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Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University
Updated: 1 hour 21 min ago

Meet the Staff: Megan Ó Connell

2 hours 16 min ago

Megan Ó Connell is the Rubenstein’s Reproduction Services Manager.  Megan has been a part of the Duke library system since 2006, when she served as a University Archives intern. She joined the library full-time in 2009.

Tell us about your academic background and interests.

I have always been interested in the cultural record left by humans. I studied Anthropology, with a focus on American archaeology, and I worked in Southeastern and Gulf Coast archaeology for many years. After studying what can be learned from the unintentional record left by artifacts, I wanted to interact with the intentional/communicative record, as it was left in the past and continuing into the “futurepast,” that is, the present. Rare books and archives satisfied that wish.

What are the main projects you work on at the Rubenstein?

I manage the patron reproduction requests, including those made by both onsite and remote researchers, ensuring that the most appropriate technology is used based on the specific items and desired output; liaise with onsite and offsite services; and deliver requests as efficiently as possible while maintaining high quality and providing RL’s acclaimed customer service. Exponentially increasing numbers of library users want digital versions of our materials, and these researchers often cannot do the reproductions themselves, so I help ensure that they get what they need for their research, whether they live in Durham or Durban.

What does an average day look like for you?
On most days I log new reproduction requests; route materials to be used in requests; examine materials for reproduce-ability; discuss options and approaches with technical specialists, RL staff, and my student assistant; and communicate with staff and patrons about technical considerations and goals. I may do some reading on specific media types, technologies, or techniques; troubleshoot imaging equipment maintenance issues; train staff on processes; or communicate with vendors. I assist researchers about 12 hours a week on the Reading Room desk, and also work on general reference questions, many of which  lead to reproduction requests.

What do you like best about your job?

I love seeing (and hearing) the panoply of treasures we hold at the Rubenstein — pamphlets, photographs, beautiful bound volumes, maps, vintage sound and film recordings, broadsides, artists’ books, zines, ads, papyri… and I enjoy learning about how researchers are using this richness to ask intriguing questions and shed light on cultural phenomena. People might be surprised to know that our library is so busy that we produce around 20,000 digital reproductions per year for patron requests! I enjoy helping our diverse researchers, from students to professors to authors to genealogists, and working with people all over the globe, learning about their lives – and often connecting with them on a personal level. It is gratifying to be able to be a part of so many efforts to illuminate aspects of human existence.

Do you have a favorite piece or collection at The Rubenstein? Why?

I love the H. Lee Waters films because while Waters intended to create a record, unlike most documentaries, the intended audience was the subjects themselves. The films’ subjects were caught in their everyday activities, yet they were very aware of the camera’s presence, and many behaved as if they were amusing their friends, rather than consciously creating a historical record. It’s just fun to watch the subjects ham it up, although the quick cuts can be a bit dizzying after a while.

Where can you be found when you’re not working? 

I enjoy nature walks, photography, reading, hiking, canoeing, gardening, fishing, and playing music.

What book is on your nightstand/in your carryall right now?

The John McPhee Reader.

Interview composed and photographs taken by Katrina Martin. 

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Praline Thumbprint Cookies (1989) – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen:

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 13:00

Now that we’re all moved into our new building, we’re excited to bring back our test kitchen series! New here? On the fourth Friday of every month we share a recipe from our collections that one of our staff members has found, prepared, and tasted.

The Campus Club has been around since 1914, starting out as a social and educational group for the wives of faculty members. Open to all women of Duke, the Campus Club is a social and activity group that hosts a wide variety of events and interest groups. Interest groups meet regularly, allowing members to explore new foods, drink, activities, and culture. A long-lasting and highly active group within the Campus Club is the Morning Gourmet group, which selects a particular topic or theme and invites members to prepare a dish related to the topic or theme, bring the dish, and share the recipe with the group.

Processing a recent accession from the Campus Club, I was distracted again and again by the many intriguing recipes this group has tried over the years. Some themes were related to national or cultural cuisines, others to parts of a meal or an ingredient. But when I stumbled across the Praline Thumbprints, I found my personal winner.

 

This is a very recent recipe from an archivist’s perspective, appearing in a 1989 Southern Living (I was actually alive when this recipe was published, so: recent). It seemed very simple and straightforward, with modern measurements and guidance, and seemed like no problem at all. I’ll admit here that the above image is a photocopy I made of the original item in the collection, which is itself a typed version of the recipe as it appeared in the magazine. After a bit of digging, I discovered the recipe appeared in the May 1989 issue of Southern Living, in an article titled “Moms and Daughters Bake Cookies,” and you can see a PDF copy of the original through Duke’s subscription to the electronic version of Southern Living here (libraries hooray!). This also led me to discover that the version in the Campus Club records includes comments, recommendations, and modifications by the person who typed it up, and which were very helpful.

I got my ingredients together and got rolling. The first thing I needed to do was grind up some pecans nice and fine. I bought some pecans in bulk at Whole Foods (this is cheaper than buying pre-ground or bagged pecans, but requires an extra step) and put them briefly through the food processor to get them finely ground.

Then I mixed together the cookie ingredients and got a pretty sticky dough, with lovely bits of pecan mixed in. I rolled it up into balls as instructed, but I am not so good at accurately replicating the size mentioned in recipes. I also only have one cookie sheet and a very tiny oven, so the shaping and baking part took me a while.

Eventually I shaped, placed, pressed, and baked the cookies until I had many scooped cookies. I ended up with probably close to the 4-5 dozen described in the recipe (I didn’t count, but it seemed like a lot). I don’t have a picture of the plain baked cookies, but it should be noted that since they do not contain any egg, they are a little powdery and can crumble very easily.

Due to underestimating the amount of time it would take me to actually get all the cookies finished, I didn’t get a chance to make the praline topping until two days later, at which time I had several fewer cookies to fill. I added the ingredients to a pan I usually use for candy-making (a regular, good-quality pan with a thick bottom).

The praline filling is essentially a candy, and candy-making can sometimes be tricky. I have a candy thermometer, but I recommend in this recipe paying a little more attention to the time passing than to the precise temperature. I was very concerned with getting to the recommended temperature, which took waaaaaay longer than the prescribed two minutes, and the candy set up before I could finish scooping it onto the cookies, leaving me with a pan like this:

Luckily, it’s pretty much just sugar and will dissolve in hot water. But even though it set sooner than I expected, it didn’t get really hard and I could still cram it into the cookies. And it was SO. WORTH IT. This stuff is AMAZING. All those little crumbly bits at the bottom of the pan were extra; the recipe even notes you’ll make more filling than cookies. Maybe I was supposed to make three batches of cookies and two of filling? LOL, no. That’s too much work and the extra filling was crazy good on its own. I recommend putting it on ice cream or just eating it with a spoon (no judgments).

I ended with some pretty nice looking and definitely delicious cookies. They were very popular when I brought them to work (safely quarantined from the materials) and had some friends take some home, which is the only thing that prevented me from eating them all myself. As mentioned above, the cookies are a bit crumbly and I accidentally made the praline a bit crumbly as well, so be warned: just put the whole thing in your mouth at once.

More recipes tried by the Morning Gourmet group and lots of other information about the Campus Club can be found in the records described in this collection guide.

Post Contributed by Tracy Jackson, Technical Services Archivist for University Archives

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Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush on the quality he values “more than all things”

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 18:34

While processing the Benjamin Rush papers, which will soon be digitized and available online, Alice Poffinberger, Archivist/Original Cataloger, came across a letter from Thomas Jefferson to fellow Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush. The letter, dated January 3, 1808, requests that Rush grant Jefferson’s teenage grandson his “friendly attentions” when he moves to Philadelphia the coming autumn.  Though unnamed in the letter, the grandson in question is Thomas Jefferson Randolph, who attended the University of Pennsylvania from  1808 to 1809.

Stating that he is “without that bright fancy that captivates,” Jefferson hopes the fifteen-year-old “possesses sound judgment and much observation” in addition to the quality he values “more than all things, good humor.”  Jefferson goes on to list the qualities of the mind he appreciates as good humor, integrity, industry, and science. Following this list, he claims “The preference of the 1st to the 2nd quality may not at first be acquiesced in, but certainly we had all rather associate with a good humored light-principled man, than an ill-tempered rigorist in morality.”

 

Randolph would go on to serve six terms in the Virginia House of Delegates and manage his grandfather’s sizable debts as the sole executor of his estate.

Post contributed by Katrina Martin, Technical Services Assistant. 

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Move Diary: Week 6

Sun, 08/16/2015 - 23:02

Dear readers, take note: it’s now the end of Week Five of the move, and we’re pretty sure we’re all going to have massive and amazing biceps come Winter Break.

This is because our manuscript collections are taking up residence in our new compact shelving. This kind of shelving moves on rails, so the shelves can slide together (in a safe and controlled way) or be cranked apart to access the shelves’ contents.  Here’s a video of Kat Stefko, our Head of Technical Services, demonstrating how they work.

So we’ll be cranking these shelves, filled with boxes of manuscripts, open and closed several times each day, to retrieve materials for patrons, to find materials to answer reference questions, to reshelve things, to pull materials for class visits . . . .

We hereby promise that we will not challenge any visiting researchers to arm wrestle. Unless they want to.

Onto other things! We have—and we really can’t believe this—ONE WEEK until we reopen. Over the course of the week, several things have been checked off the reopening “to do” list, and many more are on their way to being completed.

Our talented exhibits staff worked on the installation of one of our opening exhibits, “Languages of Anatomy: From Vesalius to the Digital Age,” which will be on display in the Chappell Family Gallery and features materials from our History of Medicine Collections.

Display case showing 3-D printed prosthetic hand made by DukeMakers. Photo by Amy McDonald.

Books were returned to the refurbished bookcases in the beloved Biddle Rare Book Room.

Photo by Amy McDonald.

And we finished moving our flat files (an enormous amount of work) and started moving historical medical instruments from the History of Medicine Collections, as well as our early manuscripts.

Moving HOM’s medical instruments. Photo by Rachel Ingold.

 

Moving HOM’s medical instruments. Photo by Rachel Ingold.

In the photo above, the long box at the right holds HOM’s late 16th or 17th century amputating saw. Here’s what it looks like out of the box, in case you’re curious:

What else did we do? We practiced our teamwork by forming a bucket brigade to shelve manuscript collections.

University Archives staff bucket brigade! Photo by Amy McDonald.

We discovered, to our dismay, that we are not the most interesting people in the Rubenstein.

He is SO INTERESTING. Photo by Tracy Jackson.

And we found new challenges to test our librarian skills. This one is called “can we get all of the foam book rests to the new reading room in one trip?” (We did.)

Photo by Amy McDonald.

Look at these empty stacks in our temporary 3rd floor space! August 24th, here we come!

Photo by Meghan Lyon.

 

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Duke Alumni Reception at NC Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

Tue, 08/11/2015 - 15:15

Date: Monday, August 17, 2015
Time: 6:00-8:00 PM
Location: The Carolina Theatre of Durham (309 West Morgan St., Durham, NC 27701)
Contact: Tori Crowley, 919-681-1940 or Laura Micham, laura.m@duke.edu

Attending the North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival? Please make plans to attend this inaugural reception hosted by the Duke Heritage Society and the Office of Gift Planning!

Gather with friends and learn about a few of the ways that Duke is active with and supportive of its LGBTQ student and alumni community:

  • Bernadette Brown, the new director of Duke’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, will be introduced.
  • Kristen Brown Smalley of the Office of Gift Planning will share more about Duke’s activities in the LGBTQ community and our growing affinity network across the country.

 

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Move Diary: Week 5

Sat, 08/08/2015 - 22:27

Week 5 feels  like it’s been a big one. The stacks are filling up with manuscript boxes and books and feel less cavernous and more cozy. By the numbers it’s been a big week too.  On Tuesday we hit an important milestone: 10,000 manuscript boxes landed in their new homes in the stacks.  It’s been a good week for our books too.  We’ve moved, Library of Congress-ified, and shelved nearly all 4,000 of our folios and all 20,000 duodecimos; octavos and quartos are next on our list.  Some new formats started moving this week as well: 100 drawers worth of oversize flat files moved and about half or our papyrus collection made the journey too.

We also want to invite everyone to our open house on September 10th!  You’ll have a chance to tour the new spaces and exhibits, meet and mingle with library staff, and learnhow the Rubenstein Library can support your research.  Check out the details here.

 

Archival collections back from offsite and awaiting their new homes. Photo by Tracy Jackson. Photo by Meghan Lyon Sums up the Rubenstein move pretty well. Photo by Meghan Lyon. New exhibit on Duke University history! Exhibit cases have been installed in the Rare Book Room. Henry’s been on the job in Conservation Services for five days and he is already on Rubenstein Library move duty. Here is he helping move the papyri. From The Book of the Home. Photo by Kelly Wooten. Some of those big flat files. Photo by Meghan Lyon. Inlaid leather cover on Slapstick and Dumbbell : A Casual Survey of Clowns and Clowning.

‘Til next week!

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Profiles in Research: Dr. Jaime Cantrell on Southern Lesbian Literature

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 14:26

My current book project, Southern Sapphisms: Sexuality and Sociality in Literary Productions 1969-1997, considers how queer and feminist theories illuminate and complicate the intersections between canonical and obscure, queer and normative, and regional and national narratives in southern literary representations produced during a crucial but understudied period in the historical politicization of sexuality. The advent of New Southern Studies has focused almost exclusively on midcentury texts from the Southern Renascence, largely neglecting post-1970 queer literatures. At the same time, most scholarship in women’s and feminist studies continue to ignore the South, or worse, demonize the South as backward, parochial, and deeply homophobic. Southern Sapphisms argues that we cannot understand expressions of lesbianism and feminism in post-Stonewall era American literature without also understanding the explicitly southern dynamics of those writings—foregrounding the centrality of sexuality to the study of southern literature as well as the region’s defining role in the historiography of lesbian literature in the United States.

Vital archival work completed at the Sallie Bingham Center this past May strengthened my arguments about the formations of lesbian identity and community in the North Carolina lesbian-feminist journal Feminary (1969-1982). Feminary has been lauded by one scholar as “the source and backbone of contemporary Southern lesbian feminist theory,” due in part to the forum it provided for southern lesbians to voice their inimitable outlooks on race, regionality, and social justice[i]. At a local level, Feminary forged and grounded a community of Durham/Triangle feminists, lesbians, and women writing and printing as a collective. At a national level, I show how the women of this journal were actually inspired by the increasingly turbulent battles over civil rights in the South. This revelation upends prevailing notions that the Stonewall riots in New York were the watershed that changed lesbian and gay politics and culture in the nation. My work on Feminary recasts dominant national narratives about queer lives, histories, and activism in the region by illustrating how lesbian feminist politics gained their inspiration and momentum not only from Stonewall, but also from the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and massive resistance against civil rights and gay and lesbian rights in the South. Access to rare archival documents—only available at Duke University’s Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library—prove that Second Wave feminism and modern lesbian politics have extensive southern roots. To ignore the distinctly regional dynamics of those roots is to misunderstand the complexity of those movements across the nation and beyond.

Feminary collective (left to right, top to bottom row): Helen Langa, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Eleanor Holland, Cris South, and Mab Segrest. Photo by Elena Freedom, 1982. From the Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers.

I am grateful for the support of the Mary Lily Research Grant, which enabled my research at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. I was able to consult materials from the Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers and the Dorothy Allison Papers, and was honored and humbled to use the Mab Segrest Papers.

I was fortunate to consult early drafts of works that would later develop into an impressive body of southern lesbian literature. Many literary productions made their first appearances in Feminary, namely volumes of poetry including Dorothy Allison’s The Women Who Hate Me (1983), Minnie Bruce Pratt’s The Sound of One Fork (1981), and Mab Segrest’s Living in a House I Do Not Own (1982); Pratt’s and Segrest’s essay collections, Rebellion (1991) and My Mama’s Dead Squirrel; Cris South’s novel, Clenched Fists, Burning Crosses (1984); and Allison’s first work of fiction titled Trash (1989). Beyond these advancements, Feminary functioned as more than a print culture space for literary circulation and consumption—it flourished as a galvanizing force through which southern lesbians might engage in coalition politics at a crucial time in the 1970s and 1980s, or, as Pratt recalls, “we talked about race and racism, so-called race, racism. We had really interesting conversations about the intersections, what later got called the intersections. But that’s what we were doing. We weren’t just being lesbians.” (Minnie Bruce Pratt interview, Voices of Feminism Oral History Project, Sophia Smith Collection).

In an effort to add texture and depth to this research narrative, I want to share some of my personal notes scribbled down while in the reading room (see below). Here I seek to articulate my own experience of doing research at the Sallie Bingham Center — how it felt to do queer archival research at that very moment in the archive. Engaging in archival research offers a profoundly queer temporal experience — and temporary existence. Research within the archive necessitates a dissociative shift in being and thought: scholars become lost in the present, enveloped into the past. This is why we often feel a disturbing vertigo upon exiting the archive — a separation in our being and thinking with the past. Part of this vertigo is the experience of handling material artifacts that carry with them an aggregate, temporal stickiness that accrues through each reading and interpretation: then, now, and all the intervening, cataloguing years. I am grateful for these affective memories — a surprise here and there, upon finding something you didn’t know existed, the sound of discovery piercing the hallowed silence of the reading room — small pleasures I carry with me long after my research is done:

Mab Segrest Papers
Box 3_Writings_2
Folder entitled “Mab’s Book, 1982” : this are materials from LIVING IN A HOUSE I DO NOT OWN. Ditto papered poems, arrangements of poem form on page, scraps of paper with thematic resonances.
SEE SCANS. Film negatives of cover; four. Gorgeous and haunting.

Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers
Box 30
Feminary IX.2, Summer 1978, cover image of full roses. About to break for lunch. Can’t help but notice that Duke has tons of honeysuckle. Both seem apt images for the journal.

[i] Tamara M. Powell, “Look What Happened Here: North Carolina’s Feminary Collective,” North Carolina Literary Review 9.1 (2000): 92.

 

Post contributed by Dr. Jaime Cantrell, Visiting Assistant Professor of English,The Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies faculty affiliate, The University of Mississippi

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Move Diary: Week 4

Fri, 07/31/2015 - 16:11

Today marks the end of week 4 of the move, a week that marked the move’s halfway point!

The Rubenstein staff and the team of movers we’ve contracted have been sorting print materials into LC order as they move to their new, permanent homes. From the tiniest 12vos to behemoth folios, thousands of books are now on the new shelves.

One of the highlights of the move is getting to see such a large swath of our collections at once. From books that carry history in their margins to those with covers that are just plain pretty, it’s stunning to see the range and depth of our print collection passed in front of us day in and day out.

Here are some highlights from team #movenstein this week:

Photo by Meghan Lyon A prize find- photo by Meghan Lyon All the pretty dragons, photo by Kelly Wooten Photo by Tracy Jackson Plant history from 1644, photo by Katrina Martin

 

Manuscripts from all of our collecting areas are making their way onto the shelves, too. The Aleph Dream Team has been busy sorting boxes and flipping call numbers as the boxes move.

Katrina and The Boxes Tracy Jackson and Matthew Farrel troubleshoot some finicky shelves

The stacks aren’t the only place that saw some updates this week. The Gothic Reading Room is now outfitted with its tables and chairs. We can’t wait for August 24th when this place is full of researchers enjoying the new space.

Until next week!

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Onè! Respè! (Honor! Respect!)

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 19:39

The Radio Haiti archive project is underway! We’ve spent the first couple weeks creating a behemoth database…

…assigning each and every tape a unique ID number, and putting the tapes in nice new comfortable bar-coded boxes. This means that an archive which arrived looking like this…

Radio Haiti boxes arrive in North Carolina after a long voyage

… now, happily, looks like this.

AV archivist Craig Breaden with some newly-boxed Radio Haiti tapes

 

We are incredibly fortunate that the former Radio Haiti staff and friends and family in Port-au-Prince (you know who you are!) sent the tapes with a detailed inventory — it makes our job so much easier.

We are also inspecting the tapes for mold (and we have found mold aplenty).

¼ inch tape with mold on it ¼ inch tape with mold on it

 

We are also keeping track of which tapes are going to require a little extra TLC.

We’re creating rather sweeping controlled vocabulary — describing subjects, names, and places that appear in the archive. Once we’ve put in all this metadata, we can send the more than 3500 tapes off to be cleaned and digitized.

These tasks (organizing, typing in data, cross-referencing, labeling, bar-coding, describing, mold-noting), while arguably unglamorous, are necessary groundwork for eventually making the recordings publicly accessible, ensuring that these tapes can speak again, and that Radyo Ayiti pap peri (Radio Haiti will never perish).

We’ve only listened to a small sampling of the recordings so far, but the tapes themselves, as physical objects, tell a story. Even the mold is part of the story. That white mold on the tapes and the dusty dark mildew on the tape boxes tell of the  Radio Haiti journalists’ multiple exiles during which the tapes remained in the tropics and the future of the station was uncertain.

To glance over the titles of the recordings — the labels on their spines, lined up in order, row upon row — is to chart the outline of late 20th century Haitian political history — a chronology of presidencies, coups, interventions, massacres, disappearances, and impunity. The eighty-nine tapes chronicling the Raboteau trial of 2000, in which former junta leaders were tried for the 1994 torture and massacre of civilians, take up an entire shelf.

And then there is the long, long sequence of recordings after the April 3, 2000 assassination of Jean Dominique, when the center of the station’s orbit violently and irrevocably shifted.


It is uncanny to look at the tapes with hindsight and see the patterns emerge. Here is the political landscape of Haiti, from the 1970s to the 2000s, from dictatorship to the democratic era: The same impunity, the same lies, the same corruption, the same suffering, the same mentalities, the same machinations. Chameleons change their color, oppressors repaint their faces, state-sanctioned killings become extrajudicial killings, and the poor generally come off the worst.

The journalists who did these reports and conducted these interviews experienced these events in real time. They could not yet know the whole story because, in each of these moments, they were in the middle of it. For them, the enthusiasm of 1986 (after Duvalier fell, and Radio Haiti’s staff returned from their first exile) and of 1994 (when Aristide was reinstated, and Radio Haiti’s staff returned from their second exile) was unfettered. Likewise, for them, the struggle against impunity and injustice was urgent.

There is a recording labeled “Justice Dossier Jando Blocage 4.9.01” — “Justice Jean Dominique case blocked investigation.” Those short words contain a saga: by September 2001, a year and a half after Jean Dominique and Jean-Claude Louissaint were murdered, Radio Haiti was already reporting on how the investigation had stalled. In 2001, perhaps, justice appeared attainable, just out of reach. Now, fourteen years later, the case remains unsolved.

Back in 2011, I attended a talk by Haitian human rights activist Jean-Claude Bajeux in Port-au-Prince, where he said, “gen anpil fantòm kap sikile nan peyi a ki pa gen stati.” (“there are many ghosts wandering through this country that have no statue”). He was speaking of those who were disappeared under the Duvalier regime. But he could have been speaking, too, of innumerable others who have died and been erased – those who were killed by the earthquake, under the military regime, through direct political violence and through the structural violence of everyday oppression.

This archive is not a statue or a monument, but it is one place where the dead speak. Sometimes the controlled vocabulary feels like an inventory of ghosts.

Sometimes I think I am working on an archive that was never meant to be archived, something that was supposed to remain an active, living struggle. I think of how far these clean cardboard storage boxes and quiet temperature-controlled spaces are from the sting of tear gas, the stickiness of blood, the smell of burning tires, the crack of gunfire, the heat and noise, the laughter and fury of Haiti.

But salvaging and preserving is part of the struggle; remembering is, itself, a political act.

Post contributed by Laura Wagner, Radio Haiti Project Archivist.

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Move Diary: Week 3

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 20:00

We’re 1/3 of the way through the move, huzzah! Here’s a look at what week 3 brought.

Books have been getting new labels to show off their new Library of Congress call numbers:

Cataloger Lauren Reno scans books from our History of Medicine Collections. Photo by Rachel Ingold.

 

We’ve been finding lots of beautiful books during the process:

Photo by Kate Collins Photo by Kelly Wooten Photo by Kelly Wooten Photo by Meghan Lyon

As well as fun doodles in the margins:

Photo by Amy McDonald

There were some more amusing finds as well:

Reliving the early 2000s with an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog. Photo by Meghan Lyon The wrong kind of sports in The Mother’s Encyclopedia, 1942. Photo by Kelly Wooten Bad Girl and Good Girl in juxtaposition. Photo by Kelly Wooten. True Blue Soda! Photo by Tracy Jackson

Archival collections continued to fill our new shelves:

Collections from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture. Photo by Kelly Wooten. Boxes of University Archives material. Photo by Liz Adams

Our collections weren’t the only thing moving this week. Portraits of Duke presidents and other figures in Duke History moved back to the Gothic Reading Room.

Portrait of Terry Sanford leaving our temporary space for the Gothic. Photo by Amy McDonald Horace Trumbauer, Campus Architect for East and West campus. Photo by Beth Doyle. The Duke Family is back in the Gothic Reading Room! Photo by Val Gillispie Last portrait being hung in the Gothic Reading Room–President Douglas Knight. Photo by Val Gillispie

We also got to see others spaces in our new home come together:

Work area for Research Services Staff. Photo by Amy McDonald Cute little bench nook. Photo by Amy McDonald.

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ABC’s of John Hope Franklin (P) – President’s Initiative on Race

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 15:00

In June 1997, President Bill Clinton announced the creation of “One America in the 21st Century: The President’s Initiative on Race,” a 15-month initiative that was established to encourage community dialogue on race relations in the United States. Through the development of guidelines to promote national dialogue, the Board hoped to bridge racial divides and calm tensions, increase understanding about racial issues, and develop concrete solutions to racial challenges.

One America Pamphlet

John Hope Franklin was appointed Chairman of the seven member advisory board whose members included: William F. Winter (former Democratic Governor of Mississippi), Linda Chavez-Thompson (Executive Vice-President, AFL-CIO), Robert Thomas (President and CEO of Nissan Motor Corporation, USA), Angela E. Oh (attorney), Susan D. Johnson Cook (Senior Pastor, Bronx Christian Fellowship), and Thomas H. Kean (former Republican Governor of New Jersey).

John Hope Franklin’s annotated meeting agenda.

The President’s Advisory Board on Race faced intense public scrutiny and was widely criticized by civil rights activists, who felt that the Board did not have a tangible end goal, and could not adequately represent the interests of the entire population on race matters. Critics also felt that dialogue was not sufficient for addressing serious race related problems in the United States.

In spite of the negative press the initiative endured, Franklin felt the work of the board was a  much needed step in having a national conversation on race.

This series is a part of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin@100: Scholar, Activist, Citizen year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin

Submitted by Gloria Ayee, Franklin Research Center Intern

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Move Diary: Week 2

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 15:32

Week 2 is wrapping up and we are all counting down to our first (but definitely not last) Rubenstein Move Happy Hour this evening!

What have we been up to this week? Well . . . .

First things first, literally. Here’s a video of Kat Stefko, Head of Technical Services, placing the very first archival box in our new stacks.

The shelves have started to fill up pretty quickly over the course of the week. And then it’s Technical Services’s turn to update the location information in our catalog.

Photo by Tracy Jackson.

We have found a couple of ways to keep ourselves motivated.

NUMBER ONE: So. Much. Candy.

Photo by Megan O’Connell.

Of course, we wash our hands carefully before we handle books or archival materials.

NUMBER TWO: Pieces of flair for our move aprons.

Photo by Matthew Farrell.

Made with the Duke Libraries’ very own button maker! (And thanks to our student worker Elizabeth George for making these excellent buttons!)

Our move brain trust, led by indefatigable move coordinator Liz Adams, keeps us all on task.

Photo by Amy McDonald.

Nooooooo, bad shark! Don’t eat the rare books!

Photo by Meghan Lyon.

Seriously, this place is pretty cool and shiny. We can’t wait for everyone to come and visit in August!

Stop back next Friday for more photos!

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Move Diary: Week 1

Sat, 07/11/2015 - 18:54

We made it through week 1! Here are some sights spotted by our staff as we got down to work:

The first truck of books returning home from offsite storage. We brought 9800 print items back this week. Our old now empty hold shelves. We miss our researchers and can’t wait to see them again in August in our new space. One of our archivists, spotted through a tunnel of new compact shelving. Bevy of walkie-talkies. 10-4. Our move coordinator/book cart whisperer channels Chris Pratt. We’re glad they’re just book trucks and not velociraptors. A little Robert Frost on the book trucks. Color coded boxes, ready to move. No detail is too small as labels were peeled off our new shelving and replaced with stickier ones. With new super-sticky stickers, we labeled roughly 1000 bays on three different levels in the new space, ensuring every box will have a clearly labeled place to live. Someone had a little fun with the (admittedly Carolina Blue) protective film on our new elevator.

 

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ABC’s of John Hope Franklin – (O) Orchids

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 15:00

One of John Hope Franklin’s most well known hobbies was growing orchids and he had a prized collection, which included over 1000 orchids of different varieties, shapes, and sizes. In 1959, while teaching in Hawaii, Franklin became fascinated with the precious flower.

John Hope Franklin tending to his greenhouse. 1960’s

 

Many of Franklin’s orchids were acquired during his travels around the world, and he built greenhouses in his homes in Brooklyn, Chicago, and Durham to cultivate and house his special collection of orchid specimens and hybrids. Franklin’s custom-built greenhouse at his home in Durham measured 17 x 25 feet.

John Hope and John Whittington Franklin in the family Greenhouse, 1960’s

 

In 1976, John T. Wilson, president of the University of Chicago named an orchid hybrid in honor of Franklin, the Phalaenopis John Hope Franklin. The flower, which is white and red in color, is recognized by Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society. Another species of orchid was named in honor of Aurelia Franklin after her passing in 1999.

Phalaenopis John Hope Franklin

 

The Franklin family was renowned for their orchid collection, and frequently showed them off to visitors to their home; John Hope frequently referred to them as his “babies.”

This series is a part of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin@100: Scholar, Activist, Citizen year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin

Submitted by Gloria Ayee, Franklin Research Center Intern

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Come for the ad, stay for the history lesson

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 14:00

The Hartman Center houses a Vertical Files collection from Brouillard Communications, a division of the J. Walter Thompson Company advertising agency, with files on an extensive set of industry groups and individual companies. While processing this collection I came across this 1948 ad for Avondale Mills of Alabama. The ad celebrates graduates from an Avondale Negro School with a quote from Booker T. Washington (“Cast down your bucket where you are”) and encouragement to take advantage of the opportunities that education provides, whether in one of Avondale’s mills—the ad points out that 1 in 12 Avondale employees were African American, about 600 out of the 7,000 total workforce—or in any of a number of other professions. As a corporate public relations piece, it is effusively inspirational.

We tend to think of Birmingham as the epicenter of the civil rights movement, a place Dr. King once called the most segregated city in America, where racial oppression was at its harshest. Bull Connor, the bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church, King’s letter from jail there.  History, however, is more complicated and more vexing.  In 1897 Braxton Bragg Comer (who would serve as Governor of Alabama from 1907-1911) established a mill in the Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham, not far from the city center.  Comer’s vision, carried out and expanded by his sons and other family members, was to create an ideal Progressive-era mill village, complete with schools, hospitals and dairy farms to serve the employees. Avondale employed men and women (and also some children, which brought sharp criticism from child labor reformers), white and black, and offered profit sharing and retirement plans, medical care, living wages, affordable housing, even access to vacation properties in Florida. By the time this ad ran in the Saturday Evening Post, the company had expanded to several mills and 7,000 employees who, as the ad proclaims “participate in Avondale’s ‘Partnership-with-People’.”

This all sounds very much like contemporary progressive economic and social rhetoric, and the list of Avondale’s employee benefits would be appealing today. The following decades, of course, would see the collapse of the textile industry in the U.S. South as production moved overseas (the Avondale Mills would themselves close for good in 2006), but here in this ad is a remarkable testimony to a social experiment that combined progressive social welfare ambitions with company town paternalism.

Post contributed by Richard J. Collier, Technical Services Archivist, John. W. Hartman Center.

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Pie, Punch, and Jello Cake (1977) – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 11:37

If there is one truism about librarians it is that as a general rule, librarians are excellent cooks and bakers and they love to share their food. On the flip side, I’ve never seen food go to waste in a library. Your experimental cookie recipe didn’t turn out quite as you expected? Take them to work, someone will eat them.

This month, Amy McDonald and Beth Doyle of the Rubenstein Test Kitchen turn their attention inward to focus on our very own food culture. The recipes this month came from Duke University Recipes: A Collection of Recipes from the Duke University Community, Compiled by the Duke University Library Staff Association (DULSA). This cookbook, dated 1977, was one in a series of annual cookbooks compiled by DULSA.

Our first impression of the recipes in Duke University Recipes is that they are reminiscent of a particular type of independently-produced cookbooks (e.g. those created by churches, social clubs, member groups, etc.). If you are a fan of this genre of cookbooks you will recognize many of these recipes if not verbatim then by familiarity. They seem to be firmly situated in the culinary traditions of the 1970’s. The recipes often mix prepared food stuffs (so much Jell-O) with fresh (or “fresh”) foods to create something not quite from-scratch but better than from a box alone.

While there are many worthy entries in this cookbook, we wanted to pay homage to our colleagues by choosing three recipes submitted by Duke Libraries staff members who are still working at the library.

Orange Jello Cake (Recipe by Robert Byrd; baked by Beth)

This recipe is one of those that is still popular today. It is usually called a “no bake cheesecake” or some variation of that theme. The recipe consists of a graham cracker crust, a cream cheese and whipped topping layer, and a Jell-O layer with canned fruit and orange sherbet added to the gelatin. When I asked Bob Byrd about this recipe he said, “I have only a vague memory of this recipe, and I disclaim all responsibility for it.”

The first two layers came together fine. The Jell-O layer was weird. It had so much liquid added to the Jell-O that it never really solidified, which was fine until it was served up. When cut and plated, the orange layer just slid off the base. But, as one taster said, “It all mixes in your stomach anyway.” True enough.

Pretty layers. Kind of like a sunrise at the beach, no?

Taste-wise, it wasn’t half bad. The squishy Jell-O layer played nicely with the cream cheese layer. The graham cracker crust provided a textural contrast to the soft upper layers. In terms of preparation, I think if you omitted the sherbet the Jell-O would set properly and not be so messy to eat.

And, as a final note, one of our colleagues (who was born way after the 1970s) commented, “This tastes exactly like what I imagine the 1970s to have been like.” So there you go.

DULSA Punch (Recipe by Cathy Leonardi; poured by Amy and Beth)

We were surprised at how many recipes in this book called for bourbon. We were pleasantly surprised we found one we wanted to try. According to Cathy Leonardi, “DULSA only served alcohol at one party each year, the Christmas party. The DULSA punch was the punch that was served.  Wink was like 7-Up.  The beauty of the punch was that it was easy to make.  I didn’t invent the recipe.  It was given to me by someone who had previously made it for the Christmas party.  I put the recipe in the cookbook so that it would be easy to find for future parties.” And are we glad she did!

As far as punch recipes go, this is an easy one. The hardest part was finding the Wink soda (or is that pop?). Yes, Wink is still available but it is often found in the mixers section, not with the other sodas.

It mixes up to a beautiful reddish color. This is a very sweet punch with a little hint of Southern Comfort. Admittedly, we purchased the lower alcohol Southern Comfort since we planned on serving this at a reception at work. (We made a non-alcoholic version, too, but . . . that was less popular.) The general consensus was that it was the best thing on the table when we taste tested the recipes.

Southern Comfort chilling in the staff refrigerator, along with everyone’s lunches. Strawberry Pie (Recipe by Vickie Long; baked by Amy)

This is a pretty simple recipe. I started out with tons of strawberries and a store-bought crust (yesssss!). Half of the strawberries got sliced and dumped (or arranged prettily, if you prefer) into the baked crust, and the other half got mashed and cooked with the cornstarch and baking powder into what I like to fondly call the “strawberry goop.”

I have a tremendous fear of burning things, so I may not have let the strawberry goop cook—and thus thicken—quite as long as I should have. I poured it into the pie, let the whole thing set in the refrigerator, and the result was a sort of sweetened strawberry soup, with bits of crust. Not terrible, but maybe not what you want to serve at your next dinner party. Or maybe it is? You do you, you know?

A little . . . soupy. There’s a piece missing.

As a saving grace, I was going to make real whipped cream, but Beth thought Reddi-wip would be more authentic. And archivists are nothing if not historically authentic.

Duke University Recipes is available through the Duke University Archives, as well as online at the Internet Archives. There is also a copy of this 1977 edition in the Perkins Library that you can check out.

Let us know in the comments if you try any of the recipes!

Post contributed by Beth Doyle, Leona B. Carpenter Senior Conservator and Head, Conservation Services Department, and Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist.

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ABC’s of John Hope Franklin – (N) NAACP

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 15:00

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), founded in 1909, is the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States.

In 1949, the NAACP approached John Hope Franklin to provide his expertise and testify at the Lyman Johnson v. University of Kentucky trial. The Johnson case successfully challenged the “separate but equal” doctrine that had been established by the Plessy v. Fergusson trial of 1896. John Hope Franklin later worked as the lead historian for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund team in preparation for Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Franklin’s research contributed to Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP’s legal victory in this landmark case.

Letter from Robert Carter, NAACP, to John Hope Franklin, 1949 Pay invoice to John Hope Franklin for work on the Brown v. Board of Education, 1953

His relationship with the NAACP continued throughout his life, serving as a memeber of committees of the Legal Defense Fund and a mentor to a number of leaders in the organization. In 1995, the NAACP honored John Hope Franklin with the Spingarn Medal, “in recognition of an unrelenting quest for truth and the enlightenment of Western Civilization.” The Spingarn Medal is the NAACP’s highest honor, and is awarded annually to a person of African descent and American citizenship. The recipient of the Spingarn Medal is an individual who has attained high achievement and distinguished merit in any field.

Program from the 80th Spingarn Medal award, 1995

This series is a part of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin@100: Scholar, Activist, Citizen year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin

Submitted by Gloria Ayee, Franklin Research Center Intern

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ABC’s of John Hope Hope Franklin – (M) Mirror to America

Fri, 06/12/2015 - 15:00

Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin is a riveting memoir that chronicles Franklin’s life and offers a candid account of America’s complex history of civil rights the final book written by Franklin. Mirror to America was published in 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Mirror to America, 2005

Franklin spent a number of years researching his own history, locating documents related to his family and his hometown, Rentiesville, Oklahoma. Once the book was completed, Franklin went on a national speaking tour, to not only share his personal story but discuss the impact of race in the many events he witnessed in American history.

Itinerary for Mirror to American book tour, 2006

In 2011, two years after Franklin’s death, Mirror to America received the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Book Award. The RFK Book Award is presented to a novelist who “most faithfully and forcefully reflects Robert Kennedy’s purposes – his concern for the poor and the powerless, his struggle for honest and even-handed justice, his conviction that a decent society must assure all young people a fair chance, and his faith that a free democracy can act to remedy disparities of power and opportunity.”

This series is a part of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin@100: Scholar, Activist, Citizen year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin

Submitted by Gloria Ayee, Franklin Research Center Intern

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Transitions: From student to staff, from old stacks to new

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 14:04

One of my most vivid memories of the Rubenstein Library is one of my first.  Shortly after starting to work as a student assistant in the fall of 2011, I entered the dark, dusty labyrinth of the library’s old stacks and grabbed an item to reshelve.  With great trepidation, I drew back both metal gates on the 1926 elevator, pushed the button for the fifth floor, and hoped that the creaky old machine would actually make it to our destination.  Once I got out of the elevator and my pulse had returned to normal, I found the item’s home on the bottom of a row of shelves, set it back in its proper place, stood up, and found myself eye-to-label with the Stonewall Jackson Papers.

As a lifelong history nerd, I had known that I would enjoy working in the Rubenstein, but it was not until that moment that I realized exactly how cool the Rubenstein was, and what a great resource it is for the Duke community.  That point was driven home even further when, as an undergraduate majoring in History and German, I used the Rubenstein frequently as a researcher.  Knowing how important the Rubenstein is to researchers in a wide variety of fields made it all the more exciting to sign on as a Senior Move Assistant during the transition from our old space to the new.

In the two weeks since I started working full-time, I have been busy measuring volumes to help figure out where items are going to be stored in our new space, and “linking” bound-withs to help ensure that items which are physically bound together actually show up that way in the catalog.  The move process is not simply moving items from point A to point B, and back to a refurbished point A.  It is also an opportunity to improve and simplify many aspects of the library, and it is very exciting to be part of that process.  Having worked and done research in both the old space and the temporary space, I can say that I am thrilled for the opening of the new Rubenstein Library.  The move process is making a great campus resource even better, and I can’t wait to see the final result of the next few months of work!

Post contributed by Michael Kaelin (T ’15), Senior Move Assistant at the Rubenstein Library. Michael worked as a Student Assistant for four years.  Originally from Wilton, CT, his interests include history and literature.

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Profiles in Research: Georgina Colby and the Kathy Acker Papers

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 13:33

I was awarded a Mary Lily Research Grant in 2014 to travel to the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture to consult The Kathy Acker Papers. In April 2014 I carried out research in the archive for my book manuscript, Kathy Acker: Writing the Impossible, which is under contract with Edinburgh University Press.

Critics and scholars in the field of contemporary literature have largely understood Kathy Acker as a postmodern writer. My monograph challenges such readings of the writer and her works, paying close attention to the form of Acker’s experimental writings, as a means to position Acker and her work within a lineage of radical modernisms.

Consulting The Kathy Acker Papers, the extensive archive of Acker’s works housed at the Sallie Bingham Center, shaped my research in a number of ways. Most striking, and perhaps the aspect of the archive that has been most formative to my work, is what the archive revealed in terms of the materiality of Acker’s various manuscripts. The original manuscript of Acker’s early and most renowned work, Blood and Guts in High School (1978), is a lined notepad with text and image pasted onto the pages. It is a collage, an art object. The dream maps, which punctuate Blood and Guts in High School, are archived as separate framed objects. Dream Map Two is an artwork measuring 56 inches by 22 inches. Such archival discoveries enabled the development of my book. The monograph takes a specific work of Acker’s for each chapter as a means to explore six key experimental strategies in Acker’s oeuvre. A substantial knowledge of Acker’s avant-garde practices would not have been possible without the research carried out in the archive.

Image from manuscript for Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker

The Kathy Acker Papers also illuminated a related line of enquiry taken in my monograph: the importance of Acker’s early poetic practices to an understanding of her later prose experiments, which often dislimn the distinction between poetry and prose. The repository of unpublished poetic works provided rich material for the first chapter of my book, which explores Acker’s engagement with the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets in the 1970s. Acker’s unpublished poetry can be understood as both a significant autonomous body of work, and as juvenilia that was a catalyst for her later writing experiments. The box that houses these early works also contains typed conversations between Acker and her early mentor, the poet David Antin. Written under Acker’s early pseudonym, The Black Tarantula, these conversations point to the discourses that emerged between Acker and various writers and poets concerning the uses of language. In this 1974 text, ‘Interview With David Antin’, which reads in part, and perhaps intentionally, like a Socratic dialogue, Acker and Antin interrogate issues of language and certainty. Acker and Antin draw on their writing experiments, alongside a discussion of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty, as means to interrogate language and perception. Such materials are rich when read in conjunction with Acker’s poetry.

Reading the materials in the archive, letters, early drafts of published works, speeches, Acker’s teaching notes and notebooks on philosophy, as well as Acker’s handwritten annotations on various texts, and her invaluable collection of small press pamphlets, was illuminating. Numerous texts disclosed the self-conscious nature of Acker’s experiments. A number of early poetic experiments are entitled ‘Writing Asymmetrically’, and several notebooks gesture specifically to the influence of William Burroughs and Acker’s experiments with the cut-up technique. Other notebooks are streams of consciousness, and are evidently comprised of material that Acker then cut up for use in her experimental works. Most of Acker’s novels originated this way, as a set of handwritten notebooks.

Image from manuscript for Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker

Archival research at the Sallie Bingham Center cultivated a rich understanding of the diversity of Acker’s experimental work and the writer’s remarkable lifetime achievements, many of which remain unpublished. The extent of the material and its uniqueness brought home the importance and centrality of the archive in the formation of knowledge regarding an experimental writer’s oeuvre. In the context of the female avant-garde writer, Acker stated that Gertrude Stein, as the progenitor of experimental women’s writing, is ‘the mother of us all.’ The remarkable experimentalism and the linguistic innovation of a great number of the texts that comprise The Kathy Acker Papers reveal Acker to succeed Stein as one of the most important experimental writers of the twentieth century.

Post contributed by Georgina Colby, Lecturer in Contemporary Literature, University of Westminster, UK.

 

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