For those who may not have heard of her, Anne S.K. Brown was one of the most fascinating women of the 20th century. The daughter of a minister, this early 20th century woman became one of the world's most respected collector's, first of military miniatures, then later of the iconography of military art. This included uniform plates as we know them, original paintings, watercolors, engravings, texts, in short - anything to do with the study of military uniforms and their history. Here is Mrs. Brown's biography from the Brown University web site:
Anne Seddon Kinsolving Brown was born in Baltimore in 1906, the daughter of an Episcopalian minister. During her childhood she was fascinated by the holiday parades which passed the church rectory where she grew up; the glamorous military, naval and militia uniforms of the earlier part of this century exerted a particular attraction. Interest in uniforms and other trappings was abbetted by illustrations in a treasured copy of The Wonder Book of Soldiers for Boys and Girls which she was given as a birthday present in 1915. Years at Baltimore's Bryn Mawr School were followed by an exciting, though brief career as a writer for The Baltimore News; then came marriage to John Nicholas Brown and a honeymoon trip around the world in 1930.
On this tour the glamor of uniforms was observed first-hand, and Anne Brown began the systematic collecting of miniature lead soldiers displaying the dress of all nations of the world. Eventually, more than five thousand soldiers were arranged around the walls of the Browns' Providence house. By the 1940's Mrs. Brown's interests also included the early iconography of uniforms and military or naval costume from books, prints and drawings of the 17th century to the 20th century. These were first sought to verify the accuracy of the uniforms of the lead figures, but by the 1950's her enthusiasm became devoted to the further acquisition of books and graphics. The focus of the collection expanded to include material on military and naval arts and tactics, wars, campaigns and other military subjects.
During the four decades preceding her death Mrs. Brown not only assembled this collection, but also offered its use and her expertise to others. She contributed articles to scholarly journals and, in 1949, was one of the founding members of The Company of Military Historians. She translated from the French Henry Lachouque's history of the Imperial Guard of Napoleon, published as The Anatomy of Glory in 1962. With Howard Rice, she translated three French military diaries which were published in 1972 under the title The American Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army.
Thanks to the Brown University Library, we have access to this marvelous collection online. While not all of the material is in the more traditional "uniform plate" style that we are used to, or that we find in the NYPL's Vinkhuijzen Collection, there are still many rare and wonderful pieces here to explore. You can find the page that allows searching the collection by alphabetical subject matter here:
If you click "Browse" on the toolbar to the left you will be presented with the opportunity to search the catalog, "A" first, then select the letter you wish from the toolbar at the bottom of the page. A great way to spend an evening!