Category Archives: University Archives

Screamfest III: The Cutening

Date: Thursday, October 29, 2015
Time: 2:00-4:00 PM
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room
Contact: Amy McDonald,

Y’all, we hear you. The semester is getting more and more intense and sometimes Duke is just so . . . gothic, you know? Sometimes you just need to eat some free candy and look at cute things. And what better time to do that than in celebration of that traditionally cute holiday, Halloween?

Your cuddly Rubenstein librarians would like to invite you to visit us for Screamfest III, an open house featuring creepy ADORABLE things from our collections.

Halloween Postcard
Like this postcard of these sweet black kitty-cats, bringing you Halloween joys in their happy hot air pumpkins.

Illustration from Opera Omnia Anatomico-Medico-Chirurgica, ca. 1737.

Or this illustration of these precious babies from our History of Medicine Collection’s Opera Omnia Anatomico-Medico-Chirurgica by Frederik Ruysch. Yes, fine, they’re skeleton babies, and they’re standing on a pile of human organs, but they’re totally listening to a song by The Wiggles.

Ghost at the Library. From the 1984 Chanticleer.

You can also page through the 1984 Chanticleer to view the photos of this friendly library ghost, who just wants to bring you fuzzy slippers so you can study comfortably.

Demon Miniature from Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games.

And sure, scourge and sword-wielding demons are very scary when they’re life-sized. But swing by our open house and you’ll be able to bravely make kissy-faces at this little dude (paperclip for scale) from the Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games.

In fact, we promise that there will be so much cuteness (and candy) that, well, you might die. See you there!

Coming Soon! Pop-Up Displays on Student Organization History

With so many meetings, events, exhibits, performances, and games each day, it might seem difficult to set aside time to learn about your Duke student organization’s history. The University Archives, which collects student organization materials, knows how busy you are and we want to help!

Starting on October 20th, we’ll be holding a series of pop-up displays on student organization history, featuring historical materials from our collections. We’re calling this YOLO@UA: Your Organizations Live on @ the University Archives.

Each Tuesday, you’ll find us at a table just outside the Von der Heyden Pavilion from 2-3 PM, ready to show some cool stuff and answer your questions about student organization history.

We’ll be changing the display focus each time, so here’s the schedule:

October 20: Cultural Groups

October 27: Arts Groups

November 3: Student Government & Political Groups (Happy Election Day!)

November 10: Sororities, Fraternities, & Living Groups

November 17: Student Publications

Don’t worry if your organization isn’t covered with this schedule. We’ll plan more pop-up displays with different focuses during the spring semester. And you’re always welcome to get in touch with us to discuss how you can research your organization’s history at the University Archives!

P.S. Do you have student group materials that you’d like to archive at the University Archives? Learn more, and complete a form to let us know about your materials, here!

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

Praline Thumbprint Cookies (1989) – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen:

Now that we’re all moved into our new building, we’re excited to bring back our test kitchen series! New here? On the fourth Friday of every month we share a recipe from our collections that one of our staff members has found, prepared, and tasted.

The Campus Club has been around since 1914, starting out as a social and educational group for the wives of faculty members. Open to all women of Duke, the Campus Club is a social and activity group that hosts a wide variety of events and interest groups. Interest groups meet regularly, allowing members to explore new foods, drink, activities, and culture. A long-lasting and highly active group within the Campus Club is the Morning Gourmet group, which selects a particular topic or theme and invites members to prepare a dish related to the topic or theme, bring the dish, and share the recipe with the group.

Processing a recent accession from the Campus Club, I was distracted again and again by the many intriguing recipes this group has tried over the years. Some themes were related to national or cultural cuisines, others to parts of a meal or an ingredient. But when I stumbled across the Praline Thumbprints, I found my personal winner.

praline thumbprint


This is a very recent recipe from an archivist’s perspective, appearing in a 1989 Southern Living (I was actually alive when this recipe was published, so: recent). It seemed very simple and straightforward, with modern measurements and guidance, and seemed like no problem at all. I’ll admit here that the above image is a photocopy I made of the original item in the collection, which is itself a typed version of the recipe as it appeared in the magazine. After a bit of digging, I discovered the recipe appeared in the May 1989 issue of Southern Living, in an article titled “Moms and Daughters Bake Cookies,” and you can see a PDF copy of the original through Duke’s subscription to the electronic version of Southern Living here (libraries hooray!). This also led me to discover that the version in the Campus Club records includes comments, recommendations, and modifications by the person who typed it up, and which were very helpful.

praline thumbprint 2

I got my ingredients together and got rolling. The first thing I needed to do was grind up some pecans nice and fine. I bought some pecans in bulk at Whole Foods (this is cheaper than buying pre-ground or bagged pecans, but requires an extra step) and put them briefly through the food processor to get them finely ground.

praline thumbprint 3

Then I mixed together the cookie ingredients and got a pretty sticky dough, with lovely bits of pecan mixed in. I rolled it up into balls as instructed, but I am not so good at accurately replicating the size mentioned in recipes. I also only have one cookie sheet and a very tiny oven, so the shaping and baking part took me a while.

praline thumbprint 4

Eventually I shaped, placed, pressed, and baked the cookies until I had many scooped cookies. I ended up with probably close to the 4-5 dozen described in the recipe (I didn’t count, but it seemed like a lot). I don’t have a picture of the plain baked cookies, but it should be noted that since they do not contain any egg, they are a little powdery and can crumble very easily.

praline thumbprint 5

Due to underestimating the amount of time it would take me to actually get all the cookies finished, I didn’t get a chance to make the praline topping until two days later, at which time I had several fewer cookies to fill. I added the ingredients to a pan I usually use for candy-making (a regular, good-quality pan with a thick bottom).

praline thumbprint 6

The praline filling is essentially a candy, and candy-making can sometimes be tricky. I have a candy thermometer, but I recommend in this recipe paying a little more attention to the time passing than to the precise temperature. I was very concerned with getting to the recommended temperature, which took waaaaaay longer than the prescribed two minutes, and the candy set up before I could finish scooping it onto the cookies, leaving me with a pan like this:

praline thumbprint 7

Luckily, it’s pretty much just sugar and will dissolve in hot water. But even though it set sooner than I expected, it didn’t get really hard and I could still cram it into the cookies. And it was SO. WORTH IT. This stuff is AMAZING. All those little crumbly bits at the bottom of the pan were extra; the recipe even notes you’ll make more filling than cookies. Maybe I was supposed to make three batches of cookies and two of filling? LOL, no. That’s too much work and the extra filling was crazy good on its own. I recommend putting it on ice cream or just eating it with a spoon (no judgments).

praline thumbprint 8

I ended with some pretty nice looking and definitely delicious cookies. They were very popular when I brought them to work (safely quarantined from the materials) and had some friends take some home, which is the only thing that prevented me from eating them all myself. As mentioned above, the cookies are a bit crumbly and I accidentally made the praline a bit crumbly as well, so be warned: just put the whole thing in your mouth at once.

More recipes tried by the Morning Gourmet group and lots of other information about the Campus Club can be found in the records described in this collection guide.

Post Contributed by Tracy Jackson, Technical Services Archivist for University Archives

Pie, Punch, and Jello Cake (1977) – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen

Cover of Duke University RecipesIf there is one truism about librarians it is that as a general rule, librarians are excellent cooks and bakers and they love to share their food. On the flip side, I’ve never seen food go to waste in a library. Your experimental cookie recipe didn’t turn out quite as you expected? Take them to work, someone will eat them.

This month, Amy McDonald and Beth Doyle of the Rubenstein Test Kitchen turn their attention inward to focus on our very own food culture. The recipes this month came from Duke University Recipes: A Collection of Recipes from the Duke University Community, Compiled by the Duke University Library Staff Association (DULSA). This cookbook, dated 1977, was one in a series of annual cookbooks compiled by DULSA.

Our first impression of the recipes in Duke University Recipes is that they are reminiscent of a particular type of independently-produced cookbooks (e.g. those created by churches, social clubs, member groups, etc.). If you are a fan of this genre of cookbooks you will recognize many of these recipes if not verbatim then by familiarity. They seem to be firmly situated in the culinary traditions of the 1970’s. The recipes often mix prepared food stuffs (so much Jell-O) with fresh (or “fresh”) foods to create something not quite from-scratch but better than from a box alone.

While there are many worthy entries in this cookbook, we wanted to pay homage to our colleagues by choosing three recipes submitted by Duke Libraries staff members who are still working at the library.

Orange Jello Cake (Recipe by Robert Byrd; baked by Beth)

Recipe for Orange Jello Cake, part 1Recipe for Orange Jello Cake, part 2

This recipe is one of those that is still popular today. It is usually called a “no bake cheesecake” or some variation of that theme. The recipe consists of a graham cracker crust, a cream cheese and whipped topping layer, and a Jell-O layer with canned fruit and orange sherbet added to the gelatin. When I asked Bob Byrd about this recipe he said, “I have only a vague memory of this recipe, and I disclaim all responsibility for it.”

The first two layers came together fine. The Jell-O layer was weird. It had so much liquid added to the Jell-O that it never really solidified, which was fine until it was served up. When cut and plated, the orange layer just slid off the base. But, as one taster said, “It all mixes in your stomach anyway.” True enough.

Orange Jello Cake Layers
Pretty layers. Kind of like a sunrise at the beach, no?

Taste-wise, it wasn’t half bad. The squishy Jell-O layer played nicely with the cream cheese layer. The graham cracker crust provided a textural contrast to the soft upper layers. In terms of preparation, I think if you omitted the sherbet the Jell-O would set properly and not be so messy to eat.

Jello Cake on a plate!And, as a final note, one of our colleagues (who was born way after the 1970s) commented, “This tastes exactly like what I imagine the 1970s to have been like.” So there you go.

DULSA Punch (Recipe by Cathy Leonardi; poured by Amy and Beth)

Recipe for DULSA PunchWe were surprised at how many recipes in this book called for bourbon. We were pleasantly surprised we found one we wanted to try. According to Cathy Leonardi, “DULSA only served alcohol at one party each year, the Christmas party. The DULSA punch was the punch that was served.  Wink was like 7-Up.  The beauty of the punch was that it was easy to make.  I didn’t invent the recipe.  It was given to me by someone who had previously made it for the Christmas party.  I put the recipe in the cookbook so that it would be easy to find for future parties.” And are we glad she did!

As far as punch recipes go, this is an easy one. The hardest part was finding the Wink soda (or is that pop?). Yes, Wink is still available but it is often found in the mixers section, not with the other sodas.

DULSA PunchIt mixes up to a beautiful reddish color. This is a very sweet punch with a little hint of Southern Comfort. Admittedly, we purchased the lower alcohol Southern Comfort since we planned on serving this at a reception at work. (We made a non-alcoholic version, too, but . . . that was less popular.) The general consensus was that it was the best thing on the table when we taste tested the recipes.

Southern Comfort in the refigerator
Southern Comfort chilling in the staff refrigerator, along with everyone’s lunches.

Strawberry Pie (Recipe by Vickie Long; baked by Amy)

Recipe for Strawberry PieThis is a pretty simple recipe. I started out with tons of strawberries and a store-bought crust (yesssss!). Half of the strawberries got sliced and dumped (or arranged prettily, if you prefer) into the baked crust, and the other half got mashed and cooked with the cornstarch and baking powder into what I like to fondly call the “strawberry goop.”

I have a tremendous fear of burning things, so I may not have let the strawberry goop cook—and thus thicken—quite as long as I should have. I poured it into the pie, let the whole thing set in the refrigerator, and the result was a sort of sweetened strawberry soup, with bits of crust. Not terrible, but maybe not what you want to serve at your next dinner party. Or maybe it is? You do you, you know?

Soupy Strawberry Pie
A little . . . soupy. There’s a piece missing.

As a saving grace, I was going to make real whipped cream, but Beth thought Reddi-wip would be more authentic. And archivists are nothing if not historically authentic.

Thumbs Up!Duke University Recipes is available through the Duke University Archives, as well as online at the Internet Archives. There is also a copy of this 1977 edition in the Perkins Library that you can check out.

Let us know in the comments if you try any of the recipes!

Post contributed by Beth Doyle, Leona B. Carpenter Senior Conservator and Head, Conservation Services Department, and Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist.

Capturing the Duke Web

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:

Duke University homepage, 2010
Duke University homepage, 2010


Duke University homepage, 2015
Duke University homepage, 2015


The following screencaps are for the Duke Chapel’s website.

Duke University Chapel homepage, 2010
Duke University Chapel homepage, 2010


Duke University Chapel homepage, 2015
Duke University Chapel homepage, 2015


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.

Women at Duke Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Time: 10:00 AM-2:00 PM
Location: Edge Workshop Room, Bostock Library
Contact: Kelly Wooten, or 919-660-5967

Two Women in front of the Washington Duke statue, ca. 1900s. From the University Archives Photograph Collection.
Two Women in front of the Washington Duke statue, ca. 1900s. From the University Archives Photograph Collection.

Join the staff of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture for an opportunity to learn how to edit Wikipedia articles, learn more about the rich history of women at Duke University, and then put that knowledge into action by creating and editing entries that document the lives and contributions of women alumnae, faculty, staff, and community members.

This edit-a-thon is part of a worldwide movement to increase the percentage of women editors and woman-focused articles within Wikipedia.

If you’re planning to attend, create a Wikipedia account in advance and sign up on the edit-a-thon’s meetup page (where you’ll also find a list of proposed Wikipedia articles that you can work on). Bring your laptop to the edit-a-thon if you can. You can also participate from anywhere in the world!

Looking for more information about the edit-a-thon? Read Duke Today’s article or listen to this “State of Things” discussion with local edit-a-thon organizers, including the Bingham Center’s Kelly Wooten!

The edit-a-thon is co-sponsored with the Duke University Archives and the Duke Women’s Center.

Archives Office Hours at the SOURCE

We know, there’s less than a month before LDOC and you need another thing to do like a hole in the head. But, if you’re a leader or an active member of a Duke student group (including graduate and professional student groups), finish out your group’s year by giving documentation about your activities to the Duke University Archives.

By archiving your records, you ensure that your group’s legacy remains part of Duke University’s history, alongside the records of Duke’s presidents and campus offices. It’s your way to make your mark on what future Duke students and scholars will know about Duke history for decades to come.

To help with this, University Archives staff will be holding regular office hours at UCAE’s the SOURCE starting this week through the end of the semester. You’ll find us at the SOURCE on:

  • Thursday, March 26th from 2:00-4:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 9th from 2:00-4:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 23rd from 2:00-4:00 PM

No appointment is necessary—just stop by with any questions about the records collecting process or to tell us more about the records you’d like to archive.

Cast from "The Womanless Wedding," ca. 1890. From the University Archives Photograph Collection.
This group is in the Duke University Archives. Is yours?
Cast from “The Womanless Wedding,” ca. 1890. From the University Archives Photograph Collection.

Need a little background information before coming to visit us?

Read more about the types of documentation we collect—and see some examples of student groups whose records we hold—on our student group records website.

Before you stop by, make a quick canvas of any documentation your group might be ready to place with the University Archives. Think about the types of documentation you have, the dates it covers, and if there are any special formats (do you have tons of video files? do you have a gigantic banner from a group event?). We’ll then help decide what should come to the University Archives.

We’ll also ask you how much documentation you have to give to us, so we can estimate the number of boxes you’ll need (yep, we can provide those) or make arrangements to get digital files from you via DropBox, a flash drive, etc.

Can’t visit the SOURCE during our office hours?

Complete our online form to let us know a little about the records you’d like to donate, and we’ll get in touch with you to discuss next steps. Or send us an email with any questions!

Post contributed by Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist.

Author Scott Ellsworth on “The Secret Game”

Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Edge Workshop Room, Bostock Library
Contact: Valerie Gillispie, or 919-684-8929

Cover of "The Secret Game" by Scott EllsworthPlease join us on Tuesday, March 31, at 4:00 p.m. for a special reading by historian and Duke alumnus Scott Ellsworth. He will be reading from his new book The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball’s Lost Triumph.

The Secret Game tells the incredible story of a Sunday morning in 1944 when the all-white Duke University military team from the Medical School traveled across town to North Carolina Central College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) and played a secret interracial basketball game. Under legendary coach John McLendon, the NCCU Eagles won the match-up. The players then continued to socialize and play a pick-up game that mixed players from each team.

Scott EllsworthAgainst the backdrop of World War II and the Jim Crow South, Ellsworth explores the way this extraordinary game came about, what it meant for the players involved, and how the details of this game were forgotten—and remembered. Ellsworth conducted research in the Duke University Archives, Duke University Medical Center Archives, and NCCU archives in writing the book.

Ellsworth will be introduced by Timothy B. Tyson, Duke University faculty member and author of Blood Done Sign My Name. The event will be followed by a book signing and reception in the Edge Lounge. Copies of The Secret Game will be available for sale by the Gothic Bookshop.

This event is sponsored by the Duke University Archives, the Center for Documentary Studies, the Gothic Bookshop, the Duke University Libraries, and the Office of Public Affairs and Government Relations.

Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.

How NOT to Pie a Duke Professor

In honor of Pi Day, it’s time for a pop quiz.

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.
B. Cry.
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.

If you were popular chemistry professor James Bonk (who passed away in 2013), your answer would be D.

Pie-Die Advertisement, From the Chronicle, March 21, 1975.
Pie-Die Advertisement, From the Chronicle, March 21, 1975.

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.

The Pie-Man's Attack. From the Chronicle, April 1, 1975.
The Pie-Man’s Attack. From the Chronicle, April 1, 1975.

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.

Captured! From the Chronicle, April 1, 1975.
Captured! From the Chronicle, April 1, 1975.

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.




University Archives Acquires Owens Documentary Materials

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.

Ida Stephens Owens, undated
Ida Stephens Owens, undated. From the University Archives Photograph Collection.

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.