Special Collections libraries are wondrous places. Part library, part museum, they are repositories of the written word and of all manner of material culture and ephemera. At the John Hay Library you can view Shakespeare’s first published folio of 1632 or Batman comic books, cuneiform tablets circa 1800 BCE and Orwell’s hand-written manuscript for 1984. A first edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass shares space with pencils labeled “Thoreau” manufactured by the family of Henry David. And fine and folk arts abound, compare, for example, Peter Baumgras’ oil portraits of Abraham Lincoln and a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt collaged from postage stamps.
November 2010 marks the 100 anniversary of the John Hay Library, named for a member of the class of 1858. Perhaps the most famous Brown graduate of his day, John Hay accepted the position of private secretary to Abraham Lincoln at the age of 22, and thus began a l