Bingham Center News
The Library recently acquired a small album of photographs taken in Virginia’s Tidewater region. It contains six cyanotypes depicting work at the freight docks of Newport News and other subjects. Of particular interest is a laid-in cyanotype which appears to be a portrait of Frances Benjamin Johnston, a pioneering female American photographer.
Johnston was a remarkable photographer. She took portraits of American presidents and the high society of the turn of the nineteenth century from her Washington, D.C. studio, but also participated in ambitious documentary projects, such as her architectural photographs of Southern states. For one of her best-known commissions, she traveled to Virginia to document the students of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in 1899-1900. Her photographs of this important education institution for African Americans and Native Americans are preserved in her collection at the Library of Congress.
Based on the probable identification of the woman in the photograph as Johnston and the photographs of the area around Hampton in the album, these photographs have been dated to the first decade of the 1900s. However, no information about the photographer is yet known. Were they a student or colleague of Johnston? Is it possible that the photographs (or some of the photographs) are by Johnston herself?
The album is also accompanied by handwritten directions for making “Pyro Developer” and a “fixing bath for platinum prints,” which may provide further evidence that the creator may have been a student or novice photographer. (The large initial “B” on the “Pyro Developer” formula bears some resemblance to Johnston’s handwriting, but the handwriting of the rest of the formula does not appear to be similar to hers.)
If anyone has clues or guesses to contribute to the mystery of the photographer’s identity, please share them in the comments section below!
Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.
Laura Micham, Merle Hoffmann Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture and curator of gender and sexuality history collections in the Rubenstein Library, has been selected as the 2014 winner of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Women and Gender Studies Section (WGSS) Career Achievement Award. The award honors significant long-standing contributions to women’s studies in the field of librarianship over the course of a career. Laura will receive the award at 8:30 a.m. on June 30, 2014, at the WGSS program during the American Libraries Association’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas.
Here at the Rubenstein Library we’re thrilled for Laura, but not surprised by this recognition of her achievements. Of the many possible testimonials to her efforts by donors, students, scholars, colleagues, and other Bingham Center patrons, a few will suffice here. Victoria Hesford, Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University and a researcher in the Bingham Center’s collections, writes, “To say that Laura is an archival dynamo whose energy and enterprise constantly brings new people, new collections, and new ideas to the Bingham Center, would be an understatement! She has ideas, she works collaboratively, and she is not easily put off by the inevitable complexities and difficulties of bringing a project to life.”
Jeanette Stokes, Executive Director of the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, whose records are held in the Bingham Center, adds, “Laura’s work has made the Sallie Bingham Center a vibrant presence on the campus of Duke University, in the community of Durham, North Carolina, and in the wider academic community nationally and internationally. The center has become a hub for information, resources, and programming on women’s history and culture. It makes creative use of its collection while cooperating with campus and community groups to provide outstanding educational programs.”
Naomi Nelson, Director of the Rubenstein Library, writes, “The award announcement cites Laura’s expertise, advocacy for archives, leadership, and vision, and it notes her collaborations across the university and her proactive work with students. Under Laura’s leadership, the Bingham Center has grown in important and dynamic ways and, at the same time, she has made significant contributions to the larger profession.”
Please join us in congratulating Laura!
Trying to find a way to visit the Rubenstein Library to use our collections? You’re in luck! The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2014-2015 travel grants.
This year are pleased to add another collecting area to our list of travel grant programs. The History of Medicine Collections joins the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, and the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in offering travel grants of up to $1,000 for researchers whose work would benefit from access to our holdings.
The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, artists, and activists who live more than 100 miles from Durham, NC, and whose research projects would benefit from access to collections held by one of the centers and collecting areas.
The deadline for applications is January 31, 2014. Announcement of grant recipients will be no later than March 28, 2014. Travel grants must be used between April 2014 and June 2015.