I can claim without controversy that the web is among the more popular avenues for communicating, publishing, and otherwise interacting with information. Although professionals involved in the creation of websites often have titles (engineer, web designer, information architect) that borrow the language of corollaries in the physical world, information on the web and how one experiences it is inherently ephemeral. Relics of the early web still extant online often owe their continued life to chance, such as the website for the 1996 film Space Jam or the long-thought-lost-until-a-copy-was-discovered-on-a-floppy-disk first website.
In order to preserve Duke’s web presence, in 2010 the University Archives partnered with Archive-It, a service of the Internet Archive, to take snapshots of various websites. In the five years since we have captured close to 500 Duke-related websites. Comparing a site’s evolution over time can be striking. This portal allows one to compare Duke homepages at different times. For example:
The following screencaps are for the Duke Chapel’s website.
While the above examples are changes that are, at least in part, cosmetic changes to information, capturing web content allows us to preserve and provide access to the social and intellectual conversations on campus. We have had success capturing Develle Dish in both DukeGroups and their more recent Sites.Duke iteration.
Because the Duke Fact Checker was not officially associated with the university, his blog went down after his passing in early 2014. Though its no longer available at its original URL, we were able to get annual captures of his commentary between 2012 and 2014.
All of this is great but was previously difficult to access without knowing how to use the system. As of February 2015, there are two easy ways to browse and search through the Duke Web Archives. First, the University Archives created a collection guide to the Duke-related websites. The 500 or so URLs are arranged loosely by organizational type and can be browsed here.
Because of the way the web is crawled, some sites may have been crawled that don’t appear in the collection guide. To help address this problem as well as provide another avenue into the collection, there is a search function provided by Archive-It and their Wayback Machine here. Using the Wayback search, one can search for any URL. If the site appears in our collection, even if only partially, the search will return it.
We are currently at work to address Social Media, so look for future posts around that subject.
Post contributed by Matthew Farrell, Digital Records Archivist.
George Washington Williams was an accomplished African American intellectual, minister, historian, journalist, lawyer, politician, freelance diplomat, and Civil War veteran. Williams was born in Pennsylvania in 1849 and died in England in 1891.
Williams joined the Union army during the Civil War at age 14, after lying about his age. After receiving a medical discharge from the army in 1868, Williams, who was barely literate, enrolled in the Newton Theological Institution in Massachusetts. He went on to be a prolific preacher and politician in Ohio, among his many other notable professional achievements.
In 1885, Williams wrote a two volume book entitled, A History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880. The book was not wildly acclaimed or reviewed at the time, and John Hope Franklin first encountered Williams’ work while researching From Slavery to Freedom: A History of the Negro in America. Having never heard of Williams or his book, Franklin determined to write a scholarly work about one of the first African American historians.
John Hope Franklin’s book George Washington Williams: A Biography was first published in 1985 by the University of Chicago. Franklin was awarded the Clarence L. Holte Literary Prize for this work. The book traces the life of George Washington Williams from his birth until his death. It is part biography and part social history, and highlights Franklin’s own quest to uncover Williams’ story. In fact, the publication of this book marked the conclusion of a four decade long pursuit for Franklin.
George Washington Williams gravesite remained unmarked until 1975, when Franklin arranged for a tombstone to be placed over the grave.
If you, an esteemed Duke University professor, received a pie in the face in front of your class, what would you do?
A. Update your CV, in preparation for finding an alternate career far away from college students.
C. Pause for snack time, then continue your lecture on a sugar high.
D. Chase your assailant and catch him while wading through a creek.
Duke students have always been enterprising—a proud trait imaginatively demonstrated by the brief but legendary history of Pie-Die, Ltd., a student-run company that placed its first advertisement in the March 21, 1975 issue of the Chronicle.
For a fee, Pie-Die would track down your target of choice and, well, you get the idea. Apparently, business was quite good: on March 28th, an anonymous letter to the editor of the Chronicle, written on behalf of the “Family,” spoke of a “labor shortage” and offered a job to anyone with “expertise in dexterity and cunning not to mention a dash of insanity.” A hit on a professor cost around $30, while $300 bought a contract on then-Duke president Terry Sanford.
The letter concluded:
We sincerely hope that those who receive our pies are not left with a bad taste in their mouths. All pies are administered in good clean wholesome fun in the best “mom-apple pie” tradition. To prove our intentions, all proceeds will go to World Famine Relief after operating costs have been met.
The first to be hit was psychology professor Irvin Alexander, who was pied in front of his class in Zener Auditorium. He wore a fencing mask to his next class.
James Bonk’s turn came on March 31st, one day shy of April Fools’ Day. His hired assailant caught him with a pie at the end of one of his famed “Bonkistry” lectures. The first-year “hit-man” either didn’t know or failed to properly consider Bonk’s athletic prowess: he was a volunteer coach for Duke’s men’s tennis team and had played the sport since his childhood.
With his 200 students cheering him on, Bonk chased the young man out of his class, across campus, and finally caught up with him in the middle of a stream, where he demanded to see the student’s Duke identification card.
This type of prank was becoming a trend on college campuses, and Bonk’s pursuit became national news. It was the perfect opportunity for pun-loving headline writers: the Charlotte Observer‘s article was titled “Pie-Eyed: Latest Craze is Chunking Custard,” while the Raleigh Times went with the more subtle “Creamed professor nabs pie thrower.” The Chronicle‘s headline was direct: “Bonk gets bonked.” The newspapers reported that the student would possibly face disciplinary action and that Bonk would also hold him responsible for his dry-cleaning costs.
After this, we lose track of Pie-Die: was there a turf war with their competitor, Fli-Pie? Did they ever catch up with Terry Sanford? Let us know in the comments if you can shed any light on these Duke history mysteries. (And, if you were a part of Pie-Die, let us know if you have any documentation from those days that you’d like to add to the University Archives. The statute of limitations must be up by now.)
Oh and, by the way, the pie that hit James Bonk was lemon meringue. Happy Pi Day!
Post contributed by Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist.
When Angier B. Duke (1884-1923) and Mary L. Duke (Biddle) (1887-1960) were born, Trinity College was still plodding away in Randolph County, and the American Tobacco Company was just a twinkle in James B. Duke’s eye. Still, W. Duke, Sons, and Company, the family business founded by Washington Duke, was so successful that parents Benjamin N. and Sarah P. Duke could already afford to give their son and daughter a childhood that wildly exceeded that of previous generations in terms of comfort and education. The couple’s first son, George Washington Duke, died at about two or three years of age in the early 1880s. His life preceded the time span of most of the papers held by the Rubenstein Library, and only a few reminders of his brief existence can be found, such as the haunting note from Ken Roney, Ben’s uncle, following the death of Roney’s son: “You know and I know now, how hard it is to give up a promising son.” Given this tragic past, the couple’s second and third children were much doted upon by their parents.
Among the few remaining mementos of their childhoods in the Benjamin Duke papers, some of the most amusing are the letters the children wrote to their father when he was away on business in New York. A young Angier was full of demands—for a sword case, a pair of shoes, and a visit from “Uncle Buck”: “when he comes he must stay with us longer.”
In 1893 he also sent along his first school composition, an essay on Christopher Columbus (historical myths intact). Mary delighted in telling her father of her April Fools’ Day pranks:
“I have had a right good time April fooling people. I fooled Mrs. Robinson, and brother, and many other people. I don’t think you can fool anybody much up there.”
While the ties between the Duke family and Trinity College were obviously very strong (“Duke University,” need I say more?), it still seems extraordinary how closely connected Angier and Mary were with the campus community from a young age. A steady stream of professors were welcomed at the Duke home, including former presidents Crowell, Kilgo, Few, and many other names you might be able to pick off a university building in passing. Sarah P. Duke hosted literary societies such as the Shakespeare Club, and guest speakers also lodged at the Duke home. Angier and Mary’s private tutor was Arthur H. Meritt, whose day job was professor of Latin, German, and Greek.
Community events also drew together the Dukes and other Durham residents with the college faculty, including spelling bees and athletic matches. An 1896 letter from Angier to his father conveys his enthusiasm for an upcoming “kite-sailing” contest to be held by Professors Lockwood and Meritt. The same Professor Lockwood (physics and biology) used a nine-year old Mary, or rather four Mary’s, as the subject of one of his trick photograph experiments.
When the time came for Angier and Mary to attend college—well, it’s safe to say that Carolina wasn’t on the table. By the time they began their respective terms at Trinity (Angier in 1901 and Mary in 1903), the siblings already had buildings named after them, built with funds from their father and grandfather. The Mary Duke Women’s Building was demolished long ago to make way for new dormitories, while the Angier B. Duke Gymnasium, better known by the nickname “The Ark,” still stands on Duke University’s East Campus.
While the siblings lived in New York after they graduated, they always maintained a connection to Durham and their alma mater. Angier served on the Trinity College Board of Trustees, was president of the Trinity Alumni Association, contributed to the construction of the first fraternity dwellings sanctioned by the college, and left a generous bequest in his will, which was executed after his untimely death in 1923. He and Mary both donated considerable sums to realize the completion of the Alumni Memorial Gymnasium, built in honor of the students and alumni who perished during World War I. Perhaps the greatest testaments to Mary Duke Biddle’s philanthropy are the Sarah P. Duke Gardens and her support of the arts through the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation. Like their parents, uncle and grandfather, both Angier and Mary succeeded in leaving a mark on the institution that had truly become part of the family.
Post contributed by Mary Mellon, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Intern.
In April 2013, the Rubenstein Library acquired materials from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Intelligence Project. In its efforts to monitor hate and other extremist groups, the SPLC collected publications produced by these groups and individuals from about the 1940s to 2000s. Many of these groups can be described as aligning not just on the fringes, but outside of the political spectrum, including advocating white supremacy. However, some publications expressed views that just fell outside mainstream American politics.
When the collection arrived in 2013, Technical Services Archivist Meghan Lyon assessed the contents and concluded that various serial publications were housed across 90 record cartons of materials. Within these record cartons were also ephemeral and archival materials such as pamphlets, clippings, fliers, and correspondence. In considering the various formats present in the collection and the best possible descriptive outcomes, we decided to create two distinct workflows for processing the collection. The ephemeral material was processed as an archival collection. The serial publications were removed and cataloged separately by Serials Cataloger Mandy Hurt, allowing each title to be discoverable in the online catalog.
In planning for the cataloging of the serials publications, we had the opportunity to ensure the consistency of the metadata. Mandy included relevant political terms from the Rare Book and Manuscripts Section controlled vocabularies for genre terms and also applied standard geographical names from the Library of Congress geographical headings.
From the beginning we were interested in creating a visualization of the publications represented in the collection – mapping the type of literature and where it was published. After meeting with Angela Zoss from Data and Visualization Services at Duke University Libraries, we settled on using Tableau Public to map the collection. The resulting visualization can be viewed here.
Post contributed by Lauren Reno, Rare Materials Cataloger.
From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans is widely considered to be the most authoritative, definitive, and comprehensive accounts of African American history. The book traces the history of African Americans from their origins in Africa, to their experiences as slaves in the Western Hemisphere, patterns of migration and demographic changes, as well as the continuing struggle for racial equality in the United States.
From Slavery to Freedom has been translated into Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Portuguese, and over three million copies have been sold. The book has remained in print since it was first published by the Alfred A. Knopf publishing company in 1947. From Slavery to Freedom is the seminal text on Black history in the United States, and the book is credited with playing an important role in the creation of African-American Studies as an academic discipline.
The last edition of From Slavery to Freedom was co-authored by John Hope Franklin and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham.
As part of a campus-wide initiative to commemorate 50 years of integration at Duke, the Graduate School and filmmaker Ivan Weiss contributed “The Education of Ida Owens,” a documentary about the first African-American female to earn a PhD at the university.
Balancing Dr. Owens’s personal story with Duke’s own integration, and the national Civil Rights movement more broadly, the documentary is well worth a view. A copy is available on YouTube and Vimeo. Take half and hour and watch it, if you haven’t. This post will still be here when you get back.
In late 2014, the University Archives received a bundle of materials related to the documentary. In addition to the completed video files, we also received a bevy of additional materials fleshing out the release of the documentary; Dr. Owens’s background; and the filmmaking process itself. It is these latter items that warrant specific mention. For each person interviewed by the filmmakers there exists video footage, audio recordings, and text transcripts. Because multiple camera people worked on the project, having access to these clips allows insight into the editing process, as well content that did not make the final cut of the video.
Our descriptive record of the materials is here for perusal. The materials themselves can be seen in the Rubenstein Library reading room. Because many of the files themselves are quite large, please make any requests in advance, as it will take some time to transfer the materials from our servers to a computer terminal able to view the files.
Like any period, the present decade marks a series of fiftieth anniversaries. And like any anniversary, the anniversary of Duke’s integration and impending anniversary of Dr. Owens’s PhD completion, serve to call attention to landmark events while also allowing us to reflect on the great deal of work ahead. This documentary and the supporting materials recently added to the University Archives are a testament to both.
Post contributed by Matthew Farrell, Digital Records Archivist.
John Hope Franklin excelled in his academic work throughout his education. Below is the list of schools that Franklin attended.
Booker T. Washington High School (Tulsa, Oklahoma):In 1931,John Hope Franklin graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. Franklin gave the valedictory speech at his graduation.
Fisk University (Nashville, Tennessee): John Hope and his sister Anne Franklin enrolled as undergraduate students at Fisk University in 1931. Having received only a tuition scholarship, John Hope had to secure on-campus employment as secretary to the librarian to pay for other education-related expenses. In college, John Hope took a wide array of courses, including German, physical education, contemporary civilization, and a general science survey class. In 1932, John Hope Franklin enrolled in a history course taught by Professor Theodore “Ted” S. Currier. Currier remained an advisor and friend of Franklin throughout his life. Currier encouraged Franklin to go to graduate school for a Ph.D. in history and even took a bank loan on behalf of Franklin to help finance his graduate education. Franklin was initiated into the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity at Fisk University in 1932. He excelled in his academic work and thrived as a student leader. In his junior year at Fisk University, Franklin was elected president of his university’s chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. Franklin was one of 75 students in his graduating class. He graduated magna cum laude from Fisk University in 1935.
Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts): Franklin gained admission to Harvard University for doctoral studies in 1935. He earned his Master’s degree in History in 1936, and his Ph.D. in 1941 after completing his research and successfully defending his dissertation on The Free Negro in North Carolina. From 1937 to 1939 Franklin took a leave of absence from his doctoral studies at Harvard University and returned to Fisk University to work as a professor, in order to repay the loan from Ted Currier.
Tomorrow night, the famed basketball rivals meet again. Fans in North Carolina and across the country will don their Duke or Carolina blue and gather to watch the game. And Duke’s Cameron Crazies will go crazy, carrying on the tradition of post-game celebrations and bonfires.
According to the records, Duke’s bonfire and bench-burning tradition began in 1986, when there was a large screen set up on the quad for students to watch the NCAA final game between Duke and Louisville. Duke lost, and a few angry spectators reacted with assaults and vandalism. The Police Department was unprepared for such a result, but learned from the experience. During the 1990 tournament, the Police Department opted for a more controlled option of a large screen in Cameron for the Duke vs. UNLV game, with a Duke ID card required to enter. They also sponsored a bonfire in the Card Gym parking lot—with no idea this would set the precedent for a beloved tradition—but few students braved the bad weather.
1991 was an explosive and fiery year: after the watching the game between Duke vs. UNC on screen in Cameron Stadium, students spontaneously set up a mudslide and multiple bonfires. Planned fires for subsequent games burned too big and were too crowded. Duke Police had prepared with stadium evacuation plans and ambulances on standby, but were unprepared for the intensity of student energy—often directed harmlessly, but occasionally leading to violence.
Following the Duke-UNC game and some student injuries, Director of Public Safety Paul Dumas worried for students’ safety during the post-game celebrations. The Police Department organized a special committee to establish policies regulating the bonfires, but as many a Chronicle editorial pointed out, these well-intentioned regulations were difficult or impossible to enforce. For example, a March 25, 1991 editorial noted, “Parts of the policy are ridiculous. Why would a living group ever ‘contribute its bench willingly’ to the fire, as the policy suggests? In reality, the first partiers who get to the quad determine which bench gets sacrificed.”
1992 was even more out of control: many games were followed by unauthorized fires on various quads around campus, as well as some break-ins and emergency room visits. In 1994, the Police Department decided not to support any bonfires despite numerous student petitions, and began citing students for starting unpermitted fires. Yet the momentum was building; Duke was now expected to make it to the national championships each year, and, with memories of bonfires and bench-burnings from previous years, students wanted to celebrate in their own way.
Over the next few years, students insisted on commemorating games with bench burnings, and student-administration tensions increased. During the 1998 season, twenty-five students were arrested for disorderly conduct and starting unauthorized fires, while student editorials accused police of excessive force when responding to unauthorized fires. That year, the administration refused to allow the traditional bonfires and planned giant foam parties instead to celebrate major victories–unsurprisingly, most students were not enthused. In a February 5, 1998 Chronicle article titled “Students reject foam, beg for fire,” freshmen expressed disappointment about missing out on an established tradition and upperclassmen also rejected the plan: “the administration’s heart is in the right place, but foam is kind of a moronic idea.”
Three days after the Duke-UNC game, on March 3, 1998 students burned many benches despite regulations, strategically organizing a decoy to draw police attention away from the real fire. A quote from a Chronicle article following the incident states eloquently: “They took away our alcohol, and we stood by and watched. Then they took away our housing, and we stood by and watched. Then they tried to take away our bonfires, and we went to war.” It was a clever display of student unity to fight back against the administration’s perceived encroachment on their rights, and it worked: the administration sanctioned bonfires and bench burning as long as it adhered to city fire codes.
Duke Police adapted from year to year and recognized a trend of increasingly intense—and, for a few people, dangerous—parties. They tried to engage in public awareness campaigns by requesting support from the University President, Vice Presidents, student government, and Coach K, to encourage safe behavior. The department also began partnering with the Durham Police Department and the highway patrol to enlist enough officers. Yet there was only so much they could do to prevent injury or crime. And, while the police records focus on the number of incidents of injuries or assaults, most students had a good time celebrating their basketball team. It’s an interesting lesson on perspective: depending on your vantage point, you might see the bonfires of the 1990s as riots or as celebrations. Either way, the seeds of a tradition were planted. So whether or not you gather around a bonfire on February 18, enjoy a safe and exciting game!
It’s hard to kiss and make up. This Valentine Cupid, sweet as he is, carried no red roses to Democrats in 1954, only a satirical reminder of “broken promises” made in 1952, the year Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected (along with running mate Richard M. Nixon). This Valentine’s Day, hug your favorite Republican — or Democrat!
This cartoon cover art comes from the records of the Democratic Digest (1953-1961). The small-format magazine was the official mouthpiece of the Democratic National Committee. In addition to correspondence from readers, critics, and Democratic senators and governors, chiefly in response to political issues of the day (among which McCarthyism, civil rights, labor, nuclear weapons, farm subsidies, and party politics), about a third of the collection consists of hundreds of pieces of color and black-and-white layout art, including political cartoons by noted illustrator Leo Hershfield and others. There are also smaller amounts of editorial files and printed material. The Democratic Digest was continued in 1961 as The Democrat.
Post contributed by Paula J Mangiafico, Visual Materials Processing Archivist.
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University