John Birch Society Records at the John Hay Library

John Birch Society

Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society shown in his Belmont (Mass.) headquarters with a painting of U.S. Army Capt. John Morrison Birch for whom the society was named. Birch was a Baptist soldier-missionary who was killed by communists in China in 1945.

A collection of records created by the John Birch Society are now available for research at the John Hay Library.  The records, the bulk of which date from 1965-1989, provide an excellent view into the work of the JBS and its mission “To bring about less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world by providing leadership, education, and organized volunteer action in accordance with moral and Constitutional principles.”

The John Birch Society was founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, on December 9, 1958. Robert Welch, Jr. (1899–1985), a retired candy manufacturer, led the organization from its founding until his retirement in 1983. The original twelve founding members included Fred Koch (1900-1967), founder of Koch Industries, and Robert Waring Stoddard (1906-1984), president of Wyman-Gordon, a manufacturer of complex metal components. The Society was named in honor of John Birch, an American Baptist missionary and United States Army intelligence officer who was killed by Chinese communists on August 25, 1945, making him, in the Society’s view, the first casualty of the Cold War.

The Society has local chapters in all fifty states. It uses grassroots lobbying, educational meetings, petition drives and letter-writing campaigns to gain members and influence public policy. The goals of the society include limiting government and blocking an international conspiracy designed to replace Western nations with a one-world socialist government.  Accordingly, the Society has opposed any trade or diplomatic relations with communist countries and American membership in the United Nations. In addition, the Society opposes the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve system, Social Security, the Medicare program, the creation of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the transfer of control of the Panama Canal from the United States to the Republic of Panama, the Civil Rights Movement, sex education in public schools, and efforts to add fluoride to water supplies. While it supports the American military, it has opposed American military intervention overseas. The Society has operated Summer Youth Camps across the United States and produces radio programs, newspapers columns, and films.

This collection of JBS records totals 45 linear feet and dates from 1928-1990 (bulk 1965-1989) and includes correspondence, business files, publications and audio-visual material.  Additional information about JBS can be found in a related collection called the John Birch Society pamphlets (Ms.2014.001) which contains copies of their publications and newspaper articles about their activities.

To learn more about the John Birch Society and related collections consult the LibGuide on American Conservatism.

50th Anniversary of the Rock

“We students have adopted it as our own.”

–Nancy L. Buc ’65, President, Student Government Association,
Pembroke College, November 1964


Since its opening in November 1964, Brown students have embraced the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library. Designed by the architectural firm of Warner, Burns, Toan, and Lunde, the “Rock,” at the time of its opening, was considered a “marvel of modern design and ingenuity” containing “every practical technical advancement…for the advantage of the bibliophile.” Among its state-of-the-art innovations in 1964 were:

Heating coils under the Rock steps to melt snow.

Pneumatic tube system of book request and retrieval.








Custom-built, “wired” card catalog that included phone jacks to enable librarians to answer questions about library holdings.

CatalogPhone1 CatalogPhone2








SlantedPeriodicalsSlanted shelving for periodicals and roll-out shelves in the reference stacks.

Today’s Rockefeller Library continues the tradition of providing innovative, state-of-the-art services to meet the needs of 21st century library users. The Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab on the first floor of the Rock, with its 7´ x 16´ high-definition “video wall,” offers students and faculty a technology-rich environment for discovery, analysis, and collaboration. Hi-tech collaboration spaces in the Sorensen Family Reading Room facilitate group work by allowing a number of students to display and share their work on large computer screens. Group study rooms in the Laura and David Finn Reading Room and the Sorensen Family Reading Room provide students with spaces to work together in small groups or on team projects. And the Digital Studio, an upcoming renovation planned for summer 2015, will create a unique space on campus, offering a range of high-end collaborative environments with the latest interactive technologies, that will enable innovation in the humanities and interdisciplinary scholarship across the campus community.


Rock at the Rock


On Friday, November 14 from 7:30 – 10 p.m., the Rock will rock with live band Diamond Doves as the Brown University Library celebrates the 50th anniversary of the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library.

The Rock will close at 5 p.m. on the 14th to allow for event preparations. No library services will be available after 5 p.m. There will also be furniture removal throughout the day on Friday, and furniture return throughout the day on Saturday the 15th. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and hope you can join us at 7:30 p.m. when we Rock at the Rock.

Click here to visit the Rock at the Rock website, which has more information about the event and the band Diamond Doves.

Click here to RSVP to the event on Facebook!

Date: Friday, November 14, 2014
Time: 7:30 – 10 p.m.
Location: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Lecture | Wayland and Magaziner and (Much) More: The Brown Curriculum through the Years | Luther Spoehr


On Thursday, December 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, Luther Spoehr, Senior Lecturer in Education, will give a talk, “Wayland and Magaziner and (Much) More: The Brown Curriculum through the Years.”

Has Brown always been a place of curricular innovation? Did Francis Wayland’s mid-19th century reforms foreshadow the New Curriculum of 1969? For 250 years, Brown’s undergraduate curriculum has sometimes stayed in step with its peers and sometimes struck out on its own. Spoehr’s talk will track the trajectory of this complex story of tradition and innovation.

This lecture is part of a series at the John Hay Library celebrating the University’s 250-year history. All lectures in the series highlight the University Archives’ “Elements of Tradition and Change” exhibit.

Please note, this lecture was originally planned for November 18. Professor of History Robert Self’s lecture, “The Embedded University: Social Change, Brown, and the Long 20th Century,” formerly planned for December 4, will be held in spring 2015. 

Date: Thursday, December 4, 2014
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library
Time: 5:30 p.m.

Updates From Around the Library (November 2014)

A photo for November Library Updates

The Library has been very busy this fall. Here are a few recent highlights from various Library blogs:

Lecture | Letters Home: Brown Alumni at War | Beth Taylor

Brown Town, 1946. Temporary housing for veterans of World War II erected near Marvel Gymnasium on the city-owned Sessions Street playground at the corner of Elmgrove Avenue and Sessions Street, Providence, RI

Brown Town, 1946. Temporary housing for veterans of World War II erected near Marvel Gymnasium on the city-owned Sessions Street playground at the corner of Elmgrove Avenue and Sessions Street, Providence, RI

On Wednesday, November 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, Beth Taylor, Senior Lecturer in English, will give a talk, “Letters Home: Brown Alumni at War.” Taylor, who is co-director of Brown’s Nonfiction Writing Program, has been collecting oral histories, documents, photographs, memorabilia, and letters home from veterans or widows of veterans.

This lecture is part of series at the John Hay Library celebrating the University’s 250-year history. All lectures in the series highlight the University Archives’ “Elements of Tradition and Change” exhibit.
The next lecture in the series will take place on Thursday, December 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room, with Luther Spoehr, Senior Lecturer in Education. Spoehr’s talk is entitled, “Wayland and Magaziner and (Much) More: The Brown Curriculum through the Years.”

Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library
Time: 5:30 p.m.

Lovecraft and the Republic of Horror


In July of 1935, Robert Bloch wrote to his epistolary mentor H. P. Lovecraft, care of Robert Barlow, whom Lovecraft was visiting in Florida. Bloch, then eighteen, wrote with excitement of an expanding network of writers and publishers he had met, either directly through Lovecraft or indirectly by his association with the influential author. The letter recounts a meeting of the Milwaukee Fictioneers, a group he had previously described as covering broad territory: “weird stuff … science fiction, western, detective, gangster, love, newspaper, sports, economics, novel, feature-syndicate, and radio fields ….” He continues with praise for Peter Lorre’s performance in “Mad Love,” entreating Lovecraft to “see it!”

Bloch, who would go on to pen Psycho, was perhaps the youngest of Lovecraft’s circle. Their correspondence began with a fan letter sent in 1933 and continued until Lovecraft’s death in 1937. Bloch was one of many in an expansive network of correspondents fueled by Lovecraft’s loquacity on paper. His correspondents included Barlow, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Donald Wandrei. Through letters and circulated manuscripts, this network of writers formalized the imagined community developing around the pulp magazines like Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, and Fantasy Fan in which they published and read.

H.P. Lovecraft was at the center of this developing community. Shortly after his death in 1937, Barlow, acting as Lovecraft’s literary executor, delivered the first donation of manuscripts and correspondence to the Brown University Library. Today, the H. P. Lovecraft Collection includes extensive holdings of manuscripts, letters, editions of Lovecraft’s works in 20 languages, periodicals, biographical and critical works, and numerous collections of manuscript and printed materials of Lovecraft friends and associates. To support research in this significant collection, the Brown University Library recently announced the S. T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship for research relating to H. P. Lovecraft, his associates, and literary heirs.

Lecture | Making a Campus on College Hill | Rob Emlen

robemlen Rob Emlen is the University Curator. He will be giving a lecture on November 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the John Hay Library. The lecture is titled: Making a Campus on College Hill: Sacrificing an Historic Neighborhood to Build a Better College

This lecture is part of series at the John Hay Library celebrating the University’s 250-year history. All the lectures in the series highlight the University Archives’ “Elements of Tradition and Change” exhibit.

Date: Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library
Time: 5:30 p.m.

This Week’s Workshops (October 26—31)


Is everyone ready for some knowledge and learning? The Library has three workshops this week!

Citing and Publishing Your Research Data
October 28 | Noon | Digital Scholarship Lab

NVivo: An Introduction to the Software
October 30 | 3 pm | Hecker Center

Citing and Publishing Your Research Data
October 30 | 4 pm | Digital Scholarship Lab

These workshops are a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in opportunities. Please register.

Lecture | Groovy Choreographies: Gimmicks, Glitches, and Aesthetic Alibis with William Cheng

Join the Brown University Library and the Department of Music for an exciting lecture in Music’s Fall Colloquium Series. On November 19 at 6 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL) at the Rockefeller Library, Will Cheng will give a talk entitled, “Groovy Choreographies: Gimmicks, Glitches, and Aesthetic Alibis,” in which he will deliver a playful inquiry into the aesthetic conceits of mechanical failure, ludic difficulty, and visual glitch in the virtuosic choreographies of digital gameplay (with case study Rayman Legends).

Free and open to the public, this event is part of the Department of Music’s Fall Colloquium series.

William Cheng is interested in sound, media, technology, identity, and politics. He is Assistant Professor of Music at Dartmouth College and Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows (on leave 2014-15). His first book is titled Sound Play: Video Games and the Musical Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2014), published with the support of the AMS 75 PAYS Endowment; his articles have appeared in the journals 19th-Century Music, Cambridge Opera Journal, Ethnomusicology, and the Journal of the American Musicological Society, and in the volumes The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media and The Oxford Handbook of Virtuality. He is the recipient of the AMS Philip Brett Award, AMS Howard Mayer Brown Fellowship, and SAM Mark Tucker Award. His current projects include a monograph, Misrule in Meritopia: Music, Power, Privilege (supported by Harvard’s William F. Milton Fund); an edited collection of essays, Queering the Field: Sounding Out Ethnomusicology (with Gregory Barz); an article on sound’s paranoid and reparative affects; and a book of short stories, The Things We Say: Seven Tragicomedies. He serves on the Advisory Board of Ethnomusicology Review and the Review Board of Sensate: A Journal for Experiments in Critical Media Practice. In recent years, he has enjoyed giving classical piano recitals featuring improvisations on themes from the audience.

Date: November 19, 2014
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: The Patrick Man Digital Scholarship Lab, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence