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

May 2019 | Blasphemous Fun: Late Medieval and Early Modern Games of Chance and Fortune

Angled view of the map on display.

This spotlight exhibit, on display throughout May 2019, highlights two works on medieval and early modern books on fortune-telling games from RBSC's collections: a modern facsimile of the 1482 manuscript of the Libro delle Sorti, or Book of Fates, and a 1615 edition of Jean de Meun's Dodechedron de Fortvne. Dice games like those described in these works served as entertainment and pastimes for medieval and Early Modern readers.

This exhibit is curated by Eve Wolynes, student employee in RBSC and PhD candidate in the History Department, University of Notre Dame.


Studio photograph of the bishop's miter, a pointed cream-colored headpiece with fabric strips that extend down from the bottom edge.

March-May 2019 | The Work of Our Hands: A Multi-Venue Exhibition of Liturgical Vestments

In keeping with the theme of the 2018–19 Notre Dame Forum, The Catholic Artistic Heritage: Bringing Forth Treasures New and Old, four exceptional items have been carefully selected from Notre Dame's collection of liturgical vestments as part of this multi-venue exhibition, The Work of Our Hands. On exhibit in Rare Books and Special Collections is a miter belonging to Archbishop Lamy, the first archbishop of the Diocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and related texts.

There will be a Guided Walking Tour of the exhibition sites on April 11 at 4:00 p.m. beginning at the Hesburgh Library lobby. A panel discussion and reception will follow in the Annenberg Auditorium of the Snite Museum of Art.




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.