#GivingTuesday: Providing Universal Access to the JCB Collections


The John Carter Brown Library believes that anyone with an interest in the history and culture of the Americas should have access to its collections, regardless of where they live, what language they speak, or their economic resources. To that end, the Library has set its sights on digitizing its entire collection and making it available, free of charge, to scholars and citizens around the world.

To provide this level of universal access, the Library has committed itself to digitizing all of its collections. By the end of this month, the JCB hopes to digitize 50 special items from our collection of books and maps and make those available online.

With your support today on #GivingTuesday, the Library will digitize these and 45 additional treasures, all items of great interest to our wider community of scholars:

  • Bartolomé de las Casas, in his Brevissima relacion de la destruycion de las Indias (Seville, 1552), appeals to King Charles I of Spain (the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) to take action against the mistreatment of the indigenous peoples of the Americas by Spanish conquistadors. This storied account became especially renowned as a Dutch propaganda tool later in the sixteenth century; our copy of this original Spanish edition has a unique section of manuscript material that makes the JCB’s version particularly noteworthy.

  • Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas’s Historia general de los hechos de los castellanos en las islas i Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano (Madrid, 1601-15) is considered one of the most comprehensive works written on the European conquest of the Americas. In four volumes, the author chronicles events experienced over the course of eight decades by a host of Spanish conquistadors. Richly detailed engraved borders on title pages include portraits of Inca and Spanish leaders, evocative New World landscapes, and historical vignettes.

  • Jan Huygen van Linschoten’s Itinerario, voyage ofte schipvaert, van Ian Huygen van Linschoten naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien, inhoudende een corte beschryvinghe der selver landen ende zee-custen ..., (Amsterdam, 1605) chronicles the author's travels from Lisbon to Goa and back again. A text known as "the Key to the East”, it revealed weaknesses in Portuguese control of the region, especially its Indonesian territories. The Dutch exploited these insights to establish their strongest base in the region and nearly drive out the Portuguese.

  • John Gabriel Stedman’s Narrative, of a five years' expedition, against the revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guiana, on the wild coast of South America, from the year 1772, to 1777, (London, 1796) is a classic account of New World slavery, beginning with Stedman's voyage to the Dutch colony, and goes on to describe myriad observations of brutal punishments, battles with rebelling Maroons, and detailed descriptions of Surinam's abundant flora and fauna.  

  • Official chronicler of the Franciscan Order Augustín de Vetancurt penned an exceptionally detailed history of the Franciscans in Mexico. Teatro mexicano : descripcion breve de los sucessos exemplares, historicos, politicos, militares, y religiosos del nuevo mundo occidental de las Indias ... (Mexico, 1698) is also one of the richest sources for describing the indigenous culture and history of Mexico prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. 

To accomplish its digitization goal and make these texts available digitally in perpetuity, the Library seeks to raise $2,400 in 24 hours for #GivingTuesday. Will you help the JCB provide digital access to all of its collections?

 Please make your #GivingTuesday donation here. 

Your support is essential to our mission and we greatly appreciate your efforts and generosity on the Library's behalf.

With warmest regards,

Neil Safier
Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo Director and Librarian