Category Archives: Franklin Research Center

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Tizhe Lizanguage bizof Lizovers: Carny Latin Reincarnated

While I processed a collection of correspondence between two lovers, a handful of letters stuck out. Martha Simpson, then Martha Eleanor Booker, a young African American woman working on her teaching degree at Elizabeth City Teachers College, had a penchant for writing in code. Paul Simpson, her love interest, did not share the same inclination, but did indulge her in his responses. As I read through the letters, the code used in three of them piqued my curiosity. My search revealed that the code used seems to be a form of carnival Pig Latin, also known as Czarny, Z-Latin, or Carny (Hautzinger 30).

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Martha first sneaks in her secret code at the closing of a letter from January 10, 1951, with a little taunt, “Ha, ha, I bet you can’t read it.” Paul’s response to this letter, dated January 13, 1951, briefly acknowledges that he, indeed, could read her secret language with the opening line “Dizear Cizheré,” before continuing his letter unencumbered by the extra z’s.

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But Martha doesn’t give up.  She continues the code in a response from January 17, 1951, written half in this “z-language,” eventually switching back to conventional English.

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Martha’s next letter clearly was not on pink paper (did you catch that one?), but she did keep on with her code. The secret language was formed by inserting iz after the first consonant, and if there was no consonant present, beginning the word with biz. In linguistic circles, this is known as iz-infixation and has been linked to rap and hip-hop music. Examples include Frankie Smith’s 1981 hits Double Dutch Bus and Slang Thang (or Slizang Thizang), both of which boast the iz-infix in their lyrics. More recent examples include work by Snoop Dogg and Kanye West (Viau 1). But these letters come decades before the iz-infix made it big in music, and the question remains: Where did this secret language come from?

We think the answer is this: carnival slang. Published accounts of Carny go back to 1926 (Russell and Murray 401), well before Martha was writing to Paul. It was a language immersed in the subculture of the carnival, intended to distinguish between outsiders and the true Carnies, given the questionable legality of the carnival. Sarah Hautzinger describes it as a dialect that “rearranges English to make it unintelligible to the unenlightened ear” (32). In Czarny, “a Z-sound is inserted after the first consonant, and if the word begins with a vowel, before the vowel sound, in the first syllable only” (32). This certainly seems a lot like the iz-infixes found in the letters between Martha and Paul. Rumor has it that this carny talk found its way into popular culture years later.

Whether or not their secret language was descended from Z-Latin, the coded (and uncoded) correspondence between Martha and Paul D. Simpson provides an interesting read. Recently acquired by the Rubenstein, these roughly 300 letters detail the love, life, and struggles of a young African American couple on their way to becoming teachers.

For more information on the Martha and Paul D. Simpson Papers, check out the collection guide.

For further reading on Carny Latin and the iz-infix, see:

Hautzinger, Sarah. “Carnival Speech: Making the Jump.” Journal of American Culture, 13: 29–33, 1990. Web. 16 December 2014.

Russell, Carol L. and Thomas E. Murray. “The Life and Death of Carnie.” American Speech, Vol. 79 No. 4: 400-416, 2004. Web. 16 December 2014.

Viau, Joshua. “Introducing English [IZ]-Infixation: Snoop Dogg and bey-[IZ]-ond.” 2006 LSA Summer Meeting, 24 June 2006. Web.  16 December 2014.

Post contributed by Janice Hansen, a Ph.D. student in Germanic Languages &  Literature and Technical Services intern at The Rubenstein. 

SLA2053

Now Accepting Applications for our 2014-2015 Travel Grants

Researchers! The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2014-2015 travel grants.SLA2053

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture,  the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, and the History of Medicine Collections will award up to $1,000 per recipient to fund travel and other expenses related to visiting the Rubenstein Library. The Rubenstein also offers the Eleanore and Harold Jantz Fellowship, a $1500 award for researchers whose work would benefit from use of the Jantz Collections.

The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, artists, and activists who live more than 100 miles from Durham, NC and whose research projects would benefit from access to collections held by one of the centers.

Please note that the Rubenstein Library will be closed to the public from July 1st, 2015 through August 23rd, 2015, while we relocate to our newly renovated space. These dates are subject to change.

More details—and the grant application—may be found on our grants website. Recipients will be announced in April 2015.

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Stanley Nelson Documentary Film Series

The Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel Visiting Filmmaker Series will be sponsoring screenings of four films directed by Stanley Nelson prior to his visit to Duke on October 16-18. Co-sponsors of the series are the Archive of Documentary Arts, Center for Documentary Studies, Franklin Research Center, Screen/Society and the Program in Arts of the Moving Image. Voter registration will be available before and after the screenings. Each screening begins at 7:00pm and is free and open to the public.

 

Emmett Till_cropDate: Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Location: Richard White Lecture Hall, Duke University East Campus

Film: The Murder of Emmett Till

Introduction by Mike Wiley, past Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

jonestown2_crop2Date: Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Location: Griffith Theatre, Duke University West Campus

Film: Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple

 

 

 A Place of our Own2_crop2Date: Thursday, October 2, 2014

Location: Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St, Durham, NC 27701

Film: A Place of Our Own

 

 

freedom summer_mini_cropDate: Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Location: Durham Public Library, Main Branch, 300 Roxboro Street, Durham, NC 27701

Film: Freedom Summer

Discussion will be lead by SNCC veteran and Visiting Activist Scholar, Charlie Cobb

 

Post contributed by John B. Gartrell, director John Hope Franklin Research Center

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Rubenstein Library to Welcome Visiting Filmmaker and Artist in October

In October, the Rubenstein Library will host the third Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel Visiting Filmmaker and the inaugural Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel Visiting Artist.

 

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Stanley Nelson

This year’s filmmaker is award-winning director/producer, Stanley Nelson. Nelson is the director and/or producer of over a dozen documentary films, principally highlighting the life and history of African Americans. His most recent release is the acclaimed Freedom Summer, and this past summer he was recognized as a 2013 National Humanities Award winner. Nelson will visit Duke’s campus from October 16-18 and will engage in a public conversation with Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel on his career and work at the Nasher Museum of Art on October 17 at 6:00 pm, reception to follow.

 

 

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Steve Roden

As the inaugural Diamonstein-Spielvogel Visiting Artist, internationally known sound and visual artist, Steve Roden will participate in a three-week residency in the Rubenstein Library from October 13-30. Roden’s residency will include extensive research in the Rubenstein Library collections to inform his process of artistic creation. Roden will also engage in two public events during his visit. On October 18 at 6:30 pm, he will present an overview of his work entitled “Ragpicker” at the Full Frame Theater at American Tobacco Campus. And on October 23 at 5:00 pm, he will share his experiences working in the Rubenstein Library at the Center for Documentary Studies.

 

All of these events will be free and open to the public and are made possible through the generous support of Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel. They are additionally co-sponsored by the Archive of Documentary Arts, Center for Documentary Studies, Franklin Research Center, Program of Arts of the Moving Image and Master of Fine Arts and Experimental and Documentary Arts Program.

 

More details to come soon.

 

Post contributed by John B. Gartrell, director, Franklin Research Center

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New Acquisition: Langston Hughes Revises His Text

In the Rubenstein Library, sometimes we primarily judge books by their covers, be they bejeweled, finely bound, or otherwise interestingly decorated.  And sometimes we certainly do not. Case in point: the book below.

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The Library wouldn’t acquire most copies of the third edition of Langston Hughes’s Shakespeare in Harlem, especially not a copy without its original dust jacket and rather heavily worn.  But this was no ordinary copy.  This appears to be  Hughes’s own copy of the last edition of this book issued during his lifetime.

Inscription on front endpaper of this copy of Shakespeare in Harlem.
Inscription on front endpaper of this copy of Shakespeare in Harlem.

Not only that, Hughes made changes to fifteen of its poems, some of them dramatic shifts in the tone, rhythm, length, or meaning of the text.

Hughes's poem "Down and Out," with repetitive lines crossed out and some representations of dialect changed.
Hughes’s poem “Down and Out,” with repetitive lines crossed out and some representations of dialect changed.

The copy recently turned up in a sorority house at Lincoln University, from which it was sold at auction and entered the rare book trade.  Much about the volume remains to be discovered.  The changes that Hughes made in this volume have not been published or incorporated into any of the later editions of Hughes’s collected works or poems.

 

 

 

 

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Congratulations to our 2014-2015 grant recipients!

The Rubenstein Library’s three research center annually award travel grants to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars through a competitive application process. Congratulations to this year’s recipients, we look forward to working with all of you!

Courtney Thompson will use materials related to phrenology such as this small ivory bust in her research.
Courtney Thompson will use materials related to phrenology such as this small ivory bust in her research.

History of Medicine

Cali Buckley, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Art History, for dissertation work on, “Women of Substance: The Materiality of Anatomical Models and the Control of Women’s Medicine in Early Modern Europe.”

Alicia Puglionesi, Johns Hopkins University, Institute of the History of Medicine, for dissertation work on “The Astonishment of Experience: Americans and Psychical Research, 1885-1935.”

Courtney Thompson, Yale University, Department of the History of Science and Medicine, for dissertation work on “Criminal Minds: Medicine, Law, and the Phrenological Impulse in America, 1830-1890.”

 

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History

FOARE Fellowship for Outdoor Advertising Research

Craig Lee, Department of Art History, University of Delaware, “Letter Building: Signage, Supergraphics, and the Rise of Semiotic Structure in Modern American Architecture”

Daniel Towns, Department of History, Stanford University, “The View and the Value: Historical Geography of Signs in San Francisco”

 

John Furr Fellowships for JWT Research

Lisa Haushofer, Department of History, Harvard University, “Edible Health: ‘Health Foods’ in Science, Industry, Culture in Britain and the United States, 1884-1950

 

Alvin A. Achenbaum Travel Grants

Dr. Cynthia Meyers, Department of Communications, College of Mount Saint Vincent, “Advertising Agencies and the Decline of Sponsorship in the Network Era of Television”

Dr. Cristina Ziliani: Economics, University of Parma, Italy, “Premium Sales Promotions: A History of Practice and Research, 1890-1990”

Cara Fallon, Department of History, Harvard University, “The Emerging Concept of Healthy Aging in the United States, 1920-1990”

Catherine Hennessey Wolter, Musicology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “Sound Conversions in Print: A Cultural History of the Player Piano and Early Radio in America Through the Lens of Print Media”

Kelly Jones, History of Medicine, State University of New York – Stony Brook, “’New Hope for Headache Sufferers’: Pain and its Control in Advertisements for Headache Remedies, 1950s-1970s

Daniel McKay, Independent Scholar, “Trading Fears: Marketing the ‘Japan Brand’ to American Tourists and Consumers”

 

John Hope Franklin Research Center 2014-15 Travel Grant Awardees

Emilye Crosby, State University of New York-Geneseo Topic: “Anything I Was Big Enough To Do: Women and Gender in SNCC”

Paul Grant, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Topic: “Unimagining the Christian Nation: Alienation, Memory, and German-African Reciprocity in Akropong, Ghana 1835-1938”

Nicole Maurantonio, University of Richmond, Topic: “Ombudsman for Humanity: Chuck Stone, Mediation, and the Graterford Prison Hostage Crisis”

Gilet Rosenblith, University of Virginia, Topic: “Low Income African American Women in the South and the Carceral State”

Nicholas Syrett, University of Northern Colorado, Topic: “American Child Bride: A History of Minors and Marriage in the United States”

Adam Wolkoff, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Topic: “Possession and Power: A comparative social and legal history of capitalist social relations in the late nineteenth-century United States”

 

Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture Mary Lily Travel Grants

Dr. Georgina Colby, linguistics and cultural studies, University of Westminster, for a book on Kathy Acker combining philosophical analysis with literary and critical theory, exploring connections between feminist theory, Acker’s use of philosophy, and her experimental writing practices.

From the Kathy Acker Papers

Dr. Donna Drucker, civil and environmental engineering, Technische Universität Darmstadt, for a journal article on sexual behavior and the science of contraceptive testing in the mid-twentieth century United States.

Sara Mameni, Ph.D. candidate, visual arts, University of California, San Diego, for dissertation research on Iran-US relations in the 1960s and 1970s—leading up to Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979—through the lens of queer theory, feminist theory, and postcolonial studies.

Ivy McIntyre, Ph.D. candidate, history, St. Louis University, for dissertation research on South Carolina families in times of personal crisis in the early Republic.

Andrew Pope, Ph.D. candidate, history, Harvard University, for dissertation research on radical social movements and the New South in Georgia from 1968-1996.

Dr. Jason Scott, Dr. Annalisa Castaldo, and Jennifer Lynn Pollitt, for an edited collection of essays looking at how kink identities, behaviors, and lifestyles are represented in popular and cultural studies.

Mairead Sullivan, Ph.D. candidate, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, Emory University, for dissertation research on questions of breastedness in feminist and queer theory.

Hope Tucker, independent scholar, for an artist’s video on the fragility of reproductive rights in the American South, as seen through the work of those who documented and labored for these rights in the second half of the twentieth century.

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@rubensteinlib Joins Twitter!

Our first tweet!
Our first tweet!

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!

Chuck Stone. From the Chuck Stone Papers.

In Memoriam: Charles Stone, Jr. (1924-2014)

Chuck Stone. From the Chuck Stone Papers.
From the Chuck Stone Papers.

Charles “Chuck” Stone Jr. died on April 6 at the age of 89. Stone was a pioneering journalist, a long-time columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News, and co-founder and first president of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Among his notable career accomplishments, Stone was a Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, served as special assistant to Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. from 1965-67, and was a key mediator between alleged criminals and the Philadelphia Police Department. Stone served as Walter Spearman Professor of Journalism at the University of Carolina-Chapel Hill from 1991-2005.

The Chuck Stone Papers were donated to the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture in 2004.

Post contributed by John Gartrell, Director of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

Nathaniel White, Jr., center, was a native of Durham and one of the first three African-American students to graduate in 1967.

An Interview About a Duke University Pioneer

Nathaniel White, Jr was among the first five black students to attend Duke University in 1963. He was not, however, the first person in his family to attend college. His father, Nathaniel White, Sr., had attended Hampton Institute prior to founding his own printing business in Durham. In a newly-digitized interview, White, Sr. discusses his life, his memories, and his experience as a black man living in Virginia and North Carolina during the 20th century.

White’s interview is part of the Behind the Veil digital project, which has just added over 300 new interviews with North Carolinians, including many from Durham. The interviews capture details of what life was like in the Jim Crow South for African Americans. In White’s interview, he shares the story of his childhood, the black business community in Durham, and the influence of scouting on his life. Of particular interest to local researchers, he describes individuals and businesses in the Durham black community in the mid-20th century, providing deep insight into Durham’s history.

Nathaniel White, Jr., center, was a native of Durham and one of the first three African-American students to graduate in 1967.
Nathaniel White, Jr., center, was a native of Durham and one of the first three African-American students to graduate in 1967.

He also briefly discusses his son’s pioneering role at Duke. He mentions that White, Jr., had considered Hampton Institute himself, but then had the opportunity to attend Duke. His father candidly remarks in the interview, “There’s one thing about a situation like that, it’s more like the real world than some other places that you might go and everything seems like it’s alright but it’s not training you for what you’re going to meet when you get outside. It’s a real struggle out there. The sooner you learn that, the better off you might be. . . . In other words, every day he had what it’s like to be an African American citizen in this country. So he didn’t have to learn that after he graduated. He learned it every day at Duke.”

Learn more about the fascinating Behind the Veil project on Bitstreams, the blog of the digital collections department of Duke University Libraries.

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.

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North Carolina Interviews added to Behind the Veil Digital Collections

The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture is pleased to announce the addition of 310 oral history interviews to the Behind the Veil Digital Collection. The addition to the collection documents the lives of African Americans from the state of North Carolina who lived through the era of Jim Crow in the Charlotte, Durham, Endfield, New Bern and Wilmington areas. The digitization efforts were made possible by the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s Content, Context and Capacity grant project to document the Long Civil Rights Movement in the state. Researchers now have access over 400 digitized interviews from the collection from states throughout the American South.

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To listen to the digitized interviews please visit – http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/behindtheveil/

To view the entire collection, please visit – http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/findingaids/btv/

To learn more about the making of digital collection, please visit the Digital Collections blog: http://blogs.library.duke.edu/bitstreams/2014/02/07/announcing-310-new-behind-the-veil-interviews-and-a-new-blog/

For more information, contact, John B. Gartrell, Director, Franklin Research Center.