Rita DiGiallanardo Holloway University Librarian
Welcome to this celebration of the Bingham Center! I know I have been in the Duke University Libraries a long time, since I can recall not only before the Rubenstein Library was named, but even when its predecessor, the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, was created from two separate departments. I am pleased to have experienced the entire history of the Bingham Center, from the appointment of its first archivist in 1988, to its endowment and formal birth as the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture later in the 1990s, and finally to the endowment and naming of the Merle Hoffman Director of the Bingham Center in 2011.
As an historian, I get excited by archives and by what they make possible. I remember vividly, even today, the thought that struck me one day in graduate school: that the items I had just discovered in the library of my university, those unique and marvelous things that were so valuable in helping to advance my research, those materials that seemed to have been assembled just for me, had been collected by someone, an archivist, a visionary person who had the foresight to imagine their usefulness to future scholars. I was very grateful, and still am.
As a university librarian, archives excite me too, because they represent so well the most critical element of our work: enabling new scholarship by collecting the intellectual “raw materials” that lead to its creation. And as Duke’s university librarian, I am immensely proud of the efforts and achievements of our “activist archivists,” like those in the Bingham Center, who have the courage and the chutzpah to document controversy. How will future generations know and appreciate what came before them without a record of the most provocative social issues, and evidence from all sides? It takes the hard work of those visionary people – in the Bingham Center -- who assemble the collections that attract and amaze researchers, as I was amazed so long ago. I salute the work of the Bingham Center, past, present, and future.
I would like to conclude with a quote from a participant in the conference recently sponsored by LAUNC-CH, the Librarians’ Association of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which attracts wide engagement from professionals across our region. The theme of this year’s conference was “Every Step of the Way: Supporting Student and Faculty Research.” The quote: “The best thing about the LAUNCH-CH conference was finding out about the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke. This ain’t no ivory tower center. They are involved with preserving girl-culture zines, counteracting rape culture, partnering with Girls Rock NC, and they will be hosting a Wikipedia Edit-a Thon to get overlooked women of the Duke and Durham community into Wikipedia, a still male-dominated medium. Truly Inspiring.”
Truly inspiring, indeed. Please join me in celebrating 25 years of the Sallie Bingham Center.