Tag Archives: digitization

Nathaniel White, Jr., center, was a native of Durham and one of the first three African-American students to graduate in 1967.

An Interview About a Duke University Pioneer

Nathaniel White, Jr was among the first five black students to attend Duke University in 1963. He was not, however, the first person in his family to attend college. His father, Nathaniel White, Sr., had attended Hampton Institute prior to founding his own printing business in Durham. In a newly-digitized interview, White, Sr. discusses his life, his memories, and his experience as a black man living in Virginia and North Carolina during the 20th century.

White’s interview is part of the Behind the Veil digital project, which has just added over 300 new interviews with North Carolinians, including many from Durham. The interviews capture details of what life was like in the Jim Crow South for African Americans. In White’s interview, he shares the story of his childhood, the black business community in Durham, and the influence of scouting on his life. Of particular interest to local researchers, he describes individuals and businesses in the Durham black community in the mid-20th century, providing deep insight into Durham’s history.

Nathaniel White, Jr., center, was a native of Durham and one of the first three African-American students to graduate in 1967.
Nathaniel White, Jr., center, was a native of Durham and one of the first three African-American students to graduate in 1967.

He also briefly discusses his son’s pioneering role at Duke. He mentions that White, Jr., had considered Hampton Institute himself, but then had the opportunity to attend Duke. His father candidly remarks in the interview, “There’s one thing about a situation like that, it’s more like the real world than some other places that you might go and everything seems like it’s alright but it’s not training you for what you’re going to meet when you get outside. It’s a real struggle out there. The sooner you learn that, the better off you might be. . . . In other words, every day he had what it’s like to be an African American citizen in this country. So he didn’t have to learn that after he graduated. He learned it every day at Duke.”

Learn more about the fascinating Behind the Veil project on Bitstreams, the blog of the digital collections department of Duke University Libraries.

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.

Chronicle Classifieds, November 7, 1969

The 1960s, One Page at a Time

One of the most frequently used items in the Duke University Archives is The Chronicle, particularly the 1960s issues. Many students are interested in the decade—which was one of great change in the student body, the curriculum, and in social life—and alumni and other researchers use it to find out details about particular events. This year, as Duke commemorates 50 years of desegregation among the undergraduate class, The Chronicle is especially helpful as a source of information about desegregation and later student protests like the Vigil and the Allen Building Takeover.

Thanks to the work of the Duke University Libraries’ Conservation Department, Digital Production Center, and Digital Projects Services, we now have eleven complete years (fall 1959-spring 1970) of The Chronicle digitized at http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/dukechronicle/. The issues are browsable by year and date and keyword searchable.

Although it will be extremely helpful for research on desegregation and student protest, it will also be helpful for researching topics ranging from the Duke-UNC rivalry to women on campus to ads for local restaurants. Through even small stories and announcements, we learn a lot about campus.

For example, on November 22, 1968, we read that a memorial mass was held to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the passing of John F. Kennedy, Jr.:

Notice of memorial mass at the 5th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination, The Chronicle, November 22, 1968.

On March 1, 1963, we learn of the mysterious origins of the name of Towerview Road:

Article about Towerview Road, The Chronicle, March 1, 1963.

And on November 7, 1969, we find 1969 at Duke, perfectly preserved:

Chronicle Classifieds, November 7, 1969

There are 868 issues of editorials, news stories, sports writing, advertisements, and much more. Let us know what you think, and how you will use the digitized decade of The Chronicle!

Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.

chronicle#1-02-16-1969

Digitizing the LCRM Update #9: Remembering the Allen Building Takeover

This month’s Digitizing the Long Civil Rights Movement update pauses to look back into Duke’s own past struggles with racial equality.  On February 13, 1969, students in the Afro-American Society occupied the Allen Building where the university’s primary administration offices were (and still are) located.  These students demanded that Duke take steps to enact racial equality on campus, including the founding of an African-American Studies department, the hiring of more African-American professors, and the establishment of an African-American cultural center on campus.  Similar demands had been made before from members of the Black Studies Program, as featured in our fourth update in this blog series.

What distinguished the Allen Building Takeover from the previous efforts for reform was its forcefulness—on both sides of the debate.  The Takeover marked the first such occupation by students in Duke’s history.  The administration’s response also became notable for what some members of the student body perceived to be its brutality.  Police officers dispatched to the scene used tear gas to disperse a crowd that had gathered around the building, leading to a “riot” on the main quad of West Campus.

Photos from <i>The Chronicle</i>, February 16, 1969.

Photos from <i>The Chronicle</i>, February 16, 1969.
Both photos from The Chronicle, February 16, 1969.
Allen Building Takeover Collection, Box 1, Folder 10: abtms01010035

In the wake of the Takeover, students rallied to enact the suggested agenda of the original occupiers.  Eventually, most of the demands did become standard practice at Duke, but the change occurred more gradually than what the galvanized student body had wanted in February 1969.  The items selected above are from a photo essay published by The Chronicle (Duke’s independent student newspaper) that encapsulated the events of Takeover.

We are happy to announce that the Allen Building Takeover Collection and its wealth of primary documents and remembrances of the important event will soon become available online to researchers.

For more information on the Content, Context, and Capacity Project for Digitizing the LCRM, please visit our website or like us on Facebook.

The grant-funded CCC Project is designed to digitize selected manuscripts and photographs relating to the long civil rights movement. For more about Rubenstein Library materials being digitized through the CCC Project, check out previous progress updates posted here at The Devil’s Tale

Post contributed by Josh Hager, CCC Graduate Assistant.

Photograph taken by Jim Thornton for the Durham Herald-Sun, undated.

Digitizing the LCRM Update #7: A High-Caliber Holiday Photograph

As we approach the conclusion of 2012, the CCC Project at Duke is excited to announce that we have begun work with the last three manuscript collections that will undergo digitization for the grant.  Collection reviews of the Black Student Alliance Records, the Charles N. Hunter Papers, and the Allen Building Takeover Collection are underway.

At the same time, we are working on the finishing touches of the Elna Spaulding Papers, the largest collection that Duke is contributing to the CCC Project.  Look for more updates on these collections in upcoming blog posts on The Devil’s Tale.

For this month, we wanted to highlight a photograph that conveys the holiday spirit.  We recognize that it is the season for peace on Earth, good will toward all, and (toy) firearms.

Photograph taken by Jim Thornton for the Durham Herald-Sun, undated.
Photograph taken by Jim Thornton for the Durham Herald-Sun, undated. Women-in-Action for the Prevention of Violence and Its Causes Records, Box 11, Folder 1: wiams11001036

If we were giving out year-end awards for the CCC Project, this photograph has to win the “Most Ironic” trophy.  Normally, at this point, we would provide context that would explain exactly what this spokesman is trying to convey.  Unfortunately, all that we know about this photograph is that it appeared in the Durham Herald-Sun and the photographer was Jim Thornton.  The fact that this photograph appears in the Women-in-Action records indicates that the event was some sort of anti-violence demonstration that perhaps encouraged parents to avoid purchasing violent toys for Christmas.  However, this explanation is at best an educated hypothesis.

No matter the explanation, this photograph and the rest of the CCC materials are quite thought-provoking.  And our final thought for this update:  Happy Holidays from the CCC Staff!

To learn more about the CCC Project, please visit CCC on Facebook.

The grant-funded CCC Project is designed to digitize selected manuscripts and photographs relating to the long civil rights movement. For more about Rubenstein Library materials being digitized through the CCC Project, check out previous progress updates posted here at The Devil’s Tale

Post contributed by Josh Hager, CCC Graduate Assistant.

Draft Petition to Duke Administration Regarding Cultural Representation of the Black Community, 1979

Digitizing the LCRM: Duke’s Dept. of African & African-American Studies

In this month’s update of the CCC Project at Duke University, we are happy to announce the publication online of the records of Duke’s Department of African and African-American Studies.  The items included in this collection document the beginnings of the department, the research and teaching of its faculty members, and the various social and cultural movements occurring within the African-American community during the 1970s and later.  We encourage researchers to peruse the digitized documents, accessible from the collection inventory, to find a host of items sure to add to the scholarship of the long civil rights movement.

Our document spotlight for the month highlights the struggles that the African and African-American Studies Department, then known as the Black Studies Program, experienced in its earliest days.  From its inception in 1969, the Black Studies Program had been offering several courses through adjunct faculty.  Still, the Program lacked a director and its course slate remained minimal, although the Program did offer a major.

In addition, members of the African-American community at Duke contended that the university’s administration did not implement programs to encourage “black cultural representation.”  The document shown below is a draft petition from late 1979 written by members of the African-American community at Duke asking the administration to ameliorate both the academic and cultural issues that hampered the growth of the African-American community at the university.

Draft Petition to Duke Administration Regarding Cultural Representation of the Black Community, 1979
Draft Petition to Duke Administration Regarding Cultural Representation of the Black Community. Department of African and African-American Studies Records, Box 1, folder 30 (File ID daams01030169)

Although we do not have a completed petition in the Department’s records, the goals of the document did eventually become Duke’s policy.  University administration would create new standards to recruit more African-American faculty members.  In addition, the Program would soon become a fully-staffed Department.  In terms of cultural engagement, the establishment of the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture in 1983 helped to fulfill the demands listed in the petition.  Researchers will now have the opportunity to learn even more about the beginnings of African-American Studies at Duke and how struggles for recognition led to a strong academic and cultural presence on campus.

The grant-funded CCC Project is designed to digitize selected manuscripts and photographs relating to the long civil rights movement. For more about Rubenstein Library materials being digitized through the CCC Project, check out previous progress updates posted here at The Devil’s Tale

Post contributed by Josh Hager, CCC Graduate Assistant.

Letter, Ira H. Nunn of the National Restaurant Association to Basil Lee Whitener, November 1, 1963.  From the Basil Lee Whitener Papers

Digitizing the LCRM: Update #2

We’re going to start our second update on Duke’s participation in the CCC Project with exciting news: the first three CCC-digitized collections are now available online!  You can now find digitized content directly through each collection’s finding aid.  Take a minute and check out the digitized portions of the Basil Lee Whitener Papers, the Rencher Nicholas Harris Papers, and the Women-in-Action for the Prevention of Violence and Its Causes Records.

This month, we feature an item from the Basil Lee Whitener Papers. Whitener was a Democratic Congressman representing Mecklenburg County (N.C.) from 1957 through 1968. Like many other Democrats from the South (who collectively became known as “Dixiecrats”), Whitener was a vehement opponent of integration and any federal action intended to address civil rights issues.

His papers contain a great deal of correspondence, speeches, bills, and other materials that reflect both the views of constituents regarding civil rights and how he acted in the House of Representatives to try to derail reform-minded legislation.

Whitener’s opposition was firm, but such groups as the NAACP and the North Carolina Baptist Student Union sent telegrams and letters to the Congressman arguing for strong civil rights legislation. Knowing that these efforts fell on deaf ears, who then actually lobbied against civil rights legislation? The answer is the NRA . . . but not that NRA. The organization in question is the National Restaurant Association; the letter that their representative Ira Nunn sent to Whitener in opposition to what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is presented below.

Letter, Ira H. Nunn of the National Restaurant Association to Basil Lee Whitener, November 1, 1963. From the Basil Lee Whitener Papers. (Click to enlarge.)

The given reason for the NRA’s opposition to H.R. 7152 was that its proposals “can only result in the diminution of free enterprise and of the rights and freedoms of all citizens.” Decode this political jargon and you will see that the NRA disapproved of the proposed ability of the federal government to mandate the integration of all public dining spaces.

Instead, the NRA offered the solution of voluntary integration. In his letter, Nunn claimed that voluntary integration had been a “widespread success.” While Nunn’s claim was literally true insofar as a certain percentage of restaurant owners had chosen to integrate their establishments voluntarily, the spirit of the argument is false. Restaurateurs were not en masse choosing to integrate their establishments, especially in the South. For example, only forty percent of businesses in Greensboro were integrated by the end of 1963. Nationally, out of a possible 60,000 districts where mandated integration could have existed, only 1,000 had integrated facilities. It is understandable that Nunn would like to present his industry as reform-minded while preserving laissez-faire standards, but the historical reality does not corroborate his argument.

Why would Nunn and restaurateurs more broadly oppose civil rights reform? While a culture of segregation may have contributed to the NRA’s opposition, it is much more likely that members of the NRA feared the potential loss of business that forced integration would entail, especially in the South. Therefore, at its core, the NRA’s argument against integration was primarily economic rather than cultural or social, making it stand out from most anti-integration documentation from the early 1960s. Furthermore, in an ironic twist given Whitener’s role as a representative of North Carolina, it is probable that the NRA’s economic argument was in part inspired by the events of the 1960 Greensboro Sit-In and subsequent protests across the South. In fact, such protests provided strong evidence of the social role of restaurants and the necessity for integrating their dining counters, even if the members NRA could only see the possibility of losing customers and profit.

The grant-funded CCC Project is designed to digitize selected manuscripts and photographs relating to the long civil rights movement. For more information on this project, including updates on the progress of digitization, please check out the CCC website. As part of the outreach efforts of the CCC Project, monthly blog posts to The Devil’s Tale will provide updates on the latest Rubenstein Library collections to be digitized for the project. Stay tuned!

Post contributed by Josh Hager, CCC Graduate Assistant.

Rencher Nicholas Harris Document

Digitizing the LCRM: Update #1

Rencher Nicholas Harris was Durham’s first African-American city councilman as well as a member of the Board of Education and the Secretary for the Board of Directors of Lincoln Hospital. His papers, collected at the Rubenstein Library and now digitized, cover the scope of his civic efforts from public health to transit planning. For example, the document shown below is a budgetary analysis of Durham school cafeterias in 1959—and a prime example of how civic documents demonstrate racial realities.

Rencher Nicholas Harris Document
Click to enlarge.

At first glance, the document lists the budgets of all of the public school cafeterias in Durham, separated into white and “negro” categories. Examine the figures more closely and the depth of racism in the school segregation policy becomes clear. Compare, for example, the operation expenses of white Durham High and African-American Hillside High ($68,475.27 to $39,346.22, respectively). In addition, the white schools show a net income of $6,205.02 versus the net monetary loss of the African-American schools of $4,638.23. It is up to researchers to determine the full explanation and significance of these figures.

Fortunately, this document, along with a host of other records containing information on historic impetuses and efforts for civil equality in North Carolina, will soon become available online. Duke University Libraries’ Digital Production Center is currently participating in the Content, Context, and Capacity Project led by the Triangle Research Libraries Network (Duke, NC State, UNC, and NC Central).

This grant-funded initiative is designed to digitize selected manuscripts and photographs relating to the long civil rights movement. For more information on this project, including updates on the progress of digitization, please check out the CCC website. As part of the outreach efforts of the CCC Project, monthly blog posts to The Devil’s Tale will provide updates on the latest Rubenstein Library collections to be digitized for the project. Stay tuned!

Post contributed by Josh Hager, CCC Graduate Assistant.