All posts by David Pavelich

Middlesworth Award Winners Announced!

The Rubenstein Library is pleased to announce this year’s winners of the Chester P. Middlesworth Awards!

The Middlesworth Awards were established to encourage and recognize excellence of research, analysis, and writing by Duke University students in the use of primary sources and rare materials held by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Funding for the awards has been provided by Chester P. Middlesworth (A.B., 1949) of Statesville, North Carolina.

This year’s winners are:

Catherine A. Miller, for her paper “Women-in-Action’s Brand of Biracial Activism: The Politics of Race, Gender, and Class in 1960s-1970s Durham,” written for Dr. Karin Shapiro and Dr. William Chafe, History 195S-06: Racial Justice.

Joline Y. Doedens, for her paper “How to Go to the Gynecologist’s Office: Feminist Realities in Durham in the 1970s,” written for Dr. Kathy Rudy, Women’s Studies 195S: Senior Seminar.

Julia Simenauer, for her poems “The Island of Moss and Snow,” written for Dr. Deborah Pope, English 109S-01: Poetry and Memory.

The Duke University Libraries will host an award presentation for both the Middlesworth Award and the Durden Prize followed by a reception in the Rare Book Room on October 26 at 3:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend this public event!



Introducing our new registration and requesting system!

Today, the Rubenstein Library launched a new online registration and item requesting system!

Some of the exciting features of this new system:

  • No more paper forms! New researchers will register online and returning researchers will re-register in our new system. (Don’t worry: it’s quick & easy!)
  • Registration is shared with UNC’s Wilson Library, so you can register just once at either location!
  • Request your books and manuscripts directly through links in the library catalog, from anywhere: at home, in the office, or on a bus!
  • Manage your requests directly in your user account.
Account screen for the new registration and item requesting system.

The registration and item requesting system is called Aeon, and is used at several other special collections libraries. Once you’ve used it at Duke, you’ll be well prepared to use collections at Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Texas, and many other universities!

Please ask staff at the public service desk if you have any questions about using this new system. We’ll happily help you to register and request your materials.

John Wetmore Hinsdale, Heartthrob

Every generation has its heartthrobs.  Think Justin Bieber, Robert Pattinson, Tristan Wilds, and Chris Hemsworth. History junkies realize that handsome dudes are nothing new, as demonstrated by the tumblr site My Daguerreotype Boyfriend.

Those of us in the Rubenstein find our own John Wetmore Hinsdale pretty irresistible. In 1861 he left The University of North Carolina to enlist in the Confederate Army and served with distinction under Generals Holmes, Pettigrew, Pender and Price before being elected colonel of the Third Regiment Junior Reserves.

Daguerreotype of John Wetmore Hinsdale
John Wetmore Hinsdale, Hunk. Click to enlarge!

He went on to attend Columbia University Law School, pursue a successful legal career, and serve as president of the North Carolina Bar Association. John Wetmore Hinsdale was clearly more than just a pretty face.

My thanks to Walter Hilderman, for bringing this photo to my attention.  Mr. Hilderman is in the final stages of his Lieutenant General Theophilus Hunter Holmes, C.S.A., forthcoming from McFarland Publishers in late 2013.

This photograph is from the Hinsdale Family Papers.  We’re submitting it to My Daguerreotype Boyfriend, and we hope to see it there soon!

Post contributed by Elizabeth Dunn, Research Services Librarian.

Duke Acquires Papers of Rabbi Heschel, Influential Religious Leader

The Rubenstein Library at Duke University will acquire the papers of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a scholar, writer and theologian who is widely recognized as one of the most influential religious leaders of the 20thcentury, the school announced Monday.

Photographs and other items from the Abraham Joshua Heschel Papers.

Heschel was a highly visible and charismatic leader in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. He co-founded Clergy Concerned About Vietnam and served as a Jewish liaison with the Vatican during the Second Vatican Council, also known as Vatican II.

The collection, which has never before been available to scholars, consists of manuscripts, correspondence, publications, documents and photographs spanning five decades and at least four languages. Included among the papers are notes and drafts for nearly all of Heschel’s published works, as well as intimate and extensive correspondence with some of the leading religious figures of his time, including Martin Buber, Thomas Merton, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy and Reinhold Niebuhr. The papers also contain extensive documentation on Heschel’s life-long commitment to social justice, including planning documents, correspondence with organizers, speeches and even hate mail.

The archive will open for research after conservation review and archival processing are complete.

For more information, visit the full press release!

LCRM Update #3

Letter, Patricia Nixon to Elna Spaulding
Letter, Patricia Nixon to Elna Spaulding, June 30, 1969. Women-in-Action for the Prevention of Violence and Its Causes Records, Box 1, Folder 3 (File ID: wiams01003143).


In last month’s update  for the progress of the CCC Project at Duke, I discussed how an interest group tried to lobby Congress to oppose civil rights reform.  In that case, the National Restaurant Association lobbied Congress to block a piece of legislation that it felt would harm its members.  Contacting officials to enact desirable policies is certainly one of the most important activities of advocacy organizations, yet before lobbying can occur, an organization must become sustainable through fundraising.  This month, we take a look at the Women-in-Action for the Prevention of Violence Records and how that nascent organization contacted a wide array of individuals, corporations, and institutions to raise funds for their efforts to combat domestic violence and promote racial harmony.

The President of Women-in-Action, Mrs. Elna Spaulding, wrote letters to many of the luminaries of the late 1960s in her effort to garner funding.  Potential benefactors included the Eckert Corporation, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, financial firm Lehman Brothers, Coretta Scott King, the producers of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Senator Jesse Helms, and (pictured here) first lady Pat Nixon.  Many of the recipients did not respond; most responded like Mrs. Nixon, with well-wishes but no funding.  However, Mrs. Spaulding was successful enough to take her fledgling organization and make it into a major community actor in both Durham and elsewhere in North Carolina.  We encourage you to peruse the correspondence in the Women-in-Action Records to find out for yourself who gave to the cause.

The grant-funded CCC Project is designed to digitize selected manuscripts and photographs relating to the long civil rights movement. For more information on this project, including updates on the progress of digitization, please check out the CCC website. As part of the outreach efforts of the CCC Project, monthly blog posts to The Devil’s Tale will provide updates on the latest Rubenstein Library collections to be digitized for the project. Stay tuned!

Post contributed by Josh Hager, CCC Graduate Assistant


This weekend, many folks will celebrate Father’s Day.  I recently processed the personal papers of A. Hollis Edens, Duke President from 1949-1960, and was left teary-eyed by letters written between him and his only child, Mary Ann.  The letters demonstrate such a strong father-daughter bond and provide insight into a closeness that spanned into her adulthood.  So, in honor of the fathers out there and in memory of those who are no longer with us, please enjoy the following exchange between President Edens and his “Doodle-bug-dumplings.”

Click images to enlarge!

Mary Ann Eden’s letter (dated August 6, 1945)
“Since you’ve been gone I’ve prayed every night in the hopes that God will keep you safe and sound and bring you back soon.” Mary Ann Eden’s letter, page 1.
Mary Ann Eden’s letter (dated August 6, 1945)
Mary Ann Eden’s letter, page 2
Eden's letter
“Honey, I want to tell you it helps a lot to have my little girl pray for me.” President Eden’s Letter, page 1.
President Eden’s letter, page 2.
President Eden’s letter, page 2.

Post contributed by Kim Sims, Technical Services Archivist for the Duke University Archives.

Syriac Books and Manuscripts!

Lumodo suryoyo
Annotated catalog of exhibition for Sixth North American Syriac Symposium, held at Duke University, 26-29 June 2011

The Rubenstein Library is pleased to announce that we’ve digitized a wonderful publication written by  Duke’s very own Maria Doerfler, Emanuel Fiano, and Lucas Van Rompay. The publication features erudite bibliographic descriptions of several Syriac manuscripts and books from the Rubenstein collections, accompanied by photographic illustrations. The work is an annotated catalog from an exhibition assembled for the Sixth North American Syriac Symposium, held at Duke University, 26-29 June 2011.

We’re grateful to the authors for allowing the book to be published on the Internet Archive! It will surely be a treasure for scholars worldwide.

Student Writing Prizes! $1,000!

Enter to win one of the Duke Library's research & writing prizes!

The Robert F. Durden Prize and Chester P. Middlesworth Award were established at the Duke Library to reward excellence in research and writing. If you’re a Duke student, consider submitting a paper for one of these prizes!

The Robert F. Durden Prize recognizes undergraduates’ excellence in research, including their analysis, evaluation and synthesis of sources, and encourages students to make use of the general library collections and services at Duke University. Funding for the awards has been provided by Stuart (W.C.,1964) and Bill Buice (L, 1964) and named in honor of Robert “Bob” F. Durden, professor emeritus of history.

The Middlesworth Awards have been established to encourage and recognize excellence of research, analysis, and writing by Duke University students in the use of primary sources and rare materials held by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Funding for the awards has been provided by Chester P. Middlesworth (A.B., 1949) of Statesville, North Carolina.

Deadlines are May 15!

Visit our website for more information.

Dean Edward Buckley to speak on “The Future of Medicine”

Dean Edward Buckley will speak on The Future of Medicine

Date: Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Time: 4:00 PM

Location: Biddle Rare Book Room, Perkins Library

Contact: Meg Brown, 919-681-2071 or

Please join us on Wednesday, April 25, for a lecture by Dean Edward Buckley titled The Future of Medicine: Educating the Physician of 2020. Dr. Buckley is Vice Dean of Medical Education at the Duke University School of Medicine. The event will begin at 4 p.m. in the Biddle Rare Book Room of Perkins Library on Duke’s main campus.  All are welcome to attend; no registration is required. Light refreshments will be served.

The event celebrates the opening of the exhibition in the Perkins Library Gallery, What Does Your Doctor Know? Exploring the History of Physician Education from Early Greek Theory to the Practice of Duke Medicine.

Another Civil War: Lucan’s Pharsalia

It was written of the poet Lucan (Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, 39-65 C.E.) by his 17th century English translator Thomas May that when Lucan was born, “bees swarmed about the childes cradle, and pressed in clusters toward his mouth. A happy presage (as the learned interpreted it) of his future wit….”

Lucan was a Roman poet who lived and composed during the reign of Nero. Initially a favorite of the emperor, Lucan later joined a conspiracy against him, was captured, and was forced to commit suicide – at the age of 25 (the same age as John Keats when he died).

Lucan’s Pharsalia, or De bello civilli [Civil War], portrays the war between Julius Caesar and Pompey Magnus. The title refers to the Battle of Pharsalus (48 B.C.E.), in which Caesar defeated Pompey.

The Rubenstein Library’s Latin Manuscript 118 is a 12th century Italian manuscript of the Pharsalia. Acquired from Sotheby’s in 1969, the manuscript was written on parchment in a late Carolingian hand in brown ink, and was bound in the 15th century in goat skin over wood. In 86 parchment folios, the manuscript sits oblong in the hand, measuring 210 x 103 mm.

Image of Duke's Latin manuscript 118
Duke's Latin Manuscript 118, Lucan's Pharsalia

The Rubenstein has several early and significant printed editions of Lucan as well, the earliest published between 1493 and 1494 in Venice.  An edition from 1515 was printed by the venerable firm of Aldus Manutius. The presence of the manuscript and several printed editions provide students and scholars with an opportunity to study the transmission, editing, and translation of Lucan’s work over the centuries.

The Early Manuscripts series of blog posts seeks to bring greater attention to the Rubenstein’s rich collections in Latin, Greek, and other early manuscript traditions.