March 2018
Rooms of their Own: Dwellings of the Enslaved and the Free in the Early Americas 
Inspired by the recent arrival of Rosa Parks’ Detroit home to Providence for a short stay, the Library’s current exhibition focuses on the physical structures that housed those who lived in slavery in the early Americas, structures that represent the dehumanization of the millions of Africans and people of African descent whose labor built New World plantation societies. These dwellings are also a tangible embodiment of the social and economic system that left them at the mercy of profit-driven slave-holders.

Using items from the John Carter Brown Library’s unparalleled collections on the history of slavery in the Americas, this exhibition, curated by our new Maps and Prints Curator Bertie Mandelblatt and on view through April, presents a narrative of slave dwellings that ranges from El Mina – the fifteenth-century slaving fort on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) – through the Middle Passage to plantations that represented, in the words of W.E.B. DuBois, a veritable descent into hell in a New World. The exhibition focuses on construction techniques used to build plantation slave dwellings, the domestic activities that took place within them, and the ways in which slave dwellings formed part of a larger colonial built environment. It also questions the hegemony of plantation hierarchies and considers slavery and housing in the nineteenth century, as old metropole-colony political structures collapsed through revolution and new republican nation-states built on and through slavery emerged.
From the Collection: A View of Slave Cabins on the Margins
This month’s featured item is presently on display in the Library’s “Rooms of their Own” exhibition and comes from Charles de Rochefort’s Histoire naturelle et morale des iles Antilles de l’Amerique . . . ., published in Rotterdam in 1681. John Carter Brown purchased the book in 1854 from his preferred vendor, Henry Stevens. The image shown here is a plate from the book entitled “Paysage d’une partie de l’Ile de S. Christofle, avec un Crayon du Chasteau de Mr. le General.”

The most frequent visual depictions of the dwelling places of enslaved peoples appear in surveys, plans, images and maps created by Europeans who documented the development of creole colonial life in slave-based societies in the Americas. These works were devoted to describing the industries to which these societies were devoted: the cultivation, preparation and export of indigo, coffee and, especially, sugar. Slaves’ dwelling places are shown in proximity to the agricultural and industrial activities of plantations, to the houses of slaveholders and overseers, and sometimes to secondary subsistence agricultural fields. This literal fixing in place of slaves’ dwellings reveals both sides of the equation: their ubiquity and primordial importance but also their relegation to the margins, away from public view and public practices of power. This plate is a perfect illustration of these spatial hierarchies, placing the ‘Ville d’Angole’ outside the walls enclosing the Governor’s mansion and almost out of the picture, while nevertheless remaining a key feature of this colonial mise-en-scène.
Researching the Slave Trade in the JCB Collections
From his earliest purchases, John Carter Brown incorporated materials on slavery and the slave trade into his Americana library. And with so many rare materials that speak to the history and legacy of slavery in the collection today, the JCB frequently receives researchers seeking records of the slave trade in its business papers, logbooks, and plantation maps. More than a mere collection of materials, however, the JCB is a site that fosters collaborative scholarship. On February 23rd, the JCB hosted a dozen scholars – invited by the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice for the first of three workshops leading to the production of a documentary series on the Atlantic slave trade – for an exploration of JCB materials that testify to the history of slavery in the New World. JCB Director Neil Safier led a show-and-tell of items from the collection, which had been selected with the assistance of Research and Reference Librarian Kim Nusco. Scholars examined rare materials that included a map of western Africa showing the Guinea coast and the location of tribes, kingdoms, and settlements; a 1784 Prices Current from the Arnold family business papers; the Traité général du commerce de l'Amérique… , a trade manual by an “obscure customs officer, Auguste Chambon” that was written to promote colonial commerce in the French Atlantic; the account book of the Brigantine Sally; and a scrapbook produced by the The Female Society for Birmingham, West-Bromwich, Wednesbury, Walsall, and Their Respective Neighbourhoods, for the Relief of British Negro Slaves, which contains anti-slavery pamphlets and engraved illustrations of abolitionist imagery.
Meet Fellow John López
John F. López, Assistant Professor of Art History at UC Davis, is a long-term NEH fellow at the JCB researching and writing  The Aquatic Metropolis , a comparative study of Aztec and Spanish flood control practices on Mexico City’s urban form.  The Aquatic Metropolis  examines the visual culture of water—maps, drawings, and paintings of Mexico City and its surrounding environs made by European and indigenous artists, such as those images found in Durán, Sahagún and Native codices. Through the study of Western and non-Western images, López demonstrates the differing frameworks undergirding Spanish and Aztec conceptions of environmental crisis and urban form. Unlike the Aztec, who built a city with water in mind, using causeways, floodgates, and dikes to mitigate environmental disaster, the Spanish undertook drainage ( desagüe  in Spanish), an approach predicated on subjecting New World flooding to European rational—scientific, mathematical, and empirical—analysis to overcome the city’s geography, thereby transforming Mexico City from island to mainland settlement. In scrutinizing the broader implications of a Spanish response to environmental crisis, this book will shed light on how a shift from Aztec causeways to Spanish drainage speaks to a new epistemological orientation to nature that had transformative urban implications. The scholarly community of the JCB allows López to collaborate frequently with other scholars working in the JCB collection, many of whom are historians of cartography, science or the environment. "The JCB is a gift to the humanities in that its rich collection on Americana offers scholars opportunities for interdisciplinary dialogue and collaborations," said López. On April 3, he will be one of the speakers for  Fluidity: Knowing Water in the Early Americas , an interdisciplinary panel on water organized as part of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society's Water's Edge programming. 
Fresh Ink: A Biography of a Map in Motion: Augustine Herrman's Chesapeake
Congratulations to former fellow Christian J. Koot (Jeannette D. Black Memorial Fellow 2011-12) on the publication of his new book A Biography of a Map in Motion: Augustine Herrman's Chesapeake (New York University Press, December 2017). The map in question, Virginia and Maryland as it is Planted and Inhabited this present Year 1670 , was published in London in 1673 and is considered one of the best maps of the Chesapeake region. The JCB purchased one of only five known copies of the map in 1930 . In his insightful book Koot explores the complex life of the mapmaker Augustine Herrman, who was also a merchant, planter, and diplomat, and examines the earliest phase of American mapmaking. At the same time, he traces the “life” of the map, from its creation to its circulation and use in colonial power struggles. Koot’s work sheds light on how Dutch, English, and Native people sought to make sense of the Chesapeake region within the context of the wider Atlantic world. 
Former Fellows: Tell Us What You Would Like to See at the JCB Jamboree
Are you a former JCB fellow who plans to attend the Jamboree May 31-June 3?

Please take this quick survey to propose a panel, submit a recent publication or sign up to give a five minute "lightning talk" on a work-in-progress.
Remembering a Legendary Friend: José “Pepe” Amor y Vásquez
The JCB community mourns the loss of one our most treasured friends and benefactors. José “Pepe” Amor y Vásquez was professor emeritus of Hispanic Studies at Brown University and one of the founders of Brown’s Center for Latin American Studies. A preeminent scholar in the field of colonial Latin American Studies, Pepe generously served as a volunteer adviser, author, editor, translator, and fundraiser for the Library. He was a member and ultimately Chair of the John Carter Brown Library’s Faculty Liaison Committee and as a result held an ex officio position on JCB’s Board of Governors for many years. In recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the Library, the JCB Board of Governors presented him with the John Carter Brown Library Medal in 2003. 

In addition to donating his talents and time, Pepe also bequeathed his treasure, establishing the José Amor y Vázquez Endowment Fund in 2004 to underwrite programs and projects at the JCB related to Spanish and Spanish American subjects. To date, this fund has supported fourteen fellowships and purchased many important additions to the collection. Emiro Martínez-Osorio (Associate Professor of Spanish at York University) and Luis Castellví Laukamp (Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge) received José Amor y Vázquez Fellowships this academic year and had the opportunity to do research at the Library this summer thanks to his largesse.

Finally, Pepe shared his sharp insights, his delightful wit, and his deep wisdom with generations of grateful JCB staff members and fellows over the course of many years. He will be greatly missed. A memorial service is being planned for later in the spring.