To mark the five-year anniversary of our blog, we have selected a few of the 246 posts we have published so far, written by a variety of curators, librarians and guest writers. Scroll down to find some interesting snippets from our first five years.
The tags “who’s who” and “what’s what” gather posts relating, respectively, to the people who work in and with Notre Dame’s Special Collections, and both the materials to be found and the work happening within the department. Included in the latter category are posts related to the Category “Instruction and Class Visits“, some of which are shown here.
The anthology Living Hiroshima: Scenes of A-Bomb Explosion with 378 Photographs Including Scenery of Inland Sea (1948) was planned and published by the Hiroshima Prefectural Tourist Association for the purpose of introducing images of post-war Hiroshima to the world. The production was handled by Bunkasha (formerly Tōhōsha, which had published propaganda materials for the Japanese military during the war). Most of its photos were taken in 1947 by three Bunkasha photographers, two of whom also had formerly worked for Tōhōsha. The anthology also includes photos taken in 1945 by Kimura Ihē, the former head of the Photography Department at Tōhōsha.
Although published under U.S. military censorship during the American Occupation, the anthology is a rare and valuable documentation of the devastation and the recovery of the city from the bombing.
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.
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.
‘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.
This card was posted in September 1911 from Dublin to Middlesex, England.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
Contextualizing the turbulent landscape that beset France during the Revolution of 1789 is this set of nine texts spanning the years 1783 to 1785 . In 1783, the French gastronome, Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de la Reynière, hosted a fourteen-course feast, each course comprised of five dishes, for seventeen guests. A few days later, his Philosophical Reflexions on Le Plaisir; by a Bachelor went on sale to great acclaim. It went through three editions, launching the career of the first gastronomical critic.
This collection also features works of the well-known authors, Voltaire and Mirabeau (their Les Soirées Philosophiques du Cuisinier de Roi de Prusse (1785) and Sur Les Actions de la Compagnie des Eaux de Paris (1785) respectively), Antoine de Rivarol’s De the universality of the French language (1784) on the origins and characteristics of the French language, and several texts criticizing the social, economic, and political situation in France during the reign of King Louis XVI (r. 1774-92).
An extremely rare allegorical work from 1784 rounds out the collection. Using the pen name Francisco Xaviero de Meunrios, Louis de Bourbon (Louis XVI’s brother) who became King Louis XVIII (r. 1814-24), composed Historical description of a symbolic monster, taken living on the shores of Lake Fagua, near Santa-Fé, by Francisco Xaviero de Meunrios, Count of Barcelona and Viceroy of the New World. Sent by a local merchant to a Parisian friend.
The Description features two engravings of monstrous harpies; this is timely as Courier de L’Europe reported about these creatures for the first time in the same year. Their discovery in Santa Fé, Peru at Lake Fagua resulted in numerous depictions. It is extremely rare for both male and female amphibious monsters to appear in this type of printed tract and when they do, the plates are generally lacking.
Information used in this post provided by Gerald W. Cloud, Rare Books, Manuscripts, Archives, Petaluma, CA.
Rare Books and Special Collections is pleased to have acquired The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica. This 1789 edition of Dr. Patrick Browne’s description of the Caribbean Island, contains 49 stunning color plates, illustrated by Georg Dionysius Ehret, one of the period’s most lauded and influential botanical and entomological artists. The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica includes an account of the British colony’s governmental and economic structure at the time, a description of the soil and fossil content of the island, as well as a comprehensive account of its flora and fauna.
Patrick Browne was born in Ireland in 1720. Educated as a botanist and physician, he made the harrowing transatlantic journey six times in his life, collecting, organizing, and cataloging the natural history of not only Jamaica, but several British sugar colonies of the West Indies. In his preface to the section which catalogues the animal life of Jamaica, Browne muses eloquently on the purpose of such a book as his. Beyond its scientific value as a simple taxonomy, the creatures cataloged in his book offer important knowledge to do with a range of topics. Browne writes:
…the Naturalist endeavors to observe the peculiar forms, differences, classes and general properties of all. The nature of society we may learn from the Castor, and the rules of government, industry and friendship, from the Ant and the Bee. The little Nautilus has first taught us to sail; and the uses of the Paddle, the Lever, the Forceps, and the Saw, with a thousand other mechanical powers are daily shewn us by numbers of the insect tribe.
Browne goes on to suggest that works such as his Natural History offer a new, more respectful way of understanding so many of the world’s tiny creatures, which were before only regarded as pests that produce only “filth and putrilage.” Browne writes that is this new kind of scientific inquiry which allows humans to gain new respect, even awe, for all sorts of plants and animals. When one views such intricately drawn, to scale illustrations of a bell flower, a flying fish, or a lobster, one does indeed wonder at the complexity and beauty of such creatures and can’t help but reflect on what humans might still have to learn from the plant and animal kingdoms. At its time of publication, and even now, Browne’s work has been valued as an astonishing addition to natural philosophy and science.
Archives of Natural History notes that Browne’s work on Jamaica “is now considered one of the most significant natural history books of the mid-eighteenth century, in some respects second only to the earliest works of Carl Linnaeus.” In fact, Linnaeus himself—the father of modern taxonomy—wrote from Sweden to Browne, “I never coveted any Book, I know not by what instinct, with more ardour desire than yours .. [and having] obtained it I spent day and night reading it through, I read it over but never enough … Good God how I was transported with desire of a book infinitly [sic] to be commended” and “you ough[t] to be honoured with a golden statue”. Linnaeus also wrote to the English naturalist Peter Collinson that “No author did I ever quit more instructed.” Patrick Browne’s collected physical specimens now reside in the Linnaean Society Collection.
Throughout his life, and during his retirement in Ireland, Browne catalogued the flora and fauna of County Galway and of his home, County Mayo. His manuscript on Irish flora was published in the handsome Flowers of Mayo: Dr. Patrick Browne’s Fasciculus Plantarum Hibernicae 1788, edited and with substantial commentaries by Charles Nelson of the Irish National Botanic Gardens. This book, with color plates by Wendy Walsh, may also be viewed in the Hesburgh Special Collections.
Dr. Browne was known as a gentle and generous man by his colleagues. He married an Antiguan woman who lived with him in Ireland until his death on August 29th, 1790.
This small poster (11 ½” x 18”) advertises “The First Annual Miss de Meanor Beauty Contest” by the Cockettes, an avant-garde, hippie theater group that became known for experimental, free spirited performances of cross-dressing and musical theater. The ensemble formed in 1969 with men and women from the Kaliflower commune in San Francisco. They first gained attention by performing parodies of musical theater songs (in full costume and makeup) at the city’s Palace Theater before a regular Saturday night underground film showcase, the Nocturnal Dream Show. The Cockettes created shows titled, “Gone with the Showboat to Oklahoma,” and “Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma.”
The evening’s special feature, “Lady Divine,” refers to Divine, a drag queen and stage name of Harris Glenn Milstead. Divine had already achieved countercultural acclaim playing characters in John Waters’ films (Mondo Trasho, 1969; Pink Flamingos, 1972) before this San Francisco appearance. She joined the Cockettes at one of their Palace Theater shows (“Journey to the Center of Uranus”) and then as Miss de Meanor in this performance at the House of Good, another underground cultural venue in the city. Other characters in the show included Miss Shapen, Miss Used, and Miss Conception.
Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an important work on the persecution of Catholics in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, De persecutione anglicana libellus, by the English Jesuit Robert Parsons (1546-1610). Parsons accompanied St. Edmund Campion on his mission to England in 1580, but while Campion was captured and eventually executed, Parsons was able to flee the country. He built a printing press in Rouen (France) and in 1597 became the rector of the English College in Rome.
This 1582 edition, published in Rome, includes two letters by the Jesuit martyr Alexander Briant, the first of which alludes to the interrogation of Campion.
Hesburgh Libraries is pleased to announce that we have acquired the second edition of Boniifazio Simonetta’s De Christiane Fidei et Romanorum Pontificum Persecutionibus Opus, printed in Basel by Nicolaus Kessler, December 1509. This fascinating work is really encyclopedic in scope; the basic narrative deals with the history of the persecution of Christians, but also includes 179 letters by the author to a wide circle of his contemporaries, including such renowned figures of the Italian Renaissance as Lorenzo de Medici, Ludovico Sforza, Pico della Mirandola, and Pope Innocent VIII. This correspondence, interspersed throughout the text, treats a wide range of disparate subjects, including classical history, mythology, music, geography, botany, agriculture, medicine, physics, astronomy, and astrology. This second edition also includes a dedicatory preface by Jerome Emser, a prominent German theologian and Catholic opponent of Luther.
We have identified only other seven other North American holdings of this edition.
Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired two important works (bound together) concerning the historical slave trade of Christians. The first, Dominique Busnot’s Histoire du regne de Mouley Ismael, roy de Maroc, Fez, Tafilet, Souz, &c. (Rouen, 1714), treats the reign of Moulay Ismail ibn Sharif, Sultan of Morocco from 1672-1727, under whom the Kingdom of Morocco reached the zenith of its power and influence. Ibn Sharif controlled a fleet of corsairs based at Rabat which supplied him with Christian slaves and weapons through their raids in the Mediterranean and all the way to the Black Sea. The work also includes accounts of three voyages undertaken by the Trinitarian religious order to Ceuta and Meknes in Morocco in order to redeem some of these slaves and a list of names of the redeemed captives, as well as the lengths of their respective imprisonments.
The second work, Busnot’s La tradition de l’Eglise, dans le soulagement ou le rachat des esclaves, also published at Rouen in 1714, offers a more general study concerning the church’s practice of redeeming Christian slaves through the centuries.
We have found only one other North American holding for these works bound together that features separate title pages for each.
Visiting scholar Enrico Terrinoni will contribute to a round table discussion here in our reading room. On this occasion, he will present the Library with a valuable addition to our James Joyce collection, the six-volume Italian translation of Finnegans Wake, which he, along with Fabio Pedone, completed and which was published on May 4 this year.
The event, ‘Finnegans Wake: On Infinite Translation’, will be held at 4:30 on Monday, November 18, and is sponsored by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and the Center for Italian Studies. It is open to the public. Beginning at 3:30, we plan to host a ‘pop-up display’ of books from our Joyce collection, so those who come early may enjoy seeing rare and interesting items from our special collections.
A decade ago, a professor enquired about the sixty-three volume James Joyce Archive, a major publication containing facsimiles of manuscripts by Joyce, edited and annotated by Joyce scholars. As this was published before the establishment of Irish studies at Notre Dame, the Hesburgh is not one of the libraries that had purchased the expensive collection in 1978, and it was next to impossible to find a set on the market at this stage.
Having followed a number of online bookseller descriptions advertising expensive publications described as the James Joyce Archive, only to find that the publisher’s prospectus alone was the usual item for sale (and highly priced), eventually a phone call to Ohio resulted in a conversation with bookseller Daniel Wenzel. Not only did Mr. Wenzel have a large number of these volumes for sale, he had been collecting books related to Joyce and particularly to Finnegans Wake for many years, and was ready to part with his collection. So a purchase was made, greatly enriching the Hesburgh Library’s collection of Joyce, with critical works, editions of Joyce, translations, and adaptations.
Translations acquired at that time include Finnegans Wake in Japanese, Korean and German, and a Czech translation of Anna Livia Plurabella. There are also creative works based on Joyce’s books, including musical arrangements, drawings, and fine press productions.
The collection acquired from Daniel Wenzel complemented the Joyce collection already in existence. Highlights of this collection are the first edition of Ulysses, the limited edition of Joyce’s Mangan, and a Limited Editions Club printing of Ulysses with illustrations by Henri Matisse. This book was a gift of Donald and Marilyn Keough at the time the Keough Institute (now the Keough-Naughton Institute) was founded, and it currently features in the Snite Museum’s Irish art exhibition, Looking at the Stars: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame.
The Italian translation will be a very welcome addition to this collection, and we expect this collection to add to the enjoyment and inspiration of many scholars in the coming years.