Category Archives: News and Features

The Desserts!

Eating at the Rubenstein Library

We are still digesting the feast that was Wednesday’s Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen tasting event, but the bloating has died down enough for us to be able to share some photos from the celebration!

The Desserts!

Delicious sweet potato custard pie, apple kuchen, and blueberry pie, ready and waiting to be devoured! And we’d only just recovered from Thanksgiving!

There was so much eating to be done, but Duke people are very determined people.

Getting food!So much eating!

Here’s Rubenstein librarian Elizabeth Dunn serving Soldier Soup!

Serving soup!

And, to our very great surprise, the Velveeta-creamed corn ring was gone in the first half hour of the event. We’d even made two! We retract any previous skepticism about the appeal of this most excellent “cheese food.”

No more Velveeta!

Of course, we had the historical cookbooks and advertisements that provided the sources for our wonderful recipes out on display (with the stipulation that there could be no simultaneous browsing and eating; goblin sandwich filling would be tough to get off a 1777 cookbook…..).

Students looking at Rubenstein Library cookbooks!

Our intrepid taste-testers received zines containing all of the recipes and made by Rubenstein Library staff. If you couldn’t make the event, you can download a PDF copy of the zine here: Test-Kitchen-Zine-2014

Thanks to everyone who attended! We’ll have another tasting event—featuring recipes from our next round of test kitchen blog posts—in the late spring!

Welcome, Tracy Jackson!

Tracy JacksonWe recently welcomed a new staff member Tracy Jackson to the Rubenstein Library! We asked her a few questions to help us—and you—get to know her a little better!

Tell us a little bit about your new job at the Rubenstein Library!

My job here at the Rubenstein is Technical Services Archivist for University Archives. I’ll be overseeing the processing of University related collections, including the arrangement, description, and preservation of current and new materials, and I’ll also be a part of the Technical Services Management Team. Since I’m new to Duke, I’m really excited to be working with such great collections and knowledgeable colleagues.

How did you become an archivist?

I knew I was interested in archives when I went to library school, but couldn’t have said why until I started working in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives at UNC. I just loved getting to know the materials, seeing the faces and personalities of people from the past, and since I also worked the reference desk in the graduate library, getting to tell people about all the cool stuff I’d found and why they should go see it, too. Getting to work in-depth with collections is what makes this job so great.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve discovered in an archival collection and why?

With a small collection of family photographs, I discovered a gold-plated, decorative set of make-up cases from the 1940s. There was a powder compact with mirror and a lipstick case, and they were beautiful. In collection of family letter from the 18th and 19th century there was a young woman’s dance card from a ball, with a tiny pencil still attached. I love finding the unexpected in collections, especially the things that remind me how much the people who created them were really not very different from us.

What aspect of your new job are you most excited about?

I’m so excited to get to know the collections here. Duke has such rich collections, and the University Archives document the incredibly diverse activities of the University. I’m very excited about diving in and getting to know, then getting to share, what we have.

Tell us something unique about yourself.

I tried a couple of careers before becoming an archivist, and for a short time I lived in Los Angeles and tried out special effects make-up artistry. I worked on a few student films and ultra-low-budget movies, and even though I didn’t do it for long, it was a lot of fun. These days I only use those skills at Halloween, though!

Thanks, Tracy! We’re so glad you’re here!

Birthday Party, ca. 1916. From the Benjamin Newton Duke Papers.

Our Fifth Birthday

Happy birthday to our super blog, which turns five today! We took a quick look at some numbers (although apparently age is more than just that) and found that the blog racked up 54,901 pageviews this year—so thank YOU, dear readers, for coming along with us on our explorations of the Rubenstein Library’s very cool collections (and the very cool people who work with them). We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have!

We went looking for something appropriately celebratory to share, and didn’t have to look farther than the papers of our own Benjamin N. Duke. Isn’t this just about the fanciest birthday party you’ve ever seen?

Birthday Party, ca. 1916. From the Benjamin Newton Duke Papers.

The photo dates from around 1916 and includes Mr. Duke himself (he’s standing behind the bouquet on the table). It was taken in New York City, at the house next door to Mr. Duke’s own mansion at 1009 Fifth Avenue (2 East 82nd Street, to be exact).

We’re not certain, but we’re wondering if this might be a birthday party for Mr. Duke’s grandson (and future U.S. ambassador), Angier Biddle Duke, who was born in 1915. If only the baby seated at the head of the table on a plump cushion had his head turned toward the camera. . . . If you have any information about the photo, send us an email!

Also, inspired by this photograph, we are thinking of trying to invent the combination piñata-chandelier. If you have any ideas about that, send them to us in an email as well.

Hat tip to Mary Mellon, Technical Services Intern, who found and scanned the photo!

Pictured above: Not John Wilkes Booth. From the James Thomas Powers Papers.

What’s Not a Photograph of John Wilkes Booth?

Pictured above:  Not John Wilkes Booth. From the James Thomas Powers Papers.
Pictured above: Not John Wilkes Booth. From the James Thomas Powers Papers.

In a recent appearance on Jeopardy!, former Rubenstein Library intern Josh Hager announced that he had discovered a previously unknown image of John Wilkes Booth in the James Thomas Powers papers at Duke. That would have been exciting—if it were true.

Hager thought there was a resemblance between the man in the image and the images of Booth he found online, and he wrote a post about the apparent resemblance on this very blog in 2010. This was jumping the proverbial gun—on the blogger’s part as well as ours. More work was needed to verify this conclusion. And indeed, a little further research confirms that the image is not Booth. We appreciate the comments from those who saw Hager on Jeopardy! and then wrote us to question the accuracy of the post. They are right—we never should have published it. In the interest of setting the historical record straight (and protecting the innocence of the unknown man in the photo), we have taken it down and added this new post.

Alex, we’ll have “Mea Culpa” for $1,000.

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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

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

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.

Autochrome of Sarah P. Duke in a diascope

In the Lab: Autochrome Lumières

Duke Libraries is digitizing our collection of four autochrome lumières from the Semans family papers and they recently came to conservation for pre-imaging review. Autochromes are an early color photographic process. Our autochromes depict Mary Duke Biddle and Sarah P. Duke and date to about 1910. The color in autochromes lumières is uniquely produced with a color filter layer comprised of fine potato starch grains that are dyed different hues (commonly green, orange-red, and blue-violet) and adhered to a glass plate with lamp black applied to fill the interstices. The undeveloped color filter layer, if viewed under magnification, resembles color pixels and is reminiscent of a pointillist painting.

Autochrome of Sarah P. Duke in a diascope
Autochrome of Sarah P. Duke in a diascope

The autochromes are viewed with transmitted light and are often housed in a hinged viewer called a diascope. The photographic plate, along with a ground glass diffuser, is attached to one cover of the diascope and a mirror in the other. Light passes through the diffuser and autochrome and the viewer sees the reflected image of the photograph in the mirror. The dyes used to produce autochromes are extremely light sensitive and we are taking great care not to expose our materials to excessive light during the digitization process.

Post contributed by Erin Hammeke, Senior Conservator for Special Collections, as part of our ongoing “In the Conservation Lab” series.

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Abraham Joshua Heschel Papers are Open!

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Today the Abraham Joshua Heschel papers are officially opened and available for use. Having just finished processing the collection with a crack team of interns (thank you Adrienne Krone, Sam Kessler, Annegret Oehme, and Emanuel Fiano!), I can attest to the richness of the collection and am thrilled that patrons will be able to explore Heschel’s personal, academic, and public life. The collection guide is available here. In total, 16 languages are represented. Materials related to all of Heschel’s published books, along with 145 published articles are also in the collection. Some of the more unique and unexpected items in the collection include an audio reel of the broadcasted radio show “Way to Go” with host Ormond Drake in which Heschel speaks about his personal life, an original typed document of Heschel’s deportation from Frankfurt in 1938, and a telegram from President John F. Kennedy requesting Heschel’s presence at the White House.

Look for an opening event sometime in October that will feature Susannah Heschel!

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, Project Archivist

Phrenological bust from the commonplace book of  E. Bradford Todd.

A Vernacular Science of Crime

Phrenological bust from the commonplace book of  E. Bradford Todd.
Phrenological bust from the commonplace book of E. Bradford Todd.

 

The image above, taken from the commonplace book of E. Bradford Todd (found in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library), is representative of a popular view of the science of phrenology. Seen today on ironic posters and T-shirts, as well as modern ceramic reproductions, the phrenological bust has come to serve as metonym for the entire science of phrenology. The image persists, but so too do misconceptions about the nature of this peculiar nineteenth-century science, which proposed to articulate and even predict the character of an individual based on the shape of the skull.

Phrenology was attractive to the masses and inspired writing of all kinds, from diary entries to letters, as well as published texts and broadsides. E. Bradford Todd, as shown above, recorded the phrenological doctrine – complete with his own sketches – into his commonplace book in mid-nineteenth-century America. Eugene Marshall, a schoolteacher in 1851 in Rhode Island, went to see a phrenological lecture and resolved to study the science, a project he took on with such zeal that he eventually attempted to phrenologize himself. Writing in 1823 when the science was still young, another individual gossiped to a friend via letter that a mutual acquaintance was looking for a wife “with all the proper bumps on her head for he is a great believer [of phrenology]” (Eliza K. Nelson papers).   As seen in these letters and diaries from Duke University’s Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, from its earliest introduction, phrenology captured the mind of the public and promised solutions to life’s problems, both great and small, not least of which was the problem of crime.

With generous assistance from the History of Medicine travel grant, I recently visited the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to conduct research in support of my dissertation, “Criminal Minds: Law, Medicine, and the Phrenological Impulse in America, 1830-1890.” My research takes a serious look at the “pseudoscience” of phrenology and considers the ways in which it was viewed as truthful, scientific, and useful to nineteenth-century individuals. In particular, I examine how phrenology, at the beginning of the century, came to be viewed as a valuable possibility for crafting a criminal science avant la letter, more than half a century before the introduction of Cesare Lombroso’s positivist criminology that would later be considered the birth of modern criminology.

Phrenologists wrote early and often about the problem of crime, which was drawing attention from all corners in the nineteenth century. The growth of cities and urbanization, the increasing rapidity and ease of movement of peoples within and between countries, and the rise of mass media that made sensational stories about murder and theft national (and international) news – all of these nineteenth-century trends combined to render crime a particularly fraught problem. Yet well before “criminology” had been introduced, phrenologists and other enthusiasts were considering the ways in which this new science could be used to help solve crime.

While it was primarily intellectuals and professional phrenologists operating within a narrow orbit who ruminated on the potential of phrenology with regard to the criminal problem, we can also find glimpses of the reception of these ideas in the records of non-phrenologists who encountered the science. For example, in the diary of Jane Roberts, a British author, she records a trip on January 6, 1837, to visit a phrenologist in London, Dr. DeVille, with her friend Mrs. Phillips, Lord Byron’s daughter. During this visit, both received phrenological readings by DeVille, but they also heard a long discourse from him about the truth of the science. Interestingly, the examples DeVille chooses to illustrate and prove the science are linked directly to bad behavior and crime, explaining that attention to the developments of the mind (as read in the skull) can serve to prevent or cure evil propensities. He illustrates this claim with two examples: one story in which he identified two robbers before the fact, and a second where a father brings his son in to see DeVille, before he eventually is sent to prison for his crimes. Miss Roberts was impressed by these stories, and resolved to visit him again.

Whether or not Miss Roberts repeated her pilgrimage to the phrenologist’s office, this interaction is representative of the ways in which phrenological ideas about crime entered into vernacular culture. Phrenologists framed their enterprise as a solution to one of the era’s most pressing problems, in part to sell their services to individuals like Miss Roberts. Yet, as I argue, phrenology also made a clear claim attempted to predict and explain the behavior of criminals, and in so doing signaled the development of a new science of crime.

Courtney Thompson is a PhD candidate in the History of Science and Medicine Program, History, at Yale University