Have You Seen This? A Treasured Part of the JCB is Returned

An occasional series in which JCB Fellows, staff, and friends write about a particularly memorable reading or research experience in the Library.

handle poster
Here is a heart-warming story about a long-lost part of the John Carter Brown Library. In 1985, someone stole the door handle from the front door of the library—a handle which had been on the outside of the door since 1904. At the time, all were outraged that anyone would steal a treasured part of the building. See the poster above that was posted around campus in an attempt to retrieve the handle.

Alas, the poster did not have the desired effect, although all turned out well in the end. The handle arrived in the mailbox of Harriette Hemmasi, University Librarian, at the end of May 2009 (24 years later!) with an anonymous note apologizing for the theft. The note explained that the handle was taken as a “prank” and that somehow the writer ended up with it, but was now returning it. Sam Streit, University Librarian for Special Collections, recognized that the handle belonged—not to the Brown University Library, but—to the John Carter Brown Library and in June walked it back to its home.

Now the handle, after its many adventures, has returned home to a safe haven in the John Carter Brown Library. About the handle you may still be able to say … I Found It at the JCB.