University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Physical Exhibits in Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections regularly presents exhibits of materials from its holdings in our Exhibit Room (102 Hesburgh Library, at the west end of the 1st floor concourse) and on our Web site.

All exhibits are free and open to the public during our regular hours.

Currently on Display

As Printers Printed Long Ago. The Saint Dominic's Press 1916-1936

January - July 2019

The Saint Dominic's Press (SDP) is an important chapter in the story of the Private Press Movement. With its focus on Catholic themes it also played a significant role in the promotion of Catholic ideas about Art in the early 20th century.

Founded in 1916 by the writer and social reformer Hilary Pepler with the intention he wrote of printing as the old printers printed long ago, the SDP was located in Ditchling a village in Sussex. Despite Pepler's enthusiasm for traditional printing practices the SDP was more than a quaint exercise in nostalgia. As the historian of craft Glenn Adamson has noted: The question is not whether the past can be revived (it can't), but what new social forms are brought into being through the act of remembering. Pepler pursued an ambitious agenda and the SDP played a central role in the intellectual, religious and artistic life of the community of artists living in Ditchling.

This exhibition sets the story of the SDP within the larger history of the private press movement in England and examines its artistic as well as literary achievements. The exhibition features different types of publications and posters produced by the SDP. It is the Catholic focus of Pepler's publishing program and the diversity of titles that distinguishes the SDP from other private presses of the era. The SDP actively supported the artistic community in Ditchling and, in particular, the Guild of Saint Joseph and Saint Dominic. This exhibition includes examples of craft handbooks and posters promoting local artists. The SDP also published Catholic literature and liturgical handbooks used by Ditchling's Catholic community. Beyond the village, the SDP served as an important nexus for artists and writers interested in the Private Press Movement, the revival of Wood Engraving, Catholic Social Thought and Catholic Art Theory & Practice of the era. In the early years of the SDP Pepler's friends and fellow villagers the artist Eric Gill and the calligrapher Edward Johnston worked closely with him on the design of various press publications. Items in this exhibition document their friendship and illuminate significant connections between the SDP and a cosmopolitan network of contemporary artists and writers.

Eric Gill's departure from Ditchling in 1924 and Edward Johnston's other professional commitments brought this early collaborative chapter in the history of the SDP to a close. Pepler continued to work with artistic collaborators including Desmund Chute, Philip Hagreen and David Jones until his retirement in 1936.

This exhibit is curated by Dennis Doordan, Professor Emeritus School of Architecture, University of Notre Dame.

Related Events

Exhibit Lecture:

The Saint Dominic's Press 1916-1936, by Dennis Doordan (Professor Emeritus, School of Architecture, University of Notre Dame)

Thursday, January 31 at 3:00pm in Rare Books & Special Collections, Hesburgh Library

Spotlight Exhibit

Angled view of the map on display.

Theresienstadt (Terezín)

January 2019

Established by the Nazis in Terezín in northwestern Czechoslovakia in 1941, Theresienstadt served as both a ghetto and a transit camp for Jews before being deported to one of the extermination camps. The Nazis, however, went to great lengths to present this detention center as a "model Jewish settlement" and to hide the role it played in their plan to systematically exterminate the Jewish people. In an elaborate ruse, they created fake ration cards, contracts for home purchases, deposits for rent, special currency, and even beautified the camp, renovating barracks and planting gardens, before the International Red Cross visited the camp in 1944.

Between November 24, 1941 and May 9, 1945, over 141,000 Jews including about 15,000 children were transported to Theresienstadt. Of these Jews, about 33,500 died in Theresienstadt and more than 90,000 were deported to death camps in eastern Europe.

This exhibit, highlighting some of RBSC's Holocaust-related materials, is curated by Julie Tanaka, Curator, Special Collections.

January 27, 2019—International Holocaust Remembrance Day—commemorates the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.


Creeley/Marisol: Presences

January - March 2019

Among the thousands of volumes in the personal library of the distinguished American poet Robert Creeley (1926-2005) are Creeley's copies of Presences: A Text for Marisol (New York: Scribner's, 1976). The book is a collaboration between Creeley and the Venezuelan sculptor Marisol Escobar, with 30 pages of prose poetry published adjacent to 61 black-and-white photographs of Marisol's works. As was his habit, Creeley used the paper-bound copy of Presences as a kind of filing cabinet for ephemera relating to its publication: some of the letters, postcards, photographs, and reviews found inside the volume are shown on the shelf below.

This exhibit is occasioned by the 2018 publication of a critical edition of Presences, edited by Stephen Fredman, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Notre Dame and is curated by George Rugg, Curator, Special Collections. The Hesburgh Libraries acquired Creeley's personal library of more than 6,000 volumes in 2012.




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

Upcoming Exhibits

Fall 2019

Greek Manuscripts

Spring 2020

North American Ice Skating

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.