JCB Fellow's Talk: Hannah Alpert-Abrams

March 22, 2017 - 4:00pm

Hannah Alpert-Abrams
(University of Texas at Austin), Helen Watson Buckner Memorial Fellow

"An Unexpected Influence: The John Carter Brown Library and the circulation of early Mexican imprints"

“My dear Mr. Brown," wrote George Parker Winship on September 11, 1896,  "I fear that I am not whole sober this evening despite the most complete abstinence." Winship was writing from Mexico, where he had just completed the acquisition of the private library of the Mexican collector Nicolas León. This acquisition, which was made in the name of John Nicholas Brown and cost some $2600 gold, transformed the John Carter Brown Library from a center for Americana to one of the greatest collections of early Mexican imprints in the world. This talk begins with this moment of acquisition, asking how it impacted both the nature of the JCBL collections and the practice of colonial research. In following the collection through subsequent decades, this moment pairs with a second, similarly impactful acquisition: the 1913 purchase of a Photostat machine. Unlike the León acquisition, the importance of the Photostat machine came as a surprise to Winship, who wrote with some bemusement that it was having "an unexpected influence upon the development of the library." Much like digital collections today, the facsimiles produced with the Photostat machine would change how scholars read and accessed early Mexican texts.


The Reading Room will close to researchers at 3:30 p.m.