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

Announcement | Network of Women Writers and Readers Crux of John Hay Library’s Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy


The John Hay Library is now home to renowned recording artist, writer, and activist Janis Ian’s collection of personally inscribed works of science fiction and fantasy, many by women and LGBTQ authors. 

Janis Ian holding guitar
Janis Ian

Providence, R.I. [Brown University Library] The John Hay Library at Brown University is delighted to announce the acquisition of Janis Ian’s personal library, including collections of books of contemporary science fiction and fantasy authors inscribed to her. Among these authors are Anne McCaffrey, George R. R. Martin, Mercedes Lackey, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, Harlan Ellison, Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee, Diane Duane, and many others. In all, the Library received approximately 200 volumes from Ms. Ian’s collection.

The John Hay Library is the Brown University Library’s repository for rare books, manuscripts, archives, and other special collections. Its holdings of U.S. and Canadian poetry, plays, and vocal music dating from 1609 to the present day are considered to be among the largest and most comprehensive of their kind in any research library, including significant clusters in women’s writings, LGBTQ literature, science fiction and fantasy, and modern first editions.

cover of The Dragonriders of Pern
Cover of “The Dragonriders of Pern” by Anne McCaffrey, part of the Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at the John Hay Library

The Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy will take its place alongside unique items like the only surviving manuscript of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the preeminent collection of H. P. Lovecraft’s papers, and a robust array of writings by more recent masters of speculative fiction such as Caitlín Kiernan and Samuel Delany.

Heather Cole, Curator for Literature and Popular Culture at the Hay Library observed, “The Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy substantially increases our holdings of women science fiction and fantasy authors. In addition, the fact that the books were owned by Ms. Ian—most with inscriptions—provides a wonderful record of a network of women writers and readers, something that is not always easily captured in library collections. Already a broad area of strength at the Hay, our materials in the science fiction and fantasy genres are significantly enhanced by this exciting acquisition. Brown students and researchers are certain to make great use of these materials, furthering scholarship in the many important areas of inquiry that are supported by this collection.”

Title page of “The Dragonriders of Pern,” inscribed by author Anne McCaffrey to Janis Ian

A Grammy Award-winning singer and musician, Janis Ian has been writing and recording music for five decades with a total of ten Grammy nominations in eight different categories. She has been at the forefront of numerous social movements, using music as a force of change, and has impacted the lives and works of artists from Nina Simone to Johnny Cash to Joan Baez. Artists including Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Trevor Sewell have recorded duets with her.

Janis and her wife Pat are currently downsizing while Janis continues to make music and write children’s books, the first of which is the recently published The Tiny Mouse.

Ms. Ian’s library was cataloged by Mary Jo Duffy of Temporary Culture (Upper Montclair, New Jersey), who acted as Ms. Ian’s representative in the sale. Proceeds will benefit the Pearl Foundation, which endows scholarships for returning students.

Items in the Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at the John Hay Library

The collection is currently in the process of being cataloged. Over 160 titles can now be found in the Library’s online catalog, with more titles being added each month.

Event | Exhibit Opening Reception for “Learning through Play: British and French Tabletop Games from the 18th and 19th Centuries”

Dissected puzzle, The British Sovereigns from William the Conqueror to George IV [1825] William Darton, London, England

On Friday, May 24, 2019 from 4 – 6 p.m. at the John Hay Library, the exhibit, Learning through Play: British and French Tabletop Games from the 18th and 19th Centuries,” will officially launch with an opening reception. This exhibit was created through a gift of Georgian and Victorian games, along with jigsaw puzzles and other related items, from Ellen Liman ’57, P’88, as well as a loan of 19th and 20th century French board games from Doug Liman ’88.

At 5 p.m., Ellen Liman and her son, celebrated filmmaker Doug Liman, will deliver remarks.

This event is free and open to the public.

More information about the exhibit.

The games join the John Hay Library’s rich collections of material on popular culture, and will be available online in May, and in the John Hay Library special collections reading room following the exhibition.

Date: Friday, May 24, 2019
Time: 4 – 6 p.m.; remarks at 5 p.m.
Location: John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Exhibit | Learning through Play: British and French Tabletop Games from the 18th and 19th Centuries

“The cottage of content: or, the right roads and wrong ways” (London, 1848)

LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: BRITISH AND FRENCH TABLETOP GAMES FROM THE 18th AND 19th CENTURIES

Georgian & Victorian Games, Gift of Ellen Liman ‘57, P’88, and Early French Games, Loan from Doug Liman ‘88
May 21 – October 11, 2019
John Hay Library, Brown University

The exhibition will be on display in the John Hay Library’s main gallery from May 21 through October 11, 2019; the exhibition is free and open to the public during the library’s regular hours: from May 28 through Labor Day, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; before May 28 and after Labor Day, Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Ellen Liman and Doug Liman are available for an interview or a lecture. For more information and images of the collection, please contact Heather Cole, Curator for Literary & Popular Culture Collections, heather_cole@brown.edu, or by phone, (401) 863-1512.

Images and more information

The Brown University Library is pleased to announce an exhibition featuring 18th and 19th century board games collected by the Liman family. Twenty-three Georgian and Victorian board games, along with jigsaw puzzles and other related items were given to the library by Ellen Liman ’57, P’88. A collection of 19th and 20th century French board games is on loan from the Limans’ son, filmmaker Doug Liman ‘88.

Joseph Meisel, the Joukowsky Family University Librarian, noted his enthusiasm for the Limans’ gift: “This is a wonderful addition to our extensive collection of popular culture materials and significantly extends the range of our holdings in the important area of games and play. As a historian of 19th-century Britain, I am particularly fascinated by how these games serve as documentary sources for deeper understanding of the complex concepts and values that the dominant segments of society sought to impart to their young as future leaders at home and in the world.”

Arthur and Ellen Liman began collecting vintage board games when their son Doug found an old game at a yard sale as a child. This first acquisition sparked an enchantment with games and their depictions of British culture, and the couple spent decades enthusiastically and meticulously building this and other related collections. The late Arthur Liman, a prestigious attorney, was attracted to these games for the historical record: games such as Wallis’s Picturesque Round Game of the Produce and Manufactures of the Counties of England and Wales (ca. 1840) serve as a lesson in how to be an informed citizen of a powerful empire, while others, such as The Railway Travellers (undated) show off new technologies. Other games, such as Every man to his station (1825) provide moral instruction for children. Ellen Liman, a gallerist, author, and painter, valued the games for their artistry, and “appreciated their design, their excellent engraving and later lithography, the delicacy of the hand-coloring, not to mention the charm and ingenuity of every game.” Considering where this collection should ultimately reside, Ellen recalled her formative arts education experiences at Pembroke College, where she majored in art and took courses at RISD, and explains, “Brown was influential to this collection. Since these games are not only educational but rare small works of art, I naturally gravitated to them.” Ellen and Arthur continued to engender an appreciation for antique board games in their son Doug, who has loaned part of his collection of 19th– and early 20th-century French games to this exhibition. Doug, who during his first year at Brown created BTV, Brown’s student-run television station, said: “As a filmmaker of movies and television series, I think of these old French games as early movies or plays, telling stories in a beautiful, artistic, and concise visual format.”

As the turn from the 18th to the 19th century approached in Great Britain, parents and teachers embraced a suggestion from the philosopher John Locke that “learning might be made a play and recreation to children.” A market for board games for instruction and delight flourished, but very few examples survive today. Those that have survived open a window onto the time period in which they were created, reflecting its social and moral priorities as well as a wide range of educational subjects. The games themselves are beautifully detailed: produced by a handful of the best-known publishers of the era, the hand-color engraved games look as vibrant and colorful as they did two centuries ago. Many of the games in the Limans’ collection include not only a game board, but original cases and instruction booklets as well.

The games join the John Hay Library’s rich collections of material on popular culture, and will be available online in May, and in the John Hay Library special collections reading room following the exhibition.

Dates: May 21 – October 11, 2019
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Exhibit | Mail carried by Murier, an enslaved person

Letter from Christopher Scott to Nathan Nield, December 31, 1792
Brown University Library, Special Collections

This piece of paper, sent from Christopher Scott of Petersburg to Nathan Nield of Mercer County, served as both letter and, when folded, as envelope, with a red wax seal.

Known today as “slave carried mail,” this letter was carried by “a Negro woman Murier” and contains information about an exchange of Murier for another enslaved female named Christian.

The Library invites you to parse the contents of the letter. What does this artifact tell us about the history of the country? Of commerce in the U.S.? What does it tell us about the struggles women have faced as well as the fraught nature of relationships? Why is preserving items like this so important to contemporary research?

Dates: October 2 – 31, 2018
TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Selections from the Thomas H. Simon Circus Collection

Big Apple Circus, Twenty Years, 1997-1998 season program

Currently on View:  Selections from the Thomas H. Simon Circus Collection

The Thomas H. Simon Circus Collection contains more than 200 items, primarily about the American circus arts, including first-edition books, pennants, programs, stamps, drawings and promotional materials dating from the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries.

Simon graduated with a degree in philosophy from Brown University in 1954. An avid reader of American history, he completed a Master of Arts in History at Xavier University in Cincinnati in 1987.  He was President of Schaefer Tailoring Company (Cincinnati), founder of People, Places and Things (1976), and served as a dedicated member of the Brown University Library Advisory Council for more than a decade.

Dates: May 1 – May 31, 2018
TimeJohn D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library Hours
Location: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Reception Presenting the Dr. Steven Ungerleider Collection of Haggadot

President Christina Paxson and University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi invite community members to a reception presenting the Dr. Steven Ungerleider Collection of Haggadot.

Join us on Monday, April 23, 2018 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. at the John Hay Library for remarks, cocktails, and Kosher hors d’oeuvres.

While this event is free and open to the public, we are asking for responses to help us plan effectively.

Please RSVP by Friday, April 6, 2018 to Jennifer_Braga@brown.edu.

Click here for more information about the Ungerleider Haggadot Collection and the current, related exhibit, Telling and Retelling the Story of Jewish Liberation – Selections from the Dr. Steven Ungerleider Collection of Haggadot. The exhibit is on display in the Exhibition Gallery at the John Hay Library through June 15, 2018.

Date: Monday, April 23, 2018
Time: 4:30 p.m.
LocationJohn Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Exhibit | Haggadah: Telling and Retelling the Story of Jewish Liberation 

Selections from the Dr. Steven Ungerleider Collection of Haggadot

The Dr. Steven Ungerleider Collection of Haggadot, presenting the text recited on the first two nights of the Jewish Passover, represents a remarkable array of geographic, linguistic, and temporal diversity. Encompassing more than four hundred years of Jewish culture, from the Ottoman Empire in 1505 to the State of Israel in the 1950s, the collection is comprised of haggadot from Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and the Near East. It incorporates a wide range of Jewish vernacular languages, from Yiddish and Ladino to Judeo-Italian and Judeo-Arabic in representative exemplars from Jewish communities across the globe, many long since dispersed.

The current exhibition, Haggadah: Telling and Retelling the Story of Jewish Liberation, highlights the breadth and depth of the Ungerleider Collection. This extraordinary gift to the University honors Dr. Steven Ungerleider’s father, Samuel Ungerleider, Jr. ‘39.

The exhibition will be on display in the lobby and main gallery of the John Hay Library from Monday, March 5, through Friday, June 15, 2018.

Dates: March 5 – June 15, 2018
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Dancy Box by Caitlín R. Kiernan & Kathryn A. Pollnac

The Brown University Library recently acquired the papers of award-winning science fiction and dark fantasy writer Caitlin R. Kiernan.

“In April 2011, I wrote a story featuring my recurring character Dancy Flammarion. The story was titled “Bus Fair,” and it concerns Dancy having to play a riddle game with a werewolf to get back a cigar box containing her most precious possessions. The story became the basis for the first issue of Alabaster, the graphic novel series I scripted for Dark Horse Comics between 2011 and 2015.

In October and November of 2010, after I’d gotten the idea for “Bus Fair,” Kathryn and I created Dancy’s cigar box, because sometimes we do things like that. To pay bills, we auctioned it on eBay, where it brought a very respectable $785 from a longtime fan from Virginia. In July 2017, the fan offered to return the box to me, so that it could be kept with my papers at the John Hay Library. The New Testament in the box was donated by another fan (it had been her mother’s), and the cigar box itself was given to us by Kathryn’s cousin.”  —Caitlín R. Kiernan

The Dancy Box is currently on view.

Dates: November 3 – November 30, 2017
TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

 

Exhibit | H.P. Lovecraft on the Road & Caitlín R. Kiernan Papers

Greetings and Salutations: Lovecraft on the Road  &  Caitlín R. Kiernan Papers @ Brown University on view at John Hay Library, exhibition gallery from August 16 – December 15, 2017.

Greetings and Salutations: Lovecraft on the Road

Journey from Providence, Rhode Island, to St. Augustine, Florida, during the spring and summer of 1934 with one of America’s most influential fantasy and horror fiction writers. Explore the life, past and places of Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890–1937) through his correspondence, postcards and related drawings from the Brown University Library, Special Collections.

Caitlín R. Kiernan Papers @ Brown University

With novels, chapbooks, comics and more than 250 short stories to her credit, science fiction and dark fantasy writer Caitlín R. Kiernan (b. 1964) is a prolific and independent force reflecting the formative influences of her youth, including H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, William S. Burroughs and Angela Carter.

The Brown University Library recently acquired the Caitlín R. Kiernan Papers, gifted by the author, consisting of personal papers, manuscripts, books, related artwork and objects. The collection represents both early and current works by the multiple award-winning author and published paleontologist. Additions to the collection will be made regularly by the author.