Join the John Hay Library on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 for a book talk by Maia Weinstock ’99, author of Carbon Queen: The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus (MIT Press, 2022). The talk will take place from 1 – 1:45 p.m. in the Lownes Room* of the John Hay Library, followed by Q&A with a book signing and reception at 2:30 p.m.
Maia Weinstock ’99, author of Carbon Queen: The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus (MIT Press, 2022), will present on the life and work of the extraordinary physicist, electrical engineer, and materials scientist Millie Dresselhaus (1930-2017). As a girl in New York City in the 1940s, Dresselhaus was taught that there were only three career options open to women: secretary, nurse, or teacher. But sneaking into museums, purchasing three-cent copies of National Geographic, and devouring books on the history of science ignited in Dresselhaus a passion for inquiry. Dresselhaus defied expectations and forged a career in solid-state physics, making highly influential discoveries about the properties of carbon and other materials. In so doing, she helped reshape our world in countless ways — from electronics to aviation to medicine to energy. She was also a path-breaking role model for underrepresented individuals in science and engineering and a beloved educator, mentor, and colleague.
Maia Weinstock ’99
Maia Weinstock is an editor, writer, and producer of science, academic, and children’s media. Deputy editorial director at MIT News, Maia previously served as the editorial director at BrainPOP, and as a staff member at Discover, SPACE.com, Aviation Week & Space Technology, and Scholastic’s Science World. Maia writes often on the history of women in STEM and on diversity in STEM media. She is also internationally known for her custom LEGO projects including Women of NASA, a LEGO Ideas-winning and Amazon best-selling toy, and Women of Computing, a LEGO Ideas finalist. Maia has also been an MIT lecturer on the history of women in STEM and led efforts to increase the participation and representation of women on Wikipedia.
*The Lownes Room is located on the second floor, up two flights of stairs. Please contact [email protected] if you will need elevator access, which requires staff accompaniment.
Please reach out to Lizette as far in advance of the event as possible for this or any other accommodations that will enable you to attend and enjoy the event. Thank you.
Two grants totaling $1.75M will facilitate access to astonishing materials in the Hall-Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda
Through its Divided America project, the John Hay Library will digitize and make available material representing extremes of political thought from 1946 through the 1990s in the United States. With a $250,000 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission’sAccess to Historical Records: Major Initiatives program and a $1.5 million grant from the Arcadia Fund, the project will take on the digitization of about three-fourths of the holdings in the Hall-Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda. Consisting of nearly 200,000 individual items from over 5,000 organizations, the Hall-Hoag Collection is the country’s largest research collection documenting the ideas and activities of dissenting right- and left-wing U.S. groups, offering a trove of material that will help scholars and journalists further understand our current political moment.
The grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) will support the digitization efforts of material in Hall-Hoag that focuses on conservative groups based in rural, urban, and suburban areas, with an emphasis on highly localized ephemeral material. As part of the grant, the Library will fund personnel, outreach, and dissemination activities associated with scholarly study of the materials, which will be fully accessible by historians, researchers, and the general public. The Library will also partner with an interdisciplinary group of faculty to host a publicly-accessible virtual symposium that will draw connections between the newly digitized content and the divisive political landscape in the United States. This rich set of documents includes militant movements, anti-communism, Evangelical or other right-aligned religious bodies, and issue-focused mobilization around matters of public health, gun rights, immigration, and “right-to-work” claims.
Archival material from the radical right is particularly rare and vulnerable owing in part to the fact that groups and individuals from these movements often distrust universities and are reluctant to donate material. Although the political right has had a transformative effect on American social and political life since World War II, only four other universities have prominent (albeit considerably smaller) holdings in this area. These materials capture a trajectory within American politics that has largely been ignored within academia even as it has risen to the fore within popular politics and American governance over the past several decades. This lapse has contributed to the current bifurcation within American politics, insofar as it has deprived scholars of a means for studying the roots of post-WWII Conservatism in all of its dimensions in the same way that scholars have long been able to study the political Left.
With the monies provided through the Arcadia Fund grant, the Divided America project will digitize a further significant portion of the Hall-Hoag Collection. Measuring 1,655 linear feet, the Hall-Hoag collection is the one of the largest of Brown University’s manuscript collections. It was amassed by Gordon Hall, a young veteran of the World War II Pacific Theater, who first encountered the printed propaganda issued by domestic hate-your-neighbor organizations in the late 1940’s. Grace Hoag, an alumna of Smith College, began to collaborate with Hall in the 1960’s, and assisted with the research and expanding the collection beyond its initial emphasis.
Naoko Shibusawa, Associate Professor of History, Associate Professor of American Studies, has worked extensively with the Hall-Hoag Collection and states:
I frequently refer both graduate and undergraduate students to the Hall-Hoag Collection. Students have been drawn to studying conservative and radical right sources as much as liberal and radical left sources. The materials in the Hall-Hoag Collection have allowed them to better understand the ideologies and worldviews that continue to animate political divisions today.
She goes on to say that “the full potential of this vast and compelling collection has barely been tapped. I think others interested in more contemporary U.S. history would be thrilled to have this collection easily accessible for their students, as well as for their own scholarship.” Currently, Professor Shibusawa is working with a student whose thesis draws largely from Hall-Hoag’s materials of incarcerated, radical left Indigenous women from the 1970s.
The collection provides a deep and nuanced look at American politics and political culture from the end of World War II to the eve of the September 11 attacks. Unparalleled in breadth and depth, Hall-Hoag is unique for aggregating material from organizations with faint, if any, traces in the archival record. According to Joseph S. Meisel, Joukowsky Family University Librarian, “Making Brown’s outstanding collection of these important documentary materials more widely available through digitization will be an incredible boon for researchers and students of American politics, and shed new light on the development of important trends that have shaped our national discourse and public life.”
The Divided America project represents one facet of the John Hay Library’s deep commitment to promoting socially engaged scholarship by documenting a wide array of political, social, and religious ideologies so as to shed light on the complex ways in which ideology influences social and political power structures. Amanda E. Strauss, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and Director of the John Hay Library notes:
The Library is deeply grateful to NHPRC and the Arcadia Fund for this funding, which will allow us to provide free digital access to critically important historical materials for scholars, students, and the public who are interested in studying the evolution of of political ideologies in the United States. This material allows a rare glimpse into the transmission of ideas among issues-focused conservative and liberal groups and will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of these important histories.
As one of the Library’s premier collections, the Hall-Hoag Collection forms the anchor for the strategic collecting initiative Ideology & Power, which seeks to provide coherence and promote public access to more than 200 years of original material that documents the evolution of political, social, and religious ideologies in the United States. The Hall-Hoag Collection is the country’s largest research compilation of materials produced by both right- and left-wing American extremist groups.
At the conclusion of the three and a half year Divided America project, nearly 240,000 pages of material will be digitized and made available through the Brown Digital Repository.
Hilary Wang joins the Library in the role of Digital Archivist within Digital Services at the John Hay Library. First day: August 1.
Hilary will be preserving and providing access to born digital and reformatted digital collection materials including websites, social media, email and other digital record types from archival and manuscript collections at the John Hay Library to advance the integrative scholarship and educational mission of the University. She will provide access and support widespread dissemination of digital collection materials through the Brown Digital Repository and other portals, with a particular focus on materials from the priority collection areas identified in the John Hay Library’s collecting directions.
Hilary comes to Brown from Yale University’s Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library and the Yale Center for British Art Archives where she was the Kress Fellow in Art Librarianship. As part of her fellowship, Hilary described and arranged hybrid archival materials, including describing born-digital materials and preparing those for ingest into a long-term preservation system. In addition Hilary served on the Reparative Archival Description Working Group at Yale.
Previously Hilary was an Archives Intern at the IsamuNoguchi Museum, the Born Digital Archives Pratt Fellow at the Guggenheim Museum, and a User Experience Researcher and Data Analyst at the Pratt Center for Digital Experiences.
Hilary holds a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute School of Information. She is very familiar with Providence as she holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design.
The Library is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Christopher West as the inaugural Curator for the Black Diaspora at the John Hay Library. He will curate special collections, provide instruction and outreach, contribute to programming, and strengthen relationships with key partners like the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America. He will also work closely with the Library’s Academic Engagement unit as the subject liaison for Africana Studies. First day: August 8.
Christopher brings deep subject and collections expertise to this role. He most recently served as the Black Culture Literacy Librarian Assistant at the Central Branch of the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, where he assessed the current holdings of the Library’s Black Resources Center, conducted outreach, and developed programs with Black & African arts organizations in the Portland Metropolitan Region. One example of the collaborative work in which he has participated is the exhibit Reckoning: Racism & Resistance in Glendale, which examines systemic racism in this city. Christopher also developed Historic Central Avenue: A Public History Resource Website which focuses on mid-20th century Central Avenue, a commercial and business district in South Central Los Angeles, based on a 1930s Black business directory with supporting materials including oral histories and thematic essays.
Previous roles include Pasadena City College, in California, where for eight years he served as the College Diversity Initiative Coordinator and for 9 overlapping years as an Assistant Professor of History. He also worked for six years at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, as Curator and Program Manager. In 2007, Christopher was awarded a PhD in American History from the University of Southern California.
Join the Brown University Library for a screening of the documentary film, Beyond the Mask: Paul Laurence Dunbar, followed by Q&A with filmmaker Frederick Lewis AM ‘83 on Tuesday September 13, 2022 at 4 p.m. in the Lownes Room at the John Hay Library. (Note: This room is at the top of a lengthy stairwell. Please notify us through the RSVP form if you require elevator access or other accommodations.)
Reception with light refreshments at 3:30 p.m. Q&A from 6:15 – 6:45 p.m.
Free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity and the John Hay Library in collaboration with the Rhode Island Black Film Festival.
Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask
Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask is a feature length documentary about the life and legacy of Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 – 1906), the first African American poet and writer to gain international fame. Born to enslaved people in Dayton, OH, Dunbar is best remembered for his poem, “We Wear the Mask,” and for the line, “I know why the caged bird sings!” from his poem, “Sympathy,” which became the title of Maya Angelou’s famous autobiography.
More than ten years in the making, Beyond the Mask received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional support from Ohio Humanities.
Writer and director Frederick Lewis AM ‘83 is a professor in the School of Media Arts & Studies at Ohio University. His independent documentaries have been seen on PBS stations throughout the U.S. and have been screened at more than 100 cultural and educational venues, including the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and the Explorers Club in New York City.
Professor Lewis is a recipient of the Presidential Teacher Award, Ohio University’s highest honor for transformative teaching, curriculum innovation and mentoring. He has been a Fulbright Specialist in Hungary and has also taught or lectured in England, Germany, France, Ukraine, Malaysia and Vietnam. He received a master’s degree in Literary Arts from Brown University.
Dunbar and John Hay
In addition to being a statesman, John Hay (1838 – 1905), namesake of the John Hay Library, was himself a writer of dialect poetry as a young man and supported the artistic efforts of Dunbar and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
Rhode Island Black Film Festival
Established in 2017, the Rhode Island Black Film Festival is an independent film festival that focuses primarily on black film—works by Black members of the film industry. The Film Festival provides a platform for social justice issues and the cultural achievements of African-Americans and persons of African descent. It is held to recognize achievements of film actors of African descent and to honor films that stand out in their portrayal of Black experience. Beyond the Mask:Paul Laurence Dunbar was among 2017 Film Festival selections of the Rhode Island Black FIlm Festival. For additional information about the Film Festival email [email protected] or call 401-996-1166.
To request accommodations for a disability-related need, please reach out to [email protected] as far in advance of the event as possible. Thank you.
As of 2022, the United States’ vast carceral system imprisons two million people — more than any other nation and with a growth rate of 500% since 1970. Though government and institutional records on incarceration, law, and policy abound, there is a paucity of archival materials by incarcerated individuals, their families, and advocates. There are fewer than twenty archival collections in the U.S. that represent individuals who are incarcerated. Most of these are small (5 folders; a handful of diaries). Until now, none of these have been collected directly from a currently incarcerated individual.
The Mumia Abu-Jamal and Johanna Fernandez ‘93 collections will be open for research in fall 2023. We are committed to making these materials available to scholars within and beyond Brown, including creating avenues for scholars from Philadelphia and New York to be able to make use of the collections. Digitization of the materials and public events, including a symposium, are on the horizon.
Referred to by the New York Times as the most recognized death row inmate in the world, Mumia Abu-Jamal is an American political activist and journalist who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1982 for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. He became widely known while on death row for continuously proclaiming his innocence and fighting his conviction and for his writings and commentary on the criminal justice system in the United States, including the 1995 memoir, Live from Death Row. After numerous appeals and public pressure from the “Free Mumia” movement, in 2011 his death penalty sentence was overturned by a federal court and reduced to a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. He entered the prison’s general population early in 2012, and has continued to write about his experiences in and from prison while maintaining his innocence. In 2015, Abu-Jamal published Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal (City Lights, 2015), which was edited by Johanna Fernández.
Composed of approximately 60 boxes of papers that Abu-Jamal sent to Fernández since his imprisonment, and spanning from approximately 1981 – 2019, Abu-Jamal’s archive includes his personal experiences on death row; his ongoing 40+ year imprisonment in solitary confinement, maximum, and medium security Pennsylvania prisons; his reflections on civil rights, incarceration, and freedom; his activist life; and global reaction to his case articulated through activist work on his behalf through publications, film, and other media.
Johanna Fernández ‘93
Born and raised in the Bronx, NY as one of four siblings, Johanna Fernández ‘93 is the daughter of working-class immigrants from the Dominican Republic who fled the Trujillo dictatorship to come to the United States. The first in her family to graduate from college, Fernández received an AB in Literature and American Civilization from Brown in 1993 and later earned a PhD in History from Columbia University. While at Brown, Fernández was a member of Students for Admissions and Minority Aid and led the April 1992 student occupation of University Hall in hopes of pressuring Brown to move more rapidly towards the admission of students regardless of their ability to pay to attend.
Fernández teaches 20th century U.S. history and the history of social movements in the Department of History at Baruch College (CUNY). She is the author of the award-winning book, The Young Lords: A Radical History (UNC Press, February 2020), about the Puerto Rican counterpart to the Black Panther Party. In 2014, she sued the New York City Police Department, claiming that it had failed to produce public records of surveillance of the Young Lords in the 1960s and 1970s; police department employees found those surveillance documents, alongside NYPD dossiers and extensive surveillance of members of the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam, in a Queens warehouse two years later.
A close friend and advocate of Abu-Jamal, Fernández co-edited with Abu-Jamal a special issue of the journal Socialism and Democracy, titled The Roots of Mass Incarceration in the US: Locking Up Black Dissidents and Punishing the Poor (Routledge, 2014). She is the editor of Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal (City Lights, 2015) and is the writer and producer of the film, Justice on Trial: the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal (BigNoise Films, 2010). Fernández is also an active Brown alumna and has served on the Pembroke Center Advisory Council since 2018.
Spanning from approximately 1965-2021, this collection documents Fernández’s personal history, professional work, and activism. Composed of approximately 45+ boxes of documents, oral histories and digital records, this collection is comprehensive in its documentation of Fernández as a Dominican American community activist; her role as chief advocate on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal; her research on the history of the Young Lords Party; her legal fight to gain access to NYPD surveillance files; her work in radio and other media; and much more.
You Belong Here
The phrase “You Belong Here” is set above the front desk and in front of the exterior of the John Hay Library. According to Associate University Librarian for Special Collections Amanda Strauss:
I came to Brown to transform the John Hay Library into a boldly inclusive institution that is fully engaged with collections that illuminate the most pressing issues of our time. I am honored that Mumia Abu-Jamal and Johanna Fernandez ‘93 decided to place their collections at the Hay, and we will continue to collect voices of mass incarceration in the United States so that the archival record no longer excludes the voices and stories of individuals and communities affected by the carceral state.”
The John Hay Library is home to Brown University’s remarkable collections of rare books, manuscripts, and University Archives. We are committed to being an active partner in advancing the University’s academic mission. We are here for you.
The Brown University Library and the John Carter Brown Library are pleased to announce Roger Shaw Williams as the inaugural Head of Libraries Conservation. Roger’s first day will be September 30, 2022.
Reporting jointly to Michelle Venditelli, the Director of Collections Care for Brown University Library, and Karin Wulf, the Director and Librarian of the John Carter Brown Library, Roger will create and oversee a collections conservation program for both libraries, including the assessment, treatment, and documentation of the libraries’ sizable distinctive special collections with a focus on the conservation of bound materials. He will also play an active role in expanding access to these collections for a global scholarly community through both campus-based and digital outreach.
The majority of Brown University Library’s special collections are located at the John Hay Library, one of seven facilities within the University Library system. The Hay’s holdings include more than three million items in several hundred named collections of books, manuscripts, and prints. Overall, the University Library’s collections include approximately seven million volumes and over 15,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archives.
The John Carter Brown Library is a world-class collection of materials focused on the early Americas. An independently administered and funded center for advanced research in history and the humanities located on the Brown campus, the JCB is home to more than 65,000 exceptional and rare books, maps, and manuscripts related to the early Americas from the 15th through the early 19th centuries. This position is the second full-time, joint position between the JCB and Brown University Library.
Michelle Venditelli noted that “We are thrilled to have Roger head this inaugural position. An active member of the professional conservation community, Roger will also bring his collaborative spirit, expressed through expanding access to the profession and mentoring postgraduate conservation fellows.” Karin Wulf said that “having Roger join our team at the JCB, and expand our joint work with Brown University Library, is equally exciting. We’re so pleased to welcome him to Providence.”
Roger is currently the Book and Paper Conservator at Northwestern University Libraries. During his time at Northwestern, he initiated the Adaptable Conservation Book Support project, collaborating with undergraduate engineering students to create a DIY and open-design tool that has been implemented in conservation labs around the world. Previously, Roger worked at the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia and interned at Smithsonian Libraries. He completed his master’s degree in conservation studies at West Dean College and the University of Sussex. He is a Professional Associate member of the American Institute for Conservation and currently serves as an editor for the Book and Paper Group Annual. Recently he has been involved in writing and illustrating Conservation of Books, a comprehensive overview of the field to be published by Routledge next year.
On View: John Hay Library, Willis Reading Room (May 26 – December 16, 2022)
For centuries the Akan people of West Africa used gold dust as a primary form of currency in everyday transactions and as part of an extensive trade with the North African Muslim states. To measure precise amounts of gold dust, an elaborate system of weights was devised. Akan Gold weights called abrammuo (singular, mrammuo) are closely linked with the Akan verbal arts of proverbs and are visual expressions of Akan culture and values. For the Akan, gold (sika) symbolizes the embodiment of life force (kra) and is considered the partner of the sun on earth.
Dates: May 26 – December 16, 2022 Time: John Hay Library Hours Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence
“Artistic Impressions of Brown University,” features a collection of over 30 drawings, watercolors, etchings, and architectural plans depicting the Brown campus and East Side of Providence created by local architects, students, and international artists.
Curated by Ray Butti, Senior Library Expert
Dates: May 26 – August 15, 2022 Time: John Hay Library Hours Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence
In 2006 Brown released its groundbreaking “Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice,” confronting and publicly documenting the University’s complex history with the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies of inequity and injustice. A newly released expanded edition, available through an immersive, interactive digital experience and as a printed book, offers insights into the Report’s persistent and evolving impact both on campus and across the world.