PCL MS 107 Ray B. Browne Collection
|Title||PCL MS 107 Ray B. Browne Collection|
|Introduction||The Ray B. Browne Collection is comprised of over 43 cubic feet of correspondence, files, literary manuscripts and printed materials dating from 1950 to 2011. Some earlier and more recent dates are scattered within the correspondence, manuscripts and printed materials. Dr. Browne's research interests within the humanities encompassed the study of English, American literature, folklore, history as well as American culture and popular culture studies. It was his broad, comprehensive view of human experience and his realization that the seemingly ordinary was a relevant area for academic inquiry that compelled Dr. Browne in 1967 to design, build and cultivate the study of popular culture at Bowling Green State University. This new approach would expand nationally and internationally via a network of Dr. Browne's academic colleagues, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, the Popular Culture Library (the Ray and Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies since 2003), the Popular Press (and its periodicals) as well as the Popular Culture and American Culture Associations. Ray Browne began donating segments of his collection to the Browne Popular Culture Library on January 12, 1988. There are no restrictions placed on the use of this collection for scholarly purposes. Researchers are responsible for securing copyright permission when using all unpublished manuscripts and published works whether authored by Ray B. Browne or by other writers whose work may be found in this collection. This finding aid was prepared by Eric Honneffer in September 2007.|
|Biographical Sketch||Ray B. Browne was born on January 15, 1922 in Millport, Alabama. His father, a banker, moved the family around the South until the stock market crash of 1929. They returned to Millport where Ray would graduate from high school in 1940. Browne would receive a BA in English literature from the University of Alabama in 1943. He enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II and spent two of his three years of service in Europe.|
After the war, he enrolled at Columbia University and received his MA in English Literature in 1947, writing his thesis on '"H.G. Wells and the 'New Woman.'"' He taught from 1947 to 1950 at the University of Nebraska before enrolling in graduate school at UCLA in 1950. From 1951 to 1956 Browne was a graduate assistant and acting instructor. It was here that he pursued his interest in Alabama folk culture, mentored by Herman Melville scholar, Leon Howard as well as Wayland Hand, professor of German and folklore. He received his PhD in American literature, folklore and history from UCLA in 1956. He accepted a position in the English department at the University of Maryland. While at Maryland his interest in American Studies expanded after meeting Carl Bode, one of the founders of the American Studies Association. Bode was part of a growing number of scholars who believed that academia needed inter and multi-disciplinary approaches to the study of the humanities and of literature. Browne embraced this view.
After not receiving tenure at the University of Maryland, he assumed a post in the English department at Purdue in 1960. Between 1965 and 1966 he was instrumental in arranging two Purdue conferences intended to broaden the traditionally narrow approach to studying culture. Browne would remain at Purdue until Bowling Green State University offered him a folklore professorship in 1967. In 1968 research facilities began to emerge as the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and the Popular Culture Library. In 1970 the Popular Press was established. Gradually he introduced a popular culture curriculum into his folklore classes, creating much unpopularity within the English department. This in turn would lead to the establishment in 1971-1972 of a separate Department of Popular Culture at BGSU chaired by Ray Browne. After being away for a year at the University of Maryland, he returned to BGSU in 1976 and remained until his retirement in 1992. He continued to maintain an office on campus until his death on October 22, 2009.
Browne had essentially created an academic base of action for the study of popular culture at BGSU that would advocate an approach that would avoid the narrow intellectual and elitist thinking endemic to much academic inquiry.
He carried this initiative to the national level understanding the strengths and weaknesses of such organizations as the American Studies Association, the American Folklore Society and the Modern Language Association. In 1969 Browne sponsored a national meeting of the ASA in Toledo for the purpose of establishing the Popular Culture Association. The PCA would hold its first meeting in 1971 at Michigan State. In 1979 the American Culture Association would be formed and both organizations would hold joint national meetings annually. By the late 1970's an international PCA would be established.
In addition to founding the Journal of Popular Culture, Browne, working with his wife Pat, was instrumental in launching such publications as Clues, Popular Music and Society, Abstracts of Popular Culture, Journal of American Culture and the Journal of Popular Culture and Film. He has written or co-edited over fifty books of his own and published articles and reviews too numerous to mention. In 1986 the Popular Culture Library collection was named for Ray and Pat Browne.
|Scope and Content|
Ray B. Browne’s collection records his scholarly interests in literature, history, folklore, and cultures, but more significantly it is a window into the revolutionary development of a popular culture studies program at BGSU which in its zeal to study everyday life upset the academic apple cart late in the 1960’s. Browne, credited as a “founding father” of the popular culture movement was enticed to come to BGSU with the prospect of starting the Journal of Popular Culture and the establishment of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture consisting of a research library and a press. Like revolutionary Thomas Paine, Ray Browne admitted that to propel a cause forward one needed a press to disseminate the creedo and an army (Popular Culture Association) to promote and put it into practice. Later the development of a Department of Popular Culture offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees would legitimize the study of ordinary life.
Within the correspondence, organized into categories for better access, one detects Browne’s eagerness to have colleagues publish within the popular culture field, to read papers at conferences, to provide financial support for programs and to encourage study and generally to keep the popular culture fires burning brightly in academia. BGSU correspondence is especially rich, offering a glimpse into how Browne built the program, worked tirelessly to promote his vision and was undaunted by obstacles.
The donor/prospective donor correspondence and copies of Browne’s outgoing correspondence convey his personal philosophy of the study of popular culture and reflect the considerable energy he expended and frustration he endured in furthering this cause through collection development, overseeing the Center, the Popular Press and the publication of its many volumes and periodicals, chairing the Popular Culture Department and serving as secretary-treasurer of the Popular Culture Association and the American Culture Association.
Further documentation on the development of popular culture studies at BGSU and elsewhere and Browne’s nurturing of these activities can be found within his subject files and literary manuscripts, especially among the shorter works: Articles (see published articles among the printed materials), statements, policies, pleas for assistance and the like. The subject files relevant to the Popular Culture Department and its degree programs would also be helpful for such research. His dialogue with the National Endowment for the Humanities within the subject files and in the grant proposal files are especially helpful to understand Browne’s passion for the “New Humanities,” as he called his approach to culture studies, and his longstanding concern that “new” projects with a different approach were not getting funded. His plans revealed in the subject files are vast and include proposals for a Living Archives – audio library, Popular Culture Hall of Fame, a museum and more international conferences and involvement with PCA and ACA.
Those interested in the specific research topics of Ray Browne might wish to consult the five cubic feet of research files (created to accommodate extensive materials accompanying the literary manuscripts), most of which focus upon his study of the Alabama folk song/lyric. Some files for specific publications and projects can be found in the research files as well as in the correspondence. A study of the longer literary manuscripts especially those concerning the Alabama folk song/lyric will require some effort since these are incomplete, fragmented and difficult to organize. An information sheet written by Browne has been duplicated and added to these records to assist the researcher in understanding the complicated evolution of the manuscript on its way to publication. A considerable number of his and other authors’ shorter literary manuscripts were undated and have been given circa dates. Also among the literary holdings is the manuscript for a collection of Dr. Browne’s career essays collected by him for future publishing. The essays were edited by Dr. Ben Urish and published posthumously in 2011.
Graduate student theses and dissertations from the late 1970’s until approximately 1992 within Popular Culture and American Studies programs are included under other authors’ longer literary manuscripts. These and some class files reflect Ray’s mentoring of students in the programs during his tenure and record those topics being researched at the time.
The Browne Collection contains many literary manuscripts of other authors including class papers, conference papers, articles for possible publication in one of Browne’s periodicals as well as some book manuscripts submitted to the Popular Press. All literary manuscripts have been broken into categories of longer or shorter works by either Ray Browne or by other authors.
News clippings and articles gathered into scrapbooks by the Department of Popular Culture during Browne’s tenure as chair, have been added to his collection since they provide a broad overview of department activities and faculty projects during this particularly dynamic time in the department’s history. Additional news clippings and articles (some duplicated above) were retained by Ray Browne and feature him interviewed in such publications as Newsweek, Time, Rolling Stone, People, the Nation, the National Enquirer to mention a few. A selection of obituaries and memorial tributes for Dr. Browne present an overview of his many accomplishments within the field of popular culture.
Some clippings include recognition for Browne’s wife, Pat, for her work with the journals and as editor and manager of the Popular Press. Those wishing to study her role within the development of the popular culture program and the Popular Press in particular, would find the most information within the clippings. A very small number of letters sent by her are sprinkled throughout the correspondence and a tiny travel journal possibly kept by her during the Browne’s 1980 travels in India appears in the Popular Culture Department subject files. These are the only evidence of her activities present in the collection.
Printed material files arranged in alphabetical order have been created to better organize a vast array of brochures, clippings, newsletters, small publications and the like on a myriad of different topics related to collections of popular culture items, folklore societies and others retained by Browne.
Reel to reel audio recordings probably made in the 1950’s primarily for Browne’s Alabama folk lyric research have become too brittle to be accessible. Cassette audio recordings document mostly sessions from popular culture conferences and interviews with Ray Browne and others in the field.
Correspondence (9.0 cu.ft.)
1942,1951 to 2009
The correspondence can include letters from Ray Browne’s national and international colleagues discussing the expansion of popular culture studies via academic programs, conferences and publications. Funding for such study through various funding agencies especially the National Endowment for the Humanities is an important aspect of this discussion. Browne’s consultations, speaking engagements, travel, research inquiries and student mentoring are also pertinent subject matter.
Browne’s own correspondence reflects his passion for the study of literature, folklore and popular culture and his personal involvement in the growth and furthering of his ideas and viewpoints via publications and conferences.
Bowling Green State University Correspondence
This set of documents chronicles Browne’s interaction with colleagues and the administration at BGSU from the development of the popular culture program and department, its continued growth and his role after retirement from the university.
Arranged chronologically by project.
Letters from publishers and others regarding Browne publications.
Arranged by subject.
Letters sent to Ray Browne by his immediate family members, other relatives and high school friends.
Collection Donor/Prospective Donor Correspondence
Arranged alphabetically by individual name.
A portion of this correspondence is comprised of documents organized by the name of individuals who maintained a regular dialogue over a period of years with Ray Browne usually regarding their collection donation to the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and the Popular Culture Library. Another portion of this correspondence is comprised of form letters sent by Browne in 1969 and 1973 accompanied by replies from prospective donors. Later, copies of form letters sent in the 1980’s and 1990’s by either Browne or by Popular Culture Library Head, Brenda McCallum are included.
Files (9.0 cu.ft.)
(c. 1950), 1957-2001 (scattered)
Arranged chronologically by writing project.
The bulk of these files focus upon Browne’s research interest in the Alabama folk song/lyric, songsters, American and popular literature and history. Files can include musical manuscripts, lyrics, notes, note cards, informant bios, correspondence bibliographies and articles.
Arranged by subject then chronologically.
Older files include class notes, syllabi and handouts from literature and folklore classes taken by Browne as a student. Detailed notes, samples of student work and other miscellaneous documents suggest these were from classes he taught. Files of written exams completed by BGSU PhD candidates whom Browne may have advised are located at the end of this series.
Arranged by subject then chronologically.
The files are divided into the following categories: Popular Culture Department, BGSU popular culture degree programs, American Studies Association, Popular Culture Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Correspondence, proposals, printed materials are included. A set of 1986 Popular Culture Library fundraising contact cards are found at the end of this series.
Literary Productions (14.5 cu.ft.)
Manuscripts – Longer Works by Ray B. Browne
These can includes rough drafts, corrected drafts, miscellaneous draft pages, scattered galleys and notes for books written or edited by Browne.
Manuscripts – Shorter Works by Ray B.Browne
These can include drafts, miscellaneous draft pages and some notes for articles, book reviews, short stories, poetry, conference papers, speeches and others. Class papers also appear here.
Manuscripts – Longer Works by other authors
Final drafts of theses and dissertations by BGSU students and drafts of book manuscripts possibly submitted to the Popular Press are included.
Manuscripts – Shorter Works by other authors
These include articles, class papers, conference papers and some drafts collected by Browne.
Legal Documents (1 folder)
Memoranda of Agreement
Legal documents for Browne’s publications appear at the end of the manuscripts for his longer works.
Scrapbooks and Scrapbook Materials (2.5 cu.ft.)
Arranged by subject then chronologically.
Topics include articles about Ray and Pat Browne, the Popular Culture Association and popular culture at BGSU. Other articles in oversized box.
BGSU Department of Popular Culture Scrapbooks
The scrapbooks are comprised of mostly news clippings, periodical articles and printed materials documenting the department’s activities during Ray Browne’s tenure as faculty member and chair.
Printed Materials (3.5 cu.ft.)
Printed Materials Files
Arranged alphabetically by subject.
These files can include publications, articles, news clippings, newsletters, brochures and some conference materials.
Published Articles by Ray B. Browne
These include copies of many of Browne’s published journal articles.
Ray B. Browne Printed Materials
Includes miscellaneous personal documents such as certificates of recognition, reviews of his publications, publicity from his speaking engagements, resumes and the like.
Photographic Material (.5 cu.ft.)
Arranged by subject.
The earliest photograph in the collection is a copy of a 1940 image of Browne’s high school graduating class. Other photos are portraits of Browne and individuals active in the Popular Culture Association or the American Culture Association.
Audio/Video Recordings (3.0 cu.ft.)
Audio Cassette Recordings
Includes recordings of sessions from popular culture conferences and interviews with Browne and others within the field . A set of unidentified Chinese music recordings are included.
Audio Reel to Reel Recordings
No date - c. 1950.
These appear to be mostly unidentified recordings for Browne’s Alabama folk song/lyric research and include performances given by various folk musicians. Recordings of his book manuscript are found here as well. Due to the poor condition of the recordings, they are not accessible.
1989, no date.
These include an interview with Browne and a feature about the Department of Popular Culture at BGSU.
Computer Media (11 disks)
1996, 2002, no date
These miscellaneous disks contain data for Browne projects, his bibliography of works, an article sent to him about Russell Nye and other miscellaneous topics.
Artifacts (.5 cu.ft.)
1953, no date.
A variety of objects include a roll of microfilm, a PCA-ACA T-shirt, a Popular Press plastic bag and the like. The framed artwork for the Journal of Popular Culture logo is in the oversized box.