New Exhibit: Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work

On display February 28 – June 15, 2019

Mary Duke Biddle Room,
Stone Family Gallery, and Trent History of Medicine Room

Rubenstein Library, Duke West Campus
Get directions and parking info

Please check our website for current library hours.

Visit the exhibit website and explore the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection online.


About the Exhibit

Women’s work. The phrase usually conjures up domestic duties or occupations largely associated with women—such as teaching, nursing, or housekeeping. The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection upends those associations. By bringing together materials from across the centuries, Baskin reveals what has been hidden—that Western women have long pursued a startling range of careers and vocations and that through their work they have supported themselves, their families, and the causes they believed in.

In 2015, Lisa Unger Baskin placed her collection with Duke’s Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, part of the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Comprising more than 10,000 rare books and thousands of manuscripts, journals, items of ephemera, and artifacts, it was the most significant collection on women’s history still in private hands—an enormous body of material focusing on women’s work in all its diversity.

This exhibition provides a first glimpse of the diversity and depth of the collection, revealing the lives of women both famous and forgotten and recognizing their accomplishments.

After its premiere at Duke, the exhibit will travel to New York City and be on display at the Grolier Club, America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles, December 11, 2019 – February 8, 2020.

To accompany the exhibition, the Rubenstein Library and the Grolier Club have co-published a 160-page full-color catalog, which will be available for sale at the opening reception on February 27, and at a related symposium on “Women Across the Disciplines,” scheduled for April 15-16, 2019, at the Rubenstein Library.

Free guided tours of the exhibition will be offered every Friday at 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., March 8 – June 14. Sign up for a tour online.

The exhibition catalog was co-published by the Rubenstein Library and the Grolier Club.

Exhibit Opening and Reception: Please Join Us!

Date: Wednesday, February 27
Time: 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Location: Gothic Reading Room and Ahmadieh Family Commons, Rubenstein Library 2nd Floor

Featuring collector and exhibit co-curator Lisa Unger Baskin in conversation with Naomi L. Nelson, Associate University Librarian and Director, Rubenstein Library. Also featuring introductory remarks by Edward Balleisen, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. Free and open to the public.

More details and R.S.V.P.


Learn More About the Baskin Collection

For more about the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, we encourage you to visit the exhibit website.

We have also pulled together a sampling of articles and stories about the collection’s significance as well as selected highlights found within it.

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