All posts by Kate Collins

SFWA Southeast Reading Series: Storytelling and Migration, September 17th

Date: Thursday, September 17, 2015
Time: 4:00pm
Location: Bays 4 and 5, Smith Warehouse, Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University
Contact: Sara Seten Berghausen,


In collaboration with Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and the FHI Story Lab, Duke Libraries presents a panel of SFWA Southeast member authors speaking on the theme of Storytelling and Migration.

Authors Gail Z. Martin, Alyssa Wong, Ursula Vernon, Delilah Dawson, and Monica Byrne will be on the panel, and the discussion will be moderated by Jaym Gates.

This event is free and open to the public. More information on Facebook.

Praline Thumbprint Cookies (1989) – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen:

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.

praline thumbprint


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.

praline thumbprint 2

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.

praline thumbprint 3

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.

praline thumbprint 4

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.

praline thumbprint 5

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).

praline thumbprint 6

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:

praline thumbprint 7

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).

praline thumbprint 8

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

Move Diary: Week 5

Week 5 feels  like it’s been a big one. The stacks are filling up with manuscript boxes and books and feel less cavernous and more cozy. By the numbers it’s been a big week too.  On Tuesday we hit an important milestone: 10,000 manuscript boxes landed in their new homes in the stacks.  It’s been a good week for our books too.  We’ve moved, Library of Congress-ified, and shelved nearly all 4,000 of our folios and all 20,000 duodecimos; octavos and quartos are next on our list.  Some new formats started moving this week as well: 100 drawers worth of oversize flat files moved and about half or our papyrus collection made the journey too.

We also want to invite everyone to our open house on September 10th!  You’ll have a chance to tour the new spaces and exhibits, meet and mingle with library staff, and learnhow the Rubenstein Library can support your research.  Check out the details here.


Archival collections back from offsite and awaiting their new homes. Photo by Tracy Jackson.
Photo by Meghan Lyon
Photo by Meghan Lyon
Sums up the Rubenstein move pretty well. Photo by Meghan Lyon.
Sums up the Rubenstein move pretty well. Photo by Meghan Lyon.
New exhibit on Duke University history!
New exhibit on Duke University history!
Exhibit cases have been installed in the Rare Book Room.
Exhibit cases have been installed in the Rare Book Room.
Henry's been on the job in Conservation Services for five days and he is already on Rubenstein Library move duty. Here is he helping move the papyri.
Henry’s been on the job in Conservation Services for five days and he is already on Rubenstein Library move duty. Here is he helping move the papyri.
gym 1 - kelly
From The Book of the Home. Photo by Kelly Wooten.
Some of those big flat files. Photo by Meghan Lyon.
Some of those big flat files. Photo by Meghan Lyon.
Inlaid leather cover on Slapstick and Dumbbell : a Casual Survey of Clowns and Clowning.
Inlaid leather cover on Slapstick and Dumbbell : A Casual Survey of Clowns and Clowning.

‘Til next week!

Profiles in Research: Dr. Jaime Cantrell on Southern Lesbian Literature

My current book project, Southern Sapphisms: Sexuality and Sociality in Literary Productions 1969-1997, considers how queer and feminist theories illuminate and complicate the intersections between canonical and obscure, queer and normative, and regional and national narratives in southern literary representations produced during a crucial but understudied period in the historical politicization of sexuality. The advent of New Southern Studies has focused almost exclusively on midcentury texts from the Southern Renascence, largely neglecting post-1970 queer literatures. At the same time, most scholarship in women’s and feminist studies continue to ignore the South, or worse, demonize the South as backward, parochial, and deeply homophobic. Southern Sapphisms argues that we cannot understand expressions of lesbianism and feminism in post-Stonewall era American literature without also understanding the explicitly southern dynamics of those writings—foregrounding the centrality of sexuality to the study of southern literature as well as the region’s defining role in the historiography of lesbian literature in the United States.

Vital archival work completed at the Sallie Bingham Center this past May strengthened my arguments about the formations of lesbian identity and community in the North Carolina lesbian-feminist journal Feminary (1969-1982). Feminary has been lauded by one scholar as “the source and backbone of contemporary Southern lesbian feminist theory,” due in part to the forum it provided for southern lesbians to voice their inimitable outlooks on race, regionality, and social justice[i]. At a local level, Feminary forged and grounded a community of Durham/Triangle feminists, lesbians, and women writing and printing as a collective. At a national level, I show how the women of this journal were actually inspired by the increasingly turbulent battles over civil rights in the South. This revelation upends prevailing notions that the Stonewall riots in New York were the watershed that changed lesbian and gay politics and culture in the nation. My work on Feminary recasts dominant national narratives about queer lives, histories, and activism in the region by illustrating how lesbian feminist politics gained their inspiration and momentum not only from Stonewall, but also from the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and massive resistance against civil rights and gay and lesbian rights in the South. Access to rare archival documents—only available at Duke University’s Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library—prove that Second Wave feminism and modern lesbian politics have extensive southern roots. To ignore the distinctly regional dynamics of those roots is to misunderstand the complexity of those movements across the nation and beyond.

eminary collective (left to right, top to bottom row): Helen Langa, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Eleanor Holland, Cris South, and Mab Segrest. Photo by Elena Freedom, 1982. From the Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers.
Feminary collective (left to right, top to bottom row): Helen Langa, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Eleanor Holland, Cris South, and Mab Segrest. Photo by Elena Freedom, 1982. From the Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers.

I am grateful for the support of the Mary Lily Research Grant, which enabled my research at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. I was able to consult materials from the Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers and the Dorothy Allison Papers, and was honored and humbled to use the Mab Segrest Papers.

Continue reading Profiles in Research: Dr. Jaime Cantrell on Southern Lesbian Literature

Move Diary: Week 3

We’re 1/3 of the way through the move, huzzah! Here’s a look at what week 3 brought.

Books have been getting new labels to show off their new Library of Congress call numbers:

Cataloger Lauren Reno scans books from our History of Medicine Collections. Photo by Rachel Ingold.
Cataloger Lauren Reno scans books from our History of Medicine Collections. Photo by Rachel Ingold.


We’ve been finding lots of beautiful books during the process:

Photo by Kate Collins
Photo by Kate Collins
Photo by Kelly Wooten
Photo by Kelly Wooten
Photo by Kelly Wooten
Photo by Kelly Wooten
Photo by Meghan Lyon
Photo by Meghan Lyon

As well as fun doodles in the margins:

Photo by Amy McDonald

There were some more amusing finds as well:

Photo by Meghan Lyon
Reliving the early 2000s with an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog. Photo by Meghan Lyon
Photo by Kelly Wooten
The wrong kind of sports in The Mother’s Encyclopedia, 1942. Photo by Kelly Wooten
good girls and bad girlds
Bad Girl and Good Girl in juxtaposition. Photo by Kelly Wooten.
Photo by Tracy Jackson
True Blue Soda! Photo by Tracy Jackson

Archival collections continued to fill our new shelves:

Collections from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture. Photo by Kelly Wooten.
Photo by Liz Adams
Boxes of University Archives material. Photo by Liz Adams

Our collections weren’t the only thing moving this week. Portraits of Duke presidents and other figures in Duke History moved back to the Gothic Reading Room.

Photo by Amy McDonald
Portrait of Terry Sanford leaving our temporary space for the Gothic. Photo by Amy McDonald
Horace Trumbauer, Campus Architect for East and West campus. Photo by Beth Doyle.
Horace Trumbauer, Campus Architect for East and West campus. Photo by Beth Doyle.
Photo by Val Gillispie
The Duke Family is back in the Gothic Reading Room! Photo by Val Gillispie
Photo by Val Gillispie
Last portrait being hung in the Gothic Reading Room–President Douglas Knight. Photo by Val Gillispie

We also got to see others spaces in our new home come together:

Photo by Amy McDonald
Work area for Research Services Staff. Photo by Amy McDonald
Cute little bench nook. Photo by Amy McDonald.

Move Diary: Week 1

We made it through week 1! Here are some sights spotted by our staff as we got down to work:

The first truck of books returning home from offsite storage. We brought 9800 print items back this week.
Our old now empty hold shelves. We miss our researchers and can’t wait to see them again in August in our new space.
One of our archivists, spotted through a tunnel of new compact shelving.
Bevy of walkie-talkies. 10-4.
Our move coordinator/book cart whisperer channels Chris Pratt. We’re glad they’re just book trucks and not velociraptors.
A little Robert Frost on the book trucks.
Color coded boxes, ready to move.
No detail is too small as labels were peeled off our new shelving and replaced with stickier ones.
With new super-sticky stickers, we labeled roughly 1000 bays on three different levels in the new space, ensuring every box will have a clearly labeled place to live.
Someone had a little fun with the (admittedly Carolina Blue) protective film on our new elevator.


Mad Men Monday–Season 7, Episode 13 “The Milk and Honey Route”

Mad Men Mondays logo

This week’s episode opens with Don Draper’s Cadillac methodically rolling down a dark, deserted highway.  The hum of wheels on pavement is interrupted when he is pulled over by a patrolman that, once he’s confirmed the driver’s identity, cryptically says, “You knew we would catch up with you eventually.”

Of course the scene is only a dream and Don wakes in a modest motel room somewhere in Kansas, a long way from the luxury of Manhattan.  His vision-quest through Middle America continues south only to be interrupted by car trouble in Oklahoma.  He’s dropped at a hotel where he meets the owner, Del, and his wife, Sharon.  Sharon tries to convince Don to stick around town for a VFW gathering to benefit a veteran whose kitchen burned down.  A day later, Don reluctantly accepts despite a repaired Cadillac and his own rambling spirit.  After several shots of Old Crow, a few cans of Lone Star beer, and some prodding from intoxicated vets, Don tells the table that he killed his Commanding Officer in Korea.  Later that night, Sharon lets three angry vets into Don’s hotel room who are convince that he stole the cash from the donations jar.  They leave without the money but with the keys to Don’s Cadillac which will be held as collateral until the money is returned.  Don confronts Andy, a housekeeper at the hotel, about his theft of the money, demands its return, and suggests that he get out of town.  Kindly, Don agrees to drive him to the nearest bus stop where he hands him the car keys and steps out of the car with some sage advice for the budding con artist, “don’t waste this.”  His possessions whittled down to what will fit inside a Sears bag, Don looks content.

Pete bumps into Duck Phillips on the elevator at McCann and Duck asks for a private conversation in which he tries to convince him to help persuade Learjet to hire him as a headhunter.  Pete reluctantly agrees to meet and, over the course of dinner, quickly realizes that he’s been tricked into an interview for the position.  Despite Pete’s adamant lack of interest, Duck persists and tries to convince him to attend a second dinner with the spouses.  Pete approaches Trudy about her possible attendance at the dinner and in the process reminds her how much she used to love client dinners.  Trudy admires Pete for his ability to be sentimental about the past but adds that she, on the other hand, remembers things as they actually were.  After Duck spins Pete’s no-show at the dinner as a reaction to Learjets initial salary offer they up it coniderably.  Pete shows up at Trudy’s in the pre-dawn hours, tells her of his job offer in Wichita, professes his love, and invites her to move with him and reunite the family.  Reluctant at first, she eventually accepts.

Betty struggles up the stairs at the university only to stumble and fall, injuring a rib and wounding her pride.  At the hospital a doctor requests that she phone her husband as her condition appears to be more serious.  In the car after the doctor’s visit, Francis has a tantrum and threatens to sue the hospital for frightening Betty.  A second doctor, however, confirms the findings of the first:  Betty has an aggressive form of lung cancer and is given months to live.  Back at the house, Francis castigates Betty for refusing to seek treatment and accuses her of giving up.  Against Betty’s wishes, Francis goes to Sally’s college, gives her the bad news, and enlists her to convince Betty to seek treatment.  After brushing off Sally in the kitchen, Betty enters her bedroom that evening for a conversation.  Sally accuses her of taking pleasure in the tragedy of her condition.  After watching her own mother die slowly Betty simply wishes to spare Sally that same experience.  She also hands her a letter with instructions to be opened after her death.  Back in her dormitory, Sally reads the letter detailing practical matters such as burial site and Betty’s preferred dress, hairstyle, and lipstick.  Betty says she loves her and knows that her life will be an adventure.

Last night’s episode featured references to apples, Learjet, and Old Crow whiskey among others.  Enjoy our selection of highlighted ads that reference the brands and themes that Mad Men characters interacted with last night.

A gallery of our selected images may also be found on Flickr.

1 colgate001
2 apple001
3 auto repair001
4 spain001
5 Lear
6 Tobacco Institute
7 jantzen001
8 coffee001
9 old crow001
10 Lone Star

Mad Men Monday – Season 7, Episode 11 “Time & Life”

Mad Men Mondays logo

The characters at SC&P faced their worst fear last night as McCann Erickson planned to absorb and dissolve the agency. With 30 days to vacate their offices and 30 days for Don to find a new place to live, it truly is setting up to be the end of an era.

The episode opens on dinner as Ken enjoys toying with Pete and criticizing the work done by SC&P.

Roger receives a letter canceling the lease on the SC&P offices. After yelling at some of the secretaries, he calls McCann and discovers that it was not a mistake.  McCann is planning to absorb the agency and move everyone into their own building. Roger, Don, Pete, Ted and Joan discuss the news with dread.

Stan and Peggy observe and audition children for a client.  Stan comments that Peggy hates kids after she struggles working with them. Pete pulls her aside and tells her the bad news about the agency.

Lou calls Don and gleefully tells him that he is quitting and moving to Tokyo to work with Tatsunoko Productions on developing his comic into a cartoon.

The partners meet and come up with a strategy to move the agency to California where they could work on the clients that are a conflict for McCann. They rush off to see if they can get those clients to stick with them at “Sterling Cooper West.” Roger and Pete meet with Ken to get Dow to stay with them but he refuses and leaves.

Peggy meets with a headhunter who tells her that her best bet is to stay and work at McCann.

Pete and Trudy meet with the headmaster at Greenwich Country Day school, which rejected Tammy’s application. Pete says that it a family tradition for a Campbell to be at that school. The headmaster bears a grudge dating back to 1692 when his ancestors and Pete’s began a historic clan feud.  He insults Trudi and Pete punches him before leaving. Later Trudi bemoans the fact that it is hard being a divorced woman because men try to take advantage of her.

Stan and Peggy have to babysit a girl who was left by her mother who had to pick up her son. The girl manages to staple her finger causing an argument between Peggy and the mother who returns. Later Peggy reveals to Stan that she gave a child up for adoption and says it is not fair that women have to make hard choices when men don’t.

The SC&P partners make their pitch to keep their conflicting clients and move to California, but Jim Hobart explains that they all will have great jobs at McCann working on top tier clients like Buick and Coca Cola. Only Ted seems happy to hear that he will get what he always wanted, to work on a pharmaceutical account. They all leave and commiserate over beer. The next day the partners announce the big news to the office and try to make it sound positive, but the staff quickly start taking over them and walk away.

Last night’s show featured references to toys, Dow, Buick, and first aid, among other things.  Enjoy our selection of highlighted ads that reflect the brands and themes that Mad Men characters interacted with last night.

A gallery of our selected images may also be found on Flickr.


1 toilet cleaner001

2 hair curlers001

3 toys001

4 japan airlines001

5 plaid jacket001

6 nabisco merged

7 buick001

8 band aid001

Shrimp Gumbo Filé (1916) – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen

Last week, I saw a student production of A Streetcar Named Desire. The play, famously set in New Orleans, immediately ignited memories of my time in NOLA. One moment, I was sitting under the green and white striped awning of Café Du Monde where I eagerly waited for the arrival of a small mountain beignets. Then, I was savoring every morsel of a roast beef po’boy from Parkway Bakery, blissfully unaware that rivulets of au jus were trailing down my wrists. After that, I drifted off even further and was reliving my first slurpy spoonful of duck gumbo. That dish made my heart sing!

Gumbo is one of the oldest and most iconic dishes served in New Orleans. In its most basic form, gumbo is a soupy stew cooked slowly over a low flame. It is served in a bowl with a heaping spoonful of Louisiana long grain rice. The simplicity of that description is misleading, though. Recipes for gumbo are so diverse that it is nearly impossible to define the dish in formulaic terms. Peering into a simmering pot of gumbo, for example, you might see any combination of the following meats and seafood: crabs, shrimp, oysters, ham, chicken, duck, rabbit, and sausage. You might also spot roughly or finely chopped onions, celery, and bell peppers—the so called “holy trinity” of Louisiana cooking. Often, you’ll catch a glimpse of the swirling, willowy tendrils of okra slime. Or, you might see a bay leaf bobbing along the surface of the stew as it slowly releases its tangy, herbal flavor into the stock. Gumbo, then, is anything but formulaic and reflects the amazing complexity of New Orleans’ Creole food culture.

picayune cookbookGumbo is also a dish that invites experimentation. In fact, I might characterize it as a “playful” one. Inspired by the vivacious spirit of this dish, I chose to modify some aspects of the gumbo I found in the The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book (1916). I’ve included both the original recipe and my derivation of it below.

The recipe:

Shrimp Gumbo Filé
Gombo Filé aux Chevrettes

50 Fine Lake Shrimp
2 Quarts of Oyster Liquor
1 Quart of Hot Water
1 Large White Onion. 1 Bay Leaf.
3 Sprigs of Parsley. 1 Sprig of Thyme.
1 Tablespoonful of Lard or Butter.
1 Tablespoonful of Flour.
Dash of Cayenne.
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste.

Shell the shrimp, season highly and scald in boiling water. Put the lard into a kettle, and, when hot, add the flour, making a brown roux. When quite brown, without a semblance of burning, add the chopped onion and the parsley. Fry these, and when brown, add the chopped bay leaf; pour in the hot oyster liquor and the hot water, or use the carefully strained liquor in which the shrimp have been boiled. When it comes to a good boil and about five minutes before serving, add the shrimp to the gumbo and take off the stove. Then add to the boiling hot liquid about two tablespoonfuls of the “Filé,” thickening just as desired. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with boiled rice.

(Ashley’s) Shrimp Gumbo Filé

¼ cup of vegetable oil
¼ cup of flour
1 large white onion, chopped
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock
1 pint of oyster liquor
1 ½ pounds of unpeeled lake shrimp
1 pound chopped chicken thighs
1 smoked ham shank
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

In New Orleans, there is a common phrase that marks the beginning of many gumbo recipes: first you make a roux. A roux is a combination of flour and fat (oil, lard, or butter) that is slowly toasted over a low flame, creating a rich, nutty flavor. For many people who are new to Creole cuisine, making it can be an intimidating process. After all, it takes at least 30 to 45 minutes to prepare a roux from scratch (no wonder people buy it in jars). The time investment is well worth it, though. The longer you toast your roux, the more complex and delicious the flavor of your gumbo!

I started off with a large soup pot (one with a thick bottom). Over medium heat, I combined equal parts oil and flour, stirring constantly (preferably with a wooden spoon). At first, the roux will be fairly thin and light yellow in color.

gumbo 1As the flour starts to toast, the roux will thicken slightly and air bubbles will begin to form on its surface. It will also appear slightly “gummy”—almost like mashed potatoes (if your roux is still thin, you can add another tablespoon or two of flour to thicken it). The key is to keep stirring.

gumbo 2After about twenty minutes, the roux will begin to smell like popcorn or toasted nuts. At this point, it will gradually begin to darken to a caramel color. Keep stirring! Over the next ten to fifteen minutes, the roux will become even darker. I always say that an ideal roux is almost the color of a Hershey’s chocolate bar (and that transformation can take over an hour). If you do not make it that far in the process, that’s OK. The most important thing is to cook the roux long enough to eliminate the “raw” taste of the flour.

gumbo 3Once you’ve reached your ideal coloring, add the chopped onion to the roux. You will hear a sizzling sound. Adding the onion stops the toasting process and will prevent your roux from burning. Allow the onions to cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You want them to sweat and begin to brown.

gumbo 4Add the chicken stock, oyster liquor, shrimp, chicken, ham shank, and bay leaf. Bring the gumbo to a boil and then reduce the heat so that you have a steady simmer going for two hours. Stir every 15 to 20 minutes. You want the stock to reduce by a third.

A few notes: I prefer using unpeeled or partially-peeled shrimp because the exoskeleton gives the stock a really wonderful, shrimpy flavor. I also use smoked ham shank over hocks because the former has more meat, which I later pull off the bone and incorporate back into the gumbo before serving. In addition, I like to use the dark meat of chicken because it has a richer flavor that works well with the nuttiness of the roux. Last, but not least, if you cannot find oyster liquor, you can substitute it with unsalted chicken broth.

After the gumbo has reduced, take it off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. (The stock will already be fairly salty because of the smoked ham shank, so you may not need additional salt).

I like to serve my gumbo over ½ cup of long grain rice. I allow my guests to add a dusting of filé powder to their own bowls before digging into their supper. I also encourage them to get up close and personal with their gumbo. I often find myself calling out instructions and encouragement: “Pick up that shrimp right from the bowl! Don’t be shy! You’re supposed to eat gumbo with your hands as well as your spoon.” At least, that was how I was taught to eat my gumbo when I lived in New Orleans. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

gumbo 5


Post contributed by Ashley Young, History PhD student and next year’s Graduate Student Intern for our Research Services Department.

New Collection Spans Five Centuries of Women’s History

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University has acquired one of the largest and most significant private collections on women’s history, documenting the work and intellectual contributions of women from the Renaissance to the modern era.

Isotta Nogarola, humanist, 1418-1466, from Jacopo Philippo Bergomensis' De Claris Mulieribus, 1497
Isotta Nogarola, humanist, 1418-1466, from Jacopo Philippo Bergomensis’ De Claris Mulieribus, 1497

Carefully assembled over 45 years by noted bibliophile, activist and collector Lisa Unger Baskin, the collection includes more than 8,600 rare books and thousands of manuscripts, journals, ephemera and artifacts, including author Virginia Woolf’s writing desk.. Among the works are many well-known monuments of women’s history and literature, as well as lesser-known works produced by female scholars, printers, publishers, scientists, artists and political activists. Taken together, they comprise a mosaic of the ways women have been productive, creative, and socially engaged over more than 500 years. The collection will become a part of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture within the Rubenstein Library.

Cabinet card sold by Sojourner Truth to support her work, 1864 Photographer is unknown
Cabinet card sold by Sojourner Truth to support her work, 1864
Photographer is unknown

The materials range in date from a 1240 manuscript documenting a respite home for women in Italy to a large collection of letters and manuscripts by the 20th-century anarchist Emma Goldman.  The majority of materials were created between the mid-15th and mid-20th centuries. Other highlights include correspondence by legendary American and English suffragists and abolitionists Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emmeline Pankhurst and Lucretia Mott; Harriet Beecher Stowe’s publicity blurb for Sojourner Truth’s Narrative, written in Stowe’s own hand; exquisite decorated bindings by the celebrated turn-of-the-century British binders Sarah Prideaux, Katharine Adams, and Sybil Pye; and Woolf’s writing desk, which the author designed herself.

Baskin and her late husband, the artist Leonard Baskin, were both avid book collectors. Leonard also founded The Gehenna Press, one of the preeminent American private presses of the 20th century. Lisa Unger Baskin began collecting materials on women’s history in the 1960s after attending Cornell University. She is a member of the Grolier Club, the oldest American society for bibliophiles.

“I am delighted that my collection will be available to students, scholars and the community at Duke University, a great teaching and research institution,” Baskin said. “Because of Duke’s powerful commitment to the central role of libraries and digitization in teaching, it is clear to me that my collection will be an integral part of the university in the coming years and long into the future. I trust that this new and exciting life for my books and manuscripts will help to transform and enlarge the notion of what history is about, deeply reflecting my own interests.”

Materials from the collection will be available to researchers once they have been cataloged. Some items will be on display in the renovated Rubenstein Library when it reopens to the public at the end of August 2015.

For more information about the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection visit