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John Hay Library

Brown University Archives


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.

The University Archives documents the intellectual, social, cultural, and visual history of Brown University from its beginnings in 1764 to the present through the university's official records, the papers of Brown's presidents, administrators, faculty and alumni, the records of related student, alumni and faculty organizations, and university publications.

In support of research, teaching, and the dissemination of Brown University's rich history, the University Archives offers reference services to the Brown University community, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni, as well as the general public.


University Archives staff provide access to archival materials and research assistance via e-mail and by appointment. Researchers may view materials in the Reading Room of the John Hay Library during regular business hours.

Archival collections are paged four times a day: twice in the morning (9:30 am and 11:30 am) and twice in the afternoon (2 pm and 3:30 pm). Materials with a location of "Annex Hay" require two business days advance notice. The Brown Daily Herald is available to researchers in the Reading Room of the Hay Library and does not require paging. The Brown Alumni Monthly and yearbooks are readily accessible. Please submit a paging request to the Reading Room monitor or Reader Services staff.

In order to keep secure and preserve the material collected in the University Archives, all researchers, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni are asked to observe the following rules:

  • All visitors must present valid identification and sign the visitor's register.
  • No food or drink is allowed in the reading room.
  • No briefcases, satchels, backpacks, purses, pocketbooks, coats, or jackets are allowed in the reading room. Secure lockers for coats and personal property are available in the Reader's Services area on the main floor of the John Hay Library.
  • No material other than note paper, notebooks, or laptop computers may be on the desk where you are conducting research.
  • Use care when handling material - PENCILS ONLY - no pens or markers may be used when taking notes.
  • White cotton gloves may be required to handle more fragile items and photographs. These will be provided for by the staff.
  • Researchers can only use one box and only one file from the box at a time, and one book at a time. Please take care to keep the documents in the file in the order in which you find them.
  • All material in the University Archives must be used in the reading room.

Some records are restricted or stored off-site so please contact the Archives before making a visit.


The Archives contains many published histories of Brown University, including:

Reuben A. Guild, Early History of Brown University, Including the Life, Times, and Correspondence of President Manning (1897)

Walter C. Bronson, The History of Brown University, 1764 - 1914 (1914)

Anne T. Weeden, The Women's College in Brown University, Its Origin and Development (1912)

Grace Hawk, Pembroke College in Brown University; The First Seventy-Five Years (1966)

Jay Barry and Martha Mitchell, A Tale of Two Centuries: A Warm and Richly Pictorial History of Brown University, 1764-1985 (1985)

Jay Barry, Gentlemen Under the Elms (1982)

Polly Welts Kaufman, ed., The Search For Equity: Women at Brown University, 1891-1991 (1991)

Janet M. Phillips, Brown University: A Short History (2000)

For the definitive reference work on the history, people, and places of Brown University, please use the Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell available in print and online.