Announcement | Sean Briody ’19, Library Student Employee, Receives Stillwell Prize

Sean Briody '19

In April 2019, Sean Briody ’19 took first place in the John Russell Bartlett Society Stillwell Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting for his distinguished collection of Brunoniana from the 19th and 20th centuries. His collection of Brown University materials is notable for the dense web of personal connections to Brown that are documented in each of the books. A lover of libraries, Sean has worked in the Brown University Library during all four of his undergraduate years at Brown. He attributes his love for book collecting to his work here.

Stillwell Competition

Sponsored by the John Carter Brown Library’s John Russell Bartlett Society, the Stillwell Prize is named in honor of the late Margaret Bingham Stillwell, Brown Class of 1909, the University’s first woman Professor of Bibliography, a renowned scholar of early printing, and Librarian at the Annmary Brown Memorial. The Stillwell Papers are housed in the University Archives.

The Brown Band

Sean was appointed historian of the Brown Band during his sophomore year and was asked to organize the partially unprocessed collection of Brown Band materials at the Hay. Through this connection, the Band donated additional papers to the archives, bringing the collection from 15 to 21 boxes. During this time, Sean also curated the exhibit, Ever True: A History of the Brown Band, at Orwig Music Library, after soliciting items from alumni, including a uniform from the Band’s founder, Irving Harris, and a 1927 Victor record of the Band–the first Brown musical group to be professionally recorded. According to Holly Snyder, Curator of American Historical Collections and the History of Science, and Sean’s supervisor at the Hay, “His interests in collecting, curation, and many different aspects of Brown’s history are truly outstanding.”

Collections Assistant

The Hay staff was so impressed with Sean’s work on the Band archive that he was hired as a collections assistant to catalog and organize parts of the Lownes Collection, the Rush Hawkins Collection, the Porter Collection of Washington Portraits, and a recent gift of important books from Dan Siegel ’57.

Finding Hidden Gems

Sean has a knack for finding hidden gems in the stacks. While working in Circulation at the Rock, he noticed an interesting report from the 1867 Anti-Slavery Conference in Paris, inside of which he found an inscription to Theodore Weld from William Lloyd Garrison.

Reverend lysander dickerman

Later, he was browsing a collection of Egyptian travelogues when he came across a boxed book with “Rock (Temporary)” on the spine. Within the box was a finely bound auction catalog with newspaper clippings pasted atop each page. The book, which details the Rev. Joseph Thompson’s trip to Egypt in 1853, is also a scrapbook of sorts, compiled by Rev. Lysander Dickerman (1825-1902), Brown Class of 1851, a lecturing Egyptologist in the 1880s and 1890s. After his death, Rev. Dickerman’s widow donated his library to Brown, along with his lectures and accompanying glass lantern slides. This volume sparked an interest in Dickerman for Sean. He consulted the original accession registers to reconstruct Dickerman’s library. In December 2018, Sean performed a costumed reenactment of Dickerman’s lecture, “The Pharaohs,” before an audience of professors, students, and library staff at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World.

Favorite Collections

In his work as a collections assistant at the Hay, Sean has been particularly intrigued by the personal library of General Rush C. Hawkins, the husband of Annmary Brown. Hawkins’s collection of incunabula is catalogued, but his personal library has remained untouched since 2004, when item records were created but nothing further was done. The collection contains many treasures. Among those Sean has found so far are a book that belonged to King Louis Philippe (and also bears a gift inscription to Annmary Brown from her uncle John Carter Brown (1797-1874); a book that may have belonged to George Washington; William Lloyd Garrison’s Works, inscribed by the author to Nicholas Brown III (1792-1859); and a second edition of Robinson Crusoe (1719). According to Sean, “Not only are there many valuable research tools in the collection, but these books give a rare insight into the personal life of the Brown family–a popular research topic. Nicholas Brown III was minister to Rome during the European Revolution of 1848, and thus any of his books that relate to his travels in Europe are important for study.”

One of Sean’s favorite things at the Library is the Sidney S. Rider Collection. He describes Rider as an amazing collector: “Almost every book has something special added to it–maybe it’s a badge from a monument unveiling, a photograph, or an inscription from Moses Brown. Regardless, it’s the best resource for Rhode Island history around.”

North Burial Ground

In addition to his work at the Library, Sean is a records management and genealogy specialist intern for the North Burial Ground in Providence. The cemetery has existed since 1700, but official records were not kept until 1848. Sean is indexing these print records. He has also created some new tours for the cemetery, focused on topics including Brown University, black heritage, and Rhode Island politics. 

Future Studies

Originally from Commack, NY on Long Island, Sean has found Providence to be “rainy, but a blast.” He will remain in Rhode Island for at least a couple more years since he is entering the MA program in public humanities at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage this fall. He looks forward to continuing exploration into the management of both object and paper archives, his primary focus of study.

Announcement | Holly Snyder Presents at RISD Museum Event on Gorham Company

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.

The symposium was videotaped and can be viewed on YouTube.

Exhibit Catalog

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

Symposium Presentation

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.

Exhibition

The Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850–1970 exhibition will runs through December 1, 2019 at the RISD Museum.

Event | The Vietnam War – Enduring Impact on the Brown Community, an Alumni Reunion Forum

In the late 1960s, the Vietnam War was raging. Brown graduates had to make choices – some joined the military, some went to Vietnam, some protested, some left the country, some never came home. The lives of both men and women at Brown were profoundly affected.

Come hear from our panelists and join in the discussion about how the Brown community and so many others have been affected by the Vietnam War, then and now.

Moderator

Joe Petteruti ’69 (Rhode Island Air National Guard), Commercial banking and real estate finance

Panelists

  • Thelma Austin ’69, publisher
  • David I. Kertzer ’69, Paul R. Dupee Jr., University Professor of Social Science, professor of anthropology and Italian studies, Brown University
  • Scott Somers ’69 (Naval ROTC, U.S. Navy), co-founder of an executive search firm

Sponsored by the Brown University Library and Brown Alumni Association.

Date: Saturday, May 25, 2019
Time: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect St, Providence

A Student’s Journey through Special Collections and the Creation of “Fields of Hay”

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 behind it.

“Howard terrace, Pembroke College, Providence, R.I.” (1960). Landscaping directed by Mary Elizabeth Sharpe. Images of Brown. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.

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.

John Hay Library’s copy of Shakespeare’s first Folio. Photo by Shira Buchsbaum.

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 shira_buchsbaum@brown.edu.

Exhibit | In Solidarity: Exhibiting Civic Engagement, Protest, and Activism on Campus

On Wednesday, December 12, 2018 from 12 – 2 p.m., the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice will present In Solidarity: Exhibiting Civic Engagement, Protest, and Activism on Campus. The Brown University Library is taking part in this campus-wide, end of semester open gallery event, during which students and members of the community are invited to experience different perspectives on issues of social justice.

Each exhibition on the self-guided tour examines civic engagement, activism, and protest through archival documents, contemporary artwork, historic photographs, and music.

The Library’s exhibit, Protest & Perspectives: Students at Brown 1960s – 90s, was created by the Brown University Archives Fellows and can be viewed on the wall outside of the Patric Ma Digital Scholarship Lab in the Rockefeller Library.

Seven locations with eleven exhibits will be available on the tour. Click here for the list of spaces and exhibits and click here for a map of the participating galleries.

Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Time: 12 – 2 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI and other locations on campus

Announcement | 50 Year Anniversary of the Black Student Walkout: A Collaboration between Brown University Archives and WGBH

Produced by WGBH and reporter Gabrielle Emanuel, the video, “Fifty Years Ago, Black Students At Brown Walked Out For Change” is available on WGBH online.

Click here to read the WGBH story and see the video.

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

Click here to see the online exhibit about the Walkout.

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):

Alumni Reunion Forum | Taking Action in the Public Square

Were you first engaged in organizing for change at Brown?  Are you engaged now? Join fellow Brown alumni to discuss the gratification and challenges of public engagement. Share your story about your participation in efforts to make your community a better place through social change, greater diversity, higher standards, and equitable structures.

Join the Brown University Library and the Brown Alumni Association for an Alumni Reunion Forum entitled, “Taking Action in the Public Square,” on Saturday, May 26, from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library.

Participants:

  • Jane Beckett (Class of 1968), Jane Beckett & Associates
  • Bob Cohen (Class of 1968), Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
  • Katie Cohen (Class of 2013), North Shore (Massachusetts) Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Jim Dickson (Class of 1968), American Association of People with Disabilities
  • Ken Galdston (Class of 1968), InterValley Project
  • Rinku Sen (Class of 1988), Race Forward

Date: Saturday, May 26, 2018
Time: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Todd Haynes Image Books (1995 – 2017)

I’m Not There (2007) , Todd Haynes Image Book

Award-winning filmmaker Todd Haynes has created image books for each of his films beginning with Safe in 1995. In an interview with the New York Times, Haynes explained the books in terms of his process as “a way of communicating beyond words that gets to the crux of what the mood, temperature and stylistic references would be.” (January 28, 2016)

Todd Haynes graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Art-Semiotics (1985). The director of Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, Poison, Dottie Gets Spanked, Safe, Velvet Goldmine, Far from Heaven, I’m Not There, Mildred Pierce, Carol, and Wonderstruck, Haynes was a pioneer of the New Queer Cinema movement and is known for his ongoing visual and narrative experiments within narrative cinema and television and his engagement with gender, sexuality, identity, mediation, and living inside/outside of “the mainstream.”

Currently on View:
Safe (1995)
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Far from Heaven (2002)
Carol (2015)
Wonderstruck (2017)

Dates: May 1 – 4, 2018
Time: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Greek Life – A Brief History of Phi Beta Kappa at Brown

Greek Life – A Brief History of Phi Beta Kappa at Brown
Selected Items On View From the Brown University Archives

For over 200 years Phi Beta Kappa has celebrated academic achievement and advocated for freedom of thought.  It is the oldest and most prestigious academic honors society in the United States.

The Rhode Island Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was founded at Brown University in 1830. Brown students elected to Phi Beta Kappa join a tradition that exemplifies the Phi Beta Kappa motto “Love of learning is the guide of life,” symbolized in the gold key.  Membership is diverse, connecting U.S. Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, Nobel Laureates, authors, diplomats, athletes, researchers, actors, and business leaders.

Dates: February 6 – March 30, 2018
TimeJohn D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library Hours
Location: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Victorious Secret by Angela Lorenz ’87, P’18

Victorious Secret: The “Bikini Girls” are Winning the Pentathlon on view at the Rockefeller Library, from August 31 – November 20, 2017

Surprise! The nearly two-thousand-year-old mosaics from Villa Romana del Casale  in Sicily, known simply as the “bikini girls,” are really female athletes from prestigious Roman families. Brown University is the tenth venue for this traveling suite of triptychs, made of buttons and hairpins, which sets the record straight on women in sports.

Meet artist Angela Lorenz, class of 1987, P’18 to learn about her visual arts project and the impact of study abroad on Friday, October 13, 2017, at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library.

Dates: August 31 – November 20, 2017
TimeJohn D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library Hours
Location: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence