Exhibit | Christmas Seals


Christmas 2014 Seals

The Brown University Library is celebrating the holiday season with an exhibit of Christmas Seals, installed in three cases in the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection Gallery at the John Hay Library. The exhibit will be on display through December 18, 2014.

The seals shown above are the Great Britain Smiler Sheets, which were started in the year 2000 in conjunction with the International London stamp Show. The idea behind them was to try to inspire people to abandon faxes and email and return to the use of personal postal social mail instead. Hopefully, looking at them will make you smile.

The first issue of the U.S. Christmas Seal, designed by Emily Bissell (1861-1948), a Red Cross volunteer, was intended to save a small tuberculosis sanatorium on the Brandywine River near Wilmington, DE. Her cousin, Dr. Joseph Wales, was one of the staff physicians at the “Brandywine Shack,” an open-air tuberculosis sanatorium, and he asked for her help. The goal was to raise $300 through the sale of a special Christmas stamp that could be purchased for a penny at the local post office in Wilmington and attached to regular mail. Her inspiration for the fundraiser came from an article by journalist and social worker Jacob Riis, who wrote about the successful sale of Christmas Seals in Denmark in 1904.

Bissell was a member of the Delaware Chapter of the American Red Cross and received permission from the national organization to use the Red Cross emblem in her design, to which she added a wreath of holly and a “Merry Christmas” greeting. To finance the printing of the 1907 Christmas Seal, she borrowed $40 from a friend and arranged for credit from the Theodore Leonhardt and Son printing company of Philadelphia to print 50,000 stamps. The Christmas Seals were placed in small envelopes imprinted:

25 Christmas Stamps one penny apiece issued
by the Delaware Red Cross to stamp out the
White Plague.
Put this stamp with message bright
on every Christmas letter;
help the tuberculosis fight,
and make the New Year better.
These stamps do not carry
any kind of mail
but any kind of mail will
carry them.

On December 7, 1907, the first Christmas Seals were offered for sale at a table in the Wilmington Post Office and Emily Bissell herself purchased the first seal sold. However, overall sales were slow until the editor of the Philadelphia newspaper, the North American, became convinced of the importance of the fundraising campaign. He authorized columnist Leigh Mitchell Hodges to begin a series of daily articles under the heading, “Stamp Out Tuberculosis.” The rest of the 50,000 seals quickly sold and a new printing of 250,000 was ordered. Because it was late in the season, the second printing added the words, “Happy New Year.” By the end of the holidays, all 300,000 seals had been sold, raising $3,000 – ten times Emily Bissell’s original modest goal.

The Christmas Seals are part of the George S. Champlin Memorial Stamp Collection, which is the centerpiece of the John Hay Library’s extensive collections of stamps. Click here for more information about Special Collections at Brown, including the stamp collections.

Dates: November 19, 2014 – December 18, 2014
Location: Anne S. K. Brown Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

50th Anniversary of the Rock

“We students have adopted it as our own.”

–Nancy L. Buc ’65, President, Student Government Association,
Pembroke College, November 1964


Since its opening in November 1964, Brown students have embraced the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library. Designed by the architectural firm of Warner, Burns, Toan, and Lunde, the “Rock,” at the time of its opening, was considered a “marvel of modern design and ingenuity” containing “every practical technical advancement…for the advantage of the bibliophile.” Among its state-of-the-art innovations in 1964 were:

Heating coils under the Rock steps to melt snow.

Pneumatic tube system of book request and retrieval.








Custom-built, “wired” card catalog that included phone jacks to enable librarians to answer questions about library holdings.

CatalogPhone1 CatalogPhone2








SlantedPeriodicalsSlanted shelving for periodicals and roll-out shelves in the reference stacks.

Today’s Rockefeller Library continues the tradition of providing innovative, state-of-the-art services to meet the needs of 21st century library users. The Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab on the first floor of the Rock, with its 7´ x 16´ high-definition “video wall,” offers students and faculty a technology-rich environment for discovery, analysis, and collaboration. Hi-tech collaboration spaces in the Sorensen Family Reading Room facilitate group work by allowing a number of students to display and share their work on large computer screens. Group study rooms in the Laura and David Finn Reading Room and the Sorensen Family Reading Room provide students with spaces to work together in small groups or on team projects. And the Digital Studio, an upcoming renovation planned for summer 2015, will create a unique space on campus, offering a range of high-end collaborative environments with the latest interactive technologies, that will enable innovation in the humanities and interdisciplinary scholarship across the campus community.


Rock at the Rock


On Friday, November 14 from 7:30 – 10 p.m., the Rock will rock with live band Diamond Doves as the Brown University Library celebrates the 50th anniversary of the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library.

The Rock will close at 5 p.m. on the 14th to allow for event preparations. No library services will be available after 5 p.m. There will also be furniture removal throughout the day on Friday, and furniture return throughout the day on Saturday the 15th. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and hope you can join us at 7:30 p.m. when we Rock at the Rock.

Click here to visit the Rock at the Rock website, which has more information about the event and the band Diamond Doves.

Click here to RSVP to the event on Facebook!

Date: Friday, November 14, 2014
Time: 7:30 – 10 p.m.
Location: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Lecture | Letters Home: Brown Alumni at War | Beth Taylor

Brown Town, 1946. Temporary housing for veterans of World War II erected near Marvel Gymnasium on the city-owned Sessions Street playground at the corner of Elmgrove Avenue and Sessions Street, Providence, RI

Brown Town, 1946. Temporary housing for veterans of World War II erected near Marvel Gymnasium on the city-owned Sessions Street playground at the corner of Elmgrove Avenue and Sessions Street, Providence, RI

On Wednesday, November 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, Beth Taylor, Senior Lecturer in English, will give a talk, “Letters Home: Brown Alumni at War.” Taylor, who is co-director of Brown’s Nonfiction Writing Program, has been collecting oral histories, documents, photographs, memorabilia, and letters home from veterans or widows of veterans.

This lecture is part of series at the John Hay Library celebrating the University’s 250-year history. All lectures in the series highlight the University Archives’ “Elements of Tradition and Change” exhibit.
The next lecture in the series will take place on Thursday, December 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room, with Luther Spoehr, Senior Lecturer in Education. Spoehr’s talk is entitled, “Wayland and Magaziner and (Much) More: The Brown Curriculum through the Years.”

Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library
Time: 5:30 p.m.

Lovecraft and the Republic of Horror


In July of 1935, Robert Bloch wrote to his epistolary mentor H. P. Lovecraft, care of Robert Barlow, whom Lovecraft was visiting in Florida. Bloch, then eighteen, wrote with excitement of an expanding network of writers and publishers he had met, either directly through Lovecraft or indirectly by his association with the influential author. The letter recounts a meeting of the Milwaukee Fictioneers, a group he had previously described as covering broad territory: “weird stuff … science fiction, western, detective, gangster, love, newspaper, sports, economics, novel, feature-syndicate, and radio fields ….” He continues with praise for Peter Lorre’s performance in “Mad Love,” entreating Lovecraft to “see it!”

Bloch, who would go on to pen Psycho, was perhaps the youngest of Lovecraft’s circle. Their correspondence began with a fan letter sent in 1933 and continued until Lovecraft’s death in 1937. Bloch was one of many in an expansive network of correspondents fueled by Lovecraft’s loquacity on paper. His correspondents included Barlow, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Donald Wandrei. Through letters and circulated manuscripts, this network of writers formalized the imagined community developing around the pulp magazines like Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, and Fantasy Fan in which they published and read.

H.P. Lovecraft was at the center of this developing community. Shortly after his death in 1937, Barlow, acting as Lovecraft’s literary executor, delivered the first donation of manuscripts and correspondence to the Brown University Library. Today, the H. P. Lovecraft Collection includes extensive holdings of manuscripts, letters, editions of Lovecraft’s works in 20 languages, periodicals, biographical and critical works, and numerous collections of manuscript and printed materials of Lovecraft friends and associates. To support research in this significant collection, the Brown University Library recently announced the S. T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship for research relating to H. P. Lovecraft, his associates, and literary heirs.

Lecture | Groovy Choreographies: Gimmicks, Glitches, and Aesthetic Alibis with William Cheng

Join the Brown University Library and the Department of Music for an exciting lecture in Music’s Fall Colloquium Series. On November 19 at 6 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL) at the Rockefeller Library, Will Cheng will give a talk entitled, “Groovy Choreographies: Gimmicks, Glitches, and Aesthetic Alibis,” in which he will deliver a playful inquiry into the aesthetic conceits of mechanical failure, ludic difficulty, and visual glitch in the virtuosic choreographies of digital gameplay (with case study Rayman Legends).

Free and open to the public, this event is part of the Department of Music’s Fall Colloquium series.

William Cheng is interested in sound, media, technology, identity, and politics. He is Assistant Professor of Music at Dartmouth College and Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows (on leave 2014-15). His first book is titled Sound Play: Video Games and the Musical Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2014), published with the support of the AMS 75 PAYS Endowment; his articles have appeared in the journals 19th-Century Music, Cambridge Opera Journal, Ethnomusicology, and the Journal of the American Musicological Society, and in the volumes The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media and The Oxford Handbook of Virtuality. He is the recipient of the AMS Philip Brett Award, AMS Howard Mayer Brown Fellowship, and SAM Mark Tucker Award. His current projects include a monograph, Misrule in Meritopia: Music, Power, Privilege (supported by Harvard’s William F. Milton Fund); an edited collection of essays, Queering the Field: Sounding Out Ethnomusicology (with Gregory Barz); an article on sound’s paranoid and reparative affects; and a book of short stories, The Things We Say: Seven Tragicomedies. He serves on the Advisory Board of Ethnomusicology Review and the Review Board of Sensate: A Journal for Experiments in Critical Media Practice. In recent years, he has enjoyed giving classical piano recitals featuring improvisations on themes from the audience.

Date: November 19, 2014
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: The Patrick Man Digital Scholarship Lab, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Educating the Open Generation | Panel on Open Data and Data Sharing at the DSL


“Knowledge is open if anyone is free to access, use, modify, and share it — subject, at most, to measures that preserve provenance and openness.” –The Open Knowledge Foundation

In recognition of International Open Access Week, the Brown University Library invites you to a discussion on Wednesday, October 22 at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab with Jo Guldi and Lizzie Wolkovich about the progress of the movement towards open access to research data and how public access to data and data sharing among scholars, or the lack thereof, is currently affecting the quality and scope of research in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

Also, check out the Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon happening Thursday, October 23 from 3:30 – 8 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab. Click here for more information.



Jo Guldi is the Hans Rothfels Assistant Professor of History at Brown University. Dr. Guldi specializes in the history of capitalism and land use, and she also designs computational tools for visualizing large numbers of texts. She posits that access to increasing amounts of data will allow historians to again extend their temporal perspectives. In her new book, History Manifesto (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Dr. Guldi and co-author, David Armitage, identify a recent shift back to longer-term narratives, following many decades of increasing specialization, which they argue is vital for the future of historical scholarship and how it is communicated.

wolkovichElizabeth M. Wolkovich is Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. Dr. Wolkovich studies how ecological communities assemble and disassemble with global change using statistical and modeling techniques combined with field experiments, gradient studies, and synthesis of short and long-term data. She is the lead author of the article “Advances in Global Change Research Require Open Science by Individual Researchers,” which appeared in Global Change Biology in 2012, and she was recently featured in the Science Careers article “Chasing Down the Data You Need,” in which she shared her efforts, and frustrations, trying to get fellow scientists to share climate and ecological data that could add insights into her and fellow researchers’ interdisciplinary scholarship on global change.

Date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library


National Friends of the Library Week | October 19 – 25


Friends of the Brown University Library Meeting, c. 1940

Friends of the Brown University Library Meeting, c. 1940

On Wednesday, March 23, 1938 at 8 p.m., the Friends of the Brown University Library held their first meeting at the home of Mr. Henry D. Sharpe on Prospect Street in Providence. Twenty-eight members were present as Chairman Carlton Morse gave an outline of the Friends of the Library movement at other institutions, beginning with the Bodleian Library at Oxford in 1925. It was the stated hope for our Friends that the group members “will get abundant pleasure from affiliation, that each man will find what he most enjoys, and that a wise and useful influence will thus strengthen the Library.”

In honor of National Friends of the Library Week, October 19 – 25, 2014, we are sharing a timeline of noted accomplishments. Seventy-six years after the group’s founding, the relationship between the Friends and the Library remains one of fruitful collaboration, as illustrated by the history, and it has indeed provided abundant pleasure through affiliation and strengthened the Library.

September 1984
A major expansion of Friends of the Library membership begins. A Friends coordinator is appointed for the first time and physical space for the Friends is established in the John Hay Library. A seed gift from the Joukowsky family is given to reorganize and revitalize the Friends.

October 1985
The Friends celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the John Hay Library.

November 1987
The Friends begin creating and selling holiday cards.

The Library celebrates acquisition of its two millionth book.

April 1988
The first William B. Williams Awards, established by the Library and the Friends board of directors, are given to seven individuals who had displayed “broadly based, multi-faceted support to the University Library over a long period of time.”

May 1991
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns delivers the annual William B. Williams Lecture. The title of his talk, “Mystic Chords of Memory,” is from Lincoln’s first inaugural address.

November 1992
The Carberry Cookbook debuts on Carberry Day, November 13, 1992.

December 1993
Friends member Daniel Siegel ’57 donates the original handwritten manuscript of George Orwell’s 1984.

November 1994
The Friends sell “Hunks of the Hay” when the John Hay Library steps are replaced.

February 2004
On February 13, 2004 at Ladd Observatory, Josiah Carberry is honored with his own star and guests celebrate Carberry Day while awaiting arrival of the elusive professor.

April 2005
Sophie Blistein ‘41 steps down as Membership Chair after growing the Friends membership from a few hundred to over 1,000 members.

Rhode Island Coalition of Library Advocates presents the William E. Reeves Friends Recognition Award to Brown’s Friends of the Library. This is the first time an academic library friends group is given this award.

Summer 2010
FOL Board Member Thomas Bryson ‘72 and his wife, Antonia Bryson ‘74, donate their remarkable collection of books, photographs, programs, and ephemera relating to the history of dance to Brown University Library.

March 2013
Friends of the Library celebrate its 75th anniversary.

November 2014
The Library and the Friends host the inaugural presentations of the Harris Collection Literary Award to author George R. R. Martin and publisher Tom Doherty.

Open Access Week Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon at the Brown Library


As part of its investigation into the issue of open access during Open Access Week, the Brown University Library is hosting a Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library on Thursday, October 23 from 3:30 – 8 p.m.

All are welcome. All you need is a laptop and a power adapter. Not familiar with wiki editing? That’s OK. Just bring your willingness to learn.

Click here for more information and a signup.

Hashtags: #OpenAccess and #OAW2014

Date: Thursday, October 23
Time: 3:30 – 8 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street