University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Physical Exhibits in Special Collections

The Department of Special Collections regularly presents thematic exhibits of materials from its holdings in the Special Collections Exhibit Room, 102 Hesburgh Library, and on our Web site. Please follow the links in the menu at left for more information about our exhibits and exhibition schedule.

Currently on Display

The Power of My Pen to Describe: Ten American Diaries, 1750 to 1900

August 29 to December 19, 2014

Graphic for the exhibit.

As a textual form, the diary is an autobiographical narrative whose daily or periodic entries record the writer’s experiences, observations, and reflections. The maintenance of diaries has been a familiar feature of American culture, high and low, since the 17th century.

The Power of my Pen to Describe showcases a selection of American manuscript diaries written over a period of some 150 years, 1745 to 1896. Some of the texts treat singular episodes in their authors’ lives, like travel on the Oregon Trail or service in the Civil War. Others are diaries of the quotidian, treating the everyday experiences of (for example) a Massachusetts textile worker or a Washington DC socialite. All items in the exhibit derive from the North American manuscript holdings in the Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections.


Rare Books & Special Collections
102 Hesburgh Library,
at the west end of the 1st Floor Concourse

Open to the public:

9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

This exhibit is curated by George Rugg (RBSC Curator of North American Manuscripts).

For information on other exhibits currently on display eslewhere in the University Libraries, please refer to the Libraries exhibits page.

Spotlight Exhibits

New Acquisition: The Patrick McCabe Papers

October 2014

Photograph of the display.

The Hesburgh Library recently acquired the papers of Irish writer Patrick McCabe. A leading Irish writer and former Distinguished Keough Visiting Professor at Notre Dame, McCabe was twice shortlisted for the Booker prize for his novels The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto. Born in Clones, County Monaghan in 1955, he is a writer of novels, short stories, plays and film scripts, and has been in the forefront of the Irish literary scene for the past thirty years at least.




New Acquisition: The Badin Bible

Fall Semester 2014

Photograph of the display.

The Badin Bible is a landmark addition to the collection of Catholic Americana in the Hesburgh Libraries' Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. The Bible's provenance embraces three meaningful firsts in the history of the United States: the printing of the first Catholic Bible in the U.S., by Matthew Carey, in 1790; the appointment of the first Bishop in the United States, John Carroll, in 1790; and the ordination of the first priest in the United States, Stephen Badin, in 1793. The later work of Stephen Badin, as a missionary to the Middle West, connects this Bible to the University of Notre Dame. [More...]


Badin Bible Symposium: October 10, 2014, 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Sponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism and hosted by Rare Books and Special Collection.

This event is free and open to the public.


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

Upcoming Exhibits

Fall 2015

Early Modern Germany

Spring 2016

Centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland

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.