Brown University Library Special Collections

Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

University Archives Orientation

Posted by Jennifer Betts on February 21, 2012

Are you in the midst of researching a paper and don’t know how to begin using sources in the University Archives? Register for University Archives Orientation on Wednesday, March 7 at 4 pm in the John Hay Library. This course will explain how to navigate the University Archives’ resources through the use of paper and online sources. A selection of resources from various collections will be on display in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library.

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University Archives Renovation

Posted by Jennifer Betts on February 6, 2012

The University Archives’ public space is closed for a renovation project. Please contact the Archives staff for access to archival materials or for research assistance: Researchers will need to request in advance the Brown Daily Herald, Brown Alumni Monthly, and yearbooks.

We appreciate your patience and cooperation during this time. Please contact us with any questions you have regarding the University Archives: or (401) 863-2148.

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Brown University Library Receives Mellon Foundation’s 2011 Hidden Collections Award

Posted by Jennifer Betts on February 1, 2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] - The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) announced that Brown University Library is a recipient of the Mellon Foundation's 2011 Hidden Collections award for “The Gordon Hall and Grace Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda, Part II.” This three year project, headed by Jennifer Betts, University Archivist and Andrew Ashton, Director of Digital Technologies, will complete the processing of materials Gordon Hall began compiling when he returned from World War II and encountered U.S. domestic hate groups at both ends of the political spectrum.

Along with a group of volunteers, including Grace Hoag, Hall infiltrated and investigated radical and dissenting groups, collecting their printed propaganda as part of his efforts to preserve these irreplaceable materials for posterity. This project will organize and make available over 700,000 items that reflect a continuum of views on the Cold War, civil and women’s rights, and the relationship of religion and state.

Created in 2008 and supported by ongoing funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program supports the identification and cataloging of special collections and archives of high scholarly value that are difficult or impossible to locate. Award recipients create web-accessible records according to standards that enable the federation of their local cataloging entries into larger groups of related records, enabling the broadest possible exposure to the scholarly community.

The Brown University Library is home to more than 6.8 million print items, plus a multitude of electronic resources and expanding digital archives serving the teaching, research, and learning needs of Brown students and faculty, as well as scholars from around the country and the world.

Contact: Amy Atticks | | (401) 863-6913


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Military Collection Digital Archive surpasses 20,000 images!

Posted by Peter Harrington on September 2, 2011

The Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection digital archive has just reached an important milestone – the 20,000th image! The project to scan all the prints, drawings, paintings and water-colors in the collection began in September 2004 and through the efforts of many staff members and students, is now the largest repository of special collections’ materials at Brown. While the original focus of the collection was the history and especially the iconography of military uniforms, Mrs. Brown collected widely around the subject acquiring thousands of images depicting the military history of the world circa 1500-1945.

As to the significant image, it comes from an album of chromolithographs depicting World War One scenes published in Japan by Shobido & Co. between August and November 1914. These rather garish and outlandish prints titled The Illustration of the Graet [sic] European War depict fanciful images of the fighting on the Western Front and elsewhere. The Japanese had a tradition of creating wood-block prints and many fine examples depicting their wars against China in 1894-95, and Russia in 1904-05 exist in the collection (yet to be digitized). The current series, while not of the same standard or quality of the earlier ones, is nonetheless telling in its portrayal of a war that was being fought thousands of miles away. The fact that these highly imaginative prints also include English titles suggests that the publishers also hoped to tap the foreign market.

This particular scene is straight out of an H.G. Wells epic and shows a fantastic confluence of airships and airplanes dueling in the skies above, what appears to be Paris. Aptly titled Severe battle in the sky French and German, it was printed on October 31, 1914 and published three days later. While the artist is unidentified, he may have been Ryozo Tanaka who worked for Shobido and is known to have authored at least one similar scene.

It is only through the combined efforts of many members of the Brown University Library staff that this incredible achievement could be made. In addition to the work of Peter Harrington, curator of the collection, and the staff of the Digital Production Services unit of the Center for Digital Scholarship, we have seen significant contributions in the form of high-quality metadata record creation from Betsy Fishman and Henry Gould in technical services and scanning of the graphics by a number of student employees. Further images will be uploaded in the months and years ahead.

Special thanks to Toshiyuki Minami, Sr. Library Specialist, East Asian Collection, for translating this album of prints.

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Señor Americanus: Lincoln's Man in Peru

Posted by on May 20, 2011

Christopher Robinson Exhibition

A battered box. An invitation to a bull fight to celebrate Chilean Independence Day. A slightly worn uniform of heavy blue wool, found with a turkish cigarette in the pocket of its jacket. A game called Swiss Sticks. These are a few of the items displayed in our new exhibition on Christopher Robinson, who served the United States as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Peru during the Civil War.

The exhibition — a collaborative effort by filmmaker and collector Elizabeth Vangel of non-profit Foss Media, and the John Hay Library, follows the trajectory of Christopher Robinson (Brown 1825) from his roots in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, throught his stint as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the American Consulate in Lima during the Civil War. This little known Brown alumnus — a renowned lawyer in his day — was a key player in the effort to write a state constitution for Rhode Island, and an unfettered advocate for democracy in the United States and abroad. Beloved in Peru, Robinson made friends and contacts easily, even meeting with Garibaldi in Europe at an international peace conference in 1867.

The exhibition has been endorsed by the Rhode Island Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and is on view at the Hay Library’s North Gallery from May 15 through September 23, 2011.

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Focus on Special Collections: Archives & Artifacts

Posted by Jennifer Betts on March 21, 2011

Learn about the University Archives’ diverse collection of museum objects and how it supplements the printed record.

Join University Archives staff to enjoy a tangible glimpse of the lives of students, alumni, and faculty.

March 22, 2011, at noon
Lownes Room, John Hay Library

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Dr. Vartan Gregorian on "Information and Knowledge in an Age of Technology", 3/17 at 4 pm, Sayles Hall

Posted by Jennifer Betts on March 14, 2011

Dr. Vartan Gregorian
"Information and Knowledge in an Age of Technology"

Introduction by President Ruth J. Simmons

Reception to follow at the John Hay Library

Thursday, March 17, 2011
4 PM
Sayles Hall, Brown University

In honor of the centennial celebration of the John Hay Library, Dr. Vartan Gregorian will address “Information and Knowledge in an Age of Technology.” See Press Release for more information.

Since 1997, Vartan Gregorian has served as the twelfth president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. He was president of Brown University from 1989 to 1997, and president of the New York Public Library from 1981 to 1989.

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Welcome Christopher Geissler

Posted by Jennifer Betts on February 8, 2011

The John Hay Library is delighted to welcome  Christopher Geissler as a Project Archivist.  Christopher will be working on a two-year project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

The John Hay Library was awarded grant funds to raise awareness of a number of significant collections, papers, and records held in Manuscripts and University Archives, including the papers of prominent literary figures, scientists, historians, Brown faculty and alumni, and cultural, political, and activist organizations. Christopher will conduct a survey of archival and manuscript collections and create catalog records and Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids.  In addition, the Archivists’ Toolkit will be implemented in order to manage archival and manuscript collections through a single database.

Christopher comes to us from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute where he was Cataloger for Archives and Special Collections.

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Audubon’s Lesser Red-Poll on display

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on December 7, 2010

A volume of John James Audubon’s master work, The Birds of America, is on display on the main floor of the John Hay Library. Each plate will be on display for only one month. This month’s bird is the “Lesser Redpoll”.

This elephant folio edition of The Birds of America, bound in six volumes, was presented by Albert E. Lownes to the Library on the occasion of his 50th class reunion in 1970.

For more information please contact

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Haitian Masks on display at the John Hay

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on November 10, 2010

Didier Civil’s papier-mache masks are on display at the John Hay Library November 10 – 12, 2010.  This exhibit is held in conjunction with the Haitian Studies Association Conference which will take place at Brown Nov. 10-13. Born in Jacmel, Haiti, where Carnival masks are part of a long tradition, Didier Civil represents Haitian cultural themes and voodoo subjects in his paintings and his masks. This year, his work was invited to lead the Halloween parade in Manhattan. Additional information can be found at Didier Civil‘s website.

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