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Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Physical Exhibits in Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections regularly presents exhibits of materials from its holdings in our Exhibit Room (102 Hesburgh Library, at the west end of the 1st floor concourse) and on our Web site.

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

Currently on Display

Vestigia Vaticana: An exhibition of papal manuscripts, books, and more

Graphic for the exhibit.

May 5-August 15, 2016

Manuscripts, incunabula, seals, maps, engravings, and printed books from the thirteenth century to the present highlight how the Holy Father has left his mark on society. These materials from RBSC, together with a great bull on loan from Saint Mary's College, are featured in the new exhibit “Vestigia Vaticana.” The exhibit's opening coincided with the conference The Promise of the Vatican Library, being held May 8–10, 2016, at the University of Notre Dame.

These materials are like the Vatican's footprints. They provide a trail for us to follow to get a glimpse of the official acts of the Holy Father, of books that belonged to popes, of events the general public wasn't privy to. Take a stroll through the exhibit to see these papal bulls, apostolic briefs, a papal conclave print, a ground plan of Rome, and various other pieces.

This exhibit is curated by Dr. David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts).

Related Events


The Promise of the Vatican Library
May 8-10, 2016

An international academic conference highlighting the holdings of the Vatican Library and opportunities for future research.

Snite Exhibit:

The Promise of the Vatican Library
May 8-22, 2016

An exhibition of twelve works from the Vatican Library's vast holdings supplements the conference. These objects, including Greek and Latin manuscripts, early printed books, fifteenth-century music, numismatics, and sixteenth- and seventeenth-century representations of the Eternal City.

Spotlight Exhibit

The Elisabeth Markstein Archive

August 2016

Elisabeth Markstein (1929-2013) was the daughter of a high-ranking communist official in Austria. Because of these communist connections and because her mother was Jewish, the family fled Vienna when Nazi Germany annexed the country in 1938. Eventually, the family found refuge in the Soviet Union, where Elisabeth spent her formative years from the late 1930s through the war years. After the war Markstein went on to earn a Ph.D. in Russian literature at the U. of Vienna and to study at the Translation Institute. In the 1950s she began a long career as a teacher, literary scholar, and award-winning translator.

From her youth she maintained close ties with the international communist and workers’ movement; however, during the 1960s such events as the suppression of the “Prague Spring” contributed to changing her attitude toward the leadership in the Soviet Union. She became a staunch supporter of the dissident writers in Russia, and she will always be remembered for the key role she played in bringing the literary work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to the West, acting as the author’s personal liaison and connecting him with the Swiss attorney Fritz Heeb. Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in 1970, and from the late 1960s through 1974 when he was exiled from the Soviet Union, Markstein was the linchpin of a network of émigré connections, translators, and contacts within the USSR.

This archive consists of personal documents, correspondence (family, personal, and professional), papers dealing with Solzhenitsyn, scholarly research materials, photographs, and finally, audio and computer files.

The exhibit is curated by Ken Kinslow, Manuscripts Processing Librarian.


Native American Literature before 1924

Portrait under glass of Dante Alighieri in red robe.

Spring 2016

"We are red men still, even though we have plucked the feathers from our war bonnets and are using them for pens. The battle scene has shifted and the contest becomes one of brain and wit."

—Arthur C. Parker (Seneca)

Native American writers such as Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d'Alene), Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), and Notre Dame alumna Kimberly Blaeser (Anishinaabe) are widely recognized as prominent authors and recipients of national book awards. Their work represents a small fraction of the published work—fiction, poetry, and nonfiction prose—which for two centuries has challenged stereotypes of Native people, corrected historical and anthropological narratives of cultural conflict and change, and perhaps most importantly, promoted specific identities, political sovereignties, and rights of self-determination.

To honor this legacy, this exhibit presents a small sampling of the literature produced before 1924, when passage of the Indian Citizenship Act granted citizenship to all Native Americans.

The exhibit is curated by Robert Walls, Teaching Professor of Native American Studies and Laura Dassow Walls, Professor, English Department.


For information about previous spotlight exhibits, please refer to the History of Spotlight Exhibits page.

Upcoming Exhibits

Fall 2016

"Ingenious Exercises: Print and Physical Culture in Early Modern Europe"

Spring 2017

Catholic Americana

Suggest an Exhibit

Many of the exhibits presented by the Department of Special Collections are produced in collaboration with members of the Notre Dame teaching and research faculty and are scheduled to coincide with significant academic conferences at the University. If you have a suggestion for a future exhibit and/or would like to assist in producing one, please contact Special Collections at 631-0290 or by e-mail.