University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Digital Projects

  • Digital Collections are online representations of materials held by Special Collections which are complete presentation all such items held by the department, or which aspire to eventually be complete presentations.

  • Digital Exhibits are typically related to physical exhibitions of materials presented in our Exhibit Room. These online exhibits highlight collections or aspects thereof, but do not attempt to represent the collection completely.

  • Related Digital Projects are projects which present materials relating to but not held by Special Collections OR non-Departmental projects which present materials held by Special Collections.

  • Digital References are projects which relate to materials held by Special Collections but do not directly correspond to any one collection.

  • Online Finding Aids

Digital Collections

Inquisition Collections

The Harley L. McDevitt Inquisition Collection consists of several hundred items, from printed volumes to unique manuscripts and images. The project is intended as a resource for students and researchers and thus contains thematic introductory essays to materials and digital facsimiles of documents.

Manuscripts of the American Civil War

This project includes images and textual transcriptions of many of Special Collections' Civil War manuscript collections. Items thus far scanned and transcribed include one topical collection, one collection of personal papers, seven diaries, 30 personal letter groups or correspondences (comprising around 450 letters), and three groups of military records.

Manuscripts of Colonial and Revolutionary America — Bristol County Court Records

The Bristol County Court Records are an accumulation of single-sheet file documents issued by (or directed to) the judiciary of Bristol County in southeastern Massachusetts, mostly during the colonial period.

Manuscripts of Colonial and Revolutionary America — Swansea Town Records

The Swansea Town Records are an accumulation of 49 single-sheet documents issuing from, or directed to, the various instruments of town government in Swansea, Bristol County, Massachusetts, mostly during the 18th century.

  • Other North American manuscript collections are also descripted online, some with links to finding aids. Individual collections are typically distinguished by unity of provenance; consequently, the collections described on this site vary greatly in size, from a single manuscript to many thousands.

Numismatic Collections Online

This project features discussions, descriptions and images of coins, currency, and tokens used in Colonial and Confederation America, based primarily on examples in Special Collections. The following sections of the project are currently available online:

  • Coins of Colonial and Early America features discussions, descriptions and images of coins and tokens used in Colonial and Confederation America.

  • Colonial Currency features descriptions and images of paper currencies of early America through the 1790's. Related items in our collection, such as lottery tickets and fiscal documents from colonial America have also been included.

  • Washington Tokens features descriptions and images of coins, tokens and medals depicting George Washington.

Irish Philately Online

This project is a series of pages considering aspects of Irish philately, utilizing holdings in Special Collections. To date there are two sections available online:

  • Part One: the Forerunners features a group of stamp-like items of political interest, printed prior to or just after the establishment of the modern independent Irish state in 1922.

  • Part Two: the Overprints features the first official issue of an independent Irish State — overprint designates an addition to the face of a stamp after it has been printed.

Sports Collections Online

There are currently three sports projects available online:

Stalin Test

This unique collection was conceived by Vagrich Bakhchanyan in 1979 in conjunction with the one-hundredth anniversary of Stalin's birth. During ensuing years, Bakhchanyan gathered 401 original portrait drawings of the Soviet dictator by leading Russian and émigré artists, writers, and cultural figures, including the Nobel laureate poet Joseph Brodsky, the sculptor Ernst Neizvestnyi, painters Ilya Kabakov, Mikhail Shemiakin, and Mikhail Grobman, writers Sergei Dovlatov, Eduard Limonov, Alexander Genis, and Petr Vail, and numerous other personalities. Most drawings were created on the spot, on small pieces of paper, even napkins, in ink or pencil, during various parties and gatherings.

Digital Exhibits

Easter, 1916: The Irish Rebellion

The Easter Rising of 1916 was one of the most important events in modern Irish history. Though the rebellion lasted only six days, it led to the formation of an independent Irish state. In the centenary year, the Hesburgh Library hosted a physical exhibit, displaying items from the Special Collections and from Notre Dame's University Archives. This digital exhibit is based on that exhibit.

Still History? Exploring Mediated Narratives

This exhibition emerged from and was curated by the students in the Winter Session 2021 course, "Stories of Power and Diversity: Inside Museums, Archives, and Collecting."

"Men and women should stand as equals": American Women and the Vote

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, this exhibition tells a full (though not complete) story of the long fight for suffrage. It begins well before the Civil War and extends through the mid-1920s, after passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Paws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800

A digital exhibit featuring animals depicted in the pages of early modern natural histories, enhanced by specimens from Notre Dame's Museum of Biodiversity and the work of 21st-century artist and engraver, Didier Mutel. Print works are held in Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

In a Civilized Nation: Newspapers, Magazines and the Print Revolution in 19th-Century Peru

A digital exhibit of newspapers, magazines, broadsides, prints, and popular song and verse from Peru, held in Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

"Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith": Catholics in the Early American Republic

A digital exhibit displaying examples of American Catholicism expressed through (mostly) printed texts from 1783 through the early 1840s.

Words on Play: Baseball Literature before 1900 from the Joyce Sports Collection

A digital exhibit of early printed matter on baseball, including books, newspapers, guides, and ephemera, 1787 to 1907.

Fighting Words: English and American Boxing Literature from the Joyce Sports Collection

RBSC is home to perhaps the strongest institutional collection of boxing-related books and periodicals in the United States. The digital exhibit Fighting Words presents a selection of these materials, ranging in date from the sixteenth century to the 1950s.

After Gutenberg: Print, Books, and Knowledge in Germany through the Long Sixteenth Century

The digital After Gutenberg exhibit expands the physical exhibit that runs in RBSC August-December 2015. With supplemental images, additional explanatory text, and printed texts not on display in the physical exhibit, the digital exhibit provides a fuller picture of German scholarship and ingenuity between 1450 and 1650.

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

A digital exhibit examining ten of the unpublished 18th and 19th century American diaries held in Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame. It is based on the exhibit of the same name held in RBSC from September to December of 2014.

From St. Petersburg to Notre Dame: The Miraculous Journey of the Polievktov-Nikoladze Family Papers through a Century of War and Revolution

Personal and professional correspondence, diaries, memoirs, photographs, and other manuscript format materials from the Polievktov-Nikoladze Family Papers, acquired by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2006-09.

Power and Politics in the 19th-Century River Plate

Books and manuscripts from the O'Grady Collection at the University of Notre Dame.

Renaissance Dante in Print (1472-1629)

Images and descriptions of more than 40 early printed editions of the Divine Comedy together with a history of the Zahm Dante Collection at Notre Dame.

Selections from the Library of José Durand

Images and descriptions from more than 70 early printed books that shaped the thought of the first historian of Colonial Spanish America, Garcilaso de la Vega, el Inca (1539-1616).

Inter Folia Fructus

A survey of significant acquisitions related to Medieval British Studies

Familia Praedicatoria

In the University of Notre Dame Library – an exhibition of medieval manuscripts, incunables, and sixteenth-century books containing texts and images of the Order of Preachers.

Related Digital Projects

Inventory-Catalogue of the Drawings in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

An ongoing project to create a computerized cataloguing system for the drawings of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, directed by art historian Robert R. Coleman. Of the 8,300 drawings in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, descriptions for almost half are currently available for online searching.

The William and Katherine Devers Program in Dante Studies

The Devers Program in Dante Studies supports rare book acquisitions in the John A. Zahm, C.S.C., Dante Collection, as well as teaching and research about Dante across the Arts & Letters curriculum, in particular in the Medieval and Italian Studies areas, through the sponsorship of conferences, fellowships, lecture series, seminars, and visiting professorships. It also sponsors print and electronic publications of scholarly research through the Devers Series in Dante Studies, published by the University of Notre Dame Press, and as a founding member of the ItalNet Consortium for the creation of scholarly internet resources in the Italian Studies area. The Devers Program also funds an annual program of research and travel grants for faculty and students.

Prémontré Architectural Sites Collection

This project provides access to nearly 800 archival photographs gathered over the years by Rt. Rev. Astrik L. Gabriel, O. Praem., that document architectural sites sponsored by the Order of Prémontré. All of these photographs date prior to World War II and are important documents of the many sites that were damaged or destroyed during the War.

Digital References

Heraldic Dictionary

A dictionary to aid people new to the field of heraldry in understanding written descriptions of armorials, such as those used in the descriptions of the RBSC Bookplate Database.

Bookplate Database

A searchable database image catalog of approximately 1100 sample bookplates and library stamps from Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Notre Dame. The database was created during preliminary explorations of the cataloging and database methodology necessary to support a cooperative online bookplate registry.