With so many meetings, events, exhibits, performances, and games each day, it might seem difficult to set aside time to learn about your Duke student organization’s history. The University Archives, which collects student organization materials, knows how busy you are and we want to help!
Starting on October 20th, we’ll be holding a series of pop-up displays on student organization history, featuring historical materials from our collections. We’re calling this YOLO@UA: Your Organizations Live on @ the University Archives.
Each Tuesday, you’ll find us at a table just outside the Von der Heyden Pavilion from 2-3 PM, ready to show some cool stuff and answer your questions about student organization history.
We’ll be changing the display focus each time, so here’s the schedule:
October 20: Cultural Groups
October 27: Arts Groups
November 3: Student Government & Political Groups (Happy Election Day!)
November 10: Sororities, Fraternities, & Living Groups
November 17: Student Publications
Don’t worry if your organization isn’t covered with this schedule. We’ll plan more pop-up displays with different focuses during the spring semester. And you’re always welcome to get in touch with us to discuss how you can research your organization’s history at the University Archives!
P.S. Do you have student group materials that you’d like to archive at the University Archives? Learn more, and complete a form to let us know about your materials, here!
I can claim without controversy that the web is among the more popular avenues for communicating, publishing, and otherwise interacting with information. Although professionals involved in the creation of websites often have titles (engineer, web designer, information architect) that borrow the language of corollaries in the physical world, information on the web and how one experiences it is inherently ephemeral. Relics of the early web still extant online often owe their continued life to chance, such as the website for the 1996 film Space Jam or the long-thought-lost-until-a-copy-was-discovered-on-a-floppy-disk first website.
In order to preserve Duke’s web presence, in 2010 the University Archives partnered with Archive-It, a service of the Internet Archive, to take snapshots of various websites. In the five years since we have captured close to 500 Duke-related websites. Comparing a site’s evolution over time can be striking. This portal allows one to compare Duke homepages at different times. For example:
The following screencaps are for the Duke Chapel’s website.
While the above examples are changes that are, at least in part, cosmetic changes to information, capturing web content allows us to preserve and provide access to the social and intellectual conversations on campus. We have had success capturing Develle Dish in both DukeGroups and their more recent Sites.Duke iteration.
Because the Duke Fact Checker was not officially associated with the university, his blog went down after his passing in early 2014. Though its no longer available at its original URL, we were able to get annual captures of his commentary between 2012 and 2014.
All of this is great but was previously difficult to access without knowing how to use the system. As of February 2015, there are two easy ways to browse and search through the Duke Web Archives. First, the University Archives created a collection guide to the Duke-related websites. The 500 or so URLs are arranged loosely by organizational type and can be browsed here.
Because of the way the web is crawled, some sites may have been crawled that don’t appear in the collection guide. To help address this problem as well as provide another avenue into the collection, there is a search function provided by Archive-It and their Wayback Machine here. Using the Wayback search, one can search for any URL. If the site appears in our collection, even if only partially, the search will return it.
We are currently at work to address Social Media, so look for future posts around that subject.
Post contributed by Matthew Farrell, Digital Records Archivist.
Join the staff of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture for an opportunity to learn how to edit Wikipedia articles, learn more about the rich history of women at Duke University, and then put that knowledge into action by creating and editing entries that document the lives and contributions of women alumnae, faculty, staff, and community members.
This edit-a-thon is part of a worldwide movement to increase the percentage of women editors and woman-focused articles within Wikipedia.
If you’re planning to attend, create a Wikipedia account in advance and sign up on the edit-a-thon’s meetup page (where you’ll also find a list of proposed Wikipedia articles that you can work on). Bring your laptop to the edit-a-thon if you can. You can also participate from anywhere in the world!
We know, there’s less than a month before LDOC and you need another thing to do like a hole in the head. But, if you’re a leader or an active member of a Duke student group (including graduate and professional student groups), finish out your group’s year by giving documentation about your activities to the Duke University Archives.
By archiving your records, you ensure that your group’s legacy remains part of Duke University’s history, alongside the records of Duke’s presidents and campus offices. It’s your way to make your mark on what future Duke students and scholars will know about Duke history for decades to come.
To help with this, University Archives staff will be holding regular office hours at UCAE’s the SOURCE starting this week through the end of the semester. You’ll find us at the SOURCE on:
Thursday, March 26th from 2:00-4:00 PM
Thursday, April 9th from 2:00-4:00 PM
Thursday, April 23rd from 2:00-4:00 PM
No appointment is necessary—just stop by with any questions about the records collecting process or to tell us more about the records you’d like to archive.
Need a little background information before coming to visit us?
Read more about the types of documentation we collect—and see some examples of student groups whose records we hold—on our student group records website.
Before you stop by, make a quick canvas of any documentation your group might be ready to place with the University Archives. Think about the types of documentation you have, the dates it covers, and if there are any special formats (do you have tons of video files? do you have a gigantic banner from a group event?). We’ll then help decide what should come to the University Archives.
We’ll also ask you how much documentation you have to give to us, so we can estimate the number of boxes you’ll need (yep, we can provide those) or make arrangements to get digital files from you via DropBox, a flash drive, etc.
Can’t visit the SOURCE during our office hours?
Complete our online form to let us know a little about the records you’d like to donate, and we’ll get in touch with you to discuss next steps. Or send us an email with any questions!
Post contributed by Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist.
The Secret Game tells the incredible story of a Sunday morning in 1944 when the all-white Duke University military team from the Medical School traveled across town to North Carolina Central College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) and played a secret interracial basketball game. Under legendary coach John McLendon, the NCCU Eagles won the match-up. The players then continued to socialize and play a pick-up game that mixed players from each team.
Against the backdrop of World War II and the Jim Crow South, Ellsworth explores the way this extraordinary game came about, what it meant for the players involved, and how the details of this game were forgotten—and remembered. Ellsworth conducted research in the Duke University Archives, Duke University Medical Center Archives, and NCCU archives in writing the book.
Ellsworth will be introduced by Timothy B. Tyson, Duke University faculty member and author of Blood Done Sign My Name. The event will be followed by a book signing and reception in the Edge Lounge. Copies of The Secret Game will be available for sale by the Gothic Bookshop.
If you, an esteemed Duke University professor, received a pie in the face in front of your class, what would you do?
A. Update your CV, in preparation for finding an alternate career far away from college students.
C. Pause for snack time, then continue your lecture on a sugar high.
D. Chase your assailant and catch him while wading through a creek.
Duke students have always been enterprising—a proud trait imaginatively demonstrated by the brief but legendary history of Pie-Die, Ltd., a student-run company that placed its first advertisement in the March 21, 1975 issue of the Chronicle.
For a fee, Pie-Die would track down your target of choice and, well, you get the idea. Apparently, business was quite good: on March 28th, an anonymous letter to the editor of the Chronicle, written on behalf of the “Family,” spoke of a “labor shortage” and offered a job to anyone with “expertise in dexterity and cunning not to mention a dash of insanity.” A hit on a professor cost around $30, while $300 bought a contract on then-Duke president Terry Sanford.
The letter concluded:
We sincerely hope that those who receive our pies are not left with a bad taste in their mouths. All pies are administered in good clean wholesome fun in the best “mom-apple pie” tradition. To prove our intentions, all proceeds will go to World Famine Relief after operating costs have been met.
The first to be hit was psychology professor Irvin Alexander, who was pied in front of his class in Zener Auditorium. He wore a fencing mask to his next class.
James Bonk’s turn came on March 31st, one day shy of April Fools’ Day. His hired assailant caught him with a pie at the end of one of his famed “Bonkistry” lectures. The first-year “hit-man” either didn’t know or failed to properly consider Bonk’s athletic prowess: he was a volunteer coach for Duke’s men’s tennis team and had played the sport since his childhood.
With his 200 students cheering him on, Bonk chased the young man out of his class, across campus, and finally caught up with him in the middle of a stream, where he demanded to see the student’s Duke identification card.
This type of prank was becoming a trend on college campuses, and Bonk’s pursuit became national news. It was the perfect opportunity for pun-loving headline writers: the Charlotte Observer‘s article was titled “Pie-Eyed: Latest Craze is Chunking Custard,” while the Raleigh Times went with the more subtle “Creamed professor nabs pie thrower.” The Chronicle‘s headline was direct: “Bonk gets bonked.” The newspapers reported that the student would possibly face disciplinary action and that Bonk would also hold him responsible for his dry-cleaning costs.
After this, we lose track of Pie-Die: was there a turf war with their competitor, Fli-Pie? Did they ever catch up with Terry Sanford? Let us know in the comments if you can shed any light on these Duke history mysteries. (And, if you were a part of Pie-Die, let us know if you have any documentation from those days that you’d like to add to the University Archives. The statute of limitations must be up by now.)
Oh and, by the way, the pie that hit James Bonk was lemon meringue. Happy Pi Day!
Post contributed by Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist.
As part of a campus-wide initiative to commemorate 50 years of integration at Duke, the Graduate School and filmmaker Ivan Weiss contributed “The Education of Ida Owens,” a documentary about the first African-American female to earn a PhD at the university.
Balancing Dr. Owens’s personal story with Duke’s own integration, and the national Civil Rights movement more broadly, the documentary is well worth a view. A copy is available on YouTube and Vimeo. Take half and hour and watch it, if you haven’t. This post will still be here when you get back.
In late 2014, the University Archives received a bundle of materials related to the documentary. In addition to the completed video files, we also received a bevy of additional materials fleshing out the release of the documentary; Dr. Owens’s background; and the filmmaking process itself. It is these latter items that warrant specific mention. For each person interviewed by the filmmakers there exists video footage, audio recordings, and text transcripts. Because multiple camera people worked on the project, having access to these clips allows insight into the editing process, as well content that did not make the final cut of the video.
Our descriptive record of the materials is here for perusal. The materials themselves can be seen in the Rubenstein Library reading room. Because many of the files themselves are quite large, please make any requests in advance, as it will take some time to transfer the materials from our servers to a computer terminal able to view the files.
Like any period, the present decade marks a series of fiftieth anniversaries. And like any anniversary, the anniversary of Duke’s integration and impending anniversary of Dr. Owens’s PhD completion, serve to call attention to landmark events while also allowing us to reflect on the great deal of work ahead. This documentary and the supporting materials recently added to the University Archives are a testament to both.
Post contributed by Matthew Farrell, Digital Records Archivist.
Tomorrow night, the famed basketball rivals meet again. Fans in North Carolina and across the country will don their Duke or Carolina blue and gather to watch the game. And Duke’s Cameron Crazies will go crazy, carrying on the tradition of post-game celebrations and bonfires.
According to the records, Duke’s bonfire and bench-burning tradition began in 1986, when there was a large screen set up on the quad for students to watch the NCAA final game between Duke and Louisville. Duke lost, and a few angry spectators reacted with assaults and vandalism. The Police Department was unprepared for such a result, but learned from the experience. During the 1990 tournament, the Police Department opted for a more controlled option of a large screen in Cameron for the Duke vs. UNLV game, with a Duke ID card required to enter. They also sponsored a bonfire in the Card Gym parking lot—with no idea this would set the precedent for a beloved tradition—but few students braved the bad weather.
1991 was an explosive and fiery year: after the watching the game between Duke vs. UNC on screen in Cameron Stadium, students spontaneously set up a mudslide and multiple bonfires. Planned fires for subsequent games burned too big and were too crowded. Duke Police had prepared with stadium evacuation plans and ambulances on standby, but were unprepared for the intensity of student energy—often directed harmlessly, but occasionally leading to violence.
Following the Duke-UNC game and some student injuries, Director of Public Safety Paul Dumas worried for students’ safety during the post-game celebrations. The Police Department organized a special committee to establish policies regulating the bonfires, but as many a Chronicle editorial pointed out, these well-intentioned regulations were difficult or impossible to enforce. For example, a March 25, 1991 editorial noted, “Parts of the policy are ridiculous. Why would a living group ever ‘contribute its bench willingly’ to the fire, as the policy suggests? In reality, the first partiers who get to the quad determine which bench gets sacrificed.”
1992 was even more out of control: many games were followed by unauthorized fires on various quads around campus, as well as some break-ins and emergency room visits. In 1994, the Police Department decided not to support any bonfires despite numerous student petitions, and began citing students for starting unpermitted fires. Yet the momentum was building; Duke was now expected to make it to the national championships each year, and, with memories of bonfires and bench-burnings from previous years, students wanted to celebrate in their own way.
Over the next few years, students insisted on commemorating games with bench burnings, and student-administration tensions increased. During the 1998 season, twenty-five students were arrested for disorderly conduct and starting unauthorized fires, while student editorials accused police of excessive force when responding to unauthorized fires. That year, the administration refused to allow the traditional bonfires and planned giant foam parties instead to celebrate major victories–unsurprisingly, most students were not enthused. In a February 5, 1998 Chronicle article titled “Students reject foam, beg for fire,” freshmen expressed disappointment about missing out on an established tradition and upperclassmen also rejected the plan: “the administration’s heart is in the right place, but foam is kind of a moronic idea.”
Three days after the Duke-UNC game, on March 3, 1998 students burned many benches despite regulations, strategically organizing a decoy to draw police attention away from the real fire. A quote from a Chronicle article following the incident states eloquently: “They took away our alcohol, and we stood by and watched. Then they took away our housing, and we stood by and watched. Then they tried to take away our bonfires, and we went to war.” It was a clever display of student unity to fight back against the administration’s perceived encroachment on their rights, and it worked: the administration sanctioned bonfires and bench burning as long as it adhered to city fire codes.
Duke Police adapted from year to year and recognized a trend of increasingly intense—and, for a few people, dangerous—parties. They tried to engage in public awareness campaigns by requesting support from the University President, Vice Presidents, student government, and Coach K, to encourage safe behavior. The department also began partnering with the Durham Police Department and the highway patrol to enlist enough officers. Yet there was only so much they could do to prevent injury or crime. And, while the police records focus on the number of incidents of injuries or assaults, most students had a good time celebrating their basketball team. It’s an interesting lesson on perspective: depending on your vantage point, you might see the bonfires of the 1990s as riots or as celebrations. Either way, the seeds of a tradition were planted. So whether or not you gather around a bonfire on February 18, enjoy a safe and exciting game!
Our colleague Mary Mellon is currently reprocessing the Benjamin Duke Papers to provide more refined description. Among the many fascinating pieces of correspondence within the collection, she has found a letter, dated November 16, 1896, from Trustee A. P. Tyer to Ben Duke. In it, he makes a not-so-modest proposal: that Duke give a $500,000 endowment and that the school be renamed Duke College.
“The only hope that Trinity College has of ever being endowed is found in the Dukes. I therefore ask that you give the College five hundred thousand dollars as endowment and allow the Trustees to name it “Duke College.”
In 1896, the school was just four years old in its new Durham location. There was great concern about longterm viability, despite the generosity of the Duke family up to that point, including providing the funds to bring the school to Durham. $500,000 in 1896 would have been around $13 million in today’s money.
To sweeten the deal, Mr. Tyer added,
“This will forever take away the feeling of uncertainty, make the college an assured success forever, put the Dukes in front of all southern benefactors, largely increase the number of students, bring even a better class of patronage to the college, make it possible for others to give to it, be the greatest monument any southern man will ever build, be a perpetual benefit and blessing to the human family, and constantly glorify God your Father.”
Ben Duke remained a steady and heavily involved benefactor, but never made a gift at the level requested in the letter. The month after this letter was received, Washington Duke, Ben’s father, gave a $100,000 endowment, contingent on women being admitted on equal footing with men. In 1924, Ben’s brother, James B. Duke, established the Duke Endowment, which helped fund a massive expansion of the college, and led to the renaming of the school—not to Duke College, but to Duke University.
Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist, with assistance from Mary Mellon, Technical Services Intern.
I was looking through the May 1944 issue of Duke’s Divinity School Bulletin when I came across a brief article about a Bo tree (Ficus religiosa) presented to the Divinity School in honor of then-Ivey Professor of the History of Religion and Missions James Cannon III. (He’d later serve as the Divinity School’s dean from 1951 to 1958.)
You’ve possibly heard the tradition that Gautama Buddha was sitting beneath a tree when he attained Enlightenment. That tree was a Bo, or Bodhi, tree, and it is, as a result, sacred to Buddhists.
Professor Cannon’s Bo tree had its own august history, as the article relates:
The Cannon Bo-tree is descended from the Bo-tree planted at the ruined city of Anuradhapura, near Kandy, in Ceylon. In the year 288 B.C., King Asoka of India sent a shoot from the parent tree to Ceylon. To this day the tree is worshiped by throngs of pilgrims. In 1929 an American tourist obtained a shoot from the Ceylon Bo-tree, planted it on his Florida estate, and several months ago presented a shoot to Duke.
We found snapshots of Professor Cannon with his Bo tree in his papers. He looks very serene, doesn’t he? A note from the back of one of the snapshot states that his “topcoat is supposed to represent Buddha’s ‘yellow robe.'”
We’re not certain of the current whereabouts of Duke’s Bo tree. Do you have any information about it?
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University