The Occasionally Recorded Happenings in the Business and Social Life of Irene Sickel Sims, 1916-1917

In the AMC hit television series Mad Men, Peggy Olson begins her career in advertising as an executive assistant whose skills and conviction enable her to become the first woman copywriter at the firm. Throughout the series, she is portrayed as a burgeoning second-wave feminist whose work ethic and determination enable her to succeed in a male-dominated industry. Although fictional, Olson’s story reflects the experiences of real women who worked on Madison Avenue in the post-WWII period. These mid-century professionals were but one generation of pathbreaking women in advertising. Unbeknownst to many viewers, women had their start in advertising long before Beatlemania hit the U.S. or the mini-skirt was in vogue. In fact, their integral contributions date back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

In Frances E. Willard’s Occupations for Women (1897), the author dedicates an entire chapter to the integral role of women in advertising. Willard notes that women

are becoming advertising agents, taking the position in establishments in charge of the advertising department, and above all, are finding large remuneration in writing special advertisements for manufacturing firms […] So clever have women proven themselves in this special line, that hardly a manufacturer having goods toward which he wishes to attract attention, fails to avail himself of their ability. (149)

Irene Sickel Sims was one such pioneering woman. She worked as an assistant advertising manager and chief of copy for the retail advertising bureau of Marshall Field’s Department Store in Chicago. She kept a diary (1916-1917), the front page of which is inscribed with her playful handwriting, “This Then Commences the Occasionally Recorded Happenings in the Business and Social Life of Irene Sickel Sims.” The diary, written 100 years ago, details her work relationships and her day-to-day activities at the bureau, which ranged from business lunches to professional conferences. Many of her entries detail her professional relationships with men, marked by daily encounters, some of which she found frustrating and some of which inspired and motivated her.

Black and White Photograph of Exterior of Marshall Field's Chicago Store
Marshall Field’s Chicago Store, c. 1907, Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection, Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. https://www.loc.gov/item/det1994015806/PP/.

As she built her reputation in the company, her colleagues regularly sought out her expertise. In August of 1916, for example, a young male co-worker came to her for help with ad revisions. She recorded the interaction in her diary:

R.V.T wrote me Saturday: “Mrs. Sims: You know so well the ways of grammar and the by-paths the trails of rhetoric. Won’t you answer this for a poor section top?” appending a criticism received on one of their signs. I decided then I’d rather have a note like that – I’d rather have all the young men in the dept. coming to me for adv. counsel and criticism than have the best of surreptition loves.

For Sims, experiencing success at work was more exciting than the thrills associated with a secret love affair popularized in literature in film at that time. She found pleasure in her career and thrived off of her abilities to mentor her colleagues, male and female alike. Sims was so successful at Marshall Field’s that other companies regularly recruited her, enticing her to join their advertising departments with formidable offers.

Photograph of two interior pages of Irene Sickel Sims's handwritten diary
Irene Sickel Sims Diary, 1916-1917, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Sims was one of many pathbreaking women to enter into the field of advertising in roles beyond that of a typist or executive assistant. Yet, the majority of employees in executive roles remained white men. It was not until the post-WWII period that significant numbers of women and people of color began taking on positions as ad executives.

You can learn more about Sims and her contemporaries via the Agencies Prefer Men! The Women of Madison Avenue exhibit, opening November 15, 2016 in the Mary Duke Biddle Room at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Post contributed by Ashley Rose Young, a Ph.D. candidate in History at Duke University and the Business History Graduate Intern at the Hartman Center.

Screamfest IV: Stranger Things at the Rubenstein

0001Date: Monday, October 31, 2016
Time: 2:00-4:00 PM
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room
Facebook Event Page

What things hide behind the Rubenstein Library’s walls?

This Halloween explore the library’s creepiest and most macabre items during our special open house. We’ll display tales of witchcraft, monsters, investigations of the paranormal, and more terrors from the Rubenstein Library’s collections.

This event is free and open to the living, the dead, and visitors from parallel dimensions.  There will be candy. Lots and lots of candy.

Lecture: The History and Legacy of Ivory Anatomical Manikins

Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Rubenstein Library Room 153 (Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room)

Cali Buckley
Cali Buckley

Join the Trent History of Medicine Lecture Series for our next lecture by Cali Buckley on “The History and Legacy of Ivory Anatomical Manikins.” Ivory anatomical models comprise a little-known set of objects that were popular with male doctors of the late 17th- and 18th-centuries. Their narrative is currently being revised in light of a history of questionable assumptions. Though small and largely inaccurate, the story of anatomical manikins reveals how the politics of medicine impresses meaning on medical objects – often transcending the needs of the scientific community. Ms. Buckley will present on her current hypotheses as well as the process by which medical objects can be examined according to social history, connoisseurship, and material culture.

Cali Buckley is a Ph.D. candidate in art history at Penn State University. She received a Fulbright U.S. Student Award that allowed her to spend the 2015–16 academic year in Germany working on her dissertation, “Early Modern Anatomical Models and the Control of Women’s Medicine.”

The talk will be held in the Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153, of the Rubenstein Library at Duke University. All are welcome to attend.  Sponsored by the History of Medicine Collections.

Movers and Shakers: Robin Morgan and Ms. Magazine

wonder-womanDate: Thursday, October 20
Time: 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Location: Breedlove Conference Room, 349 Rubenstein Library
Optional Facebook RSVP

Please join us for a conversation with Linda Lumsden, associate professor at the University of Arizona School of Journalism, about her research project, The Ms. Makeover: The survival, evolution, and cultural significance of the venerable feminist magazine. Dr. Lumsden received a Mary Lily Research Grant recipient to conduct research at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History.

Light refreshments will be served.

Uncovering Women’s History at Duke: A Scholars’ Brownbag with Hayley Farless and Elizabeth George

Date: Thursday, October 27, 2016
Time: 12:00-1:30 PM
Location: Rubenstein 249 (Carpenter Conference Room)
RSVP via Facebook (optional)

Five Women at Duke University, 1976. From the University Archives Photograph Collection.
Five Women at Duke University, 1976. From the University Archives Photograph Collection. (View on Flickr.)

Join two Duke undergraduate researchers from the Duke History Revisited program as they share their discoveries about women’s past experiences at Duke University.

Hayley Farless, ’17, will share highlights from her project “Right to Access: A History of the Duke University Abortion Loan Fund.” Elizabeth George, ’17 (and Rubenstein Library student worker), will share highlights from her project “Success of the Second Sex: Duke University’s Demonstrated Efforts to Empower Women.”

Please bring your own lunch; drinks and cookies will be provided.

This talk is sponsored by Duke University Archives and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

Duke History Revisited was sponsored by a grant from Humanities Writ Large, with additional funding from the Dean of the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

The Struggle Continues: A Dialogue with SNCC Veterans

The Struggle Continues: A Dialogue with SNCC Veterans

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2016

Location: The Forum for Scholars and Publics (Old Chem 011)

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Light lunch served beginning at 11:45

Top to bottom: Judy Richardson, Charlie Cobb, Maria Varela
Top to bottom: Judy Richardson, Charlie Cobb, Maria Varela

Please join us for a conversation with three veterans of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as they discuss their work after SNCC and the southern freedom movement. Charles Cobb, journalist (founder of National Association of Black Journalists) and author (This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible), Judy Richardson, filmmaker (Eyes on the Prize) and author (Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC) and Maria Varela, photographer, community organizer and MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow, will reflect on how their experiences in SNCC impacted the choices they made with the rest of their lives. From opening the Drum and Spear bookstore and the Center for Black Education in Washington, D.C. to organizing with Latino and native resistance groups in the Southwest, the panel will look at how the worldview and approach they learned in SNCC infused itself into their later work and continues to do so today. The discussion will be moderated by John Gartrell of the John Hope Franklin Research Center at Duke’s Rubenstein Library.

This program is presented in partnership with the SNCC Digital Gateway Project. The SNCC Digital Gateway is a collaborative project of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Legacy Project (SLP) and Duke University that tells the story of SNCC from the perspective of the activists, themselves. It is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and builds off of the pilot website of the SLP-Duke collaboration, One Person, One Vote: The Legacy of SNCC and the Fight for Voting Rights (http://onevotesncc.org). The forthcoming website, SNCC Digital Gateway: Learn From the Past, Organize for the Future, Make Democracy Work (https://snccdigital.org) tells the story of how young SNCC activists united with local communities in the Deep South during the 1960s to take control of their political and economic lives. In it, SNCC veterans, historians of the Movement, archivists, and students weave together grassroots stories, digitized primary source materials held at repositories across the country, and new multi-media productions to bring this history to life for a new generation.

On Radio Haiti, the Drum Never Stops Beating

It was Radio Haiti’s eighty-first birthday a few days ago.  The station was founded on 17 September 1935 by Ricardo Widmaïer, and later, under Jean Dominique’s leadership, Radio Haïti-Inter continued to commemorate that anniversary.  On 17 September 1991, they did a special broadcast celebrating fifty-six years of Radio Haiti. It is a beautiful, moving, and enchanting program.  They dove into their own archives, revisiting some of their most memorable broadcasts.  And Jean Dominique, always the interviewer of others, at last became the interviewee.  Michèle Montas asked him about Vodou, the Haitian Creole language, pale andaki (speaking in veiled or covert ways) the 1973 kidnapping of American ambassador Clinton Knox, and resistance to Duvalierism and dictatorship.  At the end of the program, Jean took back the microphone to pay surprise tribute to Michèle.  He gave credit to the fanm vayan (courageous woman) who shared the struggle, knew how to fouye zo l nan kalalou (investigate, dig deep), ran the newsroom and trained Radio Haiti’s journalists.  That less than two weeks after this broadcast, Haiti’s democratically-elected government was overthrown in a military coup makes the program all the more poignant: Radio Haiti was hurtling toward another long exile.

Today, we have translated a portion of the 17 September 1991 broadcast from Haitian Creole into English. In an earlier broadcast, he referred to the Italian adage “traduttore, traditore” – “translator, traitor” – to describe the perils and impossibility of translating Haitian Creole to French. Translating Haitian Creole to English, too, was an exciting challenge, made all the more exciting because the original words were spoken by an uncommonly gifted and playful wordsmith with an uncommonly expressive voice.

With that caveat, we present Jean Dominique:

Before I did radio – don’t forget, I’m an agronomist – I spent a lot of time in the field, since as an agronomist, as an agronomy student, I spent a lot of time in the Artibonite when I finished my studies I went to work as an agronomist in Quartier Morin, in the Plaine du Nord, in Plaine Bayeux, where I spent time face-to-face with Vodou, with peasants who served the lwa, with oungan [Vodou priests], with manbo [Vodou priestesses].

Since I also had books to read, I read them, I learned from them.  And after I finished studying agronomy I spent two years in the School of Ethnology (which later became the Institute of Ethnology, but at the time it was the School of Ethnology), where I met a whole bunch of professors who showed me the way.  I came to know the way, so I could find what I was searching for.  And when I began to work in radio, radio could let people hear Vodou songs for the spirits, to hear rasin songs, to hear the beats of the drum.  That too is an important thing. But this also presented a big problem because Duvalier used Vodou, too.  The problem was that many people who were opposed to Duvalier thought that all of Vodou was tied to Duvalier.  Likewise, anyone who spoke about Vodou was suspected of being pro-Duvalier.  So I had to be very careful.  Yet again l’oncle, Jean Price-Mars, helped me to be very careful.  And the fellow we just heard there, Maître Pierre, and another of my spiritual fathers named Aristène.  Aristène Jecrois. They both greatly helped me to understand.  And another of my fathers, a father from the Northwest… Hmm!  That’s another story. A patriarch, a patriarch from the Northwest.  He came one day to the station, and I was testing the waters for my usual little afternoon program, and from time to time I’d put on a little music.  And one day he showed up at the station to see me, and he told me, “I had a dream about you.”

And he described the dream to me, and then he said, “There are things you understand, and there are others you do not understand.  I understand what you don’t understand.  And I understand why you don’t understand it.”  Hmm!  And he told me.  And it was he who put me on the path.  It was he who told me, “Jean, under the American occupation, we spoke of everything in the peristil (Vodou temple).”  They would speak those words, and the Americans were there, within the peristil, but they didn’t understand anything at all.  And so the word spread.  It was he who told me of Charlemagne Péralte [who led an armed resistance to the US occupation] .  It was he who told me of Benoît Batraville.  It was he who told me of the Cacos.  It was he who told me of the role of Vodou in the resistance.  It was he who explained that this tradition began waaaay back, long long ago, from the time of Boukman, from the time of Biassou.  Those words, [historian Thomas] Madiou didn’t write them, [François] Dalencourt didn’t write them, but those words were passed along through song.

Likewise, I came to understand something important that dialectical philosophy could show me, but that the blan could never understand: what we call the Haitian people’s strategy of mawonaj.  The dialectic of mawonaj. The dialectic of everything having two faces, two sides. Heads and tails. Everything on the blessed earth has two sides to it.  There are two sides.  Duvalier took one side, but there is another side he didn’t take.  He couldn’t take it.

And so it was, when an oungan was taking me through his lakou, he was showing me his lakou.  And when they saw that I wasn’t an enemy, when they saw that I all I wanted was to learn – I didn’t make any trouble – they taught me.  And I learned that there were some altars that were sealed shut.

“Oh-oh!” I said, “Papa, why are these altars sealed?”

“Mm-mm. I’ll tell you another time.”

Another altar was sealed.  I said again, “Oh, papa, why are these altars sealed?”

Now remember, this was in ‘73, ‘74, we were under Jean-Claude Duvalier.  When I got home, I kept thinking about what he had said, I got in my car, I came back, and I asked again.  “Why are these altars sealed off? I know there is a spirit, some meaning behind it.”

Eventually, one day, the patriarch told me, “I’ll tell you why those altars are sealed off. In 1957, when the devils took over the country, a great many of the Ginen spirits returned to Africa. They turned their back on the country.  They left the country for the devils.”

I said, “Oh!”  I said, “Papa, those are serious words you’re telling me!”

He said, “They are serious words, my child.  That’s why the altars are shut.”

I said, “So, they’ve abandoned us!  They’ve left us helpless!”

He said, “No, my child.  The day the Ginen spirits return, that means the time has come. The time has come.”

So, since I’ve been traveling deep, deep into the countryside, I’ve come to realize that there is a force in the Haitian people. The word “no” cannot cross their lips — but that’s not what’s going on in their hearts. They bow their heads when someone says “Bow your head!” It looks like they’re bowing their heads, but in their hearts they’re not. And they’re waiting for the day to come.  They’re waiting for the moment to come, when they can say, “No!”  When they will raise their heads again. That is what I learned within the peristil. That is what I learned Vodou held.

And then came a day, then came a day (I don’t remember whether it was in ‘72 to ‘73), I said to someone who was close to me, “Oh, I’m going to take a little trip, I’m going to go up to Ville Bonheur, to the annual July pilgrimage, when they celebrate the festival of Saut d’Eau.”  So I went, like any tourist, like any citizen, like anyone else from Port-au-Prince, who goes to watch and have fun!  When I got there, that fateful July at Saut d’Eau, I started moving through the crowd:  people, people, people, people, people everywhere!  I got to the front of the church, cassette in hand, I started to record, and there I discovered a great truth.  That truth…! I realized — and I said all of this on the radio in a report that caused an uproar at the time, because it was the first time that listeners had heard such things.  And we were under Jean-Claude Duvalier, we were under [high-ranking Macoutes like] Luc Désir, Jean Valmé, Luckner Cambronne, and company!  We were under the tigers!  The people opened their arms in front of the pilgrimage site, they looked toward the church, and they described their misery.  They described their oppression, how the life was squeezed out of them [peze-souse].  They described how everything was being destroyed [kraze-brize].  They spelled it all out. They described it in a litany, for hours. For days. And when I arrived under the palm tree — you know? You go past the church, go straight down, and there’s the palm tree where they say Emperor Faustin saw the apparition.  When I arrived under the palm tree, I heard something else: “Those who do evil cannot set foot in Saut d’Eau.”  Big words!  When you got up to the water, they said the same thing.  I said, “Hmm! Listen to what the people are saying.  The people are using the spirits to reveal their enemies.” That is what I meant at that time [in that report].

I feel the same thing in the drumbeats that echo throughout the country.  Sure, Macoutes could use the drum, too. To make a show, to intimidate people. But there is another kind of drumbeat: boom.  And that beat, Haitians of courage will understand it. Haitians who are ready to fight will understand it.  That is the drumbeat that sounded at Bocozelle [where peasant farmers rose up against landowners].  That is the truth I came to see — implicitly! secretly! — but I came to see it nonetheless.  And when I saw it, I held onto it!  I held tight!  And it revitalized me. It let me understand that my people are a people of courage.  Days came and went — February 7, 1986 was about to be set in motion.  That is the quest that Vodou taught me.

I’m not saying “go practice Vodou, sprinkle water for the spirits” — no.  That’s not the question, no, that’s not it.  It’s that strength, that capacity for resistance that I found within the peristil.  And I found it again, later, in the ti legliz [Catholic churches preaching liberation theology].  The current was always there… heheh.  The current was flowing, the current knows nothing of the borders between the Vodou peristil and the church of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost — no! The current doesn’t know anything about those kinds of borders.  Wherever it finds an outlet, it gushes out!  Like hot water ready to boil!  It finds an outlet under a mapou tree, it gushes out!  It finds an outlet under layers of rock, it gushes out!  It doesn’t choose. It pushes ahead. And that is what I discovered at Saut d’Eau, Ville Bonheur.  That’s what I discovered in the Artibonite, that it what I came to understand, deep in the countryside, from Aristène Jecrois: one day, the Ginen spirits are going to come back, they’re coming to purge the country and drive the devils out, so that the brave people can rebuild their home.  That’s the message contained in the songs.  That’s the message contained each beat of the drum.  And that is why, on Radio Haiti, the drum never stops beating.

jeanmichele
Jean Dominique and Michèle Montas, 17 September 1995: Celebrating 60 years of Radio Haiti and the return from a second exile.

Blog post contributed by Laura Wagner, PhD, Radio Haiti Project Archivist. Translation by Laura Wagner and Tanya Thomas.

The Voices of Change project was made possible through a generous grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities.

A Delicate Balance: Understanding the Four Humors.

During my tenure as the Research Services Graduate Intern at the Rubenstein Library, I had the great fortune of exploring the fascinating history of the four humors, a topic that is far afield from my doctoral research on the culinary history of New Orleans. Setting aside my copy La Cuisine Creole, I picked up a first edition of Henry Peacham’s Minerva Britanna (1612) and paged through whimsical woodcuts that featured long swordsmen, lions, and laurelled lutenists. Although New Orleans’ history is bedazzled by myth, that of the four humors seems surreal, emerging out of a world occupied by dragons and vengeful gods. What resulted from my foray into this cosmos is a new exhibit in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room, entitled, “A Delicate Balance: Understanding the Four Humors.”

photo of "A Delicate Balance" exhibit
A Delicate Balance: Understanding the Four Humors, Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Photo credit: Ashley Rose Young.

The four humors were a means of analyzing a person’s disposition as well as her physical, mental, and emotional health. Within this belief system, every person had a unique humoral composition that shaped her behavior, appearance, and interactions with the broader world. Visualized as bodily fluids whose levels were constantly in flux, Hippocrates named the four humors black bile, phlegm, yellow bile, and blood. Each humor was paired with one of the four elements of earth, water, fire, and air and was assigned qualities of cold, moist, dry, and hot. Their influence on the body changed with external factors like the time of day, the season of the year, and the age of a person.

The origins of this medical philosophy and practice are attributed to the Indian Ayurveda system of medicine as well as ancient Greek, Roman, and Islamic physicians. This holistic approach to human health was pervasive in the Medieval and Early Modern periods and remained a common means of assessing and treating the human body until major advancements transformed medical practices in the mid-nineteenth century.

Prior to these innovations, medical practitioners sought to help ailing patients by restoring the delicate balance of the humors and did so through techniques such as bloodletting and herbal remedies. The new exhibit features a bloodletting fleam that a physician would have used to lance open a vein to remove excess blood from the body so as to bring equilibrium to a patient’s internal fluids. In the United States, doctors employed bloodletting through the Civil War to treat soldiers suffering from infection and fever.

Bloodletting fleam
Three-blade folding fleam with brass shield, 18th or 19th century, Dr. Callaway Collection Artifacts, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Consumption also played a major role in balancing the four humors. Throughout Early Modern Europe, for example, physicians kept gardens with plants that were assigned to a particular humor. They believed that patients could restore their bodies to full health by consuming carefully crafted herbal remedies comprised of stems, leaves, fruits, and nuts. Practitioners organized gardens to represent the potency of medicinal plants. Some of these historic gardens still exist today. The circular Minerva Garden in Salerno Italy, for example, is divided into four quadrants representing the four humors with the most potent plant life at the center of the garden. This garden is a physical embodiment of the healing powers ascribed to plants within the humoralist system.

Minerva Garden, Salerno Italy.
Minerva Garden, Salerno Italy. Photo credit: Ashley Rose Young.

In the next few weeks, I encourage you to visit the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room on the first floor of the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library so as to glimpse into the rich history of the four humors and their impact on medical practices in the Early Modern period through today.

Ashley Rose Young, curator of "A Delicate Balance" exhibit, giving an exhibit talk in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room
Ashley Rose Young, curator of “A Delicate Balance” exhibit, giving an exhibit talk in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Photo credit: Jennifer Scott.

 

Post contributed by Ashley Rose Young, a Ph.D. candidate in History at Duke University and the Business History Graduate Intern at the Hartman Center.

A Conversation with Marriage Equality Activist, Jim Obergefell

Date: Friday, September 23,

Time: 9:30-11:00 a.m. (Refreshments starting at 9:30 a.m. Discussion to follow.)

Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, 153 Rubenstein Library

RSVP via Facebook (optional)

Image: Marriage Matters by Cheri Gaulke & Sue Maberry, 2005
Image: Marriage Matters by Cheri Gaulke & Sue Maberry, 2005

Seeking state recognition for his marriage, Jim Obergefell became the lead plaintiff in the landmark United States Supreme Court case that would legalize same-sex marriage across the United States 2015. A resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, Obergefell and his longtime partner, John Arthur traveled to Maryland to officially marry in 2013, with Arthur having been diagnosed with ALS. After his husband’s death, Obergefell entered a legal battle with the state of Ohio to be recognized as the surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate. His case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, combined with other lawsuits, to become known as Obergefell v. Hodges. On June 26, 2015, the court ruled that the Constitution supports same-sex marriage for the entirety of the United States.

Mr. Obergefell’s book, Love Wins, will be available to purchase at the Gothic Bookshop in the Bryan Center and at a table during the event. A book signing will follow the event.

Co-sponsored by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Blue Devils United, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, Duke LGBTQ Network, the Duke University Union, and Steven Petrow T’78.

Duke History Revisited Round-Up: Sept. 19th

Date: Monday, September 19, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library Room 153
Contact: Valerie Gillispie, valerie.gillispie@duke.edu

This summer, the University Archives offered a new program for undergraduate students called Duke History Revisited. The idea was to give students a chance to dig into the University’s history and tell the stories of people and events that were not widely known.

On September 19th, the program’s eight students will come together to recap their research projects. During this event, each student will briefly introduce his or her topic, highlight their research discoveries, and offer their own insight into Duke’s history. The presentations will be followed by refreshments and an opportunity to talk with the students in more detail.

The DHR students spent 6 weeks working with faculty members Jolie Olcott and Joshua Sosin; graduate student Will Goldsmith; and archivists Amy McDonald and Valerie Gillispie. The group met twice a week to discuss progress and share research. This special program was made possible by a grant from Humanities Writ Large and the Office of the Dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

Students and faculty discuss research strategies during a Duke History Revisited meeting.
Students and faculty discuss research strategies during a Duke History Revisited meeting.

We also welcomed a number of special guests to the program to talk about the act of doing research or reflecting on the past. Our guests included William Turner (T ’71, M.Div ’74, PhD ’84), Charles Becton (Law ‘69), Brenda Becton (WC ‘70, Law ‘74), Bob Ashley (T ’70), Steve Schewel (T ’73, PhD ’82), and Robert Korstad (Duke faculty). We were also joined by experts from the library, including Tracy Jackson and Matthew Farrell (University Archives), John Gartrell (John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History), Laura Micham and Kelly Wooten (Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture), Hannah Rozear (Librarian for Instruction), and Michael Daul (Digital Collections).

The students pursued a wide range of topics, using archival materials from the University Archives, materials from other repositories, oral histories and interviews, and other sources. Each created a final project that they felt best expressed the content. The titles and links to the projects are below:

Sini (Nina) Chen Finding a Home for Tricky Dicky: The Nixon-Duke Presidential Library Controversy” (online exhibit)
Hayley Farless Right to Access: A History of the Duke University Abortion Loan Fund” (presentation; link to PDF)
Elizabeth George Success of the Second Sex: Duke University’s Demonstrated Efforts to Empower Women” (research paper; link to PDF)
Lara Haft (we know) (we’ve been here): uncovering a legacy of student & employee solidarity” (online exhibit)
Alan Ko ‘Cherry Blossoms Among Magnolias?’: A History of the Asian Experience at Duke” (online exhibit)
Paul Popa A Leap of Faith: Documenting the First-Generation Undergraduate Experience” (online exhibit)
Victoria Prince “Town and Gown Relations vs. Power Struggles: An Overview of How the Durham Freeway Controversy Affected Relations Between Durham, NC and Duke University”
Jesse Remedios The Politics of Identity” (podcast)

Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.

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