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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.
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.
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.
On Friday, May 10, 2019 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Dr. Li Wang, Curator of East Asian Collection, will give a presentation, “American Sinologist Charles S. Gardner and Chinese Collection at Brown.”
This talk is free and open to the public. Coffee and cookies will be available.
The talk is based on Dr. Wang’s recent focused studies regarding Charles Sidney Gardner (1900-1966), a noted Sinologist and former Harvard University professor, who donated his entire personal collection, including a large number of Chinese rare books, to Brown University Library in his late years. It provides brief biological information on the family life, education, and scholarly career of Gardner, especially his link to China, a country where he lived as a visiting scholar during the 1920s and 1930s.
The talk will also address Gardner’s scholarly contributions and influences as a pioneer of American Chinese studies to the field. With regard to Gardner’s network and friendship with many Western and Chinese scholars, the talk will demonstrate various rare archival items recently found in the Collection. After reviewing Gardner’s insightful ideas and practices on building Chinese library collections, Dr. Wang will describe the process of Gardner’s valuable donations in the 1960s and present current developments at the Brown Library East Asian Collection.
The book has been well received by critics and readers. Historian Ingrid Rowland describes it as “an enthralling tour through an extraordinary Florentine palazzo, complete with romance, murder, lives of the rich and famous, and layer upon layer of history ranging from the heart of the Renaissance to yesterday. A scholarly thriller that is virtually impossible to put down.”
An art historian educated at Bryn Mawr College, Allison tells the remarkable story of Palazzo Rucellai from behind its celebrated façade in House of Secrets. While staying in Florence during a teaching sabbatical, Allison had the opportunity to live in Palazzo Rucellai and learn about its history firsthand, becoming inspired to tell the stories of the real life characters who have populated the house and bring its history to life.
On Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Dr. Lindsey Jones will give a talk about the database she is creating about the education and incarceration of black girls in Virginia during Jim Crow.
This event is free and open to the public. A Q&A and reception will follow the talk.
Dr. Jones is collecting information about the girls who were committed to the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls, the state of Virginia’s reformatory for black girls, operational between 1915 and the 1950s, after the courts across the state labeled them “delinquent.” The reformatory was designed by a statewide network of black women activists to protect and educate troubled black girls rather than punishing them for adolescent misbehaviors.
Dr. Lindsey Jones, Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Education at Brown, is working on a book project that explores the education and incarceration of black girls in Jim Crow Virginia, focusing specifically upon the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls. As part of this project, Dr. Jones is designing a relational database to collect information about the individual girls who were committed to this reformatory.
During the conferences of the Association for Asian Studies in Denver, CO, Dr. Li Wang, Curator of the East Asian Collection, delivered a presentation, “American Sinologist Charles S. Gardner and Chinese Rare Books in Brown University Library,” at the SCSL forum on March 22, 2019. Soon after, on April 3, one of his articles, “A Cultural Envoy Who Should Not Be Forgotten: American Sinologist Charles S. Gardner and His Chinese Collection,” was published in an influential Chinese newspaper: China Reading Weekly.
This paper is a result of focused studies on Charles Sidney Gardner (1900-1966), a noted Sinologist and former Harvard University professor, who donated his entire personal collection, including a large number of Chinese rare books, to Brown University Library. It provides brief biological information on Gardner, especially his link to China, a country where he lived as a visiting scholar during the 1920s and 1930s.
It addresses Gardner’s scholarly contributions as a pioneer of American Sinological studies to the field. With regard to Gardner’s scholarship in Chinese studies and friendship with many Chinese scholars, the paper addresses in particular Gardner’s lofty character by examining his selfless activities in helping Chinese students and friends. After reviewing his insightful ideas and practices on building Chinese library collections, the paper summarizes the process of Gardner’s valuable donations in the 1960s. Following that, it also presents the current development of the Brown Library East Asian Collection in the new age. Finally, in commemorating Gardner’s legacy of contributions, character, and donations, the paper calls for continued efforts to promote cross-cultural exchange and Sino-American friendship.
On Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Laura Stokes, Performing Arts Librarian and Head of Orwig Music Library at Brown, will give a talk based on her book Fanny Hensel: A Research and Information Guide.
Free and open to the public. Q&A and reception to follow the talk.
Laura K. T. Stokes is the Performing Arts Librarian at Brown University, where she has also been a Lecturer in Music. She holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Indiana University. Her scholarly work examines music and cultural politics in the nineteenth century, including music for public ritual, opera, sacred music, gender and composition, and music publishing history. Her current projects are on the composers Fanny Hensel, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and Giacomo Meyerbeer, as well as music and politics, historiography, and nineteenth-century medievalism. From 2012–2018, she was an Assistant Editor of the journal Notes.
Fanny Hensel née Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1805–1847) was one of the most prolific female composers of the nineteenth century. The sister of the famous composer and conductor Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and granddaughter of the Jewish Enlightenment philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, she was educated alongside her brother, including in music composition. Upon reaching maturity, however, she faced restrictions on the pursuit of a public career—restrictions based on gender and social status. Hensel nonetheless continued to compose, with an output of over 450 musical works, and she became the organizer and hostess of a famous salon/private concert series.
After her death, Hensel’s work as a composer and musician was largely forgotten or dismissed; however, inspired by the field of women’s history, new research from the 1980s to the present day has promoted awareness of Hensel’s life and work. Fanny Hensel: A Research and Information Guide helps researchers navigate the vast world of research on Hensel. The author will talk about Hensel and her music as well as challenges and conundrums in this research area.
Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2019 Time: 12 p.m. Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect St, Providence
A student-driven project led by undergraduate Shira Buchsbaum ’19, the recently launched website Fields of Hay offers students a guide for making use of the John Hay Library and Brown’s special collections resources.
Written by Shira Buchsbaum ’19
Mary Elizabeth Sharpe and My First Foray into Special Collections
My journey to the John Hay Library was meandering and inconsistent. My first semester at Brown, my writing professor, Kate Schapira, assigned a piece that required drawing from any archive in Brown’s libraries. I picked the Mary Elizabeth Sharpe collection, which ended up being 20 boxes of letters, blueprints, photographs, contracts, and designs from Sharpe’s life.
Mary Elizabeth Sharpe was married to Henry Dexter Sharpe, the Chancellor of Brown from 1932-1952, and she was a go-getter. Sharpe designed much of the landscaping on campus, including for the then-new Sharpe Refectory and, later, the Sciences Library. She was a critical player in establishing India Point Park and fighting oil money in Providence.
I learned all of this
about Sharpe in a few afternoons at the Hay, sitting with her papers and
imagining the fierceness of this lady who took meticulous notes about trellises
and leaf piles on our campus greens. I kept Mary Elizabeth Sharpe in the back
of my head throughout my first two years at Brown, marking the John Hay Library
as the place where I learned about our highly manicured campus and the woman
A Reintroduction: Shakespeare’s First Folio and Working at the Hay
My junior fall, I stumbled back into the building during a reception and met William Shakespeare’s first Folio on the second floor of the John Hay Library. Brought to tears as I turned the pages of this nearly 400-year-old volume, I asked the lady behind the table, “Do students, like, work here?” The serendipity of that moment landed me in the midst of archives and collections once again, this time as a collections assistant.
Fields of Hay: An Undergraduate Research Guide to the John Hay Library
In our first
conversation, Heather Cole, my new boss, and I discussed creating a guide for
undergraduates to access the John Hay Library with more ease. I spent the next
18 months chatting with curators, requesting materials, conducting research,
and honing how to convey the richness and variety of the materials here and
their availability for student scholarship.
On March 7, 2019, World Book Day, we launched Fields of Hay, the undergraduate research guide to the John Hay Library. On Fields of Hay, students can learn about materials housed at the Hay, read about standing collections, find information on how to request materials, see featured projects by other students, and register student academic or activity groups for programs at the Hay. Fields of Hay aims to demystify the Hay by demonstrating its accessibility and breadth of materials to all students. It also seeks to promote student scholarship by showing that working with primary resources need not be an elite, selective process: it is as simple as finding one compelling item and spending time with it. The website aims to transform haphazard, wayward discoveries of the Hay into a far-reaching, common experience for Brown students. Fields of Hay is home base.
The Impact of Special Collections and an Invitation
I wish I hadn’t treated my interaction with Mary Elizabeth Sharpe as a one-off experience designed for a single class with no lasting implications on my life at Brown. Had I been able to return to the Hay through mechanisms designed for me – through a website that clarified how I could ingratiate myself with these materials – I would have returned sooner. As soon as students arrive at Brown, Fields of Hay can guide them to original, exciting research, or simply enjoying items connected to their interests – no strings or requirements or assignments necessary. Come on in and get started.
Shira Buchsbaum ’19 studied Anthropology and English Non-Fiction Writing and was the primary creator of Fields of Hay, under the advisor-ship of Heather Cole. She wrote her senior thesis about curatorial decision-making for the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays as reflective of changing conceptions of American literature. Any inquiries about Fields of Hay and materials or programming at the Hay can be sent to email@example.com.
The book is an important addition to the growing study of women composers and performers.
Fanny Hensel: A Research and Information Guide provides scholars in Hensel studies with a resource to navigate the research surrounding the composer’s over 450 musical works. As part of the larger blossoming of women’s music history, new research in the 1980s and 1990s promoted an awareness of Hensel’s output, in particular in the genres of the lied and the solo piano work. This research guide includes an introductory chapter, a summary paragraph at the beginning of each chapter, and annotations for more than 500 entries, focusing on scholarly works as well as selected articles from trade publications, catalogs, and Internet resources.
The Brown University Library congratulates our colleague on this remarkable accomplishment.
In addition to the video, the story will be told today during the “All Things Considered” afternoon broadcast, available at 89.3 and 89.7 FM in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Ms. Emanuel worked in collaboration with Jennifer Betts, Brown University Archivist and Interim Director of the John Hay Library and Special Collections, on this remarkable video that documents the Black Student Walkout at Brown on December 5, 1968. Today marks the 50th anniversary of this call to action by 65 Brown students of color, who demanded an increase in recruitment and admission of black students to Brown.
1968 Black Student Walkout
Part of a national movement by black college students, the 1968 walkout at Brown stands out for its longevity–students camped out at the Congdon Street Baptist Church for three days–and its success. As a result of this coordinated action and the serious negotiations between Brown administration and the student representatives that took place during the three-day protest, the University agreed to significantly enhance efforts around black student admission practices, with $12 million over three years earmarked for recruitment. According to a letter from President Christina Paxson to the Brown community:
The walkout ended on Dec. 9, when the students secured the University’s agreement to launch an effort to significantly increase the number of black students in each new class. Those students established a foundation for future generations of historically underrepresented students, including other black students, in advocating together for a better Brown.
Protest & Perspectives: Students at Brown 1960s-90s
This fall, the Library presented the exhibit Protest & Perspectives: Students at Brown 1960s–90s, which included the 1968 Black Student Walkout. Installed on the wall outside of the Patric Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, the exhibit was created by the Brown University Archives Fellows during the summer. They are:
Amyre S. Brandom, Xavier University of Louisiana, Leadership Alliance
Kayla Smith, Spelman College, Leadership Alliance
Rachel Souza, Brown University ‘21, Presidential Scholar
Days of Absence: The 1968 Black Student Walkout at Brown
In addition, the Library hosted the exhibit Days of Absence: The 1968 Black Student Walkout at Brown in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library in September. The exhibition, curated by Bernicestine and Harold Bailey, was created in conjunction with the Black Alumni Reunion.
Social Justice & Special Collections at the Brown University Library
The Library’s collections contain a vast source of material related to social justice on campus and throughout the world. Open to the public and easily accessible to all Brown students and faculty, the John Hay Library and its knowledgeable staff are available to all researchers interested in working with the unique, fascinating, revelatory, and, in many cases, priceless items waiting to be explored.
Collections of interest in this area of study include (but are not limited to):