Category Archives: Exhibits

Coming Soon! Pop-Up Displays on Student Organization History

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!

Cast of "The Womanless Wedding," ca. 1890s
Cast of “The Womanless Wedding,” ca. 1890s

Hugh Mangum Exhibit at Durham History Hub

Portrait photos by Hugh Mangum. From the Hugh Mangum Photographs, #N258.
Portrait photos by Hugh Mangum. From the Hugh Mangum Photographs, #N258.

The portraits of Durham photographer Hugh Mangum are the subject of a new exhibit, opening July 22nd at the Museum of Durham History’s History Hub. “Hugh Mangum on Main Street: Portraits from the Early 20th Century” shows Mangum’s largely unknown portraits of Southern society after Reconstruction.

Mangum was born in Durham in 1877 and began establishing studios and working as an itinerant photographer in the early 1890s. During his career, Mangum attracted and cultivated a clientele that drew heavily from both black and white communities, a rarity for his time. Mangum’s photographs are now part of the Rubenstein Library’s Archive of Documentary Arts.

“Although the late-19th-century American South in which he worked was marked by disenfranchisement, segregation and inequality — between black and white, men and women, rich and poor — Mangum portrayed all of his sitters with candor, humor, and spirit. Each client appears as valuable as the next, no story less significant,” said curator Sarah Stacke. “His portraits reveal personalities as immediate as if the photos were taken yesterday.”

Stacke, a photographer and a 2014-2015 Lewis Hine Fellow at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, and Margaret Sartor, who teaches at CDS, are working together on a book about Mangum’s life and work. This new exhibit expands on “Keep All You Wish,” an exhibit of Mangum’s work that Stacke curated for CDS in 2012.

“Hugh Mangum on Main Street: Portraits from the Early 20th Century” opens at the History Hub, 500 W. Main St., on Tuesday, July 22 and runs through August. The exhibition will be in the Our Bull City area.

The public is invited to a launch party for the exhibition on Wednesday, July 23, from 5:30pm to 7pm, and a program on Mangum and his work at 3pm on Sunday, August 10.There is no charge for the exhibit, program, or party. The Hub is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

Tramps Like Us: Springsteen and Whitman

You may have heard the news: a working draft of one of the iconic songs in American music, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” will be displayed in Perkins Library on May 8-11, and then here in the Rubenstein Library from May 12-June 27.  While at the Rubenstein, Springsteen’s draft, owned by Floyd Bradley, will be in the very good company of one of the largest collections of manuscripts by another favorite son of New Jersey, Walt Whitman, in the Trent Collection of Whitmaniana.

Walt Whitman, 1869, from the Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, box III-6C (Saunders 29); Bruce Springsteen, on the cover of the album Born to Run, 1975.
Walt Whitman, 1869, from the Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, box III-6C (Saunders 29), by M. P. Rice; Bruce Springsteen, on the cover of the album Born to Run, 1975, by Eric Meola.

Both Whitman and Springsteen felt and expressed a deep connection with working-class Americans.  After a transient childhood, Whitman worked as a journeyman printer before becoming the “Good Gray Poet”; Springsteen’s mother famously took out a loan to buy him a guitar when he turned sixteen, and years of honing his musical craft at small venues for low pay preceded the breakthrough of “The Boss.”

The working draft of “Born to Run” includes many passages that were changed or excised from the final lyrics, but the chorus “tramps like us, baby we were born to run” is already in place.

The chorus of "Born to Run" in the working draft. Image courtesy of Sotheby's.
The chorus of “Born to Run” in the working draft. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

“Tramps,” or homeless itinerants looking for steady work and a place to live, became a particular concern in the United States (and for Whitman) during and after the “long depression” of the 1870s.  Whitman wrote about this phenomenon in many different contexts, perhaps most memorably in a fragment entitled “The Tramp and Strike Questions.”  In a sentence that gets to the core of an element of “Born to Run” and other Springsteen songs, Whitman writes there: “Curious as it may seem, it is in what are call’d the poorest, lowest characters you will sometimes, nay generally, find glints of the most sublime virtues, eligibilities, heroisms.” A volume in the Trent Collection, given by Whitman the title “Excerpts &c Strike & Tramp Question,” contains manuscripts and newspaper stories annotated by Whitman in preparation for a lecture on the topic, which was never delivered.

Two prose fragments from "Excerpts &c Strike & Tramp Question," Trent Collection of Whitmaniana Box II-7B.
Two prose fragments from “Excerpts &c Strike & Tramp Question,” Trent Collection of Whitmaniana Box II-7B.

We’re excited to host the “Born to Run” draft, and please contact us if you’d like to take the chance to see this treasure of American culture alongside items in the Trent Collection of Whitmaniana.

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.

Unveiling the Haitian Declaration of Independence

The first page of the manuscript copy of the Haitian Declaration of Independence now at the Rubenstein Library.

Date: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Time: 5:00-7:00 PM
Location: John Hope Franklin Center for International and Interdisciplinary Studies, 2204 Erwin Road, Room 240
Contact Information: Will Hansen, william.hansen(at)

The Rubenstein Library has acquired a very rare manuscript copy of the Haitian Declaration of Independence.  This declaration by the army of black Haitians, of liberty from French colonial rule or death, made on 1 January 1804, carries strong echoes of the rhetoric of the American Revolution some thirty years earlier.  It established the first black republic in the world, and is the first declaration of independence written after the American version of 1776.

The scribal copy of the Declaration now at the Rubenstein was found in the papers of Jean Baptiste Pierre Aime Colheux de Longpré, a French colonizer of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) who fled the country during its revolution and settled in New Orleans.  The copy was very likely made shortly after the Declaration took effect on 1 January, 1804. It is one of only a few contemporary or near-contemporary manuscript copies known to scholars, joining copies at the British Library, the French National Archives, and the National Library of Jamaica.


A celebration of the Haitian Declaration of Independence will be held on 21 January at the John Hope Franklin Center for International and Interdisciplinary Studies, in collaboration with faculty and staff from Duke’s Haiti Lab.  A round table of scholars of the Haitian Declaration, including Duke Professors Laurent Dubois and Deborah Jenson, Assistant Prof. (and Duke PhD) Julia Gaffield of Georgia State University, and Prof. Richard Rabinowitz and Lynda Kaplan of the American History Workshop, will discuss its history and creation.  The Rubenstein Library’s manuscript copy of the Declaration will be on display in the Center’s gallery. Haitian specialties will be served.

Celebrating 175 Years of Duke History

Date: Friday, December 6, 2013
Time: 3:00-5:00 PM
Location: Perkins Gallery
Contact Information: Amy McDonald, amy.mcdonald(at)

Join the staff of the Duke University Archives for a reception celebrating the exhibit, “Outrageous Ambitions: How a One-Room Schoolhouse Became a Research University,” currently on display in the Perkins Gallery.

175th Exhibit Banner, part 1

Enjoy light refreshments while you trace Duke University’s 175-year history through fascinating artifacts, photographs, architectural drawings, and other historical materials. The reception will also be an excellent chance to get a look at some of the University Archives’ recent acquisitions, which will be on display for the first time.

The exhibit will be on display through February 16, 2014 and was curated by Maureen McCormick Harlow, 175th Anniversary Intern in University Archives, and Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist.

Unable to make the reception? Visit the online exhibit!

175th Exhibit Banner, part 2

Honickman First Book Prize in Photography Reception and Artist’s Talk

gaskinDate: November 7, 2013
Time: 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Location: Center for Documentary Studies, 1317 W. Pettigrew Street, Durham, NC 27705
Contact: Kirston Johnson,

Please join us on November 7 at 5:30pm for an artist’s talk and reception for the book and exhibit Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene photographs by Gerard Gaskin.  The event will take place at the Center for Documentary Studies and is co-sponsored by the Archive of Documentary Arts.

Gerard H. Gaskin is the winner of the 2012 Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. Renowned curator and photographer Deborah Willis chose Gaskin’s longtime project for the prestigious biennial prize: color and black-and-white photographs that document the world of house balls, underground pageants where gay and transgender men and women, mostly African American and Latino, celebrate their most vibrant, spectacular selves as they “walk,” competing for trophies based on costume, attitude, dance moves, and “realness.”

The exhibition, in the Juanita Kreps Gallery at the Center for Documentary Studies, is on view from November 4, 2013, through Februrary 22, 2014.  The photographs will then be placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts in Duke University’s Rubenstein Library.

Gaskin’s book, Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene, published in Fall 2013 by Duke University Press in association with CDS Books of the Center for Documentary Studies, will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

For more information about the prize and to see images from Legendary:

Learn more about the Archive of Documentary Arts.

Prepare for Terror: Haunted Library Screamfest II

Halloween4blogDate: October 31, 2013
Time: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Location: Perkins Library, Room 217
Contact: Rachel Ingold, 919-684-8549 or rachel.ingold(at)

Stop by for a special Halloween “eeeks”-ibit and open house featuring some of the creepiest and most macabre items from the shadowy depths of the Rubenstein Library’s vaults. Will you dare to:

  • Gaze in awe at a box full of glass eyeballs?
  • Feel your head spin as you read letters describing the case that inspired The Exorcist (from the Parapsychology Laboratory Records)?
  • Quoth nevermore after experiencing Gustave Doré’s illustrations for The Raven?
  • Steel yourself to view a medieval amputating saw?
  • Cackle frightfully at seventeenth-century accounts of witchcraft?
  • Sink your teeth into images of vampires, werewolves, the living dead, and Frankenstein’s monster?

These and many other spook-tacular books, photographs, comics, diaries, letters, artifacts, and more will be on display!

Oh, and did we mention that there will be free candy?

A man holding his own flayed skin will be there. Will you? (From Juan Valverde de Amusco, Anatomia del Corpo Humano, 1560, in the History of Medicine Collections.
A man holding his own flayed skin will be there. Will you? (From Juan Valverde de Amusco, Anatomia del Corpo Humano, 1560, in the History of Medicine Collections.)



“Soul & Service”: The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, 115 Years and Counting

MutualJohnMosesAveryBlogExhibit Dates: October 24-December 20, 2013
Opening Reception: October 24, 2013, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Location: The Porch of the Center for Documentary Studies, 1317 West Pettigrew Street, Durham (directions)
Contact: John B. Gartrell, john.gartrell(at)

The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture and North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company present, “Soul & Service,” a historical exhibition celebrating the 115th anniversary of North Carolina Mutual. This Durham institution is the nation’s oldest and largest insurance company with roots in the African American community. The photos and documents featured in the presentation were drawn from the North Carolina Mutual Company Archives, jointly held by the Rubenstein Library and the University Archives and Records Special Collections at North Carolina Central University. “Soul & Service” will be on display of the porch of the Center for Documentary Studies from October 24-December 20, 2013.

Revisiting the Allen Building Takeover

In 2013, Duke University is commemorating the 50 year anniversary of its first black undergraduate students. Events, exhibits, and performances have been taking place over the year, and will culminate during the weekend of October 3-6.

As we reflect on the milestone of integration, we must also consider the challenges faced by African American students at Duke, especially during the 1960s. This upcoming February will mark 45 years since the Allen Building Takeover of 1969. The Takeover was a seminal event in which nearly 100 black students occupied the administrative building for a day, demanding changes to a number of policies. After leaving peacefully, a crowd gathered outside the building confronted police, and teargas was fired on the crowd.

Allen Building Takeover, 1969

A new exhibit on the Takeover, curated by Caitlin M. Johnson, Trinity ’12, is now on display on the first floor of the Allen Building. Thirty panels describe the build-up to the protest, the events of that day, and the outcome of the Takeover. Featuring many images from the University Archives and the Durham Morning Herald and Durham Sun, Johnson’s exhibit forms a powerful narrative about Duke’s path toward real integration.

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Thursday, September 12 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. in the Allen Building.

At 6:00 p.m. that evening, Dr. Jack Preiss, Professor Emeritus at Duke, will be speaking at the School of Nursing about desegregation at the University. Dr. Preiss was intimately involved in encouraging the Board of Trustees to change its policies on admissions. The University Archives holds a collection of his papers, including this poster from Black Week, which immediately preceded the Allen Building Takeover.

Black Week Poster, 1969

Email to RSVP for the Sept. 12 exhibit reception or the talk by Dr. Preiss.

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, University Archivist.

The Henkel Physicians Exhibit at the Medical Center Library & Archives

Dates: July 15, 2013-August 24, 2013 (NLM exhibit); July 15, 2013-October 31, 2013 (MCLA/Rubenstein exhibit)
Location: Medical Center Library & Archives (see below for details)
Online Exhibit Companion:
Contact Information: Jolie Braun, jolie.braun[at]; Beverly Murphy, beverly.murphy[at]

Advertisement for products sold by the Henkel physicians, from the Shenandoah Valley newspaper, 7 September 1877.
Advertisement for products sold by the Henkel physicians, from the Shenandoah Valley newspaper, 7 September 1877.

The Medical Center Library & Archives is excited to announce its new exhibit, “The Henkel Physicians: A Family’s Life in Letters.” Produced by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the exhibit traces the daily lives of a family of physicians in the Shenandoah Valley during the nineteenth century, serving in their community, on the battleground, and in the nation’s courts of law. 

The Medical Center Library also collaborated with the Rubenstein Library on an exhibit to complement the NLM display. “From the Rubenstein Collections: The Henkel Family Physicians” features rare books and manuscripts along with materials from the History of Medicine Collections.  It includes letters written by the Henkels, books and broadsides published by the Henkel Press, and nineteenth-century medical instruments and artifacts.

The NLM Exhibit will be on display through August 24th on Level 3 of the Medical Center Library & Archives. The Medical Center Library and Rubenstein collaboration will available through October on Level 1. To learn more about the Henkel family and nineteenth-century medicine, visit the NLM’s digital companion to the display.