Upcoming Events: May and through the summer

No events are scheduled to be hosted this summer in Rare Books and Special Collections.

Please note that beginning in July, our “Upcoming Events” posts will shift from running on the first Monday of the month to running on the last Monday of the preceding month (i.e., the post on July 25 will feature upcoming events in August, etc.).

The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – May 2022) and Fifties Flair and Seventies Feminism Presented by Two Magazines (May 2022).

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


Rare Books and Special Collections is open
regular hours during the summer —
9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

RBSC will be closed Monday, May 30th, for Memorial Day and Monday, July 4th, for Independence Day.

Spotlight Exhibit: Remembering Early England

The April spotlight exhibit, Remembering Early England, brings together diverse materials that reveal the power of memory. Featuring an eleventh-century coin, a fifteenth-century medieval manuscript, an early printed grammar book, and a Victorian map, this exhibit is a sample of the breadth of the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections. Each object represents the different ways that each generation has depicted the early English period (ca. 449 – 1066), whether or not their version of history reflected reality.

For 500 years, the area now conceived of as England was inhabited by diverse populations: the Welsh, Picts, Cornish, Angles, Jutes, Saxons, Danes, Franks, Icelanders, Irish, and Frisians. In fact, England was not considered a unified country until the tenth century when Aethelstan became the first King of the English. However, later inhabitants of England, particularly those in power, portrayed early England as homogenous, stable, and a romantic pre-figuration of themselves and their ideals.

This exhibit was co-curated by Dr. David T. Gura, Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts, and Anne Elise Crafton, PhD Candidate in the Medieval Institute and Graduate Curatorial Assistant, and can be viewed in 102 Hesburgh Library from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm on weekdays.

Upcoming Events: April and early May

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

Tuesday, April 5 at 4:00pm | “Piranesi’s Lost Book” by Heather Minor (Notre Dame).

POSTPONED—NEW DATE WILL BE ANNOUNCED WHEN KNOWN: Thursday, April 7 at 4:30pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).

Rare Books and Special Collections will be open regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (April 27 – May 5). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and Remembering Early England (March-April 2022).

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

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed April 15 in observance of Good Friday.

We will resume regular hours
(Monday – Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm)
on Monday, April 18.

Upcoming Events: March and early April

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

Thursday, March 24 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “We, the People: Strategies of Representation in the Italian Novel” by Roberto Dainotto (Duke). The Spring lectures are being planned in a hybrid online and in-person format; registration for online access is available via the event description page. Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

DATE & TIME UPDATED – Tuesday, April 5 at 4:00pm | “Piranesi’s Lost Book” by Heather Minor (Notre Dame).

Thursday, April 7 at 4:30pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and Remembering Early England (March – April 2022, opening soon).

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

Upcoming Events: February and early March

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

Wednesday, February 9 at 2:00pm – 5:00pm | Celebration: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The semester-long Ulysses exhibition will be supplemented by a temporary ‘pop-up’ display of books and art. Visitors are welcome to come during any part of the afternoon. At 3:30, there will be a short talk titled “Joyce, Proust, Paris, 1922” by Professor Barry McCrea.

Registration is encouraged but not required. Read more and register


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibits both feature materials relating to the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and David Lilburn’s Eccles Street Print (January – February 2022).

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

Ulysses 100 at Hesburgh Libraries

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

The event scheduled for February 2 has been postponed, due to weather concerns.

At Hesburgh Libraries, along with the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, we look forward to participating in the worldwide celebration on February 2nd of the one hundredth anniversary of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The very first copies of the first edition of Ulysses were received from the printer on Joyce’s fortieth birthday, February 2nd, 1922. Sylvia Beach, the publisher, delivered a copy to James Joyce on that day. 

Of the thousand copies printed in that first edition, almost one hundred are currently in U.S. libraries. Our copy will be on display in our exhibition room throughout the semester.

Parts of Joyce’s novel had earlier been published serially in America in The Little Review, a magazine edited by Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap. This came to the attention of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, and eventually the magazine had to cease publication of the novel and it was banned by the United States Post Office.

Joyce subsequently had difficulty finding a publisher, and Sylvia Beach, owner of Paris bookshop and lending library Shakespeare and Company, agreed to publish the book. Every detail along the way, from finding typists who would agree to type the text through distributing (sometimes smuggling) the book to readers, forms an interesting story. Much of the story is recounted in Noel Riley Fitch’s book, Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation (1983).

Another great champion of Joyce’s writing was publisher Harriet Weaver, whose Egoist Press in England published a number of his works. Her edition of Ulysses was also published in 1922 and our copy is on display. 

Also in the display case is a magazine in which unauthorized episodes were published, alongside a printed copy of the protest, signed by 167 artists and writers, against this piracy.

In a separate case, we will exhibit a print by the late Irish artist David Lilburn – Eccles Street, from In Medias Res: The Ulysses Maps: A Dublin Odyssey. This print will be available for viewing through the month of February.

The Celebration

On Joyce’s 140th birthday, we will host a special event in the Hesburgh Library, with the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.

Professor Barry McCrea will speak on ‘Joyce, Proust, Paris, 1922’, and the launch of the ‘100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses‘ exhibit will be complemented by a one-afternoon temporary display.

Further information on this event is available here: https://irishstudies.nd.edu/events/2022/02/02/celebration-100-years-of-james-joyces-ulysses/

Welcome to Spring 2022 in Rare Books & Special Collections

The University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Libraries, Special Collections, and the COVID situation

Due to the spread of highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus, masks are currently required throughout the Hesburgh Library for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. This applies to all Rare Books & Special Collections spaces.

All visitors to campus are required to wear masks inside campus buildings at all times until further notice. Up-to-date information regarding campus policies is provided at covid.nd.edu.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

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

Thursday, January 27 at 4:30pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Scales of Responsibility: The Dark Side of Italo Calvino” by Maria Anna Mariani (University of Chicago). Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

[The event scheduled for February 2 has been postponed, due to weather concerns.]

Wednesday, February 2, from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm | Celebration: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses: An event celebrating the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses will be hosted in Special Collections, with a display of Ulysses-themed treasures from the vault of the Hesburgh Library and the reading of short excerpts from Ulysses in several languages.

Spring Semester Exhibits

The spring exhibit will feature Medieval Bibles and biblical texts and is in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. The exhibit, curated by David T. Gura, Ph.D., will open in January and run through the semester.

The spotlight exhibits for January and February will feature first editions of Joyce’s Ulysses and related items, in honor of the centenary of Ulysses publication.

Classes in Special Collections

Throughout the semester, curators teach sessions related to our holdings. If you’re interested in bringing your class or group to work with our curators and materials, please contact Special Collections.

Recent Acquisitions

Special Collections acquires new material throughout the year. Watch our blog for announcements about recent acquisitions.

Medieval Manuscripts from the Ferrell Collection on Exhibit

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

In October 2017, six medieval manuscripts were donated to the University of Notre Dame from the private collection of James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell. The manuscripts have been accessioned into their own fond: “Ferrell Manuscripts.” Through Mr. and Mrs. Ferrell’s generosity, the breadth of the University’s collection of medieval and renaissance manuscripts has been augmented significantly.

The collection’s best examples of Northern High and Late Medieval illumination now come from the Ferrell fond: a fully historiated, complete Parisian Bible from the Vie de St. Denis Atelier (Ferrell MS 1),  a masterfully painted Book of hours in Grisailles from the “Betremieu Group” (Ferrell MS 2), and a miniature of the Trinity (Ferrell MS 3) from the “Master of the First Prayer Book of Maximilian”—the collection’s sole example of trompe l’oeil  borders, which were perfected in Dutch manuscript painting.

Likewise, the gift also constitutes the collection’s most illustrative examples of Late Medieval Italian illumination: a cutting of John the Baptist painted by “The Second Master of the Antiphonary M of San Giorgio Maggiore” (Ferrell MS 4), and a leaf from an Office Book illuminated by the Franciscan friar, Fra Antonio da Monza (Ferrell MS 6). In addition to these examples of Italian painting, a tarot card depicting the biscione (serpent) of  the Visconti-Sforza family of Milan (Ferrell MS 5) provides a rare example of Trionfi cards popular among the Italian elite. 

The Ferrell Collection is on exhibit for the Fall Semester 2021 in Rare Books and Special Collections and is also available digitally.

The Ferrell Bible (Ferrell MS 1)
The Ferrell Bible was illuminated by the artisans of the Vie de St. Denis Atelier in Paris, ca. 1240. The Vie de St. Denis Atelier was among the most active paintshops from 1230–1250, to which over forty different manuscripts have been attributed. The atelier painted small and large Bibles, liturgical and devotional manuscripts, civil and canon law books, and institutional volumes such as the privileges of St.-Martin des Champs and the Libellus of St.-Denis. A diverse clientele acquired books from the atelier, which included local patrons like the cathedral, St.-Denis, St.-Martin des Champs, St.-Maur de Fossés, and a Carthusian house in Paris. Regionally, clients from Copmiègne, Rouen, Sens, and Châlon-sur-Marne also visited the atelier for books.

View the entire Ferrell Bible.

The Ferrell Hours (Ferrell MS 2)
The Ferrell Hours was produced in French Flanders in the later fifteenth century. The manuscript forms part of the “Betremieu” Group, a small group of books of hours which were made in Hainaut ca. 1460-1470. All miniatures in the Ferrell Hours were painted using the Grisaille technique. Quite rare and luxurious, the Grisaille technique uses only hues of gray.

View the complete Ferrell Hours.

Miniature of the Holy Trinity (Ferrell MS 3)
This miniature of the Trinity belongs to a group of manuscripts associated with the “Master of the First Prayer Book of Maximilian,” who was active ca. 1475-1515. The recto side was originally blank as the miniature was painted on the verso and imported–one of the hallmarks of Flemish origin. The borders are extremely well executed examples of the trompe l’oeil technique, which was perfected in Dutch manuscript painting. Ferrell MS 3 is Notre Dame’s only example of trompe l’oeil in a medieval manuscript.
Cutting from a choirbook (Ferrell MS 4)
The painter of this historiated initial featuring John the Baptist is known as “The Second Master of the Antiphonary M of San Giorgio Maggiore.” The long sobriquet derives from an antiphonary illuminated for San Giorgio Maggiore by Belbella da Pavia c. 1467–1470, to which our painter contributed four initials. “The Second Master of the Antiphonary M of San Giorgio Maggiore” was active in the Veneto and also contributed paintings to a well-known set of choirbooks for the Benedictine Abbey of San Sisto in Piacenza. 
Visconti-Sforza Tarot Card (Ferrell MS 5)
This tarot card depicts the biscione—a heraldic crowned serpent shown consuming a human child. The biscione was first associated with the Visconti of Milan (1277–1477). The motif became emblematic of the Duchy of Milan, and was then used in the heraldry of the Sforza family. The Sforzas ruled the Duchy of Milan (1450–1535) after the Visconti family.
Fragment of an Office Book illuminated by Fra Antonio da Monza (Ferrell MS 6)
Fra Antonio da Monza was a Franciscan friar and manuscript illuminator who was active in Italy ca. 1480-1505. Several liturgical books and miniatures have been attributed to him since he was identified, including this manuscript which had previously been attributed to Giovan Pietro Birago (ca. 1480-1490).

Upcoming Events: March and early April

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

CANCELLED Thursday, March 26 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Points of View: ‘The People’ in the 19th-Century Italian Novel” by Roberto Dainotto (Duke).

Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

CANCELLED Saturday, March 28 at 10:00am-noon | Exhibit Event: “Animals, Animals, and More Animals: The Zoo Comes to Special Collections”

Scholars Lounge (10:00-11:00am)
Special Collections (11:00am-noon)

 In order to protect the health and wellness of our community, this event has been canceled. We will share more information on rescheduling, as appropriate, at a later date.

CANCELLED Thursday, April 2 at 5:00pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Niccolò Acciaiuoli: Contradiction and Interdisciplinarity in the Study of Trecento Italy” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).

Each year, thanks to the Albert J. and Helen M. Ravarino Family Endowment for Excellence, the Center for Italian Studies sponsors a public lecture by a distinguished scholar of Italian Studies.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, is open and will run through the summer. This is an exhibit of rare zoological books featuring early printed images of animals. We welcome classes and other groups of any age and would love to tailor a tour for your students and your curriculum — and if you can’t come to campus, the curators can bring the exhibit to you. Watch for forthcoming announcements of additional related events!

For more information about the exhibit or to set up a visit, contact curators Julie Tanaka and Erika Hosselkus.

The current spotlight exhibits are: John Ruskin and Popular Taste (February – April 2020), featuring materials from Special Collections relating to the Ruskin Conference that was held at Notre Dame in February, and The Papers of Mary Taussig Hall, a selection of items from the collection documenting her legacy and path to activism (March 2020).

RBSC is open regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm)
during Notre Dame’s Spring Break (March 9 – 13)

Upcoming Events: February and early March

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

Thursday, February 20 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: MA student research presentations.

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, is now open and will run through the summer. This is an exhibit of rare zoological books featuring early printed images of animals. We welcome classes and other groups of any age and would love to tailor a tour for your students and your curriculum — and if you can’t come to campus, the curators can bring the exhibit to you. Watch for forthcoming announcements of additional related events!

For more information about the exhibit or to set up a visit, contact curators Julie Tanaka and Erika Hosselkus.

The current spotlight exhibits are: John Ruskin and Popular Taste (February – April 2020) and Ruskin, Turner, and Popular Taste (February 2020), both featuring materials from Special Collections relating to the Ruskin Conference being held at Notre Dame in February.