Category Archives: Digital Collections

Juneteenth 2020

In the words of Duke President, Vincent Price, “In recognition of Juneteenth’s message of liberation from oppression, and out of respect for the anger, sadness, exhaustion, and courage of our Black friends and neighbors, this Friday, June 19, will be a day of reflection for the entire Duke community.”

To facilitate this collective action, the Duke University Libraries offers access to streaming videos that reflect the African-American experience. The list here is not exhaustive, but rather provides a window into the many resources available to the Duke community for us to self-enrich and grow as lifelong learners.

The films highlighted below represent just a few  of our streaming titles.  We invite you to explore additional films found in our online catalog as well as those in this curated list of Streaming Videos on the African-American Experience.

bell hooks MEF film image
bell hooks Cultural Criticism & Transformation (prod. Media Education Foundation, 1997)

bell hooks: Cultural Criticism & Transformation (MEF documentary in Kanopy)
bell hooks is one of America’s most accessible public intellectuals. In this two-part video, extensively illustrated with many of the images under analysis, she makes a compelling argument for the transformative power of cultural criticism.

ethnic notions video image
Ethnic Notions (dir. Marlon Riggs, 1986)

Ethnic  Notions (California Newsreel documentary in AVON and FOD)
Directed by Marlon Riggs, this Emmy award-winning documentary analyzes the deep-rooted stereotypes which have shaped the evolution of racial consciousness in America.

killer of sheep film cover image
Killer of Sheep (dir. Charles Burnett, 1977)

Killer of Sheep (feature film in AVON)
Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep was one of the first 50 films to be selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry and was chosen by the National Society of Film Critics as one of the 100 Essential Films. The protagonist, employed at the slaughterhouse, is suffering from the emotional side effects of his bloody occupation to such a degree that his entire life unhinges.

through a lens darkly cover image
Through a Lens Darkly (prod. First Run Features, 2015)

Through a Lens Darkly (First Run Features documentary in AVON and FOD)
The first documentary to explore the American family photo album through the eyes of black photographers, Through a Lens Darkly probes the recesses of American history to discover images that have been suppressed, forgotten and lost.

traffic stop film image
Traffic Stop (dir. Kate Davis, 2018)

Traffic Stop (HBO documentary in FOD)
This haunting and compelling Academy Award®-nominated, 30-minute, documentary short tells the story of Breaion King, a 26-year-old African-American school teacher from Austin, Texas, who was stopped in 2015 for a routine traffic violation-an encounter that escalated into a dramatic and violent arrest.

unnatural causes cover image
Unnatural Causes (prod. California Newsreel, 2008)

Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? (PBS documentary in AVON and FOD)
This series offers an overview of the ways that racial and economic inequality are not abstract concepts but hospitalize and kill even more people each year than cigarettes.  The segment on the impact of racism on African American infant mortality is particularly compelling.

Loving Story DVD cover
The Loving Story (dir. Nancy Buirsi, 2011)

The Loving Story (HBO documentary in Docuseek)
Oscar-shortlist selection THE LOVING STORY, the debut feature by Full Frame Documentary Film Festival founder Nancy Buirski, is the definitive account of Loving v. Virginia-the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage.


Compiled by Danette Pachtner
Librarian for Film, Video, & Digital Media and Women’s Studies


Duke University Libraries Statement of Our Commitment

 

 

 

Apply for Fall Archival Expeditions by 6/26

Archival Expeditions

Are you interested in developing your skills in designing learning experiences for students? Interested in engaging students with digital and physical primary source materials? Consider participating in Archival Expeditions!

Archival Expeditions is a unique opportunity for graduate students to work with a faculty member to design a learning module involving archival materials. The collections can be physical materials in Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, or any variety of digital collections available at Duke or elsewhere. There are numerous possibilities.

Eligibility: Any Duke PhD student who has completed one academic year at Duke and has identified a faculty sponsor for the project.

Stipend: $1,500 for designing the module. An additional $500 will be awarded for teaching the module.

Expected time commitment: 70-75 hours for module development, including consultations with your faculty sponsor

Timeframe: Late summer through December 2020 for developing the module

To learn more and apply: https://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/instruction/archival-expeditions

Applications are due June 26, 2020.

For more information contact Katie Henningsen (katie.henningsen@duke.edu) or Arianne Hartsell-Gundy (arianne.hartsell.gundy@duke.edu)

Print, Fold, Ponder: A Mini-Zine for This Moment

Mozart once said, “Art lies in expressing everything, the sad as well as the gay, the horrible as well as the enchanting, in forms which remain beautiful.”

We love quotations like that—wise, witty, pithy, and stylish all at once. We love collecting great quotes, and as a library you could say we collect a great many of them. On our digital reference shelves, you can find hundreds of anthologies of quotations, aphorisms, proverbs, epigrams, bon mots, folk sayings, and old saws.

Quotations come in handy, whether you’re writing a paper, working on a presentation, struggling to craft a clever wedding toast—or a dignified obituary—or even just looking for inspiration.

Great quotations have the power to impose perspective and definition on lived experience—or, as the nineteenth-century novelist Samuel Butler put it even better, to “enclose a wilderness of idea within a wall of words.”

There are times when we stumble on a quotation that comes surprisingly close to home, like this verse from Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera The Mikado: “Though the night may come too soon, we have years and years of afternoon.”

It certainly feels that way to many of us right now, with so many monotonous days and weeks trapped at home, and goodness knows how many more stretching out ahead. But there’s something gratifying and almost consoling to see someone else put it so cleverly.

So this week, while our Duke students are busily working on final papers and filling them with illustrative quotations of their own (properly cited, we have no doubt), it seemed like a good time to offer some quotable words of our own.

We’ve put together a little zine anthology of quotations we’ve been thinking about during this difficult time. The title says it all: Print, Fold, Ponder: A Wee Zine of Wise Words We Need Now. It’s a little collection of quotes about optimism, hope, leisure—words that inspire us to look on the bright side of what we’re going through—but also about the seriousness of the situation we’re in. It’s like Mozart said—a little bit of the sad as well as the gay, the horrible as well as the enchanting.

Keep it for yourself, give it to a neighbor, or leave it for a delivery person as a little token to let them know someone’s thinking of them. Just as we’re thinking of you and looking forward to seeing you back in the library one day. You can quote us on that.

Instructions: How to Print, Fold, and Make This Zine

  1. You will need a printer. Or, you can hand-copy what you see on the screen on your own sheet of paper and make your own!
  2. Download and print the PDF.
  3. Follow the folding and cutting/tearing instructions in this video by writer and artist Austin Kleon.

If you’re interested in the book he mentions in the video (Watcha Mean, What’s a Zine?: The Art of Making Zines and Minicomics), we have a digital version you can check out through HathiTrust (Duke NetID required). Enjoy!

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day – April 22, 2020!

Earth Day 2020 – A Streaming Film Festival

H2Omx – Best Documentary Feature Film (Mexican Academy of Cinematography 2015)

Docuseek, a streaming video platform of high quality documentary films,  is showing its support  for continuing education during the COVID-19 crisis by offering 12 films for free online streaming starting today through May 1. The theme of all 12 titles is sustainability centered around the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and includes new films as well as popular classics.

The first documentary film to be screened is How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change by Josh Fox. Traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, what is it that climate change can’t destroy? What is so deep within us that no calamity can take it away?

Come Hell or High Water: the Battle for Turkey Creek

Visit and bookmark https://docuseek2.com/earthday for the full schedule of the Earth Day 2020 Film Festival. Check out my commentary on  Lilly’s Twitter.

Don’t worry if you miss a date, you will be able to access films released on previous days until May 1st. For more online viewing, check out the Duke Libraries’ streaming video* offerings of subscription and licensed films.

The True Cost – an investigation of “fast” fashion

*Note: access to these titles are limited to current Duke students, staff and faculty.

Good News for Those with Their Nose in a Book

One of the things people always say they love about libraries is the smell of old books. There’s nothing quite so comforting as the slightly musty aroma of stacks upon stacks of so much accumulated knowledge. Of all the things our students and faculty tell us they miss most during this extended period of home isolation, that ineffable library smell is up there at the top.

Now, thanks to recent advances in digital publishing, we’re excited to pilot a new feature in selected library e-books that lets you recapture that odoriferous experience virtually.


Screenshot of Scratch n Sniff e-Book
Look for the green “Scratch-n-Sniff” button in selected library e-books.

The next time you check out an e-book through our library catalog, look for the green “Scratch-n-Sniff” button in the online interface. Clicking the button will activate a feature that artificially simulates the olfactory experience of reading text on vintage, yellowed paper. Just gently scratch your display as you read to be transported back to your favorite reading nook in the library.

The first time you use the “Scratch-n-Sniff” feature, you may need to lean in close to your monitor and breathe deeply to get the full effect. The application isn’t compatible with all browsers. But if your operating system is up-to-date, you should be able adjust the display settings in the control panel of your PC or mobile device to strengthen the smell.

Library users are also advised to scratch carefully, as sharp fingernails and aggressive scratching may damage your monitor and cause the “Scratch-n-Sniff” function not to work properly.

“Over the years, e-books have represented a larger and larger percentage of library collections, even as some researchers—particularly those in the humanities—continue to turn their nose up at them,” said Jeff Kosokoff, Assistant University Librarian for Collection Strategy. “We understand. Nothing quite compares to the age-old experience of immersing yourself in a physical book. But now that digital is the only option for a while, we’re doing everything we can to replicate the experience Duke’s world-class students and faculty are accustomed to.”

“We had to pay through the nose for this add-on feature,” Kosokoff added, “but it’s worth it to keep our Duke community feeling connected to their library.”

Fans of the classics will be particularly pleased to know that the earlier a book’s original publication date, the mustier it smells. For instance, clicking the “Scratch-n-Sniff” button while reading an electronic copy of David Copperfield (which happens to be our next selection for the Low Maintenance Book Club, by the way) is like holding a real first-edition Dickens up to your nose.

The “Scratch-n-Sniff” e-book feature is available for a limited time for selected e-books in our library catalog and works with most PCs, laptops, Apple and Android devices, and e-readers, including Amazon Kindle, Kobo Libra, and Barnes and Noble Nook. It does not work with Internet Explorer, however.

Library user sniffing ebook screen
Is this fragrant feature for real? Unfortunately it snot. Happy April Fools’ Day, Dukies. Smell ya later!

Welcome to the Abode of Happiness!

Istanbul, also known as Der Saadet (Abode of Happiness), is a city unlike many others. Its very name evokes a mythical image of earthly paradise. And for those fortunate to have visited the Turkish cultural capital, whether for business (as I did during a book-buying trip) or pleasure, there are plenty of reasons why this is the case. Situated between the Black and Mediterranean seas, Istanbul has always been a picturesque city, brimming with diverse cultures, languages, ideas, and technologies.  A collection of 174 Turkish postcards and photos from the late 1890s to the 1930s, recently digitized by Duke University Library, allows us to get a glimpse of this happy abode at the turn of the twentieth century, immediately before things went very badly.

Most of the images in the Istanbul postcards collection depict everyday life in Üsküdar, a historic neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul that was once home to thriving communities of Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, and other ethnic groups.  Considering Üsküdar’s cultural and linguistic diversity, it is not surprising that this neighborhood was also commonly known as Scutari (in English and Italian), likely a diminutive of the Greek Skoutàrion (Σκουτάριον), the original name of the area.

The Istanbul postcards collection contains striking images that document everyday life, historic buildings and ports, various architectural features, and other topics that may be of interest to students and researchers of late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century Istanbul.

Perhaps one of the more iconic landmarks in Istanbul is the Kız kulesi (Maiden’s Tower)–also known as Leander’s Tower (after the Greek myth of Hero and Leander)–a lighthouse situated in the Bosphorus straits, between the European and Asian sides of the city. There have been several towers over the centuries, with the original wood construction dating back to 1110 CE. The one depicted in this postcard was restored only in 1725.  Here the Tower is festooned with lights to celebrate the ten-year anniversary since the founding of the Republic of Turkey (1923), a vivid example of the government’s attempt to appropriate historical sites of memory for contemporary political purposes.

On the banks of the Bosphorus lies the impressive Beylerbeyi Sarayı (Palace), the historic building depicted in the postcard below. Completed in 1865, the palace was the summer home of Sultan Abdülaziz (1830-1876), the first Ottoman Sultan to travel to Western Europe. After Greek nationalist forces defeated the Ottomans in Selanik in 1912, Sultan Abdülhamid (who had previously been confined to the Villa Allatini) would be forced to move to this palatial residence.  The embossed stamp (reading “Constantinople,” rather than Istanbul) on the bottom left corner of the postcard suggests, however, that the creators of this souvenir sought to emphasize the building’s status as a European-style architectural landmark, rather than its role as a place of political exile.The influence of France, and in particular the French language, was pervasive throughout the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth-century, especially among the literary elite. That is why, for example, many Ottoman-language journals (like the ones included in the recently launched digital project on the French Press in the Ottoman Empire), would often include a French translation or sub-title. To meet this growing demand, French educational entrepreneurs began opening schools in Istanbul.  One of these schools, the Fransız Sainte Marie Okulu, is pictured in the postcard below.  Note that although the writing on the back of the postcard is from 1933, the image of the school itself likely dates to the late nineteenth-century . Today, the historic building in which the school was once housed is part of a larger restoration project (Bağlarbaşı ilköğretim ve İş Okulu Restorasyonu).Another historic building depicted in the Turkish postcard collection is the Üsküdar Haydarpaşa Sultan tıbbiye mektebi (Üsküdar Haydarpaşa Sultan neighbourhood and Medical School). Built in 1827 as a military academy for the study of modern medicine, the school employed European and Ottoman doctors, who taught their students in French.  The field of medicine was yet another example of the wide circulation of French (and, more broadly, European) ideas and practices in late Ottoman culture.  You can learn more about the school and its place in Ottoman and European intellectual history with this recent publication.Another postcard on the theme of medicine and society is the one that portrays the Üsküdar miskinler tekkesi ve sebili (Üsküdar Leprosy house and water kiosk), the public health institution to which individuals suffering from this stigmatized infectious disease were confined and where they received such medical care as was available at the time. Although the term for this institution could also be translated as “lodges for the poor, helpless, wretched”—in addition to leper, the word miskinler, which is of Arabic origin with a Turkish suffix, also means poor, helpless, wretched; while tekke,  a word borrowed from Persian but of Arabic origin, means lodge) —the miskinler tekkesi were colloquially known as tembelhâne, meaning “lazy houses.” Indeed, it is fair to say that rather than being sent for professional medical treatment, lepers were banished from society to live in miskinler tekkesi. For further information on Ottoman laws and debates about such matters see Studies in old Ottoman criminal law. And for further information about Ottoman disability studies, see Disability in the Ottoman Arab World, 1500-1800.A few images in the newly-digitized Istanbul postcard collection depict a very dark period of Turkish history, known as İşgal (the period of foreign occupation). After its defeat in World War I (1918), the Ottoman Empire was dismembered by the victorious military powers.  As a direct result, British, French, Italian, and Greek troops moved into the former Abode of Happiness and took over the administration of the city.  Istanbul and its residents were kept under strict watch, not least by means of naval vessels, such as the two steamships depicted, in the postcard below, patrolling the waters off Ortaköy with Üsküdar in the foreground. This tumultuous period witnessed the rise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and ended only with the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 (a defining political event that was celebrated as a national holiday in the abovementioned postcard of the Maiden’s Tower, and that continues to be celebrated today).Finally, I will end this short blog entry on Duke’s newly-digitized collection of Istanbul postcards with this fantastic image of an old pier in the Kandilli neighbourhood of Üsküdar. The steamship and other boats (depicted on the left and center of the postcard) illustrate the importance that piers and the Bosphorus have played in Istanbul’s centuries-long history, while also giving us a glimpse (on the right-hand side of the image) of the traditional yalılar (waterfront residences and mansions), which dot the Bosphorus coast.  This is a reassuring image, which suggests that whatever political and name changes the city may yet to undergo, the Abode of Happiness will remain, first and foremost, a strategically located sea port in the very heart of Eurasia.Like the previously digitized Selanik/Salonica/Thessaloniki postcard collection, the Istanbul postcards collection adds depth to Duke University Library’s holdings on the Middle East and offers yet another electronic resource for scholars of many disciplines to use for research and teaching.

Please feel free to explore the digitized Istanbul Photographs and Postcards Collection, 1890s-1930s, and see what you can discover for yourself.  The images are free to download and use for research, but please cite Duke University Libraries.

Should you have questions, please contact Sean Swanick, Librarian for Middle East and Islamic Studies at Duke University.

 

 

Greetings from Selanik/Salonica/Thessaloniki!

International and area studies librarians facilitate research not only about different parts of the globe, but also about different eras in time.  A prime example of this historical orientation is the recently-acquired and-digitized Selanik/Salonica/Thessaloniki postcard collection.  This new addition to Duke University Library’s already extensive International Postcard Collection consists of 208 images documenting the famous Aegean Sea port-city from the late 19th to the early 20th-centuries.

Thanks to its favourable location and its large and natural seaport, this ancient city hosted merchants from near and far. In part because of its function as an international trading post, the city’s population was a mix of cultures (Armenian, Jewish, Greek, Arab, and Turk) and religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). During the 20th-century, however, the formation of nation-states with regulated borders, the eruption of major wars in the region, and the consequent displacement of populations through both natural and forced migration, effectively destroyed the diversity of this multi-ethnic metropolis. The Selanik/Salonica/Thessaloniki postcard collection allows us to get a fleeting—and, therefore, all the more special—glimpse of the world that was lost as a result of war and genocide.

“What’s in a name?”

The Aegean port-city was founded in 315 BC and named after Thessaloniki (Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη), the wife of King Cassander of Macedonia and half-sister of Alexander the Great.  When the Byzantine Empire – the Christianized successor to Alexander’s empire – fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1423, Thessaloniki’s days as a Greek city were numbered.  In fact, just seven years later, the Ottomans captured the Aegean port city and changed its name to Selanik (Ottoman Turkish: سلانیك‎). The city would officially retain this name from 1430 until 1912, when Greek nationalist forces defeated the Ottomans and changed its name back to Thessaloniki.

During the long period of Ottoman rule, the city was also informally known as Salonica (Ladino: סאלוניקו). This toponym was the Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish variant of the Ottoman Turkish name for the city. Like the city itself, Ladino was a mix of cultural influences: “based in Spanish and other Iberian languages, with a strong Hebrew Aramaic component,” but also incorporating “many elements from the languages of the Mediterranean world, including Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, and Arabic.”  The widespread use of the name Salonica is a reminder of the once sizable Jewish community of the Aegean port city.  The Jewish population came to call Salonica home after the Reconquista and the Edict of Expulsion from Spain in 1492. However, in World War II the Jews of Salonica suffered dramatically during the Nazi occupation, which all but erased their physical presence and their role in the city’s history, save for some architectural achievements.

Wish you were here!

As the following selection of greeting cards from the digitized Selanik/Salonica/Thessaloniki postcard collection demonstrates, the creators of the images were very cognizant of the way they wished to portray their city and, therefore, very deliberate in their choice of subject matter.  Everything was meant to leave the tourist who bought and sent the postcard with a positive memory of his or her visit to the city and the addressee who received it with a desire to visit it for him or herself.

The colourful postcard below, for example, displays a tranquil street scene from the usually bustling and crowded business district of Selanik.  The street in question is not just any street, but the “Grand rue de la Banque Ottoman.”  The influential Ottoman Bank (seen on the right) was built in 1903 by the Turkish architects Barouh and Amar with an eye to synthesizing local and European architectural aesthetics of the time.  This attempt to appeal to multiple constituencies at one and the same time may explain why the title of the card is printed in both French and Ottoman.

Near the Ottoman Bank and its busy shops was the Allatini brick factory, which now sits abandoned. The brick factory was named after the family who founded it. The Allatini family was of Iberian Jewish heritage and had settled in Salonica in the early 16th century. The family would also open the Allatini flour mill, which is still in operation to this day, though now located in Sindos, a suburb of Thessaloniki. The Allatini family also owned the Villa Allatini, which is a historic building not merely because it was the family’s country estate, but also because it came to play a role in one of the most dramatic events in the history of modern Turkey. In 1908, a nationalist group called the Young Turks led a successful revolution to dethrone the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and restore the Constitution.  The Sultan was forced to abdicate and was later put under house arrest at the Villa Allatini (depicted in the black-and-white postcard below).

Other building-related postcards in the digitized collection offer views, frequently only in passing, of architectural features that are no longer a regular part of the everyday modern life. One example are the images of the sahnisi (σαχνισί), or traditional protruding balconies, which were meant to allow sunlight into a specific space of a home (as seen on the right hand side of the next image):

Among other topics, the digitized Selanik/Salonica/Thessaloniki postcard collection offers images that depict vestiges of Thessaloniki’s Turkish heritage, for example this Deniz hamamı (traditional Ottoman-Turkish bathhouse):

And this image of a sünnet bayramı (circumcision festival), a ceremony regularly held and often documented in manuscripts known as Surname-i Hümayun.

The collection ends in 1917, the year Thessaloniki was ravaged by a tremendous fire. From the dramatic image on the following postcard, it is possible to get a sense of both the magnitude of the fire as well as the terror that must have overcome the locals. The Great Fire, as it came to be known, drastically transformed the layout of the city, adding yet another layer to the palimpsest that is the history of Selanik/Salonica/Thessaloniki.

Please feel free to explore the digitized Selanik/Salonica/Thessaloniki postcard collection, and see what you can discover for yourself.  The images are free to download and use for research, but please cite Duke University Libraries.

Should you have questions, please contact Sean Swanick, Librarian for Middle East and Islamic Studies at Duke University.

Library Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is here! We are so excited for the holiday season but know how hard it is to brainstorm gift ideas. Luckily, the Duke University Libraries have two programs that provide the perfect opportunity for a thoughtful and unique present.

Adopt-A-Book

Game of Thrones
A few noteworthy first editions from the recently acquired Locus Science Fiction Foundation collection, all available for adoption.

That best friend who has seen every episode of Game of Thrones? Get them the perfect holiday gift by adopting the first book in the series, signed by George R. R. Martin himself! As part of our Adopt-a-Book Program, you can choose from a number of books and help fund their preservation in honor of someone else.

We have many titles across a variety of subjects, so you can find the perfect title that truly creates a gift like none other. An electronic bookplate with the name of the donor or honoree is added to the item’s catalog record, and they are also listed on the library website as a contributor. Gifts to the program help conserve a book and keep it available for current and future faculty, scholars, and students. 

Some lovely first-editions currently available for adoption are Philip K. Dick’s Man in the High Castle (1962), Edith Wharton’s Old New York (1924), Gertrude Jekyll’s Children and Gardens (1933), Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy (1925) and John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1827). Find many more at our Adopt-a-Book website.


Adopt-A-Digital-Collection

Thumbnail
Duke football player Ken Abbott (c. 1933), from the Duke Sports Information Office Photographic Negatives Collection.

Maybe you have an uncle who loves Duke athletics but already has ten basketball jerseys? You can still give him the perfect holiday gift by adopting Photographic Negatives from the Duke Sports Information Office, a digital collection relating to all things Duke sports. Every year, we digitize thousands of items in our collections. These digital assets must be carefully managed to preserve them for generations of students and researchers to come. This work requires storage space, the specialized expertise of our talented staff, and you! Our Adopt-a-Digital-Collection program allows you to support the long-term preservation of these important cultural and scholarly resources, keeping them safe and accessible indefinitely. Each digital collection available for adoption is unique, allowing you to specialize your holiday gift to someone’s interests.  

Some collections currently available to be preserved include the African American Soldier’s Korean War photo album, the Isaac Leroy Shavers Papers that include his sermons and missionary work, and Italian Cultural Posters. Find those and more at our Adopt-a-Digital Collection website

 

The Memory Project: Showcasing a digital collection with a website

Katie Odhner was an intern in the International and Area Studies Department in the Duke Libraries. She has a B.A. in Chinese Studies and History from the University of Pennsylvania. She recently graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with a Master’s of Science in Library Science. The following post is written by her.

Over the course of this summer, I have been working with Luo Zhou, Duke’s Chinese Studies Librarian, and Will Shaw, our Digital Humanities Consultant, to create on a website showcasing the Memory Project digital collection, which went up on the Duke Digital Repository in July. Launched in 2010 by documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang, the ongoing project has collected hundreds of oral history interviews from elderly Chinese villagers. The initiative was originally intended to document individual stories of the Great Famine, which caused the death of 20 to 43 million people between 1958 and 1961. It has since expanded to cover other movements in the early history of the People’s Republic of China, including the Great Leap Forward of 1958-1960, the Land Reform and the Collectivization of 1949-1953, and the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976.

We had a number of reasons for wanting to create a website to feature this collection. Firstly, a website can provide additional context. Luo used TimelineJS, an interactive, open-source software to create a visual timeline of the period covered in the interviews. This allows users of the collection to examine the events and policies that underpin the personal experiences found in the oral histories.

                Secondly, the website helps promote the collection. With more than 200 interviews, it can be difficult to find an entry point. We asked students and filmmakers who had worked on the collection to recommend one or two of their favorites. I created a tile lay-out on our WordPress page to feature these interviews, along with comments from the recommenders. One of my favorite parts of working on this project was looking through the featured interviews. They contain many tales of devastating tragedy and incredible courage that bring the bleak events in history books to vivid life. The website also provides a platform for advertising events about the project. Stay tuned for the visit of a number of the filmmakers in October!

Finally, the website provides new access points for the collection and a way of quantitatively visualizing the interviews via a map. The map was the most challenging element of the website to design. There is an abundance of mapping tools, both free and proprietary, so part of the difficulty was selecting the one that fit our needs best. Once this was accomplished, it took a great deal of time just to understand the capabilities of our chosen tool (ArcGIS Web Maps). Shout-out to Drew Keener and Mark Thomas, members of the library’s Data and Visualization Services Department who gave great GIS tips along the way. It was a fun design challenge to come up with a method that could allow the user to filter the interviews by topic, as well as link out to interviews for a given village in the Digital Repository.

After reflecting on the overall experience of building the website, here are some of my major take-aways for future digital humanities endeavors:

  • Decide on your priorities. I found that the tools I was using could not always achieve what I envisioned. Sometimes finding a solution was just around the corner, and sometimes it could mean getting sucked down the rabbit-hole for hours. Having an understanding of what is important in the long-run helps prevent wasted time.
  • Consult with colleagues. The excellent members of the Digital Scholarship and Data Visualization Departments provided lots of good advice and saved me from wandering around in the aforementioned rabbit-hole on several occasions.
  • Give yourself time to play around. I discovered some of the cooler mapping features just through experimenting with ArcGIS. Sometimes no amount of guide-reading can replace trying things out for yourself.

Working with digital tools was great, but the best part of the project for me was the opportunity to reflect on the aspects of the collection that are most valuable and how best to highlight them. The tools stand in service to providing alternative means of access to the collection, visualizing its scope, and bringing the human stories contained in it to a broader audience.

Announcement: Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union Web Archive

Ernest (“Erik”) Zitser is the Librarian for Slavic and East European Studies, library liaison to the International Comparative Studies (ICS) Program, and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at Duke University.

The newly launched Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union Web Archive is a collaborative effort to build a curated, thematic collection of freely available, but at-risk, web content in order to support research about this area of the world.

In recent years, this turbulent region has produced a significant volume of websites likely to be of value to contemporary and future humanities, social science, and history projects, and the archive was established as an attempt to identify, capture, and preserve this material.

The thematic and generic scope of the archive is deliberately broad, and includes websites published by political parties, non-governmental organizations and activist groups, artists and cultural collectives, as well as individual historians, philosophers, and other intellectuals.

Campaign Against Homophobia (Poland)

Memorial Society (Russia)

Party of United Democrats (Macedonia)

The Archive represents an effort to preserve research-valuable web content from Eastern Europe and the territories of the Former Soviet Union by a group of research librarians responsible for that part of the world. This cooperative collecting initiative was developed, and is being curated by Russian and East European Studies librarians at Columbia, Princeton, Yale, New York and Duke Universities, as well as the New York Public Library, as part of the Web Resources Collection Program of the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation.

Know of an endangered website from the region? Please use this online form to nominate a website for inclusion in the Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union Web Archive.

 

In-Depth Look at SNCC’s Past Offers Lessons for Activists Today

Man and woman looking over a brochure for a political candidate before election day in Lowndes County, Alabama, November, 1966, Photograph by Jim Peppler, Courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.

What can the immediate past teach us about voting rights, self-determination, and democracy today? A new website created by the SNCC Legacy Project and Duke University explores how the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)—the only youth-led national civil rights group—organized a grassroots movement in the 1960s that empowered Black communities and transformed the nation.  Told from the perspectives of the activists themselves, the SNCC Digital Gateway: Learn from the Past, Organize for the Future, Make Democracy Work (snccdigital.org) highlights SNCC’s thinking and work building democracy from the ground up, making those experiences and strategies accessible to activists, educators, and engaged citizens today.

Generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the site uses documentary footage, audio recordings, photographs, and documents to chronicle how SNCC organizers, alongside thousands of local Black residents in the Deep South, worked to enable Black people to take control of their lives. The gateway unveils and examines the inner workings of SNCC over the course of its 12-year existence—its structure, how it coordinated sit-ins and other direct action protests, and how it organized voter registration efforts and economic cooperatives to effect social change. SNCC had more field staff than any civil rights organization and was considered the cutting edge of the civil rights movement.

The SNCC Digital Gateway also presents the voices of today’s young activists in the Movement for Black Lives, sharing their views on the impact of SNCC and the southern civil rights movement of the 1960s on their activities today. “Reading through the SNCC Digital Gateway website is like taking a masters class in community organizing,” explains Jennifer Bryant, a community organizer based in Washington, D.C. “The primary source documents provide a deeper understanding of how SNCC was structured, the day-to-day work of field organizers and how campaigns were shaped. The site serves as a reminder that the civil rights movement was fought by everyday people. It provides hope that in these perilous times, we too can fight and win.” Courtland Cox, chairman of the SNCC Legacy Project, who served as an organizer in Mississippi and Alabama in the 1960s, explains, “Our experiences have created a level of ‘informational wealth’ that we need to pass on to young people. This unprecedented collaboration with Duke University hopefully will pilot a way for other academic institutions to re-engage history and those who make it.”

The website is a product of a groundbreaking partnership among veteran civil rights activists of the SNCC Legacy Project, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, Duke University Libraries, and civil rights scholars. Wesley Hogan, director of the Center for Documentary Studies, who has written extensively about SNCC’s work and legacy explains, “The way we are working together—activists, archivists, and scholars—is a powerful new model. This project gives us a unique opportunity to understand the work of the local people who broke apart Jim Crow that would otherwise be lost to future generations.”


For more information, contact:

Wesley Hogan, Director, Center for Documentary Studies
(919) 660-3610
wesley.hogan@duke.edu

Courtland Cox, Chairman, SNCC Legacy Project
(220) 550-8455
courtlandc@starpower.net

John Gartrell, John Hope Franklin Research Center, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
(919) 660-5922
john.gartrell@duke.edu

Duke Libraries Holiday Gift Guide

great-lakes

The holidays are just around the corner, and you still don’t know what to get that person on your list who has everything.  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Instead of another tie or pair of socks, give a gift that matters to every member of the Duke community.  Make an honorary or memorial gift to Duke University Libraries, and make a difference in the lives of our students, faculty, and researchers.  Your gift to one of the funds below helps us continue to add resources and services that support the Duke and Durham community.

You can direct your honorary or memorial gift to one or more of the Libraries’ funds, including:

  • The Library Annual Fund provides flexible, unrestricted support for the Libraries’ varied operational needs (and the Honoring with Books program gives Annual Fund donors who contribute $100 or more the opportunity to recognize a special person or event with an electronic bookplate)
  • The Adopt-A-Book program funds the conservation of an item from the collections, and provides flexible support for the Conservation Services department
  • The Adopt-A-Digital Collection program funds the long-term preservation and storage of our digital collections.

Thank you for strengthening the Duke community by making a gift to the Duke University Libraries this holiday season!

PLEASE NOTE: When you make an honorary or memorial gift online, please be sure to fill out the necessary information in the “Gift Dedication” section of our online giving form.

On the Road with the Frank C. Brown Collection

Guest post by Winston Atkins, Preservation Officer for the Duke University Libraries and Principal Investigator for the grant to digitize Frank Clyde Brown’s recordings of early twentieth-century folk music.

Frank C. Brown in the field, date and location unknown. Brown often used a car battery to power the recording devices he used.
Frank C. Brown in the field, date and location unknown. Brown often used a car battery to power the recording devices he used.

 

We are a nation linked by iHeartRadio stations playing “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones—that much is certain. I come to understand this as I drive the Frank Clyde Brown Collection’s 60 wax cylinders and 76 aluminum discs of folk songs and ballads to the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Massachusetts. There, the NEDCC will use a new and highly innovative technology called IRENE to help us rediscover these performances, which have been essentially unavailable to scholars for nearly a century.

It’s almost too easy to contrast that single, frequently repeated song (unloved by me) with my cargo, but I do it anyway: it’s a 15-hour trip and I’ve got time. The 136 cylinders and discs hold an estimated 1,367 performances collected by Brown as he traveled across North Carolina between 1915 and his death in 1943. Brown, an English professor who also served as comptroller during Trinity College’s transition into Duke University, somehow also found time to drive into back areas throughout North Carolina to record this music. There’s a certain symmetry to me driving his recordings from Duke to Andover.

Because they are too fragile to be played as intended, the cylinders and discs will be digitized using a non-contact visual scanning technology known as IRENE. Image courtesy of NEDCC.org.
Because they are too fragile to be played as intended, the cylinders and discs will be digitized using a non-contact visual scanning technology known as IRENE. Image courtesy of NEDCC.org.

The wax cylinders are especially brittle, though, which is why Craig Breaden and I finally decided I should drive them to the NEDCC rather than ship them. Craig, the Rubenstein Library’s Audiovisual Archivist, serves as the Project Manager for this grant. We’ve taken special care in packing, and each cylinder is stored in its own box. Twenty cylinders are then housed in a storage box, and for the trip, each storage box is packed in a larger box and surrounded by foam packing peanuts. The single storage box of aluminum discs is packed the same way. Although not as fragile as the wax cylinders, some of the discs use an acetate “lacquer” for the recording medium, which can be damaged.

The care extends to the trip: I’ve rented a minivan, which provides the bonus of a separate air conditioning system for the back storage area. That helps keep the cargo at a uniform temperature—changes in temperature are particularly hard on wax cylinders. In fact, I decide not to eat dinner while the outdoor temperature is above 75 degrees because I don’t want to leave the air conditioning off for too long. I drive to Hartford, Connecticut, that night and when I check into the motel, I take all four boxes into my room, where I put them on the bed instead of on the floor, just in case the fan coil unit leaks. They look kind of cozy there.

FCBrownBeddedF
The boxed-up cylinders and discs, resting from their journey.

What makes the IRENE technology worth the trouble? Craig and I will write more about it over the course of this project, but IRENE is perfect for material like this. IRENE makes ultra-high resolution visual scans of a disc’s or cylinder’s grooves to create an image of the track; its software converts the images to sound files. Creating visual scans first means that we can get an accurate digital sound file without a needle or stylus. That provides two important advantages: we don’t risk further damage to the grooves of these fragile media, and IRENE can sometimes recover sound from cracked or broken discs and cylinders if it can get an image of the grooves sufficient to match up with the other pieces. It’s amazing, and only the NEDCC provides this service.

NEDCC6
Jane Pipik, Manager of Audio Preservation Services at NEDCC, demonstrates how IRENE translates visual groove scans into digital sound files.

All of us associated with this project feel like the Brown Collection is a great collection, the music a treasure waiting to be rediscovered. The recordings contain ballads and folk songs that can be traced back to England, songs that traveled to North Carolina from other parts of the United States, and songs like those around the murder of Laura Foster by Tom Dula (a.k.a. Tom Dooley) that originated here.

And that’s what distinguishes this music from the Stones’ “Start Me Up.” Although the same song might be represented several times in the collection, each performance is unique; each musician provided his or her own take on the lyrics and music, or of the people from whom he or she learned the music. Even though the title might be the same, each performance potentially offers insights to us about the culture of the musicians’ locale. That is what makes the trip worth it.


The grant to digitize Frank Clyde Brown’s recordings is part of the Council on Library and Information Resources’ Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program, a national competition that funds the digitization of rare and unique content held by libraries and cultural memory institutions and that would otherwise be unavailable to the public. The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. 

The program receives generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.  Additional information is available at mellon.org.

Library Receives Grant to Digitize Early Twentieth-Century Folk Music

Some 60 wax cylinders and 76 aluminum discs containing approximately 1,367 songs recorded in the 1920s and 1930s will be digitized as part of the project.
Some 60 wax cylinders and 76 aluminum discs containing approximately 1,367 songs recorded in the 1920s and 1930s will be digitized as part of the project.

Duke University Libraries has received a $74,595 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to digitize a large collection of North Carolina folk music that has never been widely heard.

The collection includes some 1,367 songs recorded in the 1920s and 1930s on wax cylinders and aluminum discs. The recordings were made in the field by folklorist, professor of English, and Duke University administrator Frank Clyde Brown (1870-1943), who traveled across North Carolina collecting folk songs, sayings, stories, and other folklore between 1912 and his death in 1943. Brown collected songs from at least 52 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, representing all regions of the state.

“The recordings include music unique to North Carolina, as well as popular American folk songs, traditional British ballads, and a range of other tunes,” said Winston Atkins, Preservation Officer for Duke University Libraries and the principal investigator for the project. “Taken together, they represent an important and untapped primary source of American folk music in the early twentieth century.”

The songs have never been widely accessible due to the age and fragility of the recording technology Brown used, as well as the difficulty of transferring them to more modern media formats.

Wax Cylinder from the Frank C Brown Collection
Because they are too fragile to be played as intended, the cylinders and discs will be digitized using a non-contact visual scanning technology known as IRENE.

“Until recently, there has been no non-destructive way to recover audio on historical wax cylinders and aluminum discs, which require a mechanical stylus and can be damaged if played today,” said Craig Breaden, Audiovisual Archivist in Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The Duke recordings will be digitized using a new non-contact technology, known as IRENE, at the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts. IRENE takes ultra-high resolution visual scans of the grooves imprinted on the cylinders and discs and mathematically translates those into digital sound files that are remarkably faithful to the original recordings. Because there is no actual contact with the recording, IRENE’s scans can also capture sounds from damaged media.

The method has been used successfully to digitize other historical audio collections, including some of the earliest examples of recorded sound made by Thomas Edison.

Digitization will begin in the summer of 2016 and take approximately one year. The recordings will then be described and processed, and the collection will be made freely and publicly available through the Duke University Libraries website in 2018.

Undated photograph of Frank C. Brown from the Duke University Archives.
Undated photograph of Frank C. Brown from the Duke University Archives.

Born in 1870, Frank Clyde Brown began his career as a professor of English at Trinity College in Durham (the forerunner of Duke University) in 1909 and later became chairman of the department. Between 1924 and 1930, as Trinity expanded into Duke University, Brown served as the institution’s first comptroller, overseeing the construction of West Campus and the renovation of East Campus. He also served as university marshal, entertaining distinguished visitors to the new university.

In 1913, at the urging of legendary folklorist and musicologist John A. Lomax, Brown founded the North Carolina Folklore Society and was elected its first president. He later served as its secretary-treasurer, program chairman, and primary collector until his death in 1943. His efforts to record the sounds and nuances of North Carolina’s “folk” were part of a national trend in the early twentieth century to preserve American folk culture, aided by new technologies that allowed folklorists to make recordings in the field. The 1,367 songs captured by Brown are a significant part of that legacy.

The seven-volume Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, published posthumously by Duke University Press between 1952 and 1964, represents Brown’s lifetime of collecting. It is widely regarded as one of the premiere collections of American folklore ever published and is available online. Four of the seven volumes are dedicated to the music Brown recorded and include transcribed melodies and song lyrics. However, the editors of Brown’s work left out an estimated 400 songs he recorded. These “bonus tracks,” which are found on the wax cylinders and aluminum discs but not in the published collection, will be digitized as part of the project.

"All Day Singing." Woodcut by Clare Leighton, from Vol. 2 of the Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, published by Duke University Press in 1952.
“All Day Singing.” Woodcut by Clare Leighton, from Vol. 2 of the Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, published by Duke University Press in 1952.

Brown’s original manuscripts and notes, which were used to compile the collection, along with his original recordings, are housed in Duke’s Rubenstein Library.

In 2015, two Duke faculty members—Victoria Szabo and Trudi Abel—incorporated some of the Frank C. Brown recordings into NC Jukebox, an interdisciplinary Bass Connections course introducing undergraduate and graduate students to digital history. Students conducted original research on the history of the recordings and tracked down the descendants of some of the singers and musicians. The course will be offered again in Spring 2017.

The grant to digitize Brown’s recordings is part of CLIR’s Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program, a national competition that funds the digitization of rare and unique content held by libraries and cultural memory institutions that would otherwise be unavailable to the public.

 

History Hackathon – a collaborative happening

Students in Rubenstein Reading Room

What is a History Hackathon?

The term “Hackathon” traditionally refers to an event in which computer programmers collaborate intensively on software projects. But Duke University Libraries and the History Department are putting a historical twist on their approach to the Hackathon phenomenon. In this case, the History Hackathon is a contest for undergraduate student teams to research, collaborate, and create projects inspired by the resources available in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library collections. Projects may include performances, essays, websites, infographics, lectures, podcasts, and more. A panel of experts will serve as judges and rank the top three teams. Cash Prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.

The History Hackathon will take place over a 72-hour period from October 23-25, in the Rubenstein Library and The Edge.  All the  guidelines, rules, and details may be found at the History Hackathon: a Collaborative Happening  site.Students in the Edge

  • When:  Friday, October 23rd to
    Sunday, October 25th

http://sites.duke.edu/historyhackathon/register/

Contact : HistoryHackathon@duke.edu


Sponsored by the Duke History Department,  the Duke University Libraries, the David M. Rubenstein Library, and the Duke University Undergraduate Research Support Office.

Contributor: Susannah Roberson

 

 

The Memory Project at Duke: Film Screenings and Events Coming this October

 

Chinese documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang launched the Memory Project in 2010 to collect oral histories from survivors of the Great Famine (1958-1961) in rural China.
Chinese documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang launched the Memory Project in 2010 to collect thousands of oral histories from survivors of the Great Famine (1958-1961) across rural China.

This October, Duke will be hosting Chinese documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang and three of his fellow documentarians for a two-week residency and the launch of a new digital oral history collection.

Wu Wenguang is one of the founding figures of the Chinese independent documentary film movement. His groundbreaking debut film, Bumming in Beijing (1990), portrayed with unscripted candor the disillusionment of five young Chinese artists in the wake of the Tiananmen Square student protests in 1989.

One of Wu’s recent endeavors is the Memory Project, a wide-ranging documentary history of China’s Great Famine (1958-1961), featuring interviews with thousands of famine survivors. The interviews shine a light on one of modern China’s most traumatic episodes. Tens of millions of Chinese citizens died during the Great Famine years as a result of economic and social policies enacted under Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward campaign. The famine and resulting death toll are often glossed over in official Chinese state history.

Starting in 2010, Wu recruited numerous young filmmakers for the Memory Project, dispatching them to 246 villages across twenty rural provinces. More than 1,220 elderly villagers were interviewed and recorded. These interviews also gave the amateur filmmakers from Wu’s studio a chance to leave the bustling chaos of the cities and reconnect with the history of the their families and their nation.

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Visiting filmmakers (left to right) Li Xinmin, Zou Xueping, Wu Wenguang, and Zhang Mengqi.

In 2012, Wu and several of his protégés visited Duke for a series of screenings from the Memory Project. During that trip, he selected Duke’s Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as an appropriate home for the raw footage of the interviews to be preserved. The first batch of interviews, totaling about 1,150 videos, was brought to Duke in the summer of 2013. Over the next several years, the Duke University Libraries will process the footage into a new digital collection for researchers worldwide to access.

Wu, along with fellow Memory Project documentarians Li Xinmin, Zhang Mengqi, and Zou Xueping, will return to Duke this October for a two-week residency and to launch the pilot for this new digital collection. There will be several events and film screenings to celebrate the filmmakers and their ground-breaking work.

 

Screenings and Events

All events are free and open to the public. Films are in Chinese with English subtitles. Films will be introduced by Duke University professor Guo-Juin Hong and be followed by Q&A discussions with the filmmakers.

Tuesday, October 21, 5:00 p.m.
Panel discussion and reception featuring Ralph Litzinger, Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Women’s Studies and Faculty Director of Global Semester Abroad; Tom Rankin, Director of the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts; and Guo-Juin Hong, Associate Professor of Chinese Literature and Culture, Director of the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image, and Co-Director of the FHI Audiovisualities Lab.
Franklin Humanities Institute Garage, Smith Warehouse (map)

Thursday, October 23, 4:00 p.m.
Reception and short clips with the visiting filmmakers
Perkins Library 217 (map)

Friday, October 24, 7:00 p.m.
Screening of “Trash Village” (2013, 82 mins.) by Zou Xueping
White Lecture Hall, East Campus (map)

Tuesday, October 28
5:00 p.m.: Reception with visiting filmmakers. Thomas Room, Lilly Library, East Campus (map)
7:00 p.m.: Screening of “Self-portrait” (2013, 77 mins.) by Zhang Mengqi. White Lecture Hall, East Campus (map).

Wednesday, October 29, 7:00 p.m.
Screening of “Huamulin, Boy Xiaoqiang” (2013, 76 mins.) by Li Xinmin
Griffith Film Theater, Bryan Center (map)

Film screenings are part of the Cine-East Fall 2014 East Asian Film Series, co-sponsored by the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute, Screen/Society, the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image, and the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. The panel discussion on October 21 is co-sponsored by the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image.

 

Gedney Book Shortlisted for Photobook of the Year

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The inside cover of Iris Garden (2013), featuring work by William Gedney.

A new photobook featuring the work of  William Gedney (1932-1989) has been short-listed for the prestigious 2013 Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards. Gedney’s life work is housed in the Archive of Documentary Arts, part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke. Thousands of his photographs and notebooks made between 1950 and 1989 have been digitized and are freely available on our website.

The photobook, Iris Garden, combines forty-four photos by Gedney with twenty-two stories written by legendary avant-garde composer John Cage. It was edited by Alec Soth, designed by Hans Seeger, and published by Little Brown Mushroom. Both the Rubenstein Library and Kirston Johnson, curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts, are acknowledged for their help in providing the photographs which beautifully illustrate the book.

irisgarden
The cover of Iris Garden (2013), edited by Alec Soth and designed by Hans Seeger.

The layout of Iris Garden is a complicated arrangement of segments folded and layered inside and around each other. There is no one proper way to read through it. By opening and unfolding different pages, the reader enjoys a new order and experience every time. The structure parallels Cage’s interest in the idea that “all things—stories, incidental sounds from the environment, and, by extension, beings—are related, and that this complexity is more evident when it is not oversimplified by an idea of relationship in one person’s mind.”

The Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards are held annually to recognize photobooks of superior quality and content. The ten books that were named to the short list represent, according to judge Vince Aletti, “a particular attention to the book as an object, in which selection of images, sequence, scale, typography, and materials are all carefully considered.”

A final winners of the PhotoBook Awards will be announced at Paris Photo at the Grand Palais on November 15.

New Library Service: Digitize This Book

The Duke University Libraries are pleased to announce a new digitization-on-demand service that lets you have out-of-copyright books scanned and delivered to you digitally for free.

Internet Archive Scribe
From stacks to scanner to your inbox. We’re piloting a new service to digitize public domain books for Duke users on demand.

digitize_this_book2Starting this semester, Duke University faculty, students, and staff can request to have certain public domain books scanned on demand. If a book is published before 1923* and located in the Perkins, Bostock, Lilly, or Music Library or in the Library Service Center (LSC), a green “Digitize This Book” button (pictured here) will appear in its online catalog record. Clicking on this button starts the request.

Within two weeks (although likely sooner), you will get an email with a link to the digitized book in the Duke University Libraries collections on the Internet Archive. You—and the rest of the world—can now read this book online, download it to your Kindle, export it as a PDF, or get it as a fully searchable text-only file. And you never have to worry about late fees or recalls!

Throughout the spring semester, Duke University Libraries will be testing how this service works and tweaking the process. Pending the results of this pilot, we hope to expand this service to other library materials and users.

So give it a try, and let us know what you think! Email us directly at digitizebook@duke.edu. If you have questions, feel free as always to ask a librarian.

For answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the “Digitize This Book” service, visit the Duke University Libraries + Digital Scholarship site.

*Because of copyright restrictions, only books published before 1923 that have entered the public domain are eligible for this service.

New Exhibit: Caricature and the Dreyfus Affair

Detail from “Le Traître” (The Traitor), a lithograph depicting Alfred Dreyfus that is part of a new exhibit on caricature and the Dreyfus Affair in the Rubenstein Library.

Exhibit Reception—Please Join Us!
Date: Wednesday, January 30
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Rubenstein Library Photography Gallery, Rubenstein Library, Duke West Campus (Map)
Contact: Meg Brown, meg.brown@duke.edu, 919-681-2071

Few legal cases in French history have been so decisive, and so divisive, as the twelve-year trial, re-trial and eventual acquittal of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus, a Jewish military officer, was falsely accused in 1894 of selling military secrets to the German army. The trial sparked a flurry of anti-Semitism in the popular press and inspired Émile Zola’s famous open letter of outrage, “J’Accuse!”

A new exhibition in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke examines how the Dreyfus Affair was depicted in the French popular press, with a particular focus on visual illustrations in newspapers and periodicals that covered the trial. A Mockery of Justice: Caricature and the Dreyfus Affair encourages viewers to reconsider the significance of this historical episode that continues to resonate in the present day. As Zola pointed out, the Dreyfus Affair was about more than one man’s guilt or innocence. Also at stake were the very principles upon which the French Republic rested: liberté, égalité, fraternité. More than one hundred years later, the Dreyfus Affair offers a vivid lesson on the dangers of racial prejudice, blind loyalty to the military, and unthinking nationalism.

Cover illustration from “Le Petit Journal” (1895) showing Alfred Dreyfus being stripped of his military honors and titles.

Drawing on the Rubenstein Library’s extensive collection of  late-19th and early 20th-century French periodicals, the exhibit also features a rare series of colorful and attention-grabbing posters that were disseminated throughout Paris at the time. The posters, collectively known as the Musée des Horreurs, were published pseudo-anonymously and feature unflattering caricatures of prominent Jews, Dreyfus supporters, and other individuals involved in the Dreyfus Affair. Another set of posters, known as Musée des Patriotes, glorifies the so-called anti-Dreyfusards, who publicly condemned Dreyfus and sought to undermine his defense.

A complete original set of the Musée des Horreurs and the Musée des Patriotes was recently acquired by the Rubenstein Library and has been digitized in conjunction with the exhibit.

A Mockery of Justice: Caricature and the Dreyfus Affair was sponsored by the Duke Center for Jewish Studies and curated by Alexis Clark, Kathryn Desplanque, and Emilie Anne-Yvonne Luse, doctoral students in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies.

For more information, visit the online exhibit website. To see the complete set of images from the Musée des Horreurs and Musée des Patriotes, visit our digital collections website.

 

Exhibit Details
A Mockery of Justice: Caricature and the Dreyfus Affair
December 12, 2012 – March 9, 2013
Rubenstein Library Photography Gallery
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library (Click here for map)
Duke University West Campus
Public Hours: Monday-Friday, 8am–7pm; Saturday, 9am–7pm; Sunday, 10am–7pm
Hours may vary during the holidays. Please check our posted library hours for more information.

A New View of “Gitmo”

Revisiting the U.S. Naval Station, Guantánamo Bay, through the Duke University Libraries’ Caribbean Sea Migration Digital Collection

A “Mata de Navidad” (Christmas bush), constructed by Cuban detainees in a Guantánamo Bay tent city, 1994-1995.

When you hear the word “Guantánamo,” you probably don’t think of tent cities with families and children, religious festivals, and locally run newspapers.

But the Guantánamo Bay of the 1990s differed in many ways from the place Americans came to know after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Images of this earlier Guantánamo and its inhabitants, recently digitized by the Duke University Libraries, will soon be touring the country as part of an exhibit developed by the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, an initiative based at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. The exhibit, opening in New York City on December 13 and touring the United States through 2014, explores the complex and controversial history of “Gitmo.”

Two Haitian boys are given a medical exam aboard the US Coast Guard cutter Chase by Chief Warrant Officer Paul Healey, in October 1981.

“We were fortunate to have advance access to the [Caribbean Sea Migration] collection, so that nearly 100 students at 11 universities across the country could use it extensively to prepare our traveling exhibit on the long history of the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo,” said Liz Ševčenko, Founding Director of the Guantánamo Public Memory Project and faculty member at the Institute. “It’s a tremendous resource for researchers and the general public.”

During the years 1991-1993 and again in 1994, tens of thousands of Haitians, fleeing political upheaval and repression, were interdicted by the U.S. Coast Guard and removed to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. While they awaited decisions on whether they would be repatriated to Haiti or allowed to apply for asylum in the U.S., the Haitians made a life in the tent cities established for them by the U.S. military.

In 1994 over 30,000 Cubans set out from Cuba by sea for the United States. Among them was Pavel Rodríguez, a nine-year-old boy who, along with his family, was interdicted by the U.S. Coast Guard and taken to Guantánamo. Pavel, who years later would enroll at Duke University Medical School, remembers both the anxiety arising from prolonged detention at GTMO and the sense of community among the refugees. Pavel recalls fellow Cubans at GTMO forming a newspaper at the camp and opening an art gallery, along with his own memories of “chasing iguanas and flying kites behind barbed wires and fences guarded by heavily armed soldiers.”

Draft of a news release for the camp publication Sa K’Pase, announcing an American-style summer camp for children in Guantánamo Camp IIA, 1992.

Stories like Pavel’s, and those of many others like him, make up the recently digitized Caribbean Sea Migration Collection, which documents the experiences of the more than 200,000 Haitians, Cubans and Dominicans who traversed the Caribbean Sea in the late 20th century, fleeing political instability in their home countries. Materials in this collection provide varying perspectives on Guantánamo in the late 20th century: from military personnel running the camps, to publishers of and contributors to community newspapers, to detainee-artists creating works reflective of their experience.

For more on the Guantánamo Public Memory Project traveling exhibit, visit their website and blog.

To learn more about the Caribbean Sea Migration and other collections digitized by the Duke University Libraries—which are made freely available for teaching, learning, and research—visit our digital collections website.

 

Extra Credit: Post-Soviet Art at the Nasher

Alexander Kosolapov, “Untitled from Gorby Series.” From the Subverted Icon exhibit at the Nasher.

A new exhibit of post-Soviet artwork is currently on display in the Nasher Museum of Art’s Education Gallery through December 23, and it’s well worth a visit.

The exhibit, The Subverted Icon: Images of Power in Soviet Art (1970-1995), explores the ways in which artists in late- and post-Soviet Russia represented, confronted, and challenged state-sponsored propaganda, Soviet architecture, and the populist art of earlier generations. It was curated by students in Professor Pamela Kachurin’s “Soviet Art After Stalin” seminar. There’s a good review in the October 18 issue of the Duke Chronicle.

For those interested in a little extra credit, Duke is home to one of the oldest and most extensive Slavic research collections in the southeastern United States. Here’s a taste of some additional readings and resources to whet the appetite of your inner Russophile:

Go check out the exhibit, and find more great resources on Russian art and politics at the library.

Lord Byron & the Internet

Marion! why that pensive brow?
What disgust to life has thou?
Change that discontented air!
Frowns become not one so fair.
                             from “Marion”                  
                                                      Lord Byron                                                    

 

 

 

 

This Marion is not the librarian, but rather the subject of one Lord Byron’s poems, which can be found in The Gallery of Byron Beauties, one of over 6000 Duke items available in the Internet Archive.  This contribution has led to over 540,000 downloads of Duke material, and represents over 1,424,000 pages scanned.  We now feature 12 collections on our home page with British Romantic Fiction, to which this book on Byron’s beauties belongs, and City Directories being the most recent.   We will soon be adding Ottoman Turkish monographs and the Jantz collection.

 

During this time we have scanned about 150 items by means of patron requests.  Even though a number of these requests originate with Duke patrons, a significant number also come through Interlibrary Loan.  In the past year we’ve scanned a collection for one of Duke’s faculty to assist in his research.

 

While Duke’s yearbook, The Chanticleer, continues to be the most downloaded item, the 1954 edition has almost 5000 downloads alone.  Other titles have risen to the top during individual weeks, most notable Mark Goodacre’s The Synoptic Problem, and Frank Brown’s Collection of North Carolina Folklore.

 

Coming soon: links in the online catalog that will lead to the digital copy in Internet Archive.

 

If you want to see or read more of Byron’s beauties just click on the link:

http://archive.org/details/galleryofbyronbe02byro

Library Supplies “Meat” for NPR

If you’ve been following National Public Radio’s summer series on America’s love affair with meat, you’re sure to have noticed the meat marketing billboards recently featured in NPR’s food blog, with images provided courtesy of the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in Duke University LibrariesDavid M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Billboard advertising grew apace with the interstate highway system, begun in the 1950s. These images were collected by the companies who created them, as demonstration to clients of the roadside advertising they developed. Today, they’re a sign of their times and the technology and economics that drove beef consumption in the United States.

You can revisit and research more of America’s commercial culture through digitized collections from the Hartman Center. The ROAD 2.0 collection contains all the billboard advertisements featured on the NPR blog, and thousands more of these markers of America’s advertising history. Celebrate the birth of our nation and the birth of billboard advertising by searching for “meat” across this collection!

A billboard featuring Fischer's deli meats, circa 1983, from the ROAD 2.0 collection.

 

Recorded Stories of America’s Jim Crow Past Now Available

Unidentified family photo, donated by Larry Henderson, Alabama.

One hundred oral histories of life in the Jim Crow South, complete with transcripts, have been digitized and made available on the Duke University Libraries website and iTunes U, a dedicated area within the iTunes Store.

From 1993 to 1995, dozens of graduate students at Duke and other schools fanned out across the South to capture stories of segregation as part of “Behind the Veil,” an oral history project at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies (CDS). The students sought to preserve the stories before the men and women who survived Jim Crow passed away. The interviews — some 1,260 in all — were recorded on regular cassette tapes, transcribed and archived in Duke’s special collections library.

Some of the interviews were included in an award-winning book and radio documentary, Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South, produced 10 years ago by the CDS and American RadioWorks.

But many of the interviews were omitted from the book and documentary.

For example, in 1957, a group of African-American businessmen in Memphis launched a boycott of the city’s largest daily paper to protest the paper’s policy of not using courtesy titles, like Mr. or Mrs., when referring to blacks. The businessmen bought every copy they could find of The Commercial Appeal and threw them into the Mississippi River.

“I don’t care how prominent you were, you were just Willie Brown,” said Imogene Watkins Wilson, a schoolteacher whose husband edited the Memphis Tri-State Defender, the city’s leading African-American newspaper. “You weren’t Rev. Willie Brown, you weren’t Dr. Willie Brown, you weren’t Professor Willie Brown. And then, if [they] referred to your wife, she was Suzie. Not Mrs. Suzie, just Suzie.”

Wilson recollected the start of the seven-week boycott in a July 1995 interview with a Duke student, but her story never made the original project’s final cut. Now her memories — along with the personal accounts of scores of other Americans who lived through the Jim Crow era — are among the hundred stories that have been digitized and made available for free for researchers, genealogists, educators and others.

Another newly digitized story is told by Ernest A. Grant of Tuskegee, Ala., who recounts how his mother was forced to flee town for burning a white insurance agent with a hot iron after he made unwelcome advances toward her. And Jesse Johnson of Norfolk, Va., a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, describes officer training in the 1940s at Fort Lee, Va. as “the most segregated, the most prejudiced camp in the United States.”