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.

Exhibit | La conquista dell’Abissinia (The conquest of Abyssinia)

The John Hay Library has a new acquisition on display in the second floor landing case:

La conquista dell’Abissinia/ The conquest of Abyssinia
Officine dell’Istituto italiano d’arti grafiche/ Office of the Italian Institute of Graphic Arts
Board game (paper and ink)
Milano: Carlo Erba S.A., 1936
Brown University Library, Special Collections

The item will be on display until May 31, 2017.

This Italian board game was created in 1936 by Officine dell’Istituto italiano d’arti grafiche in Bergamo during the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini in the midst of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (also referred as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War). The game was printed to advertise products from various Italian companies while spreading colonial propaganda that applauded the expansion of the Kingdom of Italy. This piece featured a powder to make artificial mineral water by the pharmaceutical company Carlo Erba, S.A.

Play is based on the rules of the European “game of the goose,” in which two or more players move pieces along a track of consecutively numbered spaces by rolling one or two dice. La conquista dell’Abissinia is played on a color illustrated sheet against the background of a map of the Ethiopian Empire (also known as Abyssinia). While not depicted, the game pays tribute to Pietro Badoglio, 2nd Duke of Addis Abeba, and his army and their ultimate occupation of the capital of Abyssinia. It consists of 68 numbered spaces representing the Italian flag, the Red Cross, contemporary political figures, and tanks of the Italian armed forces. The goal of the game is to reach the circle numbered 68 before any of the other players by avoiding as many obstacles as possible. It was designed to have a maximum of eight players, each equipped with a small disc representing various divisions of the Italian armed forces (Infantry, Air Force, Blackshirts, Alpine Troops, Corps of Engineers, Tank Division, Askari, or local colonial troops and Dubats or White Turbans). Directions are printed on the upper right corner of the sheet.

Dates: May 1 – May 31, 2017
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Second Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Exhibit | Court Documents from the State vs Frances Leach, 1833

Report of the Examination of David Gibbs, Fanny Leach and Eliza P. Burdick, for the Alleged Murder of Sally Burdick, at Coventry, R. I., on 18th Feb. 1833 (Hartford: Hanmer and Comstock, 1833). With signature and manuscript annotations in the hand of Thomas Wilson Dorr.

The John Hay Library has two new acquisitions on display in the second floor landing case: manuscript trial notes and a report related to the State vs Francis Leach, 1833. They will be on display until April 3, 2017.

In February 1833, forty-eight-year-old Frances (nicknamed “Fanny”) Leach of Providence was called on to attend Sally Burdick, a young woman in Coventry, Rhode Island, who was found to be pregnant. The unmarried Sally resided in the home of her deceased brother’s father-in-law, David Gibbs. A witness named Mary Ann Briggs later testified that upon discovering Sally’s pregnancy, David Gibbs sought to contract Leach to “doctor off” the fetus. Accordingly, Leach borrowed a pair of forceps from Dr. William A. Hamilton in Providence and went down to Coventry to perform the procedure she had been asked to do. Sally, however, was not inclined to terminate her pregnancy in this way, and the operation went horribly wrong. Leach attempted to abort the child while Sally’s sister-in-law held her down, but the result was that Leach only perforated Sally’s uterus. When Sally died of gangrene after six days of acute suffering, Leach and Gibbs were indicted for her murder. Leach’s case was tried at the Superior Court for Kent County in October 1833 and, after a 9-day hearing before two judges and 13 magistrates, resulted in a conviction for manslaughter. Leach received a two-year prison sentence. According to the Niles Weekly Register of 30 November 1833, it was believed to be the second-longest trial ever held in Rhode Island, and “the first of the kind ever tried in New England.”

Prosecution of the case on behalf of the State of Rhode Island was undertaken by State Attorney General Albert C. Greene and his law apprentice, Thomas Wilson Dorr. Although they succeeded in the goal of obtaining justice for Sally Burdick, they could not bring Sally, or her baby, back to life. The case remains a reminder of a time when a woman’s reproductive choices were sharply limited by both social mores and available medical care, and when decisions about childbearing were often outside of a woman’s control under the law.

Dates: March 19 – April 3, 2017
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Second Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Alumni Reunion Forum | The Vietnam War: Our Veterans’ Stories

Little_Creek_VA

Please join the Library for an Alumni Reunion Forum on Saturday, May 28 from 3 – 4:30 p.m. in the Willis Reading Room at the John Hay Library. Professor Beth Taylor, Co-Director of the Nonfiction Writing Program, will moderate a panel of alumni veterans and family who will discuss their memories from the Vietnam War. This event is sponsored by the Brown University Library, Brown Alumni Association, and the Nonfiction Writing Program, Department of English.

Some of them attended Brown with the help of ROTC and they all went to the war before the campus protests. Come hear the surprising stories of Brown’s Vietnam Veterans and join in a discussion with alumni whose lives were changed forever by those difficult times.

The Vietnam Veterans of America will present the University Archives with personal artifacts of John Brooks Sherman ’62 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1962-1966, d. 1966, Vietnam), recently unearthed in Vietnam. Learn about the newly curated Brown Vietnam Veterans Archive and website — featuring flight jackets, commissioning photos, military documents, and love letters.

Moderator:

Beth Taylor, Co-Director, Nonfiction Writing Program

Panelists:

  • David Taylor ’66 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1971), Real Estate Developer
  • Barry Kowalski ’66 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1970), Special Counsel for Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice
  • Elaine Zimmer Davis, widow of Jerry Zimmer ’66 (Capt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1969, MIA, 8-29-69, Vietnam)
  • Augustus A. White, III, ’57, MD, PhD (Capt., Medical Corps, U.S. Army, 1966-1967), Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education, Harvard Medical School

A corresponding exhibit, also entitled The Vietnam War: Our Veterans’ Stories, will be on display in the Willis Reading Room at the John Hay Library from May 28 – August 19, 2016. The exhibit features photographs, letters, military clothing, and quotations from the Brown Vietnam Veterans Archive to depict how alumni transitioned from Brown to Vietnam and beyond. The Vietnam Veterans Archive preserves the stories of Brown University alumni who served in the military during the Vietnam War through oral histories and personal papers.

Date: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Special Collections | Hubert Jennings Papers on Fernando Pessoa

Hubert Jennings at enlistment for World War I

Hubert Jennings at enlistment for World War I

In October 2015, Christopher Jennings and Bridget Winstanley, son and daughter of British and South African scholar Hubert Dudley Jennings, donated their father’s personal papers to Brown University Library.

In January of this year, Folha de S.Paulo, one of Brazil’s leading daily newspapers, featured an article about the discovery of the Hubert Jennings archive in a garage in Johannesburg and its subsequent donation to the Brown University Library. Professor Onésimo Almeida published a response to this article in Malomil.

Born in London in 1896, Hubert Jennings served in World War I and moved to South Africa after graduating from the University of Wales. In his newly adopted land, Jennings became Assistant Headmaster at Durban High School, where he remained employed for the next twelve years (1923-1935). Jennings was one of the first biographers of Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa and one of the first scholars to be interested in Pessoa’s English poetry. Jennings left an invaluable contribution to Pessoan studies with his biographical works on the poet’s stay in South Africa – Fernando Pessoa in Durban (1986) and Os Dois Exílios: Fernando Pessoa na África do Sul (1984).

Through this gift, soon accessible online and in physical form at the John Hay Library, scholars will get a unique glimpse at Pessoa’s life in South Africa following his father’s death. Aside from his published works, Hubert Jennings also left a complete and unpublished book about Fernando Pessoa; plans and notes for other books on the noted writer; an inventory of Pessoa’s estate; numerous transcriptions and translations of Pessoa’s poetry and prose; original short stories taking place in Portugal; a considerable correspondence with writers and scholars from around the world interested in Pessoa’s work; and photos and copies of documents regarding Pessoa’s life, which complement the collection of artifacts housed at the National Library of Portugal and the Casa Pessoa.

Jennings at his desk

Jennings at his desk

Fleurs des Tranchées = Trench Flowers

It arrived on my desk one morning.  A handmade scrapbook labeled Correspondances Militaires, 1916-1917 covered in paper the color of the French military uniform – bleu horizon.  Each letter was carefully pasted along one edge to a thin strip of paper.  Each letter was written to Emile Toulouse from his brothers Eugène and Jean and a smattering of friends and cousins.  They all served France during World War I.  Emile served as a firefighter in Paris.  Eugène served in the infantry.  Jean served with the artillery.

The most important function of war time letters is simply to assure family and friends that one is still in this world.  Eugène writes at the beginning of almost every letter and card exactly the same sentence:  “Je suis toujours en bonne santé et désire que ma lettre te trouve de même. = I am still in good health and hope that my letter finds you the same.”  The fact that Eugène wrote that for over 2.5 years (March 1915 until November 1917) while serving in the trenches in France is remarkable.  In the optimistic early days of 1915, he gathered flowers from each of the trenches.

Flowers collected in the trenches by Eugene Toulouse, 1915

By December 29, 1916, Eugène’s spirits were flagging and for good reason.  Below is a translated excerpt from that letter.

“ . . . From time to time here at this Compagnie de Dépôt we are almost as brutally treated as you are, and twice I was almost thrown in jail without any reason. You better believe it’s harsh to be treated that way especially because it’s possible that in one week we will have our pants on fire and our feet freeze. I am beginning to believe that we will never beat them although you know my morale was pretty high.  I can’t wait for the escape.”

[Translation by Dominique Coulombe, Senior Scholarly Resources Librarian]

To read that letter and all the others in this diminutive but interesting scrapbook visit the John Hay Library and request the Toulouse Family Correspondence (Ms.2012.017).

Money, Money, Money!

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.

A Women’s Studies Pioneer – Elaine Ryan Hedges

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.

 

Time Capsule

A recent blog post titled Baptist Churches announced the arrival of the records for 4 Baptist Churches in Rhode Island.  This week brings a glimpse into the life of one of them – the Roger Williams Baptist Church of Providence, RI.

How often have you walked past the cornerstone of a building and wished you could look inside the time capsule housed within?  What do people put in them?  Do the contents survive the journey through time?

The members of the Roger Williams Baptist Church built a chapel in 1889 to accommodate their growing community.  On September 14, 1889 they celebrated the new building with a service to lay the new cornerstone.  Underneath the stone they enclosed a time capsule in a copper box.  When the membership swelled to over 400 members they built an addition to the church in 1906. The time capsule was moved and placed underneath the new cornerstone.  The photo below shows the stone suspended on a pulley.  The man standing in the middle is Manton Metcalf holding the copper box in his left hand.

Laying the cornerstone for the new addition on the Roger Williams Baptist Church, Providence, RI, June 2, 1906.

David Dobson opening the copper time capsule box, October 1, 2011.

Starting in the 1950s, the membership of the church steadily declined until weekly attendance dwindling to less than twenty in 2010.  The remaining members voted to close the church with the last service on November 20, 2011.  But before they closed their doors they opened the cornerstone and retrieved the time capsule.

What they found inside were mementos from 1889 documenting the church, Rhode Island, and the world including: a list of all the members of the church, constitution and by-laws of the church, publications relating to the Baptist Church in RI, 2 newspapers, money, and 35 small flags from most of the countries in the world at the time.

Contents of the 1889 time capsule of the Roger Williams Baptist Church, Providence, RI.

The most curious object is a small American flag with 36 stars.  There were 38 states in September, 1889 when the time capsule was created (4 more states were admitted in November 1889) and the inscription reads “God Bless the Commonwealth of Rhode Island, Loyalty to Ceasar.”  The flag probably dates to 1865-1867, the only years during which there were 36 states.  Rhode Island is generally not called a Commonwealth. Only 4 states use that term in their official names: Massachusetts, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  And why is someone, who doesn’t know how to spell Caesar, pledging their loyalty to him?  The reason it was included may simply be because it was the smallest flag available and the inscription was written years prior by someone else.  It is nonetheless a curious item.

Baptist Churches

The records for 4 Baptist churches have been donated to the John Hay Library during the past year to augment the Baptist Collection.

1.  Shawomet Baptist Church, Warwick, RI, 1842-2011

2.  Meshanticut Baptist Church, Cranston, RI, 1899-2011

3.  Roger Williams Baptist Church, Providence, RI, 1867-2011

4.  Niantic Baptist Church, Westerly, RI, 1851-2012

The records of these churches provide documentation related to the debate over the vitality of religious organizations in the United States.  All four churches served as vital centers of worship for their communities for 100-160 years.  They all survived the tumult of the economic, social and political upheavals and changing neighborhood demographics of the past 160+ years.  The reason for their closure may be linked to a larger societal trend or may simply be the natural life cycle of an organization.  They are now available for use by researchers interested in that topic or many others involving the role of religion in the life of a community.