“Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden” – Talk by Author Zhuqing Li

Join the Brown University Library for a talk featuring author Zhuqing Li, Visiting Associate Professor of East Asian Studies and Faculty Curator of East Asian Collections at the Library, as she speaks about her book, Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden: Two Sisters Separated by China’s Civil War. The talk will take place in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab at the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library on Thursday, September 15, 2022 from 12 – 1 p.m.

Free and open to the public. Q&A and light refreshments. Books will be sold by the Brown Bookstore at the event.

Join via Zoom:


Meeting ID: 949 8969 9434

Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden: Two Sisters Separated by China’s Civil War

Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden: Two Sisters Separated by China’s Civil War (W. W. Norton & Company; June 21, 2022) is the remarkable true story of two sisters, inseparable as children, whose lives are irrevocably disrupted when the “bamboo curtain” drops overnight between Communist mainland China and Nationalist Taiwan. Their decades-long separation and gritty determination to succeed embodies the traumatic split of the nation itself.

Growing up in China during the 1920s and 1930s, sisters Jun and Hong lived with their extended family in an opulent home named the Flower Fragrant Garden, perched atop a hill in Fuzhou City, Fujian province. Scions of the legendary Chen family that produced the tutor of the last Chinese emperor, Jun and Hong were well-educated and devoted to each other. In 1949, in the midst of China’s civil war, and on the cusp herself of beginning a much sought-after position teaching history, twenty-six-year-old Jun left for a short vacation, visiting a friend on the island of Jinmen, just a mile offshore from the mainland city of Xiamen. Little did Jun know at the time that she would not set foot again on mainland China for another thirty years.

Soon after Jun’s arrival on Jinmen in the summer of 1949, the island would become a major battle ground between the Communists, on the verge of taking control of all of mainland China, and the retreating Nationalists. The Nationalist forces somehow managed to prevail on Jinmen, retaining control of the small island even after their government’s full evacuation of the mainland and retreat to Taiwan. As a result, Jun and Hong, through a twist of fate, ended up totally cut off from each other on opposing sides of the civil war. With her beloved older sister publicly associated with “the wrong side,” Hong finds herself responsible for taking care of her family and must make painful decisions. “[To] sever all contact and connection with Jun would eliminate one of her family’s most incriminating political associations. It was the only way, in Hong’s reasoning, that all of them, perhaps even Jun, would have a chance to survive.”

Zhuqing Li

For decades the sisters would have no contact. Hong would become a pioneering doctor and model Communist, surviving two waves of Communist “re-education” and internal exile while Jun was a model capitalist, founding a successful trading company and eventually emigrating to the United States. Author Zhuqing Li chronicles the lives of these two fascinating women, her aunts, with extraordinary empathy and rich detail. Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden is a beautiful book that paints an intimate portrait of life during one of the most complicated and difficult periods in China’s modern history. 

Zhuqing Li is a professor of East Asian Studies at Brown University and the author of four scholarly books on Chinese linguistics. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Exhibit l Artistic Impressions of Brown University

The John Hay Library by Jill Armstrong, n.d.

“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

Faculty Study Applications Open for Academic Year 2022 – 2023

The application process for faculty studies in the Rockefeller Library for academic year 2022-23 is now open. Applications will be accepted through May 16, 2022.


The following categories of need will receive priority:

  • Current faculty engaged in research requiring intensive use of library resources, programs, and services that are best served on-site within the Library. For Academic Years 2021-22 and 2022-23, priority will be given to tenure-track faculty whose research has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Collaborative research projects making use of library materials and requiring shared workspace. Such projects — potentially involving visitors, postdocs, and students — must have a faculty lead who oversees the work and is responsible for submitting the request.
  • Emeritus faculty actively engaged in research for whom departmental space is not available.
  • Other scholarly needs that fall outside these categories will also be considered, but should be justified with reference to the need for proximity to library resources, programs, and services.

A total of 25 studies will be available, with occupancy starting on September 1, 2022 (campus health and safety conditions permitting). Studies may be requested for any combination of Fall, Spring, and Summer (June/July) terms, for a maximum of 11 months. All study rooms must be vacated by the beginning of August, which is reserved for cleaning and repair work.  

We anticipate informing applicants at the beginning of June.

Library Stats Quest Week

Bruno reading in library

Please tell your Brown University Library about your on-site experience during the week of April 3 – 9, 2022 — Library Stats Quest Week!

Did you know that nearly 20,000 users visit the libraries in-person every week? 

We want to know if the experiences you’re having are meeting your needs. After each visit this week to a library location — Rockefeller, Sciences, Orwig Music, and John Hay Library — please take a few seconds to answer a very brief survey about your experience. Your input will help us better understand why you use the Library and how we can improve our services. 

We’ll also be taking a closer look at how people are using the spaces within the libraries. Library staff will do periodic headcounts in various types of spaces throughout the week.

We strive to make every visit for every patron one in which you feel welcome, respected, and supported. This is your Library. You belong here. Your feedback is essential.

Thank you!

Exhibit | Dis/Assemble: Making Meaning from the Minassian Collection

Leaf, Minassian Collection of Persian, Mughal, and Indian Miniature Paintings


Dis/Assemble is a collaborative effort by graduate students from across ten different humanities disciplines to construct narratives around a continuously moving archive: the Minassian Collection of Persian, Mughal, and Indian Paintings and Calligraphies at Brown University. This collection evokes questions of assemblage and disassemblage, from sifting the extraordinary from the ordinary to practices of collecting and taxonomizing. Visitors are invited to participate in the creative act of engaging with fragments and fragmentation as they behold, imagine, and truly see the objects on view.

Opening Reception & Curator’s Introduction

Monday, March 9, 2020
4:30 p.m.
John Hay Library


“Making Meaning from the Minassian Collection”
Monday, March 9, 2020
5:30 p.m.
Lownes Room, John Hay Library


  • Dr. Navina Haidar, Nasser Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah Curator in Charge of the Department of Islamic Art
  • Dr. Maryam Ekhtiar, Associate Curator of the Department of Islamic Art                      The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dates: March 9, 2019 – May 25, 2020 & September 1 – December 15, 2021
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Early American & English Bookplates 18th-20th C.

Sonia Lustig
Bookplate Collection

Bookplates are also known as “ex libris” and include a name, motto, and motif. Decorated pieces of paper found on the inside of books, ex libris have practical, historical and social associations that trace back to 15th century Germany, around the time of the invention of the printing press. They not only promote the return of borrowed books and provide a trail of documented ownership, their artistic design also conveys the personalities of book owners and the practical and imaginary worlds inhabited by them.

View bookplates for Henrietta Countess of Pomfret Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen (1698–1761), Massachusetts Medical Society (1781), and Louis-Rene Quentin de Richebourg of Champcenetz (1759–1794), among others.

Exhibit Dates: February 6 – March 31, 2020
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Intercalary Event 2020

Works by
Katie Bullock, Faculty, Glass, Rhode Island School of Design
Jocelyne Prince, Faculty, Glass, Rhode Island School of Design
Sean Salstrom, Graduate Study, Glass, Rhode Island School of Design

Artists approach research differently than scientists. The freedom through which artists pursue research allows their inquiries to breed multivalent results, often seemingly unconnected results which can then act as springboards to new ways of seeing and communicating with the world. Bullock, Prince and Salstrom’s artistic practices cultivate curiosity that interposes surprising elements into the narrative of objectivity and data, and in doing so, invite intercalary events in the vitrines of the Hay Library.

Intercalary Event 2020 exhibition locations include the John Hay Library, Chazan Gallery at The Wheeler School and Ladd Observatory.

Opening reception: Thursday, February 13th, 2020, 5 – 7PM

Exhibit Dates: January 21, 2020 – December 1, 2021
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence