Announcement | John Hay Library Undergraduate Fellowships

L-R: Alan Mendoza Sosa ’20, Finch Collins ’21, and Evan Kindler ’20, pictured outside the John Hay Library

The John Hay Library Undergraduate Fellowship Program serves to assist Brown students with primary source exploration, inviting them to follow their curiosity, questions, and creativity through self-directed projects focused on an area within the vast special collections resources available within the Library. Working closely with Library staff over 10 weeks, the students will each produce an individual research project, to be presented at a symposium in the fall (date/time TBD).

This summer’s inaugural cohort of John Hay Library Undergraduate Fellows includes:

Alan Mendoza Sosa ’20 

“Nightsky’s Glitter”

Alan will create an experimental queer poetry chapbook inspired by and incorporating elements from the gay pulp fiction collection, the Scott O’Hara papers, the Katzoff collection, and the Smith magic collection. The book will explore themes of gender, sexuality, embodiment, and language, while questioning queer media representation, the social distinction between “high” and “low” literature, and between “academic” and “popular” culture. 

Finch Collins ’21 

“(Trans)formative Fandom: Trans Studies, Problematic Authors, and Reclamation”

Working with the Caitlin Kiernan papers and the gay pulp fiction collection, Finch will investigate negotiations of queer identity through fandom, examine the extent that fandom can serve as a site of reclamation and identity creation, and consider how utopian thinking on fandom’s reclamatory value might fall short. He hopes to produce a 40-50 page paper as a first step toward an honors thesis.

Evan Kindler ’20 

“The John Birch Society in the Trump Era”

Evan hopes to examine Trumpism’s roots in Bircherism by looking at how this far-right extremist group’s agenda has been reflected in Trump’s policies and rhetoric. Evan plans to write and submit a paper to an academic journal as well as possibly produce a creative work.

Announcement | 70th Anniversary of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four

Pages from the only surviving Orwell manuscript; at the John Hay Library

June 8, 2019 marked the 70th anniversary of the publishing of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the best-known work of author George Orwell (the pseudonym of Eric Blair, 1903-1950). He composed the novel between 1946 and 1948 on the Scottish island of Jura while suffering from tuberculosis. The book was published in to critical and popular acclaim; Orwell died six months later.

Orwell’s original manuscript of the novel was presented to Brown University Library in 1992 by Dan Siegel ’57. Containing nearly half of the published text, the document shows countless corrections and revisions in Orwell’s hand. It is the only one of Orwell’s literary manuscripts that survives; the author destroyed all others.

In his preface to his facsimile of the manuscript, Siegel wrote:

The collective survival of the world’s books and manuscripts is a transcendent act.  Without books, knowledge becomes arbitrary, truths are disparate and unrelated. Without books, memory fails. Any collection of books which justifies and confirms only the present truth is, in the wrong hands, or in the long run, dangerous. Regardless of how random any collection might be, its very existence is an indication of a society’s political health. Like one of Charrington’s trinkets, the existence of this manuscript is a good sign.

–Dan Siegel ’57

The manuscript is frequently consulted by scholars and used in class visits to the Library; visitors marvel over Orwell’s handwritten corrections of the novel’s famous first line, “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,” for which Orwell originally wrote, “It was a cold day in early April, and a million radios were striking thirteen”; as well as the first instances of “newspeak” and “Big Brother is watching you.”

Announcement | Anna Hernandez, Senior Library Specialist for Technical Services

The Library is pleased to welcome Anna Hernandez!

Anna holds the position of Senior Library Specialist for Technical Services. Her work will focus primarily on cataloging our print collections in a variety of languages. One of her first projects will be cataloging a recently purchased collection of science fiction and fantasy works.

Anna has lived in almost every region in the U.S. and now can say she’s lived in the largest and smallest states (but she greatly prefers Rhode Island over Texas and Alaska).

Prior to joining the Brown Library staff, Anna worked as a cataloger in the Media Resource Center of the University of Oklahoma’s Fine Arts Library. Also during that time, while earning her Master’s in Library and Information Science at OU, she worked as a Research Assistant for one of the SLIS’s department grant projects, Navigating Screens.

Before graduate school, Anna spent a year in Ibaraki, Japan as an Assistant English Teacher in a public elementary school and kindergarten of over seven hundred students. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, her fields focusing on Creative Writing, Languages, and Art.

In her free time, she reads science fiction and fantasy, doodles Art Deco inspired pieces on her tablet, bakes far too many caloric sweets, and is working on completing a YA novel.

Announcement | Sean Briody ’19, Library Student Employee, Receives Stillwell Prize

Sean Briody '19

In April 2019, Sean Briody ’19 took first place in the John Russell Bartlett Society Stillwell Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting for his distinguished collection of Brunoniana from the 19th and 20th centuries. His collection of Brown University materials is notable for the dense web of personal connections to Brown that are documented in each of the books. A lover of libraries, Sean has worked in the Brown University Library during all four of his undergraduate years at Brown. He attributes his love for book collecting to his work here.

Stillwell Competition

Sponsored by the John Carter Brown Library’s John Russell Bartlett Society, the Stillwell Prize is named in honor of the late Margaret Bingham Stillwell, Brown Class of 1909, the University’s first woman Professor of Bibliography, a renowned scholar of early printing, and Librarian at the Annmary Brown Memorial. The Stillwell Papers are housed in the University Archives.

The Brown Band

Sean was appointed historian of the Brown Band during his sophomore year and was asked to organize the partially unprocessed collection of Brown Band materials at the Hay. Through this connection, the Band donated additional papers to the archives, bringing the collection from 15 to 21 boxes. During this time, Sean also curated the exhibit, Ever True: A History of the Brown Band, at Orwig Music Library, after soliciting items from alumni, including a uniform from the Band’s founder, Irving Harris, and a 1927 Victor record of the Band–the first Brown musical group to be professionally recorded. According to Holly Snyder, Curator of American Historical Collections and the History of Science, and Sean’s supervisor at the Hay, “His interests in collecting, curation, and many different aspects of Brown’s history are truly outstanding.”

Collections Assistant

The Hay staff was so impressed with Sean’s work on the Band archive that he was hired as a collections assistant to catalog and organize parts of the Lownes Collection, the Rush Hawkins Collection, the Porter Collection of Washington Portraits, and a recent gift of important books from Dan Siegel ’57.

Finding Hidden Gems

Sean has a knack for finding hidden gems in the stacks. While working in Circulation at the Rock, he noticed an interesting report from the 1867 Anti-Slavery Conference in Paris, inside of which he found an inscription to Theodore Weld from William Lloyd Garrison.

Reverend lysander dickerman

Later, he was browsing a collection of Egyptian travelogues when he came across a boxed book with “Rock (Temporary)” on the spine. Within the box was a finely bound auction catalog with newspaper clippings pasted atop each page. The book, which details the Rev. Joseph Thompson’s trip to Egypt in 1853, is also a scrapbook of sorts, compiled by Rev. Lysander Dickerman (1825-1902), Brown Class of 1851, a lecturing Egyptologist in the 1880s and 1890s. After his death, Rev. Dickerman’s widow donated his library to Brown, along with his lectures and accompanying glass lantern slides. This volume sparked an interest in Dickerman for Sean. He consulted the original accession registers to reconstruct Dickerman’s library. In December 2018, Sean performed a costumed reenactment of Dickerman’s lecture, “The Pharaohs,” before an audience of professors, students, and library staff at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World.

Favorite Collections

In his work as a collections assistant at the Hay, Sean has been particularly intrigued by the personal library of General Rush C. Hawkins, the husband of Annmary Brown. Hawkins’s collection of incunabula is catalogued, but his personal library has remained untouched since 2004, when item records were created but nothing further was done. The collection contains many treasures. Among those Sean has found so far are a book that belonged to King Louis Philippe (and also bears a gift inscription to Annmary Brown from her uncle John Carter Brown (1797-1874); a book that may have belonged to George Washington; William Lloyd Garrison’s Works, inscribed by the author to Nicholas Brown III (1792-1859); and a second edition of Robinson Crusoe (1719). According to Sean, “Not only are there many valuable research tools in the collection, but these books give a rare insight into the personal life of the Brown family–a popular research topic. Nicholas Brown III was minister to Rome during the European Revolution of 1848, and thus any of his books that relate to his travels in Europe are important for study.”

One of Sean’s favorite things at the Library is the Sidney S. Rider Collection. He describes Rider as an amazing collector: “Almost every book has something special added to it–maybe it’s a badge from a monument unveiling, a photograph, or an inscription from Moses Brown. Regardless, it’s the best resource for Rhode Island history around.”

North Burial Ground

In addition to his work at the Library, Sean is a records management and genealogy specialist intern for the North Burial Ground in Providence. The cemetery has existed since 1700, but official records were not kept until 1848. Sean is indexing these print records. He has also created some new tours for the cemetery, focused on topics including Brown University, black heritage, and Rhode Island politics. 

Future Studies

Originally from Commack, NY on Long Island, Sean has found Providence to be “rainy, but a blast.” He will remain in Rhode Island for at least a couple more years since he is entering the MA program in public humanities at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage this fall. He looks forward to continuing exploration into the management of both object and paper archives, his primary focus of study.

Announcement | Graduating Library Student Employees

sample of digital bookplate image

Congratulations to the 52 Library employees who walked through the Van Wickle Gates during Commencement 2019 to collect their degrees!

Our many student workers–undergraduate and graduate–provide invaluable support to the Library’s operations. As one of the largest employers of students at Brown, we welcome many students to our team and enjoy getting to know and learning from each one of them. We bid them all a fond farewell with our thanks and best wishes for the future.

Each graduating Library student employee receives a digital bookplate linked to a Library acquisition in their honor. Click on the names below to view the book selected for each student.

Announcement | A Smile for Goodnight Lights

Sciences Library with smile lights
Drone view of the Sciences Library by Ray McGinnis

Since January 2016, the Sciences Library has participated in the city-wide Goodnight Lights initiative, symbolically saying good night to patients at Hasbro Children’s Hospital by flashing lights on and off from 8 – 8:05 p.m. each night.

To add a personal touch to the effort, the Library has added equipment to the display so that it now flashes in a smile design. According to the creator of the initiative, Steve Brosnihan, Hasbro’s resident cartoonist and board member of the Tomorrow Fund for Children with Cancer, “It is a very entertaining display. Kids love watching it from Hasbro Children’s Hospital.”

We hope this small gesture brings a little cheer to the children and families who view it.

Announcement | Landscape Update at the Rockefeller Library

The landscaping in front of the Rockefeller Library was updated just in time for Commencement Weekend 2019, offering visitors to campus a beautiful view and providing a tranquil home for a meaningful staff memorial.

In the fall of 2017, a storm destroyed much of the tree that had shaded the front of the Rock for many years, necessitating its removal. Library staff and patrons mourned its loss and missed the shade and sense of peace that area had conveyed.

The University generously updated the landscaping in this area during Spring 2019, improving the grade of the space and planting trees, shrubs, and ground cover.

Included in the new design is the Eastern redbud tree and plaque in memory of former Library staff member Mark Baumer, MFA’11. Mark was struck and killed by a car in January 2017 while walking across country to raise awareness around fossil fuels. A group of Library staff members worked with Brown Facilities Management to relocate the tree and plaque to its current spot in the newly landscaped area, surrounded by the new plantings.

We look forward to watching Mark’s tree and the rest of the new plants grow and flourish.

Announcement | Library’s Andy Moul to Retire

In June 2019, Andy Moul, Senior Library Associate Specialist in Reader Services at the John Hay Library, will retire after 39 years with the Brown University Library.

Andy began as a shelver at the Rockefeller Library in 1980, after which he became a door guard. From there, he worked in Circulation at the Rock until moving to the Hay in 1994.

While at the Library, Andy had the opportunity to curate an Origami exhibit with Sociology Professor James Sakoda. He also played on the Library softball team with his step-daughter, Ricca Gaus. During the late 1980s and into the 1990s, Andy took part in numerous craft bazaars in Sayles Hall. He also met his first wife in the Rock lobby. They were together for over 20 years.

Upon retirement Andy plans to move to Hopkinton, RI where his wife, Rebecca Ladd, and he have a home located next to the Moscow Brook. He looks forward to spending time gardening, paper folding, and walking the couple’s five dogs.

The Library offers its deeply felt gratitude to Andy for his years of service and our best wishes for a happy retirement.

Announcement | Holly Snyder Presents at RISD Museum Event on Gorham Company

On Friday, May 3, 2019, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum hosted a one-day symposium in conjunction with its exhibit Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850-1970, at which Holly Snyder, Curator Curator of American Historical Collections and the History of Science at the Brown Library, presented. Holly spoke about the history of the Gorham Manufacturing Company.

The symposium was videotaped and can be viewed on YouTube.

Exhibit Catalog

As part of their preparation for the exhibition, the RISD Museum asked Holly to write an introductory chapter for the exhibit catalog about the history of the company and the making of the Gorham Company Archive. Holly co-wrote the chapter with Gerald M. Carbone, an independent writer and journalist, who had previously published a book on Brown & Sharpe

Symposium Presentation

The presentations at the symposium were intended to recapitulate some of the material in each of the chapters of the exhibit catalog. Holly’s talk, “The Gorham Company Archive in the Historical Context of Providence, Rhode Island,” focused on how the Gorham records ended up at the John Hay Library and how this collection is nestled within the larger collections at the Hay.

Samuel J. Hough

The late Samuel J. Hough, a former librarian at the John Carter Brown Library who became an independent bookseller, appraiser, and researcher, played a key role in rescuing the Gorham records from imminent destruction and bringing these materials to the attention of John Hay Library staff. The transfer of these records to the Hay took place during the rapid downsizing of the company in the mid-1980s, when Gorham was owned by Textron and the decision was made to abandon the plant complex on Adelaide Avenue in Providence in favor of smaller manufacturing sites elsewhere. Sam Hough worked closely with the Brown Library on the Gorham records and helped sort and organize the Gorham materials that the Library ultimately received from Textron. Sam Hough passed away in early March 2019, and Holly framed her talk as a tribute to his work, on which all of the symposium participants had relied. 

Gorham Company Archive and Providence-based Photography

Holly also spoke about the way in which the Gorham Company Archive intersects with other aspects of Brown’s special collections holdings, specifically that the Gorham records enhance the Library’s holdings related to the technical innovations in photography in Providence–innovations on which the Gorham Company relied heavily in building its marketing and its customer base.

Photography was a consumer-oriented business in Providence, which Holly illustrated by showing various examples from the special collections, starting with a Poe daguerrotype and moving through images of The Arcade Providence, to advertising from 19th century business directories. All of these items represent technological evolution that made photography popular with the masses and useful to Gorham’s business. She also showed broadsides from Brown’s holdings that portray the pre-existing popular taste for entertainment on which Gorham was effectively able to capitalize.

Exhibition

The Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850–1970 exhibition will runs through December 1, 2019 at the RISD Museum.

Event | Exhibit Opening Reception for “Learning through Play: British and French Tabletop Games from the 18th and 19th Centuries”

Dissected puzzle, The British Sovereigns from William the Conqueror to George IV [1825] William Darton, London, England

On Friday, May 24, 2019 from 4 – 6 p.m. at the John Hay Library, the exhibit, Learning through Play: British and French Tabletop Games from the 18th and 19th Centuries,” will officially launch with an opening reception. This exhibit was created through a gift of Georgian and Victorian games, along with jigsaw puzzles and other related items, from Ellen Liman ’57, P’88, as well as a loan of 19th and 20th century French board games from Doug Liman ’88.

At 5 p.m., Ellen Liman and her son, celebrated filmmaker Doug Liman, will deliver remarks.

This event is free and open to the public.

More information about the exhibit.

The games join the John Hay Library’s rich collections of material on popular culture, and will be available online in May, and in the John Hay Library special collections reading room following the exhibition.

Date: Friday, May 24, 2019
Time: 4 – 6 p.m.; remarks at 5 p.m.
Location: John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI