Franklin Research Center Commemorates 25 Years of Preserving “Black Lives in Archives”

Post contributed by John B. Gartrell, Director, John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History & Culture

The 2021-2022 academic year marks the 25th anniversary of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History & Culture. The Franklin Research Center, which is based in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, will use the theme “Black Lives in Archives” as the thread for a slate of programming and projects that will build upon the center’s mission of advancing scholarship on the history and culture of people of African descent.

The anniversary will begin on September 14 with a virtual lecture by Dr. Emilie Boone, Assistant Professor of African American Studies at New York City College of Technology, CUNY. Her talk will respond to the exhibition James Van Der Zee and Michael Francis Blake: Picturing Blackness in the 1920s, currently on display in the Rubenstein Library’s Photography Gallery. The exhibit highlights resonances between the work of James Van Der Zee and Michael Francis Blake, two African American photographers working in the 1920s at the height of the “New Negro Movement.” Register for this event here.

 

James Van Der Zee and Michael Francis Blake: Picturing Blackness in the 1920s. On display in the Rubenstein Library

 

Emilie Boone will lead a virtual lecture entitled, “Visualizing a Shared Ethos: Van Der Zee and Blake as Peers” on Sept. 14

Additional programs this semester will include a Black Lives in Archives virtual speaker series featuring four scholars who were previously awarded research travel grants to come to the Rubenstein Library and utilize the center’s collections. This “return to the archive” by each scholar will highlight the critical importance of Black collections as a foundation for new directions in the field of African and African American Studies. The tentative schedule includes:

September 22 – Brandon K. Winford, Associate Professor, University of Tennessee Knoxville

October 27 – Lisa Bratton, Assistant Professor, Tuskegee University

November 9 – Erik S. McDuffie, Associate Professor, University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign

December 8 – Emilye Crosby, Professor of History, SUNY-Geneseo

Earlier this summer, the center announced two exciting projects that will continue to drive the work of preserving the Black archives. “Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South: Digital Access to the Behind the Veil Project Archive” is a National Endowment for the Humanities grant-funded initiative to digitize and publish the Behind the Veil archive. The Behind the Veil project, which was led by the Center for Documentary Studies 1992-1995, was one of the largest oral history archives documenting the African American experience of living in the American South during the early to mid-twentieth century. The project will digitize analog cassette tapes containing close to 1,200 interviews with African American elders from twenty distinct communities. In Spring 2022, there will be a virtual gathering of Behind the Veil project staff and interviewers to reflect on their work and the impact of the collection.

The second project is a three-year Mellon Foundation funded project entitled, “Our Stories, Our Terms: Documenting Movement Building from the Inside Out,” which extends the partnership between Duke University Libraries and the SNCC Legacy Project through the Movement History Initiative. Our Stories, Our Terms will document how movement veterans from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and today’s activists built their social and political movements. The project will also build capacity for archival practice among current activist organizations and share documentary pieces from inter- and intra-generational conversations among activist and organizer communities.

In 1995, Dr. John Hope Franklin, the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University, donated his own personal archive to Duke. In his honor, the Duke University Libraries founded the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American Documentation as a designated collecting area specializing in rare book and primary sources documenting people of African descent, with endowment funding from GlaxoWellcome Inc. Franklin’s archive and his scholarship have been the guiding lights of the center’s engagement in public programming, teaching, exhibitions, and collaborations. This celebration of “Black Lives in Archives” will honor the center’s role as a premiere destination for researchers near and far over the last twenty-five years.

Dr. John Hope Franklin (1915-2009)

Taking Flight: The Pan American World Airways Digital Collection and DPLA Portal

Post contributed by Leah Tams, Pan Am CLIR Grant Intern.

For National Aviation Day, the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History is excited to announce the launch of the Pan American World Airways Advertisements Digital Collection, which was supported with a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources. The Pan American World Airways Digital Collection comprises over 6,500 advertisements from the Hartman Center’s collections, including the J. Walter Thompson Domestic Advertisements, J. Walter Thompson Frankfurt Office Advertisements, and Wells Rich Greene Inc. The digital collection spans most of Pan Am’s history, beginning with its World War II-era expansion and military involvement, and ending with Pan Am’s 1991 acquisition by Delta Airlines.

1991 Delta and Pan Am advertisement. The ad shows an illustration of Earth with "Anywhere You Want" printed in large type below. Six columns listing Delta and Pan Am's service cities flank the illustration.
Anywhere You Want ad, 1991.

The Pan Am Digital Collection can be searched using free-text keyword searches, as well as through faceted searching by year, aircraft type (under the “Subject” search facet), language, departure and arrival locations, and source collection. Highlights from the Pan Am Digital Collection include:

  • First passenger service across Pacific, Atlantic, to South America, etc.
  • First jet service, including the debuts of the Boeing 707 and 747.
  • Inaugural service between New York and Moscow.
  • Noteworthy campaigns including the Clipper concept, “around the world service,” and the debut of new services such as in-flight entertainment.
An ad showing a photograph of a Pan Am 747 on a runway. The ad reads "The first 747s to Hawaii are flying Pan Am."
The First 747s to Hawaii are Flying Pan Am ad, 1969.

The Pan Am Digital Collection is part of a larger collaboration with the University of Miami Libraries, who hold the corporate records of Pan Am, and HistoryMiami Museum, who hold artifacts from Pan Am. Together, our digitized materials and artifacts serve as the foundation of the Digital Public Library of America’s new aviation portal, Cleared for Takeoff: Explore Commercial Aviation. In addition to showcasing Pan Am’s history and impact on aviation, the DPLA portal also includes materials related to the broader history of other commercial aviation in America and associated airlines. The portal will eventually feature a chronological representation of Pan Am’s achievements and history through an interactive timeline, which is linked at the top of the portal. The timeline curates materials from each grant partner and puts otherwise disparate items in conversation with each other.

The DPLA Aviation Portal will eventually feature a Primary Source Set, curated by members from the Hartman Center, UMiami Libraries, and HistoryMiami. The Primary Source Set is meant for classroom use and focuses on how Pan Am impacted and “shrank” the world, encouraging critical thinking and analysis of primary source documents and touching upon numerous social, political, and cultural issues.

The Hartman Center is grateful to the Council on Library and Information Resources and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for funding this important project, as well as to our colleagues at UMiami Libraries, HistoryMiami, the DPLA, and our colleagues in Digital Collections & Curation Services and Conservation Services in Duke libraries.

Aaron’s Book

By Blake Hill-Saya

Above: Portrait in oils of Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore painted by his daughter Lyda Moore Merrick. Located in the North Carolina Collection, Stanford L. Warren Branch of the Durham County Library, Durham, N.C.

Too often we relegate the lives of our ancestors to the basket of nostalgia. We think that because our modern times have dressed us up in different clothes and surrounded us with technology that the lives and struggles of our ancestors can’t speak with any real directness to ours. It is easy in the rush and rattle of the present to allow seasoned historians to define us in macrocosm while overlooking the importance of our own more granular history; a thread waiting to be pulled in the warp and woof of who we think we are. Libraries and historical archives exist to help us pull that thread and expand our understanding of history and our place in it.

Eight years ago, I was chosen by the Durham Colored Library board of directors, led by chairperson C. Eileen Watts Welch, to follow my own ancestral thread and write a biography of my great- great-grandfather, Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore. The dream of this historical biography of Durham’s first Black physician far predates my involvement; it actually predates me. Dr. Moore’s daughter, my great-grandmother, Lyda Moore Merrick, dreamed of a book about her Papa. My grandfather, Dr. Charles DeWitt Watts, a legendary surgeon and healthcare activist in his own right, also dreamed of this book. His dream inspired his daughter, C. Eileen Watts Welch, to make this biography a reality. The Durham Colored Library, an organization founded by Dr. Moore himself in 1913 and now a non-profit focused on uplifting Black narratives, sponsored the project.

The Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library was the first of many such archives that I would find myself exploring on my journey. The hallowed feeling of that space and the respect with which my ancestral papers are cared for there was in and of itself a revelation. Black history is not, in my experience, often afforded this level of protection or gravitas. Having to make a reservation to review things I remember first seeing on my grandfather’s desk years ago was very emotional for me. One document discovery I made, however, vividly illustrates the importance of these archives.

Several years into my research, I was cross-referencing the papers of Dr. Moore’s contemporaries to glean any possible mentions of him. One day, in Charles Clinton Spaulding’s papers, (Dr. Moore’s nephew and another member of Durham’s “Mighty Triumvirate” along with John Merrick) I noticed a file labeled “Anon. memo book.”[1] I am based in Los Angeles, so I asked my research partner (and aunt) C. Eileen Watts Welch if she had time to go and see what it was. When she finally found it, it took her breath away.

In her hand was a brown leather-bound doctor’s visiting book from Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore’s first year of practice in Durham (1888-1889). She could actually feel the imprint of his fingers in the leather. She called to tell me. We both cried. She told me it even smelled sort of earthy and sweaty and maybe even like the saddlebags of the horse he rode on his rounds. Together we had unearthed the Rosetta Stone of Black healthcare in Durham.

The entries start neatly and sparsely and, as the year goes on, the pages fill to the brim. Payments are often recorded as produce, a basket of eggs, a dollar here and there. He is attending to everything from burns and pellagra to child birth and gunshot wounds. His stress level and commitment are visible in the pressure of his pencil on the paper. This miraculous connection was made possible because the Rubenstein Library cared enough to preserve, itemize and digitally list this precious artifact. I will be forever indebted to C. C. Spaulding, the NC Mutual Life Insurance Company’s staff and archivists through the years, and every librarian and archivist who made sure that, 129 years later, his ancestors would get to feel the imprint of his fingers in his visiting book.

Archives and historical collections have the power to heal, inspire and affirm the many diverse threads in the fabric of our national tapestry. History includes all of us.

I hope our adventure sparks the beginning of yours.

Aaron McDuffie Moore: An African American Physician, Educator and Founder of Durham’s Black Wall Street by Blake Hill-Saya is available from UNC Press and can be found wherever books are sold. Contact The Durham Colored Library for official autographed copies.

[1] This item was previously identified as “Anonymous memo book.” Due to Blake Hill-Saya and C. Eileen Watts Welch’s research, the Rubenstein Library was able to rename the description for this item. It can now be found as, Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore doctor’s visiting book, Charles Clinton Spaulding papers, 1889-1990, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

A Year of Reflection, Adaptation and Change

The many disruptions of the past year required RL staff to re-envision all aspects of the ways that we support research and teaching. Adapting to virtual work and social distancing forced us to slow down and to check in on our personal and work priorities. In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the national reckoning about race, we committed to recentering our strategic objectives around anti-racism. Here are some highlights from the year:

Focusing on Digital Access & Digital Collections

  • With our reading room closed, staff focused on digital delivery, sending nearly 170,000 scans to researchers and students all over the world—eight times the number we delivered the previous year.
  • RL instructors learned to teach online, developing both synchronous virtual sessions and asynchronous modules. Their guide to teaching materiality online has been used by librarians and archivists around the country.
  • Records Manager Hillary Gatlin created videos covering many aspects of record keeping at Duke.
  • RL archival processors working at home turned their attention to processing born digital collections, including the contents of floppy disks, hard drives, social media accounts, and cloud servers.
  • The DUL exhibition staff opened five online exhibitions, including one for Tobaccoland, They then migrated and/or edited 41 existing digital exhibitions to extend the impact of our exhibition program.
  • While we miss in-person events, it has been wonderful to connect with people across the country through virtual events.Highlights included Sallie Bingham joining an appreciative audience to read from her two latest books and a panel discussion marking the 30th anniversary of the publication of William Styron’s Darkness Visible during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Prioritizing Anti-Racism

Set featured image

  • RL Technical Services developed new Guiding Principles for Description and a new style guide to better define and implement “inclusive metadata” practices.
  • Pre-pandemic RL instructors created Our Approach to Classes and continue to refine this methodology to make class sessions more inclusive and welcoming.
  • The Collection Development Department is reviewing and revising our collecting policies to be more transparent about our collecting practices.
  • The Research Services Department seeks to practice equitable access models through their customer service training, and reading room, reproduction, and reference policies.
  • University Archives is partnering with counterparts at Johnson C. Smith University, Davidson University, and Furman University to host a cohort of interns and staff who will explore the racial history of each institution.
  • University Archives and Exhibitions collaborated with Prof. Cecilia Marquez and her students to develop an exhibition on Latinx history at Duke.
  • To call attention to the low number of people of color and women among design professionals, the Exhibitions program committed to using only fonts created by people of color for two years.
  • University Archivist Valerie Gillispie received a CASE District III Gold Award for her article “A More Complicated Love” in Duke Magazine, which calls on our community to reckon with this history so that we can build a better Duke.
  • All RL staff were encouraged to participate in the Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater training and our informal diversity, equity and inclusion reading group met bi-weekly on Slack. Several managers in the RL are taking a course on Inclusive Management Practices.

Looking Forward

  • As we prepare to welcome the Duke community back to campus, and hopefully visitors in the coming months, research and instruction will continue to implement changes to our programs to reflect our anti-racist strategic objectives.
  • The Franklin Research Center is collaborating with the SNCC Legacy Project, the Center for Documentary Studies, the New Georgia Project, BYP 100, and the Ohio Voice on the grant “Our Story. Our Terms: Documenting Movement Building from the Inside Out,” funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The multi-generational project team will convene and record conversations among three generations of activists—SNCC veterans of the Emmett Till generation, young people of the Trayvon Martin generation now leading the Movement for Black Lives, and the new generation of organizers mobilizing in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
  • The Franklin Research Center is also partnering with the Libraries’ Digital Production Center on a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to digitize the “Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South” project archive. This archive is one of the largest collections of oral histories documenting life during the era of segregation in the United States.
  • Using the Guiding Principles for Description and Style Guide, RL Technical Services has begun reviewing finding aids and catalog records for harmful language. In one project, archivists are sponsoring a Data+ student team to extract structured data from over 300,000 catalog cards created from the 1930s through late 1990s so that we might provide better access to this information and use it to analyze our manuscript collections.

 

Remembering Bob Moses, 1935-2021

This post was contributed by John B. Gartrell, Director, John Hope Franklin Research Center

The Franklin Research Center and Rubenstein Library mourns the loss of Robert “Bob” Parrish Moses, who passed away on July 25, 2021. Moses was giant in the fight for civil and human rights, who began working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as an organizer soon after the organization’s founding in 1960. He worked in tirelessly on a range of issues including voter registration and community organizing in the Deep South, particularly Mississippi, Alabama, and Southwest Georgia. He would later found the Algebra Project in the 1980s, which was evolution of his work with SNCC, using mathematics as an organizing tool while seeking to expand access to a quality education in the United States.

Bob Moses speaking
Bob Moses speaking at SNCC 40th Anniversary Conference, Shaw University

You can use the following resources in our archives and supporting projects like the SNCC Digital Gateway to learn more about Moses’ life and experiences in the struggle for freedom –

SNCC Digital Gateway

Critical Oral Histories

Joseph Sinsheimer Papers

SNCC 40th Anniversary Conference Videocassette Tapes

Faith Holsaert Papers – 

Bob Moses speaking in 2018
Bob Moses (center, blue coat) leading discussion at SNCC Digital Gateway Closing Conference, 2018 (photo courtesy of Kim Johnson, SNCC Legacy Project)

Duke University has had the honor of working Moses and his SNCC comrades for decades. This work continues today through the collaborative work of the Movement History Initiative. May he rest in power.

NEH Implementation Grant to Duke Libraries Will Increase Access to African American Oral Histories

Post contributed by John B. Gartrell, Director, John Hope Franklin Research Center

This summer Duke University Libraries will launch a project to provide expanded digital access to the Behind the Veil: Documenting African-American Life in the Jim Crow South oral history collection, housed in the  David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Libraries and curated by the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History & Culture.  The project, titled “Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South: Digital Access to the Behind the Veil Project Archive,” received a $350,000 Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Implementation grant supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Behind the Veil (BTV) was undertaken by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (CDS) from 1992–1995 and co-directed by Drs. William Chafe, CDS co-founder and Alice Mary Baldwin Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Robert Korstad, Professor Emeritus of Public Policy, and the late Raymond Gavins, the first African American faculty member in Duke’s Department of History. Chafe, Korstad, and Gavin’s vision for and title of the project refer to the concept of the “veil” introduced by scholar and activist W.E.B. DuBois in his iconic book The Souls of Black Folk (1913). In that work, DuBois discussed the metaphorical concept of the veil as “separating the two worlds of white and black,” designed to protect African Americans who had to balance comporting their lives as subservient and compliant in front of a White dominated society while simultaneously living free in their own community.

Henderson, Larry – Birmingham, Behind the Veil Collection

BTV was a groundbreaking documentary project for its time that recorded and preserved the living memory of African American life during the age of segregation in the American South. Over the span of three summers, cohorts of graduate students and early career scholars from universities across the country received training with the project’s scholarly board and then resided in selected locales for two weeks to conduct oral histories. The team conducted interviews with more than one thousand community elders who shared their memories from the Jim Crow Era of legal segregation. Nineteen distinct communities were identified for interviews: Albany, GA; rural Arkansas; Birmingham, AL; Charlotte, NC; Durham, NC; Enfield, NC; New Bern, NC; LeFlore County, NC; Memphis, TN; Muhlenberg, KY; New Iberia, LA; New Orleans, LA; Norfolk, VA; Orangeburg, SC; St. Helena, SC; Summerton, SC; Tallahassee, FL; Tuskegee, AL; and Wilmington, NC.

 

All of the BTV project files were transferred to the John Hope Franklin Research Center in subsequent years after the project’s completion. The BTV collection encompasses a number of formats including over 1,200 taped audio cassette interviews and 3,000 photographic strips, slides and prints, manuscript project files, training materials, administrative records, and born-digital files. The grant work will focus on the digitization and transcription of the oral histories, scanning of the photographic materials, and sharing the collection’s contents with students, educators, and the wider public through virtual programs and webinars. The digital collection will be published in the Duke Digital Repository, where 410 BTV interviews are currently accessible for research. Funds will also allow the project team to hire graduate level interns for archival processing, digitization, and outreach.

 

John B. Gartrell, director of the John Hope Franklin Research Center and principal investigator for the grant noted, “The Behind the Veil collection is one of the most used collections in the Franklin Research Center. These oral histories truly broaden our understanding of the everyday lives of African Americans during the early-to-mid twentieth century. They represent one of the largest bodies of scholarship on African American life documenting that time, and I’m excited to share the depth of these stories and honor the scholars who recorded them.” Gartrell will be joined by co-principal investigator Giao Luong Baker, who serves as Duke Libraries’ Digital Production Services Manager. Together they will lead the digitization efforts in collaboration with library colleagues over the course of the next three years (2021–2024).

 

 

 

 

A Melancholy Skeleton

Post contributed by Roseen Giles, PhD, Assistant Professor of Music and Curator, Duke University Musical Instrument Collections

A white ivory carving against a black velvet background. The carving shows a skeleton leaning against a pedestal with a clock. Symbols of worldly power and wealth--like a crown, a knight's helmet, and flags--are piled at his feet.
Memento Mori, approximately 1650, Rubenstein Library

There is a melancholy skeleton who lives in Duke University’s History of Medicine Collections at the Rubenstein Library. In truly every sense, he is a marvel. Meticulously carved from a single piece of ivory, this piece is crafted with astounding virtuosity by an artist who must have known as much about the science of anatomy as they did of the human condition. The composition dates from the middle of the seventeenth century but the name of the artist and the circumstances of its creation are unknown. It is perhaps fitting that the subject of this skeletal wonder is the greatest mystery of all: death. The remarkable details of the carving suggest that it is a vanitas or memento mori, a genre of artworks that remind us through a series of recognizable symbols of the certainty of death and the fleetingness of life. The skeleton itself represents a human life spent; despite our differences and all the things that mark us as unique individuals we will all one day die, leaving behind ossified remains that are, to the untrained eye, indistinguishable one of from the other.

At the skeleton’s feet are some of the most common symbols of the vanitas genre: traces of earthly pursuits such as warfare, monarchy and, perhaps most importantly, objects which point to the passing of time. This level of detail will be familiar to those acquainted with Hans Holbein the Younger’s masterpiece The Ambassadors (1533), a painting which contains quintessential examples of vanitas, among them a lute with a single broken string. Music and sound can in this case stand in as a metaphor for human life, one that is equally transient and decaying as soon as it is brought into existence. Tucked behind our skeleton’s crossed legs we can see a sickle or scythe, the symbol for the tyranny of time and of its god Saturn. The pedestal upon which he rests his arm contains the mechanical parts of a timepiece, innovative new inventions in the early modern period. The skeleton cradles his own head as he leans upon the ticking pedestal in a striking gesture that suggests both a contemplative and melancholy temperament. Perhaps most astonishing is the detail of the sash that surrounds but does not fully touch his back—as if it had been taken up with a momentary gust of wind that froze it in its movement.

Black-and-white illustration of a skeleton leaning on a shovel. Its skull is tilted back and its mouth is open. There is a mountainous landscape behind it.
Andreas Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica (1543), p. 163

The stick upon which the skeleton rests his right hand does not seem particularly remarkable, but a comparison to two drawings from Andreas Vesalius’s (1514–64) revolutionary anatomical treatise De humani corporis fabrica [On the Fabric of the Human Body] (Basel, 1543) reveals that there may be more to this detail than meets the eye. In one of these illustrations—possibly attributable to a pupil of Titian, Joannes Stephanus of Calcar (c. 1488–1576)— a skeleton turns his head up towards the heavens (Figure 2). The positioning of his neck and torso suggests a depth of feeling: his head is turned slightly to one side as he looks up and he rests his weight on a staff very much like the one in the ivory vanitas. In Vesalius we can see that the skeleton is leaning not on a walking stick but on a shovel, which he will use to dig his own grave. In yet another of the images from the Fabrica we can see the same skeleton looking not upwards but down with one hand supporting his own head and the other resting on a skull—not his own, apparently— which is placed upon a pedestal very similar to the timepiece in our carving. The anatomical accuracy in both the drawings of the Fabrica and of our ivory skeleton is remarkable enough, but their gestural embodiment of human thought and emotion make these works truly astonishing historical witnesses. Their subjects point to the contradictions of lived existence: the unstable dichotomy between the physical and mental, between anatomy and emotion, between scientific and artistic knowledge.

Black-and-white illustration of a skeleton leaning on a tomb. It rests its skull on its left hand and places its right hand on another skull.
Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica (1543), p. 164

The unknown artist who made the vanitas skeleton in Duke’s History of Medicine Collections understood the rhetorical power of the ephemeral made material, when the truths of existence are brought into dialogue with the irrationality of consciousness. The very material they chose is telling of this. Ivory is rare and costly but lends itself well to the intricate detail of the piece’s low relief; it is not human bone but stands in for it in a vivid and arresting way. There are many things that such a piece can teach us about the history of medicine and, more specifically, seventeenth-century understandings of human anatomy and the physicality of emotions. But in reminding us that we will certainly die it can also tell us something about how to live. It represents, in short, a kind of contemplative interaction between the living and the dead, an interaction which suggests that the health of the human body is inextricably linked with our thoughts and emotions. In this way our melancholy skeleton can, even by representing death and transience, help us to understand and to improve the health and well-being of the living.

Call for Submissions: 2021 Human Rights Audio Documentary Award

Post Contributed by Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist

Annoncement Date: June 1st, 2021

What is audio documentary? How do recording technologies, sonic vernaculars, activism, and dissent come together in a documentary art form that engages with our ears?

This new award, sponsored by the Human Rights Archive and the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, seeks to support outstanding documentary artists exploring human rights and social justice and expand the audio holdings in the Archive for long-term preservation and access. The awardee will receive a $2,500 honorarium and be invited to give a talk at Duke.

In our inaugural year we will focus on works that explore language. Books are burned, buildings are bull-dozed, bodies are buried…and people escape with only their language and the memory work it will enable. How can spoken language serve as a form of sonic resistance to colonialism and cultural genocide? How does language persevere even when individuals and entire communities are disappeared? How do the language practices of the indigenous, the displaced, the incarcerated, and the oppressed buttress memory, build community and identity, and demand social justice and human rights?

Why should I apply?
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Library has a strong commitment to human rights and the documentary arts through collecting and making available works by creators from around the world. Our collections document the impact that organizations and individuals have, and the role documentary plays, to motivate the thinking of others, and the influence that has on private and government policies.

We encourage submissions from individuals or groups from across the globe, whose work is not already in the collections of the Rubenstein Library. Documentarians working in their own communities are encouraged to apply, and we are particularly interested in submissions from communities underrepresented in the archives. We are not accepting submissions from employees of Duke University, or those currently enrolled in a degree-granting program.

For more information on the award and how to apply please visit: https://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/human-rights/audio-award

This award is an initiative of the Human Rights Archive and the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Learn more about Special Collections at Duke…

Contacts:

Patrick A. Stawski, Human Rights Archivist, patrick.stawski@duke.edu, and Caitlin Margaret Kelly, Curator, Archive of Documentary Arts & Director Power Plant Gallery, caitlin.kelly@duke.edu

Remembering the Tulsa Race Massacre, 100 Years Later

Post Contributed by John B. Gartrell, Director, John Hope Franklin Research Center 

From May 31-June 1, 1921, the Tulsa Race Massacre took place in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, OK. Greenwood was one of the most economically prosperous African American communities in the country and earned the name “Black Wall Street.” The events of that day were said to have been sparked by the actions of a mob comprised of White Tulsa citizens that wanted to exact “justice” on a young black teen who had allegedly assaulted a White woman; which at the time was considered an affront to the Jim Crow power structure designed to keep African Americans in Tulsa, and throughout the country, in a subservient social class. The actions of that mob resulted in the looting and burning of businesses, churches, and homes, and the death of anywhere between 100 and 300 African American residents of Tulsa. 

Among the victims during those tumultuous days was Buck Colbert Franklin, father of Dr. John Hope Franklin. Buck Franklin had relocated to Tulsa a few months prior to the massacre to grow his law practice. When the violence occurred, his offices, like so many other buildings in the Greenwood District, were burned and also delayed the arrival of his wife and children to join him in Tulsa for four years. As one the few practicing African American lawyers in the state of Oklahoma, Buck Franklin took up the lawsuits of the African American citizens as they attempted to seek insurance payments, civil and criminal settlements for the events that took place. 

Buck C. Franklin working in a tent after the Tulsa Massacre

Some of the archival legacy of the Tulsa Race Massacre can be located in the collections of the Rubenstein Library and the John Hope Franklin Research Center. The following materials document what took place and the history of community members seeking justice, reparation, and reconciliation for two of the darkest days in our country’s history:

John Hope Franklin Papers – https://archives.lib.duke.edu/catalog/franklinjohnhope 

  • Writings Series, contains a number of writings by John Hope Franklin and others on the race riots
  • Personal Series, Franklin family photographs including images of Buck Franklin
  • Service Series, contains article clippings of news stories on the riots, also materials related to a 2003 Tulsa Race Riot lawsuit, Franklin’s participation in the Tulsa Race Riots Reconciliation Committee
  • Audiovisual Series, VHS, The Greenwood Blues: The Tulsa Race War of 1921 (1983)

Thomas Dixon Jr Papers – https://archives.lib.duke.edu/catalog/dixonthomas

  • Includes a letter from Jerome Dowd reflecting on the Tulsa Race Riot

Duke Oral History Program collection – https://archives.lib.duke.edu/catalog/duohp

  • 13 interviews conducted in 1978 by Scott Ellworth for his study Death in the Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot, 1921 
  • Interviews with: B.E. Caruthers, Nathaniel Duckery, Robert Fairchild, Victor H. Hodge, Mozella Franklin Jones, Mr. and Mrs. I.S. Pittman, Henry Whitlow, N.C. Williams, Seymour Williams, William D. Williams

Events of the Tulsa Disaster by Mary E. Jones Parrish, 1922

Panorama of ruined Greenwood District printed in the Events of the Tulsa Disaster by Mary E. Jones Parrish

Before they Die: survivors of the Tulsa Race Riot 1921, 2008

Magic City by Jewell Parker Rhodes, 1997 [fiction]

Intergenerational Collaboration Makes History

Post contributed by John B. Gartrell, director, John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History & Culture

A new initiative developed by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Legacy Project (SLP), the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, the Duke Libraries, the New Georgia Project, BYP 100, and the Ohio Voice and made possible by a $630,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aims to document how today’s activists built their social and political movements.  An understanding of the present day mobilizing of protest and political organizing will allow future generations to learn from the experience of today’s movements, their development, and how their achievements offer practical lessons in the struggle for human and civil rights.

The multi-generational project team based in the Duke University Libraries will convene and record conversations among three generations of activists—SNCC veterans of the Emmett Till generation, young people of the Trayvon Martin generation now leading the Movement for Black Lives, and the new generation of organizers mobilizing in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

“Over the past sixty years, the idea and ideal of American Democracy has been shaped by the three groups that will participate in the intergenerational discussions,” Courtland Cox, Chair, SNCC Legacy Project. A key goal of these conversations is to pass on informational wealth, knowledge and practical guidance between and among the generations. The dialogues will also allow contemporary activists to tell the story of their movements from their own perspective. Hence the project’s name—Our Story. Our Terms: Documenting Movement Building from the Inside Out.

Group photo of SNCC and Movement Veterans
Group photo of SNCC and Movement Veterans at the SNCC Digital Gateway closing events, 2018

“We at the Center for Documentary Studies are excited to nurture this essential sharing-of-work among people who are bringing us closest to the aspirations of self-determination and democracy. It’s a privilege to take part in this project with our partners — we’re paving the way for coming generations to build without fear of losing, forgetting, or ignoring their hard-won knowledge and what Courtland so aptly calls ‘informational wealth.’” Wesley Hogan, Director, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

The three-year project will also partner today’s activist organizations with early career archivists who have experience working with groups underrepresented in the archives. The idea is to bring movement organizers and archivists together to use practical and digital tools so that today’s organizers can tell their own stories on their own terms and ensure that their records endure. It will also provide training for those archivists to center ethical practices rooted in respect for community driven archives and learn from movement organizers. Documenting movements that are in-progress today will also serve to inform and encourage future activists and archivists alike.

Group photo at SDG closing events
Movement veterans and young activists converse at the SNCC Digital Gateway closing events in 2018

At the conclusion of the project, a digital collection of pivotal historical materials documenting contemporary organizing efforts will be made available online. In addition, all materials generated by the Our Story Project, including the recorded conversations among activists, will be preserved and housed in the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, part of Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

This isn’t the first collaboration between Duke and SNCC veterans. The Our Story Project will build on the example of the SNCC Digital Gateway, a widely used documentary website hosted by Duke that allows visitors to explore the history of the 1960s voting rights organization in detail. That groundbreaking initiative —also funded by The Mellon Foundation—brought together activists, academics, students, and archivists to create a digital history of SNCC that places the voices of SNCC veterans at its center.

Group photo of MHI
Selected members of the SNCC Digital Gateway and Our Stories, Our Terms project planning group

“The Our Story Project is an outstanding example of how libraries and archives are learning from and sharing space with communities long underrepresented at elite universities, as well as advocating for increased representation of marginalized stories in our nation’s historical record,” said Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke, one of the project’s principal investigators. “We are grateful for The Mellon Foundation’s generous support of this important work.”

To see examples of other collaborations between Duke, the SNCC Legacy Project, the Center for Documentary Studies, and other project partners, visit our webpage.

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