The News Service
Imagining America/Imaging America through Sept. 15
Exhibition Celebrates Launch of Library’s Public Online Image Database
Imagining America/Imaging America, an exhibition at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, features an eclectic sampling of images newly available to the public through the Archive of Early American Images, the library’s online database of images found in books printed between 1493 and about 1825.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Imagining America/Imaging America, an exhibition at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, features an eclectic sampling of images newly available to the public through the Archive of Early American Images, the library’s online database of images found in books printed between 1493 and about 1825.
On display through Sept. 15, the exhibition includes the depiction of Columbus’ landfall in the New World, the discovery of a new species (the armadillo), and various illustrations of Mexico City, the largest city in the Americas during the colonial period. Also included are examples of the first instances of genres of images printed in the New World – images whose purpose was to propagandize and images that have inspired scholarship. The exhibition is open to the public Mondays through Fridays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. until noon.
The majority of the illustrations catalogued in the Archive of Early American Images have never been circulated in any form since the original printing of the centuries-old books in which the images are found. All come from works in the collection of the John Carter Brown Library, which has unparalleled holdings in this field.
To explore the archive, visit http://www.JCBL.org and click on “online resources.”
The database is designed to assist scholars in many fields in their quest for contemporary images to illustrate their research findings. The archive also makes possible the study of historical images in their own right.
Still in the process of compilation, the database currently has 2,500 images but ultimately will contain about 6,000 images covering the territory from Hudson’s Bay to Tierra del Fuego. Grants from the Ahmanson Foundation and the Getty Foundation support the work.
The images are organized into categories such as Indigenous Peoples; Flora and Fauna; Geography, Maps, City View and Plans; Portraits; and Artifacts, Industry and Human Activities. Each image is accompanied by extensive information about the work, including descriptive text about the image itself and the full bibliographical record concerning the book in which the image is found. The images are accessible by means of more than 30 different fields, such as subject, title, date, creator and geographic location.
The John Carter Brown Library is an independently funded and administered institution for advanced research in history and the humanities, founded in 1846 and located at Brown University since 1901. Its collection focuses entirely on the history of North and South America during the colonial period, roughly 1493 to 1825. Its more than 45,000 volumes include, for example, European accounts of voyages by explorers, literature on the growth of the colonies, observations of Native Americans, religious writings, and descriptions of colonial wars. The library also has an extensive collection of maps dating from 1477 to the mid-19th century.