All posts by Aaron Welborn

Bringing the Best of West to East

A Preview of the Lilly Library Renovation and Expansion

By Aaron Welborn, Director of Communications

Architectural rendering of Lilly Library
A rendering of the new planned west entrance of Lilly Library. Image by Dewing Schmid Kearns Architects and Planners.

Lilly Library, the primary academic support space for first-year students at Duke, is scheduled to be renovated and expanded over the next two years. The renovation promises to transform one of the oldest and most architecturally significant buildings at Duke into a much-needed intellectual and social center of East Campus.

The project has been in the works for years, dating back to a feasibility study in 2015. Since then, a team of library staff and architects have been meeting regularly with various stakeholders to review plans and gather feedback, including faculty based on East Campus, university administrators, and our three student advisory boards.

One unavoidable conclusion from those conversations was that, while Lilly is popular with many library users, it simply doesn’t have room to accommodate the first-year student population any longer.

The building was last touched almost thirty years ago, in 1993, when a partial refresh upgraded computing facilities and increased the book stacks capacity. But overall, the stately Georgian edifice has remained remarkably well-preserved since it opened in 1927. And that’s part of the problem.

Lilly lacks most of the elements of a modern research library. Its outdated building systems and cramped, poorly lit study spaces do not serve researchers well. Many of the library services and spaces today’s students need to succeed are available in Perkins, Bostock, and Rubenstein Libraries on West Campus, but not on East.

The planned expansion will dramatically increase the building’s footprint. When complete, Lilly will be half again as big as it is now (65,670 gross square feet, up from the current 42,000). It will have significantly more seating and offer more collaborative study spaces and technology-equipped project rooms. The project will also update facility needs—including the heating and cooling systems, lighting, technology infrastructure, and furnishings—to meet today’s standards of safety, accessibility, usability, and service.

Updates will also extend to the elegant Thomas, Few, and Carpenter reading rooms. The charm and character of these beloved spaces will be preserved, but their finishes, furnishings, lighting, and technology infrastructure will be enhanced.

Historical photograph of Lilly Library under construction, 1926
Lilly Library under construction in 1926. Image from University Archives.

One of the most dramatic new features is the addition of a second entrance on the west side of the building. Enter the library from that side and you will find yourself in a café-like commons filled with natural light—just the kind of cozy gathering space currently lacking on East Campus.

To accomplish this vision, the Libraries are working with architectural firm Dewing Schmid Kearns. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2020, with the library reopening after 18 to 24 months. In the meantime, library staff are working to relocate materials, services, and personnel. Although the building will be closed, Lilly collection materials will continue be available to students and researchers throughout the project.

The total cost of the renovation and expansion is anticipated to be $47 million, which will largely be funded through philanthropy.

In what follows, we want to share some of the exciting changes in store. We think—and we hope you’ll agree—that the design preserves the intimacy and charm that generations of Blue Devils have always loved about Lilly, while adding modern conveniences and spaces that will dramatically improve the student experience at Duke for generations to come.


1. Gallery

One of the first changes you will notice walking into the renovated Lilly Library is that the big circulation desk and computer terminals in the main lobby are gone. In their place is a spacious, light-filled gallery, featuring artwork and inviting benches, with a second-story balcony connecting the building’s two wings.

Rendering of Lilly Library Gallery
A rendering of the gallery that will greet you as you enter Lilly Library from the East Campus quad.

2. Booklover’s Room

The first librarian of Duke’s Woman’s College Library, Lillian Baker Griggs, believed that a college library should promote “the love of books and libraries in the heart of the average student to such an extent that a library will be necessary to a contented life.” To that end she made the library an inviting place, starting with the popular Booklover’s Room, a comfy spot for casual reading furnished like an elegant living room. The new Lilly Library will bring back the Booklover’s Room, featuring new and popular books in a warmly furnished and relaxed atmosphere.

Rendering of Booklover's Room
A rendering of the Booklover’s Room, a comfy spot for casual reading.

3. Writing Studio

One of the busiest spots in Perkins Library on West Campus is the Thompson Writing Program’s Writing Studio, a dedicated space where students can meet with tutors and improve their writing skills. The same tutorial service is also available in Lilly Library, but it’s confined to a small table with two chairs on a hard-to-find landing in the stacks. The renovated Lilly will feature a greatly expanded Writing Studio near the main entrance, similar to the one at Perkins.

4. Carpenter Reading Room

Fans and devotees of Lilly Library will be happy to hear little is changing about the handsome Carpenter Reading Room. Ditto its mirror-image, the Few Reading Room, on the opposite side of the floor. These capacious and inspiring study spaces will appear much as they do today, with updated furnishings and finishes.

Rendering of Carpenter Reading Room
Not much will change about the beloved Carpenter and Few Reading Rooms, although they will get updated furnishings and finishes.

5. Assembly Space

Lilly has always sadly lacked a space for public events and programs. The renovated library will feature an assembly space on the main level, an easy-to-find venue for workshops, lectures, book talks, symposia, music performances, award ceremonies, and other library events.

6. New West Entrance and Commons

An added entrance on the west side of the building faces the bustling residential “backyard” of East Campus and connects the library with a main pedestrian throughway. Inside, a new café-like commons promises to become the crossroads for East Campus that the von der Heyden Pavilion is for West, a place where students and faculty can meet over coffee and snacks.

Rendering of Lilly Library Commons
One of the most dramatic new features is the addition of a new entrance on the west side of the building, leading to a cafe-like commons.



1. Thomas Room

The picturesque Thomas Room has long been a favorite quiet study spot. The room is decorated with Asian works of art donated by the family and friends of James A. Thomas, a tobacco merchant, Duke trustee, and personal friend and business partner of the Duke family. The renovation will preserve the historical charm and character of the room, while updating the furnishings, lighting, and finishes.

Thomas Room, Lilly Library
The elegant Thomas Room, whose historical charm and character will be preserved.

2. Innovation Co-Lab

Staffed by Duke’s Office of Information Technology, the Innovation Co-Lab is a maker-space and creativity incubator, where students can work hands-on with new and old technologies, including fifteen 3D printers, a 3D scanner, hand tools, electronics, and even a sewing machine. The Co-Lab will move upstairs from its current home on Lilly’s first floor.

3D Printers
3D printers in the Innovation Co-Lab in Lilly Library, which will move upstairs to the second floor.

3. Testing Center

Learning at Duke can be demanding—even more so if you are a student with a learning or attention challenge. A new testing center, designed in collaboration with Duke’s Academic Resource Center, will offer a secure and convenient testing environment for undergraduate students registered with the Student Disability Access Office who have been granted testing accommodations.

4. Open Reading Room

A new open reading room will combine collaborative work space with traditional private study, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed brick, offering a more modern counterpart to the historic Thomas, Carpenter, and Few reading rooms. The room also features four new group studies.

Rendering of Open Reading Room
A rendering of the new open reading room on the second floor.

5. Seminar/Screening Room

Lilly is home to Duke’s extensive film and video collection. Multidisciplinary and international in scope, the collection supports teaching and research on Duke’s campus across disciplines and departments. This seminar room will double as a screening room, with black-out curtains and projection equipment for screening films for classes and events.



1. High-Density Mobile Shelving

Library collections grow larger every year, but library buildings do not. The majority of Lilly’s physical collections will be housed on the Lower Level in high-density mobile shelving. This not only allows us to store more books and materials in less space, but creates more study and work space throughout the building for library users.

High-Density Shelving
High-density shelves, like these used in the Rubenstein Library, will allow us to store more materials in less space.

2. Group Study Spaces

Unlike Perkins, Bostock, and Rubenstein Libraries on West Campus, Lilly Library currently has no collaborative group study spaces, and only one reservable room. The plans for the renovation include twelve new group studies, half of which are on the Lower Level.

3. Multimedia Viewing and Open Collaboration Space

Multimedia viewing stations, equipped with a variety of players, will allow students and faculty to watch movies from Lilly’s extensive film and video collections. Players for legacy formats—including laser disc, U-matic, and even 16mm film—will also be available upon request.

4. Prayer/Meditation and Lactation Rooms

Several years ago, in response to student requests, we set aside a small room in Perkins Library for prayer and meditation, open to members of all faiths. Frequent and regular usage of the space convinced us to do the same at Lilly. The renovated library will also feature a reservable lactation room (one of only two on East Campus) to support women balancing their return to work or school with their needs as mothers of young children.


Consumer Reports Archives Come to Duke

Collection Chronicles Social, Cultural, and Historical Impact Over 80 Years

By Aaron Welborn, Director of Communications


Photo of instant coffee taste test, 1951.
Taste test comparing instant coffee brands (Consumer Reports photo, 1951).

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University has acquired the archives of Consumer Reports (CR), the mission-driven nonprofit consumer organization, committed to creating a fair, safe, and transparent marketplace for consumers.

The massive collection—which spans some 2,800 linear feet and required two tractor trailers to transport to Durham from CR’s headquarters in Yonkers, New York—includes archival materials, books, photographs, and artifacts documenting the history of the organization from its founding during the Great Depression to its eventual prominence as a household name for safety, reliability, and informed decision-making.

October 2019 cover of Consumer Reports
The October 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

As the collection reveals, that reputation was long and hard in the making. “Even many longtime Consumer Reports members would likely be surprised by the organization’s colorful and controversial history,” said Jacqueline Reid Wachholz, director of the Rubenstein Library’s Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History, where the collection will formally reside.

It began in February 1936, when a group of journalists, academics, engineers, and labor leaders founded Consumers Union, a membership organization dedicated to scientifically testing common products and services, educating the public, and aiding consumers “in their struggle as workers, to get an honest wage.”

Three months after the organization formed, the first issue of Consumers Union Reports appeared, featuring articles on breakfast cereals, Alka-Seltzer, toilet soaps, stockings, milk, toothbrushes, lead in toys, and credit unions.

Volume 1 Issue 1 of Consumers Union Reports
Where it all started: Volume 1, Issue 1 of Consumers Union Reports, May 1936.

From a few thousand initial members, the magazine quickly grew to a circulation of 37,000 by the end of its first year, and 85,000 by 1939. Its rapid success was notable, given the opposition from the business community and the commercial press, which viewed the publication and the fledgling consumer movement it represented as a radical threat to corporate interests.

More than sixty newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, refused to sell advertising to Consumers Union, on the basis that consumer product testing represented “an unfair and subversive attack upon legitimate advertising,” according to Norman Silber in his authoritative history of Consumers Union, Test and Protest (1983).

During the organization’s early days, it advocated on behalf of unionized workers who produced the kinds of products featured in its pages. “By reporting on labor conditions under which consumer products are produced,” wrote the magazine’s editors in the inaugural issue, “Consumers Union hopes to add what pressure it can to fight for higher wages and for unionization and the collective bargaining which are labor’s bulwark against declining standards of living.”

Toothbrush tester
The collection includes a variety of original testing equipment designed and used by Consumer Reports scientists, like this toothbrush tester with false teeth (date unknown).

Such statements earned Consumers Union the ire of powerful corporate interests and politicians, who branded it as “anti-capitalist” and even communist. From 1944 to 1954, Consumers Union was actually blacklisted as a subversive organization by the House Un-American Activities Committee, a charge that was only lifted after years of legal protests. The organization’s leadership, including economist Colston Warne and engineer Arthur Kallet (both of whose papers are included in the collection), suffered similar character attacks for their outspoken support of product safety standards, government regulations, and other measures—largely uncontroversial today—that put consumer interests over corporate profits.

Eventually, the magazine’s editorial emphasis shifted towards more scientific testing and trusted consumer guidance. Its refusal to accept paid advertising, or free samples from manufacturers, bolstered the publication’s claim to independence, nonpartisanship, and credibility. The magazine’s member base continued to grow, especially during the prosperous postwar era, when consumer spending boosted the economy and a growing middle class was hungry for advice on what to buy.

Today, Consumer Reports reviews approximately 2,500 products and services across more than one hundred categories, and it reaches tens of millions of people through print, digital, and broadcast media, which includes the network television series Consumer 101 on NBC and Taller del Consumidor on Telemundo.

Testing TVs then (1961) and now (2019). Images courtesy of Consumer Reports.

In addition to its consumer research, product testing, and investigative journalism, Consumer Reports leads far-reaching policy and advocacy initiatives, working to secure pro-consumer policies in government and across industries. Over the course of its history, the organization has played an influential role in championing pro-consumer protections and rights in the automobile, food, healthcare, and financial services industries, as well as the creation of several government safety commissions.

In 1953, Consumer Reports was the first publication to warn consumers about the dangers of cigarettes. Its research and reporting eventually led the U.S. Surgeon General’s landmark report on smoking in 1964. The organization’s advocacy efforts were also instrumental in the U.S. government mandating seat belts in all automobiles (1968), stricter standards for child safety seats (1981), and a ban on the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles and sippy cups (2012). In 2010, Consumer Reports played a significant role in mobilizing congressional support for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, among other regulatory measures it has championed.

In its new home in Duke’s Rubenstein Library, the Consumer Reports archive complements existing collection strengths, including the Hartman Center—home to the largest collection of materials on the history of advertising and marketing in the U.S.—and the Economists’ Papers Archive, which holds the papers of more than sixty significant economists.

Buying Guides
Consumer Reports is well-known for its flagship magazine and buying guides, but the collection also includes thousands of guides and pamphlets on special topics issued over the decades.

“In our current modern society, where trust in institutions and the marketplace have eroded, the legacy and mission of Consumer Reports have never been more relevant,” said Marta L. Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “The rich social, cultural, and historical impact of CR is essential to share not because it belongs to the past, but because it is as urgent today as it has ever been—at a moment when the stakes could not be higher for consumers, and when we must fight even harder to keep the market honest.”

The collection has already attracted the interest of researchers and Duke faculty. “Through the acquisition of this remarkable archive,” noted Duke Vice Provost and historian Edward Balleisen, “we have further solidified the Rubenstein Library’s status as a pivotal repository for the study of modern American capitalism. For historians and other social scientists who wish to research or teach about economic life during the American century, the Consumer Reports collection will beckon as an essential source of evidence about technological change, consumer culture, business-state relations, the evolving dynamics of consumer protection, and non-governmental arbiters of quality and value.”

It will take approximately three to four years to catalog the archives, the majority of which will be open to researchers.

Mark Their Words

Celebrating Our Research and Writing Prize Winners

By Mikaela Johnson

Every year the Duke University Libraries run a series of essay contests recognizing the original research of Duke students and encouraging the use of library resources. These awards include the Lowell Aptman Prizes, for use of the general library collections and services; the Ole R. Holsti Prize, for excellence in the field of political science and public policy research; the Chester P. Middlesworth Award, for research using the primary sources and rare materials held in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library; and the Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award, for an outstanding work of creative writing. Winners of these awards receive cash prizes of $1,000 or $1,500 as well as recognition at a reception during Duke’s Family Weekend. This year we wanted to highlight a few of our winners and ask what they planned to do with their winnings.

Jessica Chen

Jessica Chen, a winner of the Lowell Aptman Prize, had a central research question, asking how different communities that face barriers from higher housing rates in the Lower East Side of New York intersect, and how one represents that intersection in art. As an art history major, Jessica was able to further her studies by visiting art galleries in New York that represent these communities. Her research confronting the history of ghettos in New York also allowed her to explore different fields of study – such as urban policy – while reading historical 1920s newspapers provided by the library. Her research resulted in her paper “Post-Modern Folk Chronicler.” Jessica says that she plans to use the prize money to “finally organize [her] life by buying an iPad and Apple pen for note-taking.”

Blaire Zhang (right) with librarian Arianne Hartsell-Gundy

Blaire Zhang might not fit the profile of the typical student who wins the William Rosati Creative Writing Award. She’s a computer science major. Her paper, “Sapiens,” was actually the first creative writing assignment she ever had at Duke, and she managed to have it recognized as one of the top creative writing assignments out of all the undergraduates last semester. The intersection of Blaire’s abilities won’t stop with this award, however. She plans to use the prize money in order to create a digital visualization of her writing.

Jack Bradford (right) with Professor of English Tom Ferraro

Jack Bradford received the Lowell Aptman prize for his honors thesis, “Errand into the Water Closet: Scat and the Making of the American Modernist Novel.” Jack dug his nose into the portrayal of feces in six different novels from the 1920s-1930s. He explains that one can use scatology to view race, gender, and religion throughout these novels. “The modernist novel became the vehicle through which I synthesized an eclectic bibliographical dung heap into a systematic theoretical paradigm,” he quipped.


Valerie Muensterman

Valerie Muensterman’s name might sound familiar. This is now Valerie’s third time to be a recipient of our Rosati Award. Valerie, who studies English and Theater Studies, is a playwright. Last year, when she won for a collection of plays, she told us that she hoped the prize money would provide the opportunity to explore her passion. And that she did! But this time she used her skills to write “Did You Forget Your Name?” a screenplay about a stuttering female protagonist, borrowing from the experiences of her older sister. She uses the protagonist to bring forward her central theme: waiting. While accepting her award, she explained that just as she learned to wait through her sister’s speech, perhaps the slower speech of the protagonist can teach us that we must wait for the most critical moments in life.

Mikaela Johnson (T’20) is an English major and student worker in the Library Development and Communications department.

Complete List of This Year’s Winners

Lowell Aptman Prize
Recognizing excellence in undergraduate research using sources from the Libraries’ general collections

  • First/Second-Year: Veronica Niamba for “The Day Man Stood Still,” nominated by Gray Kidd
  • Third/Fourth-Year: Jessica Chen for “Post-Modern Folk Chronicler,” nominated by Dr. Paul Jaskot
  • Honors Thesis: Jack Bradford for “Errand into the Water Closet,” nominated by Dr. Tom Ferraro

Chester P. Middlesworth Award
Recognizing excellence of analysis, research, and writing in the use of primary sources and rare materials held by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

  • Undergraduate: Sierra Lorenzini for “Fair Haired: Considering Blonde Women in Film and Advertising,” nominated by Dr. Kristine Stiles
  • Graduate: Michael Freeman for “P. Duke Inv. 664R: A Fragmentary Alchemical Handbook,” nominated by Dr. Jennifer Knust

Ole R. Holsti Prize
Recognizing excellence in undergraduate research using primary sources for political science and public policy

  • Amanda Sear for “To Smoke or to Vape? E-cigarette Regulation in the US, the UK, and Canada,” nominated by Dr. Ed Balleisen
  • Yue Zhou for “Learning Languages in Cyberspace: A Case Study of World Languages Courses in State Virtual Public Schools,” nominated by Dr. Leslie Babinski

Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award
Recognizing outstanding undergraduate creative writing

  • Valerie Muensterman for “Did You Forget Your Name?”
  • Caroline Waring for “The Roof”
  • Blaire Zhang for “Sapiens”

Locus Collection Tracks the Stars and Universe of Sci-Fi

The Locus collection includes some 16,000 rare and noteworthy monuments of science fiction and fantasy, many in their original dust jackets.

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University has acquired the archives of the Locus Science Fiction Foundation, publisher of Locus, the preeminent trade magazine for the science fiction and fantasy publishing field.

The massive collection—which arrived in almost a thousand boxes—includes first editions of numerous landmarks of science fiction and fantasy, along with correspondence from some of the genre’s best-known practitioners, including Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Octavia E. Butler, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Dean Koontz, Robert A. Heinlein, and hundreds more.

Locus started out in 1968 as a one-sheet science fiction and fantasy fanzine. Since then, it has evolved into the most trusted news magazine in science fiction and fantasy publishing, with in-depth reviews, author interviews, forthcoming book announcements, convention coverage, and comprehensive listings of all science fiction books published in English. It also administers the prestigious annual Locus Awards, first presented in 1971, which recognize excellence in science fiction and fantasy.

Over the course of five decades in print, the magazine’s editors and staff have collected and saved correspondence, clippings, and books by and about science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers. What emerges from this trove of material is a tapestry of a diverse and thriving community of writers, publishers, and editors, all working to create new and modern genres of speculative literature.

This rare advanced reader’s copy of the first edition of Game of Thrones has a distinctly different look and feel from the popular HBO series.

Of the magazine’s original three co-founders—Charles N. Brown, Ed Meskys, and Dave Vanderwerf—only Brown remained after the magazine’s first year. He would continue to edit the publication until his death in 2009, earning the magazine some thirty Hugo Awards in the process and becoming a colorful and influential figure in the publishing world. A tireless advocate for speculative fiction, Brown was also a voluminous correspondent and friend to many of the writers featured in the magazine. Many of them wrote to him over the years to share personal and professional news, or to quibble about inaccuracies and suggest corrections. The letters are often friendly, personal, humorous, and occasionally sassy.

Reacting to a recent issue of Locus that featured one of her short stories, the science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler wrote, “I am Octavia E. Butler in all my stories, novels, and letters. How is it that I’ve lost my E in three places in Locus #292? Three places! You owe me three E’s. That’s a scream, isn’t it?”

One also finds frequent remembrances and retrospectives of departed members of the Locus community, such as Ursula K. Le Guin’s poignant reflections on the passing of Philip K. Dick. After Brown’s own death, the magazine continued publication under the auspices of the Locus Science Fiction Foundation, a registered nonprofit. The magazine launched a digital edition in January 2011 and has published both in print and online ever since.

In addition to the correspondence, story drafts, and other manuscript material (which has now been processed), the collection includes some 16,000 rare and noteworthy monuments of science fiction and fantasy from Brown’s extensive personal library, such as first editions of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, J. R. R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and hundreds more.

“Historical literary treasures abound in the Locus collection, from full runs of the pulps to vintage first editions to contemporary works,” said Liza Groen Trombi, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Locus Magazine. “And its preservation is deeply important. It is the product of decades of collecting and curating, starting in the 1940s, the Golden Age of science fiction, when Locus’s founding publisher Charles N. Brown was an avid reader with a deep love of genre, through his time working within the science fiction field, and up to the present day under the current Locus staff. Housing those core works in an institution where they’ll be both accessible to scholars and researchers at the same time as they are carefully preserved is a goal that I and the Locus Science Fiction Foundation board of directors had long had. I am very happy to see them in the dedicated care of the curators and librarians at Duke.”

In its new home in the Rubenstein Library, the Locus collection complements existing collection strengths in the areas of science fiction and popular literature, including the Glenn R. Negley Collection of Utopian Literature, and the Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Pulp Culture.

“The opportunity to acquire the Locus Foundation library is a tremendous one for Duke,” said Sara Seten Berghausen, Associate Curator of Collections in the Rubenstein Library. “Because it’s a carefully curated collection of the most important and influential works of science fiction of the last several decades—most in their original dust jackets, with fantastic artwork—it complements perfectly our existing collection of utopian literature from the early modern period through the mid-twentieth century.”

Locus started out as a one-sheet science fiction and fantasy fanzine and grew into the most trusted news magazine in science fiction and fantasy publishing.

Berghausen notes that Brown and Locus created not only this collection, but a community of writers, and those relationships are documented throughout the archival collection as well. “The research and teaching possibilities are almost unlimited,” she said. “From political theory to history, art, anthropology and gender studies, there are materials in the collection that could enrich the study of so many topics.”

The collection is already being used in courses at Duke. This semester, English professor Michael D’Alessandro brought his class on utopias and dystopias in American literature to the Rubenstein Library to examine some of the Locus materials first-hand.

“It’s a curious strength Duke has that I didn’t expect,” said D’Alessandro. “I taught this course previously at Harvard, and even the archives there didn’t have anything like this collection, which adds a whole new breadth and depth to the class.”

Close Reading: Whitman Makes His Mark

What History Can Tell Us Through a Single Document

By Keegan Trofatter

Walt Whitman was born two hundred years ago this spring (May 31, 1819) in West Hills, New York. In honor of his bicentennial, this is a page from the printer’s proof of the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass, the most famous work of America’s most famous poet. The proof is riddled throughout with corrections, additions, instructions to the printer, and re-ordered page numbers, all in Whitman’s own hand. It is one of thousands of original manuscripts, printed works, and other “Whitmaniana” (including a lock of the poet’s hair) given to Duke by Dr. and Mrs. Josiah Charles Trent in 1942 and housed in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Today it stands as one of the largest and most important Whitman collections in the world.

Manuscript page from 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass


In 1855, at the age of thirty-six, Whitman self-published the first edition of Leaves of Grass. Over the course of twenty-seven years and nine different editions, the collection expanded from the twelve original, untitled poems to over four hundred complete ones. Not only did Whitman add more poems with each subsequent edition, but he meticulously and continuously revised them all. When interviewed about the publication of the 1881 edition, Whitman said, “This edition will complete the plan which I had outlined from the beginning. It will be the whole expression of the design which I had in my mind.” (As it turned out, he went to work one final time to publish what is now known as the “deathbed edition” of 1891-92.) Here Whitman instructs the printer that he wants the title of the section to appear as “the running head over the odd pages.” It’s just one of many examples of the poet’s perfectionism and desire to control every aspect of the way his life’s work was presented. Apparently Whitman loved this part of the editorial process. He writes in a note to himself, “Having been in Boston the last two months seeing to the ‘materialization’ of my completed ‘Leaves of Grass’—first deciding on the kind of type, size of page, head-lines, consecutive arrangement of pieces; then the composition, proof reading, electrotyping, which all went on smoothly, and with sufficient rapidity. Indeed I quite enjoyed the work, (have felt the last few days as though I should like to shoulder a similar job once or twice every year).”


Whitman’s best known poem, “Song of Myself,” was not titled as such until the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass. In previous editions it was titled, “Poem of Walt Whitman, an American,” or simply the author’s name, “Walt Whitman.” Here, in this line of penned cursive, we can see the stroke of inspiration when Whitman settled on the final title for the piece for which he is best remembered. It is interesting to note an edit further down the page where Whitman lengthens the first line “I celebrate myself,” by adding “and sing myself,” bringing the poem in parallel with the title. Whitman once wrote, “My Poems, when complete, should be A Unity.” These mirrored inclusions of “song” and “singing” are just one step the poet took to unify his work along cohesive themes.


For efficiency’s sake, Whitman used a previous printed edition of Leaves of Grass as the basis for his edits to the 1881 version. He literally cut and pasted lines from different pages together. In some cases, he even excised individual words and wrote in substitutions, leaving rectangular holes in the manuscript. This cutting may have also stemmed from his desire to regroup the poems into subtitled sections and clusters, a formal device he had been experimenting with. In fact, in the course of regrouping the poems, many of them did not make the final cut. The 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass saw thirty-nine previously published poems left out and seventeen new ones inserted.


Of all the edits Whitman made throughout the printer’s proof, hundreds are mere changes of punctuation. We can see him cutting em dashes and commas from the lines, or in some cases relocating them, changing the rhythm of the verse and placing the emphasis on new phrases. Though we are left to wonder about his sudden aversion to the comma, perhaps the words of a contemporary critic can provide insight. A review in the Washington Daily National Intelligencer from 1856 reads, “Walt Whitman is a printer by trade, whose punctuation is as loose as his morality, and who no more minds his ems than his p’s and q’s.” While this may seem a harsh (and oddly specific) critique, it is exemplary of the public’s fascination with Whitman as a celebrity writer. The bard offered the world a bold, mysterious portrait of an artist and invited readers to question his work, from the controversial thematic elements to the smallest of stylistic choices.

Keegan Trofatter (T’19) is an English major and student worker in the Library Development and Communications department.

Dancing to the Beat of Her Own Books

Alumna Honors Dance Mentor and Duke Memories with Library Gift

By Keegan Trofatter

Barbara Fox Photo by Don Addison
Barbara Figge Fox (photo by Don Addison)

“I was really out on the edges during my time at Duke,” said Barbara Figge Fox (WC’61). “Dance helped me survive. It was my saving grace.”

The former English major and Woman’s College graduate recalls her experience as a student dancer at a time when campus life looked quite different than it does now.

“Duke back then was a hat-and-glove society,” she said. “The ‘Duke Duchess’ was your typical Southern belle, wearing lots of make-up and nice clothes. There was a dress code, too. We weren’t allowed to wear pants unless we were covered up with a trench coat. Now imagine us dancers: black tights, leotards, and trench coats on top. We didn’t look like everyone else, but we learned not to care. It was a valuable lesson in non-conformity.”

Fox speaks fondly about the small cohort of dancers in the Terpsichorean Club—of which she was the president—calling the band her “little refuge.” It is clear dance held a special place in her life. Perhaps that is why she made a promise to herself she would one day support the dance program at Duke.

Barbara Figge and mother Rosalie Figge at Duke
Fox with her mother, Rosalie Figge, at Duke when Fox was an undergraduate.

Recently Fox made a $10,000 gift to the Libraries, hoping to support the research of other Duke students who share her passion by adding titles to the dance collection in Lilly Library. After all, dance was not simply how she spent most of her free time; it also became the focal point of her academics.

“I was taking a number of classes on the Renaissance: French, English, and Music,” Fox said. “I’d become interested in how movement during this time affected each of these subjects. Scholars study this now, but it was an entirely new concept at the time. I was lucky to have professors, such as the brilliant William Blackburn (English), who supported my exploration of this concept.”

However, exploration had its obstacles. At the time, there was a lack of dance criticism and research available to those interested. In response, Fox accumulated books to form a dance reference library out of her own pocket. Fox remembers it was a joy when the Libraries honored her “puny” collection by awarding her one of the student book collecting prizes, an award program that still continues to this day.

“We didn’t have a lot of support, but we had a lot of freedom,” she chuckles, remembering the nights of choreography done in her dorm’s hallways past curfew.

Though there was no official Dance Program at the time, and Fox and her peers received no credit for their classes and performances, she makes a point to say the dance instruction was excellent. She praises the teachings of M. Dorrance, Barbara Dickinson, Clay Taliaferro, and—most importantly—her mentor and advisor to the Dance Club, Julia Wray.

“Primarily I’m making this gift in honor of Julia. She was a quiet, contemplative teacher. She brought invaluable experience with the pioneers of modern dance—Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Jose Limon—to inspire me and several generations of Duke women.”

Julia Wray image from 1959 Chanticleer
The Terpsichorean Club’s entry in the 1959 Chanticleer yearbook shows Fox’s mentor and advisor Julia Wray (standing, in black), in whose honor Fox made her recent gift to the Libraries.

Fox notes that Wray influenced her personally, encouraging her parents to send her to the American Dance Festival in the summer of 1960. She also cites Wray as being instrumental in bringing ADF to Durham, where it remains to this day.

After graduation, Fox used all she had learned of dance, writing, and music to shape her professional career as a dance critic. She spent two decades on the staff of U.S. 1 Newspaper, Princeton’s business and entertainment journal, where she transitioned from dance writing to business reporting. She also served on the board of the Dance Critic Association.

The memory which stands out the most, however, is when she received an NEA fellowship in 1980 to return to Durham for the three-week Dance Critics Conference hosted by ADF—twenty years after her summer as an ADF dance student.

Barbara Figge Fox at the American Dance Festival in 1960
Fox at the American Dance Festival in 1960.

“It was a searing, wonderful, and horrible experience,” she recalled, “which solidified my position and ambition as a dance writer.”

Fox hopes her gift to the Libraries—the largest charitable contribution she has ever made—will honor her mentors and memories by shaping and supporting the academic curiosities of other students like her: not just dancers, but all Duke students who dance. As the mother and grandmother of Duke graduates, she also hopes to inspire new generations to delight in the art form she has long held dear.

Lee Sorenson, Librarian for Visual Studies and Dance, had this to say about Fox’s gift: “This donation represents the most delightful of challenges—the chance to do something big with a subject area where publication numbers each year are modest. It is particularly appreciated now with the recent arrival of several new dance faculty who have their own special interests, and I have been in discussions with the department on how best to use Ms. Fox’s spectacular gift.”

Keegan Trofatter (T’19) is an English major and student worker in the Library Development and Communications department.

Free to Be 1G

How the Libraries Support First-Generation Students at Duke

By Aaron Welborn, Director of Communications

First-year students take a selfie during Orientation Week on the East Campus lawn. Photo by Jared Lazarus.

Taking an Uber to class, networking with classmates who already run their own start-ups, and Instagramming your spring break beach trip to Oman. This is the life of a Duke University student.

This is also the life of a Duke student: staying on campus during spring break because you can’t afford to fly home, skipping dinner out with friends because the restaurant doesn’t take food points, and reassuring your frantic mom that you’re not in trouble when she gets an email saying you made the dean’s list. (True story.)

To the casual observer on the quad, the divide isn’t obvious between students who come to Duke from backgrounds of wealth and privilege and those who are the first in their families to go to college. But when you get them talking, first-generation undergrads—many of whom refer to themselves as “1G”—speak candidly about how different the Duke experience can be, depending on which side of the divide you come from.

Growing up in the western North Carolina town of Lenoir, Tiffany de Guzman had always heard about Duke. But she never imagined she would get in. Only one person from her high school had ever attended Duke. Almost everyone else entered the workforce after graduation, or else enrolled in community college.

But when a generous financial aid offer came through, the decision was easy. Tiffany was Durham-bound.

Now a senior double-majoring in Political Science and Italian, she is one of approximately 650 first-generation college students at Duke. Like many of them, she felt a little overwhelmed when she first arrived on campus. It’s a common feeling among college freshmen everywhere. But unlike many of their peers, students like Tiffany can’t always rely on family to help them navigate the myriad guidelines and financial challenges encountered in college.

“That’s one thing that’s different for a lot of 1G students,” Tiffany said. “Growing up, teachers were really important to me as a source of advice and guidance. So I came to Duke seeking that kind of support figure.”

Tiffany de Guzman
Tiffany de Guzman

Luckily she found one in Lee Sorensen. Based in Lilly Library, Lee is Duke’s librarian for Visual Studies and Dance, and he happened to be paired up with Tiffany as her pre-major advisor. When her initial plan to major in engineering turned out to be the wrong fit, Lee encouraged her to take classes she was interested in but might not have considered, which ultimately led to her double major.

“Lee was great,” Tiffany said. “It made it less overwhelming to know someone in the Libraries and have him as my advisor. We still stay in touch. I actually have a closer relationship with Lee than I do with my major advisor.”

Tiffany’s case isn’t unusual. One of the biggest differences between first-generation students and their peers isn’t necessarily material wealth, but information capital. Duke isn’t an open book, and it’s not always clear where to go for help. Early experiences with supportive upperclassmen, faculty, or staff can be key lifelines for gaining information and learning how to succeed in a demanding academic environment.

During the past year, the Duke University Libraries have been exploring ways to provide more support for 1G students at Duke. Some of the strategies library staff have identified or implemented are simple adjustments that require nothing more than a healthy dose of perspective. Others involve budgetary resources or calls for philanthropic support.

Perhaps the most surprising thing we’ve discovered in the process is this: many 1G challenges are common student challenges. In other words, services aimed at helping first-generation students actually promise to help all Duke students succeed. So why not do it?

With its need-blind admissions policy, Duke has made it a priority to attract students from all socio-economic backgrounds. And by almost any measure, the university’s recruitment efforts have succeeded.

According to Duke’s Office of Access and Equity, which serves first-generation and low-income students on campus, 1G students now comprise approximately 10 percent of the total undergraduate population. That translates to roughly 170 students in each class. Of those, about 20 percent of 1G students (60 incoming freshmen) are offered admission to the prestigious Rubenstein Scholars, a merit-based program created in 2016 that offers a full scholarship and additional funding for services, such as parental visits. The university also partners with KIPP, Questbridge, the American Talent Initiative, and other organizations that connect high-achieving, low-income students with selective universities. In recent years, the university has invested heavily in building an ecosystem of supportive offices and people across campus to help familiarize 1G students with college life.

First-year students make friends during the class photo shoot in front of Lilly Library on East Campus. Photo by Jared Lazarus.

The Libraries are a vital part of that support system. Recently, a team of library staff conducted six focus groups with 1G students to better understand the unique challenges they face. The interviews were revealing. Did the students ever feel like people around them knew things about college that they didn’t? The question was met with knowing smiles, nods, and cathartic laughter.

“Was there an info session I missed?” one student said she often felt like asking. “Have you been told your whole life you have to do this?”

Another sore spot was the cost of textbooks. When a night out with friends feels like a splurge, a single engineering text that costs $300 can be a major source of stress, on top of the financial anxiety many 1G students already feel.

One student joked, “I’ve never researched so hard as when I’m looking for a digital version of a textbook.”

For Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Librarian for Literature and Theater Studies, comments like these hit home. She was a first-generation college student herself. She can identify with the feeling of being an “outsider” on campus, and how hard it can be to overcome the academic, social, economic, and cultural barriers that many 1G students face.

“That’s the way I often felt as an undergrad,” said Arianne. “There’s a big information gap.” Arianne grew up in Missouri and attended the University of Missouri on scholarship. She made the most of it, and she appreciates the opportunities she had. But she almost missed out on one of the most memorable experiences of her life—studying abroad in France—until an advisor casually informed her that her scholarship would cover the cost.

Now Arianne leads a cross-departmental team of library staff working to expand services for 1G students. The team collaborated with the Libraries’ Assessment and User Experience department to conduct an in-depth study on ways the Libraries could improve the learning experience of these students.

Arianne Hartsell-Gundy (left), Librarian for Literature and Theater Studies, with Student Success Intern Megan Boland.
Arianne Hartsell-Gundy (left), Librarian for Literature and Theater Studies, with Student Success Intern Megan Boland.

Their findings revealed several areas of low-hanging fruit. Take textbooks, for example. Two years ago, the Libraries piloted a program to purchase textbooks for the hundred largest classes at Duke and let students check them out for a few hours at a time. The service proved hugely popular. In the 2017-2018 academic year, the Libraries purchased 290 textbooks, which were checked out some 2,597 times. This year, at the recommendation of Arianne and her team, the service was expanded and promoted heavily. Checkouts are already exceeding last year’s pace, and the year isn’t even over. The service benefits all students in those high-enrollment classes, but especially first-generation and low-income students.

Another finding was that many 1G students arrive at Duke without any experience of using an academic library, let alone a system as large and complex as Duke’s. Even fundamental research skills like locating a book in the stacks can take time to puzzle out if you’ve never been introduced to the Library of Congress classification system.

Students studying in Perkins and Bostock Libraries.

Such difficulties are certainly not limited to 1G students. Many international students at Duke—who make up almost 20 percent of the combined graduate and undergraduate student population—also face difficulties learning their way around the library.

In response, the 1G library team encouraged staff and students who work at library service desks not to assume that individuals know how to read a call number and to consider accompanying library users to the stacks as a matter of course, rather than waiting to be asked. Such a small change of perspective and employee training can make a big difference to the entire student body, not just 1G students.

Other ideas and recommendations the team came up with—several of which have already been implemented—include participating in Duke’s pre-orientation sessions for 1G students, recruiting 1G students to serve on the Libraries’ student advisory boards, advertising library jobs on Duke’s 1G student listserv, and collaborating with campus partners like the Academic Advising Center, Career Center, Writing Studio, and others to promote library resources to 1G students.

Students walk past Rubenstein Library during class change on the Abele Quad.

One of the top recommendations coming out of the Libraries’ 1G study was to create a dedicated position that would focus on providing outreach not only to Duke’s growing number of 1G students but also to other underrepresented groups, such as international students. This spring, thanks to a generous gift from library supporter Deborah Spears (G’87), the Libraries hired our first Student Success Intern. Megan Boland is a graduate student in UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science. Under Arianne’s supervision, Megan has been working to build connections, develop programs, and promote the Libraries as both an academic and a non-academic partner in support of student success.

“I truly believe that first-generation students bring important perspectives to higher education, and that libraries can play a unique role in facilitating their acclimation to college,” said Megan. “Collaboration between staff, faculty, students, and other key stakeholders is essential in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment.”

During Duke’s spring break, Megan helped to plan a “Spring Tea Break” for students who were staying on campus to gather in a relaxing and helpful environment. She also conducted a focus group with the leadership of Duke LIFE, a student group for 1G and low-income Duke students, on how to design campus spaces especially for first-generation students.

The intern position is funded for two years. An additional recent donation by library supporter Maria Tassopoulos (T’89) will supplement 1G outreach efforts and may be used to increase awareness of textbook affordability issues. Generous gifts like these increase the Libraries’ ability to improve the academic experiences of 1G students, which has a positive effect on improving student success in general.

It should go without saying that there are benefits to attending a private university with an $8.5 billion endowment. Gleaming new residence halls, access to phenomenal faculty, smaller classes, a veritable buffet of dining options, and of course awe-inspiring libraries are just the tip of the iceberg.

And yet for all its abundance, the rarefied environment of a place like Duke can undermine first-generation and underrepresented students’ sense that they belong here. Like it or not, Duke remains a place of pervasive wealth, where money and status are a part of daily life. In this respect, the university is no different from its peers. Wealthy students are a fixture at elite colleges across the country, and the challenges at Duke are similar to issues faced by students at many top private universities.

But research shows that a sense of belonging really matters, influencing students’ academic as well as social experience of college. Many low-income and first-generation students today embrace their identities. As a result, the conversation—at Duke, as throughout the world of higher education—has shifted from one that expects those students to assimilate to one that listens to them and uses their insights to create a better educational environment for everyone.

When students from less-advantaged backgrounds aren’t worrying about fitting in or affording textbooks for their classes, they can spend more time taking advantage of everything a Duke education has to offer. And so can the next generation after them.


A Big Lift for Lilly

Lead Gifts Support Planned Renovation and Expansion

By Aaron Welborn, Director of Communications

First-year students in the Class of 2022 ham it up before the class photo in front of Lilly Library on East Campus, August 2018. Photo by Jared Lazarus/University Communications.

In December, President Vincent E. Price shared with the Duke community some tidings of comfort and joy. The Duke University Libraries had received $10 million, Price announced in a press release, in support of the planned renovation and expansion of Lilly Library, one of Duke’s oldest and most architecturally significant buildings.

The donation is comprised of three gifts: a $5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., $2.5 million from Irene and William McCutchen and the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation, and $2.5 million from Virginia and Peter Nicholas.

Altogether, the gifts represent approximately one-fourth of the projected renovation cost. And they come from a family with a long association with Duke, and with Lilly Library in particular.

Rendering of the renovated and expanded Lilly Library, including a planned new entrance on the west side of the building. Image by Dewing Schmid Kearns Architects and Planners.

Lilly Library is named for Ruth Lilly, the famed philanthropist and last great-grandchild of pharmaceutical magnate Eli Lilly. In 1993, Lilly made a gift to “renovate and computerize” the library where her two nieces, sisters Irene “Renie” Lilly McCutchen and Virginia “Ginny” Lilly Nicholas, spent time as they attended the Woman’s College at Duke, graduating in 1962 and 1964, respectively. The gift renamed the building and provided the first significant upgrade to the stately Georgian edifice since it was built in 1927.

Renie and William McCutchen, a 1962 graduate of Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, have a history of giving to Duke, primarily toward the Duke Divinity School.

Ginny and Peter Nicholas, a 1964 graduate of the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, are also longtime donors to Duke, most notably for their naming gift for the Nicholas School of the Environment.

Among the members of the McCutchen and Nicholas families and their children, ten have attended Duke (one Nicholas grandchild is enrolled currently), and both families have a distinguished tradition of generosity and service to the university.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family—J. K. Lilly Sr. and sons J. K. Jr. and Eli—through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. In keeping with the wishes of the three founders, Lilly Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education, and community development. Throughout its history, the endowment has made grants totaling nearly $9.9 billion to almost ten thousand charitable organizations. At the end of 2017, the endowment’s assets totaled $11.7 billion.

More than 1,700 first-year students make East Campus their home every year and rely on Lilly Library for their academic success. Photo by Jared Lazarus/University Communications.

“These remarkably generous gifts from the Nicholas and McCutchen families and the grant from Lilly Endowment will enable us to dramatically improve the academic experience for Duke students and faculty, while preserving the charm and character of Lilly’s most beloved spaces,” said Deborah Jakubs, the Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs. “While Lilly Library and its staff are popular with first-year students and other library users, the lack of services and adequate space prevents it from fully meeting their needs. Many of the library services and spaces today’s students need to succeed are available in Perkins and Bostock Libraries on West Campus, but not yet on East.”

The planned renovation and expansion will update facility needs—including enhanced lighting, technology infrastructure, and furnishings—to meet today’s standards of safety, accessibility, usability, and service. Anticipated changes will also extend to the elegant Thomas, Few, and Carpenter reading rooms while maintaining the charm and character of these favorite spaces.

The library under construction in 1926. It served as Duke’s first library while West Campus was being built.

The proposed renovated building will also feature several new spaces for collaborative research and academic services, such as tutoring space for the Thompson Writing Program, event space for the Duke FOCUS Program, a student-testing facility, and an exhibit gallery. An anticipated added entrance and commons space holds promise to become the crossroads for East Campus that the von der Heyden Pavilion is for West, a place where students and faculty can meet over coffee.

“Our family’s commitment to restore and expand Duke’s library that bears the Lilly name comes from our hearts,” said Renie McCutchen and Ginny Nicholas. “We are happy to continue to support the same exceptional education and student experience as Duke has provided for three generations of the Lilly family.”

The building now known as Lilly Library opened in 1927 as Duke University’s first library on East Campus while West Campus was being constructed. At that time, it had a collection of around 100,000 books and was designed to serve a population of some 1,400 students. For more than four decades it served as the Woman’s College Library. When the Woman’s College merged with Trinity College of Arts & Sciences in 1972, the library was renamed the East Campus Library until 1993, when it was rededicated in honor of Ruth Lilly.

The Trinity College seal over the entry door of Lilly Library.

Over the course of that history, the very nature of libraries has also been redefined several times by technology, educational trends, and the demands of library users.

Today, more than 1,700 first-year Duke students make East Campus their home every year, and Lilly serves as their gateway to the full range of library collections and services. Faculty and graduate students whose departments are on East Campus also depend on Lilly for library services and materials, as does anyone who uses the art, art history, and philosophy collections housed there.

The total projected cost of the renovation and expansion is anticipated to be $38 million, which will largely be funded through philanthropy.

The Lilly family has been long been known for its support of libraries. In addition to Duke’s Lilly Library, there are Lilly libraries at Indiana University-Bloomington (with separate libraries named after Ruth Lilly at IU’s schools of law and medicine), Wabash College, Earlham College, and the Ruth Lilly Library at the Indianapolis Art Center.

“Since the war began ‘times ain’t what they used to be'”

Life at Trinity College During the Great War

By Mandy Cooper, Ph.D.

First Lieutenant Robert “Kid” Anderson, Trinity Class of 1914, in his service uniform (third from left) and as captain of the baseball team during his senior year. Anderson was the first Trinity alum casualty of the war and the first North Carolinian to receive the Distinguished Service Cross (posthumously). Photographs courtesy of Mr. Jesse Clayton.

One hundred and one years ago, the doors to the East Duke Parlors were “thrown open” and “tables and machines [were] hauled in” along with “oilcloth, bleaching, hammer and tacks.” Led by Trinity College’s newly established branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the women at Trinity College and in the surrounding community turned the East Duke Parlors into a Red Cross room.

According to Trinity’s YWCA president Lucile Litaker, the room was now “splendidly equipped” and “great bundles of material began to appear.” Throughout the next year, women at Trinity were joined by women from Durham to roll and send bandages overseas. The Red Cross room was officially open every Tuesday and Friday afternoon 2:00-4:30, with the Trinity Chronicle reporting in February 1918 that between forty and fifty women had worked in the room the previous Friday. The women at Trinity were determined to do their part for the war effort.

They were not the only ones. By the 1917–1918 school year, the United States had officially entered World War I, and Trinity was feeling its effects. The impact on enrollment was immediate. Trinity saw a decrease of over one hundred enrolled students during the 1916–1917 and 1918–1919 academic years. President William P. Few was alarmed and attempted to boost enrollment in multiple ways: he encouraged current students to remain at Trinity until they were drafted; he toured North Carolina to promote the need for college-educated men to rebuild a war-ravaged Europe; and, like many other North Carolina universities, he started a Student Army Training Corps (SATC) unit on campus. The young men who enrolled in the SATC officially joined the U.S. Army, but remained students at their institutions and were protected from the draft while receiving the training necessary to be considered for officer positions after graduation. Special classes were established for the SATC to ensure that those enrolled received the necessary training. The War Department required that Trinity create a course for the SATC that covered the “remote and immediate causes of the war and on the underlying conflict of points of view.” This course was intended to enhance the SATC’s morale and help them understand the “supreme importance to civilization” of the war.

Trinity College students in the Student Army Training Corps. Students enrolled in the SATC were protected from the draft and received training to be considered for officer positions. University Archives Photograph Collection.

Few’s worries that Trinity would lose many students “to government service of one kind or another” proved apt. Although Few tried to dissuade freshman Charlton Gaines from leaving Trinity when he heard of his plans, Gaines enlisted and was sent to Camp Meigs for training. He apologized to Few shortly after arriving at Camp Meigs for leaving “without giving you notice of my departure.” Gaines served throughout the war, attaining the rank of Sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps, and never returned to Trinity College.

Even those students who remained at Trinity felt the effects of the war. Friends and former students who had joined the military often returned to campus to visit on the weekends. The Chronicle reported in January 1918 that there would be no Chanticleer for the 1917–1918 year, largely because of the war. In addition to financial woes carried over from the previous year, the editor-elect had failed to return to Trinity in fall 1917—presumably because he joined the army. As the Chronicle writer reported, though, Trinity was not the only college (even just in North Carolina) that had been forced to cancel the yearbook for the year. In the end, the writer told students that they must “patriotically adapt” themselves to this situation because “since the war began ‘times ain’t what they used to be.’” The Chanticleer returned in 1919 as a special edition. It was issued at the end of the war, published as Victory, 1919, and highlighted the victory of the United States and its allies in the war.

Completed in 1923 and dedicated to the “one thousand and twenty-nine sons of Trinity who entered the service of their country in the World War,” the Alumni Memorial Gymnasium on East Campus was funded through the donations of hundreds of Trinity alumni. In 1996, the Brodie Recreation Center was added to the existing Memorial Gymnasium. These dedications are on the second floor.

The war had some unexpected effects on Trinity as well. Football had been banned at Trinity since 1895, and in 1918 students petitioned for its return. They argued that a football program would help build a manly physique during a time when there was “a distressing need for physically well-developed men.” As the war was ending, the administration lifted the ban and football returned to Trinity.

Trinity’s connection to the war was never more clear than in the masses of letters that alumni and former students sent to friends still at Trinity, to President Few or other faculty, to the Trinity Chronicle, or to the Alumni Register. Lt. R. H. Shelton wrote to Duke Treasurer D. W. Newsome from the front in France, telling him that he had seen “some of the worst over here.” Shelton continued, “Sherman certainly knew what he was talking about, but his was an infant.” Alumni like Shelton made the horrors of war clear to everyone still at Trinity. The pages of the Alumni Register for the war years are filled with letters from the front, placed in the same volumes as the President’s updates on the war’s effect on the college.

Duke’s Blue Devil mascot traces its origins to World War I. The Chasseurs Alpins—nicknamed “les Diables bleus”—were an elite French military unit known for their courage and skill in fighting on mountainous terrain. When the U.S. entered the war, units of the French Blue Devils toured the country to raise money for the war effort. Their distinctive blue uniform with flowing cape and jaunty beret captured the public imagination. As the war was ending, Trinity lifted its quarter-century ban on football and the Chronicle began advocating for a catchy name for the team. In 1922, Blue Devils was eventually chosen out of the suggestions (which also included Blue Titans, Blue Eagles, Royal Blazes, and Polar Bears). Postcard from Francis Eugene Seymour Papers, Rubenstein Library.

The Alumni Register and the Chronicle both regularly reported on the service of Trinity alumni and students overseas, including the first alumnus killed in action. First Lieutenant Robert “Kid” Anderson was among the first wave of American soldiers sent overseas. Part of the class of 1914, he was killed in action on May 29, 1918, at the Battle of Cantigny in France—the first major American engagement in the war. The news of Anderson’s death was sent both to his family and to President Few. The Alumni Register announced that Anderson had been killed in action in its July 1918 issue. The Register profiled his time at Trinity and his military service before reprinting an account of the memorial service held in his honor in his hometown of Wilson, North Carolina, a letter to Anderson’s parents from a fellow soldier that described his bravery in action, and portions of Anderson’s letters to relatives and friends.

To honor the centennial of the end of the First World War, selected items from the Duke University Libraries are on display in the Mary Duke Biddle Room as part of the exhibit Views of the Great War: Highlights from the Duke University Libraries. In addition to the impact of World War I on Trinity College and other people back home, the exhibit highlights aspects of the Great War and tells the personal stories of a few of the men and women (whether soldiers, doctors, or nurses) who travelled to France with the American Expeditionary Force during the “war to end all wars.” The exhibit is on display through February 2019.

Mandy Cooper is a Duke History Ph.D. and former Research Services Graduate Intern with the Rubenstein Library. She is one of the curators of the exhibit Views of the Great War.

It Pays to Do Your Research

Catching Up with Our Research and Writing Prize Winners

By Keegan Trofatter

Every year we run a series of essay contests recognizing the original research and writing of Duke students and encouraging the use of library resources. These include the Aptman Prizes, for use of our general collections; the Middlesworth Awards, for use of our special collections and rare materials; the Holsti Prize, recognizing research in political science or public policy; and the Rosati Creative Writing Award. Winners of these awards receive impressive cash prizes of $1,000 or $1,500 as well as recognition at a reception during Duke’s Family Weekend.

We thought it would be fun to catch up with a few of this year’s winners and ask what they planned to do with their winnings.

Hanna Watson

Double-Winner, Aptman Prize and Middlesworth Award

As a Robertson Scholar, Hanna had the opportunity to spend one semester of her undergraduate years at UNC as a full-fledged Duke student. Though her time at Duke may have been limited, the impact it had on shaping her work was anything but. An African American Studies major, Hanna is interested in religious history in black communities both in America and globally. Her paper, “Seeking Canaan: Marcus Garvey and the African American and South African Search for Freedom,” was so good it had the rare distinction of winning both an Aptman Prize and a Middlesworth Award.

Now it appears Hanna’s future writing career may take a different turn. When asked what she planned to do with her winnings, she responded, “Recently, I’ve decided I want to actively pursue performance poetry. However, that requires having a car. The money I won is going directly towards my car-fund, in the hopes I’ll be able to go on a travel tour of writing and performing my work.”

Hanna also has eyes on divinity school (Duke’s perhaps?) and hopes to continue her historical inquiries through exploration of primary research and materials.

Gabi Stewart

Middlesworth Award Winner

Choosing to study Classical Languages, Greek Literature, and History at Duke may not be the popular path, but it proved to be interesting and rewarding for Gabi. Though she was the only Classical Languages major to graduate in the Class of 2018, she still thinks Duke was one of the best places to write and research her passion.

As a student, Gabi interned with the American Society of Papyrologists. As it happens, the ASP is headquartered at Duke, which is also home to countless papyrus materials in the Rubenstein Library. Gabi attributes the line of inquiry that inspired her paper—“Rostovtzeff and the Yale Diaspora: How Personalities and Communities Influenced the Development of North American Papyrology”—to her relationship with ASP and the ease to which she could access rare materials.

As Gabi delves into the next chapter of her studies at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, she remarks that she hasn’t yet had the opportunity to travel as much as she’d like.

“I’m planning to use the prize money from the Middlesworth to take one of my first trips abroad—to Paris!” she said.

Andrew Tan-Delli Cicchi

Middlesworth Award Winner

As a student of Global Cultural Studies and founder of the Duke Men’s Project, Andrew was accustomed to exploring and interrogating narratives in his environment while at Duke. Choosing to spend his summer as one of the first participants in our Duke History Revisited program—a six-week immersive research experience uncovering previously under-researched or unexplored areas of Duke history—Andrew was able to delve deep into the relationship between Duke and Durham through the lens of housing and gentrification.

Andrew’s research, culminating in “Neighbors: A Narrative and Visual History of Duke’s Influence on Durham’s Low-Income Housing,” was different than work he’d ever done. It gave him a sense of empowerment over his studies.

“It’s so gratifying to know that this research is read,” Andrew stated, “that it has a place in the scholarship of a subject I care deeply about and a city that means a great deal to me. I’m honored to receive the prize.”

Though his time at Duke has come to an end, Andrew continues his pursuit of uncovering knowledge. He is currently researching domestic labor in Hong Kong, and hopes to use the prize money to further his travels around the region.

Alex Sanchez Bressler

Rosati Award Winner

Following your passions can often take you down roads you never expected. That’s the case for Alex, a recent graduate with a Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies major, Environmental Science minor, and Latina/o Studies certificate. His unique combination of degrees was a result of his desire to understand people and how they interact within the world.

Alex’s creative writing piece, a series of vignettes titled “Reports from South Texas,” followed his interests and experiences. Inspired by his mother’s house in San Antonio, the piece reflects on the contradiction between sentimental memory and physical rot. In writing it, Alex found a way to hold onto a place that may be slipping away. He is grateful he didn’t have to undergo the process alone.

“Mentors are huge,” he said. “It’s hard to know when to slap someone in the face with critique and when to applaud. A mentor knows the right balance.”

Since graduation, Alex has remained at Duke as an Arts Administration Fellow. He imagines using the prize money to enjoy some local treats, such as buying the “nice” loaves of bread from the Durham Farmer’s Market and taking himself out on a couple of dates.

Valerie Muensterman

Rosati Award Winner

Some might know Valerie as the President of Duke Players, the student theater group supporting new work from the Duke community, or as an actress in campus productions. However, behind the curtain, Valerie is often responsible for the writing herself. A junior, Valerie unites her studies in English, Creative Writing, and Theater Studies to create her very own plays and even see them to production.

Her three-part collection of plays, “Ditch,” embodies Valerie’s interests in human miscommunication, loss, and the surreal and was a result of Valerie’s efforts over the span of a couple of different dramatic writing courses. Her writing hasn’t stopped there.

Valerie is currently working on a screenplay. Before she graduates, she hopes to write a full-length play and produce it for an audience. As every writer knows, it can be difficult to find the time and resources to devote yourself to your craft. Valerie hopes the prize money will give her the opportunity to spend her summer writing and exploring her passion.

Keegan Trofatter (T’19) is an English major and student worker in the Library Development and Communications department.

Complete List of This Year’s Winners

Lowell Aptman Prize
Recognizing excellence in undergraduate research using sources from the Libraries’ general collections

  • Hanna Watson: “Seeking Canaan: Marcus Garvey and the African American and South African Search for Freedom”
  • Chloe Ricks: “‘Last Stop Destination’: Poverty, Anti-Blackness, and University Education in the Mississippi Delta and the Baixada Fluminense”

Chester P. Middlesworth Award
Recognizing excellence of analysis, research, and writing in the use of primary sources and rare materials held by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

  • Gabrielle Stewart: “Rostovtzeff and the Yale Diaspora: How Personalities and Communities Influenced the Development of North American Papyrology”
  • Andrew Tan-Delli Cicchi: “Neighbors: A Narrative and Visual History of Duke’s Influence on Durham’s Low-Income Housing”
  • Hanna Watson: “Seeking Canaan: Marcus Garvey and the African American and South African Search for Freedom”

Ole R. Holsti Prize
Recognizing excellence in undergraduate research using primary sources for political science and public policy

  • Anna Katz: “The Road to the White (Nationalist) House: Coded Racial Appeals in Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign”

Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award
Recognizing outstanding undergraduate creative writing

  • Valerie Muensterman: “Ditch,” a collection of plays
  • Vivian Lu: “Triptych,” a collection of short stories
  • Alex Bressler: “Reports from South Texas, 1995-1999,” a series of vignettes
  • Samantha Meyers: “BLUE,” a play