Leaves of an Hour

The Harris Collection: Harry Lyman Koopman & Collecting

"Harry Lyman Koopman (1860-1937), librarian from 1893 to 1930, was born in Freeport, Maine, on July 1, 1860. He graduated from Colby College in 1880. In 1881, after a brief teaching experience, he went to work at the Astor Library. In 1883 he became a cataloger at Cornell University, a job he subsequently held at Columbia, Rutgers and the University of Vermont. In 1893 he received a master of arts degree from Harvard and was appointed Librarian of Brown University, a position from which he retired thirty-seven years later. During his tenure, the size of the library grew from 80,000 to 400,000, and the John Hay Library was built in 1910. He said that he had two of the greatest satisfactions that a librarian can enjoy, a new library and the opportunity to launch some of his "disciples," or student assistants, on a library career. Well known in the library world, Koopman was elected president of the American Library Association in 1928." (1)

In building on the efforts of the original Harris collectors, the work of Koopman was of major importance. Koopman arranged for the Library of Congress to send to Brown "on exchange nearly 18,000 duplicate copyright deposits not needed by the Library of Congress or the Washington Public Library." (2) This arrangement brought to the Harris Collection many titles that would have been impossible to obtain by purchase or solicitation, since in many cases they were not widely distributed, and indeed were often privately published.
The value of that arrangement to scholarship and to the Library's ability to document literary history in this country has recently been demonstrated. About fifteen years ago, the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress discovered that, over the course of time, many of the copyright copies retained by the Library of Congress had disappeared from the Library of Congress stacks, thus making the Harris copy in many instances the only copy of a title remaining in any library in the country.

During Koopman's tenure, the Library acquired the Sidney S. Rider Collection on Rhode Island history, rich in pamphlet literature and other ephemera. This collection, "the largest private collection of materials related to Rhode Island, was presented to the library in 1903 by Marsden Perry. Rider, a leading Providence bookseller and antiquarian, had amassed his collection of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, broadsides and newspapers over 50 years. Perry, Providence's leading financier and an important collector in his own right, recognized the importance of the Rider Collection for future scholarship and presented it to Brown. Among the more ephemeral items are posters, cartoons, playbills, ballots, newsboy's addresses, theater programs, tax bills, lottery tickets, death notices, and funeral invitations." (3)

"In July of 1905, John Hay, Class of 1858, perhaps the most famous Brown graduate of his day, died in office as U.S. Secretary of State. The following year his widow, Clara Stone Hay, presented 400 books and manuscripts from Hay's personal library to Brown. These books. . .contain many volumes which are inscribed to John Hay." (4) Since Hay was a poet of the "local color" school, his writings complemented the growing Harris Collection as well as the collections on political and diplomatic history.

In "1911, the personal library of the late Hammond Lamont, Professor of Rhetoric from 1895 to 1900, was donated to the University as a memorial from his students in the Classes of 1899 and 1900. These 2,700 volumes of 17th-18th century English literature included many works by Daniel DeFoe and William Prynne, including the latter's Histrio-Mastix (London, 1633)."(5) This collection is particularly notable for its holdings of "triple-decker" subscription and popular fiction of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including a fine selection of gothic novels.

Another important acquisition of Koopman's time was "a group of more than 2,000 American ballads, most of Civil War vintage, from Frank E. Bliss, Class of 1868. These became the foundation of the Broadsides Collection which now numbers over 50,000 items."(6) They joined the collection of slip ballads from Harris' original collection, and the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln ephemera acquired as part of the McLellan Lincoln Collection.

By the end of Koopman's tenure in 1930, the Harris Collection included just over 60,000 titles. In honor of Koopman, Philip D. Sherman, class of 1902, who had been his student, presented his collection of literature, book arts, and the history of the book to the Library. "This collection contains over 5,000 first editions and rare books, manuscripts and association items, plus prints, drawings, and broadsides. It is a rich source for the study of English literature and the growth of fine printing from the works of Caxton and Chaucer in the 15th century to William Morris and William Butler Yeats in the 19th and 20th centuries."(7) The Koopman Collection is notable its prose fiction by Cooper, Irving, Holmes, and Melville, and for the collection of the works of Thackeray and Dickens issued in parts.


*Koopman, Harry Lyman. Photograph.
Brown University Archives

*Doyle, Lydia A. Supplement to Everybody's entertainer. Newton, Kan., c1918.
Library of Congress Duplicate Exchange. Only Brown copy recorded.
Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays

*Oakes, Priscilla. Lucky thirteen. New York, c1919.
Library of Congress Duplicate Exchange. Brown and New York Public Library copies recorded.
Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays

*Sullivan, Vincent Philamon. Once upon a midnight, a dramatization of Poe's "Raven", by Vincent P. Sullivan. Norwich, N.Y., F.J. Stanton, c1922.
Library of Congress Duplicate Exchange. Brown and Library of Congress copies recorded.
Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays

*Avery, Ephraim K. The terrible hay-stack murder. Life and trial of the Rev. Ephraim K. Avery, for the murder of the young and beautiful Miss Sarah M. Cornell, a factory girl of Fall River, Mass., whose affections he won, and whose honor he betrayed. Philadelphia, Barclay & Co. [c1878]
Sidney Rider Collection

Titles from the Collections:

*Thackeray, William Makepeace. The Virginians. A tale of the last century. By W.M. Thackeray ... [With illustrations on steel and wood by the author]. London, Bradbury & Evans, 1857-59. (24 nos.)
Koopman Collection
*Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens. With illustrations by H. K. Browne. London, Bradbury & Evans [1855-57]. 20 nos. in 19.
Koopman Collection

*Harris Collection. Accession register, Library of Congress duplicate exchange. [Brown University Library, 1923-1928]
Brown University Archives

*Avery, Ephraim K. The correct, full and impartial report of the trial of Rev. Ephraim K. Avery, before the Supreme Judicial Court of the State of Rhode Island, at Newport, May 6, 1833, for the murder of Sarah M. Cornell. Providence : Marshall and Brown [c1833]
Sidney Rider Collection

*Avery, Ephraim K. Report of the trial of the Rev. Ephraim K. Avery ... for the murder of Sarah Maria Cornell, at Tiverton ... Rhode Island, before the Supreme Judicial Court ... May 6, 1833, containing the evidence ... together with the charge of his Honor, Chief Justice Eddy in full, as taken in shorthand by Richard Adams Locke, law reporter. New York, B.W. Stodart [1833]
Sidney Rider Collection

*Radcliffe, Ann Ward. The mysteries of Udolpho, a romance; interspersed with some pieces of poetry. By Ann Radcliffe. London, G.G. and J. Robinson, 1794.
Hammond Lamont Collection
Arnold, Matthew. Poems. The first volume. Early poems, narrative poems, and sonnets. New and complete edition. London: Macmillan and Co., 1877.
Author's autographed presentation copy to John Hay, dated Cleveland, Feb. 10th, 1884. Laid in: mounted leaf, with the note: "Leaf of Joy from the Terrace of Windsor Castle; June 17, 1878."
John Hay Personal Library

*Whitman, Walt. Leaves of grass : including Sands at seventy -- 1st annex, Good-bye my fancy -- 2d annex, A backward glance o'er travel'd roads, and Portrait from life. Philadelphia : David McKay, 1891-'2.
BAL printing 1, without changes made to the text in 1888-9l signed in 12s and 6s. Inscribed: "To John Hay with the affectionate remembrances of Walt Whitman by whose request it is sent H L Traubel [in a different hand?:] March 25th. 1892 (Walt Whitman died March 26. 92)."
John Hay Personal Library

*Whitman, Walt. "O Captain! My Captain!" AMs, signed. March 9, 1887. At John Hay's request Whitman made this copy of his great ode on the death of Lincoln. With John Hay's letter acknowledging receipt of the copy.
Manuscript: gift of Mrs. John Hay Whitney and Family, in memory of John Hay Whitney, grandson of John Hay, class of 1858.
John Hay Collection


1. Encyclopedia Britannica Online (Brown only)

2. Damon, S. Foster "The Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays."

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

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

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

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

7. 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 15:32:59 EDT.
© 2001, Brown University Library. All rights reserved.

There have been 4,564 accesses of this page since July 20, 2000