Brown University Library Special Collections

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Special Collections Hours during intersession 2015

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on December 9, 2014

The Special Collections Reading Room of the John Hay Library will be closed from December 24, 2014, thru January 9, 2015. From January 12 to January 20, 2015, the Special Collections Reading Room will be available by appointment only from 10am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. To request an appointment, please e-mail Hay@brown.edu prior to 12 noon on Friday, January 9. Please specify the date(s) and time(s) you plan to arrive at the reading room to work with Special Collections materials.

Please note that the John Hay Library will be closed on Monday, January 19, 2015, for the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

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John Hay Library Reading Room Closing Early on Friday April 19th

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on April 16, 2013

On Friday April 19th, the Reading Room of the John Hay Library will have limited hours. Due to a scheduled event, the Reading Room will be open from 10am-3pm The building will remain open until 5pm but collections will not be available for consultation.

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John Hay Library: Disruption During Spring Break

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on March 22, 2013

In preparation for the upcoming renovation, contractors will be working both on the exterior of the John Hay Library and in the reading room. This work will happen starting on Monday March 25th and will be completed on Friday March 29th. The Library will remain open during this time, but it may be noisy. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please e-mail Hay@brown.edu if you have any questions or concerns.

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ATTN: Faculty and Students, Special Collections Deadline Approaching!

Posted by Jennifer Betts on March 15, 2013


The Brown University Library is excited to announce the launching of the John Hay Library renovation project. Revitalization of this historic landmark will include a refurbishment of the magnificent first floor reading room into an open, welcoming study space for students; the creation of a new state-of-the-art special collections reading room in the area which formerly housed University Archives; improvements to the service and exhibit areas in the Central Hall of the first floor; addition of a student lounge and conference room; handicapped access to the front of the Library and code compliance and fire safety improvements throughout the building.

To accommodate the extensive work involved in the renovation, the John Hay Library will close beginning June 1, 2013, and will remain closed through the duration of the construction project until Fall 2014. During the construction project, there will be no access to the building, and access to Special Collections & Archives materials by faculty, students, and other researchers will be limited.

We will be able to pull a limited amount of Special Collections & Archives materials from the Hay Library stacks prior to the Library’s closing on June 1, 2013. These materials will be shelved elsewhere temporarily for access by classes and researchers during the renovation period. We are asking faculty and others to help us identify Special Collections & Archives materials that will be needed during the period that the Library will be closed. This input must be provided no later than April 5, 2013.

Specifically, faculty who will be teaching a course during Fall 2013 or Spring 2014 that will utilize Hay Library materials must contact the Library at HayRenovation@brown.edu by April 5, 2013.

Also, graduate students or undergraduate honors thesis students planning to do research using Special Collections & Archives materials during this period (June 2013 thru Fall 2014) must contact the Library at HayRenovation@brown.edu by April 5, 2013.

Please note that any Special Collections & Archives materials located at the Library Collections Annex (as denoted in the Josiah catalog record) will continue to be available throughout the renovation period. These materials may be used at the Annex (10 Park Lane, Providence) or requested for use on campus.

A temporary special collections reading area will be established in the Rockefeller Library to consult Special Collections & Archives materials retrieved from the Annex or that have been requested in advance of the Hay Library’s temporary closing. In addition, the Library encourages use of its digitized Signature Collections (selected Special Collections materials which have been digitized for public use) during the renovation period.

The John Hay Library renovation project is scheduled to be completed by the start of the Fall 2014 semester. With the capable guidance of Seldorf Architects, known for their elegant treatment in designing and renovating cultural institutions, the renewal of this space not only will fulfill important scholarly and programmatic needs of the Library and campus. The project’s completion also will serve to honor the John Hay Library’s founding donor, Andrew Carnegie, whose philanthropy was intended to do “real and permanent good,” benefitting Brown both today and tomorrow. We are most grateful to our generous donors for making this wonderful project possible. The results promise to be a space that will better protect and service the Library’s unique Special Collections, and open both the Library and its collections to inspire Brown students today and for generations to come.

We greatly appreciate the cooperation of all Brown faculty and students and other researchers and friends of the Hay during the period that the Library will be closed. We will provide regular updates on the progress of the John Hay Library renovation throughout the project. Additional information will be available at the project web site (coming soon).

Contact: Daniel O’Mahony

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Money, Money, Money!

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on January 14, 2013

A collection of Rhode Island currency and fiscal documents was recently donated by Cynthia Frost (Vice President and Chief Investment Officer at Brown) in memory of her father Michael Freezy Frost, who collected the materials during his lifetime.  The Frost Currency collection (Ms.2012.031) contains examples of 26 pieces of currency, of varying types, issued in Rhode Island between 1775 to 1929, one bank note issued in Delaware in 1759, and 5 documents related to the fiscal history of 18th century Rhode Island.

Front of Rhode Island 20 Dollar bill, 1780

Back of Rhode Island 20 Dollar bill, 1780

This 20 Dollar bill was issued in 1780 and is a promissory note from the State of Rhode Island.  which promised to pay the bearer the principal plus 5% interest every year in 6 years.  The note was then traded like money for goods and services. Whoever possessed the note at the end of the 6-year term collected the principal and all the interest.  Notice the offset text on the left side of the bill, the original signatures and the unique handwritten number, all of which were meant to frustrate counterfeiters.  The back adds offset text in red and a woodcut image which would be very difficult to reproduce exactly.

Rhode Island 6 Pence bill, 1786

The State of Rhode Island also issued money.  The Six Pence bill was issued in 1786 and is printed on only one side.  No interest accrues with this bill, it is solely meant as a medium of exchange.

 

Front of Roger Williams National Bank of Providence 10 Dollar bill, 1865

Back of Roger Williams National Bank of Providence 10 Dollar bill, 1865

Banks got into the business of printing money in the 1840s and they chose the images and style of the bills.  The image of Benjamin Franklin discovering electricity with his kite was clearly so well known by 1865 that it needed no caption on this 10 Dollar bill.  The back of the bill shows DeSoto discovering the Mississippi.  Perhaps the choice of that image was meant to create solidarity within the United States again since that area of the country had so recently been prevented from seceding.

To learn more about this collection visit the John Hay Library.

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Many Pigs of Many Pens

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on November 15, 2012

Upon first glance it seems that people in 1908 have no idea how to draw, let alone produce a successful image of a pig.And then you look more closely at the poem at the beginning of the book and it becomes clear.  They are drawing these pigs blindfolded.

This volume, Guest Book : Many Pigs of Many Pens, was published in 1902 as a playful alternative to a traditional guest book.  In conventional guest books, visitors were expected to sign their name and contribute a poem, sketch, quote, or witticism.  The purpose of this guest book explains the statement on the cover – “A Pig in Time Saves a Rhyme.”This copy was given as a present to John Nicholas Brown II (1900-1979) in 1908.  The first image above shows the eight-year-old’s attempt at a pig.  It is one of many items in the Natalie Bayard Brown papers (Ms.2007.011) at the John Hay Library.

Mrs. Natalie Bayard Dresser Brown was the wife of John Nicholas Brown (1861-1900) and the mother of John Nicholas Brown II (1900-1979).  Her papers reflect her active involvement in the many Brown family businesses, the Democratic Party during the 1930s, and numerous charitable causes through correspondence with family and friends, writings and speeches, scrapbooks, and photographs.

The elder John Nicholas died of typhoid fever 2 months after the birth of his son followed soon after by the death of his brother Harold Brown. Those tragic events made John Nicholas Brown II the heir to the Brown family fortune and he was dubbed the “richest baby in America.”  The John Nicholas Brown II papers (Ms.2007.012) contain a wealth of material on the visual arts, art collections and collecting activities, and public service at the state, national and international levels, as well as the history of Brown University and the State of Rhode Island during the twentieth century.

Both of those collections, and many others related to the Brown family, can be viewed at the John Hay Library.

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John Hay Library: Focus on Special Collections-Audubon

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on November 5, 2012

Between noon and 1pm on November 14th, staff from the John Hay Library will be turning pages in one volume of John James Audubon’s masterwork The Birds of America. Please join us in the Lownes Room on the second floor of the John Hay Library.

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Reading Room Closing Early on Wednesday October 24th

Posted by Ann Morgan Dodge on October 23, 2012

Due to a scheduled event, the Reading Room of the John Hay Library will close at 4pm on Wednesday October 24th.  While the building will remain open until 6 pm, there will be no access to the collections.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

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A Women’s Studies Pioneer – Elaine Ryan Hedges

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on October 10, 2012

Elaine Hedges

The Elaine Hedges papers (Ms.2011.007) are now available for research

Elaine Hedges is best known for her ground-breaking scholarship on the significance of American women and sewing — particularly in reference to their quiltmaking in the nineteenth century.  Her detailed and innovative study of quilts as encoded texts brought to the fore important historical information about women and their social, political and artistic endeavors that had previously been overlooked by mainstream scholars.  Hedges was also a leader in the area of Women’s Studies through the foundation of the Women’s Studies program at Towson State University in Maryland in 1972.  Throughout her career, she was a fierce advocate for curriculum reform and of a more inclusive canon of American literature so as to incorporate works by women, ethnic minorities, and the gay and lesbian community.

The collection thoroughly documents all aspects of Hedges long and productive career as one of the most influential feminist scholars of the 20th century.  Her scholarship and teaching were wide-ranging and reflect the history of the women’s movement and the creation of women’s studies programs.

 

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Jonathan Russell and the War of 1812: The Inside Scoop on America’s First War

Posted by Karen A. Eberhart on September 20, 2012

The papers of American diplomat Jonathan Russell provide an intimate look inside the grievances that caused the War of 1812 and its ultimate resolution in December 1814.

Major causes of the war stemmed from Great Britain’s fight with France which had been raging since 1803.  Eager to bolster its own resources and reduce supplies for France, Great Britain impressed American seamen into service with the British Navy and blockaded the American coast to prevent provisions from reaching France.  Those actions, among others, did not sit well with the Americans and President James Madison declared war on Great Britain in June 1812.

Jonathan Russell was a witness to all of the intrigue.  His diplomatic career began when President James Madison appointed him chargé d’affaires in Paris in 1810. The next year he was given the same position in London and from 1814 to 1818 he was United States minister to Sweden and Norway. Russell was also one of the negotiators of the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812.

The papers of Jonathan Russell include correspondence with all the prominent politicians, diplomats, and businessmen of the day.  They also include letters from seamen, who were impressed by the British, seeking his assistance to return home again.  Of particular note are the “Records of U.S. Commissioners to Negotiate with Great Britain at Ghent” which provide a detailed account of the negotiations with Great Britain to end the war.

To learn more about the Jonathan Russell papers, see the finding aid available on the Rhode Island Archives and Manuscripts Online website.

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