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Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University
Updated: 2 hours 58 min ago

Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection: Closed for cataloging as of March 1st!

Thu, 2016-01-14 13:30
murraypost2

There’s no denying it: we love the Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection. The product of 40+ years of collecting by Edwin L. and Terry A. Murray, the Murray Comic Book Collection has far-reaching holdings, from mainstays like DC to smaller publishers like Pacific Comics. It has an enormous volume of materials–almost 290 linear feet, or nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty from the ground to torch (305 feet)![i] And it’s very comprehensive: to quote our finding aid, the Marvel series contains “near-complete runs of Avengers, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Incredible Hulk, Punisher, Spider-Man, Thor, and X-Men.

murraypost1Image via Alyssa Alegre

The Murray Comic Book Collection has been good to us, providing us with ample opportunities to use its holdings for instruction sessions, reference questions, research, and even blog posts. We want to be good to it, too. With the spirit of the New Year at our backs, we’re embarking on a project to reprocess the titles in the collection as serials. Thus, beginning March 1st, 2016, the Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection will be closed to researcher use.

murraypost2

You may now be wondering: what’s a serial?

A serial “is a resource issued in successive parts, usually bearing numbering, that has no predetermined conclusion.”[i] When you look at that definition, it’s obvious that many comics are serials. A quick browse of our finding aid shows our comic titles are often issued in successive parts (see the numbering of Sensation Comics below), and there are some that are still going strong after decades of issues. In fact, the Rubenstein has issues of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories dating from the 1940s!

 

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By thinking of the Murray Comic Book collection as serials rather than as one big collection, we can go over it with a finer toothed comb: we learn even more about what we have, such as when a comic book series spawns a new series, or exactly how many issues we need to make a series complete. With that information, we’re then able to catalog each title individually, creating and/or improving upon records in our library catalog. Once this project is complete, you’ll be able to type in a title—like Action comics—into our search engine, and its very own record will come up. There will be direct access to serial titles, complete with listings of the issues we hold.

As might be expected, this project will take time, which is why we’ve decided to close the collection March 1st. We’ll need to sort those 290 linear feet of comic books, grouping by titles and sleuthing out potential issues. We’ll also look at rehousing the titles in the collection. After that, we’ll catalog them as titles, so that researchers will be able to use their own super powerful research skills to locate our holdings quickly and easily. No lassoing of truth necessary.

Post contributed by Liz Adams, Special Collections Cataloger.

 

[i]“Statue facts.” The Statue of Liberty Facts. The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.

http://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/statue-facts

[i]“Serials.” RDA Toolkit. RDA Co-Publishers, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.

http://access.rdatoolkit.org/

The post Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection: Closed for cataloging as of March 1st! appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Born to Belonging: the Mab Segrest Papers

Thu, 2015-12-10 13:21
mabsegrest3

For the past few months, I have had the pleasure of processing the papers of Dr. Mab Segrest, a leading feminist writer, activist, scholar, and speaker, who has traveled the United States and around the world fighting for social justice. Her papers are an foundational collection for the Sallie Bingham Center and a valuable resource for the study of feminism, race, class, sexuality, and gender, as well as literary theory and social movement history.

mabsegrest3Mab Segrest in her home in Durham, circa 1978-80

Filling 124 boxes and spanning from 1889 to the present, the materials document many aspects of Dr. Segrest’s personal and professional history.  In the series related to her family, there are a variety of valuable materials, including correspondence from the Panama Canal, Civil War portraits, and artifacts from her childhood in Tuskegee, Alabama.  Professional materials include everything from correspondence, teaching files, and organizational records to drafts and research materials from her most famous published works, Memoir of a Race Traitor (1994) and My Mama’s Dead Squirrel (1985).

mabsegrest1Mab Segrest circa 1979

The largest section of the papers document Dr. Segrest’s wide-ranging activism, especially her work with North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence (NCARRV), a public interest organization she co-founded in 1983 that rallied citizens against an epidemic of hate violence in this state. NCARRV files contain public communications as well as materials documenting strategy for on-the-ground activism in which she played a central role.

Dr. Segrest’s papers are a great testament to her long-standing commitment to education. Her teaching career started in 1971 when she accepted a position at Campbell University while working on her Ph.D. dissertation (earned at Duke University in 1979). Dr. Segrest has also taught courses at UNC Chapel Hill and Duke. She taught at Connecticut College from 2002 to 2014 where she was the Fuller-Maathai Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies. Most recently Dr. Segrest has taught at both Emory University and Georgia College while researching the history of Georgia’s state mental hospital in Milledgeville.

mabsegrest2Mab Segrest, feminist activist, writer, speaker, and educator

There is a good deal of connection among the different dimensions of this collection. In particular, it is impossible to separate Dr. Segrest’s work as an activist from her many academic accomplishments as these parts of her life have informed and shaped one another.  When processing a person’s papers, it is impossible not to feel connected to them in some sense.  I’m moved by Dr. Segrest’s enormous resolve and courage, and my time with her papers has increased my appreciation of her work and her dedication to activism and social justice.

The Mab Segrest Papers are an incredibly deep and rich resource within the Bingham Center and the Rubenstein Library. It has been a privilege to work with this collection and it is exciting to imagine the scores of students, scholars, and others whose work will be informed by these materials.

Post contributed by Rachel Sanders, intern for the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. 

The post Born to Belonging: the Mab Segrest Papers appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

The Archives of the Library Answer Person

Thu, 2015-12-03 13:46
 Exams are Hard

In September of 1982, a librarian at Duke set up a simple loose-leaf binder suggestion book in the lobby of Perkins Library. Each page in the book had a spaces for three suggestions/questions and three answers. In October of that year, the first group of pages with written suggestions and questions were removed, taken home by that librarian and answered in long-hand, then typed up by an administrative assistant directly onto the original pages and placed back in the book for anyone to read. This was the beginning of the Perkins Library Suggestion/Answer Book, a popular tradition that would live on, in more than one form, for more than twenty years.

At first, the binders were available in the Reference area after the pages filled up; then photocopied versions were bound into volumes and included in the Perkins and Lily Library stacks. In 1993, a “best of” selection was printed in a limited run in-house. But now, the original pages—with accumulated detritus of organic material, white-out, pen and pencil scribbling, and water damage—have at last come to the University Archives for preservation and long-term storage. Some pages are missing and the binders were exposed to water at some point; the lovely people in Conservation have already dealt with some inert mold and the pages are now being rehoused in acid-free folders.

The pages are fascinating. The suggestions and questions are signs of the times, demonstrate student engagement with the library and the University as a whole, and show students being students: curious, angst-y, angry, grateful, silly, and thoughtful. In return, the Answer Person is both serious and facetious, deflecting offensive questions with jokes, omitting names, giving in-depth answers from outside sources, taking constructive suggestions and compliments to heart, and generally being a librarian (often instructing suggest-ers and questioners where they can find their answers instead of simply providing easy answers for them).

Some concerns are clearly timeless: why is the library so cold, why aren’t the printers working, more bathrooms, more food, more lights, please restock the toilet paper:

 So. Cold.  Laser Printers  Bathrooms and Darkness  Clocks  Toilet Paper

Some other entries are very much of their time, like the suggestion about types of cigarettes for the vending machines (smoking in the library! This archivist is horrified):

 Smoking in the Library!?

While others are somehow a combination of both, as with this plaintive cry (the very first Library Answer Person question) for space to write and do work on one’s own machine (substitute typewriter with laptop), or this detailed discussion of a current television show (substitute Twin Peaks with Game of Thrones or Man in the High Castle – I mean, whaaaaaat?!):

 Typewriter

 Twin Peaks

Many discuss the library and how it could be improved or where it is doing nicely, showing a community engagement with the library that is as strong as it is critical.  Also, people really loved the red-haired Reference Librarian and Stuart the Government Documents Librarian:

 Library Hours  Browsing Fiction  GUM  Stuart is Smart  St. Reference Librarian

Then there are the ones I giggled over, the ones that are just people being people, weird and silly:

 Grits  Bare Feet  Shoulder Pads

The sports fans:

 Seton Hall Upset

The studious:

 Exams are Hard

The romantics:
 How to Woo

 Suzann

People developed a relationship with the Suggestion/Answer Book, and frequently referred back to earlier questions and answers, coming back to see if their own questions had been answered, and responding to the answers and other peoples’ comments. Frequently, there are multiple commenters on a given entry. This kind of discussion led to some deep discussions on controversial or difficult topics, such as the nature of modern art and race in the Duke community (the page with the question #1346A is responding to is unfortunately missing):

 Modern Art

 Race

And finally, there are the poignant departures:

 Good-Bye and Good Luck!

These pages are a tangible window into the Duke student body’s engagement with the Library, with the University, and with each other. Like a proto-Internet comments page, there is a smorgasbord of humanity here: anger, plentiful curse words, sexism, racism, homophobia, compliments, intelligence, optimism, gratitude, tolerance, joy, and well-wishes. Plus a bag of grits.

To give away a decades-old open secret, the Perkins Library Suggestion/Answer Book Person was John Lubans, Public Services Librarian and Assistant University Librarian, here at Duke from 1982-2001 and the donor of these pages to the University Archives.

Post contributed by Tracy Jackson, Technical Services Archivist for the Duke University Archives.

The post The Archives of the Library Answer Person appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Seeing a bit of home while far away: discoveries in the World War II Propaganda Leaflets

Mon, 2015-11-23 15:05
Burmese-front (2)

Working in an archive, you can come across a lot of exciting material and constantly learn something new. When the Rubenstein recently augmented its collection of World War II propaganda leaflets, we took the occasion to reorganize the whole collection. The collection now contains about 270 leaflets as well as some examples of propaganda magazines (most of the non-English documents include English translations). The material was disseminated between 1941 and 1945 with the aim of damaging enemy morale and sustaining the morale of the occupied countries. The collection includes examples of German and Japanese propaganda, aimed at Allied soldiers. Included also are German-language leaflets that were dropped over Germany by a clandestine British intelligence body—the Political Warfare Executive (PWE)—, as well as French-language leaflets, prepared by the French exile government in London and dropped over Vichy France (calling on the French population to not collaborate with the German occupiers or the Vichy regime).

Tok-Pisi-frontLeaflet with text in Tok Pisi

A large portion of the leaflets were aimed at the Pacific area and dropped by the Psychological Warfare Branch of the U.S. Army Forces. Most of them area are in Japanese. Some of them, however, are written in less well-known languages like Tok Pisin and Burmese.  A creole language spoken throughout Papa New Guinea, Tok Pisin is commonly known in English as New Guinean Pidgin or Melanesian Pidgin. By trying to identify the languages of the leaflets, I learned that the New Guinea Campaign from 1942 to 1945 was one of the major military campaigns in the Pacific War and that leaflets in Tok Pisin—the most widely spoken language in New Guinea—were dropped by the Allies in order to encourage the population not to collaborate with the enemy. Likewise, material in Burmese was dropped over Burma (since 1989 Myanmar) in 1944 and 1945 during the Burma Campaign—the Allies’s fight against the Empire of Japan, which was supported to some degree by Thailand, the Burmese Independent Army, and the Indian National Army.

Burmese-front (2)Leaflet in Burmese dropped during the Burma Campaign, 1944-1945

 

Burmese-back (2)Leaflet in Burmese (back)

Finally, one might discover personal connections and be reminded of very familiar places, even when far from home. I am from Kiel, the capital of the state of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany. I spent many vacations and weekends in Laboe, a little town at the coast of the Baltic Sea, right at the outskirts of Kiel. Kiel/Laboe was one of the main naval bases and is the location of the Laboe Naval Memorial, a memorial for the deaf of World War I built from 1927 to 1936. As such, it was a natural target for propaganda against the German marine like the leaflet found in our collection shows. Imagine my surprise to see a leaflet showing such a familiar sight while processing!  The naval memorial still stands today and attracts many tourists (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laboe_Naval_Memorial).

Laboe-frontLeaflet depicting Laboe Naval Memorial (front) Laboe-back (2)Leaflet depicting Laboe Naval Memorial (back)

If you want to know more about this collection, visit the collection guide: http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/findingaids/wwiiprop/.

Post contributed by Sandra Niethardt, Rubenstein Tech Services intern and graduate student in Germanic Languages & Literature. 

 

The post Seeing a bit of home while far away: discoveries in the World War II Propaganda Leaflets appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

“Radio Haiti, You are the Rain. If You Didn’t Fall, We Could Not Bloom”: Repression and Remembrance on November 28

Fri, 2015-11-20 17:10
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On November 28, 1980, the Duvalier regime unleashed a campaign of violent repression on the independent press and human rights activists, destroying the Radio Haiti station on Rue du Quai in downtown Port-au-Prince.  The crackdown was not unexpected: in October of that year, Jean-Claude Duvalier had decreed on the National Radio station that only state media would be permitted, that “the party is over” (“le bal est terminé”) for independent Haitian media. In response, Jean Dominique composed his prophetic (and beloved) editorial Bon appétit, messieurs, in which he sardonically declares, “gentlemen, journalists of the official press — the country is yours and yours alone from now on.  And all will be beautiful, all will be peaceful, all will be idyllic, all will be pink and wonderful!” and warns these “official journalists” of what will befall Haiti when the independent press is silenced. Ronald Reagan’s triumph in the US presidential election that November meant decreased international pressure on Duvalier’s government – which was largely dependent on US aid – to respect human rights.  And so, on November 28, the inevitable crackdown occurred.  More than a dozen of Radio Haiti’s journalists were imprisoned, tortured, and expelled. The regime issued an order to kill Jean Dominique on sight; he escaped to the Venezuelan embassy and later went into exile with Michèle Montas in New York.  In the years that followed, resistance to the regime spread throughout the country, as economic conditions worsened for the majority of Haitian citizens while the Duvalier family’s lifestyle grew more ostentatious, lavish and dissipated.

On November 28, 1985, five years to the day after the 1980 crackdown on the independent media, protests broke out in Haiti’s third-largest city, Gonaïves.  Three high school students — Jean-Robert Cius, Mackenson Michel, and Daniel Israël – were gunned down by Duvalier’s Tontons Macoutes.  In photos, they are heartbreakingly young – boys, not yet men.  The teenaged martyrs were christened the “Twa Flè Lespwa” (Three Flowers of Hope), and their deaths catalyzed outrage and resistance to the regime, both within Haiti and in Haitian communities abroad.

1Flier for Brooklyn protest against Duvalier and the killing of the Twa Flè Lespwa. Radio Haiti Archive.

In January 1986, Jean Dominique co-authored a short op ed in Newsday with lawyer and human rights advocate Arthur Helton, discussing the deaths of the Twa Flè Lespwa, the grassroots agitation provoked by their murders, and the United States’ complicity in supporting the Duvalier regime.

2“Haiti No Longer Suffers in Silence” by Jean L. Dominique and Arthur C. Helton. Newsday, January 27, 1986. Radio Haiti Archive.

They warn, perhaps cautiously: “Discontent grows and a fundamental conflict is looming.”  The conflict was indeed looming, but it was not yet clear how imminent it might be.

3Le Petit Samedi Soir, Haitian independent magazine, for February 1-7, 1986. Radio Haiti Archive.

But on February 7, 1986,  just over a week after Jean Dominique’s and Arthur Helton’s editorial was published, it happened: Jean-Claude Duvalier and his family boarded a US Air Force cargo plane and fled to France.  On March 4, Jean Dominique and Michèle Montas returned to Port-au-Prince, where many thousands of people – “une masse en délire,” a delirious crowd, according to the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste – received them at the airport and nearly carried them to the old Radio Haiti station on Rue du Quai.

UntitledPhotocopy of Nouvelliste story on return of Jean Dominique and Michèle Montas to Haiti. March 5, 1986. Radio Haiti Archive.

The station had been ravaged, their equipment smashed.  But the recordings, miraculously, had survived.  J.J. Dominique – Jean’s eldest daughter, who became the station manager after 1986 — explains: “We always said, ‘The Macoutes, they may destroy, but they don’t know the true value of so many things’… They didn’t think, they didn’t understand that the most valuable thing at the station was the work contained in the station’s archive.”

With assistance from the Haitian people – many of whom, though very poor, gave what little money they could afford — the station reopened in 1986.  On November 28 of that year, Radio Haiti held a day-long commemoration of November 28, 1980 and November 28, 1985. It included tributes to the Twa Flè Lespwa and to station manager Richard Brisson who had been killed in 1982.

5Radio Haiti’s November 28, 1986 special programming. Radio Haiti Archive.

The archive also contains many pages of poetry written by Radio Haiti’s listeners, in Haitian Creole and French, on the Twa Flè Lespwa, the reopening of the station and the return of the journalists. The heartfelt, earnest intensity of these poems (these love letters, really) evinces the public’s devotion to Radio Haiti.  For Radio Haiti’s listeners, the station was more than a station; it was a symbol of liberty, grassroots democracy, and freedom of expression.  For Radio Haiti’s listeners, the journalists were more than journalists; they were heirs to the revolutionary legacy of Haitian heroes who had fought against French colonizers and US occupiers. For me, as the project archivist, finding these poems is a reminder of how irreplaceable and beloved Radio Haiti was and still remains, and how important this archive is.

poem

poem2Un Jour Comme Aujourd’hui” by Elmate Parent. Radio Haiti Archive.



A day like today

            Under the sorrowful sky of November 28 in the year ‘80

            Haiti’s sun went out

            Sending these brave men, these heroes,

            Fruit of the body of Dessalines, of Charlemagne Péralte

            Fighting with courage,

            For nothing more than the liberation of Haiti,

            Upon the claws of assassins cruel

            With hope they suffered and toiled

            All for the same cause.

A day like today

                        The skies of Haiti wept,

                        And her tears, borne of pain,

                        Allowed life to germinate.

                        You, brave patriots, true offspring of the people,

                        You have suffered such humiliation

                        And endured physical torture.

                        You left your families

                        Your country and your friends

                        To go and live under another sky

                        Where you were strangers

                        All of this for nothing more than the deliberation of Haiti

                        Your native land…

            A day like today

                        In the heavens over Gonaïves,

                        Three brilliant stars burned out

                        They gave their light

                        To reveal crimes

                        And their blood to fertilize

                        The arid soil of Haiti

                        Whereupon shall sprout and grow

                        The tree of freedom.

                        Mackenson Michel, Daniel Israël, Jean Robert Cius

                        Will your famous names,

                        Be erased from our thoughts?

                        Today, 28 November ’86…

8

9“Men bèl ti paròl yo” by Emmanuel St. Louis. Radio Haiti Archive.

“Men bèl ti paròl yo” (“Some lovely little words”) draws on metaphors of nature and harvest befitting Jean Dominique, a man who was, after all, an agronomist before he was a journalist and activist.  The poet touchingly explains that he “spent all night thinking about Radio Haïti-Inter” before setting pen to paper.

If the sun didn’t shine, plants would not give fruit

 If the rain didn’t fall, drought would never stop dancing,

If the rain didn’t fall, there would be no springs

Springs would not give rise to rivulets

Rivulets would not become streams

Streams would not become rivers,

Rivers would not become the sea…

Radio Haiti, you are the sea, we are the fish

If you were to dry up, we could not live.

Radio Haiti, you are our rain,

If you didn’t fall, we could not bloom…

Radio Haiti, be encouraged! Sow!  Plant!

God will bring it to fruition.

Let us weed, even if the thorns are many,

The pruning shears of the Holy Spirit will aid us always.

10

11“Ayiti Intè ou se manman liberasyon won” by Gueline Alexis. Radio Haiti Archive.

From “Haiti-Inter, You are the Mother of Liberation”:

Yes, you are the mother of liberation

Because when the children of your womb were suffering

You never closed your eyes to it

You stood bravely to defend the people

Just as a mother hen would do

If a vulture came to devour her children…

Now the idol of the Haitian people

As returned to continue

The wonderful work it began

Beautiful mama, hold on tighter

Stronger – courage — never give up.

           Post contributed by Laura Wagner, PhD, Radio Haiti Project Archivist. 

The post “Radio Haiti, You are the Rain. If You Didn’t Fall, We Could Not Bloom”: Repression and Remembrance on November 28 appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Sometimes it takes a village, especially the first time.

Fri, 2015-10-23 13:11
_DSC0838a

I catalog manuscript and other archival materials, the majority of which are unpublished and not described. They also cover a wide variety in type of material. Among the more exotic finds I have cataloged: a salesmen’s kit with patterns for men’s suits, musical instruments used by a jazz percussionist, feminist t-shirts, John Brown commemorative medals, and envelopes of 19-century bath and other powders.

Last Spring we acquired the Lisa Unger Baskin collection, which features five centuries of women’s history. Among the items is a work of needlepoint, a flower study, completed by Charlotte Brontë around 1840. I had never cataloged a work of needlepoint.

_DSC0840a

When faced with an unfamiliar format, a cataloger begins by looking for similar materials cataloged by colleagues nationally, searching in WorldCat. I found only a few pieces of embroidery, usually samplers, and those did not include extensive description of the item. I was determined to provide more detail than a basic record.

Fortunately, our donor had included with the Brontë needlepoint a photocopy from a book on Brontë artwork. The page focused on a flower study Charlotte had completed in watercolors while she was still in school. It offered a description of the piece which provided the level of detail I was seeking, so I based my own approach on it. However, to move forward with this approach I needed to confirm what flowers were depicted in Charlotte’s needlepoint study.

There was no argument that the top flower is a white lily. I felt the bottom left flower was a peony, while others said it was a rose. I had no clue what the bottom right flower might be. Who to consult? I approached a staff colleague who hails from England, and she offered to forward my photograph of the needlepoint to her father, who is a master gardener. After consulting his references, he agreed that the bottom left flower is a peony, and determined that the unknown flower on the bottom right is probably a carnation.

_DSC0838a

I also had to consult with Beth Doyle, head of our Conservation Services Department, regarding whether Charlotte’s needlepoint should be removed from its frame. While answering this question (no) Beth let me know the thread Charlotte used was probably wool. Beth’s mother is a master needleworker who may be able to determine what type of stitch Charlotte used.

Using all of this information, I wrote a description that provided the level of detail I was seeking, to give someone a basic mental image of the piece they would then find in our collection. However, even after I finished my initial work, one more consultation was required. My colleague, Lauren Reno, checked my catalogue record in RDA, the new cataloging standard I am applying to manuscript materials. She made several helpful enhancements.

I am very grateful for the “village” of people I can call upon in support of my work.

Post contributed by Alice Poffinberger, Archivist/Original Cataloger in the Technical Services Dept.

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