Previous Spotlight Exhibits
February 2017: A Leaf from the Chester Beatty Bible (W.116)
This exhibit featured a leaf from a Bible formerly in the collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968), which belonged to his Western Collection (manuscript W.116). W.116 was sold intact on December 3, 1968 by Sotheby's (lot 14), where it was purchased by two biblioclasts who later cut it apart and sold the leaves individually. Notre Dame's leaf (Frag. I. 34) features a historiated initial by the so-called Dominican Painter (ca. 1250-1260).
The exhibit was curated by David T. Gura, Curator, Special Collections.
R. Branner, Manuscript Painting in Paris during the Reign of Saint Louis. 118-122. University of California Press, 1977.
D.T. Gura, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College. 11-12, 449-450, 541-543. University of Notre Dame Press, 2016.
December 2016 - January 2017: Birds! Winged Wonders in Naturalists' Eyes
Both scientists and the general public were captivated by birds during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Seeking to enhance their study of such majestic creatures, naturalists sought birds out in their natural settings, describing them with precision and accuracy. Their work resulted in highly readable books filled with engaging descriptions of birds, but more significantly, they depicted what they saw in elaborate illustrations.
Birds! Winged Wonders in Naturalists' Eyes offered a view of three remarkable and important texts. Featured were a full-color engraving of a white-bill woodpecker from Mark Catesby's Natural History, a steel engraving of a buzzard from the Comte de Buffon's Histoire naturelle des oiseaux, and the pioneering woodblock engraving of a sparrowhawk from Thomas Bewick's History of British Birds.
The exhibit was curated by Julie Tanaka, Curator, Special Collections.
November 2016: Two Irish Bibles
The completion of a printed Bible in Irish has a long history, beginning in 1571 when Queen Elizabeth provided a printing press and Irish font for the purpose. An Irish translation of the New Testament was printed in 1602, and the Old Testament translation, known as Bedell's Bible, was printed in 1685. Published three hundred years after Bedel's Bible, Monsignor Pádraig Ó Fiannachta's An Bíobla Naofa is the first Catholic Bible in Irish.
The earliest printed books in Irish were either Protestant publications, printed in Ireland and England, or Catholic works written by Irish priests and printed in Louvain and other centers of Cathloic learning. The Hesburgh Library holds a variety of Irish language printed books from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The exhibit is curated by Aedín Clements, Irish Studies Librarian.
October 2016: Plumb Crazy—Dante and Music
This small exhibit highlighted selections from the Hesburgh Libraries' collections of musical adaptations of Dante’s works. On view were historical examples of compositions relating to Dante's Divina Commedia and Vita Nuova. While Dante witnessed musical adaptations of his texts composed already in his own lifetime, they hit a high point in the mid-19th century when the author’s popularity surged in both Italian and translation readership.
The exhibit was curated by Tracy Bergstrom, Curator of the Zahm Dante and Early Italian Imprints Collection.
August-September 2016: The Elisabeth Markstein Archive
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 was curated by Ken Kinslow, Manuscripts Processing Librarian.
July 2016: Three Works of Battista Piranesi
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) was a renowned etcher and engraver of Roman scenes. The library's volume incorporates three related works from 1762-1764:
- Antichità d'Albano e di Castel Gandolfo (Antiquities of Albano and Castel Gandolfo)
- Descrizione e disegno dell'emissario del Lago Albano (Description and Design of the Emissarium of Lake Albano)
- Di due spelonche ornate dagli antichi alla riva del Lago Albano (Concerning Two Caves Embellished by the Ancients on the Bank of Lake Albano)
This volume is dedicated to Pope Clement XIII, an important patron of Piranesi's, and all three volumes focus on the environs of Castel Gandolfo, which is just outside of Rome, overlooking Lake Albano, and is the summer residence of the popes. On display was a print set within the ancient drainage tunnels at Lake Albano.
The exhibit was curated by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian.
June 2016: The Catholic Pamphlet Collection
The Catholic Pamphlets Collection in RBSC includes more than 5000 pamphlets, published from the 1840s to the present. This extensive collection includes pamphlets on saints and sacraments, daily Catholic life, moral issues, and Catholic social thought and action—as highlighted by the thirteen pamphlets featured in this exhibit.
The exhibit was curated by Jean McManus, Catholic Studies Librarian.
April & May 2016: Ryosuke Cohen's Brain Cell 261: Mail Art from the Vagrich and Irene Bakhchanyan Collections
This spotlight exhibit showcased a piece of mail art sent by Ryosuke Cohen to the Soviet émigré artist and poet Vagrich Bakhchanyan (1938-2009). It is drawn from the substantial collection of mail art in the Vagrich and Irene Bakhchanyan Collections, acquired by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2013.
The exhibit was curated by Chris Holdaway, Department of English graduate student.
March 2016: Hoops and Herstory: Early Women's Basketball History in the Joyce Sports Research Collection
In 2001 Notre Dame's women's basketball team won the NCAA national championship. Exactly 100 years earlier an instructor at Smith College in Northampton, MA, Senda Berenson, created rules for women and girls for the new game of "basket ball." She published them in a series of guides by Spalding, the sporting goods manufacturer. By emphasizing teamwork over athleticism, and by minimizing running and physical contact, she addressed fears about the game's harmful effects on women and girls and defined the game for most of the twentieth century.
Spalding's Athletic Library series is an example of the significant sources held in the Joyce Sports Research Collection that document the history of women's sports in the twentieth-century United States. In addition to Berenson's rules and diagrams, Spalding published carefully staged photos of players and teams, along with advertisements for sporting goods.
The exhibit was curated by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian.
February-September 2016: Native American Literature before 1924
"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 presented a small sampling of the literature produced before 1924, when passage of the Indian Citizenship Act granted citizenship to all Native Americans.
The exhibit was curated by Robert Walls, Teaching Professor of Native American Studies and Laura Dassow Walls, Professor, English Department.
February 2016: Coronelli's Nouvelle France, 1688
In 2003-04 the Libraries acquired an important collection of more than 200 historical maps of the Great Lakes region of North America, the gift of Edward and Sheila Scanlan of Neenah, Wisconsin. Ranging in date from the early 17th to the mid-19th century, the maps provide an historical overview of the area from its earliest development to the Civil War.
This month's spotlight examined one of the Scanlan collection's most appealing items, Coronelli's Partie Occidentale du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France of 1688. The map treats what the French called the Upper Country, the vast interior of forest and lakes beyond the settlements of the St. Lawrence valley. It demonstrates the quite remarkable extent to which the fur trade had penetrated the waters of the interior by the end of the 17th century.
The exhibit was curated by George Rugg, RBSC Curator.
January 2016: Constructing Shakespeare
The posthumous First Folio printing of William Shakespeare's plays in 1623 represents a landmark development in the history of English drama, rescuing some of the bard's works that would have been lost forever. The earlier editions that do exist, however, differ markedly from the First Folio, and there is little evidence that Shakespeare oversaw their publication. What, then, is the "real" text?
The Shakespeare we know emerges from hundreds of years of this debate. Current holdings and recent acquisitions in Rare Books and Special Collections shed light on the discussion as it developed into the nineteenth century. Selections from the Second and Third Folio accompanied printings by some of Shakespeare's earliest critical editors, including the famous poet Alexander Pope and the moral censor Thomas Bowdler.
This month's spotlight exhibit was curated by Daniel Johnson, English Literature and Digital Humanities Librarian, and accompanied the special traveling exhibit "First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library."
Evgeniia Solomonovna Ginzburg (1904–1977) was a journalist and teacher who wrote an acclaimed autobiographical account of her 18-year journey through the Stalin Gulag. Ginzburg's epic story, which has been translated into many languages, was published in English in two volumes: Journey into the Whirlwind (1967) and Within the Whirlwind (1981). To this day her work remains one of the most significant and widely-read women's memoirs about life and death in the Stalin camps.
Born in the Kolyma camps, Antonina Axenova (1946-) was adopted by Ginzburg in 1949 when Antonina was 3 years old. Axenova later became a theater and movie actress. She has also worked tirelessly collecting materials to preserve the memory and legacy of her mother.
Rare Books and Special Collections recently acquired this collection which consists of material related to Ginzburg's arrest and her life in the camps as well as material relating to Axenova's professional life.
This spotlight exhibit was curated by Kenneth Kinslow, RBSC Assistant Librarian.
October 2015: Building the Yeats Collection
W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) was a leading figure in the Irish Literary Revival. One of the greatest poets of his time, he was also a major force behind Ireland's national Theatre, the Abbey, and had a great and lasting impact on Irish culture and literature. Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.
Visiting professor John Kelly alerted the Library to the availabilty of the Yeats collection of American scholar and bibliographer Milton McClintock Gatch. In all, 32 volumes from the Gatch Collection have been added to the Hesburgh Library.
This acquisition adds significantly to the already rich Yeats Collection at the Hesburgh Library. Besides editions of books by W. B. Yeats, the Library holds a collection of Abbey Theatre Programmes, a Cuala Press collection (the printing press of the Yeats sisters), and a considerable collection of books illustrated by Jack B. Yeats.
This spotlight exhibit was curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian.
August & September 2015: Photograph Albums of Travel to Cuba, ca. 1900
Rare Books and Special Collections recently acquired two photograph albums of Cuba: the Liebee Family Cuba Photo Album and the Gómez Souvenir Album (right). These two albums illustrate the manner in which late nineteenth-century travelers memorialized their journeys through photography.
Advances in photographic technology made the medium more feasible and affordable for travelers of even modest means. These advances coincided with faster, more reliable, and more extensive transportation networks that enabled Americans to travel beyond their immediate region for both business and pleasure. The highly publicized military defeat of Cuba's colonial ruler (Spain) by the United States in 1898 stimulated a great deal of interest in the island and prompted the type of travel memorialized in the two albums on display this month.
This spotlight exhibit was curated by David Dressing, Latin American, Latino, and Iberian Studies Librarian.
Fall 2015: The Sixth Centenary Festival of Dante
Happy Birthday, Dante! In May of 1865, the city of Florence honored the 600th birthday of Dante Alighieri with a lavish three-day festival that included public celebrations of the author's works, concerts, and exhibitions. Our fall 2015 spotlight exhibit displayed some of the literary and commemorative publications released in conjunction with this important festival. The exhibit ran concurrently to the special lecture series "Dante's Other Works" 2015: A Celebration of the 750th Anniversary of Dante's Birth sponsored by the William & Katherine Devers Program in Dante Studies and Italian Studies at Notre Dame.
The exhibit was curated by Tracy Bergstrom, Curator, Zahm Dante and Early Italian Imprints Collection.
June & July 2015: Giorgio Fossati's Collection of Various Fables (Venice, 1744)
Giorgio Fossati (1705-1785) gathered 216 fables, from a variety of sources, into these two volumes. Each tale, given in parallel columns of Italian and French, is illustrated with a full-page engraving. Fossati has grouped the stories into six "books" of thirty-six, which are bound together in these two volumes.
Each fable is accompanied by a full-page illustration intended, according to the author's introduction, to arouse the curiosity of the audience. Many of these compositions portray animals, with architectural settings frequently in evidence as well.
This month's spotlight exhibit was curated by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian.
May 2015: The Conservation of Captain Francis O'Neill's Music Manuscripts
Our May spotlight exhibit, curated by Liz Dube and Sue Donovan, showcased the treatment of two music manuscripts from the Captain Francis O'Neill collection. The manuscripts are the only two of their kind in the collection, and they were in poor condition after years of handling. Their treatment involved stabilizing the bindings and mending and resewing the text, which can be a time-consuming procedure, but which was rationalized by the items' importance in the collection and in RBSC.
In the exhibit, the use of photographs together with the actual manuscripts allowed the observer to see the condition of the items before treatment contrasted with the condition after treatment.
Summer 2015: A "Behind-the-Scenes" Look at the Conservation Lab
Have you ever wondered what goes on in the conservation lab, or what is Preservation? This exhibit sought to address the viewer's curiosity by displaying some of the main tools and materials used in the lab to repair both General and Special Collections—such as a finishing press and scuba diving weights. Also on display was a book in three different stages of treatment—before, during, and after.
Questions about conservation are encouraged and can be directed to Notre Dame Preservation's Tumblr page.
April 2015: Birmingham Black Barons Records
This spotlight exhibit focused on a collection of manuscript business records of the Birmingham, Alabama, Black Barons, an elite black professional baseball team during the pro game's long era of segregation. The most notable item was an account book recording the club's financial transactions with each of its players for the 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930 seasons, including the legendary pitcher Leroy ("Satchel") Paige.
The Libraries acquired the collection in 2005.
March 2015: Quaestiones by Giles of Rome
The subject of this Spotlight Exhibit is a late medieval manuscript acquired in October 2015, Notre Dame Frag. I. 31. It is a set of five scholastic questions attributed to Giles of Rome (1243/7-1316), Master of Theology at Paris, Prior General of the Augustinian Hermits, and Bishop of Bourges. The manuscript is unique because it exists in the form in which it was circulated, two gatherings of seven folios total; it has never been bound with another collection of manuscripts.
At least two of the questions do not appear in any modern edition. The manuscript is displayed open to fols. 4v-5r, including one of the unpublished questions on charity. Stephen Dumont, Professor of Philosophy, began studying the contents of this manuscript almost as soon as it arrived. His work will help ascertain the authorship and provide more secure dating of the text.
This spotlight exhibit presented a satirical work titled Das Narrenschyff ad Narragoniam published by Sebastian Brant, a German jurist and humanist scholar, in Basel, Switzerland, in 1494. Lampooning and illustrating over 112 follies and vices of humankind, it became an international bestseller of the Renaissance as it was quickly translated into other languages.
On display was Notre Dame's edition of the first Latin translation — done by Jacob Locher, a student and friend of Brant, with the collaboration of the author. This edition, which was printed by Iacobus Zachoni (Jacques Sacon) in Lyon in 1498, misspells the title as Salutifera Navis. Also on display was a modern English translation by William Gillis (London: The Folio Society, 1971), as well as several illustrations reproduced from the Latin text.
Spring Semester 2015: G. K. Chesteron Collection
This exhibit provides a sampling of the G. K. Chesterton collection here at Notre Dame. The bulk of the collection consists of approximately 1500 books and serials. Among the books are some rare first editions. The collection also includes manuscripts, letters, drawings, and photographs.
Much of the collection was acquired in 1965 from Notre Dame alumnus, John Bennett Shaw ('37). Over the years other items have been added to the original Shaw collection.
November and December 2014: Vladimir Mayakovsky and the Russian Avant-Garde: Books from the Herbert P. J. Marshall Collection
This spotlight exhibit presented three Russian avant-garde books by and about Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930), the great troubadour of the Bolshevik Revolution, as well as original documents pertaining to Mayakovsky and his circle. All are from the Herbert P. J. Marshall collection. Illustrated by such prominent early twentieth-century artists as El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodchenko, the books demonstrate new forms of design, typography, and language that emerged in Soviet Russia to inspire the revolutionary spirit.
Herbert P. J. Marshall (1906-1991) was a British actor, scholar, and theater and film director; he was also one of the first English translators of Mayakovsky's poetry. In the early 1930s Marshall lived in Moscow, where he studied cinema at the State Institute of Cinematography under the tutelage of Sergei Eisenstein. The Hesburgh Libraries acquired the Marshall papers and his extensive personal library in 1993.
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.
August-September 2014: Reporting from the Western Front during World War I
Featured was a pictorial news article by the prominent war correspondent, Frederic Villiers (1852-1922), about German entrenchments during the first Battle of Aisne. Villiers was among the early group of war correspondents—forerunners of today's journalists, such as Richard Engel, who report live from battle zones—who went to the front lines to obtain the most current news. These war correspondents were creating a new art form for news coverage that combined information, personal commentary, and images. Villiers' illustrated report was published in London as a special pullout section of the October 3, 1914 issue of the Illustrated London News, the first periodical dedicated to graphic news.
This exhibit was one of numerous events across campus that commemorated the First World War centenary.
Fall Semester 2014: New Acquisition — The Badin Bible
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.
July 2014: A Twelfth-Century Bible Fragment & Modern-Day Forgery
The Spotlight Exhibit of July features a leaf from a twelfth-century Italian Giant Bible. These large format Bibles were produced in Italy from the mid-eleventh through twelfth century. This particular page also contains a modern forgery painted in the left margin to drive up the price for an unsuspecting collector.
For more information about similar holdings in RBSC, please see our Medieval Manuscripts page.
June 2014: David Roberts' Egypt and the Holy Land
The Spotlight Exhibit for June features David Roberts' elephant folio-sized three-volume Egypt and the Holy Land of 1842-49. This collection of lithographs of the sites and monuments of Egypt and Palestine, done after drawings made on location by Roberts in 1838-39, is a key work in the evolving Western understanding of the cultures of the ancient Middle East in the 19th century.
On display were a variety of items from the collection, which reflects the literary and intellectual atmosphere of Moscow in the second half of the 20th century. The collections consists of approximately 240 items, comprised primarily of manuscripts, letters, and photographs.
For more information about these and other related materials in the Rare Books and Special Collections holdings, please see our Russian and East European Studies page or the finding aid for the Roskina Papers.
April 2014: First edition of Isaac Newton's Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica
In the Principia, Newton states his three laws of motion, which form the foundation of classical mechanics (the full title is Latin for "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"). On display was the Department's first edition, published in London in 1687, along with images from both the first and second editions of the text.
On display was a lithograph, printed in Philadelphia, showing a family preparing to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Ireland's national holiday, in their American home. The mother pins a shamrock on the boy's lapel, and he holds a drum, suggesting that he will join the parade. Meanwhile the girl waves a pennant from the window, where the parade is visible. Both Irish and American objects are visible in the room, along with furniture and a sewing machine that suggest a respectable, middle-class economic level.
For more information about related materials in the Rare Books and Special Collections holdings, please see our Irish Studies Collections page
This introductory exhibit highlighted literary, artistic, and political samizdat works from the recently acquired Russian manuscript collections, including an original typescript of Varlam Shalamov's Kolyma Tale; Rimma Zanevskaia’s hand-made illustrated poetry collection; the 1979 Moscow Helsinki Watch Group Report on human rights abuses in the Soviet Union; as well as drawings, photographs, and correspondence of famous Soviet dissidents and samizdat publishers, among them Aleksandr Ginzburg and Vladimir Maramzin.
The Russian and East European Studies, RBSC Lecture Series during the spring of 2014 related to these holdings:
February 13, 2014 — "Poetry, Performance, Political Resistance, and Mass Spectacle in the 1960s Soviet Union" by Donald Loewen (SUNY-Binghamton University)
March 24, 2014 — "Writing a Memoir of Joseph Brodsky: Problems of Memory, Selection, and Truth" by Samuel C. Ramer (Tulane University)
April 3, 2014 — "The Hawk, the Cod, and 1975: Brodsky's Point of No Return" by David Bethea (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
These lectures were sponsored by the Hesburgh Libraries, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the College of Arts and Letters, the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures, the Russian and East European Studies Program, and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies
For more information about related materials in the Rare Books and Special Collections holdings, please see our Russian and East European Studies page.