Category Archives: Collections

The Classical String Quartet, 1770-1840

The Magic FluteNote: This is a guest post by Tom Moore, Head of the Music Library and Music Media Center at Duke. Tom is also the editor of the Music Library blog, Biddle Beat.

The award-winning Historic American Sheet Music Project of the Duke Libraries Digital Collections provides access to images of more than three thousand pieces of early American sheet music. Almost all of this music is popular vocal music intended for voice with piano accompaniment, and virtually none belongs to the genres of classical or concert music, which are also richly represented in the collections of the Duke Libraries. The Classical String Quartet, 1770-1840, begins to explore this area, and makes available the contents of about forty collections from the period when the string quartet was at its peak, when the works of the Viennese masters for the genre were created, many of them unavailable previously in any form since their original publication. Of particular interest are the various arrangements of operas for string quartet, including Joseph and his Brothers by Méhul, and the famous Magic Flute of Mozart. This resource will be highly valuable to scholars of the period, providing primary sources for study, and to string quartets, with a wealth of new repertoire.

AdViews: Don’t Touch That Dial!

AdViews Logo

The Duke Digital Collections team is excited to announce our newest project: AdViews, a digital archive of vintage television commercials. Our first batch of commercials went live in iTunes U last night (July 20, 2009), and we’ll continue to add thousands of historic commercials to the collection through the rest of 2009. By year’s end, the collection will contain over 10,000 digitized TV commercials from the archives, all available for FREE from Duke’s iTunes U site.

AdViews will provide students, teachers, and researchers access to a wide range of vintage brand advertising from the first four decades of mainstream commercial television. The collection will support interdisciplinary research, not only in marketing and advertising history, but also in visual studies, communication, women’s studies, public health, cultural anthropology, nutrition, technology, and more.

AdViews currently features commercials from the ad agency D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B), a New York advertising firm founded in 1929. The DMB&B archives are held at Duke in the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, a research center in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

Stay tuned! We’ll be right back with more AdViews updates and behind-the-scenes information…

My Own Frank Brown

Detail from One tends to remember making major life-changing decisions on April Fool’s Day. So I can tell you that it was April 1, 1995 when I decided to get a master’s degree in Information or Library Science. Even now, I sometimes wonder, is this whole thing just a cosmic joke? Is some unseen trickster entity laughing at my feeble attempts to manufacture order where none can exist? Probably. But I may never know.

The most dangerous 16 months of my life began on that day. I had just missed the deadline for the next academic year, and would have to wait for the application period to roll around again. Meanwhile, I was living in Chapel Hill/Carrboro and working as a cook in various restaurants. Many opportunities for mischief would materialize. At one point, a housemate had just about convinced me to head for Alaska to work the salmon boats. It was that kind of a year. I was engaged in the most extravagant of all human behaviors, marking time.

Two things saved me from a career of wading through fish guts: the guitar and the library. It wasn’t the first time that I relied on the guitar to get me through a shaky patch, and it would not be the last. Not that I was ever very good at it — having a tin ear kind of limits a person’s musical potential — but looking at a year of waiting to fill out an application, I decided to do something I’d always wanted to do. I would learn to play fingerstyle.

Continue reading My Own Frank Brown

Sam Reed and the Trumpet of Conscience

In late-March 2009, we proudly published a digital collection entitled: Sam Reed and the Trumpet of Conscience. This collection documents the life and work of activist and organizer, Sam Reed, and the organization and publication, the Trumpet of Conscience, he founded in Durham, N.C., 1987-2000. The Trumpet of Conscience worked for social justice and to improve race relations, and the group’s mission was “To come together, to listen to one another, to strive toward reducing and eliminating the root causes of crime and divisiveness in our midst.”

TOC was open to all and attracted active involvement from numerous Duke University and North Carolina Central University faculty, as well as local Durham residents. According to William Willimon, former Dean of Duke Chapel, Duke and Durham’s Martin Luther King Day celebrations were established, in large part, because of Reed’s efforts. The Sam Reed and the Trumpet of Conscience digital collection includes newsletters, planning documents, photographs, awards, speeches, and interviews created and collected by Sam Reed. The collection also includes articles by and about Dr. John Hope Franklin.

Deena Stryker Photographs of Cuba

We’re very excited to announce the Deena Stryker Photographs digital collection. It includes approximately 1,850 photographs shot in Cuba between 1963 and 1964, processed by Alberto Korda on the island. The collection features photographs of Fidel Castro and Raúl Castro, as well as other major figures in the Cuban Revolution, including Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Celia Sánchez, and René Vallejo. In addition to images of key members of the Castro government at work and relaxing, the collection documents everyday life in Havana and in rural Cuba, focusing on farms, development projects, and schools.

Images of the Protestant Family

Learning the Christian WayIn our March build, we collaborated with Duke’s Divinity School Library to republish a collection entitled Images of mainline Protestant children and families in the U.S., which features articles and advertising images of children and families in the U.S. from Protestant-supported or targeted magazines.

The collection includes images depicting family size and health, articles and advertisements on scientific nutrition, and other images directly related to scientific progress and domesticity. Also included are images depicting families in Protestant mission settings. Content for the collection was selected by Dr. Amy Laura Hall and Andrew Keck in the Duke Divinity School.

We acknowledge the generous support of the ATLA/ATS Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative (CDRI), funded by the Luce Foundation, and the Valparaiso Child in Religion and Ethics Program, funded by the Lilly Foundation.

The collection is also part of the American Theological Library Association and the Association of Theological Schools Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative.

Building the Broadsides Collection: Conservation

What happens when an entire collection goes through the Conservation Department to be processed so that it can be digitized?  What do these collections look like through the eyes of a conservator?  What level of conservation work should a collection get? How long does it take to process a collection?  These are some of the common questions asked of the Conservation Staff.  In our second installment of Digital Collections “Behind the Scenes” we will explore these questions and more.  Below is an overview of the process which is explained in detail in the embedded video.

1.    Sort
2.    Remove Mylar
3.    Assess collection for repair
4.    Repair
5.    Flag problem items for the Digital Production Center
6.    Re-house
7.    Repeat

The next stage of the process is digitization — coming soon!

Video Discovery Stats for DSVA: A First Look

Our Diamonstein-Spielvogel video archive collection, comprised of about 130 videos, was introduced this past fall and represents our first digital video collection. Our Digital Collections system (Tripod) does not yet support discovery within a video collection, so in the interim, we are using two external video services in tandem to host the collection and are relying on their native interfaces for search and retrieval.

  • videos uploaded to iTunes U the week of September 21, 2008
  • videos uploaded to YouTube the week of December 14, 2008

Each service provides some distinct advantages over the other. A basic matrix of differences can be found here:


To gauge use, we looked at about 8 weeks of data in both systems following the publication of the videos in YouTube. There were 16,412 YouTube views, 993 iTunes downloads, and 392 iTunes previews.

Diamonstein-Spielvogel Video Archive Usage Stats
Dec 14, 2008 – Feb 8, 2009

Continue reading Video Discovery Stats for DSVA: A First Look

Building the Broadsides collection-Part 1

Life-Preserving Coffin: In doubtful cases of death

Over the the next few months, we’ll be writing a series of posts that offer a behind-the-scenes look at all of the work and decision-making that goes into building one digital collection, from selection, conservation, and physical processing to scanning, metadata, and publication.  We’ve chosen to blog about our work on the Broadsides collection in particular for several reasons:

  • It’s a relatively large-scale project that will test our ability to ramp up our digitization efforts (5,500 items from the U.S. and abroad, dated 1790-1940)
  • It will serve as a test-case for the development and use of our new metadata tool–codename “Trident.”
  • It will be a pilot project to get more library staff involved in generating metadata for digital collections.

So check in periodically to see how the project is moving along!