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Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University
Updated: 2 hours 39 min ago

In Memoriam: Charles Stone, Jr. (1924-2014)

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 19:06

From the Chuck Stone Papers.

Charles “Chuck” Stone Jr. died on April 6 at the age of 89. Stone was a pioneering journalist, a long-time columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News, and co-founder and first president of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Among his notable career accomplishments, Stone was a Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, served as special assistant to Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. from 1965-67, and was a key mediator between alleged criminals the Philadelphia Police Department. Stone served as Walter Spearman Professor of Journalism at the University of Carolina-Chapel Hill from 1991-2005.

The Chuck Stone Papers were donated to the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture in 2004.

Post contributed by John Gartrell, Director of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

An Interview with a Duke University Pioneer

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 13:32

Nathaniel White, Jr was among the first five black students to attend Duke University in 1963. He was not, however, the first person in his family to attend college. His father, Nathaniel White, Sr., had attended Hampton Institute prior to founding his own printing business in Durham. In a newly-digitized interview, White, Sr. discusses his life, his memories, and his experience as a black man living in Virginia and North Carolina during the 20th century.

White’s interview is part of the Behind the Veil digital project, which has just added over 300 new interviews with North Carolinians, including many from Durham. The interviews capture details of what life was like in the Jim Crow South for African Americans. In White’s interview, he shares the story of his childhood, the black business community in Durham, and the influence of scouting on his life. Of particular interest to local researchers, he describes individuals and businesses in the Durham black community in the mid-20th century, providing deep insight into Durham’s history.

Nathaniel White, Jr., center, was a native of Durham and one of the first three African-American students to graduate in 1967.

He also briefly discusses his son’s pioneering role at Duke. He mentions that White, Jr., had considered Hampton Institute himself, but then had the opportunity to attend Duke. His father candidly remarks in the interview, “There’s one thing about a situation like that, it’s more like the real world than some other places that you might go and everything seems like it’s alright but it’s not training you for what you’re going to meet when you get outside. It’s a real struggle out there. The sooner you learn that, the better off you might be. . . . In other words, every day he had what it’s like to be an African American citizen in this country. So he didn’t have to learn that after he graduated. He learned it every day at Duke.”

Learn more about the fascinating Behind the Veil project on Bitstreams, the blog of the digital collections department of Duke University Libraries.

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.

North Carolina Interviews added to Behind the Veil Digital Collections

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 15:24

The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture is pleased to announce the addition of 310 oral history interviews to the Behind the Veil Digital Collection. The addition to the collection documents the lives of African Americans from the state of North Carolina who lived through the era of Jim Crow in the Charlotte, Durham, Endfield, New Bern and Wilmington areas. The digitization efforts were made possible by the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s Content, Context and Capacity grant project to document the Long Civil Rights Movement in the state. Researchers now have access over 400 digitized interviews from the collection from states throughout the American South.

To listen to the digitized interviews please visit – http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/behindtheveil/

To view the entire collection, please visit – http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/findingaids/btv/

To learn more about the making of digital collection, please visit the Digital Collections blog: http://blogs.library.duke.edu/bitstreams/2014/02/07/announcing-310-new-behind-the-veil-interviews-and-a-new-blog/

For more information, contact, John B. Gartrell, Director, Franklin Research Center.

Researching Black Health in the South

Thu, 01/30/2014 - 18:04

It was a great pleasure to conduct research at the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke. As a recipient of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture travel grant, I looked forward to exploring the Library’s holdings that would advance my understanding of black women’s history.

National Negro Health News, Vol. 6, no. 3. From the Alliance for Guidance of Rural Youth Records.

My dissertation project, “Mind, Soul, Body, and Race: Black Women’s Physical Culture, 1900-1939,” investigates the structural barriers to health and fitness for black women and the ways in which they circumvented those barriers and engaged in the physical culture movement. I examine how black women used purposeful exercise to create a new, fit vision of black womanhood that had implications for public health, recreation, and ideas of beauty, citizenship, and racial uplift. As a national project, I want to capture how Southern women, who had even less resources and access to physical culture, participated in the movement.

A significant portion of my dissertation discusses the state of black health and the Library proved to be a valuable repository for exploring the public health aspects of black southern history. The archivists were informed and genuinely interested in assisting researchers and with their help; I consulted about a half a dozen collections in all including the African American Photo Collection, the Alliance for Guidance of Rural Youth records, and the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company archives.

One of the most useful collections was the Alliance for Guidance of Rural Youth. Although the Alliance was primarily a vocational guidance service organization, it sought to address several issues affecting poor, rural young people in the first half of the twentieth century including health issues. I found several documents from the collection related to health campaigns and the barriers to health for black people in the South. For example, a note in the 1934 National Conference on Negro Education proceedings indicated that “environmental rather than racial factors” compromised black health including low income, insufficient housing, and limited access to hospitals, preventive care, and recreational facilities. As it relates to black women’s health, the collection describes some of the difficulties black women had in accessing health information and clinics for their obstetric needs. The collection also contains sources on black unemployment, the black nursing profession, diet and malnutrition, and leisure during the New Deal era.

Additional records at the Library on black health in the twentieth century include William J. Covington’s physician account books and the thesis, Black Health in Segregated Durham.

Post contributed by Ava Purkiss, PhD candidate, University of Texas at Austin and 2012-2013 Franklin Travel Grant recipient.

“No car, no money, no food…just me.”

Thu, 01/16/2014 - 12:06

In the mid 1980s, Duke history student Joseph Sinsheimer interviewed veterans of the fight for voting rights in early-1960s Mississippi. The generational distance between the interviews and the subject worked in Sinsheimer’s favor: his narrators had gained the perspective of years but many still had their youth, with memory intact, and were ready to talk at length of their experiences. The collection guide to these remarkable interviews is a roll call of Civil Rights Movement leadership in the deep South:  C.C. Bryant, Robert Moses, Lawrence Guyot, Willie Peacock, Hollis Watkins and others detail Mississippi’s struggle through stories of their involvement.

Andrew Young during Mississippi’s Freedom Summer, 1963. From the Joseph Sinsheimer Papers.

As we digitize the audiocassettes that Sinsheimer used to record the interviews, one story immediately stands out. Activist Sam Block’s retelling of how he came to be involved in the movement is a coming-of-age story informed by the death of Emmett Till and galvanized by a confrontation with a white customer at his uncle’s service station. His subsequent recruitment into the Movement via the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and his training at Highlander Folk School, were prologue to the courage Block demonstrated when he asked Robert Moses to drop him in Greenwood, Mississippi, with “no car, no money, no food…just me.”

Listen here: Sam Block interviewed by Joseph Sinsheimer

Post contributed by Craig Breaden, Audiovisual Archivist in the Technical Services Dept.