Announcing our New Curators: Bertie Mandelblatt and Stijn van Rossem
Following the twin retirements of Susan Danforth, George S. Parker II ’51 Curator of Maps and Prints, and Dennis Landis, Curator of European Books, the Library is thrilled to announce the appointment of two outstanding scholar-curators, who will begin employment at the Library in early 2018. With a Ph.D. in historical geography and extensive library experience, Bertie Mandelblatt specializes in the geographical dimensions of slavery and food provision in the early modern Caribbean. Her new colleague, Stijn van Rossem, is a leading historian of the Northern European book trade and has focused his scholarly attention on the Verdussen family of printers. We look forward to welcoming Stijn and Bertie to our JCB family – stay tuned for more details on their arrival!
"Hamilton" Sighting at the JCB!

The Caribbean origins of Alexander Hamilton serve as the jumping-off point for our latest exhibition, "So What'd I Miss?": Lafayette, Jefferson, and Hamilton at the John Carter Brown Library, retelling the same American story as the Tony- and Grammy-Award-winning musical Hamilton using the JCB’s extraordinary collection. Hurricanes and preachers, sugar plantations and the Federalist papers sit side-by-side with battle maps of Yorktown and the philosophical musings of the man from Monticello. Timed to coincide with the return of Brown alumnus Daveed Diggs ’04 to receive an honorary degree, the exhibition entices its viewers back to the colonial Americas, with the Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, and Hamilton as your guides.

Fires of Resistance 

To encourage you to visit our other exhibition, The Americas on Fire (currently on view through the end of June), we share here an image from our reading room: Representation du Feu terrible a Nouvelle Yorck.

On September 21, 1776, a destructive fire raced through New York City after Washington's army abandoned the city to the British. Since firefighting equipment had been sabotaged and warning bells had been melted for bullets by the colonists, the British suspected arson. A large part of the city from Trinity Church to the King's College was destroyed; it was estimated that one fourth of the city's dwellings were lost.

This perspective view, or "vue d'optique," was a special type of popular print published in Europe during the 18th century. These prints were viewed through a device called an "optical machine" or an "optique." The artist is François Xavier Habermann, and the image was published au Negoce com[m]un de l'Academie Imperiale d’Empire des Arts libereaux in Augsbourg [Augsburg] in 1776. 

All the Americas, All the Time? Exploring the Greek Classics at the JCB
A unique collection of nearly 300 books printed by the Venetian printer Aldus Manutius (ca. 1450-1515) represents the historical vestige of a time before John Carter Brown turned his sights to collecting Americana. Here, Isabel Thornton (Brown class of 2019) translates a passage from a 1524 edition of Homer's Iliad during a visit with Darrel Janzen's Introduction to Greek Literature class. As significant landmarks in the history of print, these “Aldines” showcase innovations in typography and book production – and provide students with an opportunity to try out their fluency in Greek and Latin. The JCB frequently offers workshops for Brown and RISD students and provides special tours for members of our extended community on an ongoing basis. 
The Other Slavery
Andrés Reséndez, Professor of History at the University of California, Davis, and author of The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America, delivered the 2017 Maury A. Bromsen Memorial Lecture in late-April. The Other Slavery examines the expansive system of bondage that enslaved between 2.5 and 5 million Native Americans throughout the hemisphere in the centuries between the arrival of Columbus and the beginning of the 20th century. In contrast to African slavery, which targeted mostly adult males, the majority of these Indian slaves were women and children. The day following his lecture, Professor Reséndez left Providence for New York to accept one of history’s most prestigious awards: the Bancroft Prize. We congratulate Andrés on this prize and his outstanding lecture!

Meet Daniel Ruppel: This Year's J.M. Stuart Fellow
Dan Ruppel

As the academic year drew to a close, we bade farewell to Dan Ruppel, who had been at the JCB since September working on his dissertation, “Probable Histories and Virtual Performances: Festival Books and the Performance of Historiography in Early Modern France.” The J.M Stuart Fellowship is offered annually to a Brown graduate student in the Humanities or Social Sciences whose research pertains to the JCB’s collections.

Ruppel found his experience to be transformative. “As a scholar of Performance Studies with an undergraduate background in History, coming to the JCB felt at once like returning to my roots and shaking myself out of disciplinary entrenchment,” observed Ruppel. “There is a vast breadth of scholarship that goes on within the walls of the JCB, pursued by a diverse group of scholars. Their erudite guidance, offhand remarks, and shared curiosity have served to refine my current research paths, and trace out new ones that will influence my scholarship long into the future.”

“I depart the Library this summer to present at two conferences in Brazil. The first is the annual meeting of the International Federation of Theatre Studies, an organization I have worked with for some time now. The second is the International Conference in the History of Cartography, one I would not have known about, let alone felt competent to speak at, were it not for the support and the opportunities offered by the JCB throughout this past year.  This fellowship has given me chance to explore new domains of knowledge, and chart new paths in my scholarship. To be part of the JCB community, to participate in the unique trans-Atlantic, trans-American scholarship that this Library supports, was a transformative experience unlike any other offered at Brown."

Help the JCB Make History, One Scholar at a Time

All the Library’s activities in this newsletter are made possible by our supporters. Bibliophiles, scholars, and historical aficionados from around the world, as well as members of the local Rhode Island community, have invested in the JCB to ensure that it continues to make history through its world-class collection.

Since 1944, the Association of Friends and Fellows has served as the principle conduit for supporting the JCB. In 2017, the Library continues to rely on the generosity of the Association and its members. Membership dues help to acquire rare books and maps; offer funding to fellows to do research at the JCB; digitize our collections to provide greater access; sponsor vitally needed conservation care for the most fragile items at the Library; and host events that invite the public to explore the Library’s treasures. Will you help the JCB with these efforts?

Please consider joining the Associates or renewing your membership today. We thank you in advance for your support. 

Fresh Ink: Knowledge and Medicine in the Early Modern Caribbean

Congratulations to Pablo F. Gómez (2009-10 Paul W. McQuillen Memorial Fellow) on the publication of The Experiential Caribbean: Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic. His book explores how Caribbean people created authoritative, experientially based knowledge about the human body and the natural world during the long seventeenth century. An assistant professor in the Department of Medical History and Bioethics and the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Gómez has served on the JCB’s long-term fellowship selection committee and is a stalwart member of our community. In September, we will be holding a conference exploring the production of scientific knowledge in the Americas, where The Experiential Caribbean will be required reading. Bravo, Pablo!