A Guide to the

Brown Family Papers, 1872-1919

SC 0072

Compiled: September 1983

Updated: September 2008, January 2017


Descriptive Summary

Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: Brown Family Papers, 1872-1919

Collection No.: SC 0072

Creator: Brown Family

Extent: 32 items in 3 folders; .21 linear feet.

Abstract: The Brown Family Papers, 1872-1919, are comprised of correspondence and other materials pertaining to the Brown Family of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Also included are photographs, printing blocks, and a typescript copy of Johannes Braun's 1818 "Treatise on slavery and serfdom." Johannes Braun or John Brown, born 1771 in Germany and later settling in the Shenandoah Valley, became the leading minister of the German Reformed Church in Virginia.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Collection open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.
Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collection Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).
Preferred Citation:  [Identification of Item], [box #, folder #], Brown Family Papers, 1872-1919, SC 0072, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.
Acquisition Information: The collection was donated in 1966 by Mrs. Leigh E. Smith of Milmount, Cumberland, Virginia.
Processing Information: In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 1751.

Historical Note

Johannes Braun (or John Brown) was a highly educated and dedicated clergymen in western Virginia. Born in 1771 near Bremen, Germany, he came to the United States in 1797, becoming the leading minister of the German Reformed Church in Virginia. Besides building up the Reformed Churches in the Valley of Virginia, he published his "Treatise concerning Slavery and Property in Human Beings" in 1818 (published by Laurenz Bartman in Rockingham County), translated excerpts from Thomas Jefferson on slavery, and was influential in the Rockingham County pauper school system, the forerunner of today's public school system in that county.

Braun was married to Elizabeth Falls, and the couple raised eight children, three sons and five daughters, in the small parsonage near Bridgewater, Virginia. Braun passed away on January 26, 1850 and he was buried in the yard of Friedens Church.

Scope and Content:

The Brown Family Papers, 1872-1919, are comprised of three folders containing 32 items, pertaining to the Brown Family of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Compromised mainly of correspondence, the collection is arranged into three series: Correspondence and Receipts, Typescript, and Non-Print Materials.

Names figuring prominently in the Correspondence and Receipts series are, Mrs. E.A. Jordon, Mr. Keller, Jacob H. Wysient, Annie Sites (Mrs. William H.), Dr. C.A. Brown, and William R. Brown. Also contained in this series are receipts of purchases printed on letterheads from various Staunton, Va. businesses; notification of dues; an Elementary Professional certificate for Mary A. Brown; photocopies of obituaries for William Rice Brown, Mrs. Mattie Jordon Calhoun, and F.G. Keller; and postcards, one of which is a photograph of the storefront of J.W. Jacobs, est. 1850.

The Typescript series contains a typed translated copy of Johannes Braun's "A Treatise concerning Slavery and Property in Human Beings." This copy was translated from the original German by Harriet Augusta Braun. Ms. Braun's original translation is included here as well as a photocopy.

The Non-Print Materials series includes photographs and printing blocks. The photographs are portraits of Brown family members: Rev. John Braun, William R. Brown, Rosalie Sprinkle, and two portraits of women whose names could not be identified. The printing blocks are images of three plows, likely used for letterheads.


The collection is arranged into 3 series:

  1. Correspondence and Receipts
  2. Typescript
  3. Non-Print Materials


Braun, Rev. Johannes. Shenandoah Valley Family Data 1799-1813, (translation and introduction by Klaus Wust) Edinburg, Virginia: Shenandoah Historical Publishers, 1978.


Folder #
Series I: Correspondence and Receipts
Series II: Typescript: "A Treatise Concerning Slavery and Property in Human Beings."
Series III: Non-Print Materials  



           Printing Plates