“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
Six dynamic and interconnected areas of focus build on current collection strengths and forge a path for building distinctive collections that support expansive and imaginative inquiry with a commitment to community engagement, environmental sustainability, and social justice.
Providence, R.I. [Brown University] After a year-long process of critical self-study and reflection led by Amanda Strauss, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections, the John Hay Library is launching a new collection policy, designed to guide highly strategic collecting at the Hay. The policy development process involved staff members at the Hay as well as consultations with a wide array of stakeholders at Brown and in key external communities.
When Ms. Strauss joined the Library in 2019, she was charged with creating a focused plan for the Hay, in alignment with Library and University goals and priorities, that would inspire faculty and students and transform the Hay into a center of academic excellence and a prominent destination for scholarly research. A serious commitment to representing diverse perspectives, experiences, and methods would be a fundamental part of that plan — necessary work for a world-class institution that facilitates free and open inquiry. According to Joseph S. Meisel, Joukowsky Family University Librarian, “Under Ms. Strauss’s leadership, the John Hay Library is reaching new heights in advancing education, research, and public knowledge while also becoming a far more inclusive institution that speaks to a much broader range of human experience. This kind of scholarly vision and intellectual organization is what distinguishes outstanding special collections research libraries at world-class universities like Brown.”
The policy consists of six areas of focus for collecting as well as three research themes in the sciences that are purposefully interconnected to create a holistic basis for research, education, and public engagement that encourages the kind of expansive and imaginative inquiry for which Brown University is renowned. They also establish a profound and more cohesive intellectual context for a remarkable set of existing collections, allow for strategic and sustainable collecting, and create a path for reparative and community-based collecting.
Global Lavender Voices celebrates the lived experiences, contributions, accomplishments, and culture of LGBTQIA+ communities, both in the United States and internationally.
Ideology & Power provides coherence and promotes public access to more than 200 years of original material that documents the evolution of political, social, and religious ideologies and that sheds light on the complex ways in which ideology influences social and political power structures.
Military & Society traces the social, political, economic, and cultural influence of world militaries during war and peace.
Performance & Entertainment documents the history and creative process of performing arts and provides a window into public life and popular entertainment in the Americas through plays, dance, film, music, photography, and pornography.
Popular Literature aims to reflect the imaginative worlds of North American authors and readers from the 18th through the 21st centuries. The Hay holds preeminent research collections in weird fiction, science fiction, and fantasy.
The University & Beyond augments the robust and growing collections of Brown’s institutional records and student life by tracing the unique and enduring global imprint of the University’s programs, faculty, and alumni.
Overlapping with these six areas of collecting focus are three prioritized research themes in the sciences: Climate Change, Collections as Data, and Health and History. The new policy recognizes the importance of using primary sources in scientific research and has already been strengthening its collections in STEM-related areas. According to Dr. Megan Ranney, who interpreted an item related to gun violence for the Hay’s exhibition Collecting with Distinction: Faculty Insights into Recent Acquisitions, “As both a scientist and scholar, I know how important it is to capture memorabilia of public health and medical debates in real time. I’m thankful for the foresight of Ms. Strauss and the John Hay Library in capturing so many documents, images, and other original materials. Future generations of students and researchers will be able to use our collections to understand our mindset behind many of our biggest societal struggles, such as gun violence. We are lucky to have this vision.”
The Hay is already well known for supporting both humanistic and scientific inquiry through its renowned collections in the history of medicine and alcoholism and addiction, and in the history of mathematics and the “exact sciences” starting in 1180 B.C. Climate change is a theme that is present across a range of Hay materials that will be given new visibility and intentional development going forward.
Ms. Strauss emphasizes the importance of including special collections in teaching and research at Brown: “The Hay is a vital resource for the transformative, creative, intellectually independent work that is a hallmark of Brown. Our collections, though rare and unique, are meant to be actively used, and their use has never been more important than in this critical point in our nation’s history. The resources we steward are essential for scholarship that builds new knowledge in service of a more just and equitable society.”
The collection policy also provides a geographic framework for present and future collecting. Currently, Western Europe, North America, and Latin America are robustly represented. The collections also contain important material from East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Postcolonial Anglophone and Lusophone Africa. Going forward, collecting will focus on transnational movements and material created within the Global South or its diaspora. Growth of collections in these areas will occur in close partnership with the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, the Department of Africana Studies, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
Professor Tony Bogues, Asa Messer Professor of Humanities and Critical Theory and Professor of Africana Studies, has been collaborating with the Hay in support of his work as the Director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. He explains the critical role the Hay has been playing in the CSSJ’s The Global Curatorial Project to collect oral histories and memories of formerly enslaved peoples: “We are at a critical juncture in the archival and collections world as the issue of repair — and therefore restitution of objects — spark debate about how to collect with equity and respect for the histories and voices of populations who were, and in some instances remain, dominated by forms of historical injustice. The Hay is a remarkable partner in this work. Its expert staff has been partnering with us and our colleagues in places like Senegal in debates and discussions about collections and how to think anew about stewardship as a plural effort in archives.”
Through its renewed focus on the Global South, the Hay could unintentionally replicate structures of colonialism and racism. To ensure ethical, intentional, and equitable collecting, five guiding principles for collecting were defined within the policy. These principles emphasize community engagement and shared authority and stewardship of material; as such, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is articulated first among the guiding principles. Recognizing systemic, structural, and institutional racism, the Hay is applying an anti-racist framework to its collecting, and building a system of continual evaluation of new and existing collections, modes of collecting, and the impact of collections on our community. This framework is consistent with the Library’s commitment to becoming actively anti-racist.
The Hay endeavors, through its collections and services, to ensure that the diverse array of students, scholars, and visitors who visit its physical and virtual spaces feel welcome. This importance is underscored by the fact that the Hay is open to the public (under normal operating conditions) and is situated amidst the vibrant and diverse Providence community.
In conjunction with Brown’s Sustainability Initiative, the Hay is committed to Sustainable Collecting and Stewardship. The Hay will assess the current and future environmental and fiscal impacts of acquiring, preserving, and providing research access to rare, unique, and fragile material in all physical formats.
Through Community-Engaged Collecting, the Hay will build and sustain mutually beneficial relationships with diverse communities locally at Brown, within Rhode Island and New England, and nationally and globally. As part of the relationship, community members may advise and guide collecting policies, practices, and access principles to determine whether their historical material remains within their community or under what terms collaborative stewardship of donated materials would operate.
The Hay is attuned to and respectful of its Local Contexts, seeking to be an active member of the Rhode Island research community and to build collections, especially those related to Rhode Island and regional history, that complement — but do not compete — with peer repositories.
The Hay recognizes the value of Institutional Collaboration with academic centers and departments within the University and strategic partnerships with external repositories and organizations. These partnerships provide intellectual guidance for collection development as well as theoretical, cultural, and other valuable insights that will improve the reputation and relevance of the Library and its collections.
Following a collecting pause during the development of the policy, the Hay is now actively, strategically collecting. The recent acquisition of José Rivera’s papers extends its holdings of contemporary, major LatinX playwrights. The collection of Japanese LGBTQIA+ magazines, such as Barazoku (薔薇族) and Fūzoku kitan (風俗奇譚), is one of the largest of its kind in the US, including many rare issues not found in other stateside repositories. The Jewelnel Davis Collection of mystery novels by Black women writers strengthens and enriches the popular literature at the Hay.
The scholarly work being done at the Hay broadens understanding of the materials we hold in critical ways. For example, The Racial Imaginaries of H. P. Lovecraft, an online exhibit created by the 2020 Brown University Library Exhibitions Proctor, Alberto Alcaraz Escarcega, Political Science Ph.D., examines the interconnectedness of Lovecraft’s work and his problematic beliefs about race. Lovecraft, whose papers are held by the Hay and fully digitized, is considered to be the founder of weird fiction. He remains an influential literary figure whose body of work continues to be revisited, referenced, and revered; understanding the full context of his writing is necessary in a contemporary landscape.
The Hay’s new collection policy provides the underpinning that will elevate the Hay as a destination research library whose collections, fellowships, exhibitions, and programming will attract a global cohort of researchers, and ensure that the Hay realizes its full potential as a vital campus resource for active, interdisciplinary research and exploration. This framework does not set limits on collecting so much as it empowers the Hay to maximize the scholarly and reputational value of its acquisitions and to fulfill its mission to support free and open inquiry, experimentation, and creativity in a welcoming environment with equitable access to collections, exhibitions, and programming to a global community of students, scholars, and the public.
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.
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.
Join the Brown University Library for an unforgettable night of poetry, fiction, and discussion of how library and archival research is essential to creative and literary endeavors. Lauren Russell and Megan Milks will both read from their works, followed by a discussion led by librarians and archivists about how they are using primary sources. A Q&A period will conclude the presentation.
The first event in the Authors in the Archives series, this talk will take place on Monday, October 28, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. in the Willis Reading Room of the John Hay Library.
Free and open to the public. A light reception will follow the talk.
Lauren Russell is the author of What’s Hanging on the Hush (Ahsahta Press, 2017) and Descent, a winner of the 2019 Tarpaulin Sky Book Awards and a finalist for the National Poetry Series, forthcoming from Tarpaulin Sky Press in 2020. A 2017 NEA Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry, she has also received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, The Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, VIDA/The Home School, the Rose O’Neill Literary House, the Millay Colony, and City of Asylum/Passa Porta. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, boundary 2, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, and Bettering American Poetry 2015, among others. She is assistant director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh.
Megan Milksis the recipient of the 2019 Lotos Foundation Prize in Fiction Writing. Their first book, Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, won the 2015 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Fiction and was named a Lambda Literary Award finalist. They have also published four chapbooks, most recently Kicking the Baby and The Feels, an exploration of fan fiction and affect. Their critical writing, for which they won a 2014 Critical Hit Award from Electric Lit, has been published in 4Columns, Los Angeles Book Review, and The New Inquiry, among other venues. Their work as editor includes The &NOW Awards 3: The Best Innovative Writing, 2011-2013 (Northwestern UP, 2015) and Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives (Routledge, 2014); currently, they edit the Fiction section of The Account.
Authors in the Archives
The Authors in the Archives series features notable writers whose work is brought to fruition through their creative and sagacious use of primary source materials.
To request special services, accommodations, or assistance for this event, please contact Jennifer Braga at [email protected] or (401) 863-6913 as far in advance of the event as possible. Thank you.
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:
In April 2019, Sean Briody ’19 took first place in the John Russell Bartlett Society Stillwell Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting for his distinguished collection of Brunoniana from the 19th and 20th centuries. His collection of Brown University materials is notable for the dense web of personal connections to Brown that are documented in each of the books. A lover of libraries, Sean has worked in the Brown University Library during all four of his undergraduate years at Brown. He attributes his love for book collecting to his work here.
Sponsored by the John Carter Brown Library’s John Russell Bartlett Society, the Stillwell Prize is named in honor of the late Margaret Bingham Stillwell, Brown Class of 1909, the University’s first woman Professor of Bibliography, a renowned scholar of early printing, and Librarian at the Annmary Brown Memorial. The Stillwell Papers are housed in the University Archives.
The Brown Band
Sean was appointed historian of the Brown Band during his sophomore year and was asked to organize the partially unprocessed collection of Brown Band materials at the Hay. Through this connection, the Band donated additional papers to the archives, bringing the collection from 15 to 21 boxes. During this time, Sean also curated the exhibit, Ever True: A History of the Brown Band, at Orwig Music Library, after soliciting items from alumni, including a uniform from the Band’s founder, Irving Harris, and a 1927 Victor record of the Band–the first Brown musical group to be professionally recorded. According to Holly Snyder, Curator of American Historical Collections and the History of Science, and Sean’s supervisor at the Hay, “His interests in collecting, curation, and many different aspects of Brown’s history are truly outstanding.”
The Hay staff was so impressed with Sean’s work on the Band archive that he was hired as a collections assistant to catalog and organize parts of the Lownes Collection, the Rush Hawkins Collection, the Porter Collection of Washington Portraits, and a recent gift of important books from Dan Siegel ’57.
Finding Hidden Gems
Sean has a knack for finding hidden gems in the stacks. While working in Circulation at the Rock, he noticed an interesting report from the 1867 Anti-Slavery Conference in Paris, inside of which he found an inscription to Theodore Weld from William Lloyd Garrison.
Reverend lysander dickerman
Later, he was browsing a collection of Egyptian travelogues when he came across a boxed book with “Rock (Temporary)” on the spine. Within the box was a finely bound auction catalog with newspaper clippings pasted atop each page. The book, which details the Rev. Joseph Thompson’s trip to Egypt in 1853, is also a scrapbook of sorts, compiled by Rev. Lysander Dickerman (1825-1902), Brown Class of 1851, a lecturing Egyptologist in the 1880s and 1890s. After his death, Rev. Dickerman’s widow donated his library to Brown, along with his lectures and accompanying glass lantern slides. This volume sparked an interest in Dickerman for Sean. He consulted the original accession registers to reconstruct Dickerman’s library. In December 2018, Sean performed a costumed reenactment of Dickerman’s lecture, “The Pharaohs,” before an audience of professors, students, and library staff at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World.
In his work as a collections assistant at the Hay, Sean has been particularly intrigued by the personal library of General Rush C. Hawkins, the husband of Annmary Brown. Hawkins’s collection of incunabula is catalogued, but his personal library has remained untouched since 2004, when item records were created but nothing further was done. The collection contains many treasures. Among those Sean has found so far are a book that belonged to King Louis Philippe (and also bears a gift inscription to Annmary Brown from her uncle John Carter Brown (1797-1874); a book that may have belonged to George Washington; William Lloyd Garrison’s Works, inscribed by the author to Nicholas Brown III (1792-1859); and a second edition of Robinson Crusoe (1719). According to Sean, “Not only are there many valuable research tools in the collection, but these books give a rare insight into the personal life of the Brown family–a popular research topic. Nicholas Brown III was minister to Rome during the European Revolution of 1848, and thus any of his books that relate to his travels in Europe are important for study.”
One of Sean’s favorite things at the Library is the Sidney S. Rider Collection. He describes Rider as an amazing collector: “Almost every book has something special added to it–maybe it’s a badge from a monument unveiling, a photograph, or an inscription from Moses Brown. Regardless, it’s the best resource for Rhode Island history around.”
North Burial Ground
In addition to his work at the Library, Sean is a records management and genealogy specialist intern for the North Burial Ground in Providence. The cemetery has existed since 1700, but official records were not kept until 1848. Sean is indexing these print records. He has also created some new tours for the cemetery, focused on topics including Brown University, black heritage, and Rhode Island politics.
Originally from Commack, NY on Long Island, Sean has found Providence to be “rainy, but a blast.” He will remain in Rhode Island for at least a couple more years since he is entering the MA program in public humanities at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage this fall. He looks forward to continuing exploration into the management of both object and paper archives, his primary focus of study.
On Friday, May 3, 2019, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum hosted a one-day symposium in conjunction with its exhibit Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850-1970, at which Holly Snyder, Curator Curator of American Historical Collections and the History of Science at the Brown Library, presented. Holly spoke about the history of the Gorham Manufacturing Company.
As part of their preparation for the exhibition, the RISD Museum asked Holly to write an introductory chapter for the exhibit catalog about the history of the company and the making of the Gorham Company Archive. Holly co-wrote the chapter with Gerald M. Carbone, an independent writer and journalist, who had previously published a book on Brown & Sharpe.
The presentations at the symposium were intended to recapitulate some of the material in each of the chapters of the exhibit catalog. Holly’s talk, “The Gorham Company Archive in the Historical Context of Providence, Rhode Island,” focused on how the Gorham records ended up at the John Hay Library and how this collection is nestled within the larger collections at the Hay.
Samuel J. Hough
The late Samuel J. Hough, a former librarian at the John Carter Brown Library who became an independent bookseller, appraiser, and researcher, played a key role in rescuing the Gorham records from imminent destruction and bringing these materials to the attention of John Hay Library staff. The transfer of these records to the Hay took place during the rapid downsizing of the company in the mid-1980s, when Gorham was owned by Textron and the decision was made to abandon the plant complex on Adelaide Avenue in Providence in favor of smaller manufacturing sites elsewhere. Sam Hough worked closely with the Brown Library on the Gorham records and helped sort and organize the Gorham materials that the Library ultimately received from Textron. Sam Hough passed away in early March 2019, and Holly framed her talk as a tribute to his work, on which all of the symposium participants had relied.
Gorham Company Archive and Providence-based Photography
Holly also spoke about the way in which the Gorham Company Archive intersects with other aspects of Brown’s special collections holdings, specifically that the Gorham records enhance the Library’s holdings related to the technical innovations in photography in Providence–innovations on which the Gorham Company relied heavily in building its marketing and its customer base.
Photography was a consumer-oriented business in Providence, which Holly illustrated by showing various examples from the special collections, starting with a Poe daguerrotype and moving through images of The Arcade Providence, to advertising from 19th century business directories. All of these items represent technological evolution that made photography popular with the masses and useful to Gorham’s business. She also showed broadsides from Brown’s holdings that portray the pre-existing popular taste for entertainment on which Gorham was effectively able to capitalize.
In the late 1960s, the Vietnam War was raging. Brown graduates had to make choices – some joined the military, some went to Vietnam, some protested, some left the country, some never came home. The lives of both men and women at Brown were profoundly affected.
Come hear from our panelists and join in the discussion about how the Brown community and so many others have been affected by the Vietnam War, then and now.
Joe Petteruti ’69 (Rhode Island Air National Guard), Commercial banking and real estate finance
Thelma Austin ’69, publisher
David I. Kertzer ’69, Paul R. Dupee Jr., University Professor of Social Science, professor of anthropology and Italian studies, Brown University
Scott Somers ’69 (Naval ROTC, U.S. Navy), co-founder of an executive search firm
Sponsored by the Brown University Library and Brown Alumni Association.
Date: Saturday, May 25, 2019 Time: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect St, Providence
A student-driven project led by undergraduate Shira Buchsbaum ’19, the recently launched website Fields of Hay offers students a guide for making use of the John Hay Library and Brown’s special collections resources.
Written by Shira Buchsbaum ’19
Mary Elizabeth Sharpe and My First Foray into Special Collections
My journey to the John Hay Library was meandering and inconsistent. My first semester at Brown, my writing professor, Kate Schapira, assigned a piece that required drawing from any archive in Brown’s libraries. I picked the Mary Elizabeth Sharpe collection, which ended up being 20 boxes of letters, blueprints, photographs, contracts, and designs from Sharpe’s life.
Mary Elizabeth Sharpe was married to Henry Dexter Sharpe, the Chancellor of Brown from 1932-1952, and she was a go-getter. Sharpe designed much of the landscaping on campus, including for the then-new Sharpe Refectory and, later, the Sciences Library. She was a critical player in establishing India Point Park and fighting oil money in Providence.
I learned all of this
about Sharpe in a few afternoons at the Hay, sitting with her papers and
imagining the fierceness of this lady who took meticulous notes about trellises
and leaf piles on our campus greens. I kept Mary Elizabeth Sharpe in the back
of my head throughout my first two years at Brown, marking the John Hay Library
as the place where I learned about our highly manicured campus and the woman
A Reintroduction: Shakespeare’s First Folio and Working at the Hay
My junior fall, I stumbled back into the building during a reception and met William Shakespeare’s first Folio on the second floor of the John Hay Library. Brought to tears as I turned the pages of this nearly 400-year-old volume, I asked the lady behind the table, “Do students, like, work here?” The serendipity of that moment landed me in the midst of archives and collections once again, this time as a collections assistant.
Fields of Hay: An Undergraduate Research Guide to the John Hay Library
In our first
conversation, Heather Cole, my new boss, and I discussed creating a guide for
undergraduates to access the John Hay Library with more ease. I spent the next
18 months chatting with curators, requesting materials, conducting research,
and honing how to convey the richness and variety of the materials here and
their availability for student scholarship.
On March 7, 2019, World Book Day, we launched Fields of Hay, the undergraduate research guide to the John Hay Library. On Fields of Hay, students can learn about materials housed at the Hay, read about standing collections, find information on how to request materials, see featured projects by other students, and register student academic or activity groups for programs at the Hay. Fields of Hay aims to demystify the Hay by demonstrating its accessibility and breadth of materials to all students. It also seeks to promote student scholarship by showing that working with primary resources need not be an elite, selective process: it is as simple as finding one compelling item and spending time with it. The website aims to transform haphazard, wayward discoveries of the Hay into a far-reaching, common experience for Brown students. Fields of Hay is home base.
The Impact of Special Collections and an Invitation
I wish I hadn’t treated my interaction with Mary Elizabeth Sharpe as a one-off experience designed for a single class with no lasting implications on my life at Brown. Had I been able to return to the Hay through mechanisms designed for me – through a website that clarified how I could ingratiate myself with these materials – I would have returned sooner. As soon as students arrive at Brown, Fields of Hay can guide them to original, exciting research, or simply enjoying items connected to their interests – no strings or requirements or assignments necessary. Come on in and get started.
Shira Buchsbaum ’19 studied Anthropology and English Non-Fiction Writing and was the primary creator of Fields of Hay, under the advisor-ship of Heather Cole. She wrote her senior thesis about curatorial decision-making for the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays as reflective of changing conceptions of American literature. Any inquiries about Fields of Hay and materials or programming at the Hay can be sent to [email protected]
On Wednesday, December 12, 2018 from 12 – 2 p.m., the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice will present In Solidarity: Exhibiting Civic Engagement, Protest, and Activism on Campus. The Brown University Library is taking part in this campus-wide, end of semester open gallery event, during which students and members of the community are invited to experience different perspectives on issues of social justice.
Each exhibition on the self-guided tour examines civic engagement, activism, and protest through archival documents, contemporary artwork, historic photographs, and music.