UArchives blog posts
“Since the war began ‘times ain’t what they used to be:’” Life at Trinity College During the Great War
Post contributed by Mandy Cooper, PhD, exhibit curator, former Research Services Graduate Intern, and Duke History PhD.
One hundred and one years ago, the doors to the East Duke Parlors were “thrown open” and “tables and machines [were] hauled in” along with “oilcloth, bleaching, hammer and tacks.” Led by Trinity College’s newly established branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the women at Trinity College and in the surrounding community turned the East Duke Parlors into a Red Cross room. According to Trinity’s YWCA president Lucile Litaker, the room was now “splendidly equipped” and “great bundles of material began to appear.” Throughout the next year, women at Trinity were joined by women from Durham to roll and send bandages overseas. The Red Cross room was officially open every Tuesday and Friday afternoon from 2:00-4:30, with the Trinity Chronicle reporting in February 1918 that between forty and fifty women had worked in the room the previous Friday. The women at Trinity were determined to do their part for the war effort.Photos of the Student Army Training Corps at Duke in the University Archives Photograph Collection, Box 72.
They were not the only ones. By the 1917-1918 school year, the United States had officially entered World War I, and Trinity was feeling its effects. The impact on enrollment was immediate. Trinity saw a decrease of over 100 enrolled students from 1916-1917 and 1918-1919. President William P. Few was alarmed and attempted to boost enrollment in multiple ways: he encouraged current students to remain at Trinity until they were drafted; he toured North Carolina to promote the need for college-educated men to rebuild a war-ravaged Europe; and, like many other North Carolina universities, he started a Student Army Training Corps (SATC) unit on campus. The young men who enrolled in the SATC officially joined the US Army, but remained students at their institutions and were protected from the draft while receiving the training necessary to be considered for officer positions after graduation. Special classes were established for the SATC to ensure that those enrolled received the necessary training. The War Department required that Trinity create a course for the SATC that covered the “remote and immediate causes of the war and on the underlying conflict of points of view.” This course was intended to enhance the SATC’s morale and help them understand the “supreme importance to civilization” to the war.
Few’s worries that Trinity would lose many students “to government service of one kind or another” proved apt. Although Few tried to dissuade freshman Charlton Gaines from leaving Trinity when he heard of his plans, Gaines enlisted and was sent to Camp Meigs for training. He apologized to Few shortly after arriving at Camp Meigs for leaving “without giving you notice of my departure.” Gaines served throughout the war, attaining the rank of Sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps, and never returned to Trinity College.
Even those students who remained at Trinity felt the effects of the war. Friends and former students who had joined the military often returned to campus to visit on the weekends. The Chronicle reported in January 1918, that there would be no Chanticleer for the 1917-1918 largely because of the war. In addition to financial woes carried over from the previous year, the editor-elect had failed to return to Trinity in fall 1917—presumably because he joined the army. As the Chronicle writer reported, though, Trinity was not the only college (even just in North Carolina) that had been forced to cancel the yearbook for the year. In the end, the writer told students that they must “patriotically adapt” themselves to this situation because “since the war began ‘times ain’t what they used to be.’” The Chanticleer returned in 1919 as a special edition. It was issued at the end of the war, published as Victory, 1919, and highlighted the victory of the United States and its allies in the war.
The war had some unexpected effects on Trinity as well. Football had been banned at Trinity since 1895, and in 1918 students petitioned for its return. They argued that a football program would help build a manly physique during a time when there was “a distressing need for physically well-developed men.” As the war was ending, the administration lifted the ban and football returned to Trinity.
Trinity’s connection to the war was never more clear than in the masses of letters that alumni and former students sent to friends still at Trinity, to President Few or other faculty, to the Trinity Chronicle, or to the Alumni Register. Lt. R.H. Shelton wrote to Duke Treasurer D.W. Newsome from the front in France, telling him that he had seen “some of the worst over here.” Shelton continued, “Sherman certainly knew what he was talking about, but his was an infant.” Alumni like Shelton made the horrors of war clear to everyone still at Trinity. The pages of the Alumni Register for the war years are filled with letters from the front, placed in the same volumes as the President’s updates on the war’s effect on the college.Captain Charles R. Bagley (’14, A.M. ’15) wrote multiple letters from the front that were published: one in the Alumni Register in April 1918 and one in the Chronicle in December of the same year. Photo of Captain Charles R. Bagley, ’14, A.M. ’15, Camp Jackson. In the Trinity Alumni Register, Vol. 4, No. 1, April 1918, p. 48. Available digitally at https://archive.org/details/trinityalumnireg04trin
The Alumni Register and the Chronicle both regularly reported on the service of Trinity alumni and students overseas, including the first alumnus killed in action. First Lieutenant Robert “Kid” Anderson was among the first wave of American soldiers sent overseas. Part of the class of 1914, he was killed in action on May 29, 1918, at the Battle of Cantigny in France—the first major American engagement in the war. The news of Anderson’s death was sent both to his family and to President Few. The Alumni Register announced that Anderson had been killed in action in its July 1918 issue. The Register profiled his time at Trinity and his military service before reprinting an account of the memorial service held in his honor in his hometown of Wilson, North Carolina, a letter to Anderson’s parents from a fellow soldier that described his, and portions of Anderson’s letters to relatives and friends.
To honor the centennial of the end of the First World War, selected items from the Duke University Libraries are on display in the Mary Duke Biddle Room as part of the exhibit “Views of the Great War: Highlights from the Duke University Libraries.” In addition to the impact of World War I on Trinity College and other people back home, the exhibit highlights aspects of the Great War and tells the personal stories of a few of the men and women (whether soldiers, doctors, or nurses) who travelled to France with the American Expeditionary Force during the “war to end all wars.” “Views of the Great War” is on display through February 16, 2019.
 Lucile Litaker, “The Year with the Y.W.C.A.,” The Alumni Register, Volume IV, No. 2, July 1918; 148-149. Available digitally at https://archive.org/details/trinityalumnireg04trin. For the Chronicle article, see: “Red Cross Notes,” The Trinity Chronicle, Vol. 13, No. 19, Wednesday, February 6, 1918. Available digitally at https://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/dukechronicle_dchnp83014/.
 Memo from the War Department Committee on Education and Special Training to Institutions where Units of the Student Army Training Corps are Located, September 10, 1918. Wartime at Duke Reference Collection, World War I – Student Army Training Corps, Box 1.
 For Few’s statement about losing students, see: William Preston Few to Benjamin N. Duke, July 16, 1917, Few Papers, Box 17, Folder 210. For the Charlton Gaines’s letter, see: Charlton Gaines to President Few, February 19, 1918, Few Papers, Box 19, Folder 235.
 “No Chanticleer for 1918.” The Trinity Chronicle, Vol. 13, No. 17, Wednesday, January 16, 1918. Available digitally at: https://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/dukechronicle_dchnp83013/.
 Statement from the Student Committee on Football, May 14, 1918. Trinity College Yearly Files, 1918. Board of Trustees Records, Box 5, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
 Lt. R.H. Shelton to D.W. Newsom, June 25, 1918. Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) Office of the Treasurer Records, Box 1, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
 The Alumni Register, Volume IV, No. 2, July 1918; 98-104. Available digitally at https://archive.org/details/trinityalumnireg04trin.
Post contributed by Val Gillispie, University Archivist.Hanging portraits in the Gothic Reading Room following the Rubenstein Library renovation, 2015
The air is finally crisp in Durham, and we are all enjoying the cool weather and colorful leaves. We are changing inside the library, too, with a major shift for the portraits in the Gothic Reading Room. That’s right, the beloved and historic Gothic is getting an art update!
So what’s moving?
- The three men responsible for the initial construction of Duke’s campus, Horace Trumbauer, Julian Abele, and Arthur C. Lee, will be moving across the room, next to the John Hope Franklin portrait.
- The presidents will all be moved down to make room for future presidential portraits, including a portrait of past president Richard Brodhead, which will be hung in early November.
- Founding Duke Endowment trustees will be moving in to archival storage, providing more room for additional portraits.
What’s not moving? James, Washington, and Ben Duke will remain where they are, as will Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans and John Hope Franklin.
The change means that the room now has space for new portraits to be added. So we ask you, dear reader: who would you honor with a portrait in the Gothic Reading Room?
Post contributed by Tracy Jackson, Technical Services Archivist for the Duke University Archives and Head, Center Manuscript Processing Section.
Duke University Archives is very proud to announce that select films of football games made by Duke Athletics are now available for viewing on the web!
This is exciting news for us, and we hope you will be excited, too. The digitized films are available in two different ways: within the complete collection guide and directly from the Duke Digital Repository.
Not all of the films are available, unfortunately, as not all have been digitized yet. Only the football game films that have been requested by our users and digitized within the last ten years or so can now be viewed by anyone. The story of how these films became available is a bit complicated, and demonstrates why making digitized content of archival materials is never as easy as folks might think.
The football game films have been in the archives since the 1980s, with additions coming in occasionally. The older films are all actual films – 16mm films, to be more precise. Later films were made on video, including Betacam and DVCam. In total, there are about 2,500 films representing more than 80 years of football games at Duke.
Staff have made copies of some game films for people to view since the originals first came the Archives, and as time went on the format of these copies changed: we have use copies of films on VHS, Betacam, DVD, and digital files.
To keep an inventory of these films, Archives staff created an Access database in the mid-2000s, which includes both football and basketball films. This database included the date of the game, the opponent Duke played, and the outcome of the game, as well as how many films had been made of the game and what boxes they were in. The database was later made available online so people could search it and find games they were interested in seeing, and also included some information about use copies.A screenshot of the Sports Films Access database
Unfortunately, the database was difficult, and then impossible, to update. We received more films from Duke Athletics, and more use copies were made, but the database didn’t include these new items. Also, our methods of keeping track of individual films changed. Our current archival practice for handling sound and motion picture recordings is to give each item a unique number so we can track it, and track any copies made of it. The database was made before we assigned these unique IDs to the films, so staff created a spreadsheet with information from the database plus the unique ID assigned to each film.Screenshot of the Excel spreadsheet with information about the football game films
What’s more, we now manage all of the information about all of our collections in a separate, much larger database, ArchivesSpace. The sports film database could not talk to ArchivesSpace, and the spreadsheet version with the unique IDs wasn’t formatted to go into ArchivesSpace, either.
By 2016, we had well over a hundred boxes holding a couple thousand films of football games (and a similar situation with basketball films), and we had quite a lot of description about the games divided across several places, plus use copies of films and a few dozen digital files of games that people had requested, none of which were easily accessible to the public.
We know people want to see these films. We want people to see these films! So we set to work to figure out how to get a full list of all the games we had, in the same place and format where we keep all the information about our collections; how to let people know which ones have been digitized already; and also let people actually watch the ones that have been digitized.
First I had to get all the metadata about the films together into one place, formatted consistently, with the unique IDs we use to track them included. This involved lots and lots of spreadsheets. I used the original Access database, two different Excel spreadsheets that had been created to assign unique IDs and format data, and OpenRefine. I spent a lot of time cleaning up dates, moving things around, and just so much copying and pasting. I also had to figure out how to organize the films in a way that made sense both to human beings looking at the lists and the way ArchivesSpace stores and displays description. Finally, after months of wrangling spreadsheets, I got the description for football films from the 1930s through 1993 organized by opponent, in chronological order, with any other description we had (final score, what part of the game an individual film covered), and into ArchivesSpace. We created a collection guide that was available online, showing all this information, hooray!Screenshot of the football films entered in ArchivesSpace
After that, there was still a lot of work to do to get the digitized films available for streaming online. I worked closely with Craig Breaden, the Audiovisual Archivist, to figure out what had been digitized and where those files were. Craig and I also worked extensively with Molly Bragg and Moira Downey in the Digital Production Center to get the digitized films into the Duke Digital Repository, the home of our digital collections. Moira did a ton of work and was very patient with me while we worked out how to do this, since it involved once again making sure the metadata we had was formatted in a way that worked with the DDR systems, that we knew what and where the files were, and many other steps.
Once Moira did the bulk of the work in getting the films into the DDR, there were still a few steps I and my colleague Noah Huffman needed to do to make sure the films would be visible within the collection guide. We were able to make sure metadata from the DDR went into ArchivesSpace, then once Molly’s team published the digital collection, reposted the collection guide. And voila!Screenshot of Football Game Film Collection guide showing streaming 1984 Duke vs. UNC game film
Getting digitized archival material available for almost seamless viewing by the public takes a lot of preparation and work behind the scenes. The technologies we use to make copies of recordings, the methods we use to keep track of our materials, and the way we store and display materials online all change rapidly and frequently, so any endeavor like this, even one that seems simple, takes multiple people, multiple systems, and a surprising amount of time. So far, there are 38 films from the Football Game Films Collection available online, but there is still a lot of work to be done with this collection: there are more films to add to the collection guide, and other copies made of films that we hope to make available.
The staff of University Archives is very excited to make the digitized football films available, and we’re glad all our work went in to something we think a lot of people will enjoy. I’m currently working on repeating this process with the Basketball Films, so stay tuned!
The post Why Watch One Duke Football Game Each Weekend When You Can Watch a Bunch? appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
We’re starting the school year off w/ lots of interest in Duke’s complex history, which warms (and engages) our archivist hearts. So here’s a handy compilation of ways to learn more about Duke history at the University Archives!
Travel through 178 years of Duke history with this nifty timeline.
Or grab your coffee & head to the permanent Duke University history exhibit outside the Gothic Reading Room.
Learn more about the workers who built the Duke campuses & their working conditions on the website created by this past summer’s Story+ project, “Stone by Stone: Who Built the Duke Chapel?”
Our research guides will point you to key resources on popular topics, like athletics & student activism.
Or you can browse our online exhibits! Integration, Duke during World War II, Duke’s queer history—find them here!
The Duke Chronicle, Duke’s student-run newspaper, is a fantastic historical resource. We’ve digitized the very first issue (December 19, 1905) through Feb 1989 and you can read/search through them here. 1990s issues will be available this fall!
103 years of the Chanticleer (Duke’s yearbook) are also browsable online. So many retro hairstyles!
Or see what the Pratt School of Engineering was like with digitized issues of DukEngineer.
Want to see Duke history rather than read about it? Our Flickr site has 3,000+ photos!This 1982 photo is on Flickr. Might not be the best set up for looking at Flickr, though. And the easiest way to learn about Duke history? Stop by the University Archives and talk to your friendly university archivists!
Tell us a little bit about your new job at the University Archives!
As the Records Manager, I will be working closely with University Archives staff and other university stakeholders to update, redesign, and guide Duke’s records management program to ensure that the significant records of the university, including both paper and electronic formats, are preserved and made available for future research. I will be assisting offices and departments to help them identify, retain, and dispose of their records appropriately by creating records retention guidelines, assisting with records transfer, and providing guidance on electronic records management. You will see me out and about on campus as I work with departments and offices.
Why is records management important?
Records management is all about getting the right information to the right people at the right time. The goal is to ensure that employees have access to the information they need to be successful here at Duke while also protecting personal information and sensitive data in accordance with best practices and federal regulations. Records management is also crucial when documenting university history. The work we do at Duke is important, and we should make sure the records of it are preserved in the Archives for future research and scholarship.
Can you give us a sneak peek of some upcoming changes for the records management program?
The Archives will soon be unveiling new webpages with updated information on records management procedures, including a new online form to streamline the records transfer process. Later this year, we will begin offering introductory records management presentations to offices and department staff.
What is one thing that people may not realize about records management?
Records management is everywhere! Records management plays a role in everything from records creation to access and use to destruction or preservation of records. People use records management every day whether they think about it or not; naming a document, saving a photo, filing an email—all of these tasks involve records management. Records management is a crucial part of our lives—and you may not even notice!
How did you become a records manager/archivist?
My interest in records began during my undergraduate work at the University of Mary Washington, where I studied historic preservation. I then attended the University of Pittsburgh to get my MLIS in Library Science. I took two classes on Records Management, and I realized I had found my calling.
What aspects of your new job are you most excited about?
As a records manager, I get to know campus well. I get to work with new people all the time, and I enjoy working with people from all across campus. I also get to know campus spaces. I frequently go to departments and get to see their storage spaces. I’ve been in more basements, “troll dungeons”, closets, and attics than I can count. While those places are not good spaces for storing records, they make for interesting visits!
Tell us one fun thing about yourself.
I love football—both professional and college! I look forward to cheering on the Blue Devils in the ACC!
Any last words of wisdom?
Are you having difficulties managing your records? You are not alone! Sometimes people feel they are the only ones facing records issues. Every department and office faces these problems, and the Records Management program is here to help. Just ask!
Thanks, Hillary, and welcome to the UA!
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 Tracy Jackson, Technical Services Archivist for University Archives
Terry Sanford was a fixture of North Carolina life and politics for decades, and from 1970 to 1985 he was “Uncle Terry,” the President of Duke University. As a North Carolina State Senator, Governor, and United States Senator, he was known for his tireless support of and advocacy for education, especially public education, as well as his support of civil rights causes, including desegregation. He has left a lasting legacy here at Duke (the Sanford School of Public Policy is named for him), in North Carolina, and across the South.
While he may be well-known at Duke and across the country for his progressive ideals, he is slightly less well-known for a particularly fascinating tradition known as the Varmint Dinner. We’re here today to rectify this oversight and share with you all the story of this peculiar party.
According to an article in the Atlanta Constitution in 1980, the Varmint Dinner, also sometimes called the Critter Dinner, started in the mid-1970s when then-President Sanford and a friend, Jake Phelps, had “a lot of game” and thought “a Varmint Dinner in a formal setting would be a fun way to get rid of it.” The dinner continued because it was a way “to get family and friends together every once in a while.” Hard to argue with that!click image to enlarge
So what was served at the Varmint Dinner? Over the years, courses included raccoon (universally shortened to “ ’coon”), venison, catfish, wild pig, squirrel, rabbit, goat, bear, turtle, possum, and snake. The theme demanded the idea that “these entrees should have been recently lumbering around the words somewhere or at least hiding in tall grass beside a winding asphalt highway bracing for a brave challenge to oncoming cars.” Highly romantic description that allowed for basically anything not raised on a farm for the sole purpose of being eaten. In keeping with the down-home feel, the dinner was limited to mostly family and some friends, and the recipes based on instinct, rumor, and trial and error. With help from, according to the article, copious amounts of moonshine.
The article appearing in the Atlanta Constitution does an excellent job of trying to convey the sense of Southern country ingenuity combined with refined charm and grace that the whole idea of this dinner given by Terry Sanford evokes. The Terry Sanford Records and Papers, the collection of materials from President Sanford held in the University Archives, also includes some humorous correspondence that details the attendance of the article’s author at the Varmint Dinner in 1980.
Included in the collection is a note written to President Sanford by Bill Green, a journalist and the then-Director of University Relations, conveying the wish of David Morrison of the Atlanta Constitution to attend that year’s dinner, if there was to be one, and offering to bring snake. President Sanford jotted a reply on the letter that reads: “We’ll have one if we can gather in enough varmints. Seems we have been eating them as fast as they come by –“.
Later correspondence shows that David Morrison, in attempting to deliver his promise of snake, contacted Georgia State Senator Franklin Sutton, apparently a known source of “rattlesnake steak,” who wrote a lengthy and detailed account of how he might trap a snake and why he was unable to procure one. The letter was a fun reminder to me that politicians and executives rarely typed their own correspondence, since it also includes a sharply hilarious postscript from Senator Sutton’s secretary Benita to David Morrison.
We don’t know exactly how long the Varmint Dinner tradition carried on, since this correspondence and the photocopied article from the Atlanta Constitution, as well as half of a photocopied article from an unknown paper, are the only mentions of it in the collection (that I know of, please note this collection has more than 300 feet of material). But if you are looking for a new holiday tradition, and you can lay your hands on some (legally and ethically acquired) varmints, consider what Uncle Terry would do.
These materials came to light during recent reprocessing of portion of Terry Sanford’s collections related to his campaigns for President of the United States in 1972 and 1976. There is a wealth of interesting material in this collection – check it out for yourself!
Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist
Most Dukies know about the Allen Building Takeover of February 13, 1969. It proved to be a watershed moment for Duke, and led to real change in the curriculum and in social and academic support for students of color. What many don’t know, however, is that there was a protest in the Allen Building just 15 months earlier, the Allen Building Study-In. Although less dramatic than the Allen Building Takeover, it was also organized by African-American students, and it also had real impact on Duke.
The Allen Building Study-In took place on November 13, 1967. The purpose was to protest the use of segregated facilities by Duke student organizations. One year earlier, the local chapter of the Duke Alumni Association had held a banquet honoring the football team at the all-white Hope Valley Country Club—thereby excluding the black players. Two hundred picketers protested the event. The Duke administration took no immediate action, and no prohibition was in place around the use of such facilities.
In September 1967, President Douglas Knight agreed to a policy that banned the use of such facilities by faculty and administrative groups, but did not require student groups to comply. In early November of that same year, the Associated Students of Duke University (ASDU, precursor to today’s DSG) conducted a student-wide referendum on a proposed ban on such facilities, but this motion was defeated. Frustrated with the lack of action by the student body and the administration, the students issued a statement and demands on November 10. They demanded that action be taken on the policy immediately.
With no immediate response from the administration, three days later a group of around 30 students entered the president’s office, staying for seven hours and blocking the entrance to Knight’s office. Reporters from radio stations and newspapers were also present to cover the event. Shortly after the conclusion of the protest, two major university committees recommended the passage of a complete ban on the use of segregated facilities. On November 17, just four days after the Study-In, Knight issued a statement in which he extended the existing policy to cover all student groups, in addition to faculty and staff groups.
Monday, November 13, 2017, will mark the fiftieth anniversary of this peaceful but powerful action by a small group of students. A small exhibit commemorating the Study-In is currently installed near the service desk of Perkins Library.Students participate in the Allen Building Study-In, November 13, 1967
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!
Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Time: 5:00 PM
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library Room 153
Contact: Valerie Gillispie, email@example.com
This summer, our second class of Duke History Revisited students dug into the University’s history, developing individual research projects that tell the stories of people and events that are not widely known.
On October 11th at 5 PM, five of the program’s students will come together to recap their projects. During this public event, each student will briefly introduce their topic, highlight their research discoveries, and offer their own insight into Duke’s history. The presentations will be followed by refreshments and an opportunity to talk with the students in more detail.
The students’ research projects are also available on the Duke History Revisited website.
The post Oct. 11th: Looking Forward: Duke History Revisited 2017 appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist
Have you ever wondered about the fancy chain that the president wears during commencement? Or about that big scepter that the chair of Academic Council carries during convocation? For the next month, get an up close look at the official Duke University chain of office and mace, on display near the service desk in Perkins Library.
Created in 1970, the mace and chain of office were formally debuted at Terry Sanford’s presidential inauguration on October 18, 1970. Both items are traditional symbols of leadership, and Duke’s versions feature distinctly Duke and North Carolinian decorations: pinecones, tobacco leaves, the school motto “Eruditio et Religio,” and the Duke family coat of arms.The mace and chain in action at Terry Sanford’s inauguration, October 18, 1970
The chain of office and mace will be on display until October 5, when they will be used during the inauguration of President Vincent Price, the University’s tenth president.
The post University Mace & Chain Now on Display in Perkins Library appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Post contributed by Erin Ryan, Drill Intern for the Duke University Archives.
When I first signed up to do a Rubenstein Test Kitchen blog post, my plan was to do something from an early-to-mid 20th-century vegetarian cookbook in our collections. I’ve been a vegetarian since the mid-’90s.
But then, as I was browsing our library catalog, I came across 401 Party and Holiday Ideas from ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America, 1971) in our Nicole Di Bona Peterson Collection of Advertising Cookbooks. I was intrigued; my grandfather—my dad’s father—worked for ALCOA for about 35 years, until his retirement in the early ’80s.
Pretty soon, I was hooked.
This amazing book features the creations of one Conny von Hagen, who worked as a designer for ALCOA, still one of the largest producers of aluminum.
Conny was also behind 1959’s Alcoa’s Book Of Decorations: A Year-Round Treasury of Easy-to-do Decorations for Holidays and Special Occasions. According to the timeline on their website, ALCOA introduced aluminum foil to the U.S. in 1910—you can see some “Alcoa Wrap” next to Conny in the picture below. This introductory page also explains that her designs appeared on TV, in newspapers and in magazines.
401 Party and Holiday Ideas from ALCOA has ideas for 24 separate occasions, from Christmas and Hanukkah to “Teen-Age Party” and Election Day.
For this post, I decided to make (1) a food recipe; (2) a foil creation.
The food: Kerry Cake
I made Irish Apple Cake, or Kerry Cake, from the “Saint Patrick’s Day” chapter of 401 Party and Holiday Ideas. Criteria: It had to be vegetarian, and it had to be easy (I was pressed for time). I also wanted to serve it at my Easter family gathering. I didn’t like any of the Easter recipes, though. So a quick look through the rest of the book, and I settled on this:
My ancestry is mostly Irish, but I did not know anything about Kerry Cake until I read here that it is a traditional Irish apple bread that was baked in an iron cooking pot called a bastible, hung over the fire.
But this 1971 recipe just called for an 8-inch cake pan in a regular oven, and that’s what I used. I was making this in my mom’s kitchen, so I got to use the sifter that had belonged to her mom. Mom told me we had relatives from County Kerry, too.
I’m a pretty laissez-faire cook, in general. So I didn’t mind that the recipe didn’t specify what kind of apples to use, how big to cut the pieces, etc. I went for Granny Smith. They were pretty huge apples, so Mom and I decided I should just use two, to equal the “three medium” the recipe called for.
In all, it took me about 50 minutes to grate the lemon rind, cut up the apple, and put the batter together. I greased the pan with butter, baked it exactly according to instructions (30 minutes at 375), and it came out perfectly.
I whipped some heavy cream and served this cake at our Easter dinner. I was afraid it would be bland without spices, or that the lemon would taste strange. But it was delicious. Moist, not too sweet, and the lemon was exactly the right amount to accentuate the apples and butter. There were six adults at dinner, including a guest from Colombia, and everybody loved the Kerry Cake. Almost the whole cake was gone by the end of the night.
The foil creation: Sadie Seal
So many ideas here! It was tough to choose, but I settled on Sadie Seal, one of the circus animals on offer in the Kids’ Korner section.
In her introduction, Conny said to use things that were lying around the house to construct our decorations, so I rounded up a bunch of felt, foam balls, pompoms, and other supplies I had left over from a Halloween costume I never made. I already had a roll of heavy-duty foil in my cabinet. The instructions were not very detailed, as you can see from the photos below, but I did my best.
Making the “mouth” was not easy. Once I cut off the extra foil, I was left with a hard, solid lump of metal that was sharp and nearly impossible to shape.
No guidance either on how to make the flippers. My first attempt gave her absurdly long arms; then I shortened them so much they didn’t touch the floor; and then went with my imperfect third try. I pinned the flippers on the body, cut some eyes out of black felt and pinned those on too. I couldn’t find any ribbon for her neck … so … voila!
I was disappointed at first. It took me about 40 minutes to make this odd little bird-like creature and she didn’t look like the picture at all. But … I took her home on Easter weekend to show her to my gathered family. Once she had ridden with me in the car for 2.5 hours, looking at me with her little felt eyes, I felt like we’d bonded. Plus, everybody thought she was cute. (Mom thought she looked like a turtle.)
*I promise: all extra foil scraps from this project were duly recycled! But I’m not recycling Sadie any time soon. I’m pretty fond of her now. She’s staying on my desk.
The post Kerry Cake and Sadie Seal (1971) – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Post contributed by Tracy Jackson, Technical Services Archivist for the Duke University Archives.
The University Archives recently completed processing of the Jay Carl Anderson Photographs and Papers, a collection with many images of Duke’s campus, students, and athletic events, as well as politicians, scenes of Durham and elsewhere in North Carolina, and many other locations and subjects, mostly dating from the 1970s and 1980s. The collection is a rich new resource for researchers interested in Blue Devils men’s basketball, student life, campus protests, the city of Durham, political campaigning in NC, and photojournalism, and it offers many beautiful and fascinating new views of familiar subjects.East Campus pavilion, circa 1980
Jay Anderson was a native of New York State who enrolled at Duke in 1974. He first published a photograph in his local newspaper at 16, and by the time he was a Duke student he was working as a freelance photographer submitting images to the New York Times. He took pictures for the Chronicle and then became involved with the Chanticleer, serving as editor for the 1978 Chanticleer during his senior year. He photographed many aspects of life at Duke, taking pictures of students, classes, events, and scenes on campus, as well as representing life off campus, snapping pictures of life in the surrounding neighborhoods, downtown Durham, and elsewhere in the Triangle. He also traveled, spending about six months in Europe and going as far east as Moscow, photographing life in the Soviet Union in 1977. He brought many of these images back to the Duke community, publishing spreads in the Chronicle and showing his work in exhibits and contests.A 1975 issue of the Chronicle featuring Anderson’s images of people in Durham.
Anderson also photographed political persons and events, attending and photographing the 1976 Democratic National Convention in New York City and capturing presidential candidates and politicians, both on and off the campaign trail.Jimmy Carter at a 1976 Presidential Debate on the campus of the College of William and Mary.
A resident of Pegram dormitory, he took a number of photos of friends and residents. New to Durham and the South when he arrived at Duke, he took an interest in life off campus and in the surrounding areas, including residents in nearby neighborhoods, events downtown, and the State Fair in Raleigh. He documented campus protests and performances, including visits from celebrities and politicians. And he lovingly captured athletics, particularly men’s basketball, capturing many of the players and fans mid-action.UNC-Chapel Hill vs. Duke Men’s Basketball Game, January 14, 1978.
Johnny Dawkins, Colorado vs. Duke Men’s Basketball Game, December 21, 1983.
Many of the images are not labeled or identified, or have only general topical labels. As with many photographic collections, identifying information can sometimes be found in the image itself. Anderson also kept copies of many publications featuring his work, which include additional description.1980 Duke/UNC basketball game, image submitted to New York Times.
After graduation, Jay Anderson remained in Durham for many years, and continued to photograph Duke events, particularly men’s basketball, and he remained involved with the Chanticleer for several years. He became the official photographer for the American Dance Festival and worked as a freelance photographer for a variety of publications as well as for private commercial work (his ADF photographs can be found in the Jay Anderson Papers in the American Dance Festival Archives, also housed here at Duke).
We’re excited to make this collection available to researchers. For anyone with an interest in Duke, politics, photography, or any number of related topics, the Jay Carl Anderson Photographs and Papers offers a lot to explore.
The post Looking at Jay Anderson’s Historical Photos of Duke appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
The Duke University Archives and the Facilities Management Department invite you to visit the Gothic Reading Room on Thursday, January 12th and see some of the original drawings, blueprints, and plans of Duke’s campus.
Chief designer Julian Abele of the Horace Trumbauer firm has recently been recognized at Duke with the naming of the main quad, and the open house will allow visitors to examine the details of the plans and admire the vision that Abele brought to his work.
This event will be an open house, and visitors are welcome to drop in any time. This event is being held in collaboration with the Duke University Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Commemoration Committee.
Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist.
The post January 12th: The Designs of Julian Abele: Original Drawings of Duke’s Campus appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Contributed by Erin Ryan, Drill Intern for the Duke University Archives.Max Wicker
The Duke University Archives recently received the Joseph Mitchell Papers on Max Wicker, a collection of letters, news clippings, and other documents that culminate in a 2006 paper, The 1954 Firing of Max Wicker and Two Other North Carolina Student Directors, Jimmy Ray and J.C. Herrin, by Duke alumnus Joseph Mitchell.
Max Wicker, a 1952 Duke Divinity School graduate, was president of Duke’s Baptist Student Union (BSU) in 1953. After graduation, he was hired to work at Duke by Jimmy Ray, secretary of the statewide BSU.
Later that year, Baptist student leaders began planning their annual BSU conference, to be held in November 1953. Ray invited Christian theologian Dr. Nels Ferré, a Congregationalist who taught at Vanderbilt University, to be the conference’s main speaker. But some on the N.C. Baptists’ general board had heard that one of Ferré’s books cast doubt on the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Ferré’s speech was canceled.Cover of 1953 NC Baptist Student Union Convention program.
The general board then began an investigation of the programs and leadership in the Baptist Student Union throughout the state—as TIME magazine’s April 12, 1954 issue put it, “digging into charges that the Baptist student pastors have been guiding their young congregations independent of regular church supervision.” By 1954, the board had scheduled a hearing for three student leaders—Ray, 39; Wicker, 29; and J. C. Herrin, 39, the secretary of the UNC-Chapel Hill BSU chapter.Letter from James T. Cleland, then Professor of Preaching at the Divinity School, to Max Wicker, April 14, 1954
The hearing lasted six hours, ending just after midnight on March 31, 1954. Wicker delivered a three-page statement to the board explaining his faith. (TIME magazine quoted him as saying to the board, “I do not deny the virgin birth, and I do not affirm it. My mind is still open.”) In the end, the board dismissed the three leaders from their jobs with the BSU. According to TIME, students at the meeting dissented, but “most of the 500 Southern Baptists present thought that the board was right, and that the young ministers were too ‘interdenominational’ for comfort.” The results of the hearing appeared in front-page stories in newspapers around the state.Letter from John A. Ellis to Max Wicker, March 31, 1954
After the BSU dismissed him, Wicker continued at Duke—where he remained employed—for a few months as a chaplain, then resigned and became a Methodist minister.
Joseph Mitchell had met Wicker while they were both at Duke Divinity School. (Mitchell graduated in 1953, and later returned to Duke for his doctorate in religion in the 1960s.) Mitchell was also a Methodist minister. After he and his wife Norma retired, they moved to Durham in 2001. There, they lived near Wicker and his wife Ann, and Mitchell began researching the nearly 50-year-old case of his friend’s dismissal to tell his story.
The Joseph Mitchell Papers on Max Wicker are open for research.
See: “Baptist Dismissals,” in TIME magazine’s “Religion” section, April 12, 1954.
Date: Thursday, October 27, 2016
Time: 12:00-1:30 PM
Location: Rubenstein 249 (Carpenter Conference Room)
RSVP via Facebook (optional)
Join two Duke undergraduate researchers from the Duke History Revisited program as they share their discoveries about women’s past experiences at Duke University.
Hayley Farless, ’17, will share highlights from her project “Right to Access: A History of the Duke University Abortion Loan Fund.” Elizabeth George, ’17 (and Rubenstein Library student worker), will share highlights from her project “Success of the Second Sex: Duke University’s Demonstrated Efforts to Empower Women.”
Please bring your own lunch; drinks and cookies will be provided.
This talk is sponsored by Duke University Archives and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.
Duke History Revisited was sponsored by a grant from Humanities Writ Large, with additional funding from the Dean of the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.
The post Uncovering Women’s History at Duke: A Scholars’ Brownbag with Hayley Farless and Elizabeth George appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Date: Monday, September 19, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library Room 153
Contact: Valerie Gillispie, firstname.lastname@example.org
This summer, the University Archives offered a new program for undergraduate students called Duke History Revisited. The idea was to give students a chance to dig into the University’s history and tell the stories of people and events that were not widely known.
On September 19th, the program’s eight students will come together to recap their research projects. During this event, each student will briefly introduce his or her topic, highlight their research discoveries, and offer their own insight into Duke’s history. The presentations will be followed by refreshments and an opportunity to talk with the students in more detail.
The DHR students spent 6 weeks working with faculty members Jolie Olcott and Joshua Sosin; graduate student Will Goldsmith; and archivists Amy McDonald and Valerie Gillispie. The group met twice a week to discuss progress and share research. This special program was made possible by a grant from Humanities Writ Large and the Office of the Dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.Students and faculty discuss research strategies during a Duke History Revisited meeting.
We also welcomed a number of special guests to the program to talk about the act of doing research or reflecting on the past. Our guests included William Turner (T ’71, M.Div ’74, PhD ’84), Charles Becton (Law ‘69), Brenda Becton (WC ‘70, Law ‘74), Bob Ashley (T ’70), Steve Schewel (T ’73, PhD ’82), and Robert Korstad (Duke faculty). We were also joined by experts from the library, including Tracy Jackson and Matthew Farrell (University Archives), John Gartrell (John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History), Laura Micham and Kelly Wooten (Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture), Hannah Rozear (Librarian for Instruction), and Michael Daul (Digital Collections).
The students pursued a wide range of topics, using archival materials from the University Archives, materials from other repositories, oral histories and interviews, and other sources. Each created a final project that they felt best expressed the content. The titles and links to the projects are below:Sini (Nina) Chen “Finding a Home for Tricky Dicky: The Nixon-Duke Presidential Library Controversy” (online exhibit) Hayley Farless “Right to Access: A History of the Duke University Abortion Loan Fund” (presentation; link to PDF) Elizabeth George “Success of the Second Sex: Duke University’s Demonstrated Efforts to Empower Women” (research paper; link to PDF) Lara Haft “(we know) (we’ve been here): uncovering a legacy of student & employee solidarity” (online exhibit) Alan Ko “‘Cherry Blossoms Among Magnolias?’: A History of the Asian Experience at Duke” (online exhibit) Paul Popa “A Leap of Faith: Documenting the First-Generation Undergraduate Experience” (online exhibit) Victoria Prince “Town and Gown Relations vs. Power Struggles: An Overview of How the Durham Freeway Controversy Affected Relations Between Durham, NC and Duke University” Jesse Remedios “The Politics of Identity” (podcast)
Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.
This week we’re continuing last week’s celebration of the beginning of a new fiscal year by reviewing some notable items and collections that arrived here at the Rubenstein Library in the past year.
The University Archives acquired a variety of exciting materials during this past year, including lemur behavior data, early planting plans of Duke Gardens, and social media created during campus protest. Today, however, we are highlighting one of our smallest accessions this year, a single poster of a young woman playing basketball, given to us by an alumna whose family business was given the poster some years back.
A note that accompanied the poster says, “Picture that hung on the dorm room wall of Alton Monroe Cameron and J. O. Renfro, class of 1914 at Trinity College, Durham, North Carolina.” This poster is one that was issued in 1911 to depict a generic player, but someone along the way decorated the player to be a Trinity College student, using blue ink.
It’s hard to know what to make of this depiction. In the early 1910s, there were no “official” women’s sports teams, although they did take physical education classes. A short article in the 1912 yearbook, The Chanticleer, suggests that such a team would have been a hilarious joke in its time, resulting from “stages of acute Woman’s Suffrage, and Literary Society agitation.” Why the accompanying photo of a group of women was taken, and why they are holding a football, is anyone’s guess.
In many ways, the poster raises more questions than answers. Was there actually a women’s basketball team at Trinity then? Did Cameron and Renfro like the idea, or mock it? What did female students at the time think? And why didn’t they cut a hole in the net for the basketball to fall out?
Even without knowing the answers to these questions, the poster is enchanting to us today. We hope it did reflect Trinity women’s participation in athletics, sixty years before a recognized women’s basketball team would be formed at the school. It may have been a joke in its day, but now it tells us how deep the roots of women’s athletics at Duke truly are.
Post contributed by Val Gillispie, University Archivist
The post New Acquisitions Roundup: Trinity College female basketball player poster appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Oral histories are often fantastic, and fascinating, resources: first-hand accounts of lives and events, communities and histories, told with immediacy and giving a direct connection to the narrator, and thus to the story. They are rich and compelling, and are powerful tools in documenting those who are under-represented by the types of documentation traditionally found in archives. For these reasons, we were very excited to work on two recent oral history collections related to the local LGBTQI community: the Duke Alumni LGBTQ Oral Histories and the Rainbow Triangle Oral History Collection (RTOHC).Materials from the Rainbow Triangle Oral Histories Collection.
Both collections offer first-hand accounts of the LGBTQI experience at Duke and in the Triangle area. The Duke Alumni oral histories include individual Duke community members relating experiences from the 1970s through early 2000s, while the RTOHC materials come from individuals throughout the Triangle region and relate stories from the 1960s to the 2000s. As one can imagine, the stories in both document a large variety of experiences. Since some oral history subjects overlap in terms of years and environs covered, it is possible to compare multiple accounts of isolated, annual events like Blue Jeans Day; national crises like the AIDS epidemic; and ongoing struggles such as anti-LGBTQI persecution and community-building.
Similar to archival collections made up of paper and photographic-based materials, oral history collections pose significant challenges stemming from volume and format, as well as rights and content sensitivities. Close to 80 interviews are represented across these two collections. Interviews in the Alumni LGBTQ collections were conducted in 2015 and 2016 straight to digital recorders in formats supported by modern computing environments. Interviews conducted by the Rainbow Triangle Oral History project were conducted over a span of years in the 1990s and early 2000s on a variety of physical media and will require digital reformatting for use and preservation. Additionally, oral histories may have been recorded without the narrators giving explicit permission as to who can access the recordings, or under what circumstances, or what researchers can do with the information in the recording. Many projects and interviewers prepare forms for just this purpose, but not every form makes it into the archive with the recording. Finally, describing the contents, and the narrators, in ways that are sensitive to the narrator’s wishes, and concisely but accurately convey the topics covered in the recordings, can be complicated. Oral histories are often intensely personal and revelatory, and a wide range of subjects, persons, places, and events can be covered in a short period of time. We were lucky in that the alumni included either transcripts or interview summaries to aid in their description, and many of the RTOHC interviews included transcripts and/or biographical information.
Although these collections presented some complexities during processing, we were proud to work on preserving and providing access to these materials. Both collections are now available for use in the reading room.
Post contributed by Matthew Farrell, Digital Records Archivist, and Tracy Jackson, Technical Services Archivist for the Duke University Archives.
The post Documenting the Duke/Durham LGBTQI Community with Oral Histories appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
At the University Archives, we work hard to dispel the stereotype that we are merely reactive documenters of Duke’s history, that we wait to receive evidence of activity reflected in the records of the offices, organizations, and bodies that donate or transfer materials to us. We pursue student organizations‘ materials and meet regularly with representatives from both transitory and permanent bodies active in the Duke community. Since 2010, we have selectively crawled websites related to Duke.
The recent activism on campus has given us the opportunity to try new methods of documentation. Students and protesters disseminated much of the information related to the Allen Building Sit-In staged by Duke Students & Workers in Solidarity (DSWS) and ongoing tenting on the Abele Quad on Twitter, Instagram, and other web platforms. The Chronicle published a lot of coverage in print issues of the paper, but created multimedia presentations online and on Twitter. What follows are some of the methods we used to approach capturing online materials related to student activism, brief summaries of how well we did, and some early thoughts on what our responsibilities are with respect to access and re-use of this material.
We used three tools to primarily collect web materials, each with its own strengths. The Rubenstein Library subscribes to the Internet Archive’s Archive-It web crawler, which allows us to execute captures of web pages. I wrote about our broader efforts around Archive-It and Duke History last year on this blog. Archive-It is best suited for more static websites, and is less effective at capturing dynamic conversations. For the recent student activism, Archive-It came in handy when capturing the website of the DSWS, as well as the ongoing, related criticism of campus culture at Duke by the #DukeEnrage collaborative.
Archive-It has some capability for capturing Twitter, but it’s Twitter as viewed on Twitter.com: it’s a flat presentation of a Twitter feed or search. Here is a comparison of a tweet presented by Twitter, and what it looks like in its raw form.
This lack of flexibility influenced our decision to look elsewhere for capturing Twitter. We settled on two applications: Social Feed Manager and Twitter Archive Google Spreadsheet (TAGS). Both tools, once configured, query the Twitter API, retrieve tweets in their native form, and do some level of processing on them. Social Feed Manager stores tweets and allows the user to export them as a CSV or Excel file for offline storage. TAGS parses tweets into a Google Sheet, which can be downloaded for offline storage. For logistical reasons, we chose to use Social Feed Manager in the rare occasion of attempting to capture the tweets of an entire account—in this case, the @dsws2016 account.@dsws2016, viewed in the Social Feed Manager web application
An Excel export from Social Feed Manager of @dsws2016 tweets
We used TAGS to crawl hashtags. Since November, we had been capturing tweets related to #DukeEnrage, #DUBetter, and #DukeYouAreGuilty. Once the Allen Building Sit-in began, we added #DismantleDukePlantation and #DukeOccupation2016. Most of these were relatively low-use hashtags, with one exception: use appears to have coalesced around #DismantleDukePlantation, resulting in around 7000 unique tweets from the week of the sit-in, and another 2000 from the time since.TAGS summary dashboard
#DismantleDukePlantation tweets captured by TAGS
This work is still ongoing. So far, I think of our efforts as a modest success. The web, and especially social media, is ephemeral (although, oddly and wonderfully, aspects of the web we thought would disappear have persisted). That said, these efforts represent only one or two angles into the online conversation. Newer platforms like Yik Yak and Snapchat are either location based or expose content only temporarily. The tools available to capture Instagram are not as developed as those for Twitter. We cannot, nor do we want to, capture everything.
There are also questions of ethics and access. We received (enthusiastic, as it happens) permission from students associated with DSWS to capture their Twitter feed*. It would be impossible to seek permission from each individual Twitter user who tweeted using #DismantleDukePlantation. Although everything we targeted is still currently available through Twitter, the users who created it likely did not expect it to be re-contextualized—even if they fully understood the terms of service they clicked through when they signed up for the service. Twitter would frown upon us releasing material we captured through the API on the open web. For the time being, we tentatively plan on making the Twitter content available in our reading room, though we would need to consider anonymizing the data first.
This is by far not the only arm of our effort in documenting recent and ongoing student activism on campus. We fully expect for administrative records from relevant University offices to be transferred to the University Archives. We have been in touch with classes interested in further documenting the student voices involved. Selectively capturing Twitter and crawling static web pages allows us to capture student activists and their activities in the moment
* A former University Archives student worker, responsible for outreach in DSWS, granted UA explicit permission to capture the group’s Twitter and Facebook content.
Post contributed by Matthew Farrell, Digital Records Archivist.