May 2017

Our 10,000th Digital Book!
The JCB’s motto for more than a century has been “Speak to the Past, and It Shall Teach Thee,” but we at the JCB look to the future as well. As it happens, just this past week we passed a landmark – our 10,000th digitized book – which is an important milestone on the way to digitizing our entire collection. The book turned out to be – by pure serendipity – Louis-Sebastien Mercier’s L’an 2440: Rêve s’il en fut jamais, a utopian novel written in the late-eighteenth century that announces an “avenger of the New World” from the bloodline of Moctezuma in the form of a Black Spartacus, looking forward to a time when all citizens in the Americas would be free from oppression and servitude. This message of future liberation speaks to the Library’s hopes for its digital data as well, as we redouble our efforts to increase the pace of digitization and expand access to our collections. Stay tuned for further developments as we unveil new platforms to showcase our digital materials.
An Annual Meeting Not to Be Missed: Friday, May 12, 2017
Join us in the JCB's MacMillan Reading Room for fascinating presentations about the ongoing work of the Library, former curator Dennis Landis’s many contributions to growing and exploring the JCB collections, and the trading of slaves through New England's ports.

4:00 pm
Annual Meeting of Association of Friends and Fellows
Remarks and Introduction, Matthew Restall, AFF Chair

Roundtable Honoring Dennis Landis, Curator of European Books emeritus
Rolena Adorno, Terry Belanger, Norman Fiering, Richard Ring, and Neil Safier will explore Dennis Landis's professional activities during his nearly four-decade tenure at the Library. 

5:30 pm
Lecture by Wendy Warren
New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America

Wendy Warren, Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University, will discuss how New England’s economy derived its vitality from the profusion of slave-trading ships coursing through its ports. She also will reveal how indigenous people were systematically sold into slavery in the West Indies and the way in which prominent colonial families were motivated by their slave-trading investments. 

The lecture is cosponsored by the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, the John Carter Brown Library, the Swearer Center for Public Service, and the Department of History at Brown University.
Help Honor Curator of European Books emeritus , Dennis Landis

In his thirty-nine years at the JCB, Dennis Landis has provided bibliographical and research support to countless fellows and scholars. In addition to contributing to the Library’s landmark European Americana, Dennis has also curated many of the JCB’s exhibitions and helped to acquire important materials for the collection. 

To help honor his extraordinary dedication to the Library, we invite you to commence or renew your membership with the Association of Friends and Fellows between now and May 14th. Your gift will be used to acquire and digitize books in the areas of Dennis’s interest, including German Americana, medical texts, and early European texts of New World discovery. We will be sure to let Dennis know of your kind gift. Thank you.

New Exhibit on View: The Americas on Fire 
The Americas on Fire is the third of four exhibitions focusing on the early environmental history of the Americas. Curated by historians Jake Frederick (Lawrence University) and Júnia Furtado (Federal University of Minas Gerais), The Americas on Fire  is on view through June and highlights humanity’s complex relationship with the element of fire through the JCB's collection. The exhibit depicts how fire was harnessed for agriculture, embraced as a mechanism for communicating with the divine realm, and wielded in combat by Native Americans and European colonizers alike. 
Time and Use Take Their Toll on a Fragile Collection
A longtime friend and former Governor of the JCB, France Gagnon Pratte, has made a generous gift toward the conservation of the first volume of La cosmographie vniuerselle d'André Theuet, a book printed in Paris in 1575. Thevet was a Franciscan monk who obtained the position of cosmographer to the French court; after a brief visit to the New World in the 1550s, he completed this cosmographical treatise, a landmark account of the known world at the time.

This rare volume was showcased in Autour du Monde: France, the Americas, and the Globe, a 2016 exhibit at the JCB that explored France’s signal achievements in North America as well as those less familiar settlements in Brazil, Guiana, the Caribbean, and the Falkland Islands. More recently, this volume was used for research and discussed at a weekly fellow's talk by Sergio Escribano-Ruiz, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of the Basque Country, and current Alexander O. Vietor Fellow at the JCB working on Basque fisheries in the New World.

The back cover and spine of Thevet’s Cosmographie Universelle have separated from the text block, revealing a hidden structure of hundreds of folio leaves sewn together on six cords. All six have snapped near the end of the text, leaving small batches of pages detached from the rest of the book. The JCB is grateful for the opportunity to restore this important volume.

These Empty Shelves Are Very Good News

Although the JCB has taken great strides in making its treasured collection available online, our core mission is still to house the Library’s fragile physical volumes. Fixed shelving is the strong preference of rare book libraries, as compact or movable shelving jostles books when shelves are adjusted, an action that can take place many times a day.

Funded by a generous grant from the Champlin Foundations, 504 linear feet of standard shelving and 882 square feet of roller shelving were installed earlier this year, more than doubling the amount of roller shelving and increasing the amount of upright shelving by twenty-five percent. Roller shelving allows oversize books to be shelved flat as opposed to upright. Given the JCB’s current rate of rare book acquisition, we estimate that we have more than fifty years of space available for the growth of our extraordinary collection.

Slavery in New England
As part of the Rhode Island Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project, Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara discussed her book, Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island  (NYU Press, 2016) this February at the JCB.  

This talk was organized by the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice  (CSSJ) and the John Carter Brown Library.
Elizabeth Heath Creates Digital Map to Explore Colonial France
Elizabeth Heath, Assistant Professor of History at Baruch College-CUNY, has been in residence at the JCB since April as a Virginia and Jean R. Perrette Fellow. Her project, "Visualizing Colonial France in the Eighteenth Century: Using Digital Humanities to Map a New Approach to an Old Claim," traces layers of colonial contact across the French Atlantic. Heath's digital map will contain several layers of colonial connections, including: consumers and consumables, such as coffee, sugar, and chocolate; manufacturers and merchants who produced these goods; and the business networks associated with colonial commerce.

"By providing a visual sense of colonial commerce," said Heath, "I hope that this project can shift the focus from the quantitative to the qualitative and help us better understand the empire's contributions to the French Revolution."

Heath's recent work includes: Wine, Sugar and the Making of Modern France: Global Economic Crisis and the Racialization of French Citizenship, 1870-1910 (Cambridge University Press, 2014), which was the winner of the Alf Andrew Heggoy Book Prize, and forthcoming articles in French Politics, Culture, and Society and French Historical Studies.

Fresh Ink: Spanish Dollars and Sister Republics 
Spanish Dollars cover
Congratulations to  Tatiana Seijas ( former  R. David Parsons Fellow) and Jake Frederick (former  JCB Associates Fellow) on the publication of their new book, Spanish Dollars and Sister Republics: The Money that Made Mexico and the United StatesJake Frederick co-curated the JCB's current exhibit, The Americas on Fire, so double congratulations are in order for him. 

Seijas explained how the concept of the book came about during their fellowships at the JCB. "Jake and I started thinking about doing a book together a few weeks into our fellowships in Fall 2014, something on the history of Mexico and the US for our students. The JCB’s collections inspired us to come up with different historical actors who could be at the center of each of the chapters," she said. "Reading Bartlett’s papers and diary at the JCB at the suggestion of [JCB Assistant Librarian for Research & Reference Services] Kim Nusco really got me thinking about the kind of money used at the border when it was first carved out." New coin minted at the JCB!