Letter from Christopher Scott to Nathan Nield, December 31, 1792
Brown University Library, Special Collections
This piece of paper, sent from Christopher Scott of Petersburg to Nathan Nield of Mercer County, served as both letter and, when folded, as envelope, with a red wax seal.
Known today as “slave carried mail,” this letter was carried by “a Negro woman Murier” and contains information about an exchange of Murier for another enslaved female named Christian.
The Library invites you to parse the contents of the letter. What does this artifact tell us about the history of the country? Of commerce in the U.S.? What does it tell us about the struggles women have faced as well as the fraught nature of relationships? Why is preserving items like this so important to contemporary research?
Dates: October 2 – 31, 2018 Time: John Hay Library Hours Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence
Big Apple Circus, Twenty Years, 1997-1998 season program
Currently on View: Selections from the Thomas H. Simon Circus Collection
The Thomas H. Simon Circus Collection contains more than 200 items, primarily about the American circus arts, including first-edition books, pennants, programs, stamps, drawings and promotional materials dating from the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries.
Simon graduated with a degree in philosophy from Brown University in 1954. An avid reader of American history, he completed a Master of Arts in History at Xavier University in Cincinnati in 1987. He was President of Schaefer Tailoring Company (Cincinnati), founder of People, Places and Things (1976), and served as a dedicated member of the Brown University Library Advisory Council for more than a decade.
Selections from the Dr. Steven Ungerleider Collection of Haggadot
The Dr. Steven Ungerleider Collection of Haggadot, presenting the text recited on the first two nights of the Jewish Passover, represents a remarkable array of geographic, linguistic, and temporal diversity. Encompassing more than four hundred years of Jewish culture, from the Ottoman Empire in 1505 to the State of Israel in the 1950s, the collection is comprised of haggadot from Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and the Near East. It incorporates a wide range of Jewish vernacular languages, from Yiddish and Ladino to Judeo-Italian and Judeo-Arabic in representative exemplars from Jewish communities across the globe, many long since dispersed.
The current exhibition, Haggadah: Telling and Retelling the Story of Jewish Liberation, highlights the breadth and depth of the Ungerleider Collection. This extraordinary gift to the University honors Dr. Steven Ungerleider’s father, Samuel Ungerleider, Jr. ‘39.
The exhibition will be on display in the lobby and main gallery of the John Hay Library from Monday, March 5, through Friday, June 15, 2018.
Dates: March 5 – June 15, 2018 Time: John Hay Library Hours Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence
The Brown University Library recently acquired the papers of award-winning science fiction and dark fantasy writer Caitlin R. Kiernan.
“In April 2011, I wrote a story featuring my recurring character Dancy Flammarion. The story was titled “Bus Fair,” and it concerns Dancy having to play a riddle game with a werewolf to get back a cigar box containing her most precious possessions. The story became the basis for the first issue of Alabaster, the graphic novel series I scripted for Dark Horse Comics between 2011 and 2015.
In October and November of 2010, after I’d gotten the idea for “Bus Fair,” Kathryn and I created Dancy’s cigar box, because sometimes we do things like that. To pay bills, we auctioned it on eBay, where it brought a very respectable $785 from a longtime fan from Virginia. In July 2017, the fan offered to return the box to me, so that it could be kept with my papers at the John Hay Library. The New Testament in the box was donated by another fan (it had been her mother’s), and the cigar box itself was given to us by Kathryn’s cousin.” —Caitlín R. Kiernan
The Dancy Box is currently on view.
Dates: November 3 – November 30, 2017 Time: John Hay Library Hours Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence
Greetings and Salutations: Lovecraft on the Road & Caitlín R. Kiernan Papers @ Brown University on view at John Hay Library, exhibition gallery from August 16 – December 15, 2017.
Greetings and Salutations: Lovecraft on the Road
Journey from Providence, Rhode Island, to St. Augustine, Florida, during the spring and summer of 1934 with one of America’s most influential fantasy and horror fiction writers. Explore the life, past and places of Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890–1937) through his correspondence, postcards and related drawings from the Brown University Library, Special Collections.
Caitlín R. Kiernan Papers @ Brown University
With novels, chapbooks, comics and more than 250 short stories to her credit, science fiction and dark fantasy writer Caitlín R. Kiernan (b. 1964) is a prolific and independent force reflecting the formative influences of her youth, including H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, William S. Burroughs and Angela Carter.
The Brown University Library recently acquired the Caitlín R. Kiernan Papers, gifted by the author, consisting of personal papers, manuscripts, books, related artwork and objects. The collection represents both early and current works by the multiple award-winning author and published paleontologist. Additions to the collection will be made regularly by the author.
The John Hay Library has a new acquisition on display in the second floor landing case:
La conquista dell’Abissinia/ The conquest of Abyssinia Officine dell’Istituto italiano d’arti grafiche/ Office of the Italian Institute of Graphic Arts
Board game (paper and ink)
Milano: Carlo Erba S.A., 1936
Brown University Library, Special Collections
The item will be on display until May 31, 2017.
This Italian board game was created in 1936 by Officine dell’Istituto italiano d’arti grafiche in Bergamo during the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini in the midst of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (also referred as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War). The game was printed to advertise products from various Italian companies while spreading colonial propaganda that applauded the expansion of the Kingdom of Italy. This piece featured a powder to make artificial mineral water by the pharmaceutical company Carlo Erba, S.A.
Play is based on the rules of the European “game of the goose,” in which two or more players move pieces along a track of consecutively numbered spaces by rolling one or two dice. La conquista dell’Abissinia is played on a color illustrated sheet against the background of a map of the Ethiopian Empire (also known as Abyssinia). While not depicted, the game pays tribute to Pietro Badoglio, 2nd Duke of Addis Abeba, and his army and their ultimate occupation of the capital of Abyssinia. It consists of 68 numbered spaces representing the Italian flag, the Red Cross, contemporary political figures, and tanks of the Italian armed forces. The goal of the game is to reach the circle numbered 68 before any of the other players by avoiding as many obstacles as possible. It was designed to have a maximum of eight players, each equipped with a small disc representing various divisions of the Italian armed forces (Infantry, Air Force, Blackshirts, Alpine Troops, Corps of Engineers, Tank Division, Askari, or local colonial troops and Dubats or White Turbans). Directions are printed on the upper right corner of the sheet.
Dates: May 1 – May 31, 2017 Time:John Hay Library Hours Location: Second Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI
Report of the Examination of David Gibbs, Fanny Leach and Eliza P. Burdick, for the Alleged Murder of Sally Burdick, at Coventry, R. I., on 18th Feb. 1833 (Hartford: Hanmer and Comstock, 1833). With signature and manuscript annotations in the hand of Thomas Wilson Dorr.
The John Hay Library has two new acquisitions on display in the second floor landing case: manuscript trial notes and a report related to the State vs Francis Leach, 1833. They will be on display until April 3, 2017.
In February 1833, forty-eight-year-old Frances (nicknamed “Fanny”) Leach of Providence was called on to attend Sally Burdick, a young woman in Coventry, Rhode Island, who was found to be pregnant. The unmarried Sally resided in the home of her deceased brother’s father-in-law, David Gibbs. A witness named Mary Ann Briggs later testified that upon discovering Sally’s pregnancy, David Gibbs sought to contract Leach to “doctor off” the fetus. Accordingly, Leach borrowed a pair of forceps from Dr. William A. Hamilton in Providence and went down to Coventry to perform the procedure she had been asked to do. Sally, however, was not inclined to terminate her pregnancy in this way, and the operation went horribly wrong. Leach attempted to abort the child while Sally’s sister-in-law held her down, but the result was that Leach only perforated Sally’s uterus. When Sally died of gangrene after six days of acute suffering, Leach and Gibbs were indicted for her murder. Leach’s case was tried at the Superior Court for Kent County in October 1833 and, after a 9-day hearing before two judges and 13 magistrates, resulted in a conviction for manslaughter. Leach received a two-year prison sentence. According to the Niles Weekly Register of 30 November 1833, it was believed to be the second-longest trial ever held in Rhode Island, and “the first of the kind ever tried in New England.”
Prosecution of the case on behalf of the State of Rhode Island was undertaken by State Attorney General Albert C. Greene and his law apprentice, Thomas Wilson Dorr. Although they succeeded in the goal of obtaining justice for Sally Burdick, they could not bring Sally, or her baby, back to life. The case remains a reminder of a time when a woman’s reproductive choices were sharply limited by both social mores and available medical care, and when decisions about childbearing were often outside of a woman’s control under the law.
Dates: March 19 – April 3, 2017 Time:John Hay Library Hours Location: Second Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI
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.
Beth Taylor, Co-Director, Nonfiction Writing Program
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
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.