University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Previous Exhibits: 2005-2010

1974-2000 | 2000-2005 | 2005-2010 | 2010-2015

Words on Play: Baseball Literature Before 1900

August 23, 2010 — December 20, 2010

"Words on Play" was an exhibit of early baseball publications and manuscripts drawn from the holdings in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame. Over the course of the nineteenth century, American baseball evolved from a localized folk game of English origin to a codified sport of broad popular appeal, commonly cited as the "National Pastime." Clubs of young men dedicated to playing the game began to appear in earnest in the New York City area in the second quarter of the century; the rules they established became the basis for the sport as we know it today. In the post-Civil War years baseball became thoroughly commodified: crowds of paying spectators gathered in enclosed "parks" to watch celebrated professionals compete at an elite level. By 1900 baseball had entered the mainstream of American popular culture, and had been imbued with many of the mythologies that would persist in the minds of its celebrants well into the twentieth century: baseball as pastoral ideal, baseball as an exercise in democracy, baseball as secular religion. As a recreational form, then, baseball originated in England, but as a form of sport it is American, for it was in America that the game became standardized, organized and popular—and, one might add, the subject of a literature.

The printed word both recorded baseball's growth and stimulated it. In the first few decades of the nineteenth century the game is mentioned mainly in children's recreational manuals. Baseball's rapid rise after mid-century was accompanied by a growing commentary, mainly in sporting newspapers and paper-bound annual guides, describing, discussing, and otherwise publicizing the game. By the 1880s and 90s coverage of professional baseball in urban daily newspapers had became routine, and many of the familiar genres of baseball book—histories, autobiographies, fiction—had made their appearance. Baseball journalists—who authored many of the books in this exhibit—never tired of emphasizing their contribution to the game's success, and that contribution was no doubt great. Still, the number of baseball monographs published in the nineteenth century was not large; "Words on Play" brought together copies of most of the key publications of baseball's early history.

All Art Is Propaganda: An Eric Gill Exhibition

February 22, 2010 — August 6, 2010

Eric Gill (1882-1940) was an English engraver, sculptor, typographer, and writer. A social reformer as well as a designer, his activities straddled a variety of disciplines and intellectual movements. Gill began his career in London, but in 1907 moved to the small village of Ditchling, Sussex. With the presence of Gill, Edward Johnston, Hilary Pepler and others, Ditchling emerged as the home for a community of artists and designers who banded together to create the Guild of Saint Joseph and Saint Dominic.

All Art Is Propaganda was an exhibition organized by University of Notre Dame undergraduate students Micahlyn Allen, Kelly Fallon, and Juliana Hoffelder under the direction of John Sherman of the Department of Art, Art History,& Design. During the fall of 2009, the group met weekly in Special Collections to work firsthand with the materials and also travelled to London to research connections between materials held at Notre Dame and other institutions. The resulting exhibition examined Gill’s distinctive synthesis of traditional and modern sensibilities that position his work at a unique intersection of modern art, design and culture.

Micahlyn Allen, a Graphic Design major, explored how her creative process as an artist can be best understood when seen in the light of honoring God’s act of creation. This is an approach that Eric Gill, Philip Hagreen, and others took in their work.

Kelly Fallon examined the collection from an Art Historian’s point of view. Kelly saw the sacred foundation central to Eric Gill’s religious work extending into his public commissions as well.

Juliana Hoffelder, a Political Science major, looked at Gill’s work from a political perspective. Juliana researched how Gill’s religious beliefs gave him the vocabulary to increasingly make provocative political statements with his artwork.

Two articles in the Notre Dame Observer profiled this exhibit and the group’s excursion to London and Ditchling.

Abraham Lincoln at Notre Dame

August 28, 2009 — December 21, 2009

Among the holdings in the Hesburgh Libraries’ Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a small but significant body of nineteenth century materials relating to Abraham Lincoln. There are, for example, several signed documents dating from Lincoln’s years in the White House; groups of printed items from the presidential campaign of 1860, and from the months following Lincoln’s assassination in 1865; important editions of early biographies, including those by Isaac Arnold, William Herndon, and Nicolay and Hay; and the working manuscript of a lecture on Lincoln by the Irish writer Bram Stoker.

Many of the items in this exhibit came to the Libraries in 1967, as gifts of Walter J. Trohan (ND ‘26). Walter Trohan is best remembered as a political journalist, whose work at the Chicago Tribune culminated in a long tenure as the paper’s Washington bureau chief (1949-1969). But he was also a book collector of note; some 500 of his first and fine editions (mostly in the areas of British and American literature, and, of course, Lincoln) now grace the rare books holdings in Special Collections. Trohan’s first bequest of books was in 1957; he continued to present items from his collection, on an annual basis, for many years. In this, the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, we took the opportunity to present a body of materials that were a particular passion of one of Special Collections’ most important benefactors.

The Libraries also wish to thank University Archives, who for the purposes of this exhibit graciously lent two Lincoln manuscripts from their collections.

This exhibit was curated by George Rugg, Curator for Special Collections.

Catholic Voices of Reformation: Scholarship, Missions and Devotion, 1514-1712

January 23, 2009 — July 17, 2009

Few periods in the history of Christianity were more consequential than the Reformation era, from the fifteenth into the eighteenth centuries. Myths persist about Roman Catholicism in this era as just a rearguard reaction against the Protestant Reformation. In fact, widespread recognition of problems within the Church at every level antedated Martin Luther’s protest against indulgences by more than a century, and inspired a wide range of reforming activism.

The books and photographs displayed in this exhibit reflected various aspects of these efforts as they coincided with the impact of printed books in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Themes covered included the Council of Trent, apologetics, missions, and the roles of humanism, Biblical Studies, and the Jesuits, as well as the revitalization of devotion and piety.

This exhibit was curated by Alan Krieger, Theology/Philosophy Librarian, assisted by Ben Panciera and Sara Weber (Special Collections) and Professor Brad S. Gregory, John McCormack and Hilary Nawrocki (History Department).

Freedom of Christ and Freedom to Read: The Index of Prohibited Books since the Enlightenment

August 22, 2008 — December 19, 2008

The Index of Prohibited Books was created in the 16th century by the Catholic Church in an attempt to control the spread of Protestant doctrine and other undesirable literature. It persisted for over four hundred years before being abolished in 1966. For much of the last two centuries of its existence, it operated in societies that generally presumed that free citizens had a right to read what they wished. This exhibit examines how the Catholic Church sought to influence the circulation of ideas in the 19th and 20th centuries and what sort of material was considered dangerous.

This exhibit was curated by Ben Panciera, Rare Books Librarian and Curator for Special Collections.

Exiles and Emigrants: Writings of the Irish Diaspora

January 21, 2008 — July 18, 2008

Writing into History graphic

The books in this exhibit, dating from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, had one thing in common: They were written by Irish people who lived in other countries. The books represented a number of groups of exiles, such as Franciscan priests in Europe or rebels who found a home in America in the nineteenth century. They also represented emigrants such as Captain Francis O’Neill, one of the greatest collectors of Irish music, who gave his personal library to this University. Others still worked for the British Crown, as military officers or, as in the case of Richard Robert Madden, as a colonial administrator.

The story of the Irish Diaspora is a vast and complex one — this exhibit touched on a few areas of that story.

This exhibit was curated by Aedin Clements, Irish Studies Librarian.

Writing into History: Confederate Cavalry Manuscripts from the O'Grady-Barrier Collection

September 10, 2007 — December 14, 2007

Writing into History graphic

Even after 150 years, the appeal of the Confederate States cavalry for students of the Civil War seems undiminished. Infantrymen may have grumbled that the cavalry were "mounted dandies" who escaped the hardest realities of the war, and subsequent historians could debunk the exploits of men like Stuart and Forrest, but the feeling persists: there was just something about the Southern cavalry. This was the focus of the exhibit Writing into History: Confederate Cavalry Manuscripts from the O'Grady-Barrier Collection, on view in the Department of Special Collections during the fall of 2007.

This exhibit consisted primarily of military records, personal letters, diaries, and other Civil War manuscript material, written by or about members of the cavalry arm of the Confederate States army. There were also printed materials of Confederate origin (books, manuals, broadsides), photographs, and artifacts. All the items in the exhibit have been acquired by the University Libraries over the last four years, through the generosity of Beverly (SMC '63) and Robert (ND '63) O'Grady.

This exhibit was curated by George Rugg, Curator for Special Collections.

Writing the Book of Nature: Botany in Print, 1485-1778

May 30, 2007 — August 28, 2007

May 23, 2007 marked the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist whose system of classification revolutionized the biological sciences. To commemorate this tercentenary, this exhibit featured material from the Edward L. Greene collection of rare botanical books and its especially rich holdings in pre-Linnean materials.

This exhibit documented the development of botany in the early years of printing, including attempts to catalog the natural world, the use of botany in medicine, the lingering influence of the ancient Greek scientific authorities, the impact of global exploration, the continuing presence of magic and superstition in botanical studies, and early attempts at systematizing botanical knowledge. The exhibit concluded with selected first editions of the works of Carolus Linnaeus.

Edward L. Greene was a distinguished botany scholar and book collector who briefly served on the faculty at Notre Dame. His collection, which he willed to the university, comprised 4,000 books, of which 1,700 are currently held in Special Collections. His donation forms one of the richest collections of its kind in the country and one of the jewels of Notre Dame's rare books collection.

This exhibit was curated by Ben Panciera, Rare Books Librarian and Curator for Special Collections.

The Writer's Life: Manuscripts, Correspondence and Publication of Latin American Writers

February 12, 2007 — May 21, 2007

The Writer's Life graphic

This exhibit displayed writers' works from the O'Grady Southern Cone Literature Collection and the José Fernández Hispanic Caribbean Collection. Works by some of the finest Latin American writers of the 20th century were found in this exhibit, including:

  • Reinaldo Arenas, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Macedonio Fernández, Oliverio Girondo, Ricardo Güiraldes, José Lezama Lima, Leopoldo Lugones, Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Silvina Ocampo, Victoria Ocampo, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Manuel Puig.

The exhibit documented the creation, communication, and publication of literature. The creative process is the heart and soul of a writer's life. There were several manuscripts of works in progress and several that have never been published. Correspondence included in the exhibit exemplifies the importance of friends and colleagues in discussing art and life's day-to-day events. Finally, the authors' considerable effort to make their creative efforts available to the public is often overlooked, and so the exhibit included proofs and correspondence centered on the publication process. Together, these materials brought the Latin American writer's world to life.

This exhibit was curated by Scott Van Jacob, Iberian and Latin American Studies Subject Librarian.

Representing College Football: Game Program Cover Art Between the Wars

September 7, 2006 — January 19, 2007

Representing College Football graphic

The years between World Wars I and II marked a high point in the design and execution of college football game program covers. With color photography not yet a viable option, covers were reproduced from prints, paintings, and drawings, executed by campus amateurs and nationally known illustrators alike.

Representing College Football presented some 60 inter-war program covers, drawn from the extensive collection of programs housed in the Libraries' Department of Special Collections.

This exhibit was curated by George Rugg.

Special Collections 101

February 15, 2006 — August 24, 2006

Special Collections 101 exhibit graphic

The Department of Rare Books & Special Collections is home to those Library materials that need special care because of age or scarcity, or because they belong to a particular research collection. This exhibit provided a fundamental introduction to these interesting and unique items.

What makes the items in Special Collections so special? This exhibit answered that and other questions our patrons have brought to us over the years. These questions cover a wide range:

  • What is your oldest book?
  • Does Notre Dame own a Gutenberg Bible?
  • Do you really have a book bound in human skin?

The exhibit also addresses broader topics related to Special Collections, such as:

  • What makes a book valuable?
  • Does a book have to be old to be rare?
  • What is a mark of provenance and how does it appear in a book?
  • What is a manuscript?

Featured in the exhibit were examples from nearly every collection and format, from ancient cuneiform to Colonial currency to modern first editions.

This exhibit was curated by Benjamin Panciera, George Rugg, and Sara Weber.

Dante after Doré: Modern artists illustrating the Inferno

September 20, 2005 — January 27, 2006

This exhibit presented a selection of works of illustrators of the Inferno since the 1920s. It included some of the most renowned artists of the twentieth century offering their interpretations of Dante's 13th century classic.

The illustrations ranged from the classically representational to the highly abstract. For many illustrators, the depicting the Inferno is more an opportunity to comment on contemporary times than to illuminate Dante's vision. Most of the books and plates in this exhibit come from the Zahm Dante collection in the Department of Special Collections. This exhibit also featured the work of two contemporary artists presently at work illustrating the Divine Comedy: Jennifer Strange and David Voros.

This exhibit was curated by Benjamin Panciera, Rare Book Librarian in the Department of Special Collections.

Ireland and the Irish in Fiction

March — August 2005

Graphic for Ireland and the Irish in Fiction exhibit.

In Spring of 2003, the University of Notre Dame purchased a collection of Irish fiction from Dr. Rolf Loeber and Dr. Magda Stouthamer-Loeber. This exhibit included many items from this remarkable collection of almost 2,000 works of fiction, plus outstanding examples from existing collections, including a manuscript letter and first editions by Jonathan Swift, a manuscript novella dated 1818, and rare books by James Joyce.

All items displayed in the exhibit were selected from materials held in the University Libraries' Department of Special Collections.

The curators for this exhibit were:

  • Christopher Fox (Professor of English; Director of the Keough Institute for Irish Studies; and Department Chair, Irish Language and Literature),
  • Laura Fuderer (Subject Librarian for English and French Literatures),
  • Susan Harris (Associate Professor of English),
  • Sarah McKibben (Assistant Professor of Irish Language and Literature),
  • Sara Maurer (Assistant Professor of English),
  • Carole Walton (Professor Emerita of English, St. Mary's), and
  • James Walton (Professor Emeritus of English, Notre Dame).

An online searchable version of A Guide to Irish Fiction 1650 - 1900, produced in print form by Rolf and Magda Loeber, is now available.

1974-2000 | 2000-2005 | 2005-2010 | 2010-2015