Constructing a Century

Post contributed by Shaina Leverett, Harry H. Harkins Intern for the Duke Centennial, Duke University Archives

If someone approached you and asked- “What is this thing you call Duke University? What does it mean? Where does it come from? Who makes it? Who continually makes it?” How would you respond to that?

Four undergraduates applied to create an exhibit showcasing the last 100 years of Duke history. As part of a Story+ summer research program, their jobs were to comb through the University Archive and chose 100 items that evoked Duke’s last 100 years, and subsequently curate an exhibit. Now, to give you some perspective on what that task entails, the university archive contains about 11,000 linear feet of records (including digital records).

Here’s the moment where we scratch the track and ask “Wait, hasn’t Duke been around more than 100 years?”, and the answer is yes, technically speaking Duke began as Brown’s Schoolhouse in the year 1838. Instead, the Duke Centennial celebrates the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Duke Endowment by James B. Duke. This charitable organization supports a number of causes and organizations, one of them being Trinity College. The college quickly changed its name to Duke University to reflect the transformative nature of this ongoing gift. The Story+ scholars looked back through the records since that pivotal year, and their work resulted in a rich and kaleidoscopic narrative of our school, which is now on display in Chappell Gallery in Perkins Library and online.

The students tasked with this project are Caroline Edmondson (T’26), Prisha Gupta (T’ 26), Zoe Tishaev (T’ 24), and Melody Tzang (T’ 25). Their project was managed by Jessica Orzulak, PhD, and they were further assisted by a team of staff at the Rubenstein. I sat down with each of the four undergraduates and asked them a series of questions ranging from the practical and philosophical struggles of the task. Their responses highlighted the difficulty in attempting to tell a ‘complete’ story about our institution, and the reasons we try to do it anyway.

Student Curators (L to R): Melody Tzang, Zoe Tishaev, Caroline Edmondson, and Prisha Gupta

Interviewer: Your task was to create an exhibit showcasing the last 100 years of Duke’s history. How did you find a focus for that wide of a time period?

Caroline: Yeah, that was definitely a big challenge. We came up with a list of themes that we knew we wanted to cover, as well as events that we already knew about just from our experience being here. Then it was a little easier to narrow the search and say, okay, let’s find some stuff that talks about the Woman’s College. Okay, let’s find some stuff that talks about the Graduate School or the Duke Forest. Also, we would look at collections that interested us, or that we thought might contain some insights. We tried to find objects that sort of spoke for themselves or spoke to parts of the stories that we didn’t necessarily know.

Interviewer: Part of looking back, especially over the course of a century, means we have to sometimes look upon some disappointing parts of history. How did you consider including the parts of our history that are more difficult to engage with?

Zoe: I think I’m a big believer that we criticize the institutions that we love. Because we want to learn from our past and we want to make them better, right? So it’s good to look back and to reflect and to see where things have changed and how we can learn from our past and the shortfalls of things that we’ve tried that haven’t worked. Something that’s easy to forget about when we step into leadership positions is [that] we forget to think about what’s been tried already and how we got to where we are, and all the mistakes and all the successes that have led us here. Until we understand that, it’s difficult for us to truly move forward.

Interviewer: How do you hope people will react to this exhibit?

Prisha: [Looking at] the Trinity Archive from the 1920’s, the editor had written their editor’s letter on Duke’s name change. I loved getting to read that. That person was definitely only here for 4 years, but what they had written meant a lot to somebody–to me! I’m somebody in the future! Even small pins, T-shirts, and the photos that people take, I think it builds such an impact on what we understand to be Duke’s history. I just hope that people realize after they leave the exhibit that they matter to this institution in some way.

Interviewer: What have you learned about Duke’s past 100 years that most surprised you?

Caroline: There are some smaller stories that were definitely surprising, like my mind was totally blown when we found out about the parapsychology lab. I was also struck by how frequently I found things that were so similar to what’s happening today. I’m a member of Duke Players, which is our oldest student theater organization. One of the objects that we pulled out to represent that group is a script in a Playbill from a production of the Glass Menagerie. Like decades and decades ago, and now we still read that play all the time!

Interviewer: What advice would you give to your fellow undergraduates, who maybe haven’t utilized the archive yet?

Zoe: You should absolutely do it. At least once in your career. It’s so touching and grounding to connect yourself back to the students who roamed the same halls as you and walked the same ground. There’s something very humbling about that and it’s just so fascinating to see. I think the library staff are nothing but helpful. Just go into the archives, they’re open for everybody. And ask the staff member to walk you through it. They will be delighted and thrilled that you have taken an interest, and honestly, our library system is probably one of the best in schools of our caliber.

Interviewer: Are there any skills you gained from this experience that you see yourself using in your education or your future job?

Melody: For sure, all of the soft skills that are super important in the workplace- collaboration, problem solving, also, just being able to communicate properly with so few words. [My] writing skills definitely came in handy with the label writing. It’s a really difficult learning how to be concise in your writing with so little space, especially for the [artifact] labels.  Cutting it to 100 to 150 words is really tough because we’re doing all that primary source research we come across. Maybe we only write 10% of what we’ve actually researched, and so [from] that whole breadth of knowledge [it] is really hard to pick and choose what our general audience would want to take away from an artifact. Or maybe there’s too much information that we just can’t put in there that we actually really wanted to share. So, a lot of it was how do we be concise with our writing? How do we also be creative in combining information together and spread it across different labels [so] that information still gets out there.

Interviewer: What is your favorite artifact in the exhibit?

Melody: My personal favorite item in the exhibit is this printing plate of the Duke alma mater. The alma mater was originally titled “Hymn to Trinity” by a graduate student named Robert H. James. It was a devotional for Trinity College before Trinity College became Duke University. He was inspired to write a hymn to Trinity in order to show his own gratitude and devotion to his college, and then also to express the feelings of his fellow students and others in what he called “the little worlds of Trinity.” It kind of mirrors that sort of same devotion and gratitude that I have for Duke.

Zoe: I change my answer on this every time. I think my traditional answer has been the roller skates. [Follow the link for more details on a 1949 bus boycott against the rise in bus fares between East and West Campus.] I am a very pedestrian centered person. My whole thing on campus is fighting for more pedestrian access and less auto-centrism.  So just seeing the energy people went through to walk from East to West campus because of a fare hike . . . it was more about the principal than the affordability of it. It’s a combination of civic engagement and people standing up for what they thought was right. Today, [that protest] could never happen. Students would not get that outraged. Or maybe they’d get outraged, but they wouldn’t organize around something of that scale. People drive from East to West Campus every day, and I just think it’s a strange shift because the distance hasn’t changed, but the students have.

Prisha: The picture of Jelly Leftwich and the Blue Devil is . . . [imagine here Prisha’s facial expression of palpable glee and adoration]. I’m a notorious Jelly Leftwich fan. I did a small research project on his scrapbook a while back and we don’t have the scrapbook in the exhibit, but that’s also an object worth checking out. Basically, he came here in 1926 to direct the three main bands at Duke. He’s kind of credited with revitalizing the music department at Duke. His scrapbook is really funny. Newspapers would also often call him handsome or something, and he would underline it every time.

Caroline: One of my favorite things that I totally found by chance was a glass lantern slide from 1935 of the Duke Forest. It’s meant for a projector, so it’s just kind of like tiny green glass image that you would put in front of a projector that would get displayed on a wall. When I checked out the collection, I thought it was going to be documents, but it was all these little glass lantern slides. It’s stunning and it honestly took my breath away a little bit. Because it looks just like it does now, like in 1935, the Duke Forest had as much beauty in it as it does now and I thought there was something remarkable about that. The Forest isn’t one of the institutions at Duke that I engage with very frequently, but it really put things into perspective for me. How lucky we are to have this resource that has been preserved for so long and will hopefully be preserved for decades to come. And to have this image of it from almost 100 years ago that looks so identical to how it looks now . . . it honestly made me a little emotional, this tiny image that someone took for research purposes in 1935 tells such a beautiful story of almost 100 years of the Duke Forest, which I thought was really cool.

The exhibit titled Our Duke: Constructing a Century will have its kick-off event on January 24th, 2024 from 4-6, with our curators set to give remarks at 4:45. On behalf of my fellow staff members in the University Archives department, we are exceptionally proud of the work of these four bright students. You can see from the exhibit, the level of care and gravity they considered when telling their story of Duke. We look forward to officially celebrating the fruits of their several months of hard work, and hope you will join us. To see more on the exhibit, including a virtual exhibition and the curator’s statements, please visit it OUR DUKE: Constructing A Century.

Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South

Date: Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Rubenstein Library Room 153, Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Duke University (the event will be recorded)
Contact: Rachel Ingold (rachel.ingold@duke.edu or 919-684-8549)

               Dr. Kylie Smith

Please join us on Tuesday, January 23, for our next Trent History of Medicine Lecture Series event. Kylie Smith, Ph.D., will present “Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South.”

The Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s sought to end racial segregation in all U.S. public institutions, including hospitals. Psychiatric hospitals became political battlegrounds over segregation and patients’ rights, setting the scene for disparities that continue today.

“Jim Crow in the Asylum” explores the process of desegregation and deinstitutionalization in state psychiatric hospitals in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. It draws on original records, court cases, and personal testimony to expose the racist ideas that underpinned the treatment of African Americans with mental illness and saw psychiatric hospitals used as dumping grounds for some of the South’s most vulnerable people.

Kylie Smith is Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Healthcare History and Policy in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Associate Faculty in the History Department, at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her PhD in the history of psychiatry in Australia, and is the author of the award winning book Talking Therapy: Knowledge and Power in American Psychiatric Nursing published by Rutgers University Press in 2020. Her new book entitled Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South will be published by UNC Press early in 2025 and is supported by the G13 Grant from the US National Library of Medicine.

This event is sponsored by the History of Medicine Collections in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine. The Trent Center is holding another talk by Professor Smith on Wednesday, January 24, at noon

Occupational Therapy Reveals “A Psychiatrist’s Anthology”

Post contributed by Roger Pena, Research Services Librarian

During the Fall 2023 semester, the History of Medicine Collections of the Rubenstein Library welcomed close to 50 first-year graduate students from the Occupational Therapy program at Duke’s School of Medicine. Duke Health and Hospitals have provided occupational therapy services since the 1940s and 2021 marked the inaugural year of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program.

Occupational Therapists (OTs) are trained in the social, emotional, and physical effects of an illness, injury or disability and help support the development of daily life (occupational) skills to help patients live independently and perform everyday tasks more easily and with less pain. For example, one (of many) functional areas OTs address is handwriting, where providers support skills through physical exercises, self reflection, organizational goals and confidence building.

Although it may be considered a “new” field, with the establishment of the National Society for Promotion of Occupational Therapy (now known as the American Occupational Therapy Association, or AOTA) in 1917, many principles and treatments of occupational therapy can be seen throughout medicine prior to the 20th century in areas such as psychiatry, hygiene, physical therapy and rehabilitation. What may surprise some is the fact that some early interventions of occupational therapy took from the arts and crafts movement of the early 20th Century as well as weaving, gardening and the art of bookbinding. By 1918, occupational therapy schools were established in Boston, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Philadelphia to train reconstruction aides (as OTs were known at the time) in evidence-based practices and treatments to help soldiers returning from World War I. Soon, however, occupational therapy would grow to reach a wider range of patients and those in need of more holistic interventions.

The visit to the Rubenstein Library served as an opportunity for these future OTs to interact with the History of Medicine Collections and Duke Medical Archives artifacts, manuscripts and rare books related to the history of their field and related branches of medicine.

Materials included:

  • Massage roller and devices to help feed patients with physical limitations
  • Duke football programs from the 1950s commemorating annual match between Duke and UNC to raise money for the NC Cerebral Palsy Hospital in Durham and raise awareness
  • Medical illustrations and student journals from OTs

A Psychiatrist’s Outlet

Cover of "A Psychiatrists Anthology"While curating Rubenstein Library materials for this session, one title of particular (and peculiar) interest was “A Psychiatrist’s Anthology” by Dr.  Louis Karnosh, published in 1932 (2nd edition) by the Occupational Therapy Press. This small publisher was part of the formally named Neuro-psychiatry Department at City Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.  Dr Karnosh, a psychiatrist, was the head of the above-mentioned department and also served as a professor of pathology and dentistry at Case Western Reserve University. “A Psychiatrist’s Anthology” – a collection of poems and stories – is inspired by Karnosh’s patients and looks at six different psychiatric conditions suffered by those he is treating – delirium tremens, general paresis, melancholia, schizophrenia, paranoia, and senile dementia.

The anthology also serves as an ode to his love of poetry and book printing. The first part explains Karnosh’s reasoning for creating an anthology of poems and stories while also describing his desire to publish a book in the tradition of Old World book binding and printing. “As a specimen of bookcraft, this is but an amateur’s feeble emulation of master bookmakers of yesterday … The pen and ink sketches, the type composition and printing are done by the author.”  The uncut pages, woodcut illustrations, the typography of the movable type, and the limited numbered copy give the air of books printed centuries before.

Every part of this anthology has symbolism and meaning to represent the six conditions Karnosh delves into through story and rhyme. The preface is written in poetic verse and explains Karnosh’s thoughts and ideas on what it means to be a psychiatrist while the introduction gives Karnosh the opportunity to speak to his readers about empathy for his patients – to not convolute mood with madness. ” I must keep to the road… Luring sirens… are calling and are singing phantastic farrago of popular psychologies. I must retain an objective calm…. I must first be an able dissector before I can synthesize…. Above all I must not treat diseased effectively by interjecting my own into the problem at hand. There must be no clash of feeling with feeling.” Each of the six conditions includes an original hand-drawn illustration, poem, and patient anecdote by Karnosh as well as a short encyclopedia entry about a mythical or literary figure to help the reader better connect to the condition(and patient) described. The folly of Prometheus to describe delirium tremens (alcohol withdrawal); Don Quixote to describe the condition of paranoia.

The (Poet) Doctor is In

Newspaper clipping with the headline "Jobless, Man Shoots Doctor. Blames Him for the Failure to Get Disability Compensation."
Newspaper article reporting Karnosh attack

Physicians as poets and writers is a tradition that dates back centuries, from John Keats, William Llyod Carlos and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. to the contemporary Nawal El Saadawi, Irène Mathieu and Rafael Campos. Physicians have long seen the therapeutic value of writing and reading poetry for both patients and themselves. At Philadelphia Hospital, founder Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Benjamin Rush were proponents of patients using writing as therapy while Walt Whitman was known to visit field hospitals and read poetry to wounded soldiers during the Civil War.

A look into the life of Dr Karnosh revealed an interesting and almost haunting past. Aside from his responsibilities as the head of the Neuropsychiatry Department at Cleveland Hospital and medical school professor, Dr Karnosh served as an expert witness in the Cleveland area murder cases[1] for both prosecutors and defense teams, having the ultimate responsibility of determining the mental capacity of the accused to stand trial. In 1940, Dr Karnosh was shot[2] on the front door of his home by a former patient who had accused him of writing a negative evaluation that resulted in the loss of the patient’s pension. Karnosh survived the attack.

Writing and poetry seemed to have had a therapeutic value for Dr Karnosh and may have served as an outlet for all the stress and pressure that came with his responsibilities. He was known to give lectures on various topics across the Ohio area and contributed advice columns[3] in local papers. A look at the catalog record at Case Western Reserve University’s Library, shows several books attributed to Karnosh as the main author, co-author or medical illustrator, including a textbook on psychiatry for nurses that had eight different editions.

As for the link between physician and poetry,  Dr. Rafael Campos, physician, poet and Director of Literature and Writing Programs of the Arts and Humanities Initiative at Harvard Medical School explains, “Poetry does a better job in teaching because it is about embracing the human aspect of suffering.” He goes on to say, “It’s our own humanity. That can be really healing for patients.”[4]

A New Approach

In explaining his thoughts for writing a “Psychiatrists Anthology,” Karnosh mentions that it is a “product of avocational moments of a psychiatrist who spends time with his patients in occupational therapy.” By the time the first edition was printed in 1931, occupational therapy had been an officially recognized medical discipline for close to fifteen years but “didn’t fit neatly into the medical model.” OT took a more holistic approach to therapy with aspects of nursing care, physical therapy, social work, psychiatry, health advocacy, and orthopedics seen in its treatments and interventions. Were poetry and art how Karnosh connected with his patients? Were these occupational skills part of his own mental well-being?

At a time when those with mental illness, physical disabilities and depression were seen as ills of society, occupational therapy and new OTs seemed to bring a breath of freshness to medicine with a focus on developing vocational skills as well as supporting the mental well-being of patients.

Today, there are approximately 500 accredited Occupational Therapy programs (with nearly 200 more vying for accreditation status) and over 180,000 occupational therapists and OT assistants practicing in schools, hospitals and outpatient clinics across the United States. As of December 12, 2023, Duke University’s Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program was granted accreditation  from the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Footnotes

[1] The Evening Review. East Liverpool, Ohio. Tuesday, January 26, 1932

[2] The Daily Sentinel-Tribune.Bowling Green, Ohio. Wednesday, July 03, 1940

[3] The Coshocton Tribune. Coshocton, Ohio. Thursday, October 12, 1939

[4] Demarco, S. (2020, March 11). Doctor-poets search for the right words to help patients heal. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-03-11/column-one-doctor-poets

 

 

2024-2025 Research Travel Grant Program

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for the 2024-2025 Research Travel Grant Program, offering awards of up to $1500 to support research projects associated with the following Centers, subject areas, and collection holdings:

  • Archive of Documentary Arts
  • Doris Duke Foundation Research Travel Grants
  • 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)

Anyone whose research would be supported by sources from the Rubenstein Library’s research centers is eligible to apply. We encourage applications from students at any level of education; faculty and teachers; visual and performing artists; writers; filmmakers; public historians; and independent researchers. For assistance determining the eligibility of your project, please contact AskRL@duke.edu with the subject line “Travel Grants.”

Eligibility

Applicants must reside beyond a 100-mile radius of Durham, N.C., and may not be current Duke students or employees.

Information Session

An online information session will be held Thursday, January 11, 2024, 2-3 pm 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.

Timeline

The deadline for applications will be Thursday, February 29, 2024, at 6:00 pm EST.

Decisions will be announced by the end of April 2024 for travel during May 2024-June 2025. Awards are paid as reimbursement after completion of the research visit(s).

Sensing Race in the Pacific World

Post contributed by Chris Blakley, Visiting Assistant Professor, Occidental College and History of Medicine Travel Grant Recipient, 2023-2024

Handwritten document on white paper with text in brown ink. Across the top is written the title "Joint Committee on the Library of Congress, June 14, 1850" with one paragraph of text below.
14 June 1850 resolution of the Joint Committee of the Library of Congress, Box 15, Wilkes Papers

 

Upon successfully passing the motion at their meeting in June 1850, the Joint Committee of the Library of Congress resolved to compel Charles Wilkes to “notify Mr. Pickering that the Committee think he was not authorized to devote his time” as a member of the United States Exploring Expedition between 1838 and 1842 to jotting notes for his book The Races of Man.[1] Nevertheless, Pickering published The Races of Man as the ninth volume of the multi-volume Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition in 1848, six years after returning from their voyage under the command of Lieutenant Wilkes. The committee’s resolution to Wilkes and Pickering is among the Wilkes Papers held by the David M. Rubenstein Manuscript and Rare Book Library, which generously funded my research at the library in the summer of 2023.

During their time in the Pacific Ocean––including stopovers in the Tuamotu Archipelago, Tuvalu, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Hawaii, and the Philippines––Pickering resolved to produce a classificatory schema of “all eleven races of man.”[2] At the start, he found “difficulty arose, in fixing in the mind, while passing from place to place, the relative shades of complexion” of the people the Exploring Expedition, or Ex. Ex., encountered during their voyage.

Fijian skin, for instance, upset English-speaker’s reliance on vision to discern race in the early nineteenth century. In May, 1840, Pickering looked through a spyglass from the deck of the Vincennes, the squadron’s flagship, toward a cluster of people gathered on the shore of Levuka, a town on the eastern coast of Ovalu, to obtain “evidence of the lightness of the Feejeean complexion.” Ovalu is one of the more than three hundred volcanic islands that make up the Fiji archipelago in the South Pacific.

At first, Pickering incorrectly hypothesized the group contained a mixture of “Malayan”, “Polynesian”, and “Negro” peoples rather than Fijians. Seeing people from afar thus proved to be inadequate for the purposes of collecting scientific facts concerning skin color in the Pacific Rim. Pickering improvised by terming them “purple men” on closer inspection. Ocularity and visibility, then, proved to be incomplete methods for knowing race.[3] So, Pickering concluded, his racial scientific program required collecting “more obvious distinctive characters” to serve as an evidentiary basis for his racial taxonomy. Some of these characters included notes on Papuan skin as “harsh to the touch, and the hair crisped or frizzed”, hearing Pa‘umotus “making a kind of purring noise”, and wincing at “the strong ill odour” of Fijians that “make them thoroughly disgusting to persons newly arrived.”[4]

Handwritten document on yellowed paper with text in black ink. At the top of the document is the title "Organization for the Exploring Expedition" with several paragraphs of text below.
“Organization for the Exploring Expedition”, Box 3, Folder 1, Wilkes Papers

 

Pickering’s inability to fully rely on vision matters for historians of science and the senses. Relying on prior analyses of race as a phenomenological apparatus, in particular the scholarship of philosophers including Sachi Sekimoto and Christopher Brown, I am investigating how the Ex. Ex. produced scientific ideas about race via the sensorium. What is at stake here is the place of vision and visibility in histories of science in the Enlightenment as hallmarks of modern scientific epistemology. Forms of visualization equipped what Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison term the disciplinary eye that lay at the ethico-epistemic foundations of contemporary science.[5] Yet, scientists like Pickering used hearing and ideas about noise, smell and notions of cleanliness, and mores around touch and taste, to articulate race as a scientific fact through the itinerary of the Ex. Ex. Put simply, ocularcentrism was too brittle an epistemological basis for the Ex. Ex. to taxonomize the various groups they “discovered” through their transpacific itinerary. Rather, the Ex Ex used olfactory disgust, sonic boundaries, and norms surrounding touch and gustation to classify Pacific Islanders as racialized others through the body and the senses.

Before the Ex. Ex. departed from Hampton Roads in 1838, Wilkes argued that the operation would prove to be “useful to the Navy, honorable to this Country, and highly advantageous to the Commercial interest of the Country” and to “Science generally.”[6] In his “Organization for the Exploring Expedition”, Wilkes did not propose sending a race scientist like Charles Pickering––who joined the Ex. Ex. as the scientific corps’s zoologist––along with the other “Scientifics” like the geologist James Dwight Dana, the botanist William Rich, or the artists Alfred Thomas Agate and Joseph Drayton.[7] The Wilkes Papers at the Rubenstein contain material on these figures, as well as the John Torrey Papers, which pertain to the Ex. Ex. Torrey––a botanist who did not travel with Wilkes––later classified the plant collections made by the scientific corps and prepared specimen catalogues as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and his papers contain letters with people associated with the SI like Spencer F. Barid, Joseph Henry, and Louis Agassiz. Torrey’s correspondence also contains letters from the phrenologist Johann Gaspar Spurzheim, and Josiah Nott, a leading race scientist of the antebellum era.

Moving forward, my aim is to produce a phenomenological account of the Ex. Ex. that provides insight into the formation of the racist ideas that undergirded Indian removal and Manifest Destiny via the senses. Like Sachi Sekimoto––who argues that “race constantly renews its material presence through latching onto our bodily felt, sensorial experiences, making itself feel-able and sensible and therefore ‘natural.’”––I claim that the narratives produced by the scientific corps and the naval personnel of the Ex Ex justified beliefs in American Indian and Polynesian “savagery” in Jacksonian America.[8]

[1] Wilkes Papers, Box 15.

[2] Charles Pickering, The Races of Man: And Their Geographical Distribution (London: H. G. Bohn, 1850) 2nd edition, 2.

[3] Charles Pickering, The Races of Man: And Their Geographical Distribution (United Kingdom: John Chapman, 1849), 146-147.

[4] Pickering, The Races of Man, 3; Wilkes, Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, vol.1, 324;  Walter Lawry, Friendly and Feejee Islands: A Missionary Visit to Various Stations in the South Seas in the Year MDCCCXLVII, (United Kingdom: C. Gilpin, 1850), 79-80.

[5] Lorraine Daston, and Peter Galison, Objectivity (Princeton: Zone Books, 2007), 48, 148

[6] Wilkes Papers, Box 3, “Organization for the Exploring Expedition”

[7] William Reynolds, Voyage to the Southern Ocean: The Letters of Lieutenant William Reynolds from the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 (United States: Naval Institute Press, 1988), 3.

[8] Sekimoto, “Race and the senses”, 83.

Enticing Engineers: New Areas of Outreach in the Rubenstein Library

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections.

In September, the Rubenstein Library partnered with colleagues in the Natural and Engineering Sciences (NSE) for an open house event. While our Engineering Exposition targeted students, faculty, and staff from Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, all were welcome to attend.

Photograph showing a large room with several tables displaying books. At one table, three people look closely at two books.
Faculty from the Engineering School examine works on engineering from the 16th and 17th centuries! Photo by Deric Hardy.
A woman with brown hair wearing a green dress talk with a student, whose back is toward the camera. On a table between the two people, is a toothpaste testing device composed of metal parts and sets of fake teeth.
Robin Klaus, graduate Intern in the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History talks with a student about the toothpaste testing device found in the Consumer Reports archive. Photo by Janelle Hutchinson.

 

Items from a variety of collecting areas within the Rubenstein Library were available for visitors to examine and handle. Some highlights included

Photograph of a table with three examples of microscopes on display.
Examples of 18th and 19th century microscopes that visitors were encouraged to handle and try out! Photo by Deric Hardy.
Photograph of table displaying several small, plastic anatomical figures as well as a laptop playing a video showing the making of those figures. The table also displays several books featuring pop-up components.
Examples of moveable books from the History of Medicine Collections and samples of 3D printed anatomical manikins made from items in our collection! Photo by Deric Hardy.
Image from an anatomical flap book. The left side of the image shows an artistic representation of a human eye and human ear and shows the flaps closed. The right side of the image shows the paper flaps lifted to reveal, underneath the original images, the anatomy of the inside of the eye and inside of the ear.
Pages from an anatomical flap book where the flaps can be lifted, as shown on the right, to reveal detail about the human body. Photo by Janelle Hutchinson.

Anyone is welcome to view our items in-person during our open hours. We also have great digital collections.

We look forward to our continued partnerships with colleagues across the Library and campus. Let us know what you might like to see at our next Engineering Exposition!

Elephants and Autos and Ads, Oh My! How Photographs of a Circus Side Hustle Tell the Story of the American Auto Industry

Post contributed by Robin Klaus, Graduate Intern, Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History.

During the golden age of circuses in America, a circus performer-turned-advertiser named Bert Cole offered a unique marketing opportunity: banner advertisements draped across the sides of circus elephants. Cole capitalized on the massive spectatorship of the circus, as well as the elephant’s identity as a symbol of the spectacle, to transform elephants into walking billboards promoting retailers, services, and consumer goods of all kinds. The Rubenstein Library’s Bert Cole Collection archives this circus side hustle—a fascinating episode in the history of American advertising that provides a glimpse into the auto industry boom of the early twentieth century.

Background: The Turn-of-the-Century Circus

The traveling circus was a ubiquitous cultural presence in the United States at the dawn of the twentieth century. Upcoming shows advertised months in advance with eye-catching posters plastered on every surface in town—brightly colored images of wild animals and scantily clad performers advertised the eroticism, exoticism, and danger to come.  “Circus Day” became an unofficial holiday as stores closed, schools cancelled, factories shut down, and enormous crowds gathered to watch the free parade and attend the show.

The turn-of-the-century circus owed its success to a unique combination of social and economic factors. The construction of a transnational railroad network after the Civil War accompanied the Western expansion of the nation (ten new states were admitted to the Union from 1889-1912). Circuses relied on these routes to transport their shows to small towns and urban centers, also taking advantage of new markets across the growing nation. Meanwhile, industrialization brought advances that transformed the economic landscape—incomes increased, costs of living decreased, and the number of hours in a standard workweek was its lowest in decades. Newfound time and discretionary income led to the rise of national leisure culture, also accompanied by an explosion of consumer goods, services, and mass media advertisements for them.

With the film industry still in its infancy (the “golden age of Hollywood” was during the 1930s and 40s), circuses became the preeminent form of mass entertainment—and the circus elephant played an essential role. The actual production of the circus relied on labor that elephants performed; only elephants had the strength to raise the masts of the largest circus tents, for example, or dislodge heavy circus wagons when they became stuck in mud. The elephant was also visually significant as a symbol of the American circus; everyone agreed that a show could not be a circus without an elephant. Consequently, the circus elephant was a mainstay in the cultural imagination of early-twentieth-century America.

Collection Spotlight: Elephant Advertising and the American Auto Industry

Photographs from the Bert Cole collection document how Cole leveraged the popularity of the circus and the elephant as a potent cultural symbol to develop a hallmark advertising strategy. Little is known about Cole, but circus route books (much like theater playbills) reveal that he was a drum corps member for the Walter L. Mains Circus in the 1890s. The collection’s earliest photograph dates from this era (1897), likely when Cole began experimenting with elephant advertisements while still primarily a circus performer. Banner ads from this early period tend to feature specific sales promotions (“Worsted Suits from $6.87 to $12”) or directly associate the client with the elephant icon (“Webster’s Market Owns This Elephant Today”). As time went on, the advertisements began to include more traditional signage with product slogans and recognizable branding.

By the early 1920s, Bert Cole had an official advertising job with the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. Collection photographs show that Cole started to promote his elephant billboards as an actual system of advertising around this time. “Cole System N.Y.” appears at the bottom of a banner advertisement from 1921, becoming just “Cole System” by 1923.

Black and white photograph of three circus elephants posed in front of a row of white circus tents. A clown sits atop the one of the elephants and that elephants also wears a white, cloth sign reading "Dependable Dodge Brothers, H.A. Paxton."
Bert Cole with elephant advertisement,
“Cole System N.Y.” at bottom, 1921
Black and white photograph of an elephant posed in front of a circus tent. A clown, in costume and makeup, sits atop the elephant and the elephant also wears a sign reading "Own a Star Carver Bros. Motor Co., Longmont & Boulder."
Bert Cole with elephant advertisement,
“Cole System” at bottom, 1923

 

The collection documents a range of consumer goods and services advertised by the Cole System, including flour brands, furnaces, banks, and retail stores. Cole even dabbled in political advertising, as seen in a Republican primary campaign ad for George H. Milemore for County Judge—a rider, presumably the candidate himself, sits atop an elephant with a banner declaring that Milemore, “will win by a mile or more.”

Sepia-toned photograph of an elephant in a grassy field wearing a sign reading "Will Win by a Mile or More. Geo. H. Milemore, County Judge." A man in a dark suit, bow tie, and hat rides the elephant.
Elephant campaign advertisement for George H. Milmore for County Judge, circa 1910s.

 

Interestingly, the most popular category of elephant advertisements in the collection are those for cars, tires, and auto shops.

Black and white photograph featuring an elephant wearing a sign reading "General Jumbo Tires, General Tire, Co." A clown, holding a car tire, rides the elephant. The elephant is posed on a paved street with houses in the background and several men in suits standing to the side.
Lou Moore, a clown with the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, wears a car tire while riding an elephant advertising General “Jumbo” Tires in Cincinnati, OH, circa 1920.

 

In fact, nearly half of the brands and products in the collection relate in some way to the American automobile industry—frequently appearing as partnerships between local dealerships and national brands. Car companies appearing in the collection include Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Hupmobile, Oldsmobile, Star, Studebaker, and Willys-Knight.

Unlike other products advertised on elephants, collection photographs show that new car models were often staged alongside their elephant ads on circus grounds, showcasing the industry’s latest designs to a massive audience.

Black and white photograph of an elephant in a grassy field standing next to a black car. The elephant wears a white sign reading "Own a Willy's Knight." A clown in makeup and costume rides the elephant and several other men stand around the elephant.
Bert Cole (right) and Lou Moore (top) with a Willy’s-Knight ad and automobile at the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus in Hutchinson, Kansas, 1912.

 

The collection also includes several letters from satisfied clients—all motor company executives expressing their enthusiasm for the incredible reach of Cole’s elephant advertising. One wrote, “The idea is original and novel and I have never heard of any method of making a direct appeal to such a large number of people as is possible for $112.00 with your show.”

Letter from a Hudson and Essex Motor Car dealership in Portland, Maine, 1920

 

An identifiable market trend within an advertising platform as niche as circus elephants speaks to the dominance of the American automobile industry at this historical moment. Annual automobile sales in the United States rose from 130,000 vehicles in 1909 to over 2 million in 1920.  As industry production and advertising shifted their focus from initial demand to replacement demand, novelty became an important selling factor; car companies concentrated on annual model changes and product innovations to compete with the emerging used car market—evidence of which can be seen throughout the Bert Cole collection.

For more insights into the unique intersection of circus mania, advertising history, and the American automobile industry in the early twentieth century, see the collection at Duke University’s Rubenstein Library.

 

Bibliography

Cole, George S. Route Book of Walter L. Main’s All New Monster Railroad Shows: Circus, Menagerie, and Real Roman Hippodrome. Hackettstown, NJ: Gazette Steam Book and Job Printing Establishment, 1891. https://digital.library.illinoisstate.edu/digital/collection/p15990coll5/id/470

Dassbach, Carl H. A. “The Social Organization of Production, Competitive Advantage and Foreign Investment: American Automobile Companies in the 1920s and Japanese Automobile Companies in the 1980s.” Review of International Political Economy (Autumn 1994) 1, no. 3: 489-517.

Davis, Janet. Circus Age: Culture and Society Under the American Big Top. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus: Official Route Season 1921. West Baden, IN: Hagenbeck-Wallace Show Company, 1921. https://digital.library.illinoisstate.edu/digital/collection/p15990coll5/id/7801

Langlois, Richard N. and Paul L. Robertson. “Explaining Vertical Integration: Lessons from the American Automobile Industry.” The Journal of Economic History (June 1989) 49, no. 2: 361-375.

Nance, Susan. Entertaining Elephants: Animal Agency and the Business of the American Circus. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.

Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Asparagus Cream Mold and Bing cherry/Coca-Cola salad (1972)

Post contributed by Michelle Wolfson, Research Services Librarian for University Archives.

For as long as I have worked at the Rubenstein Library, I have heard about the Test Kitchen—staff members trying out recipes from our collections and experiencing the complete surprise or regret of trying the tastes of a simpler time.

When I joined the Rubenstein as a full-time staff member (I was an intern before), I thought it would be a safe time to dip into the archives and get cooking. Loving the #girldinner trend, I gathered as many cookbooks that seemed to fit that particular bill, such as The American Girl Cookbook, The Barbie Party Cookbook, and The Political Palate: A Feminist Vegetarian Cookbook (all from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture). I also pulled from University Archives the Law Dames records, 1951-1973. The Duke Law Dames was an organization mainly made up of law student wives (though it was also open to women law students and wives of the law school faculty and alumni) and the records contain two member-made cookbooks.

An assortment of foods arranged on a table top including a log of cranberry goat cheese, a small bowl of strawberries, a plastic sleeve of crackers, a pear, and a small cupcake with white icing.
Example of a #girldinner, which are, essentially, a bunch of snacks that you maybe put on a charcuterie board if you are feeling fancy. The centerpiece of mine is a cinnamon cranberry goat cheese. Also loads of sugar.

Again, feeling safe as a full-time staff member, I decided it would be perfectly fine to subject my taste testers to…the asparagus cream mold.

A white bowl containing a scoop of white Cool Whip next to a scoop of off-white mayonnaise.
The unfortunate photo I sent in the group chat to entice the team to come to the official cutting and tasting of my first Test Kitchen/#girldinner experiment. That is Cool Whip and mayonnaise. Together. Ready to be mixed up.

This simple dish needed only four ingredients (Cool Whip, mayonnaise, gelatine, and canned asparagus) and minimal time. Perfect for a busy gal who wants to entertain new friends on an unassuming Monday afternoon.

Thick white asparagus mold in a  square glass container. The mold is cut into small pieces with a few stalks of green asparagus showing between the slices.
The asparagus flopped out as I cut into it. It was equally terrifying and unappetizing, and I am pretty sure I screamed.

The first observation from the small but supportive group that had gathered was that the color of it was…unexpected. It looked in color and texture a bit like tofu, which many of us are big fans of, but we were not big fans of the canned asparagus that flopped out as I cut the cream mold into bite-size chunks. The asparagus had floated down to the bottom of the dish, like a mysterious and dangerous deep-sea creature lying in wait.

Square pieces of the cut asparagus mold showing the layers of green asparagus inside.
I still feel sick just looking at these photos.

Three of us (out of maybe ~70 people) tasted the asparagus cream mold. It was described as “shocking”, “special”, and “wild”, three adjectives I pictured in explosive bubbles on a poster featuring the latest 1950s movie monster, The Asparagus Cream Mold. For me, the asparagus taste was overwhelming, while a coworker found the mayonnaise flavor to be prevalent. 0/10, do not recommend you put on a charcuterie board and serve to your besties.

Page from a spiral bound recipe book with typed recipes, including ingredient lists and cooking instructions, for asparagus cream mold and bing cherry salad.
Would the cream mold have tasted better garnished with tomatoes, radishes, and cream cheese? I somehow doubt it.

Luckily, right above the asparagus cream mold recipe was the recipe for Bing cherry/Coca-Cola salad. (Have I mentioned we are in the salad section of the cookbook?? We are so healthy.) The very next week, to clear the palates and memories of my coworkers, I made this, another quick and minimal-ingredient dish. I did not have Coca-Cola in my fridge, so I went with the Wild Cherry Pepsi that I did have because who can say no to extra cherries? (Some people might say ‘no’ to Pepsi and I would not blame them.)

Ingredients for the bing cherry salad displayed on a kitchen countertop including a package of cherry Jell-o, a small can of crushed pineapple, a jar of Bada Bing brand cherries, a small plastic container of walnuts, and a can of Wild Cherry Pepsi.
The leftover cherries are still in my fridge, front and center when you open the doors, and I obnoxiously shout, “Bada Bing! Cherries!” each time.

I attempted to make the Bing cherry/Coca-Cola salad into a more appealing shape, on a prettier dish (as if that was the main problem with the previous recipe). At least six people participated in the official taste test, and we were all surprised with how it was actually…good? I do not think we would have been as surprised if we did not have the asparagus monstrosity to compare it to, because how can one go wrong with a salad made of Jell-O and soda? Mostly we were all wondering how the pineapple would taste, as we had some self-proclaimed canned pineapple-haters (barely noticeable!) and how the pecans fared (the texture they provided was nice!). It was declared by some to be a bit too sweet (but it’s salad!) and it was not as tasty the next day (when two of your taste-testers were actually kind of craving it??).

Dark red, circular jello mold with cherries visible inside on a round glass plate.
Say it with me now, “Bada Bing! Cherries!”

The Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Once again, up and running to provide both regret and surprise from the archives.

 

 

Duke Rewind: Celebrating Native American Heritage Month at Duke

Post contributed by Rebecca Pattillo, Assistant University Archivist

To celebrate Native American Heritage Month, let’s delve into the archives and explore how Duke’s Native and Indigenous students built a community on campus and took the lead in advocating for more representation among faculty, staff, and students. The first officially recognized student group, American Indians at Duke (A.I.D.), emerged in the 1970s, with ten students, 95% of them being undergraduates. Regrettably, the archives lack additional information about this early student group, leaving us uncertain about its official founding and disbandment dates.

However, we do have knowledge that in 1992, a group of six students founded the Native American Student Coalition (NASC), which received official charter status in 1993. The official charter states, “NASC’s goals and mission are to raise awareness of all Native American cultures and to provide a voice on Duke’s campus concerning Native American issues. NASC also started with the purpose of enhancing the recruitment and retention of Native American faculty, students, and curriculum.”

Original charter for NASC, 1992-93, Office of Student Activities and Facilities records, box 30.

Throughout the 1990s, NASC organized various well-attended programs at Duke, including visits by Ojibwa activist Winona LaDuke, Lakota musician and hoop dancer Kevin Locke, and Muscogee poet Joy Harjo, among others. One such event, as depicted in a flyer found in the Student Organizations Reference Collection, was an evening symposium titled “As Long as the Grass Grows or Water Runs,” held in 1995.

Flyer for symposium entitled “As long as the grass grows or water runs,” 1995, Native American Student Coalition, Student Organization Reference Collection, Box 6.

In 2000, NASC presented “A Proposal for Native American Student and Community Development at Duke” during the annual Unity Through Diversity event. The proposal centered on recruiting and retaining Native students, increasing Native staff and faculty, and securing additional resources for programming. An April 6 Chronicle article from the same year gives insight into the leaders of NASC and their struggles at a predominantly white institution. Despite these obstacles, in the spring of 2001, NASC hosted its first-ever Duke Powwow, which has since become an annual tradition.

Save the Date flyer for Duke Powwow, April 11, 2020, Native American Student Alliance records, Digital-materials UA.31.04.0023-SET-0001.

By 2003, another report from NASC indicated that due to Duke’s limited recruitment efforts, the group was nearly defunct, as there were only a few Native students on campus, who were too busy with their studies to sustain the group. Sometime between 2003 and 2007, the group experienced a revival and was renamed the Native American Student Alliance, subsequently adopting the name Native American/Indigenous Student Alliance (NAISA), which it is known as today.

To learn more about the history of past and current student groups, visit guides.library.duke.edu/studentgroups or contact me at rebecca.pattillo@duke.edu.

Understanding the World Through a Home Medicine Chest

Post contributed by Sarah Bernstein, Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Intern.

Wood medicine chest, with doors open to show several glass medicine bottles inside. Each medicine bottle includes a brown paper label describing the contents.
Home medicine chest, ca. 1830 from the History of Medicine Artifacts Collection.

The History of Medicine artifacts collection presents such a unique opportunity to work with material sources in the history of medicine. In the same way that there is a difference between viewing manuscripts through photographs and seeing them in person, there is something striking about being able to hold an object that you have only read about in books and pamphlets. In my training as a historian, I have been largely trained and relied on primary sources in the form of written materials. It is precisely because of this that I have been thrilled to be able to view and work with the History of Medicine artifacts collection.

Amongst the many marvelous and unexpected items in the collection, from amputation sets and bone saws to carved ivory manikins and elaborate anatomical flap books, I found myself drawn to the multiple British nineteenth century medicine chests within the collection. These stately century solid wood boxes contained custom glass bottles, fitted to each box’s measurements, with some still filled with powders and liquids. Going through them was nothing short of opening a time capsule and a treasure chest at the same time.

Medicine chests like these can provide a window into the past to understand not only nineteenth century medicine, but global, local, and cultural developments as reflected in the items in these chests and the existence of these chests themselves. There are some medicine chests that are smaller than others, with a variety of cork-stoppered bottles, and were likely meant to be portable and used while traveling. Other medicine chests are heavier and equipped with preparatory tools and medical instruments. These large medicine chests were meant to be stationary, within homes or on ships. In England, both types of medicine chests emerged in the context of newfound social and physical mobility for the Victorian public.

Black and white advertisement for a "Tabloid" brand medicine chest featuring an image of a box with the top open to reveal many small medicine bottles.
Advertisement from the back of a book within the Rubenstein Library collection, How to Live in Tropical Africa (1912) by John Murray, for a travel medicine chest made of metal.

Regardless of whether they were meant for travel or to be stationary, the existence of these chests speak to the common practice of self-healing, an anticipated absence of a physician, an expected level of medical literacy, and an interest in maintaining one’s own health. These chests are more similar to our contemporary medicine cabinets and in the household, functioned less like a first aid kit or a form of triage support. Rather than immediately, and always, calling upon a doctor, people would often utilize herbal and botanical knowledge to create remedies at home to alleviate and treat their ailments before turning to a physician. And what exactly did people use as medicine?

In one “home medicine chest” there are bottles of Ipecacuanha (Carapichea ipecacuanha) in various forms. Ipecacuanha is a slow growing plant native to Central and South America that has a long history in British medicine as to treat dysentery, poisoning, fever, and colds. It was commonly prepared as syrup of ipecac, or simply “ipecac,” which would be used to empty the stomach to combat poisoning. Ipecacuanha was also used in Dover’s Powder, a bottle of which also appears in the same home medicine chest, which was a mixture of powdered ipecacuanha, potassium sulfate, and powdered opium as a pain reliever and to treat fevers and colds by inducing sweating.

Section of text from  William Buchan’s Domestic Medicine describing the uses of ipecacuanha and rhubarb.
Mention of ipecacuanha and rhubarb to treat dysentery in an American second edition of William Buchan’s Domestic Medicine (1774) held in the Rubenstein History of Medicine Collection.

The same home medicine chest also contains multiple instances of rhubarb: tincture of rhubarb, one simply labeled as “Rhubarb,” and the other specified as “Powder of Turkey Rhubarb.” While today rhubarb may conjure thoughts of confectionery sweets and strawberry and rhubarb pie, rhubarb has historically been prized for its medicinal properties and was highly sought after. Rhubarb itself refers to a species of plant, Rheum palmatum, that native to parts of western China and northern Tibet. It was used to aid in cases of indigestion and as a laxative.

Similarly to ipecacuanha, rhubarb and its various preparations can reveal the rich history and practice of herbal and botanical medicine that persisted into the nineteenth century. Despite both of the plants being non-native to Britain, where these chests were created and their clientele were located, ipecacuanha and rhubarb were popular and common treatments utilized throughout the nineteenth century. The prevalence of ipecacuanha and rhubarb not only serves as an indication of the widespread use of purgative medicine during that era but also hints at the emergence and growth of industries, trade networks, and international relationships necessary for the accessibility of these medicinal plants.

Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University