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.
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!
If you live or have spent much time in Durham, you’ve probably seen a few of the annual Duke men’s basketball posters in stores and restaurants. Every year since Coach K arrived at Duke, the men’s basketball team has released a limited-edition team poster featuring that season’s players looking ready to rumble. Each of these posters has a theme, which vary from the inspirational (Believe) to the cinematic (Goodfellas) to the trendy (Networking) to the punny (Duke Rocks).
A few weeks ago, Jim Jarvis, the graphic designer designer who collaborated with Mickie and Debbie Krzyzewski to create these images, gave many of his basketball posters to the University Archives. The majority of them are signed by the entire team and Coach K himself, who often wrote a personal thank-you to Mr. Jarvis on the poster. Many were framed, and hung proudly in Mr. Jarvis’s home for years.
During processing, we almost always remove items from their frames. We do this for a few reasons, mainly to protect and preserve the item, and to make it easier to store and access. Aside from not having enough walls to display the many awesome items in our collections, ambient light shining on displays leads to fading and damage to the materials over time. Sometimes the glass in a frame adheres to the poster, photograph, or document in the frame, leading to irreversible damage to the original, and most materials used in commercial or home framing are not archival quality, meaning acid and other chemicals present accelerate the deterioration of the framed items.
Happily for everyone, Mr. Jarvis’s posters are in great condition. University Archives Drill Intern Jamie Burns and I worked on removing them from the frames, which come in two basic styles: metal 4-piece frames and wooden frames. The metal frames are four metal sides kept together with metal brackets and screws, and are fairly easy to disassemble and reassemble using just a screwdriver.
The wooden frames secure the poster using small metal pieces nailed into the wood before the whole back of the frame is covered in paper. These frames require a sharp blade to remove the paper and small pliers to carefully work out the “nails.”
Once removed from their frames, the posters were placed in very large folders and will be kept in the Rubenstein Library stacks in either large boxes or very large cabinets, often called map cases. Mr. Jarvis’s posters will form the core of a Men’s Basketball Posters Collection, together with some basketball posters previously collected by the Archives, all of which will be available to researchers who want to view them in person.
Receiving this collection was great fun for Tech Services staff, most of whom gathered at my processing table at some point during this process to exclaim over their favorites. New to Duke or a longtime veteran, casual or serious sports fan, we all enjoyed the creative effort and love of the team that went in to these posters.
All of the men’s basketball posters (though not the ones signed to Mr. Jarvis) have been made digitally available through Blue Planet Shots, and you can find them here.
Dearest readers and friends, we long to see you on Valentine’s Day. Won’t you please set our hearts a-flutter and come to our Valentine’s Day open house?
Do you fear that you will be too busy penning epistles of undying love to your own beloveds to join us? Ah, but this event is crafted especially for you: we’ll be sharing the most swoon-worthy of love declarations from the Rubenstein Library’s collections, so you may find just the term of endearment you need to woo your mate.
Perhaps a few examples to help the time pass more swiftly until we meet?
Or the more expressive route taken by Francis Warrington Dawson—writing to Sarah Morgan, his future wife–is always sure to succeed:
“How deeply should I thank God that he has allowed me to know you, which is to love you, for the sun now has a brighter light & the sky a deeper blue. The whole world seems truer & better, & this pilgrim, instead of lingering in the depths, is breasting the healthy difficulties of existence, with his eyes fast fixed on you. Whatever else may fail, believe always in this devoted & unselfish love of Francis Warrington Dawson!”
Or whose heart wouldn’t melt upon receiving this most adorable valentine, from our Postcard Collection:
And there might even be tips on how to present yourself when you present your valentine!
Have we convinced you yet? What if we mention that there will be chocolate and candy?
As an intern in the University Archives, I determined to find a recipe from among the University Archives collections for my Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen post. I settled on one from a cookbook in the Law Dames records. The Duke Law Dames was a social and service organization in the 1950s-1970s made up of primarily law student wives, but it was also open to women law students and wives of faculty and alumni. The group helped new members settle into the Durham area and offered social and educational events such as lectures, cooking demonstrations, and parties. As the spouse of a Duke graduate student, I identified with the Law Dames’ aims to welcome new arrivals and provide a community of support (although no group cookbooks or fashion shows for me).
Culinary Casebook was published in 1972. The cover (clever artwork!) is worn and has a few stains, and there are pencil marks within: page numbers written in the title page, checkmarks next to some some of recipes. I think this book was well-loved and well-used. It includes front matter about ingredient substitutions, meal planning, herb, meat and sea food guides, and some diet and nutritional information. Reminding me of an almanac, there is also a section of miscellany: symptoms and prevention of common illnesses, first aid tips, planting charts, Bible verses, how to determine the date of Easter. Why can’t I find that in today’s cookbooks?
As a vegetarian, my selection was somewhat limited but I still had a hard time deciding which recipe to try. The successful Velveeta Corn Ring from an earlier post made me more bold and adventurous than I might have otherwise been, and I settled on something that sounded a bit strange and piqued my curiosity: Tomato Soup Cake.
Tomato Soup Cake
1 can tomato soup
¼ c. cream
Dissolve soda in soup and let stand a few minutes. Take another bowl and put in:
1 c. sugar
1 heaping Tbsp. Spry
1 pinch salt
Mix well, then add both mixtures together, then add:
2 c. cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
(Sift twice before adding.) Mix well and add:
½ c. raisins, floured
1 tsp. lemon extract
Bake 1 hour in slow oven in bread pan 9x5x2 ½ inches deep – 10 minutes at 350 degrees, 50 minutes at 325 degrees.
I’m not a method historical cook, so I resorted to using my stand mixer. More power to you though if you want to use the old-fashioned bowl and spoon. The recipe does not specify if the tomato soup should be condensed or not but since condensed tomato soup is the most ubiquitous that’s what I used, reasoning I could always add a can of water later if the batter looked too dry. It came out perfectly though with just the condensed soup.
I come from a “pop” not a “soda” kind of family, but my first reaction was to think there was some kind of carbonated beverage in the bread. The recipe is, of course, referring to baking soda. As anyone with some knowledge of chemistry might have guessed, when I stirred the baking soda into the soup it reacted to create a nice, fluffy, fizzy kind of mixture. I’m not much of a chemist, so this surprised me!
I hadn’t heard of Spry before. A quick Google search told me it was a brand of vegetable shortening, so I substituted Crisco. Interestingly Spry’s popularity waned after the 1950s, which makes me wonder if the recipe originated at least twenty years before its publication in the Law Dames cookbook. A little online browsing reveals a general consensus that tomato soup cake originated in the early twentieth century prior to World War II.
I didn’t have cake flour on hand and couldn’t find it on my grocery trip, so I found a substitution: for each cup, use all-purpose flour and replace two tablespoons of it with cornstarch.
I assumed that the cloves called for were ground cloves. I also forgot to sift together the powdered ingredients. So much for reading the recipe beforehand! Actually I had, but I was too caught up in the drama coming together in my mixing bowl.
I put the batter in a greased 8.5 inch pan and baked for an hour as instructed. I ended up leaving it in for an additional fifteen minutes, but chalk it up to the peculiarities of my oven. The smell of cinnamon and cloves reminded me of pumpkin bread or some other kind of spicy, wintry baked deliciousness. Very appropriate for these chilly January days.
The cake emerged looking and smelling more like a quick bread than a cake to me; I’m not entirely sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be or if it’s because I used all-purpose flour. Either way, it was delicious. The mild, faintly tart flavor mixed well with the raisins and spices. Warmed up with a bit of butter, it made a great breakfast, snack, or dessert. I would give it five stars!
When considering historical recipes, perhaps most people think of time measured in centuries, not decades – I know I do. Yet the pace of change can be very fast; it’s interesting to note what has changed and what has not in forty years. Assumptions about common knowledge or available ingredients shift over time, and something that sounds normal at one time seems strange at another – I didn’t know what to expect from tomato soup cake. But the Law Dame who submitted this recipe knew what she was doing! Here’s to trying something (old?) new
Post contributed by Jamie Burns, Isobel Craven Drill Intern, University Archives
Do you remember what you were doing at the end of November in 1980? Ronald Reagan had just been elected, and the Iran Hostage Crisis entered its second year. Kenny Rogers’s timeless serenade “Lady” topped the charts. Audiences were reeling from finding out who shot J.R. And on November 29, 1980, Mike Krzyzewski entered Cameron Indoor Stadium to coach the Blue Devils during their first match up of the season. It was also his first game at Duke as the new head coach.
Their opponents were the Stetson University Hatters, and the first half was a little shaky for both teams. But in the second half the Blue Devils, who included Gene Banks and Kenny Dennard, pulled away for a definitive 67-49 win, thanks to Tom Emma’s shooting. The new coach deemed the game “a good opener,” but suggested that they would need to fill out the team’s ranks in the years to come.
He wasn’t yet Coach K, and the pronunciation of his name wasn’t common knowledge. The court itself wasn’t named for him, and there was no Krzyzewskiville. But it was the first step toward a legendary program, now with an astonishing 926 wins at Duke. Add those to 73 previous wins at Army, and Krzyzewski now stands at 999 career wins.
The next men’s basketball game, on Sunday against St. John’s in Madison Square Garden, may be Mike Krzyzewski’s 1000th career win. He will no doubt be crouched on the sidelines, just as he is in this very first Duke outing, leading his team to yet another victory.
Post Contributed by Val Gillispie, University Archivist
There was so much eating to be done, but Duke people are very determined people.
Here’s Rubenstein librarian Elizabeth Dunn serving Soldier 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.”
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…..).
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!
We 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!
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.