg Bond, Sports Archivist and Curator, Joyce Sports Research Collection

“Girls Really Play Baseball.” So reported the cover of the Official National Girls Baseball League Magazine in August 1950, beneath a picture of power-hitting infielder Freda Savona. The National Girls Baseball League (NGBL), a Chicago-based rival of the better-known All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), took the field from 1944 to 1954 and provided high-level athletic opportunities for women. The Joyce Sports Collection recently acquired a collection of printed material and ephemera documenting the NGBL. The opening week of the Major League Baseball season seems an appropriate time to revisit the National Girls Baseball League Collection (MSSP 10071).

The National Girls Baseball League has faded into obscurity since its heyday, while the AAGPBL has been popularized by the movie and the Amazon streaming show A League of Their Own. But, at the time, the two women’s leagues were fierce and sometimes bitter rivals, routinely competing for players and fans. Founded by Charles Bidwell, owner of the National Football League’s Chicago Cardinals, and Emery Parichy, a local businessman, the NGBL dominated the lucrative Chicago market and attracted some of the best women athletes in the country. The NGBL emphasized the athletic ability of league players, and as the August 1950 official league magazine explained:

When one thinks of girls baseball they also think of a “powder puff” setup in which the feminine athletes do everything with a sort of “weaker sex” idea—that the ladies wielding bats couldn’t knock your hat off. 

Nothing is farther from the truth, and, if you don’t happen to be a regular patron of National Girls Baseball League games, a trip to one of the parks will convince you that the ladies swing a bat, throw, and field pretty much like your favorite major league baseball player.

Spread from the June 1, 1950 issue of the official league magazine featuring scenes from around the NGBL.

The league was popular in Chicago and often drew thousands of fans to games in the late 1940s and early 1950s. These pages below from the July 1949 issue of the official league magazine show league founder Emery Parichy in the crowded stands and also document a game visit by Chicago mayor Martin Kennelly. The magazine also featured a bold black-and-white advertisement for players, reading: “Wanted Girls From Any Part of the Country to Play in the National Girls Baseball League.”

Parichy owned the Bloomer Girls, league champions in 1947 and 1948, and was a driving force of the league. The owner of a roofing and house remodeling business, Parichy had begun sponsoring women’s baseball and softball teams in the 1930s, and he built Parichy Memorial Stadium in Forest Park, which would eventually become the home of his NGBL Bloomer Girls. As seen in this advertisement from the outside back cover of the July 1953 official league magazine, Parichy used the Bloomer Girls to help promote his roofing business.

Although players frequently jumped back and forth between the two leagues (as documented in this previous blog post about RBSC’s AAGPBL collection), there were some important distinctions between the the two leagues. The National Girls Baseball League only fielded teams in the Chicagoland area, while the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League placed teams in cities and towns across the midwest. The AAGPBL adopted overhand pitching in 1948, while the NGBL only allowed underhand pitching throughout its existence. The NGBL allowed players to wear shorts while on the diamond—as seen in this collection of promotional glossy postcards sold by the league—while AAGPBL uniforms always included skirts.

The postcards feature four players from the Queens, league champions in 1950, 1951, and 1952: second baseman Freda Savona, one of the best players in the league, who was inducted into the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame in 1998; catcher Dorothy Pitts; catcher Alice Kolski (the sister of Ed Kolski, ND ’32, the owner of the Queens); and shortstop Olympia Savona, Freda Savona’s sister.

The NGBL also sanctioned a marginally more diverse cast of players than its rival league. Although AAGPBL rosters included several Latina players over the years, the rest of the players in the league were white. The ranks of the National Girls Baseball League also featured Latina players like Helene Machado and Lillian Lopez. The AAGPBL famously never signed any African American players during its 12 years of existence, but in 1951 African American outfielder Betty Chapman played with the Music Maids of the NGBL. In addition, during the early years of the National Girls Baseball League, one of the best pitchers was Chinese American Gwen Wong. And, in 1953, Japanese American shortstop Nancy Ito starred for the Wilson-Jones Bloomer Girls and made the NGBL all-star team.

The National Girls Baseball League Collection contains printed material—including a nearly complete run of the Official NGBL Magazine from June 1949 through September 1953—ephemera such as postcards and team newsletters, and realia, including a signed official NGBL baseball. The Joyce Sports Collection hopes to better document the history of the NGBL League and seeks donations of material related to the National Girls Baseball League and its players. 

As the Major League Baseball season kicks off this year, let’s remember the boys and the girls of summer!

Women’s History Month 2024

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.

Second-Wave Feminist Articles from an Underground Newspaper

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

So What Are We Complaining About? is a 48-page booklet of feminist articles collected and reprinted from the pages of an underground newspaper, the Old Mole, published in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The booklet’s publication was a joint venture of the Old Mole and Bread and Roses, a socialist women’s liberation collective, in 1970. The booklet was created by the women’s caucus, a group within Bread and Roses. The Old Mole, which appeared bi-weekly from 1968 to 1970, was the publication of the Harvard chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

It’s not surprising that Bread and Roses women wished to collect and recirculate this content. Among the collective’s founders were activists and a historians Meredith Tax and Linda Gordon. Both women contributed significantly to the feminist movement in the United States from the 1970s and wrote much of its history. Reprinting was one of the best and only ways to publicize content that had already appeared in print, often in small, locally-circulated and ephemeral papers like the Old Mole.

Tax and Gordon founded Bread and Roses in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1969 as a women’s liberation organization. They chose “Bread and Roses” because it both references an historic labor strike by women (Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912) and it captures what the collective wanted to attain for women—economic opportunity (“bread”) and quality of life (“roses”). Over the nearly two years the collective was active, it attracted hundreds of members, many of whom were clerical workers who faced poor wages and working conditions. A number of reprinted articles address these problems. The collective took action by forming a union, 9to5, for local clerical workers. Another legacy project became the women’s health resource, Our Bodies, Ourselves, which developed out of the collective’s 1970 initiative, “Women and Their Bodies: A Course.”

Other features included in this short volume are Bread and Roses’ declaration of women’s rights (March 1970); a satirical, “liberated,” comic strip; and a short history about the establishment of International Women’s Day.

So What Are We Complaining About? is a new acquisition in Rare Books and Special Collections and is part of a growing collection of second-wave, feminist periodicals and newspapers. 

Welcome Back! Spring 2024 in Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections welcomes students, faculty, staff, researchers, and visitors back to campus for Spring ’24! Here are a variety of things to watch for in Special Collections during the coming semester.

Spring 2024 Exhibition: Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge

The tension between literal and figurative arrangements of space, time, and knowledge during the Middle Ages is brought to the fore through the primary objects that remain. Geography, whether real or imagined, manifests on the page to convey a variety of spatial arrangements: topography, pilgrimage, peripatetic liturgical procession, and boundary marking. The materiality of medieval manuscript books expresses a similar reality: geographic colophons, the regional markings of book production, devotional locals, and even the dispersing of manuscripts through modern-day biblioclasty.

To map the Middle Ages is to journey through the space created by the objects and the individuals who used them. The manuscripts in this installation are drawn from the collection of the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.

Curated by David T. Gura, PhD, Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts.

This exhibition is being held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, which will be hosted March 14–16, 2024, at the University of Notre Dame.

Stop in regularly to see our Collections Spotlights

Fall Spotlight, continued through the end of January: Football and Community at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

This exhibit features a selection of sources from the Joyce Sports Research Collection that document and preserve the history of football at Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs). During the era of Jim Crow segregation, the vast majority of African American college students and student athletes attended HBCUs.

Many of the yearly gridiron contests between rival institutions developed into highly anticipated annual events that combined football with larger celebrations of African American achievement and excellence. The programs, media guides, ephemera, guidebooks, and other printed material on display document the athletic accomplishments, the celebrations, the spectacle, and the community-building that accompany football at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Curated by Greg Bond, Curator of the Joyce Sports Research Collection and the Sports Subject Specialist for Hesburgh Libraries.

December-January Spotlight: A Warning Against Rum in Early America

Displayed in the spotlight is a 1835 poster commemorating a Salem, Massachusetts minister’s attack on a neighbor for distilling and selling rum. This particular copy was partially hand-colored in watercolor, preserved with a cloth backing, folded, and bound into a pocket-sized leather cover. The broadside is part of Hesburgh Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections’ collection of prints, posters, and broadsides.

Curated by Rachel Bohlmann, Curator of North Americana at Hesburgh Libraries.

These and other exhibits within the Hesburgh Libraries are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

All exhibits are free and open to the public during regular hours.

Special Collections’ Classes & Workshops

Throughout the semester, curators will teach sessions related to our holdings to undergraduate and graduate students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College. Curators may also be available to show special collections to visiting classes, from preschool through adults. If you would like to arrange a group visit and class with a curator, please contact Special Collections.

Upcoming Events

Thursday, February 1st at 5:00pm | The Spring 2024 Italian Research Seminar and Lectures will begin with a lecture by Francesca Fiorani (University of Virginia), “Leonardo da Vinci’s Way of Seeing Water. Wetlands, Mapping, and the Art of Painting.”

Learn more about this and other Events in Italian Studies.

Recent Acquisitions

Special Collections acquires new material throughout the year. Watch this blog for information about recent acquisitions.

Happy Holidays from Special Collections!

Rare Books and Special Collections is open Monday through Thursday this week (December 18-21, 2023) — appointments are recommended. After that, we will be closed from Friday, December 22, 2023, through Monday, January 1, 2024, in participation with the campus-wide holiday break for all faculty, staff, and students.

Special Collections will reopen on Tuesday, January 2, 2024.

This is the last blog post for 2023.
Happy Holidays to you and yours from
Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections!

The Christmas Number of the Lake Michigan Yachting News,
December 1925, published by the Chicago Yacht Club.
Special Collections, Rare Books In Process

by Greg Bond, Sports Archivist and Curator, Joyce Sports Research Collection

This post features images—including this colorful jack-in-the-box Christmas cover—from the Lake Michigan Yachting News, the official publication of the Chicago Yacht Club. The Yachting News covered all aspects of yachting and boating on Lake Michigan, reporting about sailing races, popular excursion routes, environmental conditions, sailing technology and equipment, and the social activities of the Midwestern yachting set.

The Yachting News also frequently relied on humor and satire in its columns as shown by the “Just a Few Merry Christmas Hints” column below. The journal’s tongue-in-cheek holiday gift suggestions included this advice:

If you have a friend who is a racing skipper you may give him a bunch of your old safety razor blades for splitting hairs on questions of rules. If you have a friend on the Race Committee, give him a drink—he will need it.

Hesburgh Libraries recently acquired a bound volume with 18 issues of the Lake Michigan Yachting News for the years 1925 and 1926. Worldcat lists only three other libraries with scattered holdings of this scarce publication.

Women in Irish Prisons: Autographs of Prisoners in 1923

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian (retired)

Autograph books, nicely-bound books full of blank pages, have been popular for a long time — from schoolchildren’s record of classroom friendships to collections of famous people’s autographs. The Hesburgh Library recently added to its collection a small but powerful document of women’s involvement in Ireland’s politics one hundred years ago. 

Our new acquisition is the prison autograph book of Aoife Taaffe (MSE/IR 1101). The autograph book, signed by her fellow prisoners in 1923, documents the women, and also their dates and places of imprisonment during the Civil War of 1922-23.

Aoife Taaffe, Political Prisoner. Four Courts, Mountjoy, N. D. U., Kilmainham. 1922, 1923.

Information given on this page tells us that Taaffe was a prisoner in the Four Courts, in Mountjoy Jail, in the North Dublin Union, and in Kilmainham Gaol. The book is filled with the signatures of other women who were imprisoned during the Civil War of 1922-23, and their signatures are usually accompanied by information on imprisonment places and dates.

Like many women activists of her time, Aoife Taaffe is not well-known today. Information gleaned from various sources tells us that she was very involved in theatre both as an actor and a director, and she was also involved in many commemorative events for the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence during the 1920s and 30s. While in Kilmainham Gaol, she marked the seventh anniversary of the 1916 Rising by producing P. H. Pearse’s The Singer, with a cast of women prisoners. 

Autographs in the book include those of Margaret Buckley, Kid Bulfin, Eithne Coyle, May Gibney and Margaret Skinnider. In all, the book features the names and signatures of dozens of women prisoners.

The history of women’s involvement in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War is still relatively unknown. Sinéad McCoole’s No Ordinary Women: Irish Female Activists in the Revolutionary Years 1900-1923 (2003) is an important history, and a number of articles and podcasts on the website of Century Ireland provide interesting perspectives on women’s history of the period. A major primary source is the Military Archives, particularly the accounts of service provided by applicants for a pension.

Seven years ago, we mounted a centenary exhibition, Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion, which featured books and documents on a small number of women. This autograph book encourages us to look more widely for sources of Irish women’s history, which is slowly being pulled from the shadows.

A Revised Martyrology for 16th Century German Catholics

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired the first edition of an extremely rare German-language Catholic Martyrology that was edited by the famed Jesuit scholar-saint, Peter Canisius (1521-1597). The work, Martyrologium: der Kirchen-Kalender, darinnen angezeiget werden, die christlichen Feste und Heiligen Gottes beyder Testamente (Dilingen, 1562), was apparently undertaken by one Adam Walasser, who enlisted Canisius’ help while the latter was in Augsburg. Canisius’ name appears prominently on the title-page, while Walasser only takes credit in the dedication leaf—probably because Canisius was becoming well known by this time.

The purpose of this Martyrology seems to have been two-fold: first, the authors wanted to appeal to the German Catholic population in the German language, especially since Protestantism had been making significant inroads using the vernacular language; second, the authors recognized the need for a scholarly revision of Martyrological texts in order to conform more accurately with known historical facts. In this respect, Canisius anticipated the call for similar revisions by the Council of Trent (which would conclude the year after the publication of this work)—by the end of the 16th century, other revised Roman Martyrologies had been published.

We have found no other North American library holdings of this edition.