Join the Duke University Libraries as we honor Dr. Janie Long, retired Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Duke and former Director of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, with a dedicated study space and the launch of a new speaker series, the first in our history named for an LGBTQ administrator.
Panel Discussion: Queer Student Activism at Duke
Moderated by Steven Petrow T’78, Contributing columnist, The Washington Post, and author, in conversation with:
Representative Vernetta Alston, NC House District 29
Angel Collie, Duke University Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity
Liam Miranda T’16 SPP’21, The Inclusion Playbook
Janelle Taylor T’19, Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Date: Saturday, April 29 Time: 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room (Rubenstein Library room 153)
Reception to follow. Please register here to help us estimate attendance and refreshments.
Post Contributed by John B. Gartrell, director, John Hope Franklin Research Center
Black Lives in Archives Day 2023 – “I Got a Story to Tell: Black Lives in Print 2.0”
Monday, April 3, 2023
11:00am – 2:00pm
Gothic Reading Room, Rubenstein Library, Duke West Campus
Free and open to the public
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is pleased to announce it’s second Black Lives in Archive Day.
This one-day only exhibition allows visitors to browse special selections from the library’s collections, chat with library staff, and explore Black authored primary source materials. From rare first editions by Sojourner Truth to published works exploring Black life in Durham to publications by Black students at Duke, the event will give attendees a hands-on experience with the richness of Black print culture!
Post contributed by Tyler J. Goldberger, Human Rights Archive Travel Grant Awardee
“Diplomatic Dip,” reports the Staten Island Advance on March 9, 1966, covering the remarkable story of United States Ambassador to Spain Angier Biddle Duke swimming alongside Manuel Fraga, Spanish Minister of Information and Tourism, in hydrogen bomb-contaminated water. “Envoy Swims to Prove No Radiation,” states the Chicago Defender to describe the same event. Clippings within the Angier Biddle Duke Papers as well as a Palomares, Spain scrapbook, part of the Angier Biddle Duke collection, illustrate the national and international coverage, consciousness, and attention garnered by the accidental dropping of four American hydrogen bombs during a routine fly off the coast of Spain, where the bombs were held, in January 1966. To minimize the political, economic, and diplomatic disruptions caused by dropping potentially hazardous and radioactive bombs on another nation’s coastline amid the Cold War, Biddle Duke and Fraga participated in a brief swim to showcase to the world that the United States did not corrupt the Palomares ecosystem. This public relations stunt sought to protect the image of strong ties between these two nations and support Spain’s tourism economy. This American faux pau serves as an exemplar of the contradiction between warming United States-Spain relations during the second half of the twentieth century and private citizens and organizations bringing awareness to Francisco Franco’s dictatorial, repressive regime in Spain from 1939-1975.
Due to the generosity of the Human Rights Archive Grant within the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, I had the opportunity to explore various manuscripts and rare books to support my dissertation. My project, tentatively entitled, “‘Spain in Chains’: Transnational Human Rights, Remembering, and Forgetting of the Spanish Civil War and Francisco Franco Dictatorship within the United States in the Twentieth Century” argues that American individuals and organizations outside of the diplomatic sphere promoted human rights activism and humanitarianism in regards to the terror, repression, exiles, and murders perpetrated by Franco Spain. While historiography traditionally ends dialogue of United States-Spain relations in 1898, when the United States defeated the Spanish Empire in the Spanish-American War, my project, supported by many resources at the Rubenstein Library, asserts that we have much to learn from how Americans fought against fascism through war, suffering, fundraising, attention-raising, consciousness-building, and caring, even despite the budding diplomacy between these two nations.
United States-Spain relations showcase how the priorities of Cold War anti-communism quickly and continually subsumed notions of human rights over the course of the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship. While the civil war pitted leftist, anti-fascist Republicans against a conservative Nationalist coup d’état spearheaded by Franco, the outcry from the world resulted in sending approximately 40,000 volunteers from over 50 countries to fight against fascism, including around 2,800 volunteers from the United States in a battalion eventually known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The American Rescue Ship Mission within the J.B. Matthews Papers and various rare books published by the Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, including, They did their part; let’s do ours! Rehabilitate the veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, illustrate not only that many within the United States knew the stakes of the Spanish Civil War, but also that there were large humanitarian currents during and following the war to support suffering Republicans within dictatorial Spain. Activities such as fundraising to secure clothes and food for ailing victims and exiles of the brutal war and post-war conditions, as well as organizing rescue ships to safely export Spanish Republican refugees out of Spain, highlight the space that Spain’s civil war occupied in American and global consciousness.
While incorporating humanitarian work during the Spanish Civil War and World War II, my project also seeks to expand this timeline by following United States-Spain relations over the course of the Franco dictatorship. I will contrast the ways in which the United States government intentionally forgot about Spanish human rights violations while private citizens continued to fight to support Spanish Republican victims and their families. Thus, newsletters from the Committee for a Democratic Spain ranging from 1961-1970 provide crucial information on the continued American attention given to human rights violations perpetrated by Franco Spain despite diplomatic allyship. These newsletters shed light on the continued crimes, atrocities, and imprisonment enacted by the regime, educating American readers on the “Unfinished Fight” that more should be aware of between the Spanish people and their own government.
The gaffe of United States hydrogen bombs dropping in Palomares tells just one side of the story of United States-Spain relations over the course of the twentieth century. My project utilizes the contradictory narratives of contaminated swims and condemnation of Franco Spain to contextualize individuals and organizations in the United States supporting and providing resources to suffering Republican Spaniards amidst improved diplomatic relations. The Spanish Civil War was global in its fighting, legacies, and consequences, illustrated by the many Americans advocating for increased aid to and awareness of Spanish Republican victims far past 1939.
Post contributed by John B. Gartrell, Director, John Hope Franklin Research Center
Please join this two-day conference convened over Zoom on March 6 and March 7 will gather the interviewers and project staff of the Behind the Veil project, conducted in the 1990s, to discuss their experiences capturing the stories of African Americans who lived in the US South during the Jim Crow Era. There will also be conversation from scholars who have recently used the Behind the Veil archive for their research and sharing the lessons learned from the interviews.
The Behind the Veil oral history project, which contains over 1,000 interviews and 1,500 images is archived in the John Hope Franklin Research Center at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Duke University Libraries received a grant in 2021 to digitize and publish the archive in the Duke Digital Repository with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Post Contributed by – Molly Carlin, Ph.D. candidate, School of Media, Arts and Humanities, University of Sussex, 2022 Marshall Meyer Human Rights Travel Grant Recipient
My research centers around the suppression of political voices in US prisons. Through archival research I am identifying the principal mechanisms employed by prison officials to prevent political organization and expression within institutions from 1964 onwards. Much of the earlier period looked at in my work has been focused on the Black Power movement, and the use of solitary confinement, tactical transfers and censorship to prevent key political activists in the movement from organizing within prisons. Many of these practices can be seen to continue throughout the period into the twenty-first century, and have been used, albeit less explicitly, to separate politically outspoken prisoners and establish obstacles to their activism.
The Rubenstein Human Rights Archive’s collection of incarceration zines elucidates varied prison experiences, and in particular the institutional responses to political writing. The recently acquired Tenacious Zine collection has provided an invaluable insight into the experiences and writing of incarcerated women and non-binary people. Commonalities in incarcerated experiences of ableism, discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people, and the difficulties of parenthood are evident across the country. These collections have been pivotal to my research on two counts: firstly, in exposing shared contemporary experiences of prisoners over the past twenty years, and secondly, in prioritizing the voices of marginalized identities within prison activism.
Primarily, what can be drawn from the hundreds of experiences recounted in the Tenacious Zine Collection, the Inside-Outside Alliance Records, and the Incarceration Zine Collection at the Rubenstein, is a resounding and unrelenting commitment to fight back against the systemic oppression seen in the carceral state. These sources come from prisons across the country, and from the 1960s right through to the 2020s, yet exhibit similarly oppressive experiences despite continued efforts to organize. Incarcerated activists have started writing campaigns, hunger strikes, work stoppages, and collaborated with ‘outside’ protesters to form a robust prisoners’ rights movement over the years. This chain of personal knowledge exchange moving within and stemming from prisons combines political theory and understanding of systemic oppression with communication of everyday lived experience.
Rachel Galindo wrote in Tenacious Zine in 2011: ‘Over these years of incarceration, I have realized the value in writing with the purpose of sharing with others my experiences in a women’s prison. I hope my stories stand as examples that can be applied to a broader consideration of the role of prisons—locally, nationally, and globally—and their collective effort.’ She continued ‘This is the importance of writing. It is neither static nor a one-sided activity. It lends a forceful hand of connection through reaching out and receiving. In reading others’ writing, I am provoked, informed and inspired. This dynamic exchange is a part of our ongoing exploration and forward movement as a people… When we write we are participants engaged in change and building something better together.’[i]
Galindo’s perception of writing as a valuable tool to engage activists outside and build community amongst prisoners with shared experiences reflects long-standing approaches to prison protest from decades prior. Another Tenacious Zine writer recalled realizing that ‘just because we are in prison doesn’t mean that we don’t have a voice,’ when formerly incarcerated poet and writer Jimmy Santiago Baca came to visit at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.[ii] Baca’s influence here exhibits the vital impact of activist networks and writerly collaboration, and the importance of words as a tool for organization, community, and resistance within the constraints of the penal system.
Yet this political writing, and activists’ repeated demands for core rights and respect have been met consistently with resistance and suppression from prison authorities. Vocal dissenters have been repeatedly placed in extensive periods of solitary confinement, hunger strikers force fed, labour strikers inadequately fed, visitations stopped, activists transferred, letters withheld and reading censored. Patterns in prison responses focus on blocking political activism and knowledge exchange through physical barriers and manipulation. The zine collections at the Rubenstein have unveiled these barriers, with writers exposing the ‘immediate surveillance,’ interception and censorship of prison writing.
One account in Tenacious Zine exposed escalating responses from prison officials to their writing on prison abuse. Beginning with interception of mail containing a drawing for a manuscript on sexual assault in prison, Barrilee Bannister recounted continued efforts by prison staff to prevent their writing from leaving the prison. Officers filed misconduct reports, searched Bannister’s bunk to find the manuscript, faked allegations of violent threats, removed privileges and transferred Bannister to an increased security wing.[iii] Bannister’s experience marks just one in a sustained effort to inhibit political expression and freedom in writing from prison, with many other instances recounted in the Rubenstein’s collections and beyond. On 26th September 2022, thousands of Alabama prisoners began a labor strike to protest understaffing, violence, sexual assault and unpaid labor within the carceral system.[iv] Prison authorities responded with withheld meals and visitation stoppages, and prisoners were forced to mobilize outside communities to help fundraise for commissary supplies to ensure protesters were fed.
Prisons continue to remove all but the most basic of rights and necessities from those within, and so the need for adequate avenues for political expression remains pivotal. Yet what has been seen in varied forms throughout this period is a system which functions to prevent this and which ignores or prohibits prisoners’ voices from being heard. The rise of mass incarceration coupled with the growth of supermax prisons has vastly increased the scale of this issue, to the point where this can now be seen as widespread political suppression. As prisoners across the country continue to take action against these injustices, it is important to identify the mechanisms that have long been employed to silence incarcerated political voices and how these have shifted.
*Molly Carlin’s grant project for the 2022 Marshall Meyer Human Rights Travel Grant is entitled, “How to Jail a Revolution: Theorising the Penal Suppression of American Political Voices, 1964-2022.”
The Duke University Libraries are proud to present the 2023 Andrew T. Nadell Prize for Book Collecting. The contest is open to all students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate/professional degree program at Duke, and the winners will receive cash prizes.
You don’t have to be a “book collector” to enter the contest. Past collections have varied in interest areas and included a number of different types of materials. Collections are judged on adherence to a clearly defined unifying theme, not rarity or monetary value.
Post contributed by Vincent Carret, Part-time Research Scholar for the Economists’ Papers Archive and Visiting Scholar at the Center for the History of Political Economy.
The Leonid Hurwicz papers are now fully reopened for research as part of the Economists’ Papers Archive. Over the past few months, the bulk of the 252-box collection has been reprocessed by inventorying, describing, and rearranging its contents, in particular the now distinct Research and Writings series. The following blog post describes Hurwicz’s professional trajectory, as it emerged from his papers, and outlines some files present in the collection.
Leonid Hurwicz was a Polish-American economist who immigrated to America in 1940 after fleeing Poland, which is documented in several folders. While Hurwicz never received a diploma in economics, he worked with and learned from some of the most recognized economists during the 1940s. When he arrived in the United States, Hurwicz joined the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics, which had just recently moved to Chicago. The Commission was the major driver in the development of econometrics, a new field of economic inquiry bringing together economic theory, mathematics, and statistics, and Hurwicz participated in the discussions surrounding the use of statistics in economics (collaborating for instance with Theodore Anderson).
At the end of the 1940s, the focus of the Cowles Commission turned to the theory of resource allocation, a field of economics inquiring into the best use of scarce resources in interdependent economic systems. Hurwicz, who was recruited by Walter Heller at the University of Minnesota in 1951, followed this shift. His work during the 1950s focused on the study of abstract market mechanisms, as documented in his collaborations with Kenneth Arrow and Hirofumi Uzawa. One question that became central to his work was the use of information in centralized and decentralized economic systems. Hurwicz built and studied economic models dealing with this problem, leading him to several long-standing collaborations with Thomas Marschak and Stanley Reiter.
During the 1960s, Hurwicz explored new ways of modeling the exchange of information, developing the concept of incentive compatibility to take into account individual agency in the distribution of information. His writings in the early 1970s document these new questions, Hurwicz’s answers, and the tools that he used, including game theory, which was also used to study different institutional arrangements. In the 1980s and 1990s, Hurwicz started working on a book collecting the state of the art on mechanism design, which brought together his interests in decentralization, information, incentives, and institutions. A highly formalized, mathematical endeavor, its theory and applications to auctions have led to several Nobel Prizes, including one for Hurwicz in 2007. His book, Designing Economic Mechanisms, coauthored with Stanley Reiter, was published in 2006.
Hurwicz’s success can be measured by the number of manuscripts preserved in his papers, his many correspondents, and the amount of working papers that he received from colleagues. His success also hinged upon his central place in the Department of Economics at the University of Minnesota, which became a powerhouse of economics in the 1970s-1980s.
Hurwicz’s work was abstract in a mathematical way, although always related to questions raised by changes in society. Among the most surprising items in the collection, perhaps attesting to Hurwicz’s ability to consider a problem under its most pure and abstract forms, I was amazed to find dozens of doodles that he made while taking notes. “Doodle” does not do justice to the intricate shapes, lines, circles, and points that make up these drawings. Seeing them next to the models and demonstrations that made up Hurwicz’s work, I was reminded of the Italian futurist movement and its celebration of the modern, industrial society. As I learned more about Hurwicz’s interests and work while processing his papers, these drawings became for me a metaphorical illustration of the mutation of economics from “political economy” to “economic science.”
Research travel grants of up to $1500 are offered by the following Centers and research areas:
Archive of Documentary Arts
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Travel Grants
Harry H. Harkins T’73 Travel Grants for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History
History of Medicine Collections
Human Rights Archive
John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture
John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture (Mary Lily Research Grants)
Each grant offering is specific to the associated subject area and collection holdings, and our archivists can help you determine eligibility for your project. We encourage applications from students at any level of education; faculty and teachers; visual and performing artists; writers; filmmakers; public historians; and independent researchers. Applicants must reside beyond a 100-mile radius of Durham, N.C., and may not be current Duke students or employees. Awards are paid as reimbursement after completion of the research visit(s). The deadline for applications will be Friday, February 24, 2023, at 6:00 pm EST. Recipients should be announced by the end of April 2023, and grants will be for travel during May 2023-June 2024.
An online information session will be held Thursday, January 19, 2023, 1-2 EST. This program will review application requirements, offer tips for creating a successful application, and include an opportunity for attendees to ask questions. This program will be recorded, and posted online afterwards. Register for the session here. Further questions may be directed to AskRL@duke.edu with the subject line “Travel Grants.”
[An earlier version of this post had the incorrect date for the info session. It will be held Thursday, January 19.]
Post contributed by Michelle Wolfson, Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Intern.
The History of Medicine special collection houses many exciting—and, dare we say, sexy—artifacts that draw the interest of students, staff, and researchers. The carved ivory memento mori is a thing of beauty. The amputation set invites people to picture themselves on a battlefield during the Civil War. Anatomy and dissection are contemplated as one looks at flapbooks and manikins.
But what draws me in? The written word. The books, the pamphlets, the zines—they are the voices echoing to me through time.
With abortion constantly in the news at this cataclysmic time, and with a young child with many questions about puberty, I threw myself into the History of Medicine Collections as its latest intern, wanting to know, “What do we say about puberty? About menstruation? About abortion? What do doctors say? What do mothers say? What does corporate America say? For heaven’s sake, what do we tell the children?!” Here is a small sampling of what the special collection offers.
The Ladies’ Physician: A Guide for Women in the Treatment of their Ailments by a London Physician is a book from 1884. This guide has several redeeming factors. It makes clear that it is the mother’s duty to inform their daughters of what to expect before menstruation begins. While not always feasible (what does one do when there is not a maternal figure in the child’s life?), I generally like the attitude that we do not leave young girls and women in the dark regarding their health. In some ways, the text is very thorough in covering many common issues that women might experience, including the more benign, such as leukorrhea (“the whites”, or simply, vaginal discharge), to the more serious, such as tumors and endometritis. This was somewhat shocking to me as, anecdotally, I hear from many women that their endometritis was ignored by health providers for many years before being properly diagnosed. Pregnancy and many of the possibilities an expectant mother might experience as the body changes are also covered—from varicose veins to constipation to neuralgia of the face.
The section on pregnancy begins with a quick history of how much has been discovered recently—such as how physicians can now say with certainty that a person is pregnant by using a stethoscope and auscultation. Only sixty years ago, our London Physician tells us, did a woman claim to be pregnant by the Holy Ghost and had many followers who believed her, including people in the medical field. (Actually, the London Physician says “medical men”, and I wondered if midwives were at all involved.) Different signs of pregnancy are written about, but we are also told that there may not be any signs at all, at which point, a story is told about a Mrs. G—–, which feels straight out of a modern showing of “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”. Neither Mrs. G—– nor the neighborhood physician ever guessed she was pregnant, and indeed she was in labor and they still did not suspect that she was giving birth. Ten hours into labor, another doctor examined her and realized what was happening, though the expectant parents still did not believe it. The story has a happy ending—healthy mom, healthy and loved daughter. The London Physician also tells us that the opposite can occur, when a person thinks they are pregnant when they are not, whether it is due to false signs from tumors, an abnormal menstrual cycle, or simply gas or muscles twitching.
As one might expect, The Ladies’ Physician has its problems and questionable moments, too. The causes of puberty and menstruation are written about obtusely—I could not guarantee that a person without some prior knowledge of menstruation would completely understand what the book is saying happens during “the process which marks woman as woman.” (I will not even get into how this is not how we define “woman” anymore because now we know not all women experience menstruation.) The text also does not include visuals. At another time, the London Physician gives somehow not enough information by giving us too much information. We are initially told the average pregnancy is about nine or ten months, but the London Physician goes on for a distressing couple of pages about how some countries and cultures think that the duration of pregnancy lasts longer–three hundred days, or even going into years, the most being four years. (FYI: Elephants have the longest pregnancies of any land mammal, somewhere between eighteen to twenty-three months.) I do not know if this was simply an interesting point about varying belief systems, or to go back to the point about how physicians have recently learned more about pregnancy, or to cover all the bases of how long one might be pregnant in case somebody is incorrect.
One section regarding abortion was interesting to me, and I feel the need to quote it to get it exactly right. From pages 222-223, regarding severe cases of illness:
The cases in which such extreme measures are called for are of extreme rarity. It happens only when the mother’s life is in imminent and urgent peril; then it becomes a duty to act promptly and empty the uterus, and thus save the only life that can be saved, unless, indeed, it be in the later months of pregnancy, when both lives—the mother’s and the child’s—can in this manner be spared. Repulsive as it is to destroy the child, still it is the highest duty, and no hesitation should be felt in sacrificing it in circumstances stated, for unless this be done, and done promptly, not only the life of the child, but that of the mother will also be lost.
Another section about quickening was of interest from page 196. The London Physician does not think this is the moment a child is considered alive, instead that the
…embryo is alive from the first, though its life is a lower form of life than it is after the fifth or sixth month, just as the life of a child an hour before birth is a lower form of life than that it possesses an hour after birth.
They do not know when the child possesses a soul but
…[l]et it suffice here to say that from the time of conception there is life in the embryo, simple though it be when compared with the higher life of a born child or an adult man, yet too complex to be solved by the greatest philosopher.
I think the London Physician dropped the mic there, so I will end here as well.
Some of this blog post was written tongue-in-cheek, but that does not discount how I think on this book. In 1884, women had something to refer to that gave them reassuring and helpful information regarding their bodies. The information is given in a matter-of-fact manner, not sensationalized or hidden in shame (though we could work on some bits for clarification). It still leaves me with many questions—how many people had access to this book? Who was the London Physician? What did people do if they did not have access to a book like this? I am assuming they sought other women for advice, or at least I am hoping they did.
Post contributed by Haleigh Yaspan, Independent Researcher
Pregnancy and birth, as universal and unvarying phenomena, can offer a revealing and reflective view into a specific historical chapter. Careful attention to the dynamic nature of the circumstances that have historically defined the experiences of pregnant and birthing women can help us contextualize and better understand our present moment. The relationship is bidirectional: so too does an exploration of historical factors help shed light on the rationale for trends in the medicalization of birth. The aid of a generous History of Medicine travel grant allowed me to spend time with a number of fascinating collections at Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library that can offer such insight. These included, for example, the collection of medical instruments from the practice of Dr. LM Draper, the Louise Hortense Branscomb papers, and the Wilton G. Fritz Collection Artifacts.
In the United States, the circumstances of birth changed dramatically toward the end of the Progressive Era. Prior to the twentieth century, the care of pregnant and birthing women was most commonly the domain of midwives and other female practitioners, who were not incorporated into a recognized professional body. The shift toward a physician-centric approach can be traced back to a revolution within the medical profession, beginning in the late 1800s and continuing well into the following century. The wide variety of obstetrical tools surviving from Dr. LM Draper’s twentieth-century collection offers insight into standard practices of American physicians of the day. I was particularly intrigued by the array of various iterations of forceps, insinuated as they are in the medical profession’s early- and mid-century proclivity toward instrumental intervention in labor, an intentional move to set physicians apart from low-interventionist midwives.
The glass slides for Dr. Carter’s OB/GYN lectures provided a window into the education aspect of the medical approach to obstetrics. Such primary sources set forth the gold standard of mid-century medical education of the day. The use of visuals in the slides informs an understanding of the historical pedagogical practices in this field, while the language employed clues us into the sociocultural milieu that circumscribed and defined medical education of the day.
The medicalization of birth that took shape in the early twentieth century has attracted both celebration and criticism. Many have critiqued physicians, both in this period and since, for their quickness to instrumentally intervene in birth and their failure to outperform more hands-off midwives in terms of clinical outcomes. In the early twentieth century, Abraham Flexner, under the aegis of the Carnegie Foundation, set out to survey the state of medical education in the United States and Canada. His 1910 report eviscerated the medical profession, suggesting that a vast majority of American doctors were woefully unqualified and had received what little education they possessed from institutions of highly dubious rigor and quality. “But the very worst showing,” he noted, “is made in the matter of obstetrics.”
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University