The life of Jessie Vanderbilt Simons has been documented through letters, scrapbooks, photographs and other manuscript materials. However the most fascinating piece of this collection consists of 29 yearly diaries, covering the years 1870 through 1935 (the bulk of which cover 1890-1935), with regular daily entries covering details of her daily life, family life, her numerous, lengthy trips overseas, her active participation (and leadership of) the Richmond County Chapter of the American Red Cross, and the Women’s Motor Corps, and her work with The National Federated Workers for Disabled Soldiers (she served as Vice President), and The Veteran Association of Women War Workers. Also documented is her lengthy friendship with noted New York photographer Alice Austen. Austen was one of the first women photographers in this country to work outside the confines of a studio.
The papers of Southern feminist activists Minnie Bruce Pratt and Mandy Carter have recently been acquired by the Bingham Center. Both women were profiled in the January 2007 issue of Curve magazine, for a feature titled “Ten Powerful Lesbians in the South.” Pratt is a writer, poet, activist, and professor. She was a member of the editorial collective of Feminary: A Feminist Journal for the South, Emphasizing Lesbian Visions, which was published by a women’s collective in Durham and Chapel Hill, NC. Carter is a self-described “southern out black lesbian social justice activist.” She has been involved with multi-issue grassroots organizing for the last 39 years, including serving as Executive Director of Durham-based Southerners on New Ground (SONG), and working with the National Black Justice Coalition and the Democratic National Committee. Pratt and Carter have each carefully documented and recorded their work, and their papers will become rich sources for researchers.
It’s the bibliographic equivalent of a brown paper wrapper: their covers are plain, their design unremarkable, while their content is anything but. This summer, the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture jointly acquired a collection of nearly 350 texts on sexology and the history of sexuality dating from as early as 1697. This collection was built around a number of books from the private library of Gershon Legman, a pioneering scholar of erotic folklore and a sometime bibliographer for Alfred Kinsey. Classic studies by many of the major sexologists and psychologists of the 19th and 20th centuries are represented here, including Kinsey, Havelock Ellis, Sigmund Freud, Shere Hite, Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, Iwan Bloch, and William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson. Although many of the texts were written for medical and legal audiences, pamphlets like Eliot Ness’s (yes, that Eliot Ness) “What About Girls?” (1947) and books like Marie Carmichael Stopes’s Married Love (ca. 1924) document public attitudes toward sex and sexuality.
Our zine collections continue to grow as Bingham Center staffers seize opportunities to promote our interest in the women's and girls' zine culture of the past few decades. We are often the grateful recipients of new packages of zines sent from zine collectors and authors across the country. Recently, donations from Duke graduate student Amy Mariaskin, local zinester Niku Arbabi, and Carrboro zine collector Vanessa Hays, as well as individual title donations from zine authors nationwide, have added a few hundred new zines from the late 1990s and early 2000s to our collections. These collections are among our most frequently-used materials, providing inspiration to a wide swath of researchers, many of whom are zinesters, feminists, and activists.
In November 2005, the Bingham Center received an initial donation of 378 gay male mysteries and police stories and 109 gay American pulps generously given by Drewey Wayne Gunn, Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Gunn is the definitive collector of gay male mysteries and wrote the 2005 book The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film: A History and Annotated Bibliography. The Drewey Wayne Gunn and Jacques Murat Collection of Gay American Pulps and the Drewey Wayne Gunn Collection of Gay Male Mysteries and Police Stories is made up primarily of books printed by low-budget publishers in the Post-Stonewall era (after 1969). The pulp novels, mostly from the 1970s, are often pornographic explorations of gay male desires.
The Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture is pleased to announce the acquisition of the papers of author, journalist, and playwright Paula Kamen. Paula began her collection when she was a senior in college when she was required by a journalism professor to keep a "beat folder" on women's issues. Paula's papers also include interviews, drafts, correspondence, marketing materials, and research files on reproductive rights, sex information in the media, sexual assault and acquaintance rape, men's activism against rape, pornography, feminism in popular culture, lesbian rights, and teen girls. The acquisition of the Paula Kamen Papers reflects the Bingham Center's commitment to documenting the latest iteration of the women's movement in the U.S.
We are very pleased to announce the acquisition of the papers of Nancy Peeler Keppel. Keppel, a North Carolina native, was an author, pioneering lay minister in the United Church of Christ, and tireless activist, who worked on behalf of minority communities and the poor. This collection complements our growing body of material that maps the lives and work of women, both lay and ordained, who have transformed their denominations.
Shortly after Duke Magazine published an article on the Bingham Center's collection of girls' literature, we received a phone call from alumna Elizabeth 'Betty' McMahan asking if we might be interested in her self-published children's books, which are loosely based on her own childhood growing up in the 1920s and 30s on her family's cane farm in Davie County, North Carolina. Her many accomplishments include working with Professor J.B. Rhine at Duke's Parapsychology Lab in 1943, earning a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Hawaii, studying termite colonies across the globe, teaching biology as a faculty member at UNC Chapel Hill, and volunteering with the Peace Corps in Jamaica, and teaching zoology to first-year students at the College of Agriculture in Port Antonio. Her memoir, along with several of McMahan's children's books, compilations of her cartoons from "The Meadowlark" newsletter from her retirement community, illustrations she made of her travels aboard Pacific-traveling cargo ships, as well as a variety of news clippings, photographs, diaries and scrapbooks documenting this extraordinary and inspiring woman, now form the Elizabeth McMahan Papers.
The papers of obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Takey Crist of Jacksonville, N.C., were added to the Bingham Center's collection in November of 2003. The Crist collection includes materials documenting Crist's work towards the legalization of abortion and provision of abortion services, family planning, and the integration of sex education into school curricula. The collection also contains the records of the Crist Clinic for Women, a comprehensive health care clinic founded and directed by Dr. Crist.
The Irene Peslikis Papers document the personal and professional activities of one of the central figures in the women's liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s. As co-founder of the groundbreaking radical feminist group Redstockings, and one of the authors of The Redstockings Manifesto, Peslikis worked to incorporate political theory into the feminist activist's toolkit for social change. This collection will be of great interest to researchers studying the history of the women's movement, art history, and the fertile ground at the intersection of these two fields.
Ruth Finlay's diaries consist of more than 22 volumes documenting the details of her daily life, her emotional reactions to events, and the activities and behavior of herself and her family. These diaries provide a window not only into the quotidian activities of an American wife and mother in the second half of the 20th century, but also into her thoughts and feelings about her life and the people in it. An addition of ... diaries was added to this collection during the Spring of 2006.
The Sallie Bingham Center received the papers of noted second-wave feminist Robin Morgan, a substantial addition to our collections relating to the U.S. women's liberation movement that places the movement in a global context. For more than thirty years as an activist, political theorist, essayist, journalist, poet, and novelist, Robin Morgan has been one of America's most influential feminist figures. Ranging from diaries and correspondence to literary manuscripts to administrative and governmental records, this collection provides an intimate portrait of the life of one of the central activists in the women's liberation movement. Significant additions to the collection have been made since the first materials were placed.
One of the Bingham Center's most exciting recent acquisitions comes from Merle Hoffman, the longtime reproductive rights advocate and feminist publisher. This large collection documents the work of the CHOICES Women's Medical Center in Queens, New York, which Hoffman founded in 1971, as well as extensive materials from On The Issues, the feminist progressive magazine that Hoffman published from 1983 to 1999. Significant additions to the collection have been made since the first materials were placed.
For more than half a century, members of the Chapel Hill branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom have been working to promote the principles and causes set forth by Jane Addams in 1915 when she was elected the first president of the International Women's Conference, WILPF's precursor. The records of the local WILPF chapter chronicle their efforts on behalf of civil rights, the environment, nuclear disarmament, social justice, and peaceful alternatives to war.
We are very excited to announce that the Sallie Bingham Center has become the repository for Bust magazine's archives. Bust began in 1993 as a photocopied zine with a circulation of 500. Since that time it has evolved into a glossy, colorful, professional - but not mainstream - magazine for women, and has a circulation of over 30,000. Co-founders Debbie Stoller and Marcelle Karp describe themselves as third-wave feminists who see popular culture as a vast political space in which they offer their girl powered perspectives. Bust fills the void between Vogue and Ms. Magazine with humor, candor, and style. The collection contains a complete run of Bust, manuscripts, correspondence files, and original artwork for the magazine (by artists such as Fiona Smyth and Dame Darcy), as well as production and promotional material for Stoller and Karp's 1999 book The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order. The depth of the Bust collection is a perfect complement to the breadth of the Sarah Dyer Collection, which contains thousands of girls' and women's zines (including the first issues of Bust!).
The letters of Cora and Joseph Harrington provide a glimpse of the most private aspects of married life during the first decade of the 20th century. Cora was raised in the rural mid-west, and trained as a nurse before marrying Joseph, a very successful mechanical engineer. The bulk of the correspondence was written between 1904 and 1906, while the couple was still newly married. Cora and Joseph were often separated; he traveled a great deal on business, while she "vacationed" out west for her health. A consumptive, Cora frequently describes her struggles to put on weight, her frustration with doctors, and her desperate loneliness. Joseph devises a system of letter writing which appends a "personal" page to the rest of the letter so that their private writing may be destroyed after reading. One of these "personal" pages survives, a surprisingly explicit and graphic love letter from Joseph to his wife. This is a rich source for those interested in married life, women's health, women in the nursing profession, and sexuality in the early part of the 20th century.
The papers of Lillian and Sylvia Norton chronicle two women's struggle to make careers as writers in San Francisco, California during the depression. Daughters of a noted Stockton, CA jurist, the two women were supported by their widow mother as they try to get published. The majority of the correspondence consists of letters pleading for the girls to come home to the aid of their mother. Her extensive properties are mortgaged to the hilt, and her son is driving her to a nervous break-down. Also included are manuscript and typed drafts of poetry and short stories written by Sylvia and Lillian (pen name Frances Elliott), and correspondence with a Hollywood author and critic named Laurence D'Orsay, who Frances Elliott paid for advice and criticism of her work. These papers paint a moving, if dismal, portrait of a once prosperous family.
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