University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

American Catholic Studies

The Catholic Church in the United States of America : her past, her present, her future, from the Catholic Pamphlets collection. (New York: The Catholic Editing Co. 19—)

The American Catholic Studies collections range from rare books to manuscripts to pamphlets, and represent the earliest Catholic publishing efforts in the United States up to the current day. In conjunction with the extensive Catholic holdings of books, newspapers, and parish histories in the Hesburgh Library general bookstacks, the American Catholic Studies collections housed in the Special Collections Department provide rare and uncommon exemplars of all time periods of Catholic publishing in and concerning the United States.

The genres of Catholic pamphlets, Catholic newspapers, and parish histories are well represented in the collections, along with rare books.

Some treasures of the book collection include early American Catholic titles, as documented in important bibliographies by Wilfrid Parsons, S.J., (Early Catholic Americana, 1729-1830, New York: Macmillan, 1939) and Joseph Finotti (Bibliographia Catholica Americana, 1784-1820, New York: Catholic Publication House, 1872). The earliest American Catholic imprint in the Libraries' collection, A hymn of St. Bernard's to the holy Jesus was printed in Boston in 1744. Other treasures include books with association value, including Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton's bible, a volume that belonged to Saint Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulist order of priests, and a volume that was a gift from Saint Andre Bessette, c.s.c.

The Catholic pamphlets collection consists of more than 5000 pamphlets by various Roman Catholic authors, including John F. Noll, Leo A. Pursley, Fulton J. Sheen, John A. O'Brien, and Daniel Lord. The majority were published in the United States from the early nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. A significant portion of the collection has been digitized, and can be found through the Notre Dame Catalog.

Catholic newspapers are largely held in microformat in the Hesburgh Library Microforms collection, however some important nineteenth century titles are in print in the Special Collections, notably The Jesuit, one of the first American Catholic newspapers, first issued in 1829, and a precursor to the Boston Pilot, the longest continuously published American Catholic newspaper.

The Parish histories collection seeks to document local history of parishes, and also includes diocesan histories and commemorations of all kinds relating to parish life. These works are located in the Hesburgh Library, and all records in the Notre Dame Catalog have the note "parish histories."

American Catholic Manuscript Collections

In addition to the genres/collections noted above, the Special Collections Department is home to several distinctly Catholic manuscript collections, including the Benziger Brothers Publishers collection of artwork; and the Kaletta Statuary Company of St. Louis, Missouri blueprints and drawings.

Related Special Collections

The Irish Studies Collections contain much material on Irish immigrant Catholicism. Likewise the Latin American & Iberian Studies collections provide deep resources on the history of Catholicism in the hemisphere.

Related Online Resources