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

Updates from around the Library | March 2015

An image of unicorns on a tie.

So far March has been dominated by unicorns.

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

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

Event | The Life and Literary Influence of H. P. Lovecraft with Author Leslie S. Klinger

LesKlinger_049_lgOn Thursday, March 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the John Hay Library, esteemed author and authority on the literary macabre, Leslie S. Klinger will deliver a biographical overview of H. P. Lovecraft’s life and writing career and an assessment of his influence on subsequent literature. Klinger will also discuss the issue of Lovecraft’s racial views and the impact of such views. There will be a Q&A following the talk and a book sale and signing of Klinger’s The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft. A reception will also follow the Q&A. This event is free and open to the public.

Leslie Klinger is considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on Sherlock Holmes and Dracula. Klinger is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars and served as the Series Editor for the Manuscript Series of The Baker Street Irregulars; he is currently the Series Editor for the BSI’s History Series. He is also the Treasurer of the Horror Writers Association. He lectures frequently on Holmes, Dracula, and their worlds, and he teaches regular courses on Holmes and Dracula at UCLA Extension. His introductions and essays have appeared in numerous books, graphic novels, academic journals, newspapers, and Playboy Magazine; he also reviews books for the Los Angeles Times.

In his long-awaited, annotated edition of 22 works of H. P. Lovecraft, Klinger reanimates Lovecraft, charting the rise of the pulp writer, whose rediscovery is almost unprecedented in American literary history. Following a trajectory not unlike Melville or Poe, Lovecraft’s vast body of work—a mythos in which humanity is a blissfully unaware speck in a cosmos shared by ancient alien beings—is increasingly being recognized as the foundation for American horror and science fiction.

HP-Lovecraft-CoverWith nearly 300 illustrations and more than 1,000 annotations, Klinger illuminates every hidden dimension of Lovecraft’s most canonical works.

Klinger attended the University of California where he received an A.B. in English; he also attended the University of California School of Law (Boalt Hall), where he obtained a J.D. degree. By day, Klinger practices law in Westwood, specializing in tax, estate planning, and business law.

Date: Thursday, March 12, 2015
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

CBS News Report Features Two Brown Alumni, Malcolm X, and Materials from the Brown Archives


As a senior at Brown, Malcolm Burnley ’12 discovered a story in the Brown Daily Herald about a 1961 visit Malcolm X made to campus in order to debate the author of a previous Brown Daily Herald story, Katharine Pierce ’62. In her article, Ms. Pierce argued that racial integration was necessary while Malcolm X argued in favor of racial separation instead of segregation.

On Wednesday, February 25, 2015, CBS aired a news story with reporter Jim Axelrod about Mr. Burnley’s discovery. As it turns out, not only did he uncover the student newspaper article and information about Malcolm X’s visit to campus, he also found Ms. Pierce, who was able to share her memories of Malcolm X and the debate.

Click here to view the televised segment.