The John Carter Brown Library -- By: J. C. Stockbridge

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 033:130 (Apr 1876)
Article: The John Carter Brown Library
Author: J. C. Stockbridge


The John Carter Brown Library

Rev. J. C. Stockbridge

The writer of this Article has no doubt that many of the readers of the Bibliotheca Sacra have some knowledge of the valuable collection of books known as the “John Carter Brown Library,” and are acquainted with some of the leading facts in the life of the gentleman from whom the library takes its name. There must, however, be not a few individuals, who may with propriety regard themselves as scholars, who are ignorant of both the founder of the library of which we shall speak, as well as of the library itself. To such there may be a satisfaction in learning some of the outlines in the history of one who did such noble service to the cause of letters, and whose costly collection of books is a better monument to his fame than sculptured granite or marble.

John Carter Brown was born in Providence, Rhode Island, August 28, 1797. He was the second son of Hon. Nicholas Brown, whose munificent gifts to the university which bears his name have placed him among the most distinguished benefactors of his native State. In 1841 he came into possession of a large patrimony, and succeeded to the position which his deceased father had held for so many years, as the senior partner of the well known firm of Brown and Ives. His love for books, showing itself in a taste for those which were rare and costly, early developed itself; and the ample fortune which was at his command enabled him to gratify this taste. He spared no pains and no expense in procuring the best works in different departments of literature; and there were found in his library, even many years ago, copies of the most elaborate editions of the classics, and some of the most complete Polyglot Bibles that have ever been pub-

lished. But his attention began to be turned early in life to what, with him, became almost a passion for gathering from every possible source any and every thing that could throw light upon American history. It is in this department, as we shall have occasion hereafter to see, that his library became so valuable. Our purpose is not to dwell at length on the details of the life of Mr. Brown or to attempt to give a portrait of his character. It is only as a bibliophile — a lover of books — that we now allude to him. Year after year saw additions made to his singularly valuable collection of the best works illustrative of the themes in which he took a special interest. He could, in the riper years of his life, refer with an honest pride to the result of his long and unwearied efforts, reaching over a period of fifty years, to bring together from every quarter the best materials for adding to the stock of our historical knowledge, and preserving, in the safest way, the records of rac...

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