For 2020-2021, all instruction at the Rubenstein Library will be conducted online. Rubenstein Librarians are available to help you design engaging and meaningful synchronous and asynchronous sessions, activities, and assignments that make use of our digitized and born-digital collections in order to meet a wide variety of learning goals.

Get in touch and we’ll pair you with a librarian who will work with you to develop an instruction session and/or assignment tailored to your course's subject matter and learning objectives. Our approach to classes informs how we design and teach all of our classes, including online sessions.

Class sessions

Below are examples we can offer online and customize to your course.

  • Working with Primary Sources: Introduces students to effectively using and analyzing primary sources with digitized materials from our collections. We will work with you to identify a selection of primary sources that connect to the content of your course and expose students to the diverse forms primary sources can take.

  • Exploring Digital Collections: Helps students become proficient users of our digital collections from finding relevant sources to understanding the differences between using physical objects and digital surrogates for research.

Activities & Assignments

Create Your Own Cabinet of Curiosity

For centuries, Cabinets of Curiosities, or Wunderkammer, have offered glimpses of collected items from the natural world. Animals, plants, and minerals were displayed along with other objects reflecting a history that included colonization and misappropriation. This guide includes details to complete a remote learning exercise in materiality and helps students gain a sense of the physical nature of objects.

Teaching Materiality Online

In the special collections context, materiality means the physical qualities of books, manuscripts, objects, and other primary sources, and the information we glean, including sensory experiences, from handling these items in person. This guide offers creative activities to offer students embodied, physical experiences with the books, artifacts, papers, and objects in their own spaces while introducing them to the possibilities and limitations of the archives.

Visualizing the Feminine Mystique: A Mini-Exhibit Assignment

This assignment is designed as the penultimate or final project in an upper-level undergraduate course.  It's designed for a women's history course, but can be adapted to other topics quite easily.  The assignment asks students to find primary sources and correlate their themes to the present day.  In creating their presentation they have to analyze advertisements, connect them to context, and synthesize them with contemporary texts.  Students will then carry their story up to the present day by locating a current advertisement that fits their analytical theme.

Teaching Modules 

These modules are designed to build students’ primary source literacy skills and are ready to be used in your course. Each module is centered on a set of digitized sources from the Rubenstein Library and comes with a lesson plan.

American Airline Companies and South America 

Through an analysis of U.S. airline advertisements for industry, business, and leisure travel students will trace the evolution of depictions of the people and places in Central and South America from the 1930s into the Cold War. Students will explore advertisements from the AdAccess digital collection.  This collection contains advertisements from a number of American airline companies including United, Delta, Trans World, and American Airlines, Inc.

American Slavery Documents

This class session encourages learners to engage with the American Slavery Documents Collection. The collection contains an assortment of legal and personal documents related to slavery in the United States. Nearly all of the documents are singular and otherwise unrelated to the other, but as a composite, the collection brings to light the details of the lives and deaths of free and enslaved African Americans during the Antebellum and early Reconstruction Eras. It is one of many collections in the Rubenstein Library documenting African American life in the American South.

The Eugenics Movement in North Carolina

This class session encourages students to engage with the history and the lasting legacy of the eugenics movement in North Carolina during the 20th century through a critical analysis of primary sources. This session includes many different types of primary sources—such as pamphlets, newspapers, government reports, and more—as well an activity to guide document analysis and class discussion.

Exploring the Chanticleer

This class session encourages learners to engage with the Chanticleer, Duke University’s student yearbook, which was first published in 1913. As most, if not all, students would have owned a copy of the yearbook, it is a centralized history of an academic year—but, as with all histories, that does not mean that it is comprehensive in its depiction of Duke student life, nor that it is without bias in its choices of what to depict and what to exclude.

Gender & Anatomy

In studying the history of medicine, we learn how medicine is a social construct and how medical education reflects certain views in a culture and society. The representation of women in Western anatomical and medical textbooks from the past to today has at times included provocative or unsettling imagery. This session encourages students to explore and engage with visual representations of gender in the history of medicine through critical analysis and discussion using primary sources.

Gender, Culture, and the Economy

This teaching module explores the intersection of gender and consumer culture during the postwar period in the United States.  Through an analysis of Ford Motor Co. print advertisements students will explore the shifting economic, cultural and social landscape in the United States in the decade immediately following the conclusion of the Second World War.

Hayti and Urban Renewal in Durham

This teaching module looks at the history of Hayti, a historically Black neighborhood in Durham, focusing on an urban renewal project which was promoted as a benefit to the neighborhood but displaced many residents and Black-owned businesses. Students will use a range of primary sources to understand the perspectives of residents, government officials, and other local stakeholders, and work together to begin to put together a history of Hayti.

Rubenstein Time Machine

This activity highlights selected primary documents from the year 1970 across the Rubenstein Library’s collections representing a variety of viewpoints, issues, and historical events related to women’s history. Students will closely examine one document with a series of guiding questions in order to discuss and compare materials. Students will choose an issue represented in one of the items and work together to identify ways to research more about that topic.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

This module focuses on the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the system which forced the enslavement of Africans who were transported to the western world. These documents reflect only a limited look into the Rubenstein Library's archives of the trade but provide an important window into understanding the legacy of the trade and the people involved.

Visual Analysis of Nazi Propaganda

When historians explore the success of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei or Nazi Party, they often point to its ubiquitous and effective propaganda.This learning module gives students practice in analyzing visual propaganda created by the Nazi Party, deepening their understanding of some basic principles of persuasion that are applicable to other persuasive media.

Women as Marketing Moving Targets

This session requires students to explore advertisements in the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History digital collections that highlight gender. Students will then engage in a structured debate that discusses their findings. Following the debate, students will submit a 500 word "reflection paper" summarizing the content of the debate and whom made the most persuasive argument for conveying whether single women, mothers, or married women were targeted most consistently and effectively.

Women's Suffrage in the United States

This teaching module considers the history and legacies of the U.S. Women’s Suffrage movement. The campaign for women’s voting rights lasted almost eight decades. Considered the largest reform movement in United States history, its participants believed that securing the vote was essential to achieving women’s economic, social, and political equality. In this session, students will use a range of textual and visual primary sources to understand the perspectives of activists, politicians, and others for and against suffrage through a critical analysis of primary sources.

Yellow Fever in the 18th Century

In the late 18th century, yellow fever spread quickly in the eastern United States. The disease, although now known to be a mosquito-borne virus, was poorly understood at the time. When major cities, like Philadelphia and New York City, saw large outbreaks of the often deadly disease, local leaders and medical professionals struggled to treat the sick and control the epidemic. Through the lens of 18th century yellow fever epidemics, this module introduces students to multiple types of primary sources, including digitized resources, and provides activities designed to guide the critical analysis of primary sources.

Video Tutorials

We’ve created these videos to introduce students to the Rubenstein Library and its resources. We may use them in sessions we teach, and you should feel free to incorporate them into your course on your own. Browse all of our videos on Warpwire.