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Italian Studies

The John Hay Library

Brown University’s John Hay Library is undergoing a major renovation beginning in the Summer of 2013.  Renovation of this historic landmark will include a refurbishment of the magnificent first floor reading room into an open, welcoming study space; the creation of a new state-of-the-art special collections reading room in the area that formerly housed University Archives; the building of a new exhibition gallery; an addition of a student lounge and a private conference room; and the installation of handicapped access to the front of the building. Fire safety and security system improvements will also be addressed by the renovation.

To accommodate the extensive work involved in the renovation, the John Hay Library will close beginning June 1, 2013, and will remain closed through the duration of the construction project until Fall 2014.  

There will be no access to the building during the renovation, and use of Special Collections & Archives materials by faculty, students, and other researchers will be limited.

Click here to access Special Collections.

Rare Books Collections at the John Hay Library

Annmary Brown Memorial Collection 
The Annmary Brown Memorial Incunabula Collection is housed at the John Hay Library and consists of incunables collected by General Hawkins in the late 19th and early 20th century. The collection holds over 560 titles, comprising representative works of 308 15th and early 16th century presses, some originating from Bologna, Florence, Mantua, Milan, Naples, Padua, Parma, Pavia, Rome, Treviso, Venice, Verona and Vicenza. The incunables were arranged to follow the spread of printing throughout Europe from its inception in Germany c. 1455.

The incunabula collection includes a 1481 edition of Commento di Cristophoro Landino fiorentino sopra La comedia di Danthe Alighieri poeta fiorentino, printed in Venice by Nicholo di Lorenzo della Magna. This copy features copperplate engravings by Baccio Baldini based on drawings by Sandro Botticelli, one of the earliest attempts at using this medium for book illustration. The work was commissioned by Lorenzo d'Medici, and one hundred engravings were planned, one for each canto; blank spaces were left for them in the text. The first nineteen engravings were made, but the difficulty of printing them in position apparently proved to be too great: only the first two or three plates were printed on the text page; sixteen or seventeen others were printed separately to be pasted in. The results were poorly executed and grey, and the rest were never engraved. This edition includes additions to Landino's commentary by Marsilio Ficino.

Chambers Dante Collection
The Chambers Dante Collection of approximately 1,700 volumes was formed by the English Scholar William F. Chambers during a long residence in Florence. The collection was donated to Brown by Henry D. Sharpe, Class of 1894, through the intercession of Brown Prof. Courtney Langdon. The collection's strengths are in scholarly editions of the 15th through the 19th centuries of Dante's works, in particular the Divine Comedy, commentaries (chiefly in Italian), translations, and other reference, biographical and historical works. Prof. Langdon's literary and critical manuscripts have been added to the collection.

Lownes History of Science Collection
The History of Science Collections encompass books and manuscripts dating from the late 15th to the mid 20th century. Particular strengths are in the history of mathematics and astronomy. There are editions of classical authors on mathematics and astronomy, sixteenth and seventeenth century astronomical tables, and fifteenth and sixteenth century editions of Latin translations of Arabic astronomical and astrological texts. They provide many of the works fundamental to the study of the exact sciences during the Renaissance. There are more than 4,000 significant works documenting the sciences in modern times, many of which were printed before 1800, beginning with the works of Galileo, Kepler, Tycho Brahe, Newton, and his followers. There are also early editions of works by Ampere, Francis Bacon, Boyle, Mme Curie, Einstein, Franklin, Helmholtz, von Humboldt, William James, Leibniz, Lyell, Maury, Napier, Pasteur, Priestly, and Vesalius. Click here for a list of titles.

Niccolo Machiavelli Collection
The Niccolo Machiavelli Collection is a major collection of first and early editions, dating from 1523, with an emphasis upon his political and historical works.


Manifesti, proclami, interventi, e documenti teorici del futurismo, 1909-1944.
Title on boxes: Manifesti futuristi, 1909-1944. 415 pieces in 4 boxes. Each box includes a pamphlet listing the contents of the box.

Print Collections at the John Hay Library

Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection
An ambitious multi-year digital project providing open access to 15,000 individual prints, drawings, and watercolors from The Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection. The artwork vividly documents all aspects of military and naval history, with emphasis on the history and illustration of world military and naval uniforms from the 17th century to the present. In addition to the material on military and naval dress, this digital collection includes portraiture, caricatures, wartime posters, original photographs, and graphics on military and naval history in general, campaigns and battles, the arts and tactics of warfare, drills and regulations. There is a vast amount of material pertaining to military decorations and insignia, heraldic ornaments, armor, weaponry, equitation, flags, knightly orders, court and ceremonial dress, architecture, and the general history of costume.

Your Librarian

Patricia Figueroa's picture
Patricia Figueroa
E-mail (preferred):

Phone: (401) 863-1836

Office: John Hay Library, Room 305 (please contact me via e-mail to schedule an appointment)