Move Diary: Week 6

Dear readers, take note: it’s now the end of Week Five of the move, and we’re pretty sure we’re all going to have massive and amazing biceps come Winter Break.

This is because our manuscript collections are taking up residence in our new compact shelving. This kind of shelving moves on rails, so the shelves can slide together (in a safe and controlled way) or be cranked apart to access the shelves’ contents.  Here’s a video of Kat Stefko, our Head of Technical Services, demonstrating how they work.

So we’ll be cranking these shelves, filled with boxes of manuscripts, open and closed several times each day, to retrieve materials for patrons, to find materials to answer reference questions, to reshelve things, to pull materials for class visits . . . .

We hereby promise that we will not challenge any visiting researchers to arm wrestle. Unless they want to.

Onto other things! We have—and we really can’t believe this—ONE WEEK until we reopen. Over the course of the week, several things have been checked off the reopening “to do” list, and many more are on their way to being completed.

Our talented exhibits staff worked on the installation of one of our opening exhibits, “Languages of Anatomy: From Vesalius to the Digital Age,” which will be on display in the Chappell Family Gallery and features materials from our History of Medicine Collections.

Photo by Amy McDonald.

Display case showing 3-D printed prosthetic hand made by DukeMakers.
Display case showing 3-D printed prosthetic hand made by DukeMakers. Photo by Amy McDonald.

Books were returned to the refurbished bookcases in the beloved Biddle Rare Book Room.

Books being shelved in the Biddle Rare Book Room.
Photo by Amy McDonald.

And we finished moving our flat files (an enormous amount of work) and started moving historical medical instruments from the History of Medicine Collections, as well as our early manuscripts.

Moving HOM's medical instruments.
Moving HOM’s medical instruments. Photo by Rachel Ingold.


Moving HOM's medical instruments.
Moving HOM’s medical instruments. Photo by Rachel Ingold.

In the photo above, the long box at the right holds HOM’s late 16th or 17th century amputating saw. Here’s what it looks like out of the box, in case you’re curious:

Amputating saw from the History of Medicine Collections.

What else did we do? We practiced our teamwork by forming a bucket brigade to shelve manuscript collections.

University Archives staff bucket brigade!
University Archives staff bucket brigade! Photo by Amy McDonald.

We discovered, to our dismay, that we are not the most interesting people in the Rubenstein.

The Most Interesting Man in the Rubenstein
He is SO INTERESTING. Photo by Tracy Jackson.

And we found new challenges to test our librarian skills. This one is called “can we get all of the foam book rests to the new reading room in one trip?” (We did.)

Moving book rests.
Photo by Amy McDonald.

Look at these empty stacks in our temporary 3rd floor space! August 24th, here we come!

Empty stacks YAY!
Photo by Meghan Lyon.


Duke Alumni Reception at NC Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

Date: Monday, August 17, 2015
Time: 6:00-8:00 PM
Location: The Carolina Theatre of Durham (309 West Morgan St., Durham, NC 27701)
Contact: Tori Crowley, 919-681-1940 or Laura Micham,

Logo for "Queering Duke History" exhibit.Attending the North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival? Please make plans to attend this inaugural reception hosted by the Duke Heritage Society and the Office of Gift Planning!

Gather with friends and learn about a few of the ways that Duke is active with and supportive of its LGBTQ student and alumni community:

  • Bernadette Brown, the new director of Duke’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, will be introduced.
  • Kristen Brown Smalley of the Office of Gift Planning will share more about Duke’s activities in the LGBTQ community and our growing affinity network across the country.


Move Diary: Week 5

Week 5 feels  like it’s been a big one. The stacks are filling up with manuscript boxes and books and feel less cavernous and more cozy. By the numbers it’s been a big week too.  On Tuesday we hit an important milestone: 10,000 manuscript boxes landed in their new homes in the stacks.  It’s been a good week for our books too.  We’ve moved, Library of Congress-ified, and shelved nearly all 4,000 of our folios and all 20,000 duodecimos; octavos and quartos are next on our list.  Some new formats started moving this week as well: 100 drawers worth of oversize flat files moved and about half or our papyrus collection made the journey too.

We also want to invite everyone to our open house on September 10th!  You’ll have a chance to tour the new spaces and exhibits, meet and mingle with library staff, and learnhow the Rubenstein Library can support your research.  Check out the details here.


Archival collections back from offsite and awaiting their new homes. Photo by Tracy Jackson.
Photo by Meghan Lyon
Photo by Meghan Lyon
Sums up the Rubenstein move pretty well. Photo by Meghan Lyon.
Sums up the Rubenstein move pretty well. Photo by Meghan Lyon.
New exhibit on Duke University history!
New exhibit on Duke University history!
Exhibit cases have been installed in the Rare Book Room.
Exhibit cases have been installed in the Rare Book Room.
Henry's been on the job in Conservation Services for five days and he is already on Rubenstein Library move duty. Here is he helping move the papyri.
Henry’s been on the job in Conservation Services for five days and he is already on Rubenstein Library move duty. Here is he helping move the papyri.
gym 1 - kelly
From The Book of the Home. Photo by Kelly Wooten.
Some of those big flat files. Photo by Meghan Lyon.
Some of those big flat files. Photo by Meghan Lyon.
Inlaid leather cover on Slapstick and Dumbbell : a Casual Survey of Clowns and Clowning.
Inlaid leather cover on Slapstick and Dumbbell : A Casual Survey of Clowns and Clowning.

‘Til next week!

Profiles in Research: Dr. Jaime Cantrell on Southern Lesbian Literature

My current book project, Southern Sapphisms: Sexuality and Sociality in Literary Productions 1969-1997, considers how queer and feminist theories illuminate and complicate the intersections between canonical and obscure, queer and normative, and regional and national narratives in southern literary representations produced during a crucial but understudied period in the historical politicization of sexuality. The advent of New Southern Studies has focused almost exclusively on midcentury texts from the Southern Renascence, largely neglecting post-1970 queer literatures. At the same time, most scholarship in women’s and feminist studies continue to ignore the South, or worse, demonize the South as backward, parochial, and deeply homophobic. Southern Sapphisms argues that we cannot understand expressions of lesbianism and feminism in post-Stonewall era American literature without also understanding the explicitly southern dynamics of those writings—foregrounding the centrality of sexuality to the study of southern literature as well as the region’s defining role in the historiography of lesbian literature in the United States.

Vital archival work completed at the Sallie Bingham Center this past May strengthened my arguments about the formations of lesbian identity and community in the North Carolina lesbian-feminist journal Feminary (1969-1982). Feminary has been lauded by one scholar as “the source and backbone of contemporary Southern lesbian feminist theory,” due in part to the forum it provided for southern lesbians to voice their inimitable outlooks on race, regionality, and social justice[i]. At a local level, Feminary forged and grounded a community of Durham/Triangle feminists, lesbians, and women writing and printing as a collective. At a national level, I show how the women of this journal were actually inspired by the increasingly turbulent battles over civil rights in the South. This revelation upends prevailing notions that the Stonewall riots in New York were the watershed that changed lesbian and gay politics and culture in the nation. My work on Feminary recasts dominant national narratives about queer lives, histories, and activism in the region by illustrating how lesbian feminist politics gained their inspiration and momentum not only from Stonewall, but also from the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and massive resistance against civil rights and gay and lesbian rights in the South. Access to rare archival documents—only available at Duke University’s Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library—prove that Second Wave feminism and modern lesbian politics have extensive southern roots. To ignore the distinctly regional dynamics of those roots is to misunderstand the complexity of those movements across the nation and beyond.

eminary collective (left to right, top to bottom row): Helen Langa, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Eleanor Holland, Cris South, and Mab Segrest. Photo by Elena Freedom, 1982. From the Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers.
Feminary collective (left to right, top to bottom row): Helen Langa, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Eleanor Holland, Cris South, and Mab Segrest. Photo by Elena Freedom, 1982. From the Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers.

I am grateful for the support of the Mary Lily Research Grant, which enabled my research at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. I was able to consult materials from the Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers and the Dorothy Allison Papers, and was honored and humbled to use the Mab Segrest Papers.

Continue reading Profiles in Research: Dr. Jaime Cantrell on Southern Lesbian Literature

Move Diary: Week 4

Today marks the end of week 4 of the move, which included us passing the move’s halfway point!

The Rubenstein staff and the team of movers we’ve contracted have been sorting print materials into LC order as they move to their new, permanent homes. From the tiniest 12vos to behemoth folios, thousands of books are now on the new shelves.

One of the highlights of the move is getting to see such a large swath of our collections at once. From books that carry history in their margins to those with covers that are just plain pretty, it’s stunning to see the range and depth of our print collection passed in front of us day in and day out.

Here are some highlights from team #movenstein this week:

photographic history - meghan
Photo by Meghan Lyon
chafing dish - meghan
A prize find- photo by Meghan Lyon
dragon cover - kelly
All the pretty dragons, photo by Kelly Wooten
woman man's equal - tracy
Photo by Tracy Jackson
plant history
Plant history from 1644, photo by Katrina Martin


Manuscripts from all of our collecting areas are making their way onto the shelves, too. The Aleph Dream Team has been busy sorting boxes and flipping call numbers as the boxes move.

manuscripts - katrina
Katrina and The Boxes
farrell tracy
Tracy Jackson and Matthew Farrel troubleshoot some finicky shelves

The stacks aren’t the only place that saw some updates this week. The Gothic Reading Room is now outfitted with its tables and chairs. We can’t wait for August 24th when this place is full of researchers enjoying the new space. reading room

Until next week!

Onè! Respè! (Honor! Respect!)

The Radio Haiti archive project is underway! We’ve spent the first couple weeks creating a behemoth database…

rh database

…assigning each and every tape a unique ID number, and putting the tapes in nice new comfortable bar-coded boxes. This means that an archive which arrived looking like this…

Rh bins.png
Radio Haiti boxes arrive in North Carolina after a long voyage

… now, happily, looks like this.

rh craig.png
AV archivist Craig Breaden with some newly-boxed Radio Haiti tapes


We are incredibly fortunate that the former Radio Haiti staff and friends and family in Port-au-Prince (you know who you are!) sent the tapes with a detailed inventory — it makes our job so much easier.

We are also inspecting the tapes for mold (and we have found mold aplenty).

rh tapes 2
¼ inch tape with mold on it
rh tapes 1
¼ inch tape with mold on it


We are also keeping track of which tapes are going to require a little extra TLC.

rh tlc tapes

We’re creating rather sweeping controlled vocabulary — describing subjects, names, and places that appear in the archive. Once we’ve put in all this metadata, we can send the more than 3500 tapes off to be cleaned and digitized.

These tasks (organizing, typing in data, cross-referencing, labeling, bar-coding, describing, mold-noting), while arguably unglamorous, are necessary groundwork for eventually making the recordings publicly accessible, ensuring that these tapes can speak again, and that Radyo Ayiti pap peri (Radio Haiti will never perish).

We’ve only listened to a small sampling of the recordings so far, but the tapes themselves, as physical objects, tell a story. Even the mold is part of the story. That white mold on the tapes and the dusty dark mildew on the tape boxes tell of the  Radio Haiti journalists’ multiple exiles during which the tapes remained in the tropics and the future of the station was uncertain.

To glance over the titles of the recordings — the labels on their spines, lined up in order, row upon row — is to chart the outline of late 20th century Haitian political history — a chronology of presidencies, coups, interventions, massacres, disappearances, and impunity. The eighty-nine tapes chronicling the Raboteau trial of 2000, in which former junta leaders were tried for the 1994 torture and massacre of civilians, take up an entire shelf.

rh trial tapes

And then there is the long, long sequence of recordings after the April 3, 2000 assassination of Jean Dominique, when the center of the station’s orbit violently and irrevocably shifted.

rh labeled tapes
It is uncanny to look at the tapes with hindsight and see the patterns emerge. Here is the political landscape of Haiti, from the 1970s to the 2000s, from dictatorship to the democratic era: The same impunity, the same lies, the same corruption, the same suffering, the same mentalities, the same machinations. Chameleons change their color, oppressors repaint their faces, state-sanctioned killings become extrajudicial killings, and the poor generally come off the worst.

The journalists who did these reports and conducted these interviews experienced these events in real time. They could not yet know the whole story because, in each of these moments, they were in the middle of it. For them, the enthusiasm of 1986 (after Duvalier fell, and Radio Haiti’s staff returned from their first exile) and of 1994 (when Aristide was reinstated, and Radio Haiti’s staff returned from their second exile) was unfettered. Likewise, for them, the struggle against impunity and injustice was urgent.

There is a recording labeled “Justice Dossier Jando Blocage 4.9.01” — “Justice Jean Dominique case blocked investigation.” Those short words contain a saga: by September 2001, a year and a half after Jean Dominique and Jean-Claude Louissaint were murdered, Radio Haiti was already reporting on how the investigation had stalled. In 2001, perhaps, justice appeared attainable, just out of reach. Now, fourteen years later, the case remains unsolved.

rh tapes closeup

Back in 2011, I attended a talk by Haitian human rights activist Jean-Claude Bajeux in Port-au-Prince, where he said, “gen anpil fantòm kap sikile nan peyi a ki pa gen stati.” (“there are many ghosts wandering through this country that have no statue”). He was speaking of those who were disappeared under the Duvalier regime. But he could have been speaking, too, of innumerable others who have died and been erased – those who were killed by the earthquake, under the military regime, through direct political violence and through the structural violence of everyday oppression.

This archive is not a statue or a monument, but it is one place where the dead speak. Sometimes the controlled vocabulary feels like an inventory of ghosts.

Sometimes I think I am working on an archive that was never meant to be archived, something that was supposed to remain an active, living struggle. I think of how far these clean cardboard storage boxes and quiet temperature-controlled spaces are from the sting of tear gas, the stickiness of blood, the smell of burning tires, the crack of gunfire, the heat and noise, the laughter and fury of Haiti.

But salvaging and preserving are part of the struggle; remembering is, itself, a political act.

Post contributed by Laura Wagner, Radio Haiti Project Archivist.

Move Diary: Week 3

We’re 1/3 of the way through the move, huzzah! Here’s a look at what week 3 brought.

Books have been getting new labels to show off their new Library of Congress call numbers:

Cataloger Lauren Reno scans books from our History of Medicine Collections. Photo by Rachel Ingold.
Cataloger Lauren Reno scans books from our History of Medicine Collections. Photo by Rachel Ingold.


We’ve been finding lots of beautiful books during the process:

Photo by Kate Collins
Photo by Kate Collins
Photo by Kelly Wooten
Photo by Kelly Wooten
Photo by Kelly Wooten
Photo by Kelly Wooten
Photo by Meghan Lyon
Photo by Meghan Lyon

As well as fun doodles in the margins:

Photo by Amy McDonald

There were some more amusing finds as well:

Photo by Meghan Lyon
Reliving the early 2000s with an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog. Photo by Meghan Lyon
Photo by Kelly Wooten
The wrong kind of sports in The Mother’s Encyclopedia, 1942. Photo by Kelly Wooten
good girls and bad girlds
Bad Girl and Good Girl in juxtaposition. Photo by Kelly Wooten.
Photo by Tracy Jackson
True Blue Soda! Photo by Tracy Jackson

Archival collections continued to fill our new shelves:

Collections from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture. Photo by Kelly Wooten.
Photo by Liz Adams
Boxes of University Archives material. Photo by Liz Adams

Our collections weren’t the only thing moving this week. Portraits of Duke presidents and other figures in Duke History moved back to the Gothic Reading Room.

Photo by Amy McDonald
Portrait of Terry Sanford leaving our temporary space for the Gothic. Photo by Amy McDonald
Horace Trumbauer, Campus Architect for East and West campus. Photo by Beth Doyle.
Horace Trumbauer, Campus Architect for East and West campus. Photo by Beth Doyle.
Photo by Val Gillispie
The Duke Family is back in the Gothic Reading Room! Photo by Val Gillispie
Photo by Val Gillispie
Last portrait being hung in the Gothic Reading Room–President Douglas Knight. Photo by Val Gillispie

We also got to see others spaces in our new home come together:

Photo by Amy McDonald
Work area for Research Services Staff. Photo by Amy McDonald
Cute little bench nook. Photo by Amy McDonald.

The Incarceration Collections at the Rubenstein: The Role of Reading and Writing in the History of Prisoners’ Rights Movements

The popular Netflix series Orange is the New Black, based on the memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman, has brought renewed attention to the conditions inside U.S. women’s prisons. While prison reform has not been contemporarily understood as a priority of the LGBTQ and feminist communities, the special collections at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, illustrate the degree to which prison reform and anti-prison activism have, since the 19th century, operated as a cornerstone of both LGBTQ and feminist movements.

 In the 19th century, charity efforts led by white middle-class feminists led to the creation of prison reform organizations such as the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) and the Gilbert Library and Prisoners’ Aid Society. These organizations advocated for separate women’s reformatories, the decriminalization of prostitution, rehabilitation programs for former inmates, and the creation and expansion of prison libraries.

These early reform efforts are reflected in the ledger and scrapbook of Linda Gilbert, the founder and president of the Gilbert Library and Prisoners’ Aid Society. The ledger details Gilbert’s fundraising efforts on behalf of the organization and the expenses it incurred from roughly 1868 to 1894, as it helped to establish libraries in institutions such as the New York House of Detention, Ludlow St. Jail, and Sing Sing Female Prison. A pamphlet included in the Linda Gilbert scrapbook speaks to the particular significance of prison libraries and literature to reformers of this period, who saw increasing literacy among prisoners and increasing access to reading material as central to their moral improvement.

Linda Gilbert account and scrapbook, 1894

 The incarceration collections held in the Rubenstein Library, however, reflect the importance of circulating periodicals to prison reform efforts more generally, and the changing role of reading and writing in prison reform movements over time. In the 1960’s and 70’s, prison libraries and education programs helped to instigate an expanding prisoners’ rights movement both within and beyond prison walls. These efforts are reflected in several women’s prison newsletters and pamphlets that were published by lesbian feminist organizations in the late 20th century, including “No More Cages” and “Through the Looking Glass,” which are held in the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance Periodicals Collection and the Women’s and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Movements (LGBTQ) Periodicals Collection, respectively.

These newsletters were the collaborative projects of lesbian feminist and anti-prison activists in the late twentieth century in the context of neo-liberal economic policies, intensifying restrictions on access to welfare, and a corresponding rise in incarceration rates. The newsletters that grew out of these coalitions often aimed their critiques at increasing restrictions on access to welfare that, while initiated by the Nixon administration, were part of a larger conservative backlash against the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 that continued through the 1990’s, making women of color, in particular, vulnerable to mass incarceration.

“Break ‘de Chains of U.S. Legalized Slavery,”  a joint publication between the Triangle Area Lesbian Feminists’ Prison Book Project and inmates at the North Carolina Correctional institute for women, documents a prison rebellion at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women in 1975 that began as a work stoppage in the prison laundry. The pamphlet not only critiques healthcare and labor conditions in the prison, but contests media accounts of the rebellion itself. Additionally, the Rubenstein Library also holds a publication from Action for Forgotten Women, a feminist organization that was also active in the Triangle in the 1970’s.

Gay and lesbian publications such as Feminary, Lesbian Tide, RFD, and Gay Community News, which frequently reported on conditions inside prisons and incidents of police brutality, gave advice to gay and lesbian readers about how to protect themselves from law enforcement, and published letters from prisoners that also circulated widely both inside and outside of prisons during this period. These publications helped to galvanize support for prisoners, and encouraged readers to understand the policing and criminalization of gender and sexual non-normativity as intersecting with the policing and criminalization of people of color, immigrants, and the poor.

More recently, zines distributed by prison books programs, anti-prison zine distros, and collectively owned bookstores and activist centers have done similar work, attempting to fill a gap left by increasingly restrictive policies and funding for prison libraries and education.

Many of the most widely circulating zines are included in the Incarceration Zine Collection, part of the Human Rights Archive, which was acquired from the Chicago Anarchist Black Cross Zine Distro. The collection spans the years from 1995 to 2007, and includes 103 zines distributed inside and outside of jails and prisons, with writing by notable inmates and anti-prison activists, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, Ashanti Alston Omowali, David Gilbert and his son, Chesa Boudin, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Dennis Kyne, Anthony Rayson, Bobby Sands, Sean Swain, and Harold H. Thompson. Zines related specifically to the concerns of women and LGBTQ people, including The Invisibility of Women Prisoners’ Resistance, Reaching through the Bars, Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison, and Queers Bash Back can be found in the Bingham Center Women’s Zine Collection.

The Incarceration Zine Collection

These resources offer researchers insight into the dialogue amongst prison reformers and anti-prison activists both inside and outside of prison, and into the particular role of reading and writing in the expansion of prison reform and prisoners’ rights movements.

Submitted by – Jennifer Ansley, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow, Thompson Writing Program,

ABC’s of John Hope Franklin (P) – President’s Initiative on Race

In June 1997, President Bill Clinton announced the creation of “One America in the 21st Century: The President’s Initiative on Race,” a 15-month initiative that was established to encourage community dialogue on race relations in the United States. Through the development of guidelines to promote national dialogue, the Board hoped to bridge racial divides and calm tensions, increase understanding about racial issues, and develop concrete solutions to racial challenges.

One America Pamphlet
One America Pamphlet

John Hope Franklin was appointed Chairman of the seven member advisory board whose members included: William F. Winter (former Democratic Governor of Mississippi), Linda Chavez-Thompson (Executive Vice-President, AFL-CIO), Robert Thomas (President and CEO of Nissan Motor Corporation, USA), Angela E. Oh (attorney), Susan D. Johnson Cook (Senior Pastor, Bronx Christian Fellowship), and Thomas H. Kean (former Republican Governor of New Jersey).

John Hope Franklin's annotated meeting agenda.
John Hope Franklin’s annotated meeting agenda.

The President’s Advisory Board on Race faced intense public scrutiny and was widely criticized by civil rights activists, who felt that the Board did not have a tangible end goal, and could not adequately represent the interests of the entire population on race matters. Critics also felt that dialogue was not sufficient for addressing serious race related problems in the United States.

In spite of the negative press the initiative endured, Franklin felt the work of the board was a  much needed step in having a national conversation on race.

This series is a part of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin@100: Scholar, Activist, Citizen year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin

Submitted by Gloria Ayee, Franklin Research Center Intern

Move Diary: Week 2

Week 2 is wrapping up and we are all counting down to our first (but definitely not last) Rubenstein Move Happy Hour this evening!

What have we been up to this week? Well . . . .

First things first, literally. Here’s a video of Kat Stefko, Head of Technical Services, placing the very first archival box in our new stacks.

The shelves have started to fill up pretty quickly over the course of the week. And then it’s Technical Services’s turn to update the location information in our catalog.

Updating. And more updating.
Photo by Tracy Jackson.

We have found a couple of ways to keep ourselves motivated.

NUMBER ONE: So. Much. Candy.

So. Much. Candy.
Photo by Megan O’Connell.

Of course, we wash our hands carefully before we handle books or archival materials.

NUMBER TWO: Pieces of flair for our move aprons.

Move apron flair
Photo by Matthew Farrell.

Made with the Duke Libraries’ very own button maker! (And thanks to our student worker Elizabeth George for making these excellent buttons!)

Our move brain trust, led by indefatigable move coordinator Liz Adams, keeps us all on task.

Move Brain Trust
Photo by Amy McDonald.

Nooooooo, bad shark! Don’t eat the rare books!

Book Truck Shark
Photo by Meghan Lyon.

Seriously, this place is pretty cool and shiny. We can’t wait for everyone to come and visit in August!

Stacks as far as the eye can see....

Stop back next Friday for more photos!

Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University