The News Service
John Carter Brown Library hosts exhibit on college foundings
The John Carter Brown Library is hosting a new exhibition, The Establishment Of Colleges In The English Colonies, through May 1, 2004. The collection features documents relating to the founding of Harvard University, the College of William and Mary, Yale University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Brown University and Dartmouth College.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. —The John Carter Brown Library is hosting a new exhibition, The Establishment Of Colleges In The English Colonies, now through May 1, 2004. The exhibit is curated by Susan Danforth, assistant librarian, and is free and open to the public.
The exhibition features documents related to the founding of colonial collegesthat is, Harvard University, the College of William and Mary, Yale University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Brown University and Dartmouth College. These documents shed light on the motivations of the founders in creating these institutions, as well as on aspects of early college life and religious diversity in the colonies. Among the items displayed are original charters, early college catalogues, sermons, and records of fund-raising activities and donationsfrom a farmer's quarter bushel of corn to government grants. The exhibit also features several prints depicting campuses as they appeared in the 1700s.
Although underdeveloped compared to European centers, the British colonies reflected the social and political structures of their mother country. It was taken for granted that governance and leadership were the province of elite, and institutions of higher learning were needed to prepare the gentlemen who would become clergy, lawyers and judges, merchants and political leaders of the colonies. Many of the university founders also sought to sustain religious traditions: the Congregationalists at Harvard and Yale; the Presbyterians at Princeton; the Baptists at Brown; the Anglicans in New York.
The John Carter Brown Library has presented public exhibitions in its Reading Room continuously since its doors were first opened in 1904. The Library typically mounts three or four exhi-bitions each year, drawing from the new material, ideas and topics presented by the staff and visiting curators and occasionally reviving and elaborating upon the core of an older exhibition. The nucleus of this exhibit on higher education was first presented in 1933, revived in the 1940s and again in the 1970s; the current exhibit thus represents a collaboration of sorts between at least two generations of JCB staff members.
Located at Brown since 1901, the John Carter Brown Library is an independently funded and administered institution for advanced research in history and the humanities. It holds one of the world's outstanding collections of books, maps and manuscripts relating to the colonial period of the Americas, North and South, from 1492 to ca. 1825. The library offers fellowships, sponsors lectures and conferences, and publishes catalogues, bibliographies, facsimiles and other works that interpret its holdings. The library is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. For more information, call (401) 863-2725 or visit www.JCBL.org.