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 Exhibits

August-September 2019 | Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album

Open album on display, showing four drawings or paintings pasted onto the righthand page, with descriptive text card visible at bottom of image.

The Edgeworth Family Album in the Spotlight Exhibit is an unusual collection of drawings and sketches by members of the remarkable Edgeworth family of County Longford, Ireland. Much is known about the literary and scientific endeavors of this family — the writer Maria Edgeworth was the eldest daughter of this family — but the drawings in this album provide new insight into the interests and preoccupations of family members.

Frances Beaufort, the fourth wife of R. L. Edgeworth, was an accomplished artist. According to Edgeworth's Memoir, Frances had been asked to provide sketches for a proposed illustrated edition of Maria Edgeworth's The Parents' Assistant. When Mr. Edgeworth visited the Beaufort home and viewed the sketches, he and Frances began a relationship that would lead to marriage. Thus Frances Beaufort brought her artistic talent and training into the Edgeworth household and encouraged her children and stepchildren to draw.

This exhibit is curated by Aedín Clements, Irish Studies Librarian.


June-August 2019 | Libros de Lectura: Literacy and Education after the Mexican Revolution / Alfabetismo y Educación después de la Revolución Mexicana

Front cover one of the books on display. The cover is red and includes an image of three seated figures, two adults and a child, all reading.

In the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), intellectuals envisioned a new national identity that would include all members of society and embody revolutionary values. The country's newly re-formed Ministry of Public Education identified literacy as central to the creation of that identity.

This exhibit showcases literacy-related materials sponsored, approved, or produced by Mexico's Ministry of Public Education, from the 1930s through the mid-1960s. Included are textbooks for children and books promoting literacy among adults, whether workers or indigenous Popoloca-speakers. These items reflect the ministry’s diverse efforts as well as a changing political context in the decades after the Mexican Revolution.

This exhibit is curated by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections, RBSC. For more information about the exhibit, read the related blog post.



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

Upcoming Exhibits

Fall 2019

Greek Manuscripts

Spring 2020

Natural History editions from the Greene Collection

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.