Preservation Week Lecture by Elisabetta Polidori: Miracles of Mary

Elisabetta Polidori

Elisabetta Polidori

In honor of Preservation Week, Elisabetta Polidori, the Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Paper Conservation at the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), will give a talk about the technical examination and conservation treatment of an Ethiopic illuminated manuscript located at the Brown University Library, Ta’amera Maryam (Miracles of Mary), one of the most popular of Ethiopian texts. The talk will take place Wednesday, April 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL), located on the first floor of the Rockefeller Library. This event is free and open to the public.

The Miracles of Mary is a collection of miraculous tales, some composed in Ethiopia, some composed by Christians in Egypt, some composed in Europe, but all translated into Geez, the language of the Ethiopian Church around A.D. 1400. In the mid-fifteenth century the reading of three of these tales was required during each Sunday liturgy as well as on feast days dedicated to Our Lady Mary.

Polidori received her M.A. in Conservation of Paper and Parchment from the Opificio delle Pietre Dure of Florence in 2006, and in the same year she obtained a B.A. in Art History from the University of Florence. She gained extensive experience in the conservation and treatment of paper-based artifacts, working in private practice and public museums around the world. After graduation she started a long collaboration with the Pitti Palace Museum of Florence, Italy, for the conservation of its collection of Chinese paintings. From 2008 until 2011 she worked in the paper conservation department of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. Subsequently, she served as Postgraduate Conservation Fellow at the Freer & Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, and the Claire W. and Richard P. Morse Fellow for Advanced Training in Paper Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston. She is currently the Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Paper Conservation at the Northeast Document Conservation Center. The NEDCC is the first independent conservation laboratory in the United States to specialize exclusively in the conservation and preservation of paper-based collections. Polidori is specialized in the treatment of Western artworks on paper and has a strong interest in the conservation of Asian and Islamic art. She is a member of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

Date: April 30, 2014
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect St.

Wendy Schiller Book Talk on April 24 – Electing the Senate: Indirect Democracy before the 17th Amendment

Wendy Schiller, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University

Wendy Schiller, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University

Wendy Schiller, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University, will give a talk about the forthcoming book she co-authored with Charles Stewart III of MIT: Electing the Senate: Indirect Democracy before the 17th Amendment on Thursday, April 24 at 5:30 p.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab located on the first floor of the Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street. This event is free and open to the public.

Schiller will discuss the process and politics surrounding the election of U.S. Senators in state legislatures before the adoption of direct elections in 1913. Conventional wisdom suggests that this process was so dominated by political party machine bosses and bribery that the outcomes were determined long before the actual balloting began. In their book, Schiller and Stewart debunk these myths and show how the process actually worked across all states between 1871-1913. They found that elite competition and party factionalism dominated the election of U.S. Senators under the old system and that the role of partisanship and money was quite similar to the modern Senate today. Though the U.S. changed the Constitution to enhance Senate representation, Schiller and Stewart argue that it remains an unfulfilled promise.

The talk will include a focus on the data collection of historical materials and how the authors went about digitizing them, inputting them, and working with the Brown Library on the online collection. The project includes more than 577,000 observations in Excel data format for roll call votes and 106,000 observations of the names of the legislators who served in state legislatures during the time of the study. It is a unique and original dataset.

Wendy Schiller is Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University (on Twitter @profwschiller). She completed her undergraduate work in political science at the University of Chicago, served on the staffs of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Governor Mario Cuomo, and then obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. After Fellowships at the Brookings Institution and Princeton University, she came to Brown in 1994. She teaches popular courses titled The American PresidencyIntroduction to the American Political Process, and Congress and Public Policy at Brown. Among books she has authored or co-authored are Gateways to Democracy: An Introduction to American Government (Cengage), The Contemporary Congress (Thomson-Wadsworth), and Partners and Rivals: Representation in U.S. Senate Delegations (Princeton University Press). Her latest book and the subject of this lecture, Electing the Senate: Indirect Democracy before the 17th Amendment, is forthcoming at Princeton University Press. The project grew out of a National Science Foundation grant.

She has also published in academic journals including the American Journal of Political Science, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Studies in American Political Development, and the Journal of Politics. She is a frequent contributor to major national news outlets such as MSNBC, NPR,, and Bloomberg News, she provides local political commentary to the Providence Journal, WPRO radio, RIPBS A Lively Experiment, and she is the political analyst for WJAR10, the local NBC affiliate in Providence. Professor Schiller regularly gives speeches on current and historical American politics to local and national organizations.

Date: April 24, 2014
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street

Lives Change @ Your Library | National Library Week

National Llibrary Week

This week (April 13–19) is National Library Week. The theme this year is “Lives Change @ Your Library.”

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA). Libraries across the country celebrate each April. It is an opportunity for the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians to be recognized and to also promote library use and support.

Judy Blume (best-selling author and intellectual freedom advocate) will serve as Honorary Chair of this year’s National Library Week.

To kick off this week’s celebrations, the ALA released this year’s “State of America’s Libraries Report” on April 14, 2014. The report highlights trends in the library world.

G. Thomas Couser ’77 to Deliver Annual Yoken Lecture – April 22

G. Thomas Couser '77

G. Thomas Couser ’77

G. Thomas Couser ‘77, Professor Emeritus of English at Hofstra University, will deliver the annual Mel and Cindy Yoken Cultural Series Lecture on Tuesday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Building for Environmental Research and Teaching (BERT), located at 85 Waterman Street. In his talk, “A Life in Letters – Letters as Life,” Couser will discuss the process of writing his father’s memoir and how that process led him to appreciate the many values of correspondence. A reception will follow the lecture. This event is free and open to the public.

Couser based the memoir on letters he found in a closet when his father died. The writing process led him to appreciate correspondence as historical and biographical evidence, as a medium of self-expression, and as the very stuff of relational life.

Couser received his Ph.D. from Brown in 1977 and is the author of several books on disability studies and American literature, including Memoir: An Introduction, a survey of the memoir genre.

Friends of the Library is an association interested in fostering the growth and usefulness of the Brown University Library and in encouraging gifts of books, desirable collections, other scholarly materials and funds.

The Brown University Library is home to more than 6.8 million print items, plus a multitude of electronic resources and expanding digital archives serving the teaching, research, and learning needs of Brown students and faculty, as well as scholars from around the country and the world.

Date: April 22, 2014
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Building for Environmental Research and Teaching (BERT), 85 Waterman Street

Lecture by Praveena Gullapalli: Exhibits, Display Strategies, and Visitor Engagements – April 15

Dr. Praveena Gullapalli, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Rhode Island College

Dr. Praveena Gullapalli, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Rhode Island College

Praveena Gullapalli, archaeologist and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rhode Island College, will be at the Rockefeller Library Digital Scholarship Lab on Tuesday, April 15 from 3 – 4 p.m. to deliver a lecture titled “Exhibits, Display Strategies, and Visitor Engagements.” This event is free and open to the public.

Museums have been places where people engage with a variety of objects organized into displays, and through them, engage with aspects of the past and the present, with the familiar and the foreign. Because visitors encounter these exhibits not in isolation but in conjunction with already formed views of the world, in the process, they remake the nature of those same exhibits. These re-makings and their implications lead to a more nuanced understanding of what happens in museums and consequently about the nature of exhibits.

In her talk, Gullapalli will discuss how her experience with museum exhibits can inform the ways in which exhibitors present artifacts in other, smaller exhibit settings, such as libraries and academic departments, to enhance visitor engagement. She asserts that it might be in these smaller spaces that exhibits can be more agile, engaging with a variety of visitor experiences and expectations.

Praveena Gullapalli is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rhode Island College. She is an archaeologist who received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, where her doctoral research investigated the organization of iron production in northwestern India. She is also interested in and has investigated the ways in which archaeological knowledge is constructed and disseminated, especially within the context of museums and other popular media in colonial and post-colonial contexts. She is currently developing a project (with Shinu Abraham at St. Lawrence University and K.P. Rao at University of Hyderabad) that investigates the pre-modern production landscape of southern Andhra Pradesh, also in India.

This lecture is sponsored by the Brown University Library Exhibitions Committee.

Date: April 15, 2014
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Digital Scholarship Lab (First Floor of the Rockefeller Library), 10 Prospect Street

Images of the Great War: The European Offensives 1914-1916 Exhibit at the President Woodrow Wilson House

On the Road to Sedan, Frank Elim, November 1915, watercolor on paper

On the Road to Sedan, Frank Elim, November 1915, watercolor on paper

Images of the Great War: The European Offensives 1914-1916, a selection of World War I paper-based art from the Brown University Library’s renowned Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, will be on exhibit at the President Woodrow Wilson House, located at 2340 S. Street, NW, Washington, DC, from April 3 to August 10. The Library is honored to be co-sponsoring the exhibit with the museum, an ideal setting. Members of the public are invited to the opening, complimentary reception on Thursday, April 3 from 6 – 8 p.m.

In 2012, Andrew Woelflein ’86, Presiding Trustee of the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection Committee of Management, had the idea to showcase the collection on the centennial anniversary of the war at the President Woodrow Wilson House. President Wilson was in office when war broke out in Europe. He entered the U.S. into the conflict when he signed the Declaration of War in 1917. After issuing his Fourteen Points for Peace in 1918, he developed the concept of an international body that became the League of Nations in 1919 and helped negotiate the end of the war eighteen months after the U.S. joined the effort. When he retired from the presidency in 1921, he resided in this house, now the President Woodrow Wilson House, until his death in 1924. The only presidential museum in Washington, DC, it has been well preserved by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to appear much as it did in the 1920s.

The Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection Committee of Management, the Brown Club of Washington, DC, and the Library will host a reception for members of the Brown community at the President Woodrow Wilson House featuring a lecture by Richard Striner, Professor of History at Washington College, based on his new book Woodrow Wilson and World War I: A Burden Too Great to Bear on Friday, May 9 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Professor Striner will be signing his book after the lecture. The book will be available for purchase on site.

The exhibit’s forty-four prints, drawings, and watercolors present today’s viewer with personal impressions of the Great War. Scenes of high drama and action set alongside images of pathos and deep sadness capture the contradictions inherent in war: suffering and joy, violence and tenderness, inhumanity and humanity. Curated by Peter Harrington, curator of the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, and Stephanie Daugherty, curator at the President Woodrow Wilson House, the exhibit includes works by French, British, Italian, German, Dutch, Austrian, Turkish, and Swiss artists. It offers multiple perspectives of the war that brought such horror to the world—trench warfare, chemical warfare, and massive casualties, and such beauty—the famous poetry of the war, the monuments, and the visual art that is so well represented by this collection.

Multiple viewpoints are emphasized not only through the varied nationalities of the artists but also through the role of the artist and the original, intended audience. Curator Peter Harrington points out, “The significance of the prints and drawings on exhibit is that they offer an interesting contrast between those produced for the home front, often for commercial purposes, and the images created by the soldiers themselves.” Viewers of the exhibit will have the opportunity to see examples of both.

A display case containing 120 miniature lead soldiers from the Military Collection will be on exhibit as well. All the pieces in the exhibit will feature a poppy symbol, inspired by Major John McCrae’s famous poem “In Flanders Fields,” which has come to symbolize the loss of a generation on the battlefields of WWI: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row….” Harrington explains that use of the poppy further coalesces the pieces in the exhibit and underscores the emotional and historical value of each as remembrances of a war that had such a profound effect on the 20th century.

The Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection is the foremost American collection of material devoted to the history and iconography of soldiers and soldiering and is one of the world’s largest collections devoted to the study of military and naval uniforms. It contains approximately 20,000 printed books, numerous albums, sketchbooks, scrapbooks and portfolios, and over 15,000 individual prints, drawings, paintings and watercolors as well as a collection of 5,000 miniature lead soldiers. To learn more about the collection, please visit its webpage at

Members of the Brown community interested in more information about the event on May 9 should contact Andrew Woelflein at or Peter Harrington at


Upcoming Mendeley Workshops


The Library is offering two upcoming Mendeley Workshops. The first is on March 17, 2014 and the second is on March 20, 2014. Both are at 5:30 p.m. in the Hecker Center (Rockefeller Library).

The first workshop—titled “Mendeley User Experience“—is open to anyone interested in or already using Mendeley. It’s the Library’s goal to learn how many Mendeley users are already on campus.

The second workshop—titled “Mendeley First Timers“—is one-hour session is intended to introduce Mendeley to first-time users.

Please register if you’re interested in attending either workshop:

Mendeley is reference management software with an academic social network that users can initiate free from the website. For more information watch the video below or visit:

Women’s History Month

Votes for Women

Katherine Milhous, the artist who designed this postcard image, is remembered today as an illustrator and author of children’s books.  Her most notable book remains The Egg Tree, which won the Caldecott Award in 1951.  But before she began her long career in children’s publishing, young Katherine was an advocate for Woman Suffrage, as demonstrated by her cartoon design on this postcard.  Produced and copyrighted in 1915, when she was just 21 years old, this card testifies to a young woman’s struggle to make her own way in a world that offered few options for women in the professions.

Katherine’s early struggles, and her later success as a graphic artist, were advanced by the many other women advocates for suffrage around the world.  In fact, the copy of this postcard found at the John Hay Library was used by two members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Pennsylvania — Katherine’s home state — to communicate their success in organizing the town of Yardley to the suffrage cause.

The entire postcard, and its message, form part of the John Hay Library’s extensive holdings on the temperance movement, which document the long struggle of women to achieve the political capacity to address the ruinous effects of addiction on the lives of women and children.  The postcard is available online as part of the Library’s Alcohol, Temperance and Prohibition digital collection.

Thank You to Everyone Who Completed the Library’s E-book Survey

Thank You EbooksThank You to the nearly 1,400 Brown students and faculty who completed the Library’s E-book survey.

The Brown University Library recently conducted a survey along with seven other colleges (Bates, California Lutheran, Haverford, Lesley, Stetson, SUNY-Fredonia, and Trinity).

The purpose of the survey was to gather much-needed and timely feedback from students and faculty on their use of e-books (for academic and personal use), why they choose print or e-book formats, and their preferences and priorities for how they access book content.

Four respondents were randomly selected to win incentive prizes: one iPad mini and four $25 Amazon gift cards. Below are a few photos of the prizewinners:

20140224surveyPrizes-3 20140224surveyPrizes-4 20140224surveyPrizes-9 IMG_0722

Findings of the survey will be reported soon. The results will help inform the Library’s decisions about collection acquisitions and book formats.


Contact: Mark Baumer |  401-863-3642