“…the library will be forever preserved as a family memorial and will at the same time be fully available to all qualified students.”
–President William H. P. Faunce (1899 - 1929)
After assembling a small selection of books from his family and his travels, John Carter Brown, Class of 1816, decided to collect books, printed or made before 1801, on the discovery, exploration, and settlement of the Western hemisphere, calling his area of interest, "the Great Subject.” His son, John Nicholas Brown, continued to acquire Americana and add to what by the late 19th century had already become known as the John Carter Brown Library.
After the death of John Nicholas Brown in 1900, both the collection and the funds to construct a library building came to Brown. At the dedication in 1904, four-year-old Nicholas Brown presented the keys to the building to President Faunce. The library holds 50,000 rare books in its collection, in addition to reference books and secondary source materials.
Although located on the College Green, the John Carter Brown Library is an independently administered and funded research center.