The University Archives serves as the institutional memory of Brown University by collecting, preserving, and making accessible the materials that provide evidence of past University actions and contribute to an understanding of the university's structure and its history.
Please submit reference questions via the John Hay Library's Reference Request Form.
See Encyclopedia Brunoniana for entries on buildings.
Barry, Jay and Martha Mitchell. A Tale of Two Centuries: A Warm and Richly Pictorial History of Brown University, 1764-1985 (1985)
Iselin, Diane C. Ivied Halls : Two Centuries of Housing at Brown University Providence, R.I: [Office of Residential Life, Brown University] (1981)
Rhinehart , Raymond P., Walter Smalling, Christina H. Paxson, and Dietrich Neumann. Brown University: An Architectural Tour (2014)
An article by President Henry Wriston on the architecture of Brown:
Wriston, Henry M. “Our Architecture on College Hill.” Brown Alumni Monthly (Nov/Dec 1946). 69-71.
See University Publications for additional sources.
An article on the List Art Building:
Neumann, Dietrich, and Juergen Schulz. “Johnson's Grid”. AA Files 70 (2015): 60–69.
University Archives has a variety of resources to support research about the buildings listed below.
Bond Bread Site papers, 1969-1972 (OF-1W-5) This collection consists primarily of correspondence regarding Brown University's plan to building a parking garage on the former site of the Bond Bread Company (bordering Williams and John Street, Brook Street and Thayer Street), which the university acquired in 1965.
Brown University deeds, 1770-1875 (MS-1D-D1) Request an inventory through the Reference Request Form.
Brown University deeds, 1770-1981 (MS-1D-D2) Request an inventory through the Reference Request Form.
Gardner House records, 1933-present (OF-1W-3) Request an inventory through the Reference Request Form. The building at 106 George Street is maintained for the use of visiting dignitaries and invited guests of the University. It was owned by George W. Gardner (Class of 1894) and his wife, Jessie Barker Gardner (Class of 1896). The house, an elegant three-story brick Federal house built by mason Joseph Haile in 1806.
Wriston Quadrangle Dedication papers, 1951-1954 (OF-1W-6) contain correspondence, committee meeting minutes, invitations, speeches, and ephemera.
Committee on Campus Planning (now Committee on Facilities and Campus Planning)
A Corporation committee informed on matters relating of the physical resources, facilities, infrastructure, landscaping, campus planning and aesthetic development of the University. The committee advises the President and the Corporation on strategic physical planning matters. Corporation records are closed for 50 years. Request access through the Reference Request Form.
Records of the committee can be find in the following records:
William Jordy papers, 1979-1995 (OF-1UF-J1) Henry Ledyard Goddard Professor Emeritus of Art History at Brown University. Request an inventory through the Reference Request Form.
Paul F. Maeder papers, 1970-1977 (OF-1CA-M1) Vice President (Finance and Operations) from 1972 to 1977.
Malcolm S. Stevens papers, 1968-1978 (OF-1CA-S1) Vice President for Administration from 1966 to 1975.
Merton P. Stoltz papers, 1963-1975 (OF-1CA-S2) Provost and acting president of Brown University. Request an inventory through the Reference Request Form.
Personal Papers and Organization Records
Related collections can be found in the Manuscripts Collection. The Manuscripts Collection at the Brown University Library includes corporate archives, personal papers, collections compiled by collectors (sometimes called "artificial" collections), and single manuscripts. The manuscript collection as a whole is a particularly rich repository for sources in U.S. history, American literature and the history of science, technology and medicine, but manuscripts are collected in nearly every subject area.
John Nicholas Brown II papers, 1900-1988 (bulk 1960-1979) (Ms.2007.012) John Nicholas Brown served on the Corporation and the Campus Planning Committee. Mr. Brown was a proponent of modern architecture and was instrumental in bringing important architects to campus. Corporation records are closed for 50 years. Request access through the Reference Request Form.
William Gerald McLoughlin papers, 1700-2004 (bulk 1960-1992) (Ms.2009.003) Professor William Gerald McLoughlin taught history at Brown University from 1954-1992 and was an active and vocal participant professionally and personally in all of the issues and events during those years. Professor McLoughlin's papers reflect his involvement with Save the Trees/Keep Brown Green.
There are over 60,000 photographs depicting campus scenes, buildings, groups, events, and student activities preserved and accessible in the University Archives.
Images of Brown (digitized)
The Images of Brown digital collection presents digital facsimiles of original documentary images in the Brown University Archives.
While Images of Brown is extensive, it is not comprehensive. Please review the Subject list of photographs to locate additional building photographs:
University Archives has a collection of architectural drawings for many campus buildings, but the drawings are not comprehensive. Submit a request through the Reference Request Form if you are researching a particular building.
Please request using Aeon, our online registration system:
Gorman, Laurel. Fox Point : the disintegration of a neighborhood. 1998. (view this item online)
Hogans, Jacqui. The architectural program of Brown University, 1946-1958 : the work of Thomas Mott Shaw. 2003.
Muller, Brook W. The applicability of passive architecture to the design of buildings at Brown University. 1987.
Pettit, Nathaniel P. A Home for the Liberal Ideal: Brown University Housing Policy & the East Side of Providence, 1937-1997. 2020. (view this item online)
Reidel, Jacob. Unbuilt Brown. 2002.
Spiegelman, Kathy. Architectural renewal on College Hill. 1973.
Brown FACADES is an interactive guide to the architectural history of campus, currently available for free on the AppStore, with information on 132 buildings, both old and new.
Users can search for buildings by architect, function, year, or distance. The app’s GPS function guides users to each building and a text-to-speech function allows users to listen to each building’s history as they stand outside, taking note of various architectural elements.
The guide is a compilation of research by Brown University students at the Brown University Archives, Rhode Island Historical Society, and Providence Preservation Society. Additional resources included the Brown Daily Herald and Encyclopedia Brunoniana.
Additional sources of information about Brown University buildings:
Mary A. Gowdey Library of House Histories
Providence Preservation Society database of information about selected historic houses in the city.
Providence Preservation Society
Important resource for Providence historical architecture, founded in 1956 to prevent demolition on College Hill.
The library has a Rhode Island Room with many resources relating to Rhode Island history and architecture. This includes a subject file in card form to the Providence Journal where one may research topics from past years that haven't yet been indexed. Art/Archives Open Hours take place every Tuesday from 10:30-1:00, for all interested in visual research.
Rhode Island Black Heritage Society
Society for the preservation of historical materials relating to African Americans in Rhode Island, including paintings and other artworks.
Rhode Island Historical Society
Resource for all of Rhode Island's history, not just architecture.
Providence's Historic Districts
General information about the districts on the City of Providence Planning and Development webpage.
Among many other resources, includes building permit and razed building records.
Providence City Archives: Guide to Researching Your House History
Extremely helpful guide to resources, including research tips.
Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission
State agency for historical preservation and heritage programs.
A non-scholarly website about Rhode Island industrial architecture.
Collaborative Architecture, Urbanism, and Sustainability Web Archive. Rhode Island websites.
Historic American Buildings Survey
The nation's first federal preservation program, administered by the National Parks Service.
National Register of Historic Places
"The official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation."
Office of the Secretary of State of Rhode Island
The site includes state library and archive resources.
Local organization dedicated to the preservation of Rhode Island historical architecture.
Founded in 1880 "to stimulate the appreciation of art in the community." Includes a searchable database of the club's exhibition catalogs, where one can research local artist.
"The Providence Foundation is a private sector, not-for-profit organization. It is supported by 140 of the leading companies and institutions in Rhode Island. The Foundation has been working for 40 years to revitalize downtown Providence and create a success story that will provide long term economic and social benefits to the citizens of Rhode Island."
Not a scholarly but of interest for local information.
Recorder of Deeds Office, City of Providence
The office registers documents relating to land evidence, such as deeds, for the city of Providence. Some records available online.
Resources in Art and Architecture on the Web: Rhode Island
Compiled by librarian Karen Bouchard, includes many other Rhode Island resources having to do local with arts, architecture, and history.
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