Early last week, friend of the RBMSCL and James B. Duke Professor of Economics Dr. Craufurd Goodwin came to us with an exciting discovery. He has kindly shared a few words about it, noting that “archives are where you find them.”
When my wife and I moved from Durham in 1977 to a property called Montrose on the edge of Hillsborough, a venerable green 1961 Chevrolet pickup truck was included. Legend had it that the truck had mainly gone once a week to a garbage dump on the edge of town and spent the rest of its life in its garage. It had 18,000 miles on the odometer.
After moving most of our possessions from Durham, the old truck reverted to its traditional role and has today only 33,000 miles. But last week, on the old truck’s fiftieth birthday, it seemed appropriate to let someone else play with this toy and I sold the truck. Soon after it left the driveway, I heard from the young man who bought it that he had discovered a photograph taken by a professional studio in Durham called “Miss Johnson, Durham, N.C.” of a person described on the back as “Holland Holton, 1922.”
Holton was one of the first professors at Duke University and an administrator in various capacities; his papers are now at the Duke University Archives. There was no dated photograph of Holton in the RBMSCL’s collections until this week, but now there is.
It is a complete mystery how this picture ended up on the floor of the old truck for at least 34 years, and perhaps 50. My predecessor at Montrose and in the truck was A. H. Graham, a prominent figure in the state (Lieutenant Governor, Highway Commissioner, etc.) but Carolina all the way. How a picture of a pioneering Duke professor ended up in his farm truck we shall probably never know.
Post contributed by Dr. Craufurd Goodwin, James B. Duke Professor of Economics at Duke University.
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The Devil’s Tale Archive
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