With so many meetings, events, exhibits, performances, and games each day, it might seem difficult to set aside time to learn about your Duke student organization’s history. The University Archives, which collects student organization materials, knows how busy you are and we want to help!
Starting on October 20th, we’ll be holding a series of pop-up displays on student organization history, featuring historical materials from our collections. We’re calling this YOLO@UA: Your Organizations Live on @ the University Archives.
Each Tuesday, you’ll find us at a table just outside the Von der Heyden Pavilion from 2-3 PM, ready to show some cool stuff and answer your questions about student organization history.
We’ll be changing the display focus each time, so here’s the schedule:
October 20: Cultural Groups
October 27: Arts Groups
November 3: Student Government & Political Groups (Happy Election Day!)
November 10: Sororities, Fraternities, & Living Groups
November 17: Student Publications
Don’t worry if your organization isn’t covered with this schedule. We’ll plan more pop-up displays with different focuses during the spring semester. And you’re always welcome to get in touch with us to discuss how you can research your organization’s history at the University Archives!
P.S. Do you have student group materials that you’d like to archive at the University Archives? Learn more, and complete a form to let us know about your materials, here!
What can we learn from the gaps, absences, and silences in an archive? What are the stories that are hidden between the lines?
From September 1991 to October 1994, Haiti was ruled by a military junta that overthrew the democratically-elected government only a few months after it came into power. The military regime was a particularly unjust and brutal era in Haiti’s unjust and brutal history, in which dissidents, pro-democracy and human rights activists, and journalists were beaten, raped, imprisoned, and killed by military and paramilitary forces. The politically-engaged poor were especially targeted, and subjected to physical and psychological terror. The US responded by imposing a trade embargo on the de facto regime, in the hope that economic sanctions would force the coup leaders from power, but the embargo hurt the poorest and most marginalized Haitians the most. Fearing political persecution and struggling under a suffocated economy, tens of thousands of people fled on boats seeking refuge in the United States. Much as Reagan had done in the early 1980s, the Bush administration claimed that the Haitian refugees were not victims of human rights violations, and therefore the US would not grant them political asylum. Many died at sea; others were incarcerated at detention camps at Guantanamo; most were repatriated to Haiti (where some were indeed killed for their politics).
Radio Haiti stopped broadcasting on October 4, 1991, five days after the coup d’état, after the military regime cracked down on independent media. Soon after, Jean Dominique and Michèle Montas went into exile in New York for the second time. The station did not open again until 1994.
We have no tapes from that time, save one – a recording of the July 1993 meeting at Governors Island in New York, where US officials attempted to broker an agreement between deposed president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and junta leader Raoul Cédras. When Radio Haiti was on the air, the paper materials reflect the audio materials: on-air scripts and journalists’ notes, and printed material from Haitian organizations. By contrast, the paper archive contains no notes and no scripts from the coup years, except for Jean Dominique’s assiduously detailed handwritten chronology of the Governors Island meeting.
But it is not a passive silence; it is a fraught and frustrated silence, an absence that draws attention to itself. Radio Haiti’s paper archive gives us a glimpse of Jean Dominique’s experience of exile – of a time when he, like the Haitian masses, could not speak freely in his homeland; of a time before the Internet and long before social media, when reliable firsthand information coming from Haiti was scant, terrifying, and tragic. For a Haitian in exile from Haiti, a journalist exiled from his microphone, the distance must have been unbearable.
The volume of secondary printed material from 1991 to 1994 testifies to an archive passionately and scrupulously amassed. There are several fat, overstuffed folders filled with tightly-bound news clippings, most of them from American media – the New York Times, Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post the Nation. We have several artifacts from the reliably nuanced and thoughtful New YorkPost.
There are also clippings from smaller publications, such as college newspapers and newspapers of the Haitian and Caribbean communities in New York. There are in-depth articles, photo spreads, short op eds, brief marginal asides. They were cut out of newspapers, mailed by friends and family (often with notes attached). These articles detail the mounting violence in Haiti, the effects of the embargo, the plight of refugees at sea and incarcerated at Guantanamo, the Bush administration’s refusal to grant asylum, and pro-Aristide demonstrations in New York, Miami, Washington DC, and elsewhere.
The collection features some rather extraordinary documents. There is this acerbic fax from pro-democracy activist Antoine Izméry, dripping with unconcealed disdain, congratulating Bush on his loss in the 1992 presidential election. “You failed all over,” Izméry declares. He decries the Bush administration’s racism, hypocrisy, and self-interest and blames the US for engineering the 1991 coup, before wishing the departing president a “peaceful and repentant retirement.”
Also in the archive is a copy of this press release from Father Gérard Jean-Juste, a liberation theology priest and prominent Aristide supporter. Jean-Juste, “in hiding in Haiti,” refers to Bush’s “skinhead policy,” suggests that Bush’s sudden illness at a state dinner in Japan earlier that year was the result of a
“voodoo curse,” and implores him to “BE A GENUINE AMERICAN, Mr. BUSH. Get your perceived KKK titles off. Work your way to HEAVEN as being a christian.”
Haiti’s beleaguered pro-democracy movement was hopeful that the election of Bill Clinton would lead to more just and humane policies toward Haitian refugees and the restoration of the Aristide government. But Clinton ultimately did little to improve conditions for Haitian refugees, and Aristide would not return to power until nearly two years later, after armed intervention by the United States. By then, Antoine Izméry would be dead. He was dragged from Sacre Coeur church by plainclothes police and shot dead in the street on September 11, 1993 in full view of parishioners and human rights observers attending a commemoration of the 1988 St. Jean Bosco massacre.
In late 1994, after Aristide was restored to power, Radio Haïti reopened. The three years of radio silence were broken by a new series of jubilant jingles and slogans: Nou tounen! Nou la pi rèd![We’re back! We’re here stronger than ever!] But the damage wrought by the coup years and the conditions of Aristide’s return was enduring; the pro-democracy movement would never again possess the same momentum or clear emancipatory promise that it had in 1991.
Post contributed by Laura Wagner, Ph.D., Radio Haiti Project Archivist.
Megan Ó Connell is the Rubenstein’s Reproduction Services Manager. Megan has been a part of the Duke library system since 2006, when she served as a University Archives intern. She joined the library full-time in 2009.
Tell us about your academic background and interests.
I have always been interested in the cultural record left by humans. I studied Anthropology, with a focus on American archaeology, and I worked in Southeastern and Gulf Coast archaeology for many years. After studying what can be learned from the unintentional record left by artifacts, I wanted to interact with the intentional/communicative record, as it was left in the past and continuing into the “futurepast,” that is, the present. Rare books and archives satisfied that wish.
What are the main projects you work on at the Rubenstein?
I manage the patron reproduction requests, including those made by both onsite and remote researchers, ensuring that the most appropriate technology is used based on the specific items and desired output; liaise with onsite and offsite services; and deliver requests as efficiently as possible while maintaining high quality and providing RL’s acclaimed customer service. Exponentially increasing numbers of library users want digital versions of our materials, and these researchers often cannot do the reproductions themselves, so I help ensure that they get what they need for their research, whether they live in Durham or Durban.
What does an average day look like for you?
On most days I log new reproduction requests; route materials to be used in requests; examine materials for reproduce-ability; discuss options and approaches with technical specialists, RL staff, and my student assistant; and communicate with staff and patrons about technical considerations and goals. I may do some reading on specific media types, technologies, or techniques; troubleshoot imaging equipment maintenance issues; train staff on processes; or communicate with vendors. I assist researchers about 12 hours a week on the Reading Room desk, and also work on general reference questions, many of which lead to reproduction requests.
What do you like best about your job?
I love seeing (and hearing) the panoply of treasures we hold at the Rubenstein — pamphlets, photographs, beautiful bound volumes, maps, vintage sound and film recordings, broadsides, artists’ books, zines, ads, papyri… and I enjoy learning about how researchers are using this richness to ask intriguing questions and shed light on cultural phenomena. People might be surprised to know that our library is so busy that we produce around 20,000 digital reproductions per year for patron requests! I enjoy helping our diverse researchers, from students to professors to authors to genealogists, and working with people all over the globe, learning about their lives – and often connecting with them on a personal level. It is gratifying to be able to be a part of so many efforts to illuminate aspects of human existence.
Do you have a favorite piece or collection at The Rubenstein? Why?
I love theH. Lee Waters films because while Waters intended to create a record, unlike most documentaries, the intended audience was the subjects themselves. The films’ subjects were caught in their everyday activities, yet they were very aware of the camera’s presence, and many behaved as if they were amusing their friends, rather than consciously creating a historical record. It’s just fun to watch the subjects ham it up, although the quick cuts can be a bit dizzying after a while.
Where can you be found when you’re not working?
I enjoy nature walks, photography, reading, hiking, canoeing, gardening, fishing, and playing music.
What book is on your nightstand/in your carryall right now?
Now that we’re all moved into our new building, we’re excited to bring back our test kitchen series! New here? On the fourth Friday of every month we share a recipe from our collections that one of our staff members has found, prepared, and tasted.
The Campus Club has been around since 1914, starting out as a social and educational group for the wives of faculty members. Open to all women of Duke, the Campus Club is a social and activity group that hosts a wide variety of events and interest groups. Interest groups meet regularly, allowing members to explore new foods, drink, activities, and culture. A long-lasting and highly active group within the Campus Club is the Morning Gourmet group, which selects a particular topic or theme and invites members to prepare a dish related to the topic or theme, bring the dish, and share the recipe with the group.
Processing a recent accession from the Campus Club, I was distracted again and again by the many intriguing recipes this group has tried over the years. Some themes were related to national or cultural cuisines, others to parts of a meal or an ingredient. But when I stumbled across the Praline Thumbprints, I found my personal winner.
This is a very recent recipe from an archivist’s perspective, appearing in a 1989 Southern Living (I was actually alive when this recipe was published, so: recent). It seemed very simple and straightforward, with modern measurements and guidance, and seemed like no problem at all. I’ll admit here that the above image is a photocopy I made of the original item in the collection, which is itself a typed version of the recipe as it appeared in the magazine. After a bit of digging, I discovered the recipe appeared in the May 1989 issue of Southern Living, in an article titled “Moms and Daughters Bake Cookies,” and you can see a PDF copy of the original through Duke’s subscription to the electronic version of Southern Living here (libraries hooray!). This also led me to discover that the version in the Campus Club records includes comments, recommendations, and modifications by the person who typed it up, and which were very helpful.
I got my ingredients together and got rolling. The first thing I needed to do was grind up some pecans nice and fine. I bought some pecans in bulk at Whole Foods (this is cheaper than buying pre-ground or bagged pecans, but requires an extra step) and put them briefly through the food processor to get them finely ground.
Then I mixed together the cookie ingredients and got a pretty sticky dough, with lovely bits of pecan mixed in. I rolled it up into balls as instructed, but I am not so good at accurately replicating the size mentioned in recipes. I also only have one cookie sheet and a very tiny oven, so the shaping and baking part took me a while.
Eventually I shaped, placed, pressed, and baked the cookies until I had many scooped cookies. I ended up with probably close to the 4-5 dozen described in the recipe (I didn’t count, but it seemed like a lot). I don’t have a picture of the plain baked cookies, but it should be noted that since they do not contain any egg, they are a little powdery and can crumble very easily.
Due to underestimating the amount of time it would take me to actually get all the cookies finished, I didn’t get a chance to make the praline topping until two days later, at which time I had several fewer cookies to fill. I added the ingredients to a pan I usually use for candy-making (a regular, good-quality pan with a thick bottom).
The praline filling is essentially a candy, and candy-making can sometimes be tricky. I have a candy thermometer, but I recommend in this recipe paying a little more attention to the time passing than to the precise temperature. I was very concerned with getting to the recommended temperature, which took waaaaaay longer than the prescribed two minutes, and the candy set up before I could finish scooping it onto the cookies, leaving me with a pan like this:
Luckily, it’s pretty much just sugar and will dissolve in hot water. But even though it set sooner than I expected, it didn’t get really hard and I could still cram it into the cookies. And it was SO. WORTH IT. This stuff is AMAZING. All those little crumbly bits at the bottom of the pan were extra; the recipe even notes you’ll make more filling than cookies. Maybe I was supposed to make three batches of cookies and two of filling? LOL, no. That’s too much work and the extra filling was crazy good on its own. I recommend putting it on ice cream or just eating it with a spoon (no judgments).
I ended with some pretty nice looking and definitely delicious cookies. They were very popular when I brought them to work (safely quarantined from the materials) and had some friends take some home, which is the only thing that prevented me from eating them all myself. As mentioned above, the cookies are a bit crumbly and I accidentally made the praline a bit crumbly as well, so be warned: just put the whole thing in your mouth at once.
More recipes tried by the Morning Gourmet group and lots of other information about the Campus Club can be found in the records described in this collection guide.
Post Contributed by Tracy Jackson, Technical Services Archivist for University Archives
Previously I have written about what I termed an “accidental collection” that occurred with collections of print ads cut from magazines, whereby frequently interesting and equally historical ads appear on the back side of the ad that was intentionally collected. Accidental collections remain hidden unless there is some way to document their presence. Unfortunately, there are not many mechanisms in current archival description “best practices” to document them.
Recently I’ve encountered another and quite different kind of accidental collection. I’m currently working with the Cause Marketing Forum’s Halo Awards collection recently acquired by the Hartman Center. This award is given to projects that utilize marketing and media to promote social causes via partnerships between businesses and nonprofit organizations such as Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the USO among many others. While “cause marketing” as a term may not be a familiar one, the campaigns form a significant part of businesses’ and nonprofits’ marketing efforts and many are probably well known to you: Race for the Cure; VH1 Save the Music; Cartoon Network’s Rescue Recess; Lee National Denim Day; and at holiday time your favorite department store has likely teamed up with the likes of Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army or a local food bank or rescue shelter. That’s cause marketing.
The Halo Awards collection contains over a decade’s worth of the award’s entry forms and accompanying documentation, the latter which arrives in a wide variety of formats. One really interesting format here is an amazing variety of promotional thumb drives. Many simply feature a corporate logo or slogan, perhaps a website URL, but others feature artwork or have designs that can range from the emblematic to the whimsical. Time Warner’s “Connect a Million Minds” drive forms a bracelet, while the National Association of Realtors’ Houselogic.com drive looks like a block of wood. A drive for New Balance imitates a running shoe where the heel pulls off to reveal the drive connection. EMTec’s drive resembles a cartoon character whose head comes off, and a drive for Chevron is a toy car where the connection slides out from the rear.
Together these promotional drives form a collection of their own, as artifacts and ephemera representing a form of media belonging to a very particular time (in this case, the past 6 or 7 years). One day the design and promotional nature of these drives may take on an historical importance of its own apart from the significance of the contents of the drives for the collection to which they originally belong. This kind of thing frequently poses a dilemma for archivists and conservators: the relative significance and archival value of the contents of a document or medium versus the form of the media itself. How does one evaluate and/or value the vessel? Is it possible to describe collections within collections, or do the conditions of possibility of one mode of description preclude others?
Post contributed by Rick Collier; photographs by Katrina Martin
While processing the Benjamin Rush papers, which will soon be digitized and available online, Alice Poffinberger, Archivist/Original Cataloger, came across a letter from Thomas Jefferson to fellow Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush. The letter, dated January 3, 1808, requests that Rush grant Jefferson’s teenage grandson his “friendly attentions” when he moves to Philadelphia the coming autumn. Though unnamed in the letter, the grandson in question is Thomas Jefferson Randolph, who attended the University of Pennsylvania from 1808 to 1809.
Stating that he is “without that bright fancy that captivates,” Jefferson hopes the fifteen-year-old “possesses sound judgment and much observation” in addition to the quality he values “more than all things, good humor.” Jefferson goes on to list the qualities of the mind he appreciates as good humor, integrity, industry, and science. Following this list, he claims “The preference of the 1st to the 2nd quality may not at first be acquiesced in, but certainly we had all rather associate with a good humored light-principled man, than an ill-tempered rigorist in morality.”
Randolph would go on to serve six terms in the Virginia House of Delegates and manage his grandfather’s sizable debts as the sole executor of his estate.
Post contributed by Katrina Martin, Technical Services Assistant.
Is there damage to be done from meddling with the ear or attempting any cure for deafness?
“Now, right here,” says T.Page, “stop and think a moment…If your stove smoked constantly, day after day, you would not place a poultice around the stove pipe, would you? You would clean out the flue or chimney, wouldn’t you?” Well, would you? Well, the same should go for fixing deafness, according to Page in his 1891 pamphlet: “Clean out the obstruction inside of your head, and you hear again as well as ever.” Why should one pay for a high-priced aurist (a specialist of the ear), when an easy remedy promises to do the same, at half the cost, and with minimal pain?
Indeed, what motivated people with hearing loss to select amongst an abundance of deafness cures or make plans to visit the aurist? My monograph, tentatively titled Deafness Misery, Hearing Happiness: Fakes and Fads in Deafness Cures, 1850-1950, examines these motivations, exploring how the lines between reputable medical treatment and “quack cure” were frequently negotiated as newer surgical procedures and technologies redefined, if not reflected, cultural expectations of “normalcy.” As it was difficult to distinguish between the “quack with a scheme” and the “visionary with a theory” promising a permanent cure for hearing loss, deaf persons were portrayed as particularly vulnerable to the clutches of fraud, since once “cured,” they were no longer condemned to the “miserable,” “isolating” state of deafness.
In June, I visited the David M. Rubenstein Rare Books and Manuscript Library at Duke University, a trip made possible thanks to the library’s generous History of Medicine Travel Grant. My research had two aims. First, to examine through the advertising collection in both the History of Medicine collections and the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History to investigate the cultural history of American advertisements for deafness cures and hearing aids. This research, which will be incorporated into one of my book chapters, “Those Instinctive, Invisible, Improved Aids,” examines how these advertisements embodied the rhetoric of “curability” and what disability scholars refer as “passing”—the masking of disability or infirmity to appear as “normal”—as marketing and sales techniques. Advertisements not only reveal the kinds of technological options available for deafened persons, but enable us to investigate the ways in which deafness was constructed as a stigma and how goods for hearing loss was marketed and sold. Indeed, many adverts propagated the refrain “Deafness is Misery,” addressing the despair and desperation deaf people felt over failed medical therapeutics. They also justified the exorbitant price of goods by connecting to the marvels of electricity and communication.
Secondly, I hoped to uncover (hidden) stories of deaf persons or persons with (temporary) hearing loss, and whether they attempted any treatment(s) for deafness. This was a more challenging task, but a good place to start was the collection of recipe books/receipt books in the History of Medicine collection. Some of these books were written by physicians and surgeons, who kept tally of the treatments they advised to their patients. For instance, I came across the receipt book of John Kearsley Mitchell (1793-1858), which lists a treatment for deafness:
Another receipt book, this time belonging to Dr. William R. Blakeslee, a civil war surgeon, contains a list of prescriptions the surgeon recommended while stationed at Camp Muhlenburg with the 48th Regiment of the Pennsylvania State Militia (near Scranton) during August 1863. Blakeslee provides details for various soldiers’ treatment(s) and his prescribed remedy, but in the case of Private William Workeizer (?) who suffered from otitis, there was no remedy listed. Does this mean that Blakeslee did not provide a treatment? Or that there was no remedy for otitis that would help the private?
There are also recipes for ear ailments written in home recipe and remedy books. One from 1896 copies a recipe from “Farmer’s Friend” for earache: “A remedy which never fails is a pinch of black pepper gathered up in a bit of cotton batting wet in sweet oil and inserted in the ear. It will give immediate relief.”
I came across many more examples, far too many for this blog post. I’d like to share one more, a letter that was out of place in the Eva Parris Letters (1892-1909) collection, written by a Virginia P. Dean of Montgomery, to G.H. Branaman of Kanas City, on July 10, 1909. In the short, carefully written letter, Dean thanks Branaman for his “cure,” which left her hearing “as good as it ever was,” and promises to recommend his method for anyone else afflicted with catarrhal deafness. This was a tremendous find for me: Branaman established the Branaman Medical Institute, which was notoriously exposed in the 1910s by the U.S. Post Office for its mail-order fraud and quackery in delivering deafness “cures.” His deafness treatment was a strange combination treatment, which made use of a special nostrum medicine and the use of his “electro-magnetic head cap.” Used properly, Branaman claimed his method could cure even the most incurable cases of deafness—or your money back! He was eventually charged with four counts of fraud and eventually put out of business.
Submitted by Jaipreet Virdi-Dhesi (Brock University), 2015-16 History of Medicine Collections Travel Grant Awardee
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University