Updates from Around the Library | March 2017

The Library welcomes students back to session. We hope you had a restful spring break.

Here are a few updates from the Library:

Exhibit | Preparing John Bull for General Congress

Preparing John Bull for General Congress, George Cruikshank (British, 1780-1842); hand-colored etching on wove paper; London: W.N. Jones, August 1, 1813; Brown University Library, Special Collections

From April 3 – 30, 2017, the image, Preparing John Bull for General Congress (1813), will be on display in the second floor landing case of the John Hay Library.

Shown above, the Napoleonic caricature depicts John Bull backed against a tree, which is being hacked to pieces by malevolent pygmies representing Britain’s many pressing domestic and foreign problems. An American gunboat on the left is manned by two disreputable-looking sailors and a captain while flying a tattered Stars and Stripes and the pennant of the frigate USS President. As an enraged, muzzled bulldog representing the Royal Navy looks on, the American captain fires a swivel gun at John Bull’s right leg, representing the West Indies, as he shouts “D[am]n that Bull Dog. The Shannon he has gored the Chesapeake, if the English ministers will but keep him out of our way we’ll pepper the dog.”

At the far right Napoleon sits in front of his tent, his right foot resting on a globe while he cheerfully exclaims, “When you have finished your labors gentlemen bring him to me & I will prepare his epitaph.” The title refers to the Congress of Prague (June 4-August 10, 1813), at which Metternich attempted in vain to negotiate a peace between Napoleon and the Allies.

The print was drawn by George Cruikshank for volume VI of The Scourge, a monthly satirical journal published in London.

Dates: April 3 – April 30, 2017
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Second Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI





Symposium | Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues with John Davis ’79

The Bamboula! Symposium has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 11 from 2 – 3:30 p.m. in Petteruti Lounge, second floor, Robert Campus Center/Faunce House. A reception will follow in the lobby of the John Hay Library.

The exhibit, Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues, was conceived and curated by Brown graduate, pianist John Davis ’79. It will run from March 21 to May 5, 2017.


Organized and moderated by Tony Bogues, Asa Messer Professor of Humanities and Critical Theory and Director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown, the symposium will feature panelists John Davis ’79 and Brandy Monk-Payton AM’12, PhD’16, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College.

Update: Eric Lott is unable to attend the symposium.

John Davis

John Davis; photo by John Halpern

With Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues, the exhibition he has now conceived and curated at Brown University’s John Hay Library, pianist John Davis continues to define, excavate, and disseminate a previously-unacknowledged African American roots music. Davis is most associated with his frequent concerts in the United States and abroad stemming from three critically-acclaimed recordings on Newport Classic: John Davis Plays Blind Tom [2000], a top-ten seller in Classical Music at Tower Records and Amazon.com; Marshfield Tornado: John Davis Plays Blind Boone [2008], a repeat No. 1 seller on the Ragtime chart at Amazon.com; and Halley’s Comet: Around the Piano with Mark Twain & John Davis [2010], a CD of Twain-related compositions “played powerfully and with a rich palette,” according to The New York Times. At the core of Davis’ grassroots pursuit of forgotten black culture is the pianist’s personal archive of rare 19th– and early 20th century printed African Americana that is the source for many of the ideas and materials that have filtered into his concerts, recordings, and literary contributions to African American Lives, the African American National Biography, and Stress and Coping in Autism, all published by Oxford University Press. Mr. Davis’ cutting-edge career has been featured on CNN; CNN-International; ABC Radio National (Australia); the BBC World News; NPR’s All Things Considered, Performance Today, and On Point, with Tom Ashbrook; PBS’ Life 360; The Today Show on NBC, ABC’s Good Morning America; and in a program-long interview of him on ABC’s Nightline Up-Close. Among the countless print publications in which he has been profiled are The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Oxford American, The Independent (London), and Scientific American.

Brandy Monk-Payton

Brandy Monk-Payton, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Leslie Center for the Humanities, Dartmouth College

Brandy Monk-Payton is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow associated with the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College. She obtained her Ph.D. in Modern Culture and Media at Brown University where she was a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow and a Graduate Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America. Her work on race and representation has been published in the edited collection From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry as well as the journals The Black ScholarReconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, and Feminist Media Histories (forthcoming). She is currently working on her first book project Dark Optics: Blackness, Exposure, and Celebrity in Media Culture. In Fall 2017, she will begin a position as Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University.

Event: Symposium
Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Time: 2 – 3:30 p.m.
Location: Petteruti Lounge, Second Floor, Robert Campus Center/Faunce House, 75 Waterman Street, Providence

Previous Related Events

On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, the Brown University Library and the Music Department also hosted two events related to the exhibition.

Exhibition Opening & Reception

The exhibit opening and reception took place in the Exhibition Gallery of the John Hay Library from 4 – 5:30 p.m. The exhibit, Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues, is an in-depth survey of the African American roots of popular music and show business in the United States. The exhibition includes significant and visually arresting printed artifacts of the shared African- and European-based musical tradition established in colonial America, a cultural synthesis that continues to shape our nation’s identity. The 19th- and early 20th-century books, sheet music, and ephemera included in the exhibition are drawn primarily from the personal collection of John Davis (Exhibition Curator) and the holdings of the Brown University Library. Mr. Davis’ archive of rare 19th-century printed musical African Americana, widely respected in the antiquarian book and ephemera world, is the bedrock of his career as a concert pianist devoted to works influenced by black culture of the American South.


Drawing from materials on display in the exhibition, Mr. Davis gave an extraordinary, multi-media concert performance entitled Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues: A musical journey with pianist John Davis at 7 p.m. at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. The concert, organized with the Brown Music Department, included special guests Harmonizing Grace, with Hance Phillipe, director, and the Old-Time String Band–both Brown student music groups.

The exhibition and all related events are free and open to the public. No registration or ticketing is required.

Event | Abby Smith Rumsey: “Digital Memory: What Can We Afford to Lose?”

Abby Smith Rumsey

On Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab of the Rockefeller Library, writer and historian Abby Smith Rumsey will discuss “Digital Memory: What Can We Afford to Lose?” A reception will follow the talk. This event is free and open to the public.

Digital Memory: What Can We Afford to Lose?

Memory technologies from papyrus to print have given humans a unique survival advantage, allowing us to accumulate knowledge. These technologies shape our perception of history, time, and personal and cultural identity. Historian Abby Smith Rumsey explores how digital memory is shaping the future of knowledge and the roles that libraries and archives play in the future of our collective memory.

Abby Smith Rumsey

Abby Smith Rumsey is a writer and historian focusing on the creation, preservation, and use of the cultural record in all media. She has written and lectured widely on digital preservation, online scholarship, the nature of evidence, the changing roles of libraries and archives, intellectual property policies in the digital age, and the impact of new information technologies on perceptions of history and time.

Rumsey served as director of the Scholarly Communication Institute at the University of Virginia, and has advised universities and their research libraries on strategies to integrate digital information resources into existing collections and services.

For over a decade, Rumsey worked with the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) in development of a national strategy to identify, collect, and preserve digital content of long-term value. She was on the National Science Foundation’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access and was senior writer and editor of the task force’s second-year report, Sustainable Economics for a Digital Planet: Ensuring Long- term Access to Digital Information. The Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access. She served on the ACLS Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Rumsey served as director of programs at the Council on Library and Information Resources and was responsible for projects that addressed the use and preservation of historical and cultural materials in all genres, formats, and media. She wrote, edited, and commissioned numerous reports on the challenges of migrating our shared intellectual and cultural heritage from paper, film, and audio formats to digital media; and on consequences such organizational disruptions, threats of information loss, and changing conceptions about intellectual property and the value inherent in information.

Prior to that, she managed programs at the Library of Congress relating to preservation of and access to cultural heritage collections. She curated several exhibitions, including the “Treasures of the Library of Congress,” “Living Traditions of Russian Faith: Books and Manuscripts of the Old Believers,” and contributed to the historic display of documents from classified Soviet archives, “Revelations from the Russian Archives.” She worked with former Soviet bloc governments and organizations directing programs to open up access to their libraries and archives.

Abby Smith Rumsey holds a BA from Radcliffe College and MA and PhD degrees in history from Harvard University, where she specialized in Early Modern Russia and intellectual history. She has been a Fulbright Fellow and taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins Universities.

This event is part of the Library’s ongoing lecture series, “The Future of Scholarly Publishing.” Abby Smith Rumsey’s visit to Brown is co-sponsored by the John Carter Brown Library.

Date: Thursday, March 23, 2017
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Exhibit | Court Documents from the State vs Frances Leach, 1833

Report of the Examination of David Gibbs, Fanny Leach and Eliza P. Burdick, for the Alleged Murder of Sally Burdick, at Coventry, R. I., on 18th Feb. 1833 (Hartford: Hanmer and Comstock, 1833). With signature and manuscript annotations in the hand of Thomas Wilson Dorr.

The John Hay Library has two new acquisitions on display in the second floor landing case: manuscript trial notes and a report related to the State vs Francis Leach, 1833. They will be on display until April 3, 2017.

In February 1833, forty-eight-year-old Frances (nicknamed “Fanny”) Leach of Providence was called on to attend Sally Burdick, a young woman in Coventry, Rhode Island, who was found to be pregnant. The unmarried Sally resided in the home of her deceased brother’s father-in-law, David Gibbs. A witness named Mary Ann Briggs later testified that upon discovering Sally’s pregnancy, David Gibbs sought to contract Leach to “doctor off” the fetus. Accordingly, Leach borrowed a pair of forceps from Dr. William A. Hamilton in Providence and went down to Coventry to perform the procedure she had been asked to do. Sally, however, was not inclined to terminate her pregnancy in this way, and the operation went horribly wrong. Leach attempted to abort the child while Sally’s sister-in-law held her down, but the result was that Leach only perforated Sally’s uterus. When Sally died of gangrene after six days of acute suffering, Leach and Gibbs were indicted for her murder. Leach’s case was tried at the Superior Court for Kent County in October 1833 and, after a 9-day hearing before two judges and 13 magistrates, resulted in a conviction for manslaughter. Leach received a two-year prison sentence. According to the Niles Weekly Register of 30 November 1833, it was believed to be the second-longest trial ever held in Rhode Island, and “the first of the kind ever tried in New England.”

Prosecution of the case on behalf of the State of Rhode Island was undertaken by State Attorney General Albert C. Greene and his law apprentice, Thomas Wilson Dorr. Although they succeeded in the goal of obtaining justice for Sally Burdick, they could not bring Sally, or her baby, back to life. The case remains a reminder of a time when a woman’s reproductive choices were sharply limited by both social mores and available medical care, and when decisions about childbearing were often outside of a woman’s control under the law.

Dates: March 19 – April 3, 2017
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Second Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

JHL Conservation Bulletin | March 2017

JHL Conservation Bulletin

A quarterly installment highlighting Library Conservation in the Brown University community, conservation news around the internet, and ways for you to connect with conservation.

Book and paper conservation

Bridging technologies of the book has come to mean something more to binders and conservators than tracing the archaeology of medieval binding structures. More often than not, these same craft practitioners are more open minded and curious about emerging trends in information delivery because they have been studying these trends in depth their entire careers. And with continued interest and the support of collaborative research centers, book technology continues to evolve.

In house treatment at the Hay

The era of hybrid Greek-style bindings reminds us that temporal and regional binding technologies are standard, particular, and ultimately recognizable. Rare MS Greek Codex 2 was damaged and, I suspect, cared for before it found its home at Brown. While it can be argued that much of this manuscript would have been lost without intervention, pressure sensitive tape can be a bear to remove; especially when there are manuscript inks and weakened paper supports involved. We have fancy automobile paint jobs, ultimately- or – originally, to thank for this patch-work.

Find conservation online and in person

The codex is a nearly perfect technology in its inception. At its most basic, it is a self-contained unit combining protection, identification, navigable information, and depending on the circumstances contorts its physicality for portability, showmanship, and ritual. Page supports and media can remain intact even in challenging circumstances, and a single, artful vessel holds endless information. It is a structure that has been and continues to be documented, studied, and (re)/produced. What comes next?


Now that you have met him and seen his work: Gary Frost and the Sewn Boards Binding. Until June, when we mark one year of the JHL Conservation Bulletin!

-Rachel Lapkin, Library Materials Conservator

P.S. ***View links as a list here.

Event | The Holocaust and Human Behavior: Facing History to Build the Future with Roger Brooks

On Friday, March 17, 2017 at noon in the Digital Scholarship Lab of the Rockefeller Library, Roger Brooks, President and CEO of Facing History and Ourselves, will give a talk as part of the Library’s lecture series, The Holocaust: History and Aftermath. This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the talk.

The Holocaust and Human Behavior: Facing History to Build the Future

Theologian and survivor David Weiss Halivni argues that the Holocaust must forever remain an event without an explanation. “Why did the Shoah happen?” he argues, is an affront to God, and any answer is “a justification that almost smacks of participation.” Still, 40 years ago Facing History and Ourselves created a curriculum in Holocaust education designed to make meaning of the events, through rigorous study of mass murder, its causes, and the society that produced it; and through carefully honing students’ historical perspective. The special insight was that deep historical study, combined with careful reflection on identity and belonging, could help students nurture their own ongoing sense of responsibility to society. These organizational insights are found in a newly revised resource volume, Holocaust and Human Behavior, which undergirds a broader arc for understanding contemporary racism, bigotry, and prejudice upon on understanding antisemitism and the Holocaust.

Roger Brooks

Renowned educator, scholar, and leader, Roger Brooks joined Facing History in late 2014, following a long and distinguished tenure at Connecticut College as the Elie Wiesel Professor in the Department of Religious Studies (1991-2014). He also served as Associate Dean of the Faculty (2003-2007) and Dean of the Faculty and Chief Academic Officer (2007-2014). He was named Elie Wiesel Professor Emeritus of Judaic Studies at the College in 2015.

Roger is known for his leadership in curricular reform designed to prepare for and respond to the changing landscape of higher education. He developed and implemented new policies for hiring and retention of diverse faculty at Connecticut College, including systematic outreach to graduate schools and individualized retention plans. He also has a longstanding partnership with the Holocaust Education Foundation, which prepares collegiate faculty to teach curriculum related to the Holocaust and genocide. Roger is an expert in early rabbinic culture, particularly in the third- through fifth-century tax codes that emphasized the relationships between incipient rabbinic culture, the Jews, their God, and Roman Imperial power. He is the author or editor of six books and numerous articles, including several volumes of translation and commentary on foundational Jewish texts.

Date: Friday, March 17, 2017
Times: 12 – 1:30 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

2017 Library Innovation Prize

3D Printed Model of a Protein

The Brown University Library announces a $500 first prize and a $250 second prize for the creation of the most innovative and interesting 3D color-printed model. The theme for this year’s prize is the Brown University campus. Contestants must be currently enrolled Brown graduate or undergraduate students.

For more information and complete list of rules, please click here to visit the Innovation Prize website.

Students participating in the Innovation Prize will use the tools in the Rockefeller Library’s Digital Studio, in particular the ProJet 660Pro 3D printer — the only full-color, gypsum-based 3D printer on campus. Given the capabilities of the printer, we are particularly interested to see models that make use of both dimensionality and color.


Friday, March 10 @ 12 p.m.
Information Meeting 
Rockefeller Library Digital Studio Seminar Room (Rock 160).

Friday, March 24 @ 5 p.m.
Proposals Due
Submit short (~300 words or diagram), initial proposals. Individuals or teams may submit proposals as early as they like. Submit your proposal online.

Friday, March 31 @ 5 p.m.
Proposal Response
A team of Library staff will evaluate all proposals. Applicants will be provided with comments/suggestions on the feasibility, suitability, uniqueness, and/or legal issues of their projects. Note: We do understand that students will be on Spring Break at this time.

Thursday April 13 @ 12 p.m.
Presentation and Judging
Individuals and/or teams will present their 3D prints/models in the Library’s Digital Studio and the models will be judged. Light snacks will be provided.

Friday April 28 @ 12 p.m.
Prizes Awarded
Prize-winning individuals and/or teams will present their 3D prints/models once again in the Library’s Digital Studio and awards will be presented. Light snacks will be provided.

3D Printed Model of a Neuron

Updates from Around the Library | February 2017

The Brown University Library is off and running in 2017.

Here are a few updates: