Exhibit | Spectacular Listening: U.S. Air Guitar

Photo courtesy of Whitney Young via Hidden Darkroom

This exhibit by ethnomusicology Ph.D. candidate Byrd McDaniel displays some of the memorabilia central to air guitar playing in the United States and the U.S. Air Guitar Championships in particular.  Advertised as the “greatest thing you’ve never seen,” the contemporary U.S. Air Guitar Championships stem from a long line of related practices throughout the twentieth century—such as pantomime, musical comedy, and dance—that crystallized in the late 1970s and early 1980s around air band and air guitar competitions. Byrd argues that we should think of air guitar as a type of listening—a practice in animating, translating, and transmitting rock recordings.

Air guitar competitions not only reproduce and revisit some of the classic moments in rock guitar history, but they also revise these moments, sometimes sustaining and sometimes challenging the often racist, sexist, and ableist narratives that litter the genre’s history. It can also undermine these problematic discourses as well, subordinating guitar greats and lofty values (like authenticity or virtuosity) to the tastes and talents of the amateur air guitarist.

Ultimately, air guitar playing reminds us how gesture and listening sustain important aspects of our cultural identities. It calls on us to rethink the origins of our current interactive and haptic technologies, which stem just as much from technological innovations as they do from a desire to take music recordings into our own hands.

Dates: February 12 – April 12, 2019
TimeLibrary Hours
Location: Orwig Music Library, 1 Young Orchard Avenue, Providence

Exhibit | Folklore Music Map of the United States

Folklore Music Map of the United States from the Primer of American Music
Dorothea Dix Lawrence (1899–1979)
New York, New York: Hagstrom Company,  Inc., 1946
Brown University Library, Special Collections

This colorful Folklore Music Map of the United States contains period illustrations, musical classifications and a bibliography.  With its visual overlay of music and geography, the map provides useful information about the varied and unique sounds produced nationally and studied by folklorists of the 1940s. Created by opera singer turned folklorist Dorothea Dix Lawrence from her Primer of American Music radio program, the map is an example of her efforts to broadly collect and disseminate music in America.  All of the music samples on the map were later published in a book entitled Folklore-Songs of the United States (1959).

Exhibit Dates: January 30 -Febuary 28, 2019
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

New Workshop | Research Photo Management with Tropy

If you’ve ever returned from the archives with interesting images, but no plan as to where to preserve those images and write the proper metadata for them, Tropy is a new resource that may interest you. Tropy is free, open source software that allows you to easily import, preserve, edit, and describe your photographs and primary source documents. The Brown University Library is hosting the first Tropy workshop on the Brown University campus on January 31, 2019 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab in the Rockefeller Library. The workshop will be led by Ashley Champagne, Ph.D., Digital Humanities Librarian at the Brown University Library and  Jim McGrath, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage

In this interactive workshop, we’ll offer an overview of the software and present a case study on how you might use the software for your own research. In short, here are a few things that you can do with Tropy:

  1. Easily import your photos into Tropy
  2. Organize your photo collections into folders
  3. Add and edit metadata in bulk (or individually). For example, when you return from a given archive, you can add one location and the data of access across the entire image collection.
  4. Allow the metadata categories guide your own research needs.

To demonstrate some of Tropy’s features, we’re providing a walkthrough of a particular research project involving archival materials in the Michael J. Ciaraldi Comics Collection at the John Hay Library. (Thanks to Heather Cole and the staff at the John Hay Library for helping us access these materials.)

Many of us use cameras on our smartphones to create images of what we’re reviewing in archives or documenting on field research. We then look at these photos on our laptops or desktops, especially when we need to consult these images while writing or when conducting additional research. While storing copies of files in cloud-based storage services like Dropbox or Google Photos has its advantages (and might be part of your research workflow in some capacity for the purposes of creating backup files, among other reasons), saving research images locally on your hard drive allows you to take advantage of Tropy’s capabilities including metadata creation and management, transcription, and organization. Importing batches of files into Tropy is pretty easy: you can even quickly drag and drop materials into your virtual workspace.

The 29 image files you see above are related to two issues of the 1990s comic book anthology series Dark Horse Presents. There are images of various story installments, front and back covers, advertisements, letters, columns, and editorial commentary. While this collection includes extensive photos (there are duplicates in cloud storage just in case something is blurry or cropped!), the researcher might not want to wait too long to revisit the material. Even though cloud storage allows us to quickly migrate images from our phone to spaces that can be accessed by a range of devices, the convenience of these features can also make it easy for us to forget important contextual information related to our research. And sometimes, even when we take extensive notes by hand or on digital devices, that material can get lost or be difficult to retrieve if we’re not careful.

Tropy makes it easy to connect contextual materials directly to research files through its notes, metadata, and tagging capabilities. (You can even get this work started in Tropy right in the Special Collections Reading Room at the Hay, if you’ve got a camera, a laptop, a wifi connection, and enough time!)

Tropy allows you to use metadata in the way that works best for your particular research projects and workflows: it offers generic categories and Dublin Core fields, but you can also import templates or create customized templates with fields most relevant to your work. You can export metadata created in Tropy to use elsewhere. Whether you’re interested in documenting context for the purposes of searching and later citation, or you’d like to create organized data for use in Omeka S or other contexts, Tropy can help keep your work organized in the present and the future.

As you organize, it’s important to keep in mind the terms Tropy uses. A “Project” refers to the larger research project (in this case, research into the Dark Horse Presents publication). Items only live in one project. “Lists” allow you to further organize the various parts of your project: in this case, we’re using this feature to organize images related to individual publications (issues of Dark Horse Presents), stories (Sin City: The Hard Goodbye, a serial that appears across several issues of DHP), and particular content we’ll be focusing our research on more generally (advertisements, letters columns, and company editorials). “Tags” are ways to link items by particular people, themes, or other keywords. We’re using tags to track names of artists and editors of interest, names of characters and franchises, and kinds of artwork. You can edit, rename, reorganize, and revise lists and tags as you go. We’ve already tweaked our organizational habits a few times this week as our research has developed and we’ve grown more comfortable with Tropy.

As you can see, we’ve come a long way to organizing our material. There’s detailed documentation on what Tropy can and can’t do over at the project’s web site, and we’ve highlighted a few features that seem of particular interest to general users. You can register for the Tropy workshop here. We hope to see you there!

Date: Thursday, January 31, 2019
Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
LocationPatrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI
Workshop Leaders: Ashley Champagne, Jim McGrath

Exhibit | Music Publishers Association (MPA) Paul Revere Award exhibit

The Orwig Music Library is hosting a traveling exhibit: Winners of the Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence, awarded by the Music Publishers Association of the United States. The MPA gives prizes in several categories of music publishing, including different types of notesetting, design in folios, and cover design.

For more information about the Music Publishers Association and the Revere Award, please visit: https://www.mpa.org/paul-revere-awards/

: December 1, 2018 – January 25, 2019
TimeLibrary Hours
Location: Orwig Music Library, 1 Young Orchard Avenue, Providence

Exhibit | Works from “A Global History of Art & Architecture”

A course with Professors Sheila Bonde and Lindsay Caplan

Examine models and artwork created by students in Sheila Bonde’s and Lindsay Caplan’s lecture course, “A Global History of Art and Architecture”, which presents art, architecture, and material culture from cave paintings to installation art.  The works exemplify forms studied in the class.

Dates: December 20, 2018 – May 31, 2019
TimeJohn D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library Hours
Location: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Entwined: Botany, Art and the Lost Cat Swamp Habitat

The exhibit showcases the rich history of art and science in Providence and provokes you to consider the consequences of environmental change on local biodiversity.  Premiering original watercolors of plants by Edward Peckham together with matching specimens from the Brown University Herbarium, collected by William Bailey and others, explore the lost Cat Swamp habitat of the Wayland and Blackstone neighborhoods on the East Side.

This exhibition is the collaborative work of the Brown University Herbarium, Rhode Island Historical Society (RIHS), Rhode Island Wild Plant Society (RIWPS), and John Hay Library.

Opening reception:  Thursday, January 10th, 4-6 PM

Dates: January 10 – April 30, 2019
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Transcultural by Design: Iranian Ceramics

Transcultural by Design: Iranian Ceramics from the Minassian Collection
Curated by Rhodes Scholar Rhea Stark ‘18.5.

From where exactly do the Islamic arts originate is the question at the center of this exhibition. While the answer perhaps seems intuitive— the Islamic Middle East—the reality is far more complex. The Islamic arts have from their beginnings existed in circulation and conversation with an array of work originating in China, India, and Europe.

Explore Iranian ceramics from the Joukowsky Institute of Archaeology’s Minassian Collection and learn about their transcultural aesthetic references.

Exhibit Lecture

Expanding the Field, Disrupting Canons:
Iranian Ceramics, Trade, and Collecting Practices

Martina Rugiadi, Associate Curator of Islamic Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art will explore the historical techniques and trading practices of Iranian ceramics.

Please join us for the talk and Q&A. The lecture and exhibit are free and open to the public.

Exhibit Dates: December 14, 2018 – December 16, 2019
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Lecture Date: Friday, December 14, 2018
Lecture Time: 5 – 6:30 p.m.
Lecture Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Blooming in the Noise of the Whirlwind & Puerto Rico en mi corazón

Blooming in the Noise of the Whirlwind & Puerto Rico en mi corazón on view at John Hay Library, exhibition gallery.

Blooming in the Noise of the Whirlwind

This exhibition focuses on a small selection of the many extraordinary women poets represented in the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays. From women writing in the colonial period, to nineteenth-century working-class women documenting their everyday lives, to young activists writing in the aftermath of the 2016 election, through four centuries these poets have all used their work to celebrate their identity, express desire or anger, preserve memory, and amplify a message.

Puerto Rico en mi corazón

Puerto Rico en mi corazón is an anthology collecting forty-five contemporary Puerto Rican poets, both emerging and established, writing in both English and Spanish, living both on la isla and in the diaspora, afro-boricua, white, mixed, indigenx and of all genders. Organized by poet, printer and Brown faculty member Erica Mena, the fifteen displayed bilingual broadsides demonstrate collaborations between poets, translators and letterpress printers across the continental United States.

Dates: November 7 – December 14, 2018
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Prayer (1934) by Princess Red Wing of Seven Crescents

Prayer, World Day of Prayer for Peace, February 16, 1934
Princess Red Wing of Seven Crescents
Brown University Library, Special Collections


The item on display is a written prayer delivered at an observance of the World Day of Prayer at the Westminster Church, Yonkers, New York, by Princess Red Wing of Seven Crescents, a Narragansett and Pokanoket Wampanoag Indian, speaking on behalf of the Indian women of America. The principal element of the prayer charts the quest of a young boy and leads to a call for reconciliation and peace based on a syncretistic Christian faith.

Princess Red Wing, or Mary E. Glasko (1896–1987), was an internationally known activist, “preserver of Eastern Native American traditions,” and lecturer who co-founded the Tomaquag Museum, the first and only Native American Museum in Rhode Island. She was awarded numerous distinctions and honors during her lifetime, including induction into the Rhode Island Hall of Fame in 1978.

Exhibit Lecture

On Monday, November 19, 2018 from 12 – 1 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Lorén Spears (Narragansett), Executive Director of Tomaquag Museum, will discuss the life and legacy of Princess Red Wing who was, in addition to being a Narragansett/Wampanoag leader, a culture bearer, author, and educator.

Please join us for the talk and Q&A, we also invite you to view the exhibit across the street at the John Hay Library. The lecture and exhibit are free and open to the public.

Exhibit Dates: November 6 – 30, 2018
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Lecture Date: Monday, November 19, 2018
Lecture Time: 12 – 1 p.m.
Lecture Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Mail carried by Murier, an enslaved person

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
TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence