Bingham Center News
Post contributed by Molly Brookfield, a Ph.D. candidate in the departments of History and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. She is writing a dissertation about the history of sexual harassment in public places in the United States. Her research at the Sallie Bingham Center was generously funded with a Mary Lily Research Grant.
Imagine you are a young woman walking down the street on a sunny summer day in New York City. The sidewalk is crowded with people and you are thinking about the day ahead. You’re so absorbed in your thoughts that the shouted remark from a fellow passer-by jolts you unpleasantly back to your surroundings. The remark comes from a man who is also hurrying down the sidewalk. Maybe he shouts, “Looking good, honey!” or “How’s it going, sweetheart?” The specifics of the remark aren’t what’s important; it’s enough to know that he’s tried to grab your attention in a loud and public way that has startled you and forced you to acknowledge his presence. Annoyed, you turn to face the man, reach into your bag, and grab hold of a stack of cards you’ve had made for this occasion. You hand a card to the catcaller, and his eyebrows arch as he reads the first lines: “Brother, I feel insulted and oppressed by your comment. You and men like you make it unpleasant and difficult for all of us women, including your mothers, sisters and daughters, to leave our houses alone. Why are you constantly harassing us on the street?”
This was the tactic taken by New York feminist Marigold Arnold in 1971. That summer, Arnold handed mimeographed cards to men who harassed her in the street and the Women’s Health and Abortion Project published the full text in their newsletter—which is where I found it, while visiting the Sallie Bingham Center on a Mary Lily Research Grant. According to her mimeographed card, Arnold wanted men who catcalled to know that they “interrupt … [women’s] train of thought when we are walking alone, acting as though simply because you are a male we will be honored by your talking to us.” But Arnold was adamant, “We don’t feel honored.” In distinctly 1970s-flavored rhetoric, Arnold’s card declares, “The road of true liberation for all people is for each of us to struggle against oppressing our brothers and sisters. No more oppressive comments to women on the street.”
Arnold’s mimeographed statement was just one way that New York women resisted sexual harassment on the street in the 1970s. The New York Radical Feminists (NYRF) had a Street Harassment Committee that held self-defense workshops. Women raised awareness of street harassment with poems, stories, and cartoons in the group’s newsletter (see image). In 1976, members organized a Women’s Walk Against Rape, similar to the more recent Take Back the Night marches. When one of their members was harassed in Zabar’s, a deli on Broadway, the NYRF even started a blacklist of New York businesses where male employees harassed women.
These documents illustrate that women have experienced sexual harassment in public places since at least the 1970s (and my dissertation will show it has been a problem for much longer). While the New York Radical Feminists did not completely succeed in eradicating street harassment, their work can be viewed as a precursor and inspiration to groups like Hollaback! or Stop Street Harassment, work that is increasingly relevant as we continue to grapple with the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in American society.
All materials cited here can be found in the New York Radical Feminists Records, Box 1 at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.
The post “Why Are You Constantly Harassing Us on the Street?” appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Post contributed by Laura Micham, Merle Hoffman Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture
Join the staff of the Bingham Center as we celebrate the newly acquired Sarah Westphal Collection and the opening of an exhibition of works from the collection.
The attention to recovering traces of women’s voices and women’s agency that motivates all of Sarah’s research and work in the field of medieval gender studies also underwrites her approach to building her collection.
—Ann Marie Rasmussen, Professor and Diefenbaker Memorial Chair in German Literary Studies, University of Waterloo
Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Time: 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library 153
RSVP on Facebook (optional)
- Jean Fox O’Barr, Duke University Distinguished Service Professor
- Ann Marie Rasmussen, Professor and Diefenbaker Memorial Chair in German Literary Studies, University of Waterloo
- Thomas Robisheaux, Duke University History Department
The exhibit will be on display in the Michael and Karen Stone Family Gallery from July until December, 2018
Sarah Westphal, who received her PhD from Yale in 1983, was a member of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature and an affiliate of the Program in Women’s Studies at Duke from 1983-1986. In addition to her long academic career as a scholar of medieval German literature, Westphal has spent thirty-five years amassing a collection of over six hundred books written, printed, illustrated, or published by women from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Westphal’s particular interest is women in Britain and continental Europe in the eighteenth century. The collection includes monumental works such as a beautifully-bound first edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) as well as previously unrecorded works and unique manuscript collections.
In Sarah Westphal’s own words the collection is “anything and all things that women published or were interested in, especially in the eighteenth century.” The collection ranges from literature for children and adults to science, cookery, travel writing, prescriptive literature, political and philosophical treatises, biographies of women by women, and works by women printers and artists. This exhibition presents eighteen items selected by Westphal, each with its own complex story.
The post Anything and All Things of Interest to Women: The Sarah Westphal Collection appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Time: 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library 153
Contact: Rachel Ingold, firstname.lastname@example.org,
RSVP or share via Facebook (optional)
You are cordially invited to a dramatic reading of excerpts from pertinent texts that will bring to life the voices of women and men, past and present, whose perspectives on menopause range from “the historical to the hysterical.” In addition to the readings, individuals are also encouraged to share their own stories and experiences of “the change.”
The reading complements an exhibit, The Change of Life: Menopause and Our Changing Perspectives, on display through July 14 in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room.
Co-sponsored by the History of Medicine Collections and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.
Post contributed by Mary Kallem, field experience student in the Bingham Center and master’s student at UNC’s School of Information and Library Science.
Few anarchists have gained as much mainstream recognition as Emma Goldman, an iconic figure in labor organizing, feminist history, and prison abolition. The Bingham Center acquired a sizable collection of Goldman’s papers as part of the larger Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, a transformative collection documenting the history of women at work.
Dating from 1909 to 1940, the Emma Goldman Papers reflect radical community labor amidst state repression, the financial instability of writers and activists, and a tumultuous political landscape. Goldman’s prescience remains apparent today.
These papers illuminate a historical understanding that reaches beyond her as an individual. In addition to providing an intimate picture of her financial, political, and social lives, this collection also reveals the relational network that constituted anarchist organizing and publishing of her time.Letter from Goldman to unnamed comrade, 1909. Click for full letter
With over 300 letters, the collection includes both the revolutionary and quotidian aspects of the relationships between Goldman and her comrades, including Alexander “Sascha” Berkman, Eugene Debs, Alexander Schapiro, and Thomas Keell. The collection also features published material, handwritten articles from Errico Malatesta and Emma Goldman, photographs, ephemera, and more.
This collection of Goldman papers has been in the hands of a private collector until recently, and it is now being opened to the public for the first time. The day-to-day correspondence may be the most striking element of the collection, given its familiar nature: whether asking to borrow money, lamenting poor book sales, or mutually gathering hope, these letters reflect struggle. For those who continue to fight for social change, there is a solidarity to be found in these shared material and emotional conditions.
The Emma Goldman Papers are available for on-site use in Rubenstein’s reading room and online within the Duke Libraries’ Digital Collections.Ticket to lecture by Goldman, 1933.
Post contributed by Heather McGowan, Public Services Intern for the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture
Eleanor Butler was the youngest daughter of the Earl of Ormonde of Kilkenny Castle in Ireland. Her siblings wed and secured their family’s future, but in 1778 39-year-old Eleanor had no plans to marry. Her brother threatened a nunnery and life in a convent for Eleanor.
Twelve miles away, 23-year-old orphaned Sarah Ponsonby, was facing the unwanted sexual advances of her cousin and guardian Sir William Fownes. As Lady Betty Fownes became ill, Sir William was waiting for the day he could call Sarah his new Lady Fownes.
Both women were trapped in unbearable situations. The Ladies met in 1768, Eleanor was appointed Sarah’s tutor and the two formed a deep friendship. They decided to run away to England together and missed the ferry, forcing the two women to hide in a barn. They were caught and taken home. When Sarah became ill, Eleanor ran away to Sarah’s home at Woodstock and hid in Sarah’s bedroom, where Sarah’s maid Mary Carryll smuggled food in to the room. Eleanor was found again, but her family refused to take her back. After a few days, Sarah’s family let them go. The Butlers agreed to provide Eleanor with an annual income of £200, and Sarah’s beloved cousin, Mrs. Sarah Tighe, agreed to a yearly supplement of £80.
In 1778, the Ladies, along with their maid Mary, eloped to the rural vale of Llangollen in Wales and settled down for a life of “delightful retirement.” The Ladies redesigned their cottage in the Gothic style, and spent 50 years studying literature, learning languages, and piecing together a collection of woodcarvings and other works of art. The letters that make up the majority of the Ladies of Llangollen collection in Rubenstein Library are written from Sarah to her cousin, Mrs. Sarah Tighe, who hesitantly accepted the Ladies’ lifestyle.Letter from Sarah Ponsonby to Sarah Tighe, September 17, 1785 from the Ladies of Llangollen collection
The two Sarahs wrote to each other for the remainder of Ponsonby’s life about their lives in Ireland and Llangollen. Tighe kept Ponsonby abreast of political happenings (revolutions and counter-revolutions in Ireland between the 1770s and 1820), as well as social and family matters at home, while Ponsonby told Tighe of her idyllic life iwth Eleanor reading, gardening, and enjoying the culture in Llangollen.
Despite their hopes to live a life of quiet retreat, their elopement catapulted the Ladies into the nineteenth century press. The highest echelons of cultural and social elites found their way to the door of the Ladies home, Plas Newydd. They entertained up to 20 visitors a day; William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Walter Scott and even Queen Charlotte all came to talk and spend time with the Ladies of Llangollen. Questions about the nature of the Ladies ‘romantic friendship,’ circulated around this extraordinary pair both during and well after their lifetimes. Eleanor was described as masculine, while Sarah was seen as more feminine, but once in Llangollen, both cropped their hair and wore dark riding habits. The Ladies shared a home and a life of devotion in their retreat at Llangollen. Eleanor Butler died on June 2, 1829 and three years later Sarah Ponsonby died in December of 1832. Upon Sarah’s death, Plas Newydd was publicly sold.
In addition to the letters in the collection, the Ladies of Llangollen, their home, and Llangollen itself are thoroughly documented in drawings, photographs, and print materials produced throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Their position as courageous and audacious Irish aristocrats who broke away from the constraints of convention gained them substantial notoriety.Porcelain basket with color image of the Ladies of Llangollen.
This collection, especially the objects and printed material, capture the world’s curiosity about the Ladies’ life. Their images were printed on tea cups, figurines, prints, and postcards, and their story was told and retold in accounts by neighbors, friends, and visitors to Llangollen. As a result, Llangollen became a destination and an ongoing source of fascination because of the two ladies who risked everything to live the life they always dreamed of, together.Figurine of Ladies of Llangollen in their riding habits.
The newly-processed Ladies of Llangollen collection was received as part of the Lisa Unger Baskin collection in 2015.
Post contributed by Jessica Janecki and Lauren Reno
Over the past few years, the Rubenstein Library acquired some early editions of the Narrative of Sojourner Truth. These new acquisitions allowed catalogers in the Technical Services department to reevaluate and re-catalog these editions of the Narrative according to more current standards. We were surprised to find upon searching OCLC, the union catalog used by libraries around the world, that authorship for the Narrative was given to Olive Gilbert in most of the catalog records for various editions. This gave us pause and cause to look more closely at the history of the Narrative, the life of Sojourner Truth, and ultimately how to approach the cataloging of one of the most important books of the 19th century by one of the foremost abolitionists and feminists.
The attribution to Gilbert is problematic given that the first edition in 1850 and subsequent editions to 1878 reference Truth as the author in the publication statement with wording such as, “Printed for the Author,” or “Published for the Author.” Cursory research would show that Truth acted as her own publisher and distributor. This statement confirms that she also considered herself the author. Additionally, Gilbert’s name does not appear anywhere on any 19th century editions of the Narrative. Meaning, those attributing authorship to Gilbert had to be conducting some research into the history of the Narrative, and were likely to come across the fact that Truth was also the publisher and distributor.Title page and frontispiece portrait of the first edition of ‘Narrative,’ 1850.
What emerged when we looked at more recent research, mostly consulting Nell Irvin Painter’s biography Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol, was unsurprisingly that the history of the writing and publication of the Narrative is complex. This however does not account for this century-long misattribution of authorship.
Truth was born into slavery as Isabella in Ulster County, New York in 1797 (Painter 1996, 3-5). By the time she was a free person in Northampton and beginning work on the Narrative in 1846, she had re-christened herself Sojourner Truth. She met Olive Gilbert in Northampton; they both had been members of the utopian and abolitionist Northampton Association for Education and Industry. Hoping to mimic the success of Frederick Douglass’s, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, An American Slave and raise enough money to afford her own home, she embarked on her own narrative by dictating it to Olive Gilbert (Painter 1996, 4, 105).
Historians Erlene Stetson and Linda David describe the writing of the Narrative as “that of transforming an oral tradition into written form,” and describe the Narrative as “recorded, shaped, and filled with scribal interpolations by Olive Gilbert” (Stetson and David 1994, 14-15). Painter dedicates an entire chapter of her biography to the history of the Narrative and the role of abolitionist friends like Gilbert and William Lloyd Garrison in its construction and publication. Garrison connected Truth to his own printer, George Brown Yerrinton, who printed Truth’s Narrative on credit. Truth then acted as her own distributor and bookseller (Painter 1996, 110-111).
When reading the Narrative, it is clear that there is not one single voice present; it alternates from third to first person, for example. However, it remains Truth’s story, one for which she had the idea to put to print and acted as publisher, bookseller, and marketer. You can see this history in a manuscript inscription of the first edition copy held by the Rubenstein:First edition of Sojourner Truth’s ‘Narrative,’ with manuscript inscription of former owner. Transcription: “Bought of Sojourner herself in Grafton in the summer of 1852 when she was travelling thru Vermont to sell her books. She was a person of great interest both in appearance & manners. Fully all that Mrs. Stowe says of her in the “Atlantic Monthly.””
Resolved on this conclusion, we made the decision to create authority records in the Library of Congress authority file that gives authorship to Truth and editorship to Gilbert. With these edited or newly created authority records established, we then went through each of the hundreds of OCLC bibliographic records for the Narrative and updated the authorship to Sojourner Truth.
The project did not quite end there, as the complicated publication history of later editions of the 19th century surfaced during our research. Significant changes to the text were made to the 1875, 1878, and 1884 editions. For example in 1875, in addition to edits to the text itself, Truth decided to expand her biography and had Frances W. Titus edit a selection from her scrapbook, titling it, Book of Life, replacing the original appendix by Theodore D. Weld, Slavery A System of Inherent Cruelty.
Below are the title pages of some of these later 19th century editions, showing some of the change in content over time.1875 edition of ‘Narrative.’ Title page and frontispiece portrait. Notice the attribution of Gilbert in pencil. 1884 edition of ‘Narrative.’ Title page. Truth died in 1883 and this is the first edition where Truth is not acting as publisher and distributor. Also note the attribution to Gilbert and Titus in pencil.
Painter, Nell Irvin. 1996. Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Stetson, Erlene, and Linda David. 1994. Glorying in Tribulation: The Lifework of Sojourner Truth. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.
Post contributed by Rubenstein Library staffPhotos from collections in the Rubenstein Library that will be featured during Black History Month.
Happy Black History Month! This year we’ll be celebrating #28daysofblack by sharing materials from the Rubenstein Library’s collections and by highlighting our work on current projects. Stay tuned to follow our rare materials catalogers and manuscript archivists as they catalog and process collections that feature black authors, activists, artists, characters, entrepreneurs, and families. You will also be hearing regularly from John Gartrell, Director of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture. John will be posting about the SNCC Legacy project, among many other things. You can follow us on our various social media platforms:
Franklin Center Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JHFResearchCen
Franklin Center twitter: twitter.com/JHFResearchCen
Look for the #28daysofblack, #bhm, #blackbooks, and #blackarchives hashtags.
Here’s a brief rundown of the projects we will be working on for #28daysofblack:SNCC Legacy Project
In the 1960s a group of brash young organizers worked alongside local people in the Deep South to change the direction of America. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was a key catalyst for mobilizing grassroots activists to address voting and political power, economic equity, education, and civil rights. Over the last three years, the SNCC Digital Gateway project has worked to create an online platform that highlights the work of SNCC activists, mentors and allies using primary sources from our library and libraries across the country.Contract with freedmen on Plains Plantation, 1865 June 8-August 28 Newly acquired Freedmen’s contract, 1865.
This worn and creased contract was once framed and ostensibly hung on someone’s wall. It contains language binding newly-freed African Americans and their children to the Plains Plantation in Jefferson County, Mississippi and was signed not even a month after the Civil War was over. According to the contract, the laborers committed to working every day “from sun to sun,” except Sunday, with other possible days off. They were to be paid one quarter of the net proceeds for the crop. Surnames of the freedmen include: Wilson, Thompson, Digg, Turner, Lonsway, Hatton, Clement, Willis, Payne, West, Blair, Garner, Kelley, Arran, and Johnson. The contract was written in iron gall ink, which caused corrosion of the paper. It now has a catalog record and a collection guide and is currently with Duke Libraries’ Conservation Department to receive repairs and proper housing.Radio Haiti Radio Haiti in 1986.
Radio Haiti is an ongoing, multi-year project to create a trilingual (Haitian Creole, French, and English) public-facing digital archive of all the audio of Radio Haiti-Inter, Haiti’s first and most prominent independent radio station. Our goal is to make the content as accessible as possible to people living in Haiti.
In February, we are going to finish up the processing of Radio Haiti’s papers, and archivist Laura Wagner will be traveling to Haiti to continue to do outreach around the project and to distribute flash drives with a large selection of Radio Haiti audio (around 500 recordings) to libraries in Haiti.Allen Building Takeover
February 13th will mark the 49th anniversary of the Allen Building Takeover at Duke in 1969. This month we’ll be continuing work on the Vice President for Student Affairs Records, which include materials documenting the events during and after the Allen Building Takeover. Some items of note include eye-witness accounts of events written by students as well as materials documenting the administration’s planning for an African and African-American Studies Program in the wake of the Allen Building Takeover.Sojourner Truth OCLC
The Rubenstein Library recently acquired works by and about the abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth. Some of these acquisitions form part of the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, including multiple editions of The Narrative of Sojourner Truth. While describing these editions in OCLC, the shared catalog used by libraries around the world, catalogers noticed that Olive Gilbert, a white woman who acted as Truth’s transcriber, is given authorship of The Narrative. Cataloger’s are working to fix this attribution, mainly looking to biographer Nell Irvin Painter, to confirm Truth as the author and Gilbert as the transcriber. Catalogers will use this research to correct records in OCLC and the Library of Congress Name Authority File.Robert A. Hill Collection
This collection exists due to historian and editor Robert A. Hill’s desire to document the journey of Jamaican black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) and his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the back to Africa movement. Hill’s interest in the subject encouraged Garveyites to hand over cherished photographs, notebooks, legal documents, and printed ephemera that describes the rise of the organization, the battles with detractors and the FBI, and Garvey’s subsequent trial, jailing, and deportation. The UNIA members’ passion for the dream of black independence is further conveyed by their oral histories and personal papers. After a year and half of hard work by archivists, this large collection is now open to research.Comic Books
Catalogers in the Rubenstein Library and across Duke University Libraries are currently cataloging the Edwin and Terry Murray Collection, a comic book collection spanning decades and featuring around 50,000 individual items. This month, we’ll focus on cataloging comics starring African American superheroes like Luke Cage, Black Lightning, and Storm, as well as highlight the work of companies like Milestone Media, a company created by African American artists and writers. We will do this work in our local catalog (Search “Edwin and Terry Murray Collection (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library)” to follow along!) and in OCLC.Poro in Pictures Poro products featured in the promotional book, Poro in Pictures.
This promotional book, part of the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, tells the fascinating tale of Poro College, a school that taught black cosmetology, deportment, and business skills to African-American women in the United States. The school was founded by Annie Turnbo Malone, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who developed a very lucrative line of hair products in the first half of the 20th century; many credit her business model to the success of other black entrepreneurs, including Madame C.J. Walker.Bullock family papers
While doing a survey of the Rubenstein’s collections in search of highly-flammable nitrate negatives, Visual Materials Archivist Paula Mangiafico noticed an interesting collection with an unprocessed addition that was mostly photographs, the Bullock family papers. Upon closer inspection, it became clearer that these photos depicted a bi-racial branch of the Bullock family and that the collection could use more detailed and updated description. This month we’ll be returning to the Bullock family papers and sharing information about the descendants who lived in Nutbush and Manson, North Carolina.Bingham Center Artist’s book
One of the many collecting interests of The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture is artists’ books by women. The Bingham Center describes artists’ books as an “amalgamate of traditional arts, such as graphic design, printmaking & bookbinding, with the full spectrum of contemporary art practice and theory, expanding and redefining the form.” Recently, the Rubenstein acquired Divide and Conquer by Maureen Cummins, a book that uses period photographs, many of them from the New York Historical Society and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and a manuscript from the American Antiquarian Society to explore: the early history of the Ku Klux Klan; ideas about power, oppression, and terrorism; and thoughts and questions about how communities come together and are torn apart (description taken from Maureen Cummins’ website). Once this book is cataloged, it will be ready for researchers. If artists’ books interest you, make sure to also check out Clarissa Sligh.Jonathan Leiss papers
The Jonathan Leiss papers contain oral histories about the sit-ins in North Carolina during the 1960s. The library received the papers in 2007 and we created a catalog record. This month we’ll be adding FBI files that were released in 2008, and we’ll be creating a collection guide that will make it easier for researchers to discover and use this collection.Henry Washington Album
This newly acquired family photo album contains photos and clippings of Henry Washington, who was a repairman for the Tuskegee Airmen (the first African American military aviators in the United States) during WWII. He was also a painter and musician. We will be carefully removing the photos from their current album for conservation reasons and creating a catalog record and collection guide so that it will be available for researchers soon.
Finally, we’d like to hear from you. Do you have stories about your encounters with black history in libraries? Are there books or other representations of black history and culture you found or wished you’d found in libraries?
Post contributed by Sierra Moore, Library Assistant for Research Services
Date: Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Time: 1:30-3:30 PM
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room
Contact: Rubenstein Library front desk, 919-660-5822
As all Hallows’ Eve draws near there are a multitude of reasons why you might traipse through all places dark, gloomy, and strange. Here at the Rubenstein Library your travels will be far less perilous. Nonetheless, we have compiled samples from collections containing chilling texts and photographs certain to both entertain, enchant, and imbibe the type of intrigue you seek. Here is a brief preview of what we have in store:
An early version of our very own Blue Devil mascot lingers before the Chapel.
A copy of Stephen King’s IT, ca. 1986.
From our Postcard Collection, a selection of Halloween postcards.
Black and white images of puppets from Puppets and the Puppet Theater.
Please join us on Tuesday, October 31st from 1:30-3:30 PM for a most festive open house certain to rouse the spirits!
Post contributed by Hannah Givens, Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia
This post is part of the Dreamers & Dissenters series, in which we highlight Rubenstein Library collections that document the work of activists and social justice organizations. In this series we hope to lend our voices, and those of the people whose collections we preserve, to the reinvigorated spirit of activism across the United States and beyond.Corley, pictured here at Guadalcanal, served as a scout and quick-sketch artist in the Marines during World War II.
In America, queer history often seems to have “begun” with the Stonewall uprising in 1969, but over the past twenty years, historians have become increasingly interested in pulp fiction as a site of identity and community-building immediately before that. However, pulp novels are often not preserved, their authors remain anonymous or secretive, and their readerships have never been easy to study. Likewise, Southern queer history is a developing field hampered by a widespread misconception that queer history happens only in cities. Southern pulp author and artist Carl Corley serves as a case study that sheds light on both the gay pulp genre and queer Southern history. Corley’s life is well documented in his collection of papers, art, and published books and in the papers of historian John Howard, both held by the Rubenstein Library, as well as in Howard’s landmark book, Men Like That: A Southern Queer History (University of Chicago Press, 1999). A comprehensive digital collection of Corley work is now available online at www.carlcorley.com as the public component of a master’s degree thesis recently completed for the University of West Georgia’s public history program.
As a gay pulp author and artist from Mississippi and Louisiana who published under his own name, Corley is at once a unique and a potentially representative figure. His life and work demonstrate that queer Southerners participated in communities and engaged in a national dialogue about queerness. Corley also challenged readers to accept queer people in society with speeches he included in books like A Lover Mourned (1967):
But in this society, … this love of man for man is not a thing which will last. … Someday, maybe it will last. But not now. It’s impossible. We are doomed and condemned and damned from the start. We are pointed out on the streets, made the butt of ill-timed jokes, ridiculed, and sneered at. There is no place that we can go and hide and live out the burning energy of such a love. We cannot live together with a lover because the law will evict us, and if not the law then the people who are our neighbors.The published cover for A Fool’s Advice (1967), in which a rural young man struggles to reconcile his sexuality and his religion.
Corley’s books probably suffered some editorial intervention in the form of tacked-on sad endings, and many of his books contain the usual references to being led astray into a world of homosexual torment. Usually no such event actually happens in the story and overt pro-gay statements substantially outweigh these occasional twilight references. Corley did not shy away from gay-bashing and violence in his plots, but frequently indulged in editorializing on behalf of his characters, explaining that discrimination was the root cause of any perceived misery in gay life. The conclusion of Corley’s highly autobiographical first novel, A Chosen World (1966), is entirely given to this sort of advocacy. Scholars generally assume that readers were savvy enough to simply ignore added moralizing, and thus embrace Corley’s work as empowering.
Corley’s main contribution to the body of gay literature was his rural perspective. He was known for “specializ[ing] in romantic stories about boys from the country,” and his plots show a complex relationship between the country and the city. The mainstream narrative construction for rural queer people is a journey to the city where anonymity allows one to associate with other queer people and come out. However, with a growing academic interest in rural queer studies, a counternarrative has emerged showing how many queer people have lived in rural areas permanently, and that such regions may not be as hostile to queer people as they have been stereotyped. Corley falls somewhere in between. For him the city can be overwhelming, and may contain corrupting influences, but can also offer opportunities and places to meet other queer people. His young rural protagonist frequently makes a trip to the big city (usually Baton Rouge or New Orleans), where he discovers the existence of a queer subculture. However, although some characters stay in the city and begin participating in this culture, many of return to idyllic country life or express regret for leaving. Corley glorifies the rural South as a place where gay couples can be free, happy, dignified, and in harmony with nature, if only their families and neighbors will give them some peace.Original cover art for Jesse, Man of the Streets (1968), which explores the torrid world of city hustlers.
While queer activist organizations existed in the 1950s, they were arguably much more secretive than the pulp fandom, and unlike popular fiction they failed to engage queer people where they were, both spatially and socially. They did not attract large numbers of members or subscribers until the 1970s after Stonewall. Also, while activist societies often craved respectability in the 1950s and 1960s, queer media embraced pleasure and desire as part of sexual subjectivity. Many more gay men read pulps than the Mattachine Review, and at the same time, in a time when overt gay themes never appeared on television and rarely in public discourse, the straight mainstream also learned about queer life through pulps. Serious writers like James Baldwin and Christopher Isherwood fit into this loose genre of gay fiction, but these books were hard to find since bookstores and libraries often refused to carry such risqué titles. Cheap, small pulps, on the other hand, had a distribution model based on the magazine trade, shipping directly to outlets like drugstores and train stations, including those in rural areas. As publishers became more reliable, books also came with mail-order forms so customers could purchase them directly from anywhere.
In a sociological survey conducted by Barry M. Dank in 1971, 15% of gay men said they “developed their ideas of what it means to be gay” through reading—a very high percentage compared to the general population of readers. Despite this high number, it is currently impossible to tell exactly how many people were reading pulp novels, how many of them were queer, or how many people read a specific novel or author. Still, comparisons can be made among authors. Corley was popular enough to have three of his novels reprinted in one edition, which suggests a high level of interest. Corley was a recognized author in pulp circles, perhaps a slightly odd one known for rural settings and distinctive covers, but one who contributed to a trend towards establishing gay identity, open sexuality, and demand for respect. Using his own name not only indicates his personal search for literary recognition, but also his status as a successful brand. Corley’s work made rural queerness visible. Although much of his private life remains a mystery, he left behind the most queer-positive work he could in a genre that is only now receiving recognition for the cultural change it helped create.
The post Dreamers & Dissenters: Carl Corley and Gay Activism Before Stonewall appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Time: 5:30-6:30 PM
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library Room 153
Contact: Laura Micham,
Please join the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture for a program honoring the memory of feminist writer, artist, and activist Kate Millett (1934-2017) with readings and reflections.
Speakers will include Kimberly Lamm, Toril Moi, Sylvia Herbold, Heather McGowan, Kathy Rudy, Naomi Nelson, and others.
Co-sponsored by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture; Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies; and the Forum for Scholars and Publics.
Post contributed by Kelly Wooten, Laura Micham, and Laurin Penland.Kate Millett at the Los Angeles Women’s Center, 1977, photographed by Michiko Matsumoto. Kate Millett papers
We were saddened to learn of Kate Millett’s passing on September 6, 2017. As many people have been writing and speaking about her legacy, we realized we are not alone in trying to grapple with the significance of her contributions to the feminist movement, to the creation of feminist theory, to the art world, to writing, to LGBTQ activism, to advocacy for mental health reform, and to many, many other realms. Here at the Rubenstein Library, her papers have been at the heart of the Bingham Center’s collections since 2000, and have inspired much scholarship, enhancing our understanding of the world.
The Kate Millett papers in the Sallie Bingham Center provide rich documentation of Millett’s activities as a feminist activist, artist, and author. These materials reflect the intensely personal nature of much of Millett’s work and the frequent fusion of her personal, political, and professional interests. Materials in the collection also cover feminism and the social conditions for women around the globe, especially in France, Italy, and the Middle East—most notably Iran, where Millett traveled in the seventies.Brochure for Women’s Liberation Cinema Company film, Three Lives, directed by Kate Millett, 1971. Kate Millett papers
Many researchers have been moved by their encounters with the writings and artwork of Kate Millett in her papers. Dr. Michelle Moravec, Associate Professor of American History and Women & Gender Studies at Rosemont College, writes:
“Working in a person’s archived papers is always an intensely intimate experience, but in Millett’s case the resonances are amplified by the emotional reactions she left scrawled across her papers. ‘Ridiculous!’ she pronounced in a scrawling red hand, across a tedious letter regarding a speaking engagement. ‘That awful Barnard thing goes on’ she sniffed in response to a request to publish her presentation from the Scholar and the Feminist Conference IX: Towards a Politics of Sexuality. Interspersed are flashes of Millett’s intellectual process, dashed off notes for one of her many lectures proclaims ‘We now have to dare everything… Writing our lives… Break every taboo.’ Long handwritten letters attest to her poignant longing to create an artistic community at The Farm, an art colony she created, the economic struggles all too familiar to female artists and writers who did not become academics, and her engagement with deeply difficult material including sexual abuse and torture.”
Born in 1934 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Kate Millett was an internationally acclaimed artist, writer, and activist. A founding member of the Noho Gallery in New York City, Millet created the Women’s Art Colony Farm in Poughkeepsie, NY in 1978, and had shown her work internationally since 1963. She was known for her sculpture and installation works in addition to pen and ink drawings both abstract and figurative. Millet’s Columbia University Ph.D. dissertation, Sexual Politics (1970), placed her at the forefront of the women’s movement. Her other political works include The Prostitution Papers (1973), The Basement (1979), Going to Iran (1979) and The Politics of Cruelty: An Essay on the Literature of Political Imprisonment (1994). Millett also wrote a series of memoirs that combine deeply felt personal revelation with trenchant political analysis. These include Flying (1974) about her early years, Sita (1977) and Elegy for Sita (1979) the story of a tragic romantic relationship, The Loony Bin Trip (1990) Millett’s exposé of the mental health system, A.D., A Memoir (1995) in which she reflects on her early life, and Mother Millett (2002) a meditation on her upbringing in middle America and her experience as an activist and then outcast from the movements she helped to form and lead.
In these books Millett gave her readers the analytical tools and inspiration for making a revolution. Her words, such as these from Sexual Politics, will continue to resonate, “For to actually change the quality of life is to transform personality, and this cannot be done without freeing humanity from the tyranny of sexual-social category and conformity to sexual stereotype—as well as abolishing racial caste and economic class.”Pen and ink drawing, ca. 1978. Kate Millett Papers
Many moving tributes have been published in newspapers, on websites, and on social media such as this one by Gloria Steinem on Facebook: “As Andrea Dworkin said, ‘The world was asleep, but Kate Millett woke it up.’ Sexual Politics—and all Kate’s work—will keep us Woke.” The impact of Kate Millett’s life and work cannot be overstated.
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Post contributed by Liz Adams, Special Collections CatalogerCover of Knight Asrael: and Other Stories, written by Una Ashworth Taylor and newly cataloged as part of the Lisa Unger Baskin collection.
When I open books, one of my favorite things to do is look for small signs of its previous owners, its provenance: Was the book a gift, with a thoughtful note to the recipient? Did the owner write her name, big and bold, on a flyleaf? Sometimes there are so many signs that a separate story, that of the owner, begins to emerge. This was the case with Una Vincenzo, Lady Troubridge and her copy of Knight Asrael: and Other Stories, written by her aunt Una Ashworth Taylor.Inscription by author Una Ashworth Taylor.
Una Vincenzo, Lady Troubridge was born in 1887 to a family steeped in literary culture. Not only did her aunt Una write Knight Asrael, but her other aunt Ida wrote several novels, contributed regularly to 19th century magazines, and published biographies on Lady Jane Gray, Queen Hortense, and Madame Roland (Palumbo-De Simone, 2004). Her grandfather, Sir Henry Taylor, was a well-known dramatist and poet (Reger, 2004). This literary heritage is felt early on in Una Vincenzo’s copy of Knight Asrael. Una Ashworth Taylor wrote a deeply personal inscription to her nieces, one explicitly connecting baby Una and her older sister Violet to literature, to the power of reading: “Here are your stories, Violet, for you to listen to now, to read to yourself soon, & to tell to baby when she is old enough to hear them. September-1889.”
Although it’s unclear if Violet read the chivalric stories in Knight Asrael, Una seems to have, or at the very least, she enjoyed its opening pages. On the front pages of Knight Asrael, there are exuberant blue drawings, signed by their artist: U.T.Drawings in the opening pages of Knight Asrael.
While these drawings might be some of the earliest known Una Vincenzo works, they are not the last: Una trained at the Royal College of Art, ultimately focusing on sculptural works (Ormrod, 1984, p. 29). A bust of the famed Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky cast by Una now lives at the Victoria and Albert Museum.Drawings in the opening pages of Knight Asrael.
Una Vincenzo left one more sign in Knight Asrael, an inscription of her own on the title page: “Radclyffe-Hall & Troubridge, Chip Chase, Hadley Wood, Herts.”
Radclyffe Hall is the author of several novels, most notably The Well of Loneliness, an influential work in lesbian literature. She and Una met in 1915 and moved in together in 1919—after Una formally separated from her husband, Admiral Ernest Troubridge (Ormrod, 2004, p. 65, p.133). Una and Radclyffe (also known as John) were romantic partners for 28 years, living together at Chip Chase and abroad, until Radclyffe’s death in 1943 (Baker, 2004). Una documented their lives together through photographyInscription connecting Una Vincenzo with Radclyffe Hall and noting where they once lived together at Chip Chase.
and a biography published after Radclyffe’s death, The Life and Death of Radclyffe Hall. And even after death, Una continued to write letters to her beloved (Ormrod, 2004, p. 286).
When the provenance in Knight Asrael is taken together, the life and loves of Una Vincenzo, Lady Troubridge begins to break through: her artistic endeavors, her literary nature, and her deep love for Radclyffe Hall. Una ultimately lived to the age of 76, dying in 1963 in Rome, Italy (Ormrod, 2004, p.313).
The Rubenstein Library acquired its copy of Knight Asrael as part of the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, a transformative collection documenting the lives and work of women across several centuries.
Baker, M. (2004). ‘Hall, Marguerite Antonia Radclyffe- (1880–1943)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press; online edn, May 2015 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37878, accessed 21 July 2017]
Ormrod, R. (1985). Una Troubridge: the friend of Radclyffe Hall. New York: Carroll & Graf.
Palumbo-De Simone, C. (2004). ‘Taylor, Ida Alice Ashworth (1847–1929)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press; online edn. May 2015 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/46564, accessed 21 July 2017]
Reger, M. (2004). ‘Taylor, Sir Henry (1800–1886)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press; online edn. May 2015 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/27030, accessed 21 July 2017]
The post Tales of Provenance: Una Vincenzo Revealed in Three Inscriptions appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Post Contributed by Laura Micham, Merle Hoffman Director, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture
Caroline Bartlett Crane: “America’s Housekeeper,” Renaissance WomanPortrait from Is God Responsible? A Sermon, Kalamazoo, Mich. 1898.
Caroline Bartlett Crane (1858-1935) was an American Unitarian minister, suffragist, civic reformer, educator, and journalist. Among the first wave of college-educated women in the U.S., she worked as a teacher, school principal, and newspaper reporter before pursuing the call to ministry she first experienced as a teenager.
Bartlett Crane was accepted as a candidate for the ministry at the Iowa State Unitarian Conference in the 1880s. In 1889, after ordination and completion of her first church assignment, she began work at the Unitarian church in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Within a short time she led the church to open the first free public kindergarten, a school of manual training and domestic science, a gymnasium for women, a day nursery, a cafeteria, and the Frederick Douglass Club for the “young colored people of the city.” The church continued to expand until it outgrew its building. In 1894 a new one was built and renamed “People’s Church.” In 1898, after illness and differences with the board, she resigned her ministry.Published by The Young Men’s Union of the People’s Church of Kalamazoo, Mich., 1896.
The Sallie Bingham Center has recently acquired three rare pamphlets written by Rev. Bartlett Crane between 1896 and 1898. Two are sermons delivered in the People’s Church. Why the People’s Church…, published in 1896, outlines Bartlett Crane’s philosophy regarding opening church membership to “any human being who is willing to join in the work of helping the world.” The second, Is God Responsible?, published in 1898, is a reflection and expression of sympathy and support for her congregants after a tragic fire and explosion in a local chemical plant.Published by The Young Published by The Young Men’s Union of the People’s Church of Kalamazoo, Mich., 1898.
The third pamphlet, If I Were Twenty Again!, also published in 1898, offers the accumulated wisdom of a woman who had already had four successful careers and was about to embark on her fifth and final career. Turning to public health and sanitation reform at the turn of the 20th century, Bartlett Crane successfully campaigned for meat inspection ordinances after discovering unsanitary conditions in local slaughterhouses. She founded the Women’s Civic Improvement League in 1903-4. By 1917 Bartlett Crane had inspected facilities in sixty-two cities in fourteen states. As a result of her work to improve urban sanitation, she was known as “America’s housekeeper.”
A tribute to Caroline Bartlett Crane is a small house in Kalamazoo, Michigan which won first place in the Better Homes in America contest in 1925. Bartlett Crane headed a local committee that designed the house to be functional and affordable for a family of moderate income. Called “Everyman’s House,” it was built by volunteers and received national attention. Almost sixty years later Bartlett Crane’s achievements were recognized by her induction, in 1984, into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. The pamphlets are available for researchers in the Rubenstein Library.
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