All posts by Rich Murray

The Duke Digital Collections Mother of the Year Awards

At this time of year, we here at Duke Digital Collections always like to celebrate the mothers who have been such major influences on us: Marge Simpson … Carol Brady … Clair Huxtable … the mother of all those melon-headed children in The Family Circus ….  Oh, also our own mothers.  The time of year we are referring to is, of course, Cinco de Mayo.  ¡Cinco de Mayo!  Also Mother’s Day, which we are also big fans of, although we would like it better if we associated it with half-price margarita pitchers.  Let’s take a moment to recognize some of the outstanding moms in our digital collections with the first annual Duke Digital Collections Mother of the Year Awards!

The “You Are Getting Sleepy … Very Sleepy” Award

Sometimes even the most devoted mother has days when every minute the children are still up is like a knife through her soul worrisome because the little darlings need their rest.  Back in the days before C-SPAN was invented, parents often eased their kids off to dreamland as early as 4 p.m. by gathering the whole family around the ole seed catalog.  Interestingly, at this photo shoot the boy on the left fell backwards off the ottoman immediately after this photo was taken and woke up 3 days later.  These days, parents get the same results by having the kids play a few minutes of Wii Seed Catalog after dinner. Continue reading The Duke Digital Collections Mother of the Year Awards

Elizabeth Taylor in Duke Digital Collections

Many of us awoke this morning to the sad news that legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor died today in Los Angeles.  She was best known for her amazing film work (we particularly like her in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and her colorful personal life, but like many other Hollywood stars of the era, she also appeared in a number of advertisements during her early career.  We have a couple of her print ads in our Ad*Access digital collection, and are highlighting them here.  You can click on the images to see larger versions and learn more about them.

This 1952 magazine ad for Lustre-Creme shampoo showcases Ms. Taylor’s famous beauty.  In addition to her two Oscars, we learn here that she was also voted by “Modern Screen” and “a jury of famed hair stylists” as one of the world’s 12 loveliest-haired women.  The film that’s also being promoted here, Ivanhoe, was released in 1952 and also starred Robert Taylor (no relation) and Joan Fontaine.  It was one of the four top money-making films of the year and was nominated for three Academy Awards.

In this comic strip-style ad, Elizabeth Taylor says “Like satin … that’s my skin with new Woodbury Powder!” and also, apparently, “I love the super-smooth finish Woodbury gives my skin.”  Here she’s identified as one of the stars of the 1949 film version of Little Women, in which she played Amy, starring alongside June Allyson as Jo, Peter Lawford as Laurie, Margaret O’Brien as Beth, and Janet Leigh as Meg.

It’s no wonder that an actress with Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary beauty was in demand by companies marketing their beauty products.  Many other stars of the day appeared in similar print ads; for example, June Allyson, Rita Hayworth, and Bette Davis all did work for Lustre-Creme.  The men of Hollywood did their fair share of advertising, too: here you can see Humphrey Bogart for National Airlines and Bob Hope for Pepsodent.  You can find many advertisements featuring celebrities in Ad*Access here.

Change Blog Readers Can Believe In – Tell Us What You Think!

The Duke Digital Collections Blog has been a bit quiet lately while our team has been concentrating most of its efforts on infrastructure building.  Now that we’re moving back into production mode, with lots of new digital collections and content coming very soon, we’ll be blogging more frequently, too.  So this seems like a good time for the Digital Collections Blog to gather information from you, our reader, in our first-ever feedback poll!

This is your chance to tell us a little bit about your blog-reading habits and what you’d like to see when you visit the Digital Collections Blog.  In the sidebar you’ll see an orange button that links to our short survey – we hope you’ll take a few minutes to help us learn how to create a better, more informative, and more entertaining blog. Of course, your responses and comments will be submitted anonymously, so click away!

We’ll be gathering responses through Friday, April 15th, and we’ll be sure to let you know what we’ve learned once the results are tabulated.

All of the other Duke University Libraries blogs will be running the exact same poll, so head over to the other blogs that you read and leave some feedback for them, too.


–Digital Collections Blog Team

Think Warm Thoughts

It’s been an unusually cold and snowtastic winter here in Durham, with what’s felt like a constant threat of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and the dreaded “wintry mix” hanging over our heads for weeks. The local news has been in nonstop Winter Weather Crisis mode, with round-the-clock footage of what we believe is the same group of itinerant (and possibly feral) children, who follow camera crews around with their pieces of cardboard and garbage can lids so we can see IDENTICAL FOOTAGE of them sliding down a snowy hill and squealing ALL THE TIME.

Most winters we have maybe one dusting of snow, or a few sleet pellets mixed in with the rain once or twice, so being threatened with the Icepocalypse every few days is something we’re not accustomed to. Every time we turn around, we are back at the grocery store kicking somebody in the back to get the last loaf of bread or punching somebody in the windpipe to grab the last gallon of milk. This is really more exercise than we are used to getting. And we won’t even talk about how the schools are constantly letting out early or just plain closed, resulting in selfish children wanting to be picked up or fed or whatever kids are into these days.

So to combat the winter doldrums, we here at Duke Digital Collections present some sunny, tropical images from Ad*Access to help you think warm thoughts. Put on your sunscreen, change into your skimpiest and most scandalous swimsuit, crank up “Vacation” by the Go-Go’s, and let’s hit the beach! (You can click on any of the images to see a larger version and more information about it.)

January is the perfect time of year to visit fabulous Runway Beach! Yes, nothing is more relaxing or romantic than lying on the beach sipping a margarita as you are strafed by a jet that fills your eyes and mouth with sand and blows the drink out of your hand. The smell of cocoa butter mixed with jet exhaust will make you contentedly lie back and say, “AaahhhhhAIIIEEEEEARGGGH KOFF KOFF KOFF.”

Continue reading Think Warm Thoughts

Reasons To Be Thankful

Thanksgiving is upon us, and this time of year we all have many things to be thankful for: the sound the cranberry sauce cylinder makes as it blorps out of the can; sitting in a dazed stupor in front of the Detroit Lions as your body struggles to process the food cataclysm you hath just wrought upon it; a pre-dawn fistfight with other shoppers over the last $3 curling iron….  Good times.  But since many of us are so abundantly blessed that we have trouble keeping track of everything we should be grateful for, let’s consult  Duke Digital Collections for reminders of reasons we should give thanks.

Be thankful … for consumer electronics. Finally, Dad got the hint and got us that Pentron tape recorder we’ve been Tweeting, Facebooking, texting, graffitiing the bathroom walls, and whining around the dinner table about! It’s just what we need to record the sounds of Little Susie stomping on his feet and holding his arms while Big Sister (or Mom or Crazed Neighbor or whoever that is) chokes him from behind.  Family togetherness!

Continue reading Reasons To Be Thankful

What It Wasn’t, Was Football

It’s October, so everyone’s thoughts have turned to football.  Or the Great Pumpkin.  But because we don’t have any images of the Great Pumpkin in our digital collections, let’s say football.  It’s hard to imagine, but in olden days we somehow managed to enjoy football without luxuries like high-def, Doritos commercials, high-def Doritos commercials, and four guys all yelling at the same time on The OT.  There were six quarters lasting 90 minutes each, the field was eight yards long, a common trick to confuse the other team was to have the homecoming queen run onto the field to kick the extra point, and the football was a big rock.  We are pretty sure all this is true.  Let’s look at some of the historic football images in Duke Digital Collections and see what else we can learn about the ol’ pigrock.  You can click on any of the images to see a larger version and learn more about the digital object.

Duke vs. Davidson football program cover, 1936 Sep 19

In the 1930s, players often wore sesame-seed buns as helmets, as seen on the cover of this Duke/Davidson program from our Duke Football Programs digital collection.  We originally thought the Davidson player here was falling down and throwing up, but upon closer examination we realized he has bitten the trousers of the Duke player.  We like our original interpretation better.  Either way, we love the 3-D Viewmaster-y style of the whole tableau. Continue reading What It Wasn’t, Was Football

All Hail Tiger Baby

One of the things we enjoy using the Digital Collections Blog for is to highlight notable items from Duke’s digital collections and tell you why we think they’re interesting, or thought-provoking, or important, or funny.  But there are some digital objects where it’s obvious why we love them, so no explanation seems necessary.  This image, from the Sidney D. Gamble Photographs, is one of those.

Tiger Baby

This is Tiger Baby, who we love BECAUSE HE IS AWESOME.  Seriously, come on.  You can’t not love this.

What are your favorite things you’ve found in our digital collections?  Leave a comment about it and share it with the world!

Here comes summer

May is here, which means summer vacation is just around the corner.  Those of you who have children are probably asking yourselves, “How on earth am I going to keep these bored kids from driving me crazy all summer can I make this a productive and educational summer for the little darlings?”  By now most of the best (i.e. least unaccredited) out-of-state camps and military boarding schools are all booked up and you may be wondering what you’re going to do. Well, cry yourself to sleep about it no more, because your friends here at Duke Digital Collections — many of whom have advanced degrees in child psychology or other fields (OK, mostly other fields) — have been thinking about this so you don’t have to.  We love kids, and in fact some of us used to be kids ourselves, but we also know that sometimes, especially at the end of a long day, they’re at they’re most lovable when they’re in another room being quiet.  Here we present some valuable tips and ideas on fun summer activities for kids found in our Protestant Family digital collection.  You can click on the thumbnails for a larger view of the image — trust us, some of them really need to be seen in their original glory to be fully appreciated.

Guerrilla training. A good way for children to meet others in the neighborhood and to get some exercise in the fresh air is to organize themselves into roaming gangs of armed bandits, like these kids.  These boys may not be learning meekness, but they do seem to be learning what their roles in life will be: from left to right we have the smart one, the shy one, the loose cannon with a heart of gold or whatever, and Schroeder from “Peanuts.” Continue reading Here comes summer

Going for the Gold

Some of us here at Duke Digital Collections have been in “All Olympics, All The Time” mode the past couple of weeks, and are therefore now suffering through serious withdrawal. What did we talk about around the water cooler and on Facebook before snowboard cross? What gave our lives meaning before curling? To keep the spirit of the Games alive even though they’re over, here are some interesting images from our digital collections that relate to the Vancouver Olympics.

First, here’s a British Overseas Airways Corporation advertisement offering travel to the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, the first Games held after WWII (the host city was selected at least partly because Switzerland was neutral during the war). These Olympics were noteworthy for the figure skating gold medal won by Dick Button, now well-known as an “amusingly opinionated” TV commentator. The 1948 Games also introduced a new demonstration sport called “military patrol,” which combined cross-country skiing with shooting at targets and later, of course, was renamed “ice dancing.” (Ha ha, we kid. It became biathlon. But admit it, you would watch ice dancing if there were shooting at stuff involved.)

Visit the Winter Olympics

This ad is interesting for a couple of reasons: BOAC no longer exists, having later merged with British European Airways to create British Airways, but the “Speedbird” name endures to this day as the callsign used by air traffic control to refer to British Airways flights. The $746 round-trip fare is about $6700 in today’s dollars; for comparison, round-trip fares between NYC and Geneva today begin at $448. Of course, in 1948 you probably didn’t have to pay extra for checked baggage, pillows, food, and armrests.

Continue reading Going for the Gold