During the recent Society of American Archivists (SAA) meeting in Washington, D.C., several RBMSCL staff members received a very special tour of the National Archives. Former Duke University Librarian and current Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, gave the group a personal tour of his office.The group (click photo to enlarge) is gathered here under the portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which hangs in Ferriero’s office. (The National Archives began during Roosevelt’s administration.)
Ferriero, who has been AOTUS since last November, regaled the group with stories of great documents housed in the Archives. He recently examined Walt Whitman’s federal employee file (he was briefly employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs). In the file was a five page letter of reference—written by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Post contributed by Tim Pyatt, Duke University Archivist.
For many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the experience of holding and reading a first edition copy of the Book of Mormon—including one of the two held at the RBMSCL—elicits reverence and profound emotion.
According to the church, the Book of Mormon is the record of ancient Americans and their relationship to God, and includes a visit from Christ after his resurrection. Joseph Smith, under God’s direction, received and translated the work before its 1830 publication in Palmyra, New York, and reestablished the priesthood and Christ’s church.
While the information contained within the Book of Mormon can be found in any of the over one hundred million copies (in 108 different languages), a copy of the first edition represents a physical connection to a prophet, the church’s origins, and God. Indeed, it is among the most requested of our holdings.
From the start, the church suffered intense persecution, moving several times from New York to Kirtland, Ohio to Missouri to Nauvoo, Illinois. This persecution eventually resulted in the death of Joseph Smith and the start of a great western migration lead by religious leader Brigham Young (in time, Young would be sustained as a prophet and Joseph Smith’s successor as the president of the church).
Beginning in April of 1847, Young lead approximately 70,000 pioneers on a western migration from Illinois. On July 24th of that year, weary pioneers arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley, their new home and the future capital city of Utah. This day is celebrated annually by the Latter-Day Saints as Pioneer Day.
Brigham Young prayed that God would grant the pioneers 10 years of peace, which they received almost to the day. In 1857, based on fictitious reports of a “Utah Rebellion,” President James Buchanan appointed Alfred Cumming to replace Young as governor of Utah Territory and sent 2,500 soldiers to quell the supposed uprising. Upon arrival, Cummings discovered a people fearful of attack but respectful of his new position as governor. This experience is documented in the correspondence between Young and Cumming found in the RBMSCL’s Alfred Cumming Papers. These letters, like the first edition copies of the Book of Mormon, represent a relationship to a prophet and a history and are available for you to come see.
Post contributed by Seth Shaw, Electronic Records Archivist. Thanks to Kelly Wooten, Research Services and Collection Development Librarian, for suggesting this post and to Beth Doyle, Collections Conservator, for the photograph.
As I was preparing for my last year at the School for Information and Library Science (SILS) at UNC, I knew that I needed to gain some practical experience in the library field in addition to my current part-time job. At SILS, I became fascinated with electronic records and how they are being preserved for the future. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) defines electronic records as “any information that is recorded in a form that only a computer can process and that satisfies the definition of a record.” The actual definition of a record can vary slightly depending on who is consulted (i.e., NARA or the Society of American Archivists).
I contacted Duke’s University Archivist, Tim Pyatt, who put me in touch with Seth Shaw, the Electronic Records Archivist. Unbeknownst to me, Tim and Seth had been discussing the need of preserving information found on Duke’s various websites. When I approached them about a possible field experience, they felt that this would be a good project for me to assist with.
Online material has become an integral part of many institutions and Duke is no different. In order to preserve this information, web sites need to be collected and archived. Out of all the ways to do this (and there are many), we decided that the Internet Archive’s tool, Archive-It, would be the best option. Before starting to capture websites, we created a policy that defined what types of materials we wanted to collect. I used that policy to select the websites of 350 out of 500 Duke student organizations for capture.
This project provided me with a good amount of hands-on experience that will definitely be beneficial as I pursue my career in library science. Although I’ve finished my field experience, there will soon be a new field experience student to take up the reins and assist Seth in making sure that part of Duke’s cultural heritage is preserved.
Post contributed by Stephanie Brantley, RBMSCL Technical Services field experience student.
Meghan Lyon, our technical services assistant, just came back from a week in the Land of the Pharaohs. Just for fun, she and her husband Vaughn took along a packet of Peeps. “The weirdest part,” she notes, “was that they never melted, despite it being over 100 degrees on most days.”
This photograph, taken at the Ramesseum, is included in National Geographic Traveler’s Peeps in Places contest. We hope she wins! (Go vote!)
Most people associate Victorian women with high tea and corsets, not with struggles for justice and equality. However, Angela DiVeglia, graduate intern at the Sallie Bingham Center and co-curator of “I Take Up My Pen: 19th Century British Women Writers,” spends much of her days examining the relationships between current feminist thought and the work done by early feminists in the United States and Great Britain.
Angela DiVeglia gives this Frances Power Cobbe pamphlet a thumbs-up.
DiVeglia writes, “It’s really inspiring and grounding to work with these kinds of materials; it’s easy to think of our own struggles outside of their historical contexts, to feel like we’re the only people fighting these particular fights. Seeing pamphlets and books produced by people like Frances Cobbe and Annie Wood Besant—women who were often ostracized for their work, and who occupy marginal places in history—reminds us that we’re actually part of a huge, rich legacy of people who want to create a better world.”
If you haven’t had a chance to visit the exhibit yet, it will be on display in the Perkins Library Gallery until February 21!
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University