Event | G. Thomas Couser ’77 to Deliver Annual Yoken Lecture

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 Monday, April 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room at the John Hay Library. 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.

Date: Monday, April 27, 2015
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Winner of the 2015 Undergraduate Prize for Excellence in Library Research: Beatrice Senocak ’15

SenocakThe Brown University Library is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Undergraduate Prize for Excellence in Library Research. Beatrice Selen Senocak ’15 was selected for her paper entitled “A Providence Affair.” Undertaken for Senior Lecturer in English Elizabeth Taylor’s class, Narrating History, Senocak’s paper employs creative non-fiction to tell the story of the delicate courtship of Sarah Helen Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe.

In her research, Senocak drew heavily on primary source documents including the papers of Sarah Helen Whitman in the John Hay Library and the online archives of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, which provided transcripts of the Whitman-Poe correspondence. She also scoured local libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies to discover details of the fashion, music, dancing, public transportation, etiquette, and architecture of the period in Providence to set the stage for her story. In addition, Senocak made use of Brown’s own online collections to discover digital images of original daguerreotype portraits of both Whitman and Poe.

As one of the judges observed, “This is an elegantly written essay about the relationship between Poe and Whitman that is based on a rich array of print and archival sources….She has transformed the sources in creative ways and drawn out a compelling story full of contextual details drawn from the meticulous research.”

In partnership with the Office of the Dean of the College, the Brown University Library sponsors the annual Undergraduate Research Prize, awarded each April. The purpose of the prize is to recognize excellence in undergraduate research projects that make creative and extensive use of the Brown University Library’s collections including, but not limited to, print resources, databases, primary resources, and materials in all media. The project may take the form of a traditional paper, a database, a website, or other digital project. Please click here to visit the Prize’s webpage for more information.

Event | The Art of American Book Covers 1875 – 1930 with Richard Minsky

Richard Minsky--  photo by Richard Grosbard-4x4

On April 22, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, Richard Minsky will give a talk, “The Art of American Book Covers 1875 – 1930: One Hundred Great Covers from the Brown University Library.” Minsky will look at selections of books from the Library’s holdings that exemplify book cover styles and their changes during this time period. A Q&A, book sale and signing, and reception will follow the talk. This event is free and open to the public.

A complementary exhibit of the same name will be available for viewing in the Lownes Room cases from April 15 – May 14, 2015 by appointment only. To make an appointment to view the exhibit, please contact the John Hay Library at hay@brown.edu.

In his presentation, Minsky will discuss how Modernism entered the American home on book covers. Proto-Constructivism and Futurism came in 1880, Art Nouveau in 1881. Surrealism and Abstraction in 1904. This period  saw the transition from covers designed by die-engravers to those created by visual artists, many of whom were women. The presentation will include stunning examples from Eastlake style, Arts and Crafts, Aesthetic movement, Poster style and Social Realism.

Richard Minsky is an internationally known book artist, author, historian, curator, and bibliographer. Minsky is the author of American Decorated Publishers’ Bindings 1872-1929, The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930, The Art of the American Book, The Golden Age of American Book Design, The Book Cover Art of Thomas Watson Ball, and American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes, 1875-1933. In 1974 he founded the Center for Book Arts in New York City, the first organization of its kind.


The hardcover edition of The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930 sold out two printings and won the Worldwide Books Award for Publications from the Art Libraries Society of North America in 2011.

Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Celebrate National Library Week


Celebrate National Library Week, April 12 – 18, with the theme “Unlimited possibilities @ your library®.”

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

Best-selling author David Baldacci will serve as Honorary Chair of National Library Week 2015. Baldacci’s novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and have been adapted for film and television. Over 110 million copies of his books are in print worldwide. In addition, Baldacci is involved with several philanthropic organizations, including his family’s Wish You Well Foundation®, which fosters and promotes the development and expansion of literacy and educational programs.

Click here for more information about National Library Week from the American Library Association.

Event | Sinai Rusinek: Unraveling Intertextualities in “The Star of Redemption”


On Wednesday, April 15, at noon in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Sinai Rusinek will give a talk entitled, “Unraveling Intertextualities in ‘The Star of Redemption.'”

The “annotated star” is a project aiming to create a collaborative, dynamic digital edition of Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption that will combine the tradition of the critical edition with the developing possibilities of open, web-based text annotation. We aim to create a tool which will unveil and display a plethora of sources embedded in the book, as well as the richness and diversity of sources and themes that have characterized its Nachleben since its publication in 1921.

Rusinek is a post-doctoral fellow of the Polonsky Academy at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Her main interests are the History of Concepts and Digital Humanities. Her doctoral dissertation, “Criticus, Kritikos, Critick” was written under the supervision of Prof. Yemima Ben Menachem and Dr. Amiel Vardi at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It dealt with the way these words functioned in various contexts and discourses from antiquity to Early Modernity, and with how they changed and were formed through these uses. (http://www.vanleer.org.il/en/people/sinai-rusinekhttp://www.thedigin.org/en/)

This lecture is sponsored by Judaic Studies and by the Brown University Library.

Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Event and Workshop | “The HathiTrust Research Center: Bringing you 4.7 billion pages of analytic opportunities!” with Steven Downie



Stephen Downie’s keynote address has been RESCHEDULED for Friday, April 17 at 10 a.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library.

The Virtual Humanities Lab in the Department of Italian Studies at Brown University, in collaboration with the Center for Digital Scholarship in the Brown University Library, will host an international colloquium entitled, “Scholarly Networks and the Emerging Platforms for Humanities Research & Publication” in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab at the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library from Thursday, April 16 through Saturday, April 18, 2015.

The three-day colloquium will explore the new types of scholarly output produced when scholars use digital methods to collaborate on, annotate, and visualize traditional materials.


Stephen Downie, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Library, and Information Science at the University of Illinois and Co-Director of the HathiTrust Research Center, will deliver the opening keynote address. His talk, “The HathiTrust Research Center: Bringing you 4.7 billion pages of analytic opportunities!” will take place on April 17 at 10 a.m. and is open to the public.

The colloquium proper is open to interested members of the public; please register by emailing italian_studies@brown.edu
by April 13.

Program Description:

In the age of data mining, distant reading, topic modeling and cultural analytics, scholars and researchers increasingly rely upon automated, algorithm-based procedures in order to parse their exponentially growing databases of digitized textual and visual resources. Yet, within this deeply networked and massively interactive environment, it is crucial to preserve the expert logic of primary and secondary sources, textual stability, citations, and other apparatus, which form the heritage and legacy of humanities scholarship. A pure conservation of the documents of the past in their integrity is not sufficient to preserve an active memory of our humanistic heritage. Digital humanists have to re-think the very notion of humanism from the point of view of the new technology and the questions we are facing in our time. This process must begin with the primary sources of the humanist tradition.

Digital editions, for example, must now live in the networked environment built within digital library repositories: emerging curatorial and editorial practices and the semantic act of interpretation are increasingly embedded together into the primary sources and such practices are also the conduit for training the next generation of digital humanists. In short, scholarly collaboration must problematize methodology, tools and interpretation at the same time. Humanities researchers increasingly collaborate, in a laboratory mode, on shared platforms and in shared virtual environments, experimenting with open source tools often developed elsewhere, in the annotation and visualization of select corpora of primary sources. In the process, they produce new and yet unidentified typologies of scholarly objects (thoroughly embedded in library repositories) that incorporate curatorial and interpretive practices along with a new, and fully documented, technical instrumentation. This hybrid form of collaborative curation/publication is at the foundation of humanities scholarship in the digital age.

Scholars from the U.S., Mexico, the U.K., and Italy are invited to share their ideas, experience, and work-in-progress in an informal setting as we explore these interconnected themes.

Presenters will include:

  •  Stephen Downie, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Library, and Information Science at the University of Illinois and Co-Director of the HathiTrust Research Center
  • Harriette Hemmasi, Joukowsky Family University Librarian at Brown University
  • Massimo Riva, Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence and Professor and Chair of Italian Studies
  • Fabio Ciotti, Assistant Professor at the University of Roma Tor Vergata; board member, DARIAH-Italy; member, EU Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and the Humanities
  • Julia Flanders, Digital Scholarship Group Director, Northeastern University Library; Professor of the Practice of English, Northeastern University
  • Dino Buzzetti, Professor of Medieval Philosophy at the University of Bologna
  • Ernesto Priani Saiso, Professor, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
  • Evelyn Lincoln, Professor of History of Art and Architecture and Professor of Italian Studies at Brown University
  • Elli Mylonas, Senior Digitial Humanities Librarian and Associate Director of the Center for Digital Scholarship at the Brown University Library
  • Michael Papio, Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Susanna Allès Torrent, Lecturer in Spanish in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, Columbia University
  • John Cayley, Professor of Literary Arts, Brown University
  • Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Professor of English and Co-Director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks, Northeastern University
  • Andy Land, Digital Systems Manager, The University of Manchester Library
  • Andy Ashton, Associate University Librarian for Digital Technologies, Brown University
  • Vika Zafrin, Institutional Repository Librarian, Boston University
  • Guyda Armstrong, Senior Lecturer in Italian, Academic Lead for Digital Humanities, The University of Manchester
  • Marilyn Deegan, Professor of Digital Humanities and Honorary Research Fellow, King’s College London
  • Rosemary Simpson, Information Architect, Department of Computer Science, Brown University
  • John Unsworth, Vice Provost, University Librarian, and Chief Information Officer, Brandeis University

A full program is online at: http://www.brown.edu/go/scholarly-networks

Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Finding a Balance: Conservation of the Cased Images from the John Hay Library – A Preservation Week Talk

DagsBeforeAfter The Library is celebrating Preservation Week with a talk about the conservation of our daguerreotypes on Friday, May 1 at 2 p.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab at the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library. The talk, “Finding a Balance: Conservation of the Cased Images from the John Hay Library,” will be given by Monique C. Fischer, Senior Photograph Conservator, and Amanda A. Maloney, Assistant Photograph and Paper Conservator, from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

Cased images differ significantly from other conventional forms of paper-based photography and present their own challenges when it comes to conservation. This talk will include discussion of three varieties of cased images: daguerreotypes that can be distinguished by their metallic composition–a thin copper plate with a highly polished silver surface; and other, less expensive wet collodion alternatives: the ambrotype on a glass support and tintype on a jappaned iron support. Even in the 19th century these photographic materials were vulnerable to marring, abrasion, breakage, tarnish, rust, and corrosion. As a result, decoratively covered wood or ornamental, molded thermoplastic cases were constructed to protect these fragile images.

Conservation of these cased images is complicated. One must consider not just the photographic image but also leather, wood, plastic, cloth, metal, glass, and varnish. Conservation and preservation must strike a balance between the photographic image and its traditional housing.

Using examples of cased images from the John Hay Library Collections, Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, Lovell Family Papers, Hay Family Images, and University Archives, Fischer and Maloney will discuss the history, craft, deterioration, and conservation of these complicated, diverse, and interesting objects.

Talking about Preservation Week? #preswk

Monique C. Fischer, Senior Photograph Conservator at NEDCC

Monique Fischer has specialized in the conservation of photographic materials since 1994. In collaboration with the Image Permanence Institute, she was awarded a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1997 for the development of A-D Strips, a tool that detects deterioration in acetate film. Monique lectures extensively on photograph conservation in the U.S. and abroad and has been awarded two fellowships by the J. Paul Getty Trust to investigate the longevity of digital output media. She is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC). Monique received a B.A. in Chemistry from Smith College, and an M.S. in Art Conservation with a concentration in Photographic Materials from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program.

Amanda A. Maloney, Assistant Photograph and Paper Conservator at NEDCC

Amanda Maloney has worked in the field of photograph conservation since 2011. She received master’s degrees from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation and the program for Photographic Preservation and Collections Management at Ryerson University/George Eastman House. She gained experience working with photographic materials as a conservator at The Better Image®. She has also completed conservation internships at The Sherman Fairchild Photograph Conservation Laboratory at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Fotorestauratie Atelier of Clara von Waldthausen (Amsterdam). In addition to treatment, Amanda has participated in surveys, research, and workshops on the preservation of photographic materials. She is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

Date: Friday, May 1, 2015
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Patric Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Happy Josiah S. Carberry Day!


The Brown University Library celebrates Josiah S. Carberry every Friday the 13th. Consider leaving your loose change in a Brown jug (AKA “cracked pot”) to benefit the Josiah Carberry Fund. The jugs are out on each Friday the 13th in the Rock and SciLi.

Want to know more about Carberry and the Fund? Click here for more info.

Known to show up unannounced in unlikely places, Carberry has been seen but never verified on campus. Will you spot the elusive man himself? If you do, try to capture him with a photo and share on Twitter or Instagram with #JosiahCarberry.

To share on Facebook, friend Josiah Carberry and tag him in the photo.

Happy Josiah Carberry Day, Happy Friday the 13th, and happy hunting for Carberry!

Exhibit | Lincoln Covers and Stamps

Lincoln envelope An exhibit featuring Lincoln stamps and covers and First Day Covers is on display in the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection Gallery at the John Hay Library. The exhibit will be available for viewing now through Wednesday, May 27, 2015.

The Lincoln Covers
In the world of philately, an envelope is referred to as a “cover.” This collection features covers that are adorned with patriotic art, all addressed to President Abraham Lincoln at the beginning of the American Civil War. Many patriotic covers, adorned with rousing images of the American union such as that shown above, were set aside and preserved by John Hay, Brown Class of 1859, who was one of two private secretaries who attended President Lincoln during this time. As each piece of mail sent in a patriotic cover arrived at the White House, Hay would open it and pass the contents on to President Lincoln, retaining the cover as a souvenir. In 1958, John Hay Whitney, a descendent of John Hay, donated these to the Brown University Library.

Lincoln Stamps and First Day Covers
Within a year after his death, the United States Post Office began issuing stamps honoring President Lincoln. Several of the earliest stamps issued by the USPO are on display as well as some First Day Covers, like those pictured below, featuring Lincoln. A First Day Cover is an envelope bearing a stamp which has been canceled on the day the stamp was issued.

Lincoln First Day Cover

The Brown University Library is home to several stamp collections, including the Knight Collection, the Peltz and Morriss Collections of Special Delivery stamps, the George S. Champlin Memorial Stamp Collection of international issues, and the Robert T. Galkin Collection of First Day Covers.

Click here for more information about Special Collections at Brown, including the stamp collections.

Dates: March 12 – May 27, 2015
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
Location: Anne S.K. Brown Military Gallery, Third Floor, Room 303, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Unicorn Found: Science, Literature, and the Arts – In Person and Online



The John Hay Library is pleased to host the Unicorn Found: Science, Literature, and the Arts exhibit, on display in the lobby cases and Willis Reading Room cases from March 11 – July 31, 2015. The exhibit features unicorn-related artifacts, objects, images, and text from the specialized collections of the Brown University Library, the Fleet Library at RISD, the RISD Museum, the Providence Athenaeum, the Providence Public Library, and the John Carter Brown Library.

Members of the public can visit the exhibit at the Hay Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There is also an online exhibit, which can be viewed here.

Part of the larger Unicorns in Residence: Providence initiative, the exhibit is a fun and educational exploration of the unicorn from ancient to modern times. The exhibit artifacts trace the history of how unicorns have been represented and explore the myth and manifestation of the mysterious creature within different historical and cultural contexts. The exhibit also features the transforming imagery of the unicorn, from initial investigations into its existence to modern design motifs.

Date: March 11 – July 31, 2015
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
Location: Lobby and Willis Reading Room Cases, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence