JHL Conservation Bulletin | June 2017

A quarterly installment highlighting Library Conservation in the Brown University community, conservation news around the internet, and ways for you to connect with conservation.

Book and paper conservation

Now that you have met him and seen his work: Gary Frost and the Sewn Boards Binding.

“The classical ‘before and after’ contrast reveals the character of the treatment. Following treatment, the appearance is where much of the outcome is assessed. The intent is an elegant ordinary appearance with a timeless quality. Such an aesthetic of the ordinary conveyed by an attractive yet omissive appearance is an inviting artistic challenge.”

This is typical Frost prose, which I come back to often through his writings. He speaks as he writes, and my internship with him years ago was filled with discourses on bookbinding through art history, world civilizations, philosophy, etc., along with hands on instruction. By incorporating the historical sewn boards binding model into conservation he achieves everything I strive for in my repairs; aesthetics, simplicity, function, and longevity, all with minimal invasion into the existing structure, minimal adhesive in the new construction, and durable materials. Innovation springs from tradition.

In house treatment at the Hay

With over 10,000 pamphlets bound in over 1900 volumes, Brown’s Metcalf Collection materials are popular in classes and in the reading room. Although the collection spans three centuries, they were bound in different iterations with leather, paper, and cloth throughout the latter of the three. Of greatest concern are the half leather bindings failing in the most dramatic way. It isn’t only the deterioration of the binding that disrupts access to these volumes, it is the itinerant red rot drifting from shelf to patron and back again that also requires a remedy.

Perfectly suited for sewn boards conservation bindings, approximately one-third of the Metcalf collection will receive this treatment over the next few years. Intact text blocks receive new endpapers, layered boards, drummed on cotlin spines and paper sides.

Find conservation online and in person

An incredibly affordable and promising one-day symposium on the codex in Ohio is now open for registration. Speakers Julia Miller and James Reid-Cunningham are reasons enough to attend, but there will also be a Morgan Conservatory representative there and the Dard Hunter Mountain House is a mere hour away by car. The codex, again this month? Yes, again.

I champion the use of paper in book repair, even when treating damaged leather. While paper is durable it isn’t perfect, but its deterioration doesn’t cause the mess and threat to the collections that comes from leather. Not that all animal products age badly, paper is not necessarily vegetarian.

***View these links as a list.



It has been fun and rewarding to contextualize my conservation work in this format over the past year, and I’ve especially enjoy reading your comments about these posts- please keep them coming! More to come from me in September.

-Rachel Lapkin, Library Materials Conservator

UPDATE 5/1: LexisNexis is Working!!

4/26/2017:LexisNexis is currently unavailable from off-campus. On-campus, you need to remove the phrase revproxy.brown.edu from your URL after you login to be able to search effectively in LexisNexis. The publisher and CIS have been notified and a notice will be posted here when the service is back up and working properly.

We apologize for the inconvenience. An alternate resource to use is HEINOnline.

JHL Conservation Bulletin | March 2017

JHL Conservation Bulletin

A quarterly installment highlighting Library Conservation in the Brown University community, conservation news around the internet, and ways for you to connect with conservation.

Book and paper conservation

Bridging technologies of the book has come to mean something more to binders and conservators than tracing the archaeology of medieval binding structures. More often than not, these same craft practitioners are more open minded and curious about emerging trends in information delivery because they have been studying these trends in depth their entire careers. And with continued interest and the support of collaborative research centers, book technology continues to evolve.

In house treatment at the Hay

The era of hybrid Greek-style bindings reminds us that temporal and regional binding technologies are standard, particular, and ultimately recognizable. Rare MS Greek Codex 2 was damaged and, I suspect, cared for before it found its home at Brown. While it can be argued that much of this manuscript would have been lost without intervention, pressure sensitive tape can be a bear to remove; especially when there are manuscript inks and weakened paper supports involved. We have fancy automobile paint jobs, ultimately- or – originally, to thank for this patch-work.

Find conservation online and in person

The codex is a nearly perfect technology in its inception. At its most basic, it is a self-contained unit combining protection, identification, navigable information, and depending on the circumstances contorts its physicality for portability, showmanship, and ritual. Page supports and media can remain intact even in challenging circumstances, and a single, artful vessel holds endless information. It is a structure that has been and continues to be documented, studied, and (re)/produced. What comes next?


Now that you have met him and seen his work: Gary Frost and the Sewn Boards Binding. Until June, when we mark one year of the JHL Conservation Bulletin!

-Rachel Lapkin, Library Materials Conservator

P.S. ***View links as a list here.

Alumni Resources are Currently Unavailable!!

2/27/17: Due to the changeover to the new Alumni/Giving website, Library eresources for Alumni are currently unavailable. We are working to fix the problems and hope to have the eresources up and running very soon. In the near future, we will be adding new eresources as well such as Project Muse, Sage Ejournals, Adam Matthew Digital, CQ Press materials, and the Shoah Visual History Archive.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Events | DEFYING THE NAZIS: THE SHARPS’ WAR – Discussions with Artemis Joukowsky


Spend two evenings with author Artemis Joukowsky III P’14, P’16, who tells the incredible story of his grandparents, Martha Ingham Dickie (Brown 1926) and Rev. Waitstill Hastings Sharp in his new book, Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War (Beacon Press, 2016), also a film by Ken Burns of the same name.

On Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in the Special Collections Reading Room of the John Hay Library, Artemis Joukowsky and Holly Snyder, Ph.D., Curator of American Historical Collections and North American History Librarian, will discuss how Artemis researched this story, collaborated with Ken Burns and others to develop the film project, and ultimately published a companion book.

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in the Special Collections Reading Room of the John Hay Library, we will officially close the exhibit related to the book and film, A Hymn for the Brave: The Sharps and Humanitarian Work in World War II. During the discussion, Artemis’ parents Martha Sharp Joukowsky, PhD ’58, PHB’82 hon., LHD’85 hon., P’87, GP’13, GP’14, GP’16, GP’17 and Artie Joukowsky, Jr. ’55, LLD’85 hon., P87, GP’13, GP’14, GP’16, GP’17 will join in via WebEx.

A reception and book-signing will follow the discussions on both nights. Books will be available for sale from the Brown Bookstore. These events are free and open to the public.

Rev. Waitstill and Martha Sharp leading adults and children to an airplane in Czechoslovakia, 1939.

Rev. Waitstill and Martha Sharp leading adults and children to an airplane in Czechoslovakia, 1939.

The Sharps, who helped to found the Unitarian Service Committee in the midst of World War II, personally oversaw USC efforts to rescue refugees from dire situations under Nazi occupation in Czechoslovakia and France and helped to save hundreds of lives across Europe. Defying the Nazis supplements the PBS documentary of the same name, co-produced by Joukowsky with Ken Burns, and which premiered on PBS stations in September 2016. Joukowsky’s book fleshes out the Sharps’ story in ways that simply could not be done within the boundaries of a 90 minute film.

Artemis has been researching the wartime efforts of his grandparents since he was a teenager, and over the past four decades has compiled important documentation about their work with refugees and its ultimate costs on their marriage and family. This is a story of simple people finding strength they had no idea they possessed. It is a story of individuals standing up to unthinkable evil. It is a story that contains both the twists and turns of a classic spy thriller, as well as the heartbreaks and triumphs of the most compelling drama. And, above all, Defying the Nazis is a tragic love story—a story of what one man and one woman could accomplish together, and how those very achievements pulled them apart.


Children’s Journey to Freedom : A Report by Martha Sharp of the First Children’s Emigration Project, Unitarian Service Committee, 1941

Dates: Tuesday, February 21 and Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Time: 5:30 p.m., both nights
Location: Special Collections Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Exhibit | WWII Japanese Incarceration Swing Bands

WWII Japanese Incarceration Swing Bands, a new exhibit in Orwig Music Library curated by Ethnomusicology PhD student Julian Saporiti, shines a light on the 75th Anniversary of the Japanese American Incarceration. On February 19th, 1942, President Roosevelt bowed to racist, anti-Japanese hysteria and signed Executive Order 9066 which removed 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom were citizens, from their homes on the west coast. They were relocated to concentration camps, under armed guard and behind barbed wire.

The exhibit also pays tribute to the musicians who, of their own accord, formed swing bands and performed at weekly dances in almost all of the ten camps to boost morale among the young people in the camps. The Brown Music Department hopes that by focusing on this tragic and sadly relevant part of our American history, those who visit this exhibit to will be encouraged to heed the words of many of those who lived through it: “Do not let this happen again.”

Dates: February 19 – May 19, 2017
Time: Orwig Music Library Hours
Location: Orwig Music Library, 1 Orchard Avenue, Providence, RI

NAXOS Music Library Currently Unavailable

NAXOS Music Library has been down since Thursday, December 1. The problem has been reported to NAXOS support. Despite what the error message says, our license has not expired. In November 2016, we renewed until December 2017.

A notice will be posted here as soon as the resource is back up and running. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Thank you.

Event | In the Mountains of Madness: A Reading with Author W. Scott Poole

In the Mountains of Madness-cv-REV (1)

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, W. Scott Poole will give a reading from his new book, In the Mountains of Madness: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of H. P. Lovecraft. A discussion will follow the reading. This event is free and open to the public. The book will be available for purchase before and after the event.


In the Mountains of Madness interweaves the biography of the legendary writer with an exploration of Lovecraft as a phenomenon. It aims to explain this reclusive figure while also challenging some of the general views held by Lovecraft devotees, focusing specifically on the large cross-section of horror and science fiction fans who know Lovecraft through films, Role Playing Games, and video games directly influenced by his work, but who know little or nothing about him.

From a childhood wracked with fear and intense hallucinations, Lovecraft would eventually embrace the mystical, creating ways in which his unrestrained imaginary life intersected with the world he found so difficult to endure. The monsters of his dreams became his muses. Yet, Poole insists that Lovecraft was not the Victorian prude who wrote “squishy monster stories for boys.” Rather he was a kind of neo-romantic mystic whose love of the 18th century allowed him to bring together a bit of Isaac Newton with a bit of William Blake in a real marriage of heaven and hell.

More than a traditional biography, In the Mountains of Madness places Lovecraft and his work in a cultural context, as an artist more in tune with our time than his own. Much of the literary work on Lovecraft tries to place him in relation to Poe or M.R. James or Arthur Machen; these ideas have little meaning for most contemporary readers. In his provocative new book, Poole reclaims the true essence of Lovecraft in relation to the comics of Joe Lansdale, the novels of Stephen King, and some of the biggest blockbuster films in contemporary America, proving the undying influence of this rare and significant figure.

About W. Scott Poole

Poole, scott (c) Leslie McKellar (1)W. Scott Poole, who teaches at the College of Charleston, has written widely about American history, horror, and pop culture. His books include Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror and his award-winning history Monsters in America, which received the John G. Cawelti prize from the Popular Culture Association and was named among the “Best of the Best” by the AAUP for 2011. Poole is a regular contributor to Popmatters and his work has appeared in the Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches, and Killing the Buddha.

Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Dictionarium sinicum and Early Chinese Studies

Excerpt from Chinese-Latin dictionary with notes in Latin by Benjamin Bowen Carter. Dictionarium sinicum, page 608.

by Man Shun Yeung and Caroline Frank

Five years ago John Eng-Wong was looking for art for his office in American Studies, and University Curator Robert Emlen offered him a portrait of Benjamin Bowen Carter. Prompted by the painting, Eng-wong began to look into Carter’s background. A member of Brown University’s class of 1786 and a surgeon trained under Benjamin Rush, Carter was also one of the earliest Rhode Islander’s to sail to Canton as ship’s supercargo. Digging deeper into the archives, Eng-Wong, of Chinese descent himself, learned that Carter was perhaps the first American to make a serious attempt to learn Chinese. His research led him to Brown University Library Special Collections and two oversized eighteenth-century handwritten Chinese-Latin dictionaries—one bound and titled the Dictionarium sinicum, and the other in loose manuscript form.

Investigating this transpacific subject further, Eng-Wong then learned of a scholar in China also researching Carter—Professor Man Shun Yeung of The University of Hong Kong, who has now made two research visits to Brown University. Using rare resources found in both Brown University Library and the Rhode Island Historical Society archives, Professor Yeung intends to shine light on Carter’s role as an American pioneer in Chinese studies. His review of these two Chinese-Latin dictionaries reveals that Brown University is one of the very few special collections libraries in the world to own two different editions of the Hanzixiyi漢字西譯 (“Western Translation of Chinese Characters”) compiled by the Italian Franciscan priest Basile de Glemona (葉宗賢/葉尊教, 1648-1704). Glemona compiled the first edition of his dictionary between 1685-1694 when he was in Guangzhou and Nanjing, and the second edition between 1694-1700 when he was in Nanjing.

The Dictionarium sinicum was originally in Benjamin Bowen Carter’s possession. The “Carter manuscript” was donated by John Carter Brown (1797-1874)in 1844, as noted by his own inscription:

This volume belonged to my maternal uncle Doctor Benjamin Bowen Carter, a graduate of BU class 1786. Dr C. was a fine linguist & particularly versed in the Oriental languages & literature. He died in the City of New York AD 1831, aged 60 years.

It gives me pleasure to deposit this curious book in the College Library for preservation & for the use of those who may desire to consult it. 

Jhn Carter Brown
June 24,

The dictionary also includes notes from Benjamin Bowen Carter. Carter’s remarks provide important information on the transcription of the manuscript and his own instructions for understanding Chinese characters and pronunciation. Taking into consideration that the Chinese characters are arranged according to phonetic order, this manuscript is believed to be a handwritten copy of the second edition of Glemona’s dictionary.

The other Chinese-Latin dictionary now in Special Collections was owned by Samuel Ward (1756-1832). The “Ward manuscript” has an inscription on the front cover which reads “A Chinese Dictionary by Col Saml Ward,” and is described as “Chinese Dictionary with Manuscript Notes in Latin.” During 1788 and 1789, Samuel Ward sailed to China on the vessel General Washington, managing trade for the Providence firm Brown & Francis. It is uncertain when or where he acquired the manuscript. Judging from the fact that the Chinese characters are arranged according to the Chinese radicals 部首 and the Chinese title “漢字西譯” is inscribed at the end of the main contents, this manuscript is believed to be a handwritten copy of the first edition of Glemona’s dictionary. In the first seventeen pages, Guanhua官話 (term for the language of the officials) transliterations and Latin explanations supplement the Chinese characters.

The narrative that these two dictionaries document reshapes our understanding of early Sino-American cultural relations, and offers a glimpse into transpacific connections in the late eighteenth century. The Dictionarium sinicum will be on display on the second floor of the John Hay Library through August 19.