Dearest readers, do you ever feel that there’s not enough Rubenstein Library in your social media day? True, we’re on Facebook, and we have this wonderful blog, and many of our collecting centers also have extensive social media presences (check out the list in the right-hand column) . . . but what if you could follow our every rare-book-and-manuscript action on Twitter?
Well, do we have good news for you! We’ve joined the twitterverse! Come follow us @rubensteinlib, let us know about your research projects and your latest special collections discoveries, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how we spend our working days (and sometimes our non-working days).
See you in 140 characters or less!
My most recent project in the conservation lab has been a set of 32 newspapers, issues of the Charleston Courier from 1815 to 1851. Some time in the past, they had been damaged by water, mold, insects, and dirt. All of them had tears, and many also had large losses and were exceedingly fragile. When they arrived in the lab, I could tell immediately that they were going to require a lot of work, but that they would also be fun and rewarding. While modern newspapers are made of wood pulp which quickly degrades, turning brittle and yellow, old newspapers were printed on rag paper made from textile fibers like cotton and linen, and thus they are much more resilient and pleasant for a conservator to work with.
I knew I would need to do aqueous treatments, so, after cleaning off the surface dirt, I tested the inks to make sure they would not be soluble in water. While the black printing ink was stable, most of the papers had a collection stamp in turquoise ink that was sensitive to water. However, I was able to find three ionic fixatives, chemicals that are used to make certain dyes insoluble. I tested all three, and one (Mesitol NBS) turned out to be exactly what this ink needed. I used a brush to apply a small amount to the blue inked area, working over the suction platen to pull the chemical all the way through the paper, and then my newspapers were ready to wash.
Each newspaper was immersed in a bath of deionized water. Extensive discoloration and degradation products were washed out, turning the water peachy yellow. I changed the water in each tray until it stayed clear, signaling that washing was complete. It was rewarding to see what a visual and physical difference there was between the washed and unwashed papers.
After washing and drying, I had many hours of mending to do, and many little puzzle pieces of newspaper to put in place. For my mends I used wheat starch paste and very thin Japanese papers which are almost transparent so as not to obscure the text on the newspapers. I did not fill all of the numerous losses, but I made the newspapers more stable for researchers to handle.
While working on the repairs, I was often confronted with fragments that would say something like “General / troops / fired” on one side and “congress / voted / article” on the back, and thus I would find myself reading the papers to know where the pieces might belong, which is something I rarely get the chance to do beyond a quick perusal. The earlier newspapers had battle reports, as the war of 1812 was still going on. The articles were fascinating, and the advertisements even more so. Many were similar to modern ads: houses for rent, job postings, theater listings, lost and found, dubious medical cure-alls, and sales of merchandise, often accompanied by decorative printed icons. Some were a little more unusual and interesting, like an ad for “Daguerreotype Paintings” or a woman offering her service as a wet nurse. But I was surprised to see ads for slaves, either for sale or wanting to buy, and many alerts for runaways. The runaways were the most intriguing as they gave personal details of the individuals, and I found myself wondering what happened to them, applauding their escape and hoping that they found a better life.
When the mending was finished, I housed each of the newspapers in a clear Mylar sleeve so they can be handled with greater ease and safety. Even after treatment many of them are still fragile, but now they can be handled and used by researchers with much less risk of damage. And I hope they will be used, as they are fascinating! To see more images of treatment and examples of interesting advertisements, see our Flickr page.
Post contributed by Grace White, Conservator for Special Collections, as part of our ongoing “In the Conservation Lab” series.
The shocking shootings in Kansas City during the past weekend have brought renewed attention to Glenn Miller (Glenn Cross), a longtime white supremacist with ties to North Carolina. In Monday’s Washington Post, Robert Satloff, Trinity College class of 1983, wrote about his harrowing experience interviewing Miller in 1981 and the Chronicle article that resulted.
The first-hand account, from the April 15, 1981 issue of the Aeolus (the Chronicle’s weekly magazine of the period) is a frightening glimpse into Miller’s mindset. Satloff wrote, “Perhaps I didn’t think that such close-minded, violent, intolerant people still exist. Perhaps I am naïve. I’m not anymore.”
Read the chilling article below. This issue of the Aeolus, and other Chronicle issues from 1980 to February 1989, will soon be added to the Libraries’ Chronicle digital collection.
UPDATE: The April 15, 1981 issue is now available in full in our Chronicle digital collection.
Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.
The Archive of Documentary Arts has partnered with Daylight Books, the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the Center for Documentary Studies, and SPECTRE Arts to bring documentary photographers Vincent Cianni and Mariette Pathy Allen to Durham for a series of events April 23-25.
- Wednesday, April 23 at 12:00pm: A Conversation with Vincent Cianni and Mariette Pathy Allen, Center for Documentary Studies, 1317 W. Pettigrew Street, Durham, N.C. Lunch will be provided.
- Thursday, April 24 at 6:00pm: Artist Talk and Presentation, SPECTRE Arts green space, 1004 Morning Glory Ave., Durham, N.C.
- Friday, April 25 at 6:00pm: Book Signing and Opening Exhibit, Daylight Project Space, 121 West Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC
The series will culminate in a book signing and exhibition of work by the artists to celebrate the release of the artists’ monographs TransCuba and Gays in the Military. The book signing and exhibit will take place at the Daylight Project Space on April 25 from 6 to 9pm. Refreshments will be served and the artists will be on hand to sign books and answer questions. More information at www.daylightbooks.org
About the Artists:
Through compelling photographs and interviews made over three years on road trips across the US, Vincent Cianni (born 1952) has created an important historical record of the struggles of gay and lesbian veterans and service members in the US military. As the Human Rights Commission attests, the US military has a long history of civil rights abuses against homosexuals, with harassment and discrimination frequently resulting in lost careers. In many cases, these men and women—highly skilled, well educated, patriotic, courageous and productive—had attained high rank, received numerous medals and held top-level jobs essential to the military. With essays by Alison Nordstrom, Don Bramer and Alan Steinman shedding light on the cultural, personal and political consequences of the ban on homosexuality, this volume tells the stories of men and women who served in silence and oftentimes were penalized and prohibited from receiving the benefits accorded them for serving in the military.
For more than 30 years, New York based photographer and painter Mariette Pathy Allen has been documenting transgender culture worldwide; in 2004 she won the Lambda Literary Award for her monograph The Gender Frontier. In her new publication, TransCuba, Allen focuses on the transgender community of Cuba, especially its growing visibility and acceptance in a country whose government is transitioning into a more relaxed model of communism under Raúl Castro’s presidency. This publication therefore records a cultural watershed within Cuba. In addition to color photographs and interviews by Allen, the book also includes a contribution from Raúl Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, who is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana. In 2005, Castro proposed a project, which became law three years later, to allow transgender individuals to receive sex reassignment surgery and change their legal gender.
Post contributed by Kirston Johnson, Curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts.
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The Devil’s Tale Archive
- North Carolina Christian advocate [serial] (Volume 67) April 14, 2014
- North Carolina Christian advocate [serial] (Volume 66 no. 27-51) April 14, 2014
- North Carolina Christian advocate [serial] (Volume 60) April 14, 2014
- North Carolina Christian advocate [serial] (Volume 59) April 14, 2014
- North Carolina Christian advocate [serial] (Volume 57) April 14, 2014