Tag Archives: holidays

Screamfest III: The Cutening

Date: Thursday, October 29, 2015
Time: 2:00-4:00 PM
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room
Contact: Amy McDonald, amy.mcdonald@duke.edu

Y’all, we hear you. The semester is getting more and more intense and sometimes Duke is just so . . . gothic, you know? Sometimes you just need to eat some free candy and look at cute things. And what better time to do that than in celebration of that traditionally cute holiday, Halloween?

Your cuddly Rubenstein librarians would like to invite you to visit us for Screamfest III, an open house featuring creepy ADORABLE things from our collections.

Halloween Postcard
Like this postcard of these sweet black kitty-cats, bringing you Halloween joys in their happy hot air pumpkins.

Illustration from Opera Omnia Anatomico-Medico-Chirurgica, ca. 1737.

Or this illustration of these precious babies from our History of Medicine Collection’s Opera Omnia Anatomico-Medico-Chirurgica by Frederik Ruysch. Yes, fine, they’re skeleton babies, and they’re standing on a pile of human organs, but they’re totally listening to a song by The Wiggles.

Ghost at the Library. From the 1984 Chanticleer.

You can also page through the 1984 Chanticleer to view the photos of this friendly library ghost, who just wants to bring you fuzzy slippers so you can study comfortably.

Demon Miniature from Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games.

And sure, scourge and sword-wielding demons are very scary when they’re life-sized. But swing by our open house and you’ll be able to bravely make kissy-faces at this little dude (paperclip for scale) from the Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games.

In fact, we promise that there will be so much cuteness (and candy) that, well, you might die. See you there!

Now We Are Six!

Guess what? Today, this blog turns

SIX (in paperclips)
Designed and photographed by Katrina Martin

We figure that blog years are roughly equivalent to dog years, so . . . we’ve been around a while. Around for 826 posts, to be exact.

Armfuls of thanks to our tireless and creative blog editors, our gracefully articulate and fascinating co-workers, and—most of all—our luminous and supportive readers.

And HT to Beth at Preservation Underground (our delightful and beloved partner blog), who always remembers our birthday. We love blogging with you!

How NOT to Pie a Duke Professor

In honor of Pi Day, it’s time for a pop quiz.

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.
B. Cry.
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.

If you were popular chemistry professor James Bonk (who passed away in 2013), your answer would be D.

Pie-Die Advertisement, From the Chronicle, March 21, 1975.
Pie-Die Advertisement, From the Chronicle, March 21, 1975.

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.

The Pie-Man's Attack. From the Chronicle, April 1, 1975.
The Pie-Man’s Attack. From the Chronicle, April 1, 1975.

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.

Captured! From the Chronicle, April 1, 1975.
Captured! From the Chronicle, April 1, 1975.

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.




Crazies in Love: A Valentine’s Open House

Date: Thursday, February 12, 2015
Time: 3:30-5:00 PM
Location: Room 217, Perkins Library
Contact: Amy McDonald, amy.mcdonald@duke.edu

Dearest readers and friends, we long to see you on Valentine’s Day. Won’t you please set our hearts a-flutter and come to our Valentine’s Day open house?

Do you fear that you will be too busy penning epistles of undying love to your own beloveds to join us? Ah, but this event is crafted especially for you: we’ll be sharing the most swoon-worthy of love declarations from the Rubenstein Library’s collections, so you may find just the term of endearment you need to woo your mate.

Perhaps a few examples to help the time pass more swiftly until we meet?

We’re charmed by the simplicity of this short note from the scrapbook of Odessa Massey, Class of 1928:

Note from Odessa Massey's scrapbook
From the Odessa Massey Scrapbook, 1924-1928.

Or the more expressive route taken by Francis Warrington Dawson—writing to Sarah Morgan, his future wife–is always sure to succeed:

Letter from Francis Warrington Dawson to Sarah Morgan, February 10, 1873. From the Dawson Family Papers.
Letter from Francis Warrington Dawson to Sarah Morgan, February 10, 1873. From the Francis Warrrington Dawson Family Papers.

“How deeply should I thank God that he has allowed me to know you, which is to love you, for the sun now has a brighter light & the sky a deeper blue. The whole world seems truer & better, & this pilgrim, instead of lingering in the depths, is breasting the healthy difficulties of existence, with his eyes fast fixed on you. Whatever else may fail, believe always in this devoted & unselfish love of Francis Warrington Dawson!”

Or whose heart wouldn’t melt upon receiving this most adorable valentine, from our Postcard Collection:

Valetine, undated. From the Postcard Collection.
Valentine postcard, undated. From the Postcard Collection.

And there might even be tips on how to present yourself when you present your valentine!

Barbasol advetisement, 1944.
Barbasol advetisement, 1944. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/adaccess_BH0643/


Have we convinced you yet? What if we mention that there will be chocolate and candy?

Until next Thursday,

Your Rubenstein librarians

Thank You, Steven Frownington McWhiskers

During renovations to the Rubenstein Library, a new carving was discovered in a remote corner of the stacks. The image of a fairly grumpy looking cat is a tribute to a campus friend named Steven Frownington McWhiskers—affectionately known as Steve.


Steve was a local farm cat who took a great interest in the construction on West Campus between 1927 and 1932. Present for everything from the placement of the cornerstone in the Union to the erection of the Chapel spire, Steve was a steadfast friend and critic. His smoldering glare reminded the stonecarvers that even a single errant stone would mar the beauty of the campus. With a low growl and a hiss, Steve reminded all that he watched over them—and did not approve of anything short of perfection.

Grumpy Cat at the West Campus cornerstone-laying ceremony, 1928

Grumpy Cat helps with Duke Chapel construction, 1932

We fondly remember Steve today for his efforts to ensure that Duke University would be a place of great beauty for people and cats alike.

Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.

Screamfest in Pictures

Look at all of the boys and ghouls (sorry, we had to) at our Haunted Library Screamfest!

Screamfest Visitors

We had materials on display from all of the creepy, spooky corners of the Rubenstein Library, including these items from the History of Medicine Collections:

History of Medicine Collections Materials at Screamfest

And no, the skeleton wasn’t made of white chocolate. Although some of this was!

Screamfest Candy

Visit the Screamfest 2013 set on the Duke University Libraries’s Flickr photostream for more pictures of the fun. And check out Duke Today’s report!

Happy 4th of July!

Nothing says Fourth of July like friends and family, outdoor barbeques and, for the adults of course, a cooler of refreshing canned beer.

Check out these examples of vintage beer cans found in the corporate archive of the JWT Advertising Agency in the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Marketing and Advertising History in the Rubenstein Library. The Hamm Brewing Co. was a client of the agency in the 1960s and early 1970s.  The agency collected the beer cans of their competitor’s accounts as part of their market research. And just like clothing and automobiles, there’s something here for everyone.

For the conscientious buyer that appreciates brute honesty in advertising, there’s Gablinger’s Beer, “Not Diatetic or Theraputic.” If an element of regal refinement is more your speed why not try a Duke Beer, “The Prince of Pilsner,” or perhaps a Stite, “Pale and Dry as Champagne.”

Beer Collage

If you’re not easily wooed by fanciful slogans and colorful graphics then there’s the subtle simplicity of “Cold-Aged!” Genese. If you like a beer can that looks like it’s constructed of wood paneling  (and who doesn’t?), then Meister Brau is the beer for you.

PicMonkey Collage1

For all of you classicists, there’s the iconic Leinenkugel’s of Chippewa Falls, WI, and the “Original” Pabst Blue Ribbon.”

PicMonkey Collage3Whatever your choice, we at the Rubenstein wish you a wonderful holiday!

Post contributed by Joshua Larkin Rowley, Research Services Dept.

Workin’ 9 to 5 on Administrative Professionals Day

Administrative Professionals Day began as part of what was originally called “National Secretaries Week,” founded in 1952 by an organization now known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals, both to honor the work of secretaries and administrative professionals and attract people to the career.

When you think of a secretary in the 1950s, an image like this one, from the back of the Smith-Corona’s Complete Secretary’s Handbook (1951) probably comes to mind:

Image from Smith-Corona’s Complete Secretary’s Handbook (1951)

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that sixty years later, “secretary” is still the most common job for women. In fact, in 2011, 96% of all secretaries and administrative assistants were women.

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture has many collections that document organizational efforts to improve job opportunities for women, whether that means advocating for access to jobs higher-paying male-dominated fields or fighting against sexual harassment in the workplace, including the records of the Southeast Women’s Employment Coalition, founded in 1979 in order to expand the limited employment opportunities for women in the rural South, and the papers of labor activist Theresa El-Amin.

Cover of Not Servants, Not Machines by Jean TeppermanOur collection also contains this gem: Not Servants, Not Machines: Office Workers Speak Out by Jean Tepperman (1976). In the acknowledgements, Tepperman explains how women affiliated with the Boston chapter of “9 to 5,” an organization of women office workers, supported the writing of this book which includes interviews with women across the country. Like the “9 to 5” organization, this book aims to share these women’s experiences of discrimination in the workplace due sexism, and provide information about how to organize and improve women’s working conditions, treatment, and most importantly, their pay.

The Rubenstein Library salutes Administrative Professionals, especially our own Nelda Webb, and honors their contributions, as well as those who have worked to improve conditions and compensation for all women in the workplace.

Post contributed by Kelly Wooten, Research Services and Collection Development Librarian for the Bingham Center.

Feasting from The History of Medicine Collection

As we sit down to our Thanksgiving dinners, I leave you with a few images from a recent acquisition of thirty-four medical prints collected and donated by William H. Helfand. The posters date mainly from 18th century Paris, but the earliest dates to 1695 (the Kospter poster below) and the latest to 1991. They are all beautiful prints–heavy with political satire and caricatures, quack doctors and alchemy. But they also serve as wise reminders to eat in moderation this season. Happy Thanksgiving from the Rubenstein Library!

Maleuvre, “La Ribotte a nos chants”, color lithograph, Paris 1823
Cheret, J., “Kola Marque,” color lithograph, Paris, c. 1895
Dusort, Cornelius, “Hopster,” engraving, Holland, 1695
Grandville and Forest, “Memento Homo Quia Pulvis…”, hand color lithograph, Paris, 1833
Langlumé, “L’indigestion” from Album Comique, color lithograph, 1823

Post contributed by Joanne Fairhurst, Technical Services Intern and doctoral candidate in the Classical Studies Dept.