August 2017  
28 Curators for a Single Exhibition? Welcome to Global Americana!
The JCB has invited scholars from around the world, including current fellows and scholars in residence, to select and collectively curate a striking array of materials from the JCB, materials that speak to the global dimensions of a collection that is focused around the American continent. Working in concert with the LAGLOBAL research network at the University of London – of which the JCB is one of seven institutional partners – as well as researchers at the Library, our Global Americana exhibition takes the viewer on a journey through the JCB’s collections to explore the history of the Americas in a global frame. The effort reflects how research carried out by the JCB’s community of scholars continues to expand beyond geographical divisions that have frequently separated regions and spaces in historical scholarship.

Come journey with us through our Global Americana! The exhibition will be on view through the fall in the MacMillan Reading Room. 

The book Historia Naturalis Brasiliae, by Willem Piso and published in Leiden in 1648, will be featured in the exhibition. The important volume compiles information about the natural world, linguistics, and geography of Brazil as understood and experienced by Europeans, Tupi indigenous peoples, and enslaved Africans in the first half of the seventeenth century.

The JCB Hosts Symposium on Fire and Water: September 21-23, 2017

Thanks to a generous grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Library will be hosting a special seminar focused on the history of science in Iberia and Iberoamerica this fall. Focused thematically around the twin themes of fire and water – two important symbols in the history of European imperialism in the Americas – established and early-career scholars will come to Providence for a three-day exploration of the entangled histories of empire and science in the early modern Atlantic and beyond. The symposium aims to interrogate how both fire and water – separately and together – function as material, immaterial, social, cultural, political, and symbolic forces, wielded and tamed by communities throughout the Americas.

Please visit the conference website to learn more.

Conference image of Cartagena de Indias was published by Theodor de Bry and is derived from the second part of Girolamo Benzoni’s Historia del mondo nuovo (Venice, 1565). 

Welcoming Our 1,000th Fellow, Jody Benjamin!

When the JCB's fellowship program began fifty-five years ago with just two fellows-in-residence, it must have been difficult to imagine ever reaching 100 fellows, let alone 1,000! This summer, the JCB welcomed Jody Benjamin, Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Riverside, who joined us as a Ruth and Lincoln Ekstrom Fellow and in doing so became the 1,000th fellow to walk through our doors!

Benjamin's current project, “The Texture of Change: Cloth, Commerce and History in West Africa, 1700-1850” analyzes the consumption of textiles across West Africa in a global historical framework. His project, in his words, shows how the social life of textiles reveals histories of interconnectivity, cultural adaption and translation, constraint and mutability between western Africans and the outside world.” A recent graduate of Harvard University, Benjamin’s project highlights the broad definition of Americana at the JCB, since the records of Providence-area merchants include not only accounts of local business dealings, but European, Asian, and African connections throughout the eighteenth century. By working at the JCB, Benjamin hopes to “bring early American sources into the mix of European and African sources” with which he is already familiar.

Exploring “Other Languages, Other Americas” at the JCB

O n Thursday, July 13, the JCB hosted participants in the American Antiquarian Society's Summer Seminar in the History of the Book.  Led by professors Kirsten Silva Gruesz and Anna Brickhouse, twenty scholars journeyed from Worcester to Providence to experience how the JCB's collection illustrates and expands upon the program's theme of Other Languages, Other Americas.” The visit included a discussion of relevant material by Bromsen Curator of Latin American Books Ken Ward and research time with the collection made possible by the JCB reading room staff. As always, the JCB is pleased to open its doors to bibliophiles and scholars interested in exploring our collections.
Fresh Ink:  Contesting “White Slavery” in the Caribbean

Congratulations to former fellow Jerome S. Handler (John Carter Brown Library Fellowship, 1985-86 and 1988-89) and JCB affiliate Matthew C. Reilly for the recent publication of their article “Contesting ‘White Slavery’ in the Caribbean: Enslaved Africans and European Indentured Servants in Seventeenth-Century Barbados” in the New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids.  Seventeenth century reports at the JCB showcase the suffering of European indentured servants, and the fact that many were transported to Barbados against their wishes. This article examines the socio-legal distinctions between servitude and slavery, and argues that it is misleading, if not erroneous, to apply the term “slave” to Irish and other indentured servants in early Barbados. The authors explore the differences between indentured servitude and forms of chattel slavery that applied uniquely to Africans and their descendants.

Did You Know?

Members of the Association of Friends and Fellows have made it possible for seven research fellows to join us at the Library this academic year! The projects they are undertaking help deepen our understanding of the early Americas in the early modern period and we are pleased to have them join the JCB’s scholarly community and support their work. If you have not done so already, please join or renew your membership and know that your generosity helps the Library bring scholars from around the world into our reading room to make new discoveries in our collections.