Beyond Brown Paper Oct. 15 – Dec . 12 at PSU

October 15th, 2008 by Adam

PLYMOUTH, N.H.Beyond Brown Paper, a photographic exhibition with historical and sociological content and an interactive component, opens at the Silver Center for the Arts October 15. A gallery reception will be held from 4–6 p.m.

Featured guests at the opening will include Barry Kelly from White Mountain Lumber Company, Inc., and Jim Wagner of the Northern Forest Heritage Park. Both were associated with the Brown Company and will share comments and answer questions.

The Brown Company Photographic Collection, including thousands of negatives and prints, documents much of the history of the Brown Company of Berlin, N.H. which manufactured a variety of paper products through the mid-1960s.

Photographs show the social, cultural and recreational lives of the workers and their families, and their role in the life of the city. Among the subjects depicted in considerable detail are the varieties of work activity from the felling of trees in the woods to the final manufacture of pulp and paper in Berlin and Gorham.

Beyond Brown Paper excerpts photographs from a larger virtual exhibition and interactive Web site displayed at Visitors to the Web site are invited to share information and memories that relate to the photographs (in French or English) online.

The original photographs, glass plates and negatives are housed at the Michael J. Spinelli Jr. Center for University Archives and Special Collections at the Lamson Library and Learning Commons on the PSU campus.

“One of the exciting aspects of this exhibition is the collaboration,” said Thad Guldbrandsen, director of the Center for Rural Partnerships at PSU. “Organizations like the Northern Forest Heritage Park, the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, and the Berlin- Coos County Historical Society have been instrumental in making this project a success,” Guldbrandsen said.

A century ago, the Brown Company was a larger-than-life presence in New Hampshire’s North Country. From teams of loggers working their trade with horses in the vast forest of Coos County, to the Androscoggin River overflowing with logs bound for their huge mill in Berlin, Brown Company was the backdrop for the region’s social, cultural and economic landscape.

Beyond Brown Paper Images
Photos Courtesy PSU Spinelli Archives, The Brown Company Photographic Collection

The “bull cook” loads a stove.

School children at San Maur Depot

South Valley Brook, Camp #25

“The Brown Company was on the cutting edge of paper manufacturing for many years. Innovations in woods technology, product improvement and byproduct usage, are all documented in this exhibition,” said Alice Staples, archives/special collections librarian and curator of the exhibition.

That once-dominant industry is all but gone, but the photographs remain, keeping alive the legacy of those who worked in the mills and forests, and providing visual and textual information for researchers.

Gallery hours are Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and by appointment. The gallery is closed Sundays and most holidays.

For gallery information call (603) 535-2614 or log on to

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