Being Catholic, Being American, Volume 1
The Notre Dame Story, 1842-1934
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The University of Notre Dame, as the pre-eminent American Catholic University, often serves as a mirror of the travails and triumphs of the American Catholic community. Being Catholic, Being American: The Notre Dame Story, 1842-1934 by Robert E. Burns is an archive-based account of the developmental years of the University of Notre Dame. During these years, university leaders strove to find the additional resources needed to transform their successful Catholic boarding school, then attended primarily by the sons of middle-class Irish- and German-Americans, into an ethnically diverse modern American Catholic university with traditions of both academic excellence and intercollegiate football greatness.
Being Catholic in America during these years was not for the faint of heart. Anti-Catholicism, driven by a revived nationally organized Ku Klux Klan, intensified throughout the country, especially in Indiana. Burns recounts the encounter between Klansmen and Notre Dame students in 1924 known as the "Battle of South Bend." He examines the impact that clash had upon the performance of Knute Rockne's legendary football team, led by the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. He penetrates the mythology surrounding Rockne's football enterprise and describes the impact the glorious 1924 season had on American Catholic self-esteem at a time when Klan-inspired anti-Catholic bigotry was common.
Though corruption and scandal destroyed Klan political power in Indiana, anti-Catholicism remained strong. Dismayed by the anti-Catholic character of the presidential election of 1928, overwhelmed by the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, and shocked by the death of Rockne in 1931, Notre Dame was well aware that an important era of expansion and glory had ended. The leaders of the university firmly believed, however, that Notre Dame was a special place, and with God's help and continuing support from loyal and generous alumni, the university's future would be brighter and grander than its past.
Being Catholic, Being American is for historians, teachers, students, alumni, sports enthusiasts, and all those touched by the story of the University of Notre Dame.