Since August of 2014 I’ve had the pleasure of arranging and describing the papers of Reverend Jeanne Audrey Powers. In 1958, Rev. Powers became one of the first women to be ordained in the United Methodist Church, and in 1995, she publicly came out as a lesbian in her most famous sermon, “The Journey.” The reactions she faced as a result of coming out were mixed. Many, like the GCCUIC (General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns) supported her unswervingly, while others, most notably the Institute on Religion & Democracy, campaigned against her, hoping to force Powers into an early retirement.
Reverend Powers was involved in organizing the Re-Imagining Conference, the Minneapolis interfaith conference of clergy, laypeople, and feminist theologians that stirred controversy in U.S. mainline Protestant denominations. “Re-Imagining: A Global Theological Conference By Women: For Men and Women,” grew out of a response to the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Decade: Churches in Solidarity with Women 1988–1998. The conference aimed to encourage churches to address injustices to women worldwide and promote equal partnership with men at all levels of religious life. Participants met at the Minneapolis Convention Center from November 4-7, 1993. It brought together 2,200 people, one third of them clergy, and most of them women. 83 men registered. Attendees represented 16 denominations, 27 countries, and 49 states.
Rev. Powers’ papers also document her extensive professional accomplishments and contributions as well as her personal history. Photographs from her childhood, stories about her family, and even two locks of hair can be found within the 98 boxes of material. The materials related to Rev. Powers’ activism, including her support for equal treatment for all persons in the church, are my favorite feature of the collection.
For example, the collection includes Rev. Powers’ files associated with the group, Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian/Gay Concerns. In 1984, in response to “unwelcoming policies toward lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons,” the group issued a call to local churches to “reaffirm that their ministry was open to all persons, including gays and lesbians.” The “Open the Doors” campaign was sponsored by the Reconciling Congregation group. The goal was to go to the United Methodist Church’s 1996 General Conference in Denver, Colorado to foster discussion around creating a more welcoming atmosphere in the church for lesbian and gay members. The campaign had a moderate level of success with several hundred people attending “Open the Doors” events at the General Conference. However, the UMC policies discriminating against gays and lesbians were not changed.
The Jeanne Audrey Powers Papers is a treasure trove of materials that I have greatly enjoyed processing. It’s hard to believe that they will be ready for researchers to use quite soon—an exciting prospect!
Post contributed by Rachel Sanders, Technical Services Intern for the Sallie Bingham Center.
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!
During this year’s Super Bowl, Kim Kardashian will spoof her own public image to promote a T-Mobile data plan. The cost of airing this half-minute commercial? $4.5 million. The price tag for a minute of airtime has grown exponentially since Super Bowl I, from the bargain rate of $150,000. Advertisers are willing to front the cost because Super Bowl commercials are a cultural phenomenon unto themselves—ad exposure is amplified far beyond television viewership on game day.
Super Bowl XIX produced network television’s first million dollar minute in 1985, prompting advertisers to ask, “Is it worth it?” The J. Walter Thompson (JWT) advertising agency set out to convince its clients that—with a stand-out, creative ad—Super Bowl advertising was indeed worth the price. The agency conducted marketing research following the 1985 game specifically to measure the impact of Super Bowl advertising. JWT interviewed over four hundred people about their football viewing habits and attitudes towards Super Bowl commercials, then summed up its findings in a report entitled, “Super Bowl XIX and the Million Dollar Minute: Anatomy of an American Institution.”
Over 100 million viewers tuned in to watch the San Francisco 49ers defeat the Miami Dolphins, 38 to 16, in 1985. This made it the tenth highest-rated show of all time, but it still fell short of the ABC network’s predictions and records set by past Super Bowls. The series finale of M*A*S*H* in 1983 still held the number one spot with a Nielsen rating of 60, compared to Super Bowl XIX’s rating of 46.
Even as football audiences were shrinking and Super Bowl viewership was in decline, the price of advertising spots continued to climb. “But,” JWT asked, “what about values beyond the ratings?” The agency argued that Super Bowl ads had a significant impact on Americans, beyond the number of viewers they reached.
Advertising during the Super Bowl was a gamble. Companies put down major financial outlays in the hopes that the impact of a Super Bowl ad would pay off. Thirty-six advertisers spent a combined $30 million for 52 minutes of commercials spread over six hours for the 1985 championship. JWT warned that an expensive ad could still be drowned out by the “chatter factor” of Super Bowl gatherings, or succumb to the power of the “remote-tuner zapping” channels.
JWT’s study confirmed the obvious with such observations as, “Super Sunday is a major social event” and, “Eating is a major part of Super Sunday.” But it also uncovered what makes a Super Bowl ad a unique opportunity for advertisers. Super Bowl advertisers had an automatic advantage with a significant segment of the audience. 14% percent of the viewers polled reported that they felt more favorable towards Super Bowl advertisers than the promoters they saw during the regular football season. Nearly half of the respondents were able to recall one or more commercials aired during the Super Bowl without any prompting.
IBM invested millions of dollars to air 13 spots sprinkled from the pre-game show through post-game programming. Apple took a different approach by publicizing its sole commercial in advance of game day. The company placed full-page ads in the Sunday newspaper, advising, “If you go to the bathroom during the fourth quarter, you’ll be sorry.” JWT had several high-profile clients in the Super Bowl that year, including Ford Motor Company, Hyatt Hotels, the U.S. Marines, and Miller Brewing Company.
Budweiser, Ford, IBM, and Apple commercials had the highest rate of unaided recall by participants in JWT’s study. IBM ran a 30-second spot over a dozen times featuring a light-hearted Charlie Chaplin impersonator. With slapstick flair, Chaplin shuffled around IBM’s PC Jr, “The computer that’s growing by leaps and bounds.” The PC Jr could run “powerful, up-to-date” programs like Lotus 123 on 8-inch floppy disks.
Apple’s ad, in contrast, had a dark and brooding tone. The minute-long commercial, entitled “Lemmings,” aired just once during Super Bowl XIX. A line of blind-folded businessmen mindlessly trudged one by one across a barren landscape until they plummeted over the edge of a cliff. Apple promised to break the monotony of “business as usual” when it released the Macintosh Office computer. JWT’s study found that the ad was the both the most loved and the most hated game day commercial that year.
The J. Walter Thompson Company’s recommendations for how to make the most of a Super Bowl advertisement sound familiar. Specifically, advertisers should use supplemental promotions and tie-ins with other forms of media to ensure their ad gets noticed. “Create additional top spin,” JWT advised. T-Mobile has certainly done so. The company released its Kim Kardashian ad early, giving Conan viewers the first glimpse. The ad won over 6 million hits on YouTube in two days. Entertainment news outlets, bloggers, and Kardashian’s 28 million Twitter followers have given the commercial momentum before it even appears on television. What is this “top spin” worth? Maybe $10 million.
We have collections and rare books from so many far-flung locations, but we occasionally come across historical materials documenting life right here in Durham.
The city of Durham’s centennial celebrations took place from April 26th through May 2nd of 1953, and people were excited! Excited to reflect on how much Durham had progressed and also on what changes might or should take place in the next hundred years. A particularly strange way in which some chose to celebrate the occasion was to join the Brothers of the Brush. Never heard of ‘em?
Spearheaded by Dante Germino, an engaged Durham resident who worked for the Herald-Sun Co. at the time, the fund-raising effort collected $1.00 per member; and the 3093 members pledged to do their “civic duty” by growing and maintaining a “moustache, full beard, goat-tee, or side-burns” throughout the celebrations. If a member failed to keep his promise he was brought before a Kangaroo Court of his peers.
Evidence from newspapers at the time show that many local businesses took up the challenge. Check out these fellows at Coman Lumber.
Want to find out if a local family member of yours was an official Brother of the Brush? We’ve got the registry in our holdings for you to peruse; and we’ve also got local newspapers from that time.
Times have changed. These days, with so many hipsters out and about in Durham, we’d have an easy time collecting funds from bearded folks throughout the city. We could use Duke Libraries’ button-maker to make buttons for participants! We’ll have to wait until 2053 for the next centennial, though.
Post contributed by Dominique Dery, Research Services Intern, who may or may not have the lustrous and full beard pictured at right.
I work each day under a portrait of Braxton Craven, the first president of Trinity College. Braxton and Irene Leach Craven, his wife, were visionaries in forming a degree-granting college out of what had been a tiny schoolhouse. The Craven family has remained involved in Duke University, and last week, we learned that Braxton and Irene’s great-granddaughter, Isobel Craven Young Lewis Drill, had passed away at the age of 98.
Isobel Craven Drill was a woman of astonishing ambition and strength. She graduated from—where else?—Duke in 1937, and married Baxter Clay Young, Jr. in 1939. Widowed with two children in 1960, she took over the Maybelle Transport Company and Buck Young Oil Company. A natural leader, she excelled in running these companies, as well as participating in numerous charities and groups, including the Duke Board of Trustees. She was an exceedingly generous donor to many units of Duke University, and to progressive political causes including civil rights and women’s rights.
We in the University Archives will be always grateful for Isobel Craven Drill’s interest in documenting Trinity and Duke history, and her establishment of the Isobel Craven Drill fund, which provides income for the University Archives to use in collecting, processing, describing, preserving, and sharing historical information. Funding from the Drill Endowment helped us publish Duke Illustrated, host events and meetings, purchase special archival supplies, and so much more.
One very special way that we have employed the funds is through the Drill Internship, an internship that allows graduate students to learn about all aspects of institutional archives. I myself was a Drill Intern in 2003 and 2004-2005. The experience was the most important one of my entire education, one which provided me with deep insight into what it means to be the custodian of a cultural heritage institution, especially within a university as complex as Duke University. I received a hands-on education and the opportunity to work with archival professionals on all components of institutional archives. The experience of the Drill Internship is very much what brought me back to Duke in 2011 as University Archivist, and I am proud to continue this legacy of training new professionals.
We asked several of our current and former Drill Interns to comment on the role of the internship in their careers, which reveal the deep and lasting impact of Mrs. Drill’s gift. We send our condolences to her family, and remember, with respect and affection, the woman that University Archivist Emeritus William King called a “Patron Saint of the Archives.”
The Drill Internship gave me the opportunity to work with the incredible collections and caring staff of the Duke University Archives. It was an invaluable experience during the transition between my archival studies and professional work as an archivist. I still appreciate the knowledge, skills, and professional network of colleagues I gained during this internship.
—Jill (Katte) Vermillion, Drill Intern, 2002, and current Education Content Relations Manager, Apple Inc.
Even though I didn’t know Mrs. Drill personally, I will always be grateful to her for the opportunity to be the Drill intern from 2007-2008. Under the guidance of former Duke University Archivist Tim Pyatt, I gained valuable, “real-life” experiences that laid a solid foundation for my first professional position as an archivist. As a Drill intern I also developed a deep appreciation and fondness for Duke history which served me well when I returned to Duke in 2010 to process the Doris Duke Collection. Regardless of where my career takes me in the future I will always remember my beginnings as a Drill intern.
—Mary Samouelian, Drill Intern, 2007-2008, and current Project Processing Archivist, Rubenstein Library
I was the Isobel Craven Drill Intern in the University Archives during the 2008-2009 academic year. Although I never had the opportunity to meet her, I was extremely honored to have been chosen for the internship that bears her name. The internship served as my introduction to the field and provided me with the skills and experience that have propelled my professional career. Perhaps of more importance to me, the internship introduced me to a wonderful group of passionate professionals at Duke that I will forever value as mentors, colleagues, and friends. I will always be grateful for the experience that Isobel Craven Drill’s generosity provided me and many other young professionals.
—Joshua Larkin Rowley, Drill Intern, 2008-2009, and current Reference Archivist, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, Rubenstein Library
The internship Mrs. Drill endowed was one of the best opportunities I have had professionally. Her gift has made it possible for graduate students training to be Archivists to get the experience necessary for entry into a challenging, competitive field and job market. Not only did we learn the nuts and bolts of processing, but we got to work with great people and awesome material. The training and experience I received as a Drill Intern helped me land my first professional job out of graduate school. I never got to meet Mrs. Drill but I will be forever thankful for her generosity and the boost it has given me as an early professional.
—Matthew Shangler, Drill Intern, 2009-2010, and current Assistant Archivist, Duke University Medical Center Archives
Just before the internship began I had the opportunity to have lunch with Mrs. Drill, her daughter and a few colleagues in the Biddle Rare Book Room. Getting to spend some time with the family was a truly inspiring kick off to my intern year.
The internship was a huge opportunity that continues to pay off four years later. I honed my archival skills processing collections, fielding reference questions, and even collaborated on an exhibit. Throughout the year I studied university history, got to know the campus through a construction research project, and learned from fabulous colleagues, many of whom I have the good fortune to still work with today.
Early on in my internship, I remember telling a friend (not a librarian or archivist) how much I enjoyed the internship and how happy I was to be taking this new direction in my life. I still feel that way today. Thank you Mrs. Drill, for your generosity and for helping me find such professional happiness.
—Molly Bragg, Drill Intern, 2010-2011, and current Digital Collection Program Manager, Duke University Libraries
The Drill Internship was my first paid job after graduating from library school–I got hired right out of library school and the impact on me was tremendous. Having the opportunity to become immersed in the University Archives at Duke was a formidable experience that provided me with incredible mentors, whose guidance continues to help me personally and professionally. Ms. Drill’s generosity gave me the chance to learn new techniques firsthand, work with amazing archival collections, and become part of a professional community. I count myself very lucky to have benefited from her kindness and support.
—Rosemary K. J. Davis, Drill Intern, 2011-2012 and Samuel French Collection Processing Archivist, Amherst College
My time as the 2012-2013 Drill intern at Duke has been invaluable to my career. As an intern, I was able to get hands-on experience in all aspects of archival work, including curating an exhibit, processing collections, and conducting reference work in the reading room and remotely. The experience was incredibly important to me, and remains the job on my resume that people ask about most frequently. After completing my Drill internship, I worked at Duke for another three months preparing and curating an exhibit on Duke’s 175th anniversary. From there, I was a member of the first cohort of National Digital Stewardship Residents in Washington, DC, working at the National Library of Medicine in their History of Medicine Division. And now, I’m the Digital Librarian at PBS (the Public Broadcasting Service). I still use the skills I honed at Duke daily in my work. None of this would have been possible without Mrs. Drill’s generosity, and I’m so grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to work at Duke in the University Archives.
—Maureen McCormick Harlow, Drill Intern, 2012-2013, and current Digital Librarian, PBS
Mrs. Drill’s generous support of the internship has helped aspiring archivists like me and others before me to put theory into practice as students, offering the chance to immediately apply what are learning in classes. It is one thing to discuss concepts like original order and appraisal in class, and quite another to apply them to real collections! I feel I have learned just as much, if not more, about the profession from my internship as from my coursework. I appreciate the opportunity to learn new skills, gain experience in the many different roles that archivists play, and be surrounded and mentored by the excellent staff in University Archives and the Rubenstein Library, thanks to Mrs. Drill’s gift.
—Jamie Patrick-Burns, Drill Intern, 2014-2015
Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, Duke University Archivist, with help from our Drill interns!
Want to make history this Thanksgiving? Every Friday between now and Thanksgiving, we’ll be sharing a recipe from our collections that one of our staff members has found, prepared, and tasted. We’re excited to bring these recipes out of their archival boxes and into our kitchens (metaphorically, of course!), and we hope you’ll find some historical inspiration for your own Thanksgiving.
Happy Oktoberfest! To kick off our Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen series, I prepared a recipe to celebrate the German festival, which runs this year from September 20th to October 10th.
The Recipe and Duke History
I found a recipe for apple kuchen, or apple cake, in the Ted Minah Papers. The recipe was grouped with a series of recipes apparently intended for Duke’s Woman’s College,  ranging from barbecued meatballs to a lemon soufflé pudding. Although a sweet cake, interestingly, the recipe was labeled as a bread recipe rather than a dessert.
The recipe helped me learn more about some of the culinary history at Duke, especially about the influential Theodore W. “Ted” Minah. Minah was the director of Duke University Dining Halls from 1946 to 1974. By his retirement in 1974, Minah had transformed the dining halls at Duke University from a small operation to 12 dining halls serving approximately 15,000 meals each day.
The context for the recipe collection wasn’t clear – the ingredient proportions were for smaller portions, usually 4 to 6 servings. Since it was coming from the collection of the Dining Hall director, I expected the recipe to be scaled to serve large groups of students, but perhaps the recipes were designed for a Woman’s College cookbook? I’ve seen university-related cookbooks in other collections, like the “Culinary Casebooks” in the Duke Law Dames records (possibly a topic for a future “Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen” post!).
Like many older recipes, it was short and to the point – no lengthy descriptions of methods or ingredients to coddle the home cook. I did encounter an interesting culinary term I’d never seen before, but which continues to appear in other archival collections I’m processing: Oleo. Oleo was a common colloquial term used to refer to margarine, whose full name is oleomargarine. I admit that I strayed from the recipe and used butter rather than margarine, but that substitution didn’t seem to hurt the recipe.
As often happens in the archives, I learned a variety of interesting new facts that I would have never guessed I’d encounter – from the history of the university, to colloquial cooking terms!
Overall, the recipe was perfect for fall – the tart apples, cinnamon, and somewhat unusual cake batter made a tasty seasonal treat. The recipe was easy and quick to make, used common ingredients found in any grocery store, and should appeal to even the pickiest eater.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars!
Stay tuned for more tasty recipes from our collections!
1. The Woman’s College was established at Duke in 1930 as a parallel to Trinity College for men. The Woman’s College fostered a community that allowed for shared university faculty, curriculum, and educational facilities with the men’s college, while giving women an opportunity for leadership through separate student government, social standards committees, and judicial board. The Woman’s College merged with Trinity College in 1972.
Our colleague Mary Mellon is currently reprocessing the Benjamin Duke Papers to provide more refined description. Among the many fascinating pieces of correspondence within the collection, she has found a letter, dated November 16, 1896, from Trustee A. P. Tyer to Ben Duke. In it, he makes a not-so-modest proposal: that Duke give a $500,000 endowment and that the school be renamed Duke College.
“The only hope that Trinity College has of ever being endowed is found in the Dukes. I therefore ask that you give the College five hundred thousand dollars as endowment and allow the Trustees to name it “Duke College.”
In 1896, the school was just four years old in its new Durham location. There was great concern about longterm viability, despite the generosity of the Duke family up to that point, including providing the funds to bring the school to Durham. $500,000 in 1896 would have been around $13 million in today’s money.
To sweeten the deal, Mr. Tyer added,
“This will forever take away the feeling of uncertainty, make the college an assured success forever, put the Dukes in front of all southern benefactors, largely increase the number of students, bring even a better class of patronage to the college, make it possible for others to give to it, be the greatest monument any southern man will ever build, be a perpetual benefit and blessing to the human family, and constantly glorify God your Father.”
Ben Duke remained a steady and heavily involved benefactor, but never made a gift at the level requested in the letter. The month after this letter was received, Washington Duke, Ben’s father, gave a $100,000 endowment, contingent on women being admitted on equal footing with men. In 1924, Ben’s brother, James B. Duke, established the Duke Endowment, which helped fund a massive expansion of the college, and led to the renaming of the school—not to Duke College, but to Duke University.
Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist, with assistance from Mary Mellon, Technical Services Intern.
I have been giving the collections of James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke, industrialists and benefactors of Duke University, a little TLC this summer. One of my most enjoyable finds so far has been a set of two candid photographs of Washington Duke that turned up in the the James B. Duke papers. Mr. Duke appears to be contemplating a bicycle, the handlebars of which are just visible at the bottom of the photos. The bicycle is likely the one that his son, Benjamin, purchased for $45.25, according to an 1894 letter from the Benjamin N. Duke papers. It would be interesting to know what was going through Washington’s head at the time when the pictures were taken. Possibly, “You really expect me to ride this thing?”
Like many members of the Duke community, I am accustomed to seeing Washington Duke in his dignified, solemn armchair pose (e.g. the statue at the entrance to East Campus). But, it’s nice to know that “Wash” got to have a bit of fun every once in a while.
The National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) papers documents this NGO’s advocacy for human rights in Haiti and for Haitian refugees in the United States. NCHR has conducted its mission reaching out to congressmen and international organizations to influence policy, using its connections and credibility to assist Haitians, whether in their individual immigration issues or as this recent discovery notes, to flee persecution in Haiti and reach safety.
Let’s start with a little bit of context. In 1992 Haiti democratically elected its first president ever, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was subsequently forced out of the country for about 6 months. A military regime came immediately into power. Human rights violations became more prevalent, particularly toward supporters of former President Aristide.
During this tumultuous period, three Haitian members of the Aristide’s political party FNCD (National Front for Change and Democracy) [whose names will be withheld for their protection], decided that, for safety reasons, they had no other option than to flee Haiti. They arrived in Guantanamo, Cuba which at that time was used as an immigration transit camp to assess the validity of asylum claims made by Haitians. The asylum process required an initial interview in Guantanamo that would assess whether an immigrant had a credible fear of persecution, and then a second interview in Miami that would assess whether this fear was well-grounded. The screening process was tough, as it is estimated that only 2% of Haitian applicants were granted asylum between 1980 and 1992.
It is in Guantanamo that the three Haitians first came in contact with NCHR. Living conditions at the camp were difficult, and several reports documented humiliating treatments, separation of families or refusal of medical care. As the founding members of the Association of Haitian Political Refugees, the three Haitians asked NCHR to witness and then advocate for better treatment of Haitian refugees inside Guantanamo’s camps. The three Haitians successfully passed the first step of the asylum process. However, accounts of mistreatment during the second interview in Miami, especially directed towards members of the Association of Haitian Political Refugees, made them refuse to submit to the second interview. Additionally, the omnipresence of the US military in the camps made many Haitians nervous about telling their stories to immigration officials.
Having abandoned the asylum process mid-way, the three Haitians were sent back to Haiti. Beatings by the police on their day of arrival confirmed their fears of political persecution. They decided to go into hiding and attempt to leave Haiti one way or another. They were unable to apply for asylum from within Haiti, and the American embassy was not a sanctuary. The three Haitians called NCHR for help.
NCHR’s strategy was first to get them into the Dominican Republic,
where the United Nations had set up a refugee camp, and then try to obtain permanent residency in the United States, Canada or another Caribbean nation. In a parallel to the American abolitionist Underground Railroad, NCHR resorted to Haiti’s own underground railroad dedicated to helping persecuted Haitians cross the border and enter the Dominican Republic. The underground railroad was managed by a priest on the Haitian side, and by a radio station on the Dominican side.
By means of the underground railroad the three Haitians arrived safely in the Dominican Republic. They were greeted by a team of lawyers, enlisted by NCHR to build their asylum case; further complicated by the three being HIV positive at a time when both the United States and Canada had a practice of rejecting asylum claims of HIV positive individuals unless a waiver was obtained.
That is the last update in the archives about the three Haitians. We do not know how significant the underground railroad was, as so far we haven’t found any other account of its use in NCHR’s archives. We also do not know whether their asylum claims have been successful, or whether they managed to get permanent residency in the Dominican Republic. Nevertheless, we have been able to reconstruct this story using a variety of documents present in NCHR archives: letters of the three Haitians to NCHR written in Haitian Creole, communication between NCHR’s Haiti and New-York teams in English, status reports coming from the underground railroad in Spanish, interview transcripts in French. This diversity illustrates the fact that the issue of Haitian rights encompasses much more than just the Haitian territory: the flow of refugees coming to the Dominican Republic and to the United States has made the protection of Haitian rights a multinational challenge.
Post contributed by Marie Veyrier, student assistant in Technical Services
Finding a gem in a jumbled box of papers and images is always a fulfilling feeling, whether it be an arresting photograph, a revealing letter, or even a scrap of someone’s mundane—but relatable—life. Of course, some of these gems are hidden and thus require a bit of searching before their worth can be noticed. Much of this exploring was required with the gem I found in the Arthur F. Burns collection.
Arthur Burns was a notable 20th century economist and diplomat. Among his achievements, he served as chief economic advisor to President Eisenhower; chaired the Federal Reserve under Nixon, Ford, and Carter; and represented the United States as ambassador to Germany under Reagan. Because of his high stature in both academia and public service, Burns corresponded with dozens of notable figures in the mid-twentieth century, from the presidents he served to the economists with whom he worked. This correspondence is a central component of the Arthur Burns papers in the Rubenstein Library, along with copies of Burns’ journals (1969-1974), photographs, and memorabilia.
As I processed an addition to the correspondence series of the collection, I came across some letters from Milton Friedman to Burns. As an economist junkie, any chance to peek inside the mind of Friedman—a Nobel laureate and the father of monetarist economics—was more than worth my time. Nevertheless, I expected only routine correspondence, for most of the letters seemed to comment only on personal matters. But, boy, was I wrong!
Within the second folder, I found what at first appeared to be only a routine letter between pals, dated February 1, 1951. As I was about to put the letter aside, I noticed that near the bottom of the page Friedman jumped into defending his views, point by point, on the quantity theory of money in wartime. After a bit of scrounging around the Internet, I discovered that the comments pertained to Friedman’s draft of “Price, Income, and Monetary Changes in Three Wartime Periods” (1952), which discusses the effects of war on prices and production in the American economy.
I was holding Friedman’s defense of his own work, a draft of which must have been previously critiqued by Burns. So, as I read Friedman’s article and came up with my own disputes, I could look back at how he would respond. For me, and for any researcher, this is a remarkable opportunity. On top of this, it’s possible that Burns used some of this information to advise President Eisenhower during the Korean War. With the extent of the correspondence between Burns and the President (206 letters in the collection), it’s possible that one may find some remnant of the above letter in Burns’s admonitions to Eisenhower. That may be a hidden gem that requires more exploring!
Posted contributed by Levi Crews, Technical Services Department student assistant and a rising sophomore at Duke.
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University