When was the last time you wrote a letter or received a card in a real mailbox?
Before the Digital Age – and there was such a time – people wrote letters on paper and sent cards to each other. The latest Lilly Collection Spotlight shines on the disappearing art of letter writing, featuring a selection of books and films in which letters or ongoing correspondence play an integral role. Authors include literary and political figures such as Epicurus, Jane Austen, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Samuel Beckett.
The role letter writing plays in film, whether just as a plot device or as narration and explication helped us choose a few films from our collections. Relationships built through intimate correspondence, letters never received, mis-delivered or rediscovered frame many film narratives. Steal a Pencil for Me, Mary and Max, Letters to Juliet and P.S. I Love You are among the films featured.
Accompanying our Collection Spotlight are two exhibit cases featuring artists’ correspondence. Displayed in the lobby case are volumes of Vincent van Gogh’s letters. He was a prolific letter writer whose writings provide insight into his work, his art, and his struggles. Van Gogh often adorned his letters with drawings and sketches. The exhibit case in the foyer highlights letters written by other artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Albert Eisenstadt, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.
In addition to the Collection Spotlight, browse the nearby interactive exhibit of handwritten notes from Duke Seniors, Class of 2019, to the First-Year members of Duke’s Class of 2022.
Feel free to pull out the notes from the board and read them. There is a bit of advice, personal observations, and even a little bit of wisdom on display!
Asian America: Movements, Communities, Settlements
– an exhibit –
A new exhibit, now on display in the History Department on East Campus, is open to the Duke community. Curated by Sucheta Mazumdar, Associate Professor of History and Alta Zhang, Research Associate, the exhibit marks both the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the 50th anniversary of Third World Student Strike at San Francisco State University. The Third World Student Strike led to the founding of the first College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, and helped to establish Ethnic Studies as a discipline in universities throughout the United States. Duke University is celebrating the inaugural year of its Asian American Studies Program (AASP) at Duke by hosting a conference, Afro/Asian Connections in the Local/Global South.
The opening of this exhibit coincides with the Asian American Studies Program’s inaugural conference and features materials from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Librarians Kelley Lawton and Carson Holloway of Lilly Library prepared the chronology of Asian American history found in the exhibit.
Exhibits made possible by and/or funded by History Department, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dean of Humanities, Dean of Social Sciences, Asian American Studies Program, The Kenan Institute for Ethics, and Global Asia Initiative
Our Lilly Collection Spotlight shines on talented Duke Alumni including authors, broadcasters, researchers, as well as many who are accomplished in popular entertainment – both on screen and behind the scenes. Their studies while at Duke are varied, and for many, their majors were not directly related to their career. The featured books encompass a range of genres and styles – from sociological research to critically acclaimed fiction to sports journalism. Duke alumni working in film and television produce and appear in a variety of films including comedies, drama and thoughtful documentaries. Actors, directors, writers – they experience success both in front of the camera and behind. What they all have in common is their “Duke experience”.
Check out the entire list of books in the Lilly Collection Spotlightand visit Lilly Library to view the exhibit Duke Alumni on the Screen and Behind the Scenes.
Pulitzer Prize winner and American master Anne Tyler’s inspired, witty and irresistible contemporary take on one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies. Tyler graduated from Duke in 1961.
The Legends Club : Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an epic college basketball rivalry
In the skillful hands of John Feinstein (Duke 1977), this extraordinary rivalry–and the men behind it–comes to life in a unique, intimate way. The Legends Club is a sports book that captures an era in American sport and culture, documenting the inside view of a decade of absolutely incredible competition.
Dollars and sense : how we misthink money and how to spend smarter Bestselling author (Predictably Irrational) and behavioral economist Dan Ariely (PhD Business 1998) teams up with financial comedian and writer Jeff Kreisler to challenge many of our most basic assumptions about the precarious relationship between our brains and our money.
The Gaza Kitchen: a Palestinian culinary journey
This is a richly illustrated and researched cookbook that explores the distinctive cuisine of the area known prior to 1948 as the Gaza District–and that of the many refugees who came to Gaza in 1948 and have been forced to stay there ever since. In summer 2010, Laila El-Haddad (Duke 2000) and Maggie Schmitt traveled throughout the Gaza Strip to collect the recipes and shoot the stunning photographs presented in the book.
Forever Duke: On the Screen and Behind the Scenes
Accompanying the books in the Collection Spotlight, the current exhibit in the Lilly Library foyer is Forever Duke: On the Screen and Behind the Scenes. The works of Duke alumni filmmakers, writers and actors featured include films and series found in the Lilly Library collections. A few of the more well known titles or personalities:
We Were Soldiers Directed by Randall Wallace (’72) Wallace wrote and directed We Were Soldiers. Nominated for an Oscar as screenwriter for Braveheart, he also worked on films such as Pearl Harbor and The Man in the Iron Mask.
Community and The Hangover
Ken Jeong (’90) was a premed student at Duke. A licensed physician, Jeong found fame in comic roles in both television and film.
Other Duke luminaries include actress and Baldwin Scholar Annabeth Gish (’93) who stars in the current X-Files, Martin Kratt (’89), the co-creator of the beloved children’s series Zoboomafoo and Wild Kratts, Oscar and BAFTA nominee cinematographer Robert Yeoman (’73) , film editor Alisa Lepselter who has worked on Woody Allen films such as Midnight in Paris and Match Point, and documentary filmmakers Ryan White (’04) and Rossana Lacayo (’79).
The Duke campus and Durham have also been featured in film and television; productions include Bull Durham, The Handmaid’s Tale (the film), The Program, Main Street, Iron Man 3, Kiss the Girls, Brainstorm and the late 1990’s coming-of-age television series Dawson’s Creek. Whether it’s American Pie 2, Mystic Pizza, The Squid and the Whale or Parks and Recreation, you will find a Blue Devil!
To celebrate Women’s History Month 2018, Lilly Library is shining a spotlight on Women in Sport. Books and movies that feature women athletes are “teeming” in our collections. Come to East Campus and check out this month’s Lilly Collection Spotlight. Click here for the complete line-up.
While you’re at Lilly, visit the exhibit in the foyer, On the Field, the Courts and Beyond: Women in Sports – TITLE IX, that complements our Lilly Collection Spotlight.
Based on the Instagram account @TheUnsungHeroines, a celebration of the pioneering, forgotten female athletes of the twentieth century that features rarely seen photos and new interviews with past and present game changers including Abby Wambach and Cari Champion.
There’s a battle being fought. It’s raging on the sports fields, in the newsrooms and behind the scenes at every major broadcaster. Women in sport are fighting for equality with more vigour than ever, but are they breaking down the barriers that stand in their way? Sarah Shephard looks behind the headlines to see whether progress is really being made and tells the stories that can no longer be ignored. It’s time for women to switch their focus from the battlefield to the sports field, once and for all.
Beginning with the Williams sisters, the authors examine the foundation of their development as tennis phenoms during the 1990s and the prophetic yet unabashed approach of their coach, father, and sports psychologist, Richard Williams, in crafting a world within which they would be groomed to be successful. a compelling examination of the impact of African Americans on the world of professional tennis and the various challenges and outcomes of that involvement.
An overview of films about women in sport and a timely critical analysis of their role in shaping perceptions of female athletic ability. It examines themes of aggression, beauty, class, ethnicity, physical feminism, sexuality, synaesthesia and technology in relation to mainstream and arthouse cinematic depictions of sportswomen from Pumping Iron 2 to Bend it Like Beckham.
50 years ago when Gibson and Buxton were two of the top women’s tennis players in the world. Coming from widely divergent backgrounds (Gibson from a poor black family in Harlem, Buxton from a well-to-do Jewish family in London), the two hooked up in the mid-1950s and became tennis partners and lifelong friends.
Offers a wide-reaching overview of current academic research on women’s participation in combat sports within a wide range of different national and trans-national contexts, detailing many of the struggles and opportunities experienced by women at various levels of engagement within sports such as boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts.
During the 2006 Iran-Bahrain match, the Tehran soccer stadium roars with 100,000 cheering men and, officially, no women. According to Islamic custom, women are not permitted to watch or participate in men’s sports. Many of the ambitious young female fans who manage to sneak into the arena are caught and sent to a holding pen, guarded by male soldiers their own age. Duty makes these young men and women adversaries, but duty can’t overcome their shared dreams, their mutual attraction, and ultimately their overriding sense of national pride and humanity.
Examines the post Title IX media environment in terms of the representation of female athletes. It demonstrates that while men’s identities in sports are equated with deeply held values of courage, strength and endurance, the accomplishments of female athletes are framed very differently and in much more stereotypical ways.
A promising hurdler, played by Mariel Hemingway, finds needed emotional and athletic seasoning with a caring mentor. After the two fall in love, their relationship is threatened as both vie for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
Members of the Cuban National Women’s Baseball Team discuss their passion for the sport and hardships they faced in Cuba’s society filled with machismo, prejudice and daily hardships.
The story of the surviving members of the Viennese Hakoah sports club women’s swim team, a world-dominating competitor in the 1930s. The club was eventually shut down during Hitler’s reign, though all the women managed to escape capture. Combines historical footage and contemporary interviews to reconnect the women’s lives and memories.
The new man in town has just accepted a position as an English professor on a reservation in Utah. Finding it hard to fit in with the Native American community, he decides to take on the challenge of coaching the girls’ basketball team.
Bliss Cavender is a small-town teenager looking for her own path. Tired of following in her family’s footsteps, she discovers a way to put her life on the fast track–literally. She lands a spot on a roller derby team and becomes “Babe Ruthless.” Co-starring Drew Barrymore in her feature film directorial debut.
Contributors: Carol Terry, Danette Pachtner and Ira King
Winter Olympics and Sport
Tired of cold wintry weather? Don’t be snowboard – curlup with interesting reading, or peakat these films … what do you have to luge? (Are we skatingon thin ice here?)
If you are ready for vicarious international adventures in spectacular snow and ice, Lilly Library’s collections will transport you. Our latest Collection Spotlight shines on winter sports, Olympic history and snowy landscapes inspired by the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Some winning titles are featured below, but judge for yourself and see the full list in Best in Snow.
The Price of Gold (2014, dir. Nanette Burstein) ESPN 30 for 30
The world couldn’t keep its eyes off two athletes at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer – Nancy Kerrigan, the elegant brunette and Tonya Harding, the feisty blonde who would stop at nothing to get on the Olympic podium.
Sister (2012, dir. Ursula Meir)
A drama set at a Swiss ski resort and centered on a boy who supports his sister by stealing from wealthy guests.
Curling (2010, dir. Denis Côté)
On the fringe of society in a remote part of the French-Canadian countryside, the fragile relationship and unusual private life of a father and daughter is jeopardized by dreary, unforeseen circumstances.
Of Miracles and Men (2009, dir. Jonathan Hock) ESPN 30 for 30
The story of one of the greatest upsets in sports history has been told. Or has it? On a Friday evening in Lake Placid, a plucky band of American collegians stunned the vaunted Soviet national team, 4-3 in the medal round of the 1980 Winter Olympic hockey competition. Americans couldn’t help but believe in miracles that night, and when the members of Team USA won the gold medal two days later, they became one for the ages. But there was another, unchronicled side to the “Miracle On Ice.”
Blades of Glory (2007, dirs. Josh Gordon and Will Speck)
In 2002, two rival Olympic ice skaters were stripped of their gold medals and permanently banned from men’s single competition. Presently, however, they’ve found a loophole that will allow them to qualify as a pairs team.
Cool Runnings (1998, dir. Jon Turteltaub)When a Jamaican sprinter is disqualified from the Olympic Games,he enlists the help of a dishonored coach to start the first Jamaican Bobsled Team.
In the 1930s, as the world hurtled towards terrible global conflict, speed was all the rage. Exotic, exciting and above all dangerous, it was by far the most popular event at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. It required an abundance of skill and bravery. And the four men who triumphed at those Games lived the most extraordinary lives.
Artistic Impressions: Figure Skating, Masculinity, and the Limits of Sport by Mary Louise Adams
In contemporary North America, figure skating ranks among the most ‘feminine’ of sports and few boys take it up for fear of being labelled effeminate or gay. Yet figure skating was once an exclusively male pastime – women did not skate in significant numbers until the late 1800s, at least a century after the founding of the first skating club. Only in the 1930s did figure skating begin to acquire its feminine image.
Roland Huntford’s brilliant history begins 20,000 years ago in the last ice age on the icy tundra of an unformed earth. Man is a travelling animal, and on these icy slopes skiing began as a means of survival. In polar exploration, skiing changed the course of history. Elsewhere, in war and peace, it has done so too.
So many more books and films examine the Olympics from a range of perspectives – from pure sport and Olympic ideals to international political and social concerns and controversies. Explore further in our Collection Spotlight, and visit Best in Snow.
The end of fall semester is near, and finals exams are even closer. If you feel the need for a little winter holiday cheer or diversion, our librarians can help. With over 30,000 films in our collections, our staff selected 100 holiday-themed films for December’s Lilly Collection Spotlight. There are traditional titles in the list such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Home Alone as well as other winter holiday films such as Eight Crazy Nights, Tokyo Godfathers, and Black Candle. Animated classics, international gems, and a few offbeat films such as Bad Santa and A Junky’s Christmas are waiting for you!
With the advent of the smartphone and social media platforms like Instagram, photography has suffused our daily lives. You may shoot a pic of the Duke Chapel on the way to an early morning class, take a photo of your lunch at West Union, and get a snapchat vista from your friend on vacation in the mountains. If you’re obsessed with images, we’ve got you covered with this month’s Collection Spotlight at Lilly Library! Check out the wide range of photography books and films on display.
Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs
Adams, whose work was recently featured in an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art, was one of the most celebrated landscape photographers of the Twentieth Century, renowned for his black and white depictions of the stunning scenery of the American West. This book collects photographs from across his multi-decade career. Recommended if you’re craving a reminder of the sublime beauty of the outdoors.
Toy Stories by Gabriele Galimberti
In this unique collection, photographer Gabriele Galimberti traveled around the world photographing children and their toys, spending thirty months on the road and visiting fifty-eight different countries. These striking photographs are fun, but also illuminate the social, economic, and gender issues that surround what toys children grow up with. Recommended if you’re missing your childhood room.
The Beautiful Smile by Nan Goldin
This collection, released on the occasion of Goldin’s 2007 Hasselblad Award, features intimate, diaristic photographs and portraits. Rising to fame as a member and chronicler of the LGBTQ subculture in 1980s and 1990s New York City, Goldin includes both photos from that era and newer works in this book. Recommended if you’re looking for photography that captures both the beauty and fragility of life.
Chromes: 1969-1974 by William Eggleston
One of our personal favorite photographers, Eggleston photographed “ordinary” objects and people around the South and his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Eggleston’s work in color helped legitimize the form in a field that was previously dominated by black and white photography. Recommended if you’re a Big Star fan and/or enjoy photos of old gas stations.
And don’t forget that Lilly has a great collection of films you can borrow.
La Jetee (1962)
Since its release in 1962, Chris Marker’s La Jetée has emerged as one of the foundational texts of postwar European cinema. With its rhythmic editing, nostalgic voiceover and parade of black-and-white images, La Jetée exercises a hypnotic effect on its viewers. This short, experimental ‘photo-roman’ stays with you long after its 29 minutes are over.
John Waters’ film about a budding Baltimore photographer. Pecker (he got the nickname for pecking at his food as a child) photographs the mundane sights of his Baltimore neighborhood: the hamburger joint where he works, rats making love in the alley behind the diner, the oddball characters in his family, and the dancers in the local lesbian strip club.
City of God (2002)
This movie takes place in the favelas or slums of Rio de Janeiro created to isolate the poor people from the city center. They have grown into places teeming with life, color, music and excitement–and with danger. One of the characters, Rocket, obtains a stolen camera that he treasures and takes pictures from his privileged position as a kid on the streets.
Through a lens darkly: black photographers and the emergence of a people (2014)
Filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris offers what he calls a “family memoir” via historical images of African Americans initially through popular and disturbing stereotypes such as those portrayed in D.W. Griffith’s classic 1915 film Birth of a Nation to more realistic and poignant photographs. Using a series of narrative images by African American photographic artists including Anthony Barboza, Hank Willis Thomas, Lorna Simpson, and Gordon Parks, among others, Harris sheds light on a seldom-told aspect of our culture.
As you can see, Lilly Library offers a wide range of books and film about the art, science and history of photography which we hope you will enjoy.
Cuban-Americans, the Duke Common Experience and Beyond
Need some new reading material or just interested in seeing what’s in Lilly Library’s collection that you might not know about? Check out Lilly’s Collection Spotlight!
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month and the Duke Common Experience Reading Program selection of Richard Blanco’s The Prince of Los Cocuyos, our spotlight shines on books and films relevant to his and the Cuban-American experience. Blanco, the inaugural poet for Barack Obama in 2012, writes in his memoir of his childhood growing up in Miami as a son of Cuban immigrants. The memoir finds Blanco grappling with both his place in America and his sexuality, striving to discover his identity.
Our collections include books on Cuban Art, the Cuban-American immigrant experience in the United States, LGBTQ communities in Hispanic culture, and several books of Blanco’s poetry. Here are a few highlights from our Lilly Collection Spotlight:
Adios Utopia — Art in Cuba Since 1950
This exhibition catalog covers Cuban art from 1950 to the present viewed through the particular lenses of the Cuban Revolution, utopian ideals, and subsequent Cuban history. The collection covered in this book will be on display at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis starting in November.
In this book, scholar Frederick Luis Aldama interviews 29 Latinx comic book creators, ranging from the legendary Jaime Hernandez of Love and Rockets fame to lesser known up and coming writers/illustrators.
This bilingual chapbook contains a poem Blanco wrote and read for the reopening of the US Embassy in Havana in 2015. Blanco writes in the opening lines, “The sea doesn’t matter, what matters is this: we all belong to the sea between us, all of us.”
CubAmerican (2012) DVD 28418
Exploring the causes leading to the exile of millions of Cubans from communist Cuba by depicting the journey of illustrious Cuban-Americans to their new life in the United States
Finally the sea (2007) DVD 12185
“The wreckage of an empty Cuban raft is the catalyst for Tony, a successful Cuban-American businessman, who files from Wall Street to Cuba to discover his roots. His journey develops into a striking love story where politics and romance collide
Mambo Kings (1992) DVD 27116
Musician brothers, Cesar and Nestor, leave Cuba for America (NYC) in the 1950s, with the hopes of making it to the top of the Latin music scene. Cesar is the older brother who serves as the business manager and is a consummate ladies’ man. Nestor is the brooding songwriter, who cannot forget the woman in Cuba who broke his heart. This is an unrated version of the film, with one restored scene.
Visit our Collection Spotlight shelf, in the lobby to the left of the Lilly desk. There are many more titles available to you, and if you want more suggestions – just ask us. Stay tuned – We will highlight our diverse and varied holdings at Lilly with a different theme each month.
In case you can’t get enough of politics in this election cycle, Lilly Library’s exhibit Reel Politics: Focus on Elections highlights the wide range of political or politically themed films in our collections. Duke students, staff and faculty can “write-in” their favorite film or choose from some of the titles represented.
The American political process and environment are explored, celebrated and, yes, deplored in all genres of film and television programs: romances, satires, and searing dramas, cynical and sometimes insightful documentaries. Films available in the Lilly Library collections include classics such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or its cynical counterpart, The Candidate, idealized romances such as The American President, comedies such as Election, and documentaries such as Weiner or The War Room. Television series also portray the American political scene in a variety of ways – what starker contrast in depictions of the Presidency can be found than between that of The West Wing and the recent series, House of Cards?
What are the bestfilms , documentaries and television series about American elections? The films and television series in the exhibit represent just a very few of the hundreds of films and series about American elections and politics that the library offers. Explore the possibilities with a search of our library catalogue, peruse the Lilly Video Spotlight on Political Documentaries, and remember, just like the candidates, films have their champions and detractors.
In keeping with the season, perhaps you can conduct your own poll!
Reel Politics: Focus on Elections Exhibit on display through October Lilly Library foyer
The treasures of Duke’s branch libraries are often hidden. The circulating collections and services of these smaller libraries often claim the pride of place. Both libraries on East Campus, Lilly Library and Music Library, however, hold precious material relating to their subject collections. Known in the library world as “medium rare” (as opposed to the rare materials located in the David M. Rubenstein Library) such primary source materials allow students to examine history first hand.
This fall the Lilly Library added a lobby display case to highlight its unique collections. The inaugural display is one volume of our three-volume Vitruvius Britannicus, a large and early folio devoted to the great buildings of England to be seen in 1717.
An outstanding example of a folio (book) format as well as the awakening of interest in British architecture by its own architects – quoting from the Oxford Art Online – Vitruvius Britannicus was a cooperative venture that appears to have developed out of the desire of a group of booksellers to capitalize on an already established taste for topographical illustration.
Published in 1715 and 1717, the two original volumes each consisted of 100 large folio plates of plans, elevations and sections chiefly illustrating contemporary secular buildings. Many of these plates provided lavish illustration of the best-known houses of the day, such as Chatsworth, Derbys, or Blenheim Palace, Oxon, intended to appeal to the widespread desire for prints of such buildings as well as providing their architects a chance to publicize their current work.
We invite you to visit the Lilly Library on East Campus and to enjoy this “medium rare” folio on exhibit. For more information about the Lilly Library folio or art and image collections, contact Lee Sorensen, the Librarian for Visual Studies.
It’s Women’s History Month! Spend this March 2016 watching wonderful films created by talented women from around the world.
The Video Spotlight on Women Filmmakers, created by Lilly Library’s own audio-visual specialist and film aficionado, Ken Wetherington, can give you great ideas of where to start.
In recent years women in film have begun to be slightly better recognized, like Katheryn Bigelow’s oscar-winning direction (the only time for a woman!) of The Hurt Locker.
But did you know that in the early days of cinema, many women were powerful creative forces? Movies like Lois Weber’s Suspense, The Ocean Waifby Alice Guy Blaché and Cleo Madison’s Eleanor’s Catch,and other women pioneers of early cinema, can be viewed in Duke Libraries’ new subscription database, Kanopy Streaming Video.
Check out Lilly’s foyer display exhibiting films by women in the history of cinema. Some of the titles just may surprise you…
Experience Nature: Up Close and Personal – a Photography Exhibit in Lilly Library
Spring Semester is a misleading term, as it actually begins in January when the cold and barren landscapes of winter abound.
Lilly Library presents an exhibit of photographs to transport you to warmer times and places. Award-winning wildlife and nature photographer Kim Hawks focuses on shore birds, landscapes, and for those who enjoy the beauty of flowers such as those in Duke Gardens, extremely detailed macro plant portraits.
Featured in this exhibit is Turtle Tracks: False Crawl, winner of the 2013 Wildlife in North Carolina Photography Contest (First Place in Animal Behavior Category).
On exhibit January 6 – March 15, 2014
Lilly Library, East Campus (Directions)
Gallery Reception – Meet the Artist
Date: Saturday, February 8, 2014 Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Thomas Room, Lilly Library,East Campus
Revisiting the U.S. Naval Station, Guantánamo Bay, through the Duke University Libraries’ Caribbean Sea Migration Digital Collection
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.”
“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.”
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.