Try Our New Chat Widget!

Are you confounded by collection guides? Can you not find your way through a finding aid? Do descriptive inventories make you dizzy? Do we have the solution for you!

Today, the RBMSCL’s Research Services department is flipping the switch on a new widget that will allow you to chat with one of the RBMSCL’s reference librarians as you pore over box lists and biographical notes. The icon above will now be located at the top of the left-hand menu column for each of our finding aids. During RBMSCL hours, click it and you’ll instantly be connected with a reference librarian ready to help you with your questions.

Browsing through finding aids at 2 AM? The “online” icon will be replaced with the icon on the right, which will take you to our “Ask a Question” e-mail form, so you’ll never be more than a click away from getting the reference help you need.

In the Lab: The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

We’re going to be teaming up with our friends in the Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab here at the Duke University Libraries for a regular series of posts on RBMSCL materials in the lab for conservation treatment. We’ll start with a look at the Dutch-language edition of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.

A Little History

This six-volume world atlas was created and published between 1648 and 1655 by Willem Janszoon Blaeu and his son, Joan Blaeu, two of the finest map makers of the 17th century.

Dutch cartographer and publisher Willem Blaeu (1571-1638) studied astronomy and cartography under the well-known astronomer and alchemist Tycho Brahe. In 1633, he was appointed the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company. Joan Blaeu (1596-1673), himself an accomplished cartographer, took over the press after his father’s death in 1638. Under his supervision, they became the largest publisher of their kind in 17th century Europe.

These folio volumes are full of engraved maps and vignettes that were hand-colored with a strikingly vibrant palette. They are bound in gold-tooled stiff-board vellum bindings.

Conservation Work

The atlases arrived in the lab in fairly good condition considering their age. Still, due to their size, it will take Erin Hammeke, Special Collections Conservator, many hours to complete the necessary repairs.

The texts and maps are printed on a good quality rag paper that is still quite strong. There are minor paper tears, badly folded maps, and some insect holes in all of the volumes which make safe handling difficult. The vellum bindings also exhibit small tears that need to be mended.

Each atlas requires surface cleaning to remove dirt and debris from the covers and individual pages. Erin will use soft brushes, special erasers, and a museum vacuum, all of which are designed to remove debris while reducing potential damage to the paper’s surface. Wheat starch paste and strong but thin Japanese and Korean tissues are used for the paper repairs. When the conservation is complete, Erin will construct a custom fitted enclosure for each volume.

Post contributed by Beth Doyle, Collections Conservator, and Erin Hammeke, Conservator for Special Collections

Want to know more about the Conservation Lab? Friend them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter!

A Holiday Recipe from Us to You

This season, as you begin to plan your holiday parties, the RBMSCL would like to offer this gem of a recipe, from 1929’s Electric Refrigerator Menus and Recipes.

Frozen Cheese

1/4 lb. American cheese
1 small cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
6 maraschino cherries
6 green mint cherries
1/2 pint cream

Grate the American cheese. Add cream cheese, and mayonnaise dressing and beat thoroughly. Fold in 6 maraschino cherries and 6 green mint cherries, chopped fine, and 1/2 pint cream, beaten stiff. Freeze until set. Remove to serving dish and sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped nuts or paprika. Serve with salad course.

To those of you brave enough to make this, please send us photos. Yum?

New Finding Aid: The South Asian Pamphlets Collection

Indian Handicrafts, July 1963
Indian Handicrafts, July 1963



The RBMSCL’s South Asian Pamphlets Collection (collection guide here) contains some 7500 pamphlets published in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka between 1920 and 2005.

These English-language publications were received by Duke University’s Perkins Library over four decades through the Library of Congress South Asia Cooperative Acquisition Program (SACAP).

The pamphlets cover such topics as agriculture, arts, economic development, education, industry and commerce, international relations, politics and government, religion and philosophy, rural development, tourism, and women. In particular, the pamphlets form an impressive body of primary sources on ethnic and political conflict, as well as the effects of wars, poverty, and mass education, and issues regarding Islam and other religious traditions.

Researchers wishing to use these pamphlets should note that the entire collection is stored in our off-site storage facility. Please contact the RBMSCL (special-collections(at)duke.edu) at least 24 hours before your visit so that we can request the pamphlets you’d like to see.

Zine Mania, Round Two: Zine Making Workshop

Date: Thursday, 19 November, 2009
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Duke Women’s Center Lower Lounge
Contact Information: Kelly Wooten, 919-660-5967 or kelly.wooten(at)duke.edu

Bring your inner riot grrrl to Duke’s Women’s Center and get ready to cut and paste with the staff of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. You’ll learn all about the Bingham Center’s massive zine collection, as well as how to make your very own zine.

Zine Mania, Round One: Cristy Road

Date: Monday, 16 November, 2009
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Duke Women’s Center Lower Lounge
Contact Information: Kelly Wooten, 919-660-5967 or kelly.wooten(at)duke.edu

Cristy RoadYou know those issues of Greenzine you have stacked on your bookshelf? Now you’ll finally have your chance to meet writer and illustrator Cristy Road as she visits Duke’s Women’s Center for a reading and discussion.

Road, a Cuban-American from Miami, Florida, has been illustrating ideas, people, and places ever since she learned how to hold a crayon. Blending the inevitable existence of social principles, cultural identity, sexual identity, mental inadequacies, and dirty thoughts, she testifies to the beauty of the imperfect. Today, Road has moved from zines to illustrated novels, although her visual diagram of lifestyles and beliefs remain in tune with the zine’s portrayal of living honestly and unconventionally.

Stop by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture during reading room hours to see issue #14 of Greenzine, one of some 4000 zines (and counting!) preserved in the center’s zine collection.

(Artwork courtesy of Cristy Road: “Hope Beyond Despair” from Greenzine 14, 2004)

“A Girl on Foot-Ball,” 1893

Also in honor of this Saturday’s football game against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we bring you this poem from the November 1893 issue of the Trinity Archive.

A Girl on Foot-Ball

A girl is not allowed to play foot-ball
And to revel in the delights of a game.
It is only for boys, large, strong and tall
To win for themselves glory and fame.

And when the Trinity foot-ball team in honor roll
They proudly exclaim, “The girls aren’t in it here,”
But if they could see the “NORMAL” girls climb a ten-foot pole
They’d conclude that they were up it there.

At Trinity the boys all think they know
The reason the girls can’t play;
Just let them look in the “gym.” room door
And I guess they’ll believe what we say.

They say that we’re afraid to play
Because we can’t kick the ball aright
But I tell you don’t believe a word they say
For, if we chose, we could kick it out of sight.

But though we do not choose to play,
We can shout and wear the blue
And be able from the depths of our hearts to say
To Trinity we’ll always be loyal and true.

Three cheers for the boys who beat the “N. C. U!”
Long may they be champions of the State
And a girl that wears the Trinity blue
May they finally choose for their mate.

We wonder what the author of this poem—it’s signed “Anon.”—would have thought of 1935’s Pink Pants by Ralph Y. Hopton. This novel tells the story of Brünnehilde “Pussy” Downing, the Amazonian star of Bowlby University’s football team. Wearing pink sateen pants, she single-handedly decimates Harvard’s team, finishing her pummeling of each linebacker with her trademark cry, “I think you’re me-ee-an!”

(N.B.: Established in 1887, The Archive is one of the oldest continuously published literary magazines in the United States and the oldest student publication at Duke.)

The Victory Bell Tradition

Since the first football game on Thanksgiving day of 1888 (we won 16-0), there has been a fierce football rivalry between Duke and UNC. Duke was the dominant team during the Wallace Wade and Bill Murray years, while UNC led in the days of Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice and in recent years.

The rivalry has not always been civil. In order to foster friendly relations and to eliminate vandalism between the two, Duke and UNC student governments created the victory bell tradition in 1948. That same year, Duke introduced a new fight song, “Fight, Fight Blue Devils,” which includes the refrain, “Carolina Goodnight.”

The problem persisted and, in 1954, Duke and UNC agreed to expel any vandals found on either campus in response to graffiti painted on the Duke campus by UNC students.

The UNC mascot, Ramses, has also been a favorite target of Duke students. In 1977, the bighorn ram was kidnapped and the following note left in his place: “Please understand that this action was consummated in the healthy atmosphere of intercollegiate competition and rivalry and was undertaken with the principles of sportsmanship in mind.”

The rivalry and cooperation between the Duke and UNC is well documented in the University Archives. Tomorrow’s game will add another chapter to our history of friendly competition!

Post contributed by Tim Pyatt, University Archivist and Associate Director of the RBMSCL

North Carolina Mutual Transfers Collections to Duke and NCCU

Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture and North Carolina Central University’s University Archives, Records and History Department are the joint recipients of the historical archives of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, the nation’s largest and oldest African American life insurance company.

North Carolina Mutual founders John Merrick, C.C. Spaulding, and Aaron Moore
North Carolina Mutual founders John Merrick, C.C. Spaulding, and Aaron Moore

The company’s archives includes thousands of business documents, newsletters, commercials, photography and books which chronicle the vitality of Durham’s “Black Wall Street” in the early 20th century. During the Jim Crow era, North Carolina Mutual allowed the black middle class access to home mortgages, small business loans, and insurance. The archives may be the largest assemblage of African American corporate material in the nation.

For more information on using this collection, contact the Franklin Research Center staff at franklin-collection(at)duke.edu.

“The Bathers”: Exhibit Opening and Reception

Date: Thursday, 12 November 2009
Time: 5:30 PM
Location: Rare Book Room
Contact Information: Karen Glynn, 919-660-5968 or karen.glynn(at)duke.edu

Budapest, Hungary, 2006
Budapest, Hungary, 2006

Photographer Jennette Williams, winner of the 2008 Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography, will speak about her recent work, which centers on women in the ancient communal bathhouses of Budapest and Istanbul. A selection of these photographs have been gathered for “The Bathers: Photographs by Jennette Williams,” currently on view in the Special Collections Gallery through 13 December, 2009. Her book, The Bathers, will be published this month by Duke University Press in association with the Center for Documentary Studies.

These stunning platinum prints of women bathers—which draw on gestures and poses found in iconic paintings of nude women, such as those of Cézanne and Ingres—take us inside spaces intimate and public, austere and sensuous. Over a period of eight years, Williams photographed, without sentimentality or objectification, women daring enough to stand naked before her camera. Young and old, these women inhabit and display their bodies with comfort and ease.

Williams is a photography instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has a master’s degree from Yale University and has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Copies of The Bathers will be available for purchase and signing at the event. The quad in front of Duke Chapel has been reserved for parking. Additional parking is available in the parking deck behind the Bryan Center (view campus map).

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