Meat Box, or, The Price of Butter Holds No Terror for Users of Swift’s Oleomargarine

This very special edition of the Rubenstein test kitchen is intended to build bridges between Duke and UNC, between a Digital Collections Program Manager and a Serials Access Librarian. Though both librarians, they live completely different professional lives. Until now…

Given the digital nature of Molly’s work, we decided to choose a recipe from those that had been digitized as part of the Emergence of Advertising in America digital collection. After looking at a handful of recipes we realized that Molly didn’t want to cook with beef tongue, Kurt didn’t want to bake, and neither of us wanted to deal with jello. So we settled on this “pretty and palatable” gem of a recipe from the The Kitchen Encyclopedia, by Swift & Company: “Spanish Minced Beef in a Meat Box.”

meat box

We were excited about taking on the challenge of constructing a meat box to contain yet more meat that the title conjured in our minds, although we had no idea at all how it might work. It wasn’t until later, when we were about to start cooking, that we paused to ask the following: What exactly is Spanish about a recipe in which the only spices are salt and pepper? Why does the title refer to minced beef in a meat box when there is no minced beef listed as an ingredient in the filling? This last question particularly filled us with anxiety – did we miss something? Should we have assumed that since the recipe title refers to minced beef in a meat box, that we should put minced beef in the meat box, even if it’s not called for? (About the matter of a “meat box.” As our guests pointed out, can something with only four sides properly be labeled a box?)

Cooking can be so stressful!

Before we proceed, however, a question posed by the text: “Have you tried Swift’s Oleomargarine?” If you have not, permit the book to let you know, “It is worth trying” (p. 26).  In case that’s not enticement enough, consider that “The price of butter holds no terror for users of Swift’s Oleomargarine” (p. 27).

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Theses quotes are Molly’s favorites of the short, persuasive selling points on the benefits of oleomargarine that appear on every page of the book (and which had to be pointed out to Kurt, who overlooked entirely the margarine-filled pearls of wisdom in his single-minded focus on the meat box). Has it been mentioned that Swift & Company were leading the fight against the tyranny of high-priced butter circa 1911 with their “oleomargarine” and that this cookbook touts that revolution? Indeed, anyone interested in oleomargarine (or House-Cleaning Hints and Helps (p. 9), or The Practical Value and Use of Fireless Cookers (p. 17) … To the Wage-earning Woman (p. 21)) should consider this book a must-read. But we digress.

The recipe calls for the filling to be cooked in an “oatmeal kettle,” and we did not then nor do we now have any idea what that means. Without consulting any resources (bad librarians!), we decided it must be a double boiler, which we don’t own. This leads us to the night’s first derivation from the recipe, as we decided to saute the filling in a saute pan. This filling consists of sweet peppers (red bell peppers, in our case), tomatoes (canned, in our case, rather than whole tomatoes “cut in halves and the seeds squeezed out”) and onions cooked in (you guessed it) oleomargarine, which we substituted with regular margarine (do you know how hard it is to even find margarine at the grocery store these days?).

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Regarding the preparation of the filling, refer to these excerpts from our kitchen conversation: “peppers into strips – insanity!” “1 onion to 4 peppers – madness!” This from Kurt, a former student in the esteemed Johnson County Community College Hospitality & Culinary program.

With the filling sauteeing-rather-than-sweating away, we turned our attention to the “meat box.”  The only instruction given by the recipe is to “form into a box whose sides are about an inch thick.” This (relative lack of) instruction generated some pretty fundamental (and philosophical) questions: should the box have a bottom and a top? If it doesn’t have a bottom and a top, is it still a box (see above: guests)? How tall should it be? WHAT IS IT FOR ANYWAY?!?”

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Sidebar: When did cookbooks stop presuming any basic knowledge of cooking – as seems to be the case in the books we looked in for recipes – and become the step-by-step manuals they are today?   

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In the end we created a kind of meat enclosure, with no meat top and no meat bottom. We basted the box with melted margarine, as per the recipe, before and during cooking. Once it was cooked in a “quick oven” (we used our regular old, modern-day electric oven, which is pretty quick), we put the filling into the enclosure and served it to some fellow librarians who were employed as testers.

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Sidebar: Unlike the ongoing mystery of an oatmeal kettle, Kurt believes a quick oven to be one that’s pretty hot, i.e., 425 degrees. This “knowledge” comes from a search in the midst of constructing this post, and might have been more helpful in determining proper oven temperature in the moment (we went a slower 350 degrees), but then, that might have been cheating.

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The verdict? Everyone agreed it tasted like bland hamburger. Not bad, but not really flavorful in any way, either. Certainly not flavorful in any way, shape or form associated with “Spanish” cooking. If we ever do this again, we decided we would add sausage, not use margarine, and add some actual seasonings, maybe some paprika, a little garlic, and some rosemary. We wonder what might have been had we not missed the advice on the page opposite that “For … mince meat … the neck is best.” We might also try using potatoes for the bottom of a true box. We are still really unsure whether this dish should have a top, and why this involves forming a box in the first place. Some questions will just have to remain a mystery.

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Post contributed by Kurt Blythe, Serials Access Librarian, UNC, and Molly Bragg, Duke Digital Collections Program Manager

Happy 25th, Webcam!

According to Wikipedia, the webcam era began in 1991 when a camera was aimed at a coffee pot in a Cambridge University lounge and left on for a decade. Nowadays it’s commonplace to communicate via video-conferencing, FaceTime, Skype or other video-phone platforms but the technology has only been widely available for a relatively short time. In the mid-1950s links between  telephones and televisions were developed, but the public only saw the technology for the first time at the 1964 World’s Fair, which also introduced touch-tone phones. Industrial trade ads touting the ability to send phone signals to television screens appeared in the early 1960s, and consumer possibilities of what were then called “Picturephones” began to be marketed in 1963-1964, as seen in this 1964 ad from New York Telephone. It would take another 40 years before smartphones put telephone and video capabilities in the hands of most consumers worldwide.

NY Telephone 1964 picturephone
Image from JWT Competitive Advertisements Hartman Center

Post contributed by Rick Collier, Technical Services Archivist for the John. W. Hartman Center

“Let’s all sit together:” Greensboro citizens respond to the 1960 Sit-Ins in the Edward R. Zane Papers

 

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Excerpt of letter supporting integration of Greensboro’s lunch counters, March 8, 1960. From the E. R. Zane Papers


This month marks the 56th anniversary of the Greensboro Sit-Ins, which began on February 1, 1960 when four African-American students from North Carolina A&T walked from the campus library to the local Woolworth store, sat down at the “whites only” lunch counter, were denied service but refused to leave until closing. Over the next week, several hundred protesters took part in the sit-ins at the Woolworth and later Kress department store in Greensboro.  The sit-ins grabbed national headlines and similar protests followed in towns across the South.

With the city in turmoil, Greensboro Mayor George Roach appointed an Advisory Committee on Community Relations to help coordinate a response to the sit-ins. He appointed Burlington Industries executive and city councilman Edward R. Zane to chair the newly formed committee. In his first act as chair, Zane issued a call to Greensboro citizens asking them to share their opinions on the “race issue.” Specifically, Zane encouraged citizens to send letters to the committee “expressing their views on recent racial problems,” and he laid out five possible solutions to the lunch counter integration question at Woolworth and Kress:

  1. The situation to remain as it is;
  2. The two establishments to remove seats and serve everyone standing;
  3. The two establishments to serve everyone seated;
  4. The two establishments to reserve separate areas for seated white people and seated Negroes;
  5. The two establishments to discontinue serving food.

The Rubenstein’s Edward Raymond Zane collection contains several hundred of these letters from Greensboro citizens from late February to early March 1960. The letters, written by both white and African-American citizens, express support for or opposition to integrated seating at the Woolworth and Kress lunch counters. In aggregate, they provide a window into race relations in the community and help document the prevailing arguments on both sides of the integration issue.

More than a half century later, we remember the Greensboro Sit-ins as one of the seminal events of the civil rights movement. To commemorate the sit-ins, a portion of the Woolworth lunch counter now resides in the Smithsonian and four stools from the counter are on display in the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro. The letters in the Zane collection are less tangible than these powerful artifacts, but provide more direct evidence of one community’s response to direct action protests and serve as testimony to the bravery and courage of the Greensboro Four and other civil rights pioneers who ignited a movement to challenge segregation in public accommodations throughout the South.

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Excerpt of letter favoring separate but equal seating arrangements, March 1, 1960. From the E. R. Zane Papers

 

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Excerpt of letter supporting integration, March 7, 1960. From the E. R. Zane Papers.

 

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Excerpt of letter opposing integrated lunch counters, March 16, 1960. From the E. R. Zane Papers.

 

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Letter from Bennet College President Willa B. Player, the first African American woman to become president of a four-year college, March 11, 1960. Over 40 percent of Bennet College students were arrested and jailed during the Greensboro demonstrations. From the E. R. Zane Papers

 

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Excerpt of letter from veteran in favor of integrated lunch counters, February 29, 1960. From the E. R. Zane Papers
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Excerpt of letter opposing integrated lunch counters, February 28, 1960

 

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Excerpt from pro-segregation letter, March 11, 1960. From the E. R. Zane Papers

 

Post contributed by Noah Huffman, Archivist for Metadata and Encoding. 

WOLA-Duke 2015 Human Right Book Award

WOLA-Duke 2015 Human Right Book Award

Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala by Kirsten Weld

February 11, 2016, 6:00pm-7:30pm
Holsti Assembly Room (Rubenstein 153)

PapercadaversThe Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Duke University have named Kirsten Weld’s book, Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala (Duke University Press, 2014) as the winner of the 2015 WOLA-Duke Human Rights Book Award.

Weld will be at Duke University Libraries to receive the award, discuss and read from her book.  The award presentation will be followed by a reception and book signing.  The event is co-sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center @ FHI, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Paper Cadavers documents the heroic effort of hundreds of idealistic, activist youth who rescued and organized the National Police records under the leadership of a former guerrilla, Gustavo Meoño. In 2005, activists from the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH) of Guatemala, while inspecting police premises for improper storage of explosives in Guatemala City, accidentally came across a trove of 75 to 80 million half-moldy pages of National Police (PN) records.

Kirsten Weld, assistant professor at Harvard University, shows how information once employed by the police state to control society and pursue subversives was put to use by the human rights community to reveal the identity of perpetrators of human rights abuses and to bring many of them to trial. In the words of the author, “Records once used in the service of state terror are repurposed by surviving reformers as building blocks for the rule of law and tools of social reckoning.”

Leonor Blum, WOLA Duke Book Award committee chair and emerita professor of history and political science at Notre Dame of Maryland University says, “Paper Cadavers is far more than a narration of the discovery of Guatemala’s police archives. Weld emphasizes both their importance in the reconstruction of memories of the past and as a form of empowerment for the future. A recent development may be a reflection of the public’s demand for greater transparency and truth. In August 2015, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) informed Guatemalans that their president and vice-president were both involved in notorious graft and corruption scandals. The public immediately took to the streets and demanded their resignation. Both the vice-president and subsequently the president resigned.”

This year’s judges include American University Professor Alex Wilde who comments that, “[Paper Cadavers] brings alive the world of archives and the political activists that learned to become archivists in the cause of human rights – one of the rare books about the human rights community itself and how it does its work.”

Author Roger Atwood describes how “This well-researched and important book shows how a group of brave researchers used those rediscovered records to document the violence and account for the missing. It is an inspiring story.”

Robin Kirk, faculty co-chair of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute says, “This is a riveting history of all of the complex – and often dangerous – steps that led to archivists being able to take what was a repository of terror and make it into a well of justice.”

Holly Ackerman, Librarian for Latin America, Iberian, and Latino/a Studies at Duke Libraries, comments, “Paper Cadaver is the first to put archives at the center of a case of transitional justice. She follows the chance discovery of over 75 million pages of National Police records from detection to preservation to use as evidence in trials for human rights violations. It provides a fuller trajectory than has been previously described of the long arc from human rights violation to justice.”

First awarded in 2008, the WOLA/Duke Human Rights Book Award honors the best current, non-fiction book published in English on human rights, democracy, and social justice in contemporary Latin America. The books are evaluated by a panel of expert judges drawn from academia, journalism, and public policy circles.

Previous award receipts are:

2014- Oscar Martínez, The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail

2013- Jonathan M. Katz, The Big Truck That Went By: How The World Came To Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster

2012- Héctor Abad, Oblivion: A Memoir

2011- Kathryn Sikkink, The Justice Cascade

2010- Victoria Bruce and Karin Hayes, with Jorge Enrique Botero, Hostage Nation

2009- Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz, The Dictator’s Shadow: Life Under Augusto Pinochet

2008- Francisco Goldman, Who Killed the Bishop? : The Art of Political Murder

 

Contact:

Kelly McLaughlin, WOLA,202-797-2171,kmclaughlin@wola.org

Patrick Stawski, Duke University Libraries,919-660-5823,Patrick.stawski@duke.edu

ASDU’s Task Force on Black-White Relations

For the past few months, I have been processing the records of the Associated Students of Duke University, Duke’s student government organization from 1967 to 1993. One of the most interesting aspects of working on this collection has been the opportunity to learn about student life in the 1970s and 1980s. In the past year, the Duke community has grappled with questions of diversity and inclusion on campus, issues that were also explored by past Duke students.

In March 1967, the Men’s Student Government Association and Woman’s Student Government Association were replaced by the Associated Students of Duke University, which represented the entire student body. ASDU was led by an elected President, an appointed Executive Committee, and a Legislature composed of representatives from campus living groups. ASDU had a number of responsibilities, including managing student organizations and creating initiatives designed to improve student life at Duke. They also sent representatives to important university committees such as the Academic Council and the Residence Life Council. ASDU also formed a number of internal committees and task forces to study aspects of student life at Duke including housing, dining, and academic issues.

In the fall of 1981, ASDU created the Task Force on Black-White Relations to study the racial climate among undergraduate students at Duke. ASDU was concerned that while desegregation had removed many of the visible signs of racism, inequality still existed on campus. The Task Force on Black-White Relations was led by Trinity student Shep Moyle, who would be elected President of ASDU in 1982 (and is now President of the Duke Alumni Association’s Board of Directors). The Task Force consisted of seven students, including Mark Jones, the president of the Black Students Association.

Ad for October 28, 1981 Open Forum on Black/White Relations. From the Duke Chronicle, October 27, 1981.
Ad for October 28, 1981 Open Forum on Black/White Relations. From the Duke Chronicle, October 27, 1981.

The committee held a series of public forums in the fall of 1981, which gave students the opportunity to voice their opinions. After the forums, Moyle wrote, “there was an ignorance, an apathy, even a hatred between the races on campus. This is a situation we must rectify. Whites misunderstand the black community’s actions and the blacks misunderstand the white’s [sic] reactions in return. A vicious circle that merely separates the groups even further.” The forums solidified the committee’s impression that actions must be taken to improve race relations on campus.

The Task Force developed a set of recommendations they believed would improve the campus climate. The official committee report of the Task Force on Black-White relations was published in February 1982. The findings of the task force mirrored many diversity concerns that continue to be raised today including enrollment numbers, a lack of faculty of color, and unequal treatment by campus authorities.

In the report, the Task Force wrote that the number of African-American students at Duke was unacceptably low. Their analysis found that over the previous few years, the overall percentage of African-American students at Duke had decreased. The report called for the Duke Admissions department to increase outreach, advertising, and financial aid opportunities for minority applicants. They recommended a 50% increase in the number of minority students for the class of 1986 and a 15% increase for the classes of 1987 and 1988.

The report also indicated that the university needed to increase hiring of minority faculty and staff, stating that eight African-American faculty members out of 350 total faculty was “appalling”. The Task Force suggested that the university launch a nationwide search for talented African-American faculty members and provide incentives that would attract them to Duke.

Additionally, the task force also accused Campus Police of stopping African-American students without just cause because of their race and called for race to be included in the core curriculum and for readings on race relations to be mandatory in freshman classes.

Notes from the Task Force on Black-White Relations. From the ASDU Records.
Notes from the Task Force on Black-White Relations. From the ASDU Records.

University officials had a mixed response to the report, refuting the claims of biased behavior by the admissions and public safety departments. They also claimed that while the report raised a number of important points, many of the proposed solutions would be unrealistic or too difficult to implement. However, the administration promised to utilize the findings of the report in future decisions. Chancellor Kenneth Pye added, “The report shows a recognition of what is a real problem on campus. I think it is an important addition and a valuable step forward.”

It was interesting to compare the findings of the Task Force on Black-White Relations to current discussions on diversity to see what changes have occurred and which issues continue to be raised. Once reprocessing is finished on this collection, researchers will be able to review the Task Force’s documentation themselves—perhaps as a way to bring these past perspectives to bear on our current discussions. (In the interim, a copy of the final report may be found in box 5 of the Office of Minority Affairs Records.)

Post contributed by Elizabeth Hannigan, Isobel Craven Drill Intern for the Duke University Archives and student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science.

Discovery at the Rubenstein: Italian-Language Version of Edith Wharton’s Short Story, “The Duchess at Prayer”

As a Humanities Writ Large Fellow at Duke this year, one of my goals was to explore the archives in the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Collection, extending work I had done at the Kislak Center for Special Collections at University of Pennsylvania creating archival research exercises for undergraduate humanities students.  My scholarship focuses on late nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American women’s writing, so I knew that exploring the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, currently undergoing processing, would be especially exciting. But little did I know that I would uncover a genuine “find”—an Italian-language typescript of a short story by Edith Wharton, translated by the author and featuring corrections in her own hand.

The typescript, the only piece in the collection by Wharton, is a translation from English into Italian of Wharton’s story “The Duchess at Prayer” (“La Duchessa in Preghiera”). The textual history of this story is complicated: Wharton first published the story in Scribner’s in August 1900, where it featured illustrations by Maxfield Parrish (full text at hathitrust.org)  and then republished it in the short story volume, Crucial Instances  (1901). The translation in the Rubenstein appears to have been made after the 1900 publication. Drawing on Honoré de Balzac’s “La Grande Bretèche” (1831) and likely Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” (1842), Wharton’s tale recounts the story of a seventeenth-century Italian Duchess whose cruel husband discovers her adulterous affair. To taunt and threaten his wife, the Duke gives her a Bernini statue crafted in her image, and, as Emily Orlando has argued in Edith Wharton and the Visual Arts, in the conclusion of the tale, the woman “becomes a statue chiseled in marble at her husband’s command” (45). The typescript in the Rubenstein appears to be a word-for-word Italian translation of the Scribner’s version, though that will have to be confirmed against the version of the short story in Crucial Instances.

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Figure 1

“La Duchessa in Preghiera” attests to Wharton’s linguistic expertise. The author, who spent much of her childhood in Italy and adulthood in France, was fluent in multiple languages. There’s no evidence that the story was published in Italian periodicals of the day; rather, it seems most likely that Wharton translated the story as a language exercise. In this translation, Wharton’s sophisticated Italian reveals her careful self-education; for example, she uses the passato remoto to refer to events in the distant historical past, where a less experienced Italian writer might use the passato prossimo. On the typescript pages, we see how Wharton added accent marks that were not available on English-language typewriters at the time (figure 1; no Microsoft Word symbols here!). Wharton used her own work as a source of language practice several times during her career: she first conceived the novella Ethan Frome as a French exercise and translated some of her stories from English to French for publication in French periodicals. The typescript in the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection reveals her immersion in Italian culture as well her mastery of two languages. Just a year after the publication of Crucial Instances, she would publish her first novel, The Valley of Decision (1902), set in eighteenth-century Italy.

While “La Duchessa in Preghiera” deepens our appreciation of Wharton’s multilingualism, it also advances the scholarly record in another way. I am one of a number of volume editors contributing to The Complete Works of Edith Wharton, to be published by Oxford University Press. To date, there is no authoritative scholarly edition of Wharton’s complete works. In the process of editing Wharton’s extensive corpus, volume editors must locate extant manuscripts and typescripts for all the works in their purview. “La Duchessa in Preghiera” suggests that Whartonites should expect to find her work in unexpected places.

For example, after finding the typescript in the Rubenstein, I learned that an additional copy of “La Duchessa in Preghiera” has been located in the Matilda Gay papers at the Frick Museum in New York. Matilda Gay was a friend and neighbor of Wharton’s in Paris and two women came from a similar social class in New York. The next step would be to compare the Rubenstein typescript with the version in the Frick. The existence of these translations elicits multiple questions: did Wharton share a translation with her friend, and for what purpose? Do the two versions differ in any way? What do these translations tell us not simply about the author, but about the sharing of texts between friends, two female expatriates, at a particular historical moment, grappling with life and literature in another language? As with many forays into the archives, this initial exploration of the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection reminds us of how much we still have to learn.

Post Contributed by Meredith Goldsmith, Humanities Writ Large Fellow 2015-2016 (Associate Professor of English, Ursinus College)

Rubenstein Library Coloring Book for #ColorOurCollections

This week the Rubenstein Library is joining other libraries and cultural heritage institutions for #ColorOurCollections. We’ve put together a coloring book filled with images from our collections. Never colored a manticore or 16th-century anatomical illustration before? Now’s your chance. Below are some highlights, and you can  download the whole book for your printing and coloring pleasure.

Want to join in on the fun? Share your artistry with us on Twitter @RubensteinLib and use the hashtag #ColorOurCollections.

 

mantichora
Manitchora from The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpants by Edward Topsell. London, 1658.
burger king 1
J. Walter Thompson Company. Domestic Advertisements Collection, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.
canterbury tales
From The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer Now Newly Imprinted. Hammersmith: William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, 1896.
look inside my belly
From De Dissectione Partium Corporis Humani by Charles Estienne (Paris, 1545). History of Medicine Collections.

 

cover page
Download the full 30 page coloring book!

For the woman who would reduce: Prune soufflé

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Browsing our digitized collections for Test Kitchen fodder on the recent snow day, I stumbled upon an item from the Emergence of Advertising in America project, How Phyllis Grew Thin, created by the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company and published circa the 1920s. On the advertisement’s cover, Phyllis shields her rosy complexion with a parasol as she gazes off the page, inviting the reader to discover the secret to achieving the willowy frame holding up her stylish sweater and pleated skirt.  We open the booklet and find stories of how women can shed undesired pounds through a reduced diet and relieve menstrual cramps, cycle irregularities, and menopausal symptoms through the use of Lydia E. Pinkham’s products.

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The epistolary advertisement is addressed to Nancy, a pudgy cartoon foil to Phyllis’s elegant watercolor. Phyllis promises to share with Dear Nancy the keys to losing weight through a proper diet. We learn that Phyllis has not always been so effortlessly thin. Inspired by Douglas Fairbanks’ and President Taft’s weight loss, Phyllis determines to do the same. As soon as she announced her intention to lose weight, “the derision and ridicule of my family strengthened me in my determination.” (page 2) In addition to the nourishing fire that comes from wanting to prove someone wrong, her reduced-calorie diet consisted of “plain meat without butter or gravies,” corn, prunes, and the occasional crustless pie. (page 2)   This kind of confessional tone continues to be a mainstay in contemporary weight loss advertising. The letter from Phyllis to Nancy serves as a precursor to current weight loss advertising’s penchant for before-and-after photos, Instagram hashtag culture (check out #transformationtuesday and #fitspo), and celebrity-endorsed diets.  (After a few Google searches for weight loss advertisements, my Facebook feed populated with sponsored content promising me a smaller pant size in mere days.)

Though her crash diet kept the weight off for a few years, Phyllis eventually gained the weight back and got serious about counting calories as a way to reduce again. She shares with Nancy that “it is not necessary for you to know just what a calorie is so long as you remember not to eat foods containing too many of them.” (page 3) The suggested calorie intake is considerably lower than most contemporary diet plans recommended by nutritionists, advising that Nancy (and “the army of women who are interested in reducing”) consume 1000-1200 calories a day. Phyllis then advises Nancy to take Lydia E. Pinkham’s Liver Pills and Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound, claiming that they help alleviate constipation and excessive nervousness, respectively. Lydia E. Pinkham established the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company in 1873. Its signature product, Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound, was a tincture of  “black cohosh, life root, unicorn root, pleurisy root, fenugreek seed, and a substantial amount of alcohol” formulated to ease menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms (1). Pinkham’s products still line shelves today, each box featuring Lydia Pinkham’s face, promising relief.

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Dry toast, baked beans, and fish balls, oh my!

At the top of each page, the booklet provides a daily meal plan with calorie counts for each item. The offerings are spare. One suggested breakfast consists of “4 saltines, 1 tbsp. cream cheese, 2 prunes, tea and lemon (without sugar).” (page 18) An idea for one dinner is little more than bun-less hot dogs and a small bowl of ice cream.

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Does getting to eat ice cream and macaroons make you forget you ate frankfurts and cold slaw for dinner?

Faced with these choices, I considered upping the Test Kitchen ante by following one of the suggested meal plans for a few days. Upon reflection, I thought better and opted to spare my friends and colleagues the monster that I am when not eating enough at regular intervals. Even reading meal plans for day after day of fruit (or saltines!) for breakfast followed by a mayonnaise-laden lunch had me throwing my Phyllis-esque determination out the window. The booklet contained few actual recipes. Oddly, most of them were for desserts: frosting, Brown Betty, orange sherbet, and pudding. The dessert that caught my eye, though, was prune soufflé. Why? Frankly, it sounded so unappetizing that I felt compelled to give it a shot. Maybe I’d been missing its hidden appeal. And, having never tried to make a soufflé, it seemed a fun technical challenge.

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The recipe given by the advertisement is deceptively simple. It’s less a recipe and more a list of ingredients. Perhaps this suggests that Pinkham’s target customer already had a thorough knowledge of soufflé-making and would simply need the inspiration to try a new take on the dessert. Since I have no such skills, I turned to the internet as a supplement, sourcing tips from a 1998 issue of Gourmet.

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The most appetizing shot of the night — and it’s of prunes!

When beginning a cooking project, I recommend ensuring you have all the right tools at your disposal before cracking your eggs. Alas, I did not follow my own advice! I began my soufflé only to find that my  house apparently lacks a hand mixer. Already committed to the recipe, I decided to channel my foremothers and hand-whip the eggs into stiff peaks. If cooks beat eggs into submission for years by hand, then surely I could as well! All those hours spent practicing surya namaskara should be good for something, right?

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My foam never quite peaked–a souffle’s death knell.

Unfortunately, I underestimated the time and effort needed to beat the eggs into fluffy mountains. I achieved the early stage, a frothy foam, but never progressed to the stiff peaks a soufflé needs to bloom. Still, it was late and I had cracked five eggs to try to make this work, so I soldiered on. Per Gourmet’s  instructions, I had soaked the chopped prunes in hot earl grey tea and lemon zest, hoping to brighten the flavors. After pureeing and cooling them, I slowly folded the foam into the mixture. Uneven in color, bubbly, and flat, I knew things had taken a turn for the worse. Still, I slid the muffin tin into the oven anyway, hoping that even if the souffle didn’t rise, I’d end up with a sweet baked egg fluff?

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In they went anyway!

Sixteen minutes later, I pulled them out of the oven to find a sad, deflated pan of brown blobs. I tasted one, and suddenly understood how easy it would be to “reduce” while following this diet. I tossed the remnants and dosed myself with a small handful of chocolate chips, the rest of which will hopefully go into a more successful baking project.

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I have made a terrible mistake.

Post contributed by Katrina Martin, Technical Services Assistant. 

 

Upcoming Talk: Scientists, Midwives, & Healers in the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection

Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library Room 153
Contact: Laura Micham, laura.m@duke.edu
RVSP (optional) via Facebook

Maria Sibylla Merian. De europische insecten. Tot Amsterdam: by J.F. Bernard, [1730].
Maria Sibylla Merian. De europische insecten. Tot
Amsterdam: by J.F. Bernard, [1730].
Join the staff of the Bingham Center as Duke History Professor Thomas Robisheaux gives a lecture on the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, highlighting his use of works by naturalist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian. The lecture is free and open to the public; light refreshments will be served.

In celebration of:

Heralding the Way to a New World: Exploring Women in Science and Medicine through the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection

On display in the Michael and Karen Stone Family Gallery from January 20th to April 1st, 2016

From the first entomologist to capture the stages of metamorphosis of the butterfly (1705) to the author who published the first comprehensive volume on contraception (1923), the women in this exhibit were pioneers in science and medicine. Whether self-trained or classically educated, they not only made groundbreaking contributions to their fields, but also helped open the way for future generations to follow in their footsteps. Despite their accomplishments, most of these women remain overlooked or under-recognized.

This exhibition highlights the stories of seven revolutionary women in science and medicine and celebrates the arrival of the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, from which these materials were selected.

The Lives and Voices of Guantanamo: The Work of the Witness to Guantanamo Project

Date: January 21, 2016
Time: 6:00-7:00pm
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room (Rubenstein Library Room 153)
Contact: Patrick Stawski (patrick.stawski@duke.edu)

January 22nd will mark the 6th anniversary of Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo. On Thursday Jan 21st, 2016, The Human Rights Archive at Duke’s Rubenstein Library will be hosting a presentation by Peter Jan Honigsberg, “The Lives and Voices of Guantanamo: The Work of the Witness to Guantanamo Project.”

W2G_logo

The Witness to Guantanamo project has filmed in-depth interviews of 136 people who have lived or worked or have been involved in the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention center. No one else in the world is doing this kind of work. Interviewees include not only detainees, but also prison guards, interrogators, interpreters, chaplains, medical personnel, habeas lawyers, prosecutors, journalists, high-ranking military and government officials, and family member of the detainees. The project has filmed more than 250 hours of video in 20 countries.

Peter Jan Honigsberg is professor at the University of San Francisco, School of Law, and the founder and director of the Witness to Guantanamo project. Professor Honigsberg has written books, law review articles and blog pieces on Guantanamo and on post 9/11 issues. He was recently invited to speak to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Professor Honigsberg is the author of Our Nation Unhinged (University of California Press, 2009). He is currently working on a book on his research and work with the Witness to Guantanamo project.

Co-sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center @ FHI.

Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University