Category Archives: Spring / Summer 2019

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.