Brown University Library Special Collections

Many Pigs of Many Pens

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on November 15, 2012

Upon first glance it seems that people in 1908 have no idea how to draw, let alone produce a successful image of a pig.And then you look more closely at the poem at the beginning of the book and it becomes clear.  They are drawing these pigs blindfolded.

This volume, Guest Book : Many Pigs of Many Pens, was published in 1902 as a playful alternative to a traditional guest book.  In conventional guest books, visitors were expected to sign their name and contribute a poem, sketch, quote, or witticism.  The purpose of this guest book explains the statement on the cover – “A Pig in Time Saves a Rhyme.”This copy was given as a present to John Nicholas Brown II (1900-1979) in 1908.  The first image above shows the eight-year-old’s attempt at a pig.  It is one of many items in the Natalie Bayard Brown papers (Ms.2007.011) at the John Hay Library.

Mrs. Natalie Bayard Dresser Brown was the wife of John Nicholas Brown (1861-1900) and the mother of John Nicholas Brown II (1900-1979).  Her papers reflect her active involvement in the many Brown family businesses, the Democratic Party during the 1930s, and numerous charitable causes through correspondence with family and friends, writings and speeches, scrapbooks, and photographs.

The elder John Nicholas died of typhoid fever 2 months after the birth of his son followed soon after by the death of his brother Harold Brown. Those tragic events made John Nicholas Brown II the heir to the Brown family fortune and he was dubbed the “richest baby in America.”  The John Nicholas Brown II papers (Ms.2007.012) contain a wealth of material on the visual arts, art collections and collecting activities, and public service at the state, national and international levels, as well as the history of Brown University and the State of Rhode Island during the twentieth century.

Both of those collections, and many others related to the Brown family, can be viewed at the John Hay Library.

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John Hay Library: Focus on Special Collections-Audubon

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on November 5, 2012

Between noon and 1pm on November 14th, staff from the John Hay Library will be turning pages in one volume of John James Audubon’s masterwork The Birds of America. Please join us in the Lownes Room on the second floor of the John Hay Library.

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Reading Room Closing Early on Wednesday October 24th

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on October 23, 2012

Due to a scheduled event, the Reading Room of the John Hay Library will close at 4pm on Wednesday October 24th.  While the building will remain open until 6 pm, there will be no access to the collections.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

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A Women’s Studies Pioneer – Elaine Ryan Hedges

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on October 10, 2012

Elaine Hedges

The Elaine Hedges papers (Ms.2011.007) are now available for research

Elaine Hedges is best known for her ground-breaking scholarship on the significance of American women and sewing — particularly in reference to their quiltmaking in the nineteenth century.  Her detailed and innovative study of quilts as encoded texts brought to the fore important historical information about women and their social, political and artistic endeavors that had previously been overlooked by mainstream scholars.  Hedges was also a leader in the area of Women’s Studies through the foundation of the Women’s Studies program at Towson State University in Maryland in 1972.  Throughout her career, she was a fierce advocate for curriculum reform and of a more inclusive canon of American literature so as to incorporate works by women, ethnic minorities, and the gay and lesbian community.

The collection thoroughly documents all aspects of Hedges long and productive career as one of the most influential feminist scholars of the 20th century.  Her scholarship and teaching were wide-ranging and reflect the history of the women’s movement and the creation of women’s studies programs.

 

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Jonathan Russell and the War of 1812: The Inside Scoop on America’s First War

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on September 20, 2012

The papers of American diplomat Jonathan Russell provide an intimate look inside the grievances that caused the War of 1812 and its ultimate resolution in December 1814.

Major causes of the war stemmed from Great Britain’s fight with France which had been raging since 1803.  Eager to bolster its own resources and reduce supplies for France, Great Britain impressed American seamen into service with the British Navy and blockaded the American coast to prevent provisions from reaching France.  Those actions, among others, did not sit well with the Americans and President James Madison declared war on Great Britain in June 1812.

Jonathan Russell was a witness to all of the intrigue.  His diplomatic career began when President James Madison appointed him chargé d’affaires in Paris in 1810. The next year he was given the same position in London and from 1814 to 1818 he was United States minister to Sweden and Norway. Russell was also one of the negotiators of the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812.

The papers of Jonathan Russell include correspondence with all the prominent politicians, diplomats, and businessmen of the day.  They also include letters from seamen, who were impressed by the British, seeking his assistance to return home again.  Of particular note are the “Records of U.S. Commissioners to Negotiate with Great Britain at Ghent” which provide a detailed account of the negotiations with Great Britain to end the war.

To learn more about the Jonathan Russell papers, see the finding aid available on the Rhode Island Archives and Manuscripts Online website.

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FOCUS ON SPECIAL COLLECTIONS: Geoffrey Hill and His Books Gallery Talk September 25th at noon

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on September 18, 2012

At noon on Sept. 25, Prof. Ken Haynes will give a gallery talk on his exhibit Geoffrey Hill and His Books. The exhibit is in honor of poet and former colleague Geoffrey Hill on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The talk will take place in the North Gallery of the John Hay Library.
The exhibit includes materials from the Library’s General and Special Collections as well as books from the private collection of Haynes (including works that formerly belonged to Hill). The exhibit is organized around fifteen published books of poetry, from For the Unfallen (1959) to Odi Barbare (2012). A few works have been chosen to accompany each of these books, to illustrate the different kinds of publications that have influenced Hill’s writing (children’s books, fantasy tales, poetry, art books, historical scholarship) and the different ways they have influenced it (in visual layout, in dramatizing the physical act of reading, in allusion and quotation, and in other ways).

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New Exhibit on View: Geoffrey Hill and His Books

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on September 14, 2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] - Geoffrey Hill and His Books, an exhibit curated by Kenneth Haynes, Professor of Comparative Literature and Classics at Brown University, in honor of poet and former colleague Geoffrey Hill on the occasion of Hill’s 80th birthday, is on view in the North Gallery, John Hay Library, now through October 1, 2012.

The exhibit includes materials from the Library’s General and Special Collections as well as books from the private collection of Haynes (including works that formerly belonged to Hill).  The exhibit is organized around fifteen published books of poetry, from For the Unfallen (1959) to Odi Barbare (2012). A few works have been chosen to accompany each of these books, to illustrate the different kinds of publications that have influenced Hill’s writing (children’s books, fantasy tales, poetry, art books, historical scholarship) and the different ways they have influenced it (in visual layout, in dramatizing the physical act of reading, in allusion and quotation, and in other ways). Drop in the Hay and take a look!

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Rhode Island Slavery and the University

Posted by Jennifer Betts on August 31, 2012

September 3 – October 5, 2012
John Hay Library

An exhibit in support of the First Readings 2012 program for the Class of 2016, which focuses on Charles Rappleye’s Sons of Providence.

Using materials from the Brown University Archives and the Hay Library’s extensive holdings of primary sources on Rhode Island history, the exhibit provides an overview of how slavery, the slave trade and emancipation functioned in the politics and social life of early Rhode Island, and the manner in which attitudes toward slavery shaped the founding and growth of Brown University in its first century.

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John Hay Library Reading Room Closing at Noon on August 30th

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on August 22, 2012

On Thursday August 30, the Reading Room of the John Hay Library will have limited hours. Due to a scheduled event, the Reading Room will be open from 10am-12noon. The building will remain open until 5pm but collections will not be available for consultation. We apologize for the inconvenience.

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James Manning

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on May 8, 2012

This week, as we look forward to the 242nd Commencement, we provide you with a glimpse into the early days and struggles of this venerable institution to gain respect and scholars.  During the first 3 years, 1764-1767, James Manning was not only the first President but also the only faculty member.  The first commencement was held in 1769 at which time 7 young men graduated and 21 men of distinction were awarded Honorary Degrees.  On November 12, 1772, James Manning wrote to his friend John C. Ryland in England with the happy news that John C. Ryland, Junior had received his degree from Rhode Island College that same spring.  He also took the opportunity to comment on the political situation affecting the ability of the school to attract students.

James Manning to John C. Ryland, 12 Nov 1772, James Manning papers, MS-1C-1, Brown University Archives

“With this I send you a Catalogue of those who have received the honours of the College, from the first [to] our last Commencement, I believe, acquired us considerable Reputation amongst the Literate in N. England and had we not to combat with the inveterate Enmity of the N. England Clergy, it would have added to the Number of our Scholars, but they take unwearied pains to prevent any from coming, if possible, and don’t  [?] at the Methods of carrying their Points: but, thank God, they don’t govern the World.”

James Manning was clearly able to overcome the clergy that worked against him.  A total of 40,244 scholars applied to be admitted to Brown University for the 2011-2012 academic year. Of that number a total of 8,454 students began their studies in September 2011.  James Manning would no doubt be flabbergasted by those numbers and extremely pleased.

You can learn more about James Manning’s experience as the first President of Brown University by visiting the Guide to the James Manning Papers (MS-1C-1).  Digital copies of all his correspondence can be viewed by clicking on the link for each item in the inventory.

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