University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

The Sweetman Family Library

Title page from the Sweetman Family Library
Le Curé de Wakefield. Translation by M. J. B. Biset of Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield. Dublin, 1797.

In 1997, the Richard C. Sweetman ('58) family of Sioux Falls, South Dakota established the Sweetman Family Collection in Irish Studies in honor of Richard S. and Evelyn O'Rourke Sweetman.

In addition to the endowment, Richard C. and his siblings, Mary Borman, Gerald Sweetman, Sophie McConnell, and Kathleen Rothenberger, donated more than 470 volumes that came from an ancestral home named Clohamon in the county of Wexford, Ireland.

The first member of the Sweetman family to occupy Clohamon was the liberal Catholic Irish poet and author Walter Sweetman (1830-1905). Most of the volumes in the collection were inherited or acquired by Walter Sweetman. The collection includes copies of his own works as well as eighteenth and nineteenth century books on subjects ranging from history, biography and literature to religion, economics, agriculture, astronomy and physics.

Many are Irish imprints, such as a four-volume folio edition of Chambers' Dictionary (one of the earliest English encyclopedias) published in Dublin in 1787 and a three-volume folio set of the Douay Bible published in 1815, also in Dublin. Other fine sets include Hume's A History of England in eight volumes (1775) and Edgeworth's Tales of Fashionable Life in five volumes (1815). Also present are bound sets of the Gentleman's Magazine and the Edinburgh Review.

The collection also includes several manuscript items: two letter books and a cash account book of Michael Sweetman (Walter's father) and a letter book of Walter Sweetman with entries covering the years 1861-1905. A genealogical chart tracing the Sweetman family roots back 10 generations to the early 1700s also accompanies the collection.

Two years after the death of Walter Sweetman's widow in 1914, the Clohamon property passed to their son, Major Michael James Sweetman, and then in 1938 to his nephew, Richard S. Sweetman of Sioux Falls, SD. In 1958, the property was sold to Sir Richard Levinge, and in 1974 the contents of the house, including the papers and library, were shipped to South Dakota. Unfortunately, many of the goods suffered water damage during the ocean transit and about two-thirds of the original library was lost. Nevertheless, what remains at Notre Dame provides an interesting glimpse into the book collecting and reading habits of a turn-of-the-century Irish Catholic gentry family.

To view a list of titles, enter "Sweetman Collection" in the Library search form.