Announcement | Hortense J. Spillers Papers Open for Research

The Pembroke Center’s Feminist Theory Archive and the John Hay Library are proud to announce that the Hortense J. Spillers papers are open for research.

Spillers is an American literary critic, Black feminist scholar, and the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in English at Vanderbilt University. Her research addresses literary criticism, race and gender; linguistics; the African diaspora; Black culture; and sexuality. She is best known for her 1987 article, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” one of the most cited essays in African-American literary studies today.

The Hortense J. Spillers papers include handwritten diaries and journals on topics ranging from critical race theory and Moby Dick to the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Spillers’ first trip abroad in 1968. The collection also includes personal and professional correspondence with scholars such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Gayatri Spivak; and drafts of her talks, articles, and books, including “Isom,” “Conjuring,” and “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe.” Materials in this collection date from 1966 to 1995.

Spillers contributed her papers to the Feminist Theory Archive in the name of the Black Feminist Theory Project, established by the Pembroke Center in 2016.

For information on how to access these collections, please contact the Pembroke Center Archivist at pembroke_archives@brown.edu.

Event | The Evolving Image of Shaker Life with Rob Emlen

On Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at 4 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, Rob Emlen will discuss his newly-published book Imagining the Shakers, based in part on research in the Hay’s Special Collections.

The Evolving Image of Shaker Life

In the half century between 1830 and 1880, the American public encountered the first visual images of this country’s oldest and largest communal religious society. Published as newspaper and magazine illustrations or as separate engravings and lithographs meant to be framed and displayed, these prints reveal the changing ways in which Americans imagined the radically nonconformist Shakers, evolving from suspicion and ridicule to acceptance as a valued part of the cultural landscape of the nation.

Rob Emlen

Rob Emlen is a Visiting Scholar in American Studies at Brown University and a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He recently retired as university curator and senior lecturer in American Studies at Brown, and as a part-time faculty member in the Theory and History of Art and Design at the Rhode Island School of Design. During his 34 years at Brown he conducted much of the research for his book Imagining the Shakers in the collections of the John Hay Library.

Date: Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

To request special services, accommodations, or assistance for this event, please contact Jennifer Braga at Jennifer_Braga@brown.edu or (401) 863-6913 as far in advance of the event as possible. Thank you.

Announcement | Digitization of Historic Campus Speeches with CLIR Grant

Speeches by Civil Rights leaders and other renowned public intellectuals will be preserved and made available for scholarship.

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has awarded the Brown University Library $23,215 from its Recordings at Risk program. One of 13 projects selected out of 34 to receive grants from the program, the Library’s proposal, “Brown University Archives Audio-Visual Collection: Global Perspectives from Campus Speeches,” will allow us to digitize and make available to the public a large selection of audio and video recordings of speeches by leading public figures invited to Brown between 1950 and 1995. 

Brown University students on the College Green, 1969

103 cassette tapes, 198 film reels, and 44 VHS tapes–345 items total–will be digitized through use of the funding. This substantial set of materials document changing intellectual and social currents across the United States and the world on topics including social justice, politics, education, and the media–all of which still resonate today. There is a particularly fascinating set of recordings from Civil Rights leaders, notably Ralph Abernathy, Shirley Chisholm, Martin Luther King, Jr., and A. Philip Randolph. 

Over the next nine months, outside vendor George Blood LP will convert the media into digital files. A team of Special Collections staff and students will review the digitized files and create accurate and complete descriptive information. The final content will be uploaded into the Brown Digital Repository, where it will be available for research in October 2020.

Workshop | Viewing Topography Across the Globe

The John Hay Library is pleased to be hosting the second session of the “Viewing Topography Across the Globe” workshop, taking place on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 from 2 – 4 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library.

Please RSVP here to attend.

Session details:

“Viewing the Minassian Collection” with Shahzad Bashir (Aga Khan Professor of Islam and the Humanities, Brown University) and Holly Shaffer (Assistant Professor of History of Art & Architecture, Brown University), and graduate students in Tracing Translations (HMAN 2400R)

“Viewing the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection” with Peter Harrington (Curator of the Military Collection, John Hay Library)

This workshop is sponsored by the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, the John Carter Brown Library, the John Hay Library, and the Lewis Walpole Library; it is part of the programming for the Collaborative Humanities course, Tracing Translations: Artistic Migrations and Reinventions in the Early Modern World, and is part of a series on topography organized by the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University.

The session will be followed by tea and other light refreshments in the lobby of the John Hay Library.

More information on the day-long workshop

Date: Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

More information on the entire workshop

Exhibit | Paul Revere’s Buried with Him by Baptism, c.1770s

BUL Special Collections, Drowne Collection

Thought to be designed and engraved by Revere, this print depicts the baptism of Christ, by full immersion.  John the Baptist is shown holding Jesus in the Jordan River.  Interpreted as the 12 Apostles watch from the bank while two pairs of angels on clouds flank the top corners.  A sun with mirrored Hebrew lettering (Tetragrammaton) from which two rays of light emanate, a dove on left and on right the words “This is my beloved Son –hear ye him”, or scripture Luke 9:35 from the Christian Holy Bible.

There are 5 known original prints of this plate.  Found inside a medical book at Brown University in 2012, the rare illustration was part of a donation by physician Solomon Drowne, Brown class of 1773.  Among the surviving engravings, paper and sheet size vary; the Brown University Library copy on laid paper demonstrates the plate print slightly askew.   

Exhibit Dates: December 5, 2019 – January 31, 2020
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Announcement | Daniel G. Siegel ’57 Gift and Fellowship

Daniel G. Siegel ’57

The Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of books and manuscripts from the personal library of Daniel G. Siegel ’57, a member of the Library Advisory Council, a board member on the Friends of the Library, and a long and dedicated supporter of special collections at Brown. Mr. Siegel has twice received the Library’s highest honor, the William Williams Award–once as an individual for his generous gifts to special collections and once as a 2012 member of the Library Advisory Council for its support of the renovation of the John Hay Library.

Comprising over 3,000 books and 100 manuscripts, the items included in this recent gift focus mainly on American literature, American history, and the history of science, but also encompass a broad range of other subjects. The gift is particularly strong in association copies, which document the various ways in which intellectuals and activists interacted with ideas and with one another. 

Outstanding Highlights of the Gift

First edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass inscribed by Whitman and Oscar Wilde

Highlights of the gift include:

  • A first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass inscribed by Whitman and Oscar Wilde
  • Lydia Maria Child’s Letters from New York inscribed to Margaret Fuller
  • King George III’s copy of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson’s copy of the report on the Dred Scott case
  • Typescript of Philip Roth’s early short story “The Conversion of the Jews”
  • A letter from Albert Einstein discussing the Rosenbergs’ trial and Stalinist purges
  • A draft of the constitution of the Confederate States of America with annotations and corrections by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens
  • First editions of 19th century Russian novels
  • A complete set of pamphlets by visionary rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
  • Liberia Herald, vol. 1, no. 1, Monrovia, Liberia, March 6, 1830
Liberia Herald, vol. 1, no. 1, Monrovia, Liberia, March 6, 1830

Areas of Distinction

The gift expands on the existing holdings in Special Collections in nearly every direction, adding works of significant interest to alcohol and addiction studies, the development of the American West, the history of technology and its uses, natural history and materia medica, the Civil War era, women’s rights, religion, and social reforms of all kinds.

Access to the Materials

The collection is currently in-process. Available titles can be browsed here.

A Lifetime of Collecting and Giving

The materials in this gift reflect Mr. Siegel’s expansive vision of collecting and are an invaluable addition to the John Hay Library’s resources for research and teaching. The items in this gift join those from previous gifts from Mr. Siegel, which include the only surviving manuscript of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and foundational works in the history of science.

Manuscript of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four

Daniel G. Siegel ’57 Fellowship

To honor Mr. Siegel’s breathtaking generosity and the impact of his giving on special collections at Brown, the Library has established the Daniel G. Siegel ’57 Fellowship, a specialized component of the John Hay Library Undergraduate Fellowship Program.

The fellowship review committee will select one John Hay Library Undergraduate Fellow to be the Siegel Fellow, whose research focuses specifically on the collections of American literature and/or history at the Hay. Like the other fellows in the cohort, the Siegel Fellow will spend ten weeks in the summer building research skills using primary sources to develop an original project. Projects can take the form of a traditional research paper or may be creative or digital in format. Projects do not have to be completed by the end of the summer; the fellowship can serve as a start for a senior thesis, be a further exploration of work begun during a course, or allow a student a non-evaluative framework within which to explore a new topic. Fellows will work primarily in the Hay’s Gildor Family Special Collections Reading Room and will participate in a wide range of relevant workshops, with topics such as the history of the book and letterpress printing. All fellows will present their projects at a showcase in the fall.

Exhibit | Collecting with Distinction: Faculty Insights into Recent Acquisitions

Peruse the gallery and discover what is new and unique about Special Collections at the Hay Library.  Explore recent acquisitions from the 14th century to the present through the lens of renowned Brown faculty, and gain insight into the place where the past, present and individual connect.

Opening reception:  Friday, November 22nd, 4-6 PM

Dates: November 22, 2019 – February 14, 2020
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Thanksgiving-Day, November 24, 1864, United We Stand

Harper’s Weekly, December 1864; Brown University Library, Special Collections

Created by famous political cartoonist Thomas Nast, these eight vignettes depict a “state of the Union” featuring President Abraham Lincoln during his reelection year. Each rendering touches on a significant factor during the Civil War, which was in its fourth year and with no clear victor at the time. The double-page image, published in Harper’s Weekly in December 1864, reflects the artist’s more illustrative work. Nast is also credited with crafting the modern American representation of Santa Claus during the course of his time at the magazine.

Exhibit Dates: November 1 – 30, 2019
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | The Last Will of Walt Whitman

Camden, New Jersey: June 29, 1888
Brown University Library, Special Collections

In June of 1888, celebrated American poet Walt Whitman suffered a stroke, which left him partially paralyzed. Fearful he would not recover, Whitman drafted this will, which leaves the majority of his money to his sisters, his property to his brother, and names three literary executors. Whitman would survive for four more years, and go on to publish four more works, including his “Deathbed Edition” of Leaves of Grass.

This manuscript is just one of several thousand books and manuscripts recently presented to the library by Daniel G. Siegel ’57.

Exhibit Dates: October 4 – 31, 2019
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Workshop | Coming Out of the Archives

Coming Out of the Archives poster

Celebrate National Coming Out Day at a hands-on workshop where you can explore pulp fiction, photographs, activist ephemera, meeting records, and more from the Library’s special collections. Plus, use a button maker and copies of queer documents to make your own buttons!

Three workshops will take place in the Bopp Seminar Room at the John Hay Library on Friday, October 11. Registration is requested. Each workshop is capped at 14 participants. Please register for only one workshop time. All three sessions will cover the same material.

Click on the links below or scan the QR code to register for the workshop at your chosen time:

Date: Friday, October 11, 2019
Time: 12 p.m., 1:15 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
Location: Bopp Seminar Room, 3rd Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence