Leaves of an Hour

The Harris Collection & Late 19th Century Literary Collecting

Reuben Aldridge Guild (1822-1899), succeeded Charles Coffin Jewett as librarian of the University from 1848 to 1893. He "was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, on May 4, 1822, one of a family of eleven children. He was brought up as a Unitarian, but in April 1840 he was baptized by the Reverend Baron Stow and received as a member of the Baldwin Place Baptist Church in Boston. In that year he left his job as a clerk, intending to begin to study for the ministry. He studied at Day’s Academy in Wrentham, Massachusetts, where one of his teachers was Charles Coffin Jewett. . . On his graduation from Brown in 1847, he became assistant librarian, and in March 1848 succeeded his former teacher. . .as librarian."

"His major accomplishment was the planning of the "New Library" and the arrangement, classifying and cataloguing of the books in that library, doing most of the work himself. He was the historian of Brown University, keeping scrapbooks of clippings about the University beginning in 1851, and publishing The Life, Times and Correspondence of James Manning, and the Early History of Brown University in 1864, History of Brown University with Illustrative Documents in 1867, and The Early History of Brown University in 1897. This last named work was to have been the first of a two volume set, the second to be an update of his 1867 History. The unpublished manuscript of the second volume is in the University Archives. He spent his time after his retirement in 1893 in writing. He died in Providence on May 13, 1899, at the age of 77."(1)

"At its dedication in early 1878, the new library was among the most innovative buildings of its kind in the United States. Within 20 years it would be filled to overflowing. This remarkable and unexpected growth came about because the library's finances improved and because it continued to receive gifts both of individual books and, increasingly, of large book collections. In 1879, the library was given the first of a series of endowments established by bequest. " (2)

During Guild's tenure, in "1884, the library received the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays. Begun by Albert Gorton Greene, Class of 1820, expanded by Caleb Fiske Harris, Class of 1834, and bequeathed to Brown by Senator Henry Bowen Anthony, Class of 1833, the Harris Collection had long been renowned as one of the largest and most important collections of Americana in private hands, its aim being to collect every printed work of American and Canadian poetry and drama from colonial times onward. When left to Brown, the number of books totaled almost 6,000 volumes." (3)


*Reuben Aldridge Guild. Photograph
Brown University Archives

*Brown University Library, later Robinson Hall. Built 1875-1878.
Brown University Archives

Titles from the Collections:

Guild, Reuben Aldridge. Life, times, and correspondence of James Manning, and the early history of Brown university. By Reuben Aldridge. Boston, Gould and Lincoln; New York, Sheldon, 1864.
Brown University Archives

*Guild, Reuben Aldridge. Early history of Brown University, including the life, times, and correspondence of President Manning. 1756-1791. By Reuben Aldridge Guild. Providence [Printed by Snow & Farnham] 1897.
Shown: Frontispiece portrait of James Manning
Brown University Archives

Guild, Reuben Aldridge. History of Brown university, with illustrative documents. By Reuben Aldridge Guild. Providence, R.I., [Providence Press Company, printers], 1867.
Brown University Archives


1. Encyclopedia Brunoniana Online

2. Special Collections at Brown University : a history and guide.[ Leslie T. Wendel, editor] Providence, R.I. : Friends of the Library of Brown University, 1988.

3. Special Collections at Brown University : a history and guide.

Early Literary Collections:
The Williams Table & the 1973 Catalog
Early 19th Century Collections:
The 1826 Catalog
Mid 19th Century Collections:
Charles Coffin Jewett & the Catalogue of 1843
The Harris Collection:
The Original Collectors

The Harris Collection &
Late 19th Century Literary Collecting

The Harris Collection:
Harry Lyman Koopman
The Harris Collection:
S. Foster Damon
Contemporary Collecting:
Building on the Past
Leaves of an Hour

Last Updated: Friday, 06-Jul-2001 11:22:56 EDT.
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