Fashionable leotards, shoulder pads, and stirrup pants were all the rage. And can we say parachute pants? Thanks, MC Hammer. If you’re craving a blast from the past, we’ve got you covered. The digitized 1980s Duke Chronicle has arrived! Now you can relive that decade of Hill Street Blues and Magnum P.I. from your own personal computer (hopefully,you’re not still using one of these models!).
As Duke University’s student-run newspaper for over 100 years, the Duke Chronicle is a window into the history of the university, North Carolina, and the world. It may even be a window into your own past if you had the privilege of living through those totally rad years. If you didn’t get the chance to live it firsthand, you may find great joy in experiencing it vicariously through the pages of the Chronicle, or at least find irony in the fact that ’80s fashion has made a comeback.
Here at Duke, the 1980s was the decade that welcomed Coach Krzyzewski to the basketball team, and made it (almost) all the way to the championship in 1986. In 1980, the Chronicle celebrated its 75th year of bringing news to campus. It was also a time of expansion, as Duke Hospital North was constructed in 1980 and the Washington Duke Inn followed in 1988. President Reagan visited campus, Desmond Tutu spoke at Duke Chapel, and Princess Grace Kelly entertained with poetry at Page Auditorium almost two years to the day before she died.
The 1980s also saw racial unrest in North Carolina, and The Duke Chronicle headlines reflected these tense feelings. Many articles illustrate a reawakened civil rights movement. From a call to increase the number of black professors at Duke, to the marching of KKK members down the streets of Greensboro, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolinians found themselves in a continued struggle for equality. Students and faculty at Duke were no exception. Unfortunately, these thirty-year-old Chronicle headlines would seem right at home in today’s newspapers.
The 1980s Chronicle issues can inform us of fashion and pop culture, whether we look back at it with distaste or fondness. But it also enlightens us to the broader social atmosphere that defined the 1980s. It was a time of change and self-expression, and I invite you to explore the pages of the Duke Chronicle to learn more.
The addition of the 1980s issues to the online Duke Chronicle digital collection is part of an ongoing effort to provide digital access to all Chronicle issues from 1905 to 1989. The next decades to look forward to are the 1970s and 1950s. Also, stay tuned to Bitstreams for a more in-depth exploration of the newspaper digitization process. You can learn how we turn the pages of the Duke Chronicle into online digital gold. At least, that’s what I like to think we do here at the Digital Production Center. Until then, transport yourself back to the 1980s, Duke Chronicle style (no DeLorean or flux capacitor necessary).