University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Modern European Cultures

Detail from Plate 33 ("Fähnriche und Führer") in Die kaiserlich königlich oesterreichische Armee im Laufe zweyer Jahrhunderte by Fritz L'Allemand (Wien : J. Bermann & Sohn, 1849).

Rare Books and Special Collections holds materials spanning roughly from 1500 to present that document targeted areas of modern European history and cultures. Prominent among these holdings are the British, Irish, and Italian collections that include correspondence, literature, drawings, newspapers, and other printed materials. The Polievktov-Nikoladze Family Papers provide a new, important set of sources for studying the origins of modern Russia.

In addition to these collections is a wide variety of materials including manuscripts, books, coins, postage stamps, and printed ephemera from across Europe, including Austria, Germany, and France. RBSC also has a substantial number of artifacts related to early printed books, ecclesiastical matters, European authors, and fine presses.

The collection documenting early print culture in Europe contains works written in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, German, and Italian. Many of these volumes treat the history of universities and complement the Medieval Institute's History of Universities collection. Supplementing these volumes are significant early printed books including both the German and Latin editions of Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia, Nicolaus Copernicus' De revolutionibus, and Pico della Mirandola's Opera (allegedly owned by Christopher Columbus).

Complementing Notre Dame's extensive resources pertaining to the Church and ecclesiastic subjects are the collections from the Olmütz Monastic Libraries and the Dominican Convent of St. Raymond of Peñafort. There are over 500 volumes that deal with theology, church history, canon law, heresy, monastic records, and other ecclesiastical subjects between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

Author collections representing the great traditions of European scholarly and literary pursuits contain original works, editions, translations, letters, sketches, photographs, ephemera, and secondary scholarship of English, French, Italian, and Irish authors. Among these notable figures are René Descartes, George Berkeley, Edmund Burke, G. K. Chesterton, Eric Gill, and Primo Levi.

An extensive collection of fine press printing materials includes both American and European presses. The most extensive collections are for the Kelmscott Press and Cuala Press. Also in the collection are Stanbrook Abbey Press and Golden Cockerel Press. In addition to the fine press material is the Penguin Editions Collection that contains more than 12,500 items published by Penguin Books, which was founded in Harmondsworth, England in 1935.