Construction Update | Wernig Graduate Student Study Center

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Construction on the new Vincent J. Wernig Graduate Student Study Center is well under way on the second floor of the Rockefeller Library, with opening anticipated for October 2016.

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Dedicated to all graduate students at Brown, the Center will feature a large study and research room, a seminar/presentation room, lounge with kitchenette, and separate consultation rooms.

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The block, plaster, and glass walls are up. The infrastructure that will bring power and data to both the Center and the periodicals study area is complete. The ceilings are being installed and soon the concrete floors will be sealed and polished. Furniture will arrive in September.

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The Vincent J. Wernig Graduate Student Study Center is generously funded by the Sorensen Family (Joan Wernig Sorensen ’72, E. Paul Sorensen ’71, ScM’75, PhD’77, Alice A. Sorensen ’06, Christian P. Sorensen ’06).

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Dictionarium sinicum and Early Chinese Studies

Excerpt from Chinese-Latin dictionary with notes in Latin by Benjamin Bowen Carter. Dictionarium sinicum, page 608.


by Man Shun Yeung and Caroline Frank

Five years ago John Eng-Wong was looking for art for his office in American Studies, and University Curator Robert Emlen offered him a portrait of Benjamin Bowen Carter. Prompted by the painting, Eng-wong began to look into Carter’s background. A member of Brown University’s class of 1786 and a surgeon trained under Benjamin Rush, Carter was also one of the earliest Rhode Islander’s to sail to Canton as ship’s supercargo. Digging deeper into the archives, Eng-Wong, of Chinese descent himself, learned that Carter was perhaps the first American to make a serious attempt to learn Chinese. His research led him to Brown University Library Special Collections and two oversized eighteenth-century handwritten Chinese-Latin dictionaries—one bound and titled the Dictionarium sinicum, and the other in loose manuscript form.

Investigating this transpacific subject further, Eng-Wong then learned of a scholar in China also researching Carter—Professor Man Shun Yeung of The University of Hong Kong, who has now made two research visits to Brown University. Using rare resources found in both Brown University Library and the Rhode Island Historical Society archives, Professor Yeung intends to shine light on Carter’s role as an American pioneer in Chinese studies. His review of these two Chinese-Latin dictionaries reveals that Brown University is one of the very few special collections libraries in the world to own two different editions of the Hanzixiyi漢字西譯 (“Western Translation of Chinese Characters”) compiled by the Italian Franciscan priest Basile de Glemona (葉宗賢/葉尊教, 1648-1704). Glemona compiled the first edition of his dictionary between 1685-1694 when he was in Guangzhou and Nanjing, and the second edition between 1694-1700 when he was in Nanjing.

The Dictionarium sinicum was originally in Benjamin Bowen Carter’s possession. The “Carter manuscript” was donated by John Carter Brown (1797-1874)in 1844, as noted by his own inscription:

This volume belonged to my maternal uncle Doctor Benjamin Bowen Carter, a graduate of BU class 1786. Dr C. was a fine linguist & particularly versed in the Oriental languages & literature. He died in the City of New York AD 1831, aged 60 years.

It gives me pleasure to deposit this curious book in the College Library for preservation & for the use of those who may desire to consult it. 

Jhn Carter Brown
June 24,
1844

The dictionary also includes notes from Benjamin Bowen Carter. Carter’s remarks provide important information on the transcription of the manuscript and his own instructions for understanding Chinese characters and pronunciation. Taking into consideration that the Chinese characters are arranged according to phonetic order, this manuscript is believed to be a handwritten copy of the second edition of Glemona’s dictionary.

The other Chinese-Latin dictionary now in Special Collections was owned by Samuel Ward (1756-1832). The “Ward manuscript” has an inscription on the front cover which reads “A Chinese Dictionary by Col Saml Ward,” and is described as “Chinese Dictionary with Manuscript Notes in Latin.” During 1788 and 1789, Samuel Ward sailed to China on the vessel General Washington, managing trade for the Providence firm Brown & Francis. It is uncertain when or where he acquired the manuscript. Judging from the fact that the Chinese characters are arranged according to the Chinese radicals 部首 and the Chinese title “漢字西譯” is inscribed at the end of the main contents, this manuscript is believed to be a handwritten copy of the first edition of Glemona’s dictionary. In the first seventeen pages, Guanhua官話 (term for the language of the officials) transliterations and Latin explanations supplement the Chinese characters.

The narrative that these two dictionaries document reshapes our understanding of early Sino-American cultural relations, and offers a glimpse into transpacific connections in the late eighteenth century. The Dictionarium sinicum will be on display on the second floor of the John Hay Library through August 19.

JHL Conservation Bulletin | June 2016

A quarterly installment highlighting Library Conservation in the Brown University community, conservation news around the internet, and ways for you to connect with conservation.

Book and paper conservation at Brown

Located in the John Hay Library, Brown University Library’s conservation lab mixes historical tools such as 19th century cast iron book presses and board shears with 21st century conveniences and innovations like a variable speed control HEPA vacuum cleaner and a deionized water filtration system. This amalgam of old and new allows the conservator to address collection needs such as: repair and other physical treatments, environmental monitoring, object handling, exhibition, storage, research, and education.

In house treatment at the Hay

Image: Before Treatment/ After Treatment

Before Treatment/ After Treatment

An 1841 pamphlet used in a class last fall had suffered tears, losses, and staining to the paper support since its creation, and had been over-sewn in a manner that made opening the already fragile pages even more hazardous. The pamphlet was disbound, the paper support treated and repaired, making new gatherings that were sewn through the fold and cased into a new lapped component binding.

Find conservation online and in person

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Florence Flood; the disaster that revolutionized conservation and preservation in libraries and museums around the world. If you are attending ALA in Orlando, you will have a chance to view the new digital restoration of the rare Franco Zeffirelli film, Florence: Days of Destruction.

Just because a thing is old doesn’t mean that it is better, or right, or wasn’t created by someone who was having an off day. But the human ingenuity poured into every aspect of a book-thing is awe-inspiring, and it is at the heart of my conservation efforts. The majority of special collections holdings look pretty good considering their age and everything they have been through. Bookbinding and book conservation communities continue to explore different ways of respecting history and original forms while improving on function and considering contemporary aesthetics. This practice in itself is a continuation of the tradition of fixing, mending, and making useful again these book objects we can’t seem to live without.

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Paul Banks‘ 10 Laws of Conservation. #1: No one can have access to a document that no longer exists. See you in September for #2 and more.

-Rachel Lapkin, Library Materials Conservator

Alumni Reunion Forum | The Vietnam War: Our Veterans’ Stories

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Please join the Library for an Alumni Reunion Forum on Saturday, May 28 from 3 – 4:30 p.m. in the Willis Reading Room at the John Hay Library. Professor Beth Taylor, Co-Director of the Nonfiction Writing Program, will moderate a panel of alumni veterans and family who will discuss their memories from the Vietnam War. This event is sponsored by the Brown University Library, Brown Alumni Association, and the Nonfiction Writing Program, Department of English.

Some of them attended Brown with the help of ROTC and they all went to the war before the campus protests. Come hear the surprising stories of Brown’s Vietnam Veterans and join in a discussion with alumni whose lives were changed forever by those difficult times.

The Vietnam Veterans of America will present the University Archives with personal artifacts of John Brooks Sherman ’62 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1962-1966, d. 1966, Vietnam), recently unearthed in Vietnam. Learn about the newly curated Brown Vietnam Veterans Archive and website — featuring flight jackets, commissioning photos, military documents, and love letters.

Moderator:

Beth Taylor, Co-Director, Nonfiction Writing Program

Panelists:

  • David Taylor ’66 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1971), Real Estate Developer
  • Barry Kowalski ’66 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1970), Special Counsel for Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice
  • Elaine Zimmer Davis, widow of Jerry Zimmer ’66 (Capt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1969, MIA, 8-29-69, Vietnam)
  • Augustus A. White, III, ’57, MD, PhD (Capt., Medical Corps, U.S. Army, 1966-1967), Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education, Harvard Medical School

A corresponding exhibit, also entitled The Vietnam War: Our Veterans’ Stories, will be on display in the Willis Reading Room at the John Hay Library from May 28 – August 19, 2016. The exhibit features photographs, letters, military clothing, and quotations from the Brown Vietnam Veterans Archive to depict how alumni transitioned from Brown to Vietnam and beyond. The Vietnam Veterans Archive preserves the stories of Brown University alumni who served in the military during the Vietnam War through oral histories and personal papers.

Date: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Commencement Forum | Word/Image/Text: Reading for the Philosophers’ Stone in Atalanta fugiens with Tara Nummedal

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Tara Nummedal, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department

The Library welcomes visitors to a Commencement Forum on Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 11 a.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab and Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio at the Rockefeller Library.

As part of Brown University’s new Digital Publishing Initiative, Professor Tara Nummedal will present on her upcoming publishing project. Project Atalanta will bring a multimedia seventeenth century text to life in digital form. This innovative digital publication will produce a dynamic, enhanced digital edition of Michael Maier’s extraordinary text, Atalanta fugiens (1617/18): an alchemical emblem book that re-casts the myth of Atalanta—the fleet-footed virgin—as a series of fifty emblems. Comprised of text, image, and music, each individual emblem engages sound, sight, and intellect; read together, these emblems serve as an interlocking guide to alchemical theory and the production of the philosophers’ stone.

As a pilot project of the Digital Publishing Initiative, Project Atalanta seeks to bridge the gaps between the readers of today and their seventeenth century counterparts. By transforming the Atalanta fugiens into a dynamic digital object through the collaboration of historians, musicians, rare book curators, linguists, scientists, artists, and other scholars Project Atalanta reflects a dynamic, emergent form of interdisciplinary scholarship. The University Library invites visitors to come and hear about this unique multimedia text, and explore along with Professor Nummedal the implications of reading across time, cultures, and technologies.

Tara Nummedal is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department. She is the author of Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire and is currently completing her second book, “The Lion’s Blood: Alchemy, Gender, and Apocalypse in Reformation Germany.” Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and, most recently, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She is Past President of the New England Renaissance Conference and a member of the editorial board of the journal Ambix. She teaches courses in early modern European history and the history of science.

Date: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Updates from Around the Library | May 2016

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With the end of another semester, here are a few updates from the Library:

Exhibit | Works from Contemporary Architecture: A Course with Professor Dietrich Neumann

 

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The works displayed in this exhibit were created by students in Professor Dietrich Neumann’s lecture course, “Contemporary Architecture,” which surveys stylistic, technological, and theoretical developments in architecture from the 1960s to the present.

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Students were asked to create a model based on a building or industrial design object of this time period.

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Date: May 18 – September 30, 2016
TimeRockefeller Library Hours
Location: Finn Reading Room Cases, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

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Events | Carberry Day on Friday the 13th

Josiah Carberry during the Blizzard of 2015, Providence, RI

Professor Josiah S. Carberry

Each Friday the 13th, the Brown University Library celebrates Josiah S. Carberry Day. We invite you to join us for these events on Friday, May 13, 2016:

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Tours of the John Hay Library
John Hay staff will be available in the Military Collection gallery and the Lincoln and Napoleon rooms on the third floor. View the exhibit curated by Professor Emeritus Don Wilmeth, “Actors and Other Monsters: Graphic Satire As Blood Sport, 1789–1830.” A reception will take place in the foyer.

5 – 6 p.m.
“Bigger Cracks than Carberry’s Pots:  Fracking and Earthquakes”
A talk by Terry Tullis, Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, in the Rockefeller Library Digital Scholarship Lab. Open to the public.

6:30 p.m.
The Carberry Dinner at the Brown Faculty Club, with a cash bar from 6 p.m. 

Buffet dinner with recipes from The Carberry Cookbook. Cost is $45 per person, in advance.  Please make your reservations online at:

http://brown.edu/go/carberry

After dinner, Professor Terry Tullis will condense his afternoon talk.

Event | Online Learning and the MIT Approach with Sanjay Sarma

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Sanjay Sarma

On Monday, May 9, 2016 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Dr. Sanjay Sarma, Dean of Digital Learning at MIT, will give a talk entitled, “Online Learning and the MIT Approach.” This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

MIT launched OpenCourseWare (OCW) 15 years ago, and since then it has reached over 200 million users. Five years ago, it launched MITx, and then edX with Harvard, and it has reached nearly 10 million users with MOOC’s. Dr. Sarma will talk about these advances in digital learning and explain what MIT’s approach is. In particular, he will discuss MIT’s interests in the science of learning and the new initiatives MIT has launched in primary, secondary, tertiary, and professional learning.

Sanjay Sarma is the Fred Fort Flowers (1941) and Daniel Fort Flowers (1941) Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He is the first Dean of Digital Learning at MIT. He co-founded the Auto-ID Center at MIT and developed many of the key technologies behind the EPC suite of RFID standards now used worldwide. He was also the the founder and CTO of OATSystems, which was acquired by Checkpoint Systems (NYSE: CKP) in 2008. He serves on the boards of GS1, EPCglobal and several startup companies including Senaya and ESSESS. Dr. Sarma received his Bachelors from the Indian Institute of Technology, his Masters from Carnegie Mellon University and his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. Sarma also worked at Schlumberger Oilfield Services in Aberdeen, UK, and at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in Berkeley, California.  He has authored over 75 academic papers in computational geometry, sensing, RFID, automation and CAD, and is the recipient of numerous awards for teaching and research including the MacVicar Fellowship, the Business Week eBiz Award and Informationweek’s Innovators and Influencers Award. He advises several national governments and global companies.

This event is part of the Teaching and Learning in the Digital Environment lecture series.

Date: Monday, May 9, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence