Event | Terra Huber on “The Conservation of a 16th Century Papal Bull on Parchment”

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During preservation

During National Preservation Week on Friday, April 29, 2016 from 2 – 3 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Terra Huber, Assistant Paper Conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center, will give a talk entitled, “The Conservation of a 16th Century Papal Bull on Parchment.” This event is free and open to the public.

After preservation

A papal bull is an official letter or charter issued by a pope of the Roman Catholic Church, named after the bulla, or authenticating lead seal, affixed to the document. Papal bulls are handwritten on parchment, a historical writing surface prepared from animal skin that presents unique challenges to the conservator. This talk will focus on the history, materials, production, and conservation treatment of a papal bull from the collection of the Brown University Library. The Brown University Library’s papal bull is dated to 1580 and was issued by Pope Gregory XIII, the pope responsible for introducing the Gregorian calendar which we use today.

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Terra Huber

Terra Huber has studied and worked in the field of conservation since 2009. She has worked as an Assistant Paper Conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center since 2015 and has completed internships at the Walters Art Museum, the Newberry Library, the Boston Athenaeum, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Terra earned a Master of Arts with a Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation from Buffalo State College, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Tyler School of Arts of Temple University. She is a member of the American Institute for Conservation and the Guild of Book Workers.

Date: Friday, April 29, 2016
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Tripping the Light Fantastic: Experimental Optics in the Victorian Era

Opt1cIn 1704, Isaac Newton published the first scientific work on light. Working carefully but not very cautiously, Newton began compiling the results of hundreds of experiments he performed in the quiet space of his own rooms at Cambridge over the course of four decades, from the 1660s forward. Many of these experiments involved Newton using his own eyes as the experimental apparatus, through such risky maneuvers as staring directly at the sun and slipping a small knife around the side of the eyeball to see how the additional pressure he exerted would affect his sight. Despite having to spend months in the dark to allow his eyes to recover from the stress of these activities, he gained enormous insight from these and other, more standard, experiments. The resulting book, entitled Opticks, broke new ground in science and led to the establishment of a new field for study of the physical properties of light.

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The devices on display at the John Hay Library date from the second half of the 19th century and were purchased for use by faculty and students in the Brown Physics Department. They were eventually transferred to the Library once technological advances had rendered them obsolete for instructional purposes in the field. Still, their mechanical precision was important at the time of their creation and would have been the envy of Newton and his 17th century colleagues at the Royal Society. After all, if only Newton had had the automatic spectroscope, he would not have had to stick that knife into his own eye!

Dates: March 29 – May 15, 2016
TimeLibrary Hours
Location: Lobby Cases, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Special Collections | Hubert Jennings Papers on Fernando Pessoa

Hubert Jennings at enlistment for World War I

Hubert Jennings at enlistment for World War I

In October 2015, Christopher Jennings and Bridget Winstanley, son and daughter of British and South African scholar Hubert Dudley Jennings, donated their father’s personal papers to Brown University Library.

In January of this year, Folha de S.Paulo, one of Brazil’s leading daily newspapers, featured an article about the discovery of the Hubert Jennings archive in a garage in Johannesburg and its subsequent donation to the Brown University Library. Professor Onésimo Almeida published a response to this article in Malomil.

Born in London in 1896, Hubert Jennings served in World War I and moved to South Africa after graduating from the University of Wales. In his newly adopted land, Jennings became Assistant Headmaster at Durban High School, where he remained employed for the next twelve years (1923-1935). Jennings was one of the first biographers of Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa and one of the first scholars to be interested in Pessoa’s English poetry. Jennings left an invaluable contribution to Pessoan studies with his biographical works on the poet’s stay in South Africa – Fernando Pessoa in Durban (1986) and Os Dois Exílios: Fernando Pessoa na África do Sul (1984).

Through this gift, soon accessible online and in physical form at the John Hay Library, scholars will get a unique glimpse at Pessoa’s life in South Africa following his father’s death. Aside from his published works, Hubert Jennings also left a complete and unpublished book about Fernando Pessoa; plans and notes for other books on the noted writer; an inventory of Pessoa’s estate; numerous transcriptions and translations of Pessoa’s poetry and prose; original short stories taking place in Portugal; a considerable correspondence with writers and scholars from around the world interested in Pessoa’s work; and photos and copies of documents regarding Pessoa’s life, which complement the collection of artifacts housed at the National Library of Portugal and the Casa Pessoa.

Jennings at his desk

Jennings at his desk

Life after Lovecraft

Sonia and Nathaniel Davis, circa 1936.

Sonia Haft Davis (1883-1972) would have lived her life in relative obscurity but for her 2-year marriage to a man named Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937).   Lovecraft was a science fiction and horror writer whose work has created a significant and active fan base.  To preserve her own literary output and the work of her third husband, Nathaniel A. Davis, Sonia donated materials documenting their lives to Brown University.  Those papers are now available for research in the Sonia H. and Nathaniel A. Davis papers (MS.2012.003) at the John Hay Library.

Those looking for information about H.P. Lovecraft in the papers of his ex-wife will be disappointed.  The bulk of the materials in this collection document the life of Sonia Davis from 1930 to 1972, during which time she lived in California and was married to Nathaniel A. Davis. Sonia and Nathaniel were both devoted to the idea of world peace and wrote numerous articles and poems promoting that goal.  Nathaniel founded Planetaryan, a humanitarian organization devoted to world peace, for which Sonia was the chief administrator.  The collection is a good source of documentation for anyone interested in U.S. social, political and religious history, especially around the period of World War II. It is also useful for researchers interested in American literature, especially religious poetry and didactic literature.

To learn more about the life of Sonia Haft Davis contact Christopher Geissler, Librarian for American and British Literary and Popular Culture Collections, or visit the John Hay Library.

Fernando Birri: Mi Patria Son Mis Zapatos

Fernando Birri by Wilhelm Reinke

Photo by Wilhelm Reinke

The John Hay Library takes great pleasure in announcing the opening of the Fernando Birri Archive of Multimedia Arts.  It is an extraordinary collection documenting the long and continuing career of Fernando Birri, a celebrated and influential film maker, poet, writer, educator, artist, and theoretician.

Fernando Birri was born in Santa Fe, Argentina in 1925 and is honored as the Father of the new Latin American film movement, described as a form of revolutionary or Third Cinema.  He has been a creative force in 43 films either as the director, actor, or subject. His most well-known films are Tire dié, ORG, and Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes. He was instrumental in the founding of 3 film schools: Instituto de Cinematografía de la Universidad del Litoral in Santa Fe, Argentina; Laboratorio Ambulante de Poéticas Cinematográficas in the Universidad de los Andes in Venezuela;  and Escuela de Cine y Televisión de Tres Mundos (EICTV) in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. He has authored numerous books on film theory and taught classes on film making around the world. In addition, he is a prolific artist working in a wide range of media from pencils to computer graphics.

The Fernando Birri Archive of Multimedia Arts contains his films, videos, film scripts, diaries, writings, art work, correspondence, poems, photographs, posters, and audio recordings.  It is a comprehensive archive of his life and work and the essential resource for understanding not only the work of Birri but also the history and evolution of Latin American film during the 20th and 21st centuries.

All of his work and creative energy has been accomplished despite, or perhaps because of, his continual movement from one country to another.  He left his native Argentina in 1950 to study film in Italy.  But he was forced to leave Argentina in 1963 for political reasons.  He kept on moving and has lived and worked in Brazil, Italy, Venezuela, Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Germany, and the United States.  He describes his life this way:

“… I have to become a citizen of the world. And there is a very heart-rending phrase from an Argentinean filmmaker, who was killed by the dictatorship in Paris, Jorge Cedrón, which since then has come to be my motto: “Mi patria son mis zapatos [My country is my shoes]”. Life obliged me to that, so I accept it, I accept it well, and with dreams for the future. Period and enough.” (Interview by Mariluce Moura, 2006)

Laundry – way more fascinating than you thought

Sawyer's Crystal Blue Little Bo Peep puzzle

Puzzle created by Sawyer’s Crystal Blue Company to advertise their bluing product, circa 1900. When added to wash water, the blue dye makes white clothes look whiter. The swastika symbol in this context means lucky or auspicious object.

Laundry.  At its most basic, washing clothes involves water and a scrubbing action, with soap as an added bonus.  Yet, our ancestors would not recognize the process of doing laundry in 21st century America.  We have incredibly sophisticated computerized machines and a dizzying array of laundry detergents and other products to get our clothes clean.  The evolution of washing technology from washboards to top-loaders, and the social implications of that process, is richly documented in the Joe and Lil Shapiro collection of laundry ephemera (MS.2014.002) now available for use at the John Hay Library.

The Joe and Lil Shapiro collection of laundry ephemera consists of ephemera that depict the history, artifacts and materials used to do laundry from 1800 to 2010.  Most of the items in this collection were produced by companies to advertise laundry products such as bluing, clotheslines and clothespins, dyes, soaps, starch, washboards and washing machines. The advertisements depict not only the variety and evolution of laundry tools and techniques but also attitudes towards women, women’s work, and people of African-American and Chinese descent.  The collection as a whole raises the topic of laundry from something to be avoided to something that tells a fascinating story about American history, technology, chemistry, social expectations, race relations, the status of women, and the power of advertising.  Who knew the laundry hamper could be so informative?

This collection was compiled by Joseph S. Shapiro, Brown class of 1957, and his wife, Lilian Shapiro. Joseph Shapiro was the owner of the Lundermac Company, Inc., which managed and supplied self-service laundries in apartments, condos and dormitories across New England. Lundermac was founded in 1940 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, by Lilian Shapiro’s father, Gerard Wolfe. Joseph Shapiro learned the business from Wolfe, beginning as a salesperson in 1961, and rose to become President of the company in 1988.  Joe and Lil collected anything and everything related to the process of doing laundry including washing machines, washboards, wash paddles, soap boxes, etc.  Only the paper-based ephemeral materials were donated to Brown University.

To learn more about this collection and how it can inform your research projects, contact Holly Snyder, Curator of American Historical Collections, or visit the John Hay Library.

Waterloo 1815: A Bicentennial Exhibition

Battle of Waterloo Exhibit

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, fought on Sunday, June 18th, 1815 in a village in present-day Belgium. A pivotal moment in history, this battle marked the end of both the Napoleonic Empire and France’s domination of Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Waterloo was the closing event of more than a quarter century of global conflict from the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, ushering in nearly fifty years of peacetime in Europe. The decisive battle has maintained a prominent place in public consciousness long after the final moments of combat.

This exhibition, drawn from The Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, visualizes the history of this momentous event. It covers the major actors, precursory battles, public reactions, tourism and commemorations, as well as the details of the battle itself and its grim aftermath. The items on display range from texts and images that are contemporary with the battle to those created as retrospectives.

Location: Hay Exhibition Gallery
Dates: February 16th, 2015 – May 25th, 2015

José Rodrigues Miguéis Papers at the John Hay Library

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José Rodrigues Miguéis

The papers of José Rodrigues Miguéis, the influential Portuguese writer, educator, illustrator, and jurist, are now available for research at the John Hay Library.

Miguéis was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1901.  He left Portugal in 1935 when his political opinions brought him into conflict with the rising fascist party, Estado Novo.  He moved to the United States and became an American citizen returning to Portugal occasionally.  He was the author of at least 23 works of fiction and numerous essays, newspaper columns, and articles.  The Portuguese government recognized his outstanding service to literature by awarding him the Ordem Militar de Santiago da Espada in 1979.

The Miguéis papers comprise the author’s correspondence, literary manuscripts, interviews, diaries, calendars, notebooks, drawings, photographs, audio recordings and awards. It contains work by others that relate to Miguéis, such as literary reviews and criticism, drawings, and adaptations of his work.  This collection also includes approximately 2,000 books from the personal library of Miguéis which features Portuguese and world literature and related literary criticism.

To enter the world of this important 20th century writer contact Patricia Figueroa, Curator of Iberian and Latin American Collections or visit the John Hay Library.

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.

Lecture | Ted Widmer, “Brown’s DNA”

Please join the John Hay Library as we celebrate the University’s 250-year history with a lecture series by Brown faculty and staff that highlights themes from the University Archives’ “Elements of Tradition and Change” exhibit.

The first lecture will be given by historian Ted Widmer entitled “Brown’s DNA”.  The lecture will incorporate aspects of Brown’s history Dr. Widmer has encountered during research for his history of Brown University.  He currently serves as Assistant to the President at the University.

Dr. Widmer is widely published on topics in American history and politics. His first book, Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City, was the recipient of the 2001 Washington Irving Literary Medal. He is the author of Martin Van Buren and Ark of the Liberties: America and the World and co-author of Campaigns: A Century of Presidential Races.  Widmer earned a Ph.D. in the history of American civilization, an A.M. in history, and an A.B. in the history and literature of France and America from Harvard University.

 

 

Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Time: 5:30 pm

Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library

Speakers: Ted Widmer, Assistant to the President: “Brown’s DNA”