All posts by Kate Collins

Applications Now Accepted for the 2019-2020 Travel Grant Program

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2019-2020 travel grants. If you are a researcher, artist, or activist who would like to use sources from the Rubenstein Library’s research centers for your work, this means you!

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, the History of Medicine Collections, the Human Rights Archive, and the Archive of Documentary Arts, will each award up to $1,500 per recipient ($2,000 for international applicants to the Human Rights Archive) to fund travel and other expenses related to visiting the Rubenstein Library. The Rubenstein Library also awards up to $1,500 for individuals who would benefit from access to our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history collections through the Harry H. Harkins, Jr. T’73 Travel Grant.

The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, artists, and activists who live more than 100 miles from Durham, North Carolina, and whose research projects would benefit from access to collections held by one of the centers listed above.

More details—and the grant application—may be found on our grants website. Applications must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM EST on January 31, 2019. Recipients will be announced in March 2019.

126 Years of Fascination with Lizzie Borden

Post Contributed by Michelle Runyon, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture Graduate Intern.

On August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were found after being murdered with an ax. Andrew’s daughter Lizzie was immediately suspected and she was subsequently tried for the couple’s murders. The public was entranced with the grisly crime and Lizzie Borden’s trial. Many were unpleasantly surprised when she was acquitted of her father’s and stepmother’s murders. Lizzie Borden continued to live in her hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts, until her death even though she was ostracized by the community.

Even since her death in 1927, Lizzie Borden has continued to catch the public imagination. In the 126 years since Bordens’ murders, there have been books, podcast episodes (for example, Unsolved Murders Episode 23), movies, and even an opera which tells the gruesome story of the the Bordens’ murders. The Duke Libraries holds dozens of works inspired by the story of Lizzie Borden.

Here at the Rubenstein Library, we have a few different items related to Lizzie Borden and her trial, including a two-volume scrapbook that details Lizzie Borden’s trial through contemporary newspaper clippings. Although we are not certain who compiled the scrapbooks, their existence is evidence of the public’s fascination with the Borden murders from the beginning and the attention that was paid to Lizzie’s trial.

Photograph of opened scrapbook. Clippings from newspapers have been pasted in. The text is very small and the newspaper browning at the edges.
Clippings in the Lizzie Borden scrapbooks, Rubenstein Library

The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection includes a brief manuscript relaying events in Fall River surrounding the two murders  and an autograph album collected by Jennie Nuttall, a resident of Fall River, MA, which includes a verse and signature by Borden from before the murders took place. This volume will be included in 500 Years of Women’s Work: the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection exhibit opening at the Rubenstein on February 27, 2019.

We also have an album in the Bobbye S. Ortiz Papers featuring a song about Lizzie Borden, as sung by the Chad Mitchell Trio!

composite image showing the front of the album "The Best of chad Mitchell Trio" on the left and the reverse listing the track listing on the right. The first track on the album is "Lizzie Borden"
Front and back cover “The Best of Chad Mitchell Trio,” from the Bobbye Ortiz collection

As evidenced by the release this year of film entitled Lizzie inspired by her story, Lizzie Borden continues to be a figure of macabre fascination to many. Her story and the stories of the murders are retold time and time again.

Movember Adventures in the Archive

Post contributed by Zoë Eckman, PhD Candidate in English and Research Services Intern.

At the beginning of this month, I became intrigued by the event called “Movember” or “no-shave November.”  It’s an awareness-raising charitable event in which mustaches are grown over the month to spark conversations about men’s health and encourage donations.  Inspired by this event, I decided to delve into the resources of the Rubenstein to research the simple topic of facial hair.  What I discovered spanned centuries, genres, materials, and occasionally conflicting opinions about beard and mustaches.

Because the Rubenstein’s collections are so expansive, it may seem intimidating to begin a research project – but experience in libraries will hone your research skills and introduce you to new tools which are advantageous no matter what subjects you’re fascinated by.  The most important thing to bring with you are questions – what could I discover about the way facial hair has been viewed over time?  What importance (if any) did facial hair have in the past?  There was a lot of material to wade through, but I chose things which seemed interesting to me and might help me answer my questions.

The first was a play written in 1707, Colley Cibber’s “The Double Gallant”. While the play itself isn’t about facial hair, it contains the brilliant quote:  “Modesty’s a starving virtue, madam, an old threadbare fashion of the last age, and would sit as oddly upon a lover now as a picked beard and mustachios” (p. 30).  Clearly, in the eighteenth-century in Britain, growing facial hair was not the route to choose when attempting to choose a paramour.

Scan of "The Double Gallant" open to the title page. Opposit the title page is an engraved illustration of a man and woman in aristocratic 18th century dress. The woman is looking a way from the man who is bowing close to her.

Not so in France in 1842, when Eugène Dulac’s “Physiologie et Hygiène de la Barbe et des Moustaches” [image 2] encouraged young men to grow beards and mustaches because they were a visual symbol of male dominance – something women, in the author’s opinion at least, found extremely attractive.

Title page of "Physiologie et Hygiene" It includes an illustration showing three men seated on low chairs, with two women kneeling on the floor before them.

After this, I discovered a comedic song from 1931 called “Put Away the Moustache Cup” in a book of music called “Soft boiled ballads : a collection of heart-wrecking songs.”

Scan of sheet music for "Put Away the Moustache Cup." The music is decorated around the edges with images of cupid and devils.

Wanting to know what a “mustache cup” was, I searched the library and found a physical example of one in the Richard Pollay ACME Advertising Collection  which advertised hair dye (so if you think branded giveaways like coffee mugs or water bottles are a modern trend, think again).

Photograph of a mustache cup. It is a mug with a semicircular ledge inside. The ledge has a half moon-shaped opening to allow the passage of liquids and serves as a guard to keep moustaches dry. The side of the mug features an advertisement for Acme Hair Dye.

Also not a modern trend, I discovered, was the removal of beards and mustaches considered unattractive.  A book from 1906 encourages the removal of “unwanted facial hair” on women through the hot, new medical procedure of electrolysis!  One hundred years later, the feminist magazine “Bitch” included an article in their essay collection titled, “Beyond the Bearded Lady:  Outgrowing the Shame of Female Facial Hair.”

Perhaps one of the most famous mustaches in the world belonged to the artist Salvador Dalí, whose facial hair was so iconic that it was given its own book, “Dalí’s Mustache.”  The book is a “photographic interview” in which short questions are posed to the artist, he responds in his iconoclastic style, and a picture is featured in which his mustache is styled to match his answer.  When the question, “What do you see when you look at Mona Lisa?” is asked, he responds like this:

Facial hair also has local historical significance:  in 1953, to celebrate Durham’s centennial, a group of 3,093 men paid a $1 membership fee, got a button, and pledged to maintain facial hair of some sort (you can learn more about that here, in a previous intern’s blog post).  “Grow a ‘Mo, Save a Bro” is one of Movember’s mottos – the Durham men called themselves “The Brothers of the Brush.”  On the opposite end of the spectrum, a Winston-Salem man was, in 1974, required by his employer to shave off his mustache and remain clean-shaven.  He filed a lawsuit with the North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and we have the records of his struggle to maintain his personal facial hair and insure the rights of others to do the same (he was going to lose his case, unfortunately, so settled out of court).

So, researching something as simple as facial hair has lead us from the 18th century through the 19th, 20th, and into the 21st.  We’ve encountered fictional texts, medical treatises, musical ballads, advertisements, surreal art, historical events and lawsuits, and feminist journalism.  The Rubenstein is a research tool which contains a wealth of items touching diverse and seemingly disparate subjects.  All you have to do, no matter what you’re interested in, is dive in.

 

Your Obedient Servant: Hamilton and Burr Letters at the Rubenstein Library

Post contributed by Kate CollinsResearch Services Librarian

The opening of the hit musical Hamilton at the Durham Performing Arts Center has meant letters we have from Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and other figures in the musical have been getting some attention on campus, in the press, and in our reading room. We’re always excited to share our collections, especially when they relate to a musical that grapples with questions of whose voices are included in history and how historical narratives are constructed.

Want to hold and read a letter that Hamilton or Burr wrote? These collections are available in our reading room and open to all, so come visit us.

Alexander Hamilton Letters, 1780, 1791

In November 1791, Hamilton, then Secretary of the Treasury, wrote to Abisha Thomas and James Taylor, treasury agents for North Carolina, trying to find out if North Carolina had ever issued its own debt certificate in exchange for those of the United States. This may seem like one of the more technical provisions in the Funding Act of 1790 (which Jefferson complains in the musical has “too many damn pages for any man to understand”), but it relates to one of the most important pieces of Hamilton’s financial plan for the new nation: the federal government’s assumption of debts incurred by individual states during the Revolutionary War. The vigorous debates that surrounded Hamilton’s economic vision for the US were re-imagined in Hamilton as a rap battle in “Cabinet Battle #1.” Hamilton, of course, did succeed in getting congressional support for his financial system, thanks to the deal he made with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the Compromise of 1790.

The letter was likely written by a clerk (Hamilton was a busy guy!), but it does bear his signature, just below the closing “Your Obed. Servant.” This was a common closing for letters between elite men in the 18th century. Burr and Hamilton both used it (if not sincerely) during the heated exchange of letters that led to their duel, earning the phrase a prominent spot in the musical.

This collection also includes a newspaper clipping of a republished letter, 1780, from Hamilton to Elizabeth Schuyler concerning the Benedict Arnold affair and the death of Major John André.

Burr, Aaron. Letter, 1793, Dec. 24 : Philadelphia, to Mrs. Burr.

In this letter, we see side of Burr only hinted at in the musical. Here he’s not Hamilton’s political adversary, but a devoted husband trying to find his wife, Theodosia, relief from her “distressing illness.” Theodosia and Aaron Burr’s relationship gets only a couple of lines in the musical, but as is alluded to, Theodosia was married to a British officer when Burr began courting her during the war. Theodosia and Aaron did eventually marry in 1782, following the death of Theodosia’s first husband. The Burrs’ marriage was one built on affection, friendship, and respect for one another as intellectual equals. photograph of 1793 written by aaron burr to his wife

Theodosia had been ill for much of their life together and by 1793 was in severe pain. Aaron Burr writes this letter to Theodosia from Philadelphia, where he was serving in Congress, on Christmas Eve, 1793 to say he had consulted with Dr. Benjamin Rush, the prominent Philadelphia physician, and Rush advised she take hemlock. Burr had not told Rush Theodosia was already taking hemlock and is pleased that Rush’s opinion aligned with the medical advice they’d already received. He closes his letter saying he hopes the hemlock “may restore you health and to your affectionate, A. Burr. ” Sadly, Theodosia was likely suffering from cancer, and died just five months after this letter.

Otis, Harrison Gray. Letter, 1803. (from Alexander Hamilton)

Hamilton wrote this letter to Harrison Otis, another prominent lawyer and Federalist, advising on whether a particular document would be admissible as evidence in an ongoing lawsuit related to an insurance claim following the seizure of a trade ship by the Portuguese off the coast of Brazil. Otis was one of the lawyer’s representing Hamilton’s brother-in-law, John B. Church (with whom Burr had previously dueled!), in the case.

Van Ness, William Peter. Letter, 1805. (from Aaron Burr)

Following his duel with Hamilton and the end of his term as Vice President, Burr went on a seven month trip through the western states and territories, making his was all the way down to New Orleans. Van Ness served as Burr’s second in his duel with Hamilton, and as this letter shows, Burr continued to rely on Van Ness. Burr writes Van Ness from Chillicothe, Ohio, the state’s capital at the time, asking Van Ness to meet him in Berkeley Springs, Virginia (now West Virginia) “as soon as may be possible (I don’t say convenient),” and instructing Van Ness to contact some of his supporters: the physician and editor “Dr. I” (Dr. Peter Irving) in New York, and the Philadelphia merchant Charles Biddle.  Burr also mentions plans to meet his daughter Theodosia Burr Alston and son-in-law “Mr. A” at the Springs on November 4th.

Schuyler, Philip J. Letter, 1801, May 2 : Albany, to Thomas Barclay, Esq.

Philip Schuyler was Hamilton’s father-in-law and served as one of New York’s senators in the First United States Congress. A Federalist, Schuyler lost his re-election to Aaron Burr, who ran as a Democratic-Republican, in 1791. Schuyler regained his senate seat from Burr in 1797, before resigning the next year due to poor health. In this letter, Schuyler, a chronic sufferer of gout, gives his case history and writes of Samuel Stringer’s prescribed treatment against gout, the inhalation of oxygen.

 

Bibliography

Goebel, Julius, Jr., ed. The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton; Documents and Commentary. New York: Columbia University Press, 1964.

Nancy Isenberg. Fallen Father: A Life of Aaron Burr. New York: Viking, 2007.

“Since the war began ‘times ain’t what they used to be:’” Life at Trinity College During the Great War

Post contributed by Mandy Cooper, PhD, exhibit curator, former Research Services Graduate Intern, and Duke History PhD.

One hundred and one years ago, the doors to the East Duke Parlors were “thrown open” and “tables and machines [were] hauled in” along with “oilcloth, bleaching, hammer and tacks.” Led by Trinity College’s newly established branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the women at Trinity College and in the surrounding community turned the East Duke Parlors into a Red Cross room. According to Trinity’s YWCA president Lucile Litaker, the room was now “splendidly equipped” and “great bundles of material began to appear.” Throughout the next year, women at Trinity were joined by women from Durham to roll and send bandages overseas. The Red Cross room was officially open every Tuesday and Friday afternoon from 2:00-4:30, with the Trinity Chronicle reporting in February 1918 that between forty and fifty women had worked in the room the previous Friday. The women at Trinity were determined to do their part for the war effort.[1]

Black and white photograph of nine young men in Army uniforms, standing in two rows. A brick building is a background.

Black and white photograph of young men in Army uniform. They are standing in a line together, holding rifles. A building on Duke's East Campus is in the backgroun
Photos of the Student Army Training Corps at Duke in the University Archives Photograph Collection, Box 72.

They were not the only ones. By the 1917-1918 school year, the United States had officially entered World War I, and Trinity was feeling its effects. The impact on enrollment was immediate. Trinity saw a decrease of over 100 enrolled students from 1916-1917 and 1918-1919. President William P. Few was alarmed and attempted to boost enrollment in multiple ways: he encouraged current students to remain at Trinity until they were drafted; he toured North Carolina to promote the need for college-educated men to rebuild a war-ravaged Europe; and, like many other North Carolina universities, he started a Student Army Training Corps (SATC) unit on campus. The young men who enrolled in the SATC officially joined the US Army, but remained students at their institutions and were protected from the draft while receiving the training necessary to be considered for officer positions after graduation. Special classes were established for the SATC to ensure that those enrolled received the necessary training. The War Department required that Trinity create a course for the SATC that covered the “remote and immediate causes of the war and on the underlying conflict of points of view.” This course was intended to enhance the SATC’s morale and help them understand the “supreme importance to civilization” to the war.[2]

Few’s worries that Trinity would lose many students “to government service of one kind or another” proved apt. Although Few tried to dissuade freshman Charlton Gaines from leaving Trinity when he heard of his plans, Gaines enlisted and was sent to Camp Meigs for training. He apologized to Few shortly after arriving at Camp Meigs for leaving “without giving you notice of my departure.” Gaines served throughout the war, attaining the rank of Sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps, and never returned to Trinity College.[3]

Even those students who remained at Trinity felt the effects of the war. Friends and former students who had joined the military often returned to campus to visit on the weekends. The Chronicle reported in January 1918, that there would be no Chanticleer for the 1917-1918 largely because of the war. In addition to financial woes carried over from the previous year, the editor-elect had failed to return to Trinity in fall 1917—presumably because he joined the army. As the Chronicle writer reported, though, Trinity was not the only college (even just in North Carolina) that had been forced to cancel the yearbook for the year. In the end, the writer told students that they must “patriotically adapt” themselves to this situation because “since the war began ‘times ain’t what they used to be.’”[4] The Chanticleer returned in 1919 as a special edition. It was issued at the end of the war, published as Victory, 1919, and highlighted the victory of the United States and its allies in the war.

The war had some unexpected effects on Trinity as well. Football had been banned at Trinity since 1895, and in 1918 students petitioned for its return. They argued that a football program would help build a manly physique during a time when there was “a distressing need for physically well-developed men.”[5] As the war was ending, the administration lifted the ban and football returned to Trinity.

Trinity’s connection to the war was never more clear than in the masses of letters that alumni and former students sent to friends still at Trinity, to President Few or other faculty, to the Trinity Chronicle, or to the Alumni Register. Lt. R.H. Shelton wrote to Duke Treasurer D.W. Newsome from the front in France, telling him that he had seen “some of the worst over here.” Shelton continued, “Sherman certainly knew what he was talking about, but his was an infant.”[6] Alumni like Shelton made the horrors of war clear to everyone still at Trinity.  The pages of the Alumni Register for the war years are filled with letters from the front, placed in the same volumes as the President’s updates on the war’s effect on the college.

scan of a page of a book. the only thing on the page is a black and white photograph of a young white man in a military uniform. His hair is cut short, he doesn't have any facial hair, and he is looking directly at the camera.
Captain Charles R. Bagley (’14, A.M. ’15) wrote multiple letters from the front that were published: one in the Alumni Register in April 1918 and one in the Chronicle in December of the same year. Photo of Captain Charles R. Bagley, ’14, A.M. ’15, Camp Jackson. In the Trinity Alumni Register, Vol. 4, No. 1, April 1918, p. 48. Available digitally at https://archive.org/details/trinityalumnireg04trin

 

The Alumni Register and the Chronicle both regularly reported on the service of Trinity alumni and students overseas, including the first alumnus killed in action. First Lieutenant Robert “Kid” Anderson was among the first wave of American soldiers sent overseas. Part of the class of 1914, he was killed in action on May 29, 1918, at the Battle of Cantigny in France—the first major American engagement in the war. The news of Anderson’s death was sent both to his family and to President Few. The Alumni Register announced that Anderson had been killed in action in its July 1918 issue. The Register profiled his time at Trinity and his military service before reprinting an account of the memorial service held in his honor in his hometown of Wilson, North Carolina, a letter to Anderson’s parents from a fellow soldier that described his, and portions of Anderson’s letters to relatives and friends.[7]

To honor the centennial of the end of the First World War, selected items from the Duke University Libraries are on display in the Mary Duke Biddle Room as part of the exhibit “Views of the Great War: Highlights from the Duke University Libraries.” In addition to the impact of World War I on Trinity College and other people back home, the exhibit highlights aspects of the Great War and tells the personal stories of a few of the men and women (whether soldiers, doctors, or nurses) who travelled to France with the American Expeditionary Force during the “war to end all wars.” “Views of the Great War” is on display through February 16, 2019.

Footnotes

[1] Lucile Litaker, “The Year with the Y.W.C.A.,” The Alumni Register, Volume IV, No. 2, July 1918; 148-149. Available digitally at https://archive.org/details/trinityalumnireg04trin. For the Chronicle article, see: “Red Cross Notes,” The Trinity Chronicle, Vol. 13, No. 19, Wednesday, February 6, 1918. Available digitally at https://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/dukechronicle_dchnp83014/.

[2] Memo from the War Department Committee on Education and Special Training to Institutions where Units of the Student Army Training Corps are Located, September 10, 1918. Wartime at Duke Reference Collection, World War I – Student Army Training Corps, Box 1.

[3] For Few’s statement about losing students, see: William Preston Few to Benjamin N. Duke, July 16, 1917, Few Papers, Box 17, Folder 210. For the Charlton Gaines’s letter, see: Charlton Gaines to President Few, February 19, 1918, Few Papers, Box 19, Folder 235.

[4] “No Chanticleer for 1918.” The Trinity Chronicle, Vol. 13, No. 17, Wednesday, January 16, 1918. Available digitally at: https://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/dukechronicle_dchnp83013/.

[5] Statement from the Student Committee on Football, May 14, 1918. Trinity College Yearly Files, 1918. Board of Trustees Records, Box 5, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

[6] Lt. R.H. Shelton to D.W. Newsom, June 25, 1918. Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) Office of the Treasurer Records, Box 1, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

[7] The Alumni Register, Volume IV, No. 2, July 1918; 98-104. Available digitally at https://archive.org/details/trinityalumnireg04trin.

Exhibit and Symposium: Arabic Medicine Conquers Latin Europe, 1050-1300: Methods and Motives

Image from a manuscript showing a drawing of a person designed to show their anatomy, including the circulatory and digestive systems. There is writing in Persian
From Unidentified Persian text on human anatomy, between 1500 and 1699

Please join us on November 1 and 2 for Arabic Medicine Conquers Latin Europe, 1050-1300: Methods and Motives, a symposium held at Duke University.

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, 5:00pm
Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library Room 153

5:00PM: Exhibit tour
With curators Sean Swanick and Rachel Ingold

5:30PM: Keynote lecture
Cristina Alvarez Millán of the UNED (Madrid), “Arabic Medicine in the World of Classical Islam: Growth & Achievement”
Reception to follow

Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.,
Carpenter Conference Room, Rubenstein Library Room 249
10AM-3PM Symposium featuring:
Eliza Glaze (Coastal Carolina University)
Francis Newton (Duke)
Michael McVaugh (UNC – Chapel Hill)
Joseph Shatzmiller (Duke)

The event coincides with an exhibit, Translation and Transmission an Intellectual Pursuit in the Middle Ages: Selections from the History of Medicine Collection on display in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room from October 16, 2018 – February 2, 2019.

Scan of a page from a 1593 printing of an earlier Arabic medical text. It looks like a title page with decorative stamps and larger writing in Arabic
Avicenna. Libri V. canonis medicinae … Arabice nunc primum impressi. Romae : Typ. Medica, 1593.

 

What You Can Do Yourself: Home Health Guides in the History of Medicine

Photograph of colored plate in book illustrating various uses for water to promote health. Figure 1 is a band standing in a bathtub, Figure 2 is a woman seated at a table, using a tube connected to a bag of water to rinse her nose, Figure 3 is a woman seated in a chair with her feet in a shallow tray of water Figure 4 is a man lying on a low mattress with the back of his head resting in a a shallow tray of water
“Methods of Applying Water” from New Curative Treatments of Disease… vol. 1, (1901) Fig. 1 – Exercising in a cold bath, Fig. 2 – Nasal douche, Fig. 3 – Foot bath, Fig. 4 – Head bath

What is that rash? What should you do if you have a snakebite? Are carrots really good for one’s health? What does chicken pox look like?

Long before WebMD and other online tools existed, popular medicine guides were created and consulted to answer such questions. In the United States, there is a long tradition of such home health guides designed to help the common person diagnose and treat illnesses. These guides, often physician-approved and authored, included ways to prevent illness and injury while offering instructions and remedies.

Home health guides offered laypeople (assuming they could read) information on a range of topics: basic anatomy, symptoms of illnesses, exercises for good health, “cures” by water or electricity, sexual education, and much more. These popular medicine guides continued well into the twentieth century with works like Our Bodies, Our Selves. Such works are still printed today in the digital age.

An exhibit featuring a sample of these popular medicine guides from our History of Medicine Collections is currently on display. You can visit the exhibit What You Can Do Yourself: Home Health Guides in the History of Medicine in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room from July 24 – October 13, 2018.

Health Knowledge : A Thorough and Concise Knowledge of the Prevention, Causes, and Treatments of Disease, Simplified for Home Use, vol. 2, (1921).

The Good, The Bad, and The Just Plain Weird

Post contributed by Mandy Cooper, Research Services Graduate Intern, and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History.

Have you ever come across a piece of advice that just makes you stop, blink, and shake your head? While I was searching for a recipe for my Test Kitchen post, I came across one such piece of advice and knew I had to write about it. In the 1836 edition of The American Frugal Housewife, Lydia Maria Child wrote that “New England rum, constantly used to wash the hair, keeps it very clean, and free from disease, and promotes its growth.”

Title page of book. The paper is slightly yellowed. It reads "The American Frugal Housewife, dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy. By Mrs. Child, author of "Hobomok," "The Mother's Book," editor of the "Juvenile Miscellany," &c. A fat kitchen maketh a lean will -- Franklin. "Economy is a poor man's revenue; extravagance a rich man's ruin." Sixteenth Edition, enlarged and corrected by the author. Boston: Russell, Shattuck, & Co. 1836.
Title page of Lydia Maria Child’s “The American Frugal Housewife”
Photograph of paragraph of text describing washing hair with rum. "New England rum, constantly used to wash the hair, keeps it very clean, and free from disease, and promotes its growth a great deal more than Macassar oil. Brandy is very strengthening to the roots of the hair; but it has a hot, drying tendency, which N.E. rum has not.
Child’s advice to wash hair with New England rum in “The American Frugal Housewife”

I have to admit that I’ve never considered using rum to wash my hair! The smell alone would be overpowering. Prescriptive literature from the nineteenth century is filled with all kinds of advice for women—from keeping a home and raising children to cooking, healing, and beauty. Some of this advice is good, like Child’s tip to thoroughly clean your teeth after eating your last meal at night. On the other hand, some of the advice is bad. Still other kinds of advice—like washing your hair with New England rum—are just weird.

My fellow intern and I joked that we should do a beauty advice post similar to the Test Kitchen posts, but neither of us were willing to be the test subjects—despite plenty of material to choose from! It was tempting to try the recipe for Cologne Water in The New England Economical Housekeeper that called for rosemary oil, lemon oil, lavender oil, cinnamon oil, and rose water, just to see what it would smell like. Though the author of The American Family Keepsake assured readers that a recipe for Turkish Rouge “is a superior rouge; […] will not rub off, and is in no ways injurious to the face,” it was less tempting to try this recipe, which called for alkanet chips to be suspended in alcohol until it reached the right color.

Photograph of title page for "The New England Economical Housekeeper." Paper is yellowed with some darker spots. The text reads: The New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family Receipt Book. By Mrs. E.A. Howland. Stereotype Edition. Worcester: Published by S.A. Howland. 1847.
Title page for “The New England Economical Housekeeper.”
Photograph of two paragraphs of text describing how to make Cologne Water. The text reads "Take two drachms of oil of rosemary, two of the oil of lemon, one of lavender, ten of cinnamon, one tea-spoonful of rose-water. Pour on these one quart of alcohol; put all in a glass bottle, and shake it up well; to have it very clear, put some cotton in a tunnel, and place a piece of clean tissue or printing paper over it, and strain the contents through it. Another way. - One pint alcohol, sixty drops lavender, sixty of bergamot, sixty of essence of lemon, sixty of orange-water. To be corked up, and well shaken. It is better for considerable age.
Recipe for Cologne Water from “The New England Economical Housekeeper”

After reading through Child’s advice while searching for a recipe, I decided to look at other prescriptive literature from the nineteenth century and look at the different kinds of advice that women were given that shaped their lives, even though it didn’t always match reality. Different types of etiquette guides and domestic arts manuals have been around for centuries and are all examples of prescriptive literature. The Rubenstein’s guide to prescriptive literature includes material from 1631 to 2001 and highlights the changing focus of this literature.

A lot of the advice aimed at married women centered around being a good mother, wife, and hostess—and doing so economically while keeping up appearances. Child’s The American Frugal Housewife, The New England Economical Housekeeper, The Frugal Housewife, and The Female Economist are all good examples of this type of prescriptive literature. Instructions for being frugal were usually accompanied with tips for treating illnesses, raising children, and taking care of the household. Like a lot of advice manuals today, a lot of this advice presented a picture of an ideal woman that was a good housewife, a mother who trained her children well, a good cook, and an excellent hostess. For example, in Mrs. William Parkes’s Domestic Duties; Instructions to young married ladies, she informed her readers that “To possess the skill of a connoisseur in deciding upon the various flavours of wines, their strength and body, is not desirable for a female.” Obviously, knowledge of wine was only suitable as a male area of expertise.

Photograph of engraved image in book showing two women working in a nineteenth century kitchen
Frontispiece of The New England Economical Housekeeper.

Alright. Let’s get down to the good, the bad, and the just plain weird of all of this advice. I’ll try to resist the temptation to just list all of the weird advice for the shock value alone and stick to one or two examples of each—though it’s a difficult task!

The Good:

Child’s American Frugal Housewife was filled with good advice for women who wanted (or needed) to run a household on a budget. For example, she had two instructions for women to save money on paper “Preserve the backs of old letters to write upon” and “buy coarse white paper by the quantity” to make books for children learning to write. Mrs. Smith’s The Female Economist also contains advice for cleaning teeth; she provides instructions for creating a tooth powder: “Beat fine and sift two ounces of charcoal; mix with it one ounce of powder of bark.” Although this seems weird, given the charcoal toothpaste I’ve seen in stores and advertised online lately it’s not necessarily the worst advice.

The Bad:

Now for the bad advice. Mrs. Smith’s The Female Economist has a recipe for a healing ointment: an “Ointment of Lead.” Yes, you read that right. Mrs. Smith says to “Take of olive-oil half a pint; white wax, two ounces; sugar of lead, three drachms. Let the sugar of lead (reduced into a fine powder) be rubbed up with some part of the oil, and afterwards added to the other ingredients, previously melted together; stir them continually till quite cold.” She continued, “This cooling and gently astringent ointment may be used in all cases where the intention is to dry and skin over the wound, as in scalding, &c.” Mrs. Smith also had a recipe for “Eye-Water” to bathe the eyes in that called for sugar of lead. Unless you want to end up like the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, this is definitely not advice you want to follow—especially for use on an open wound!

The Just Plain Weird:

And now for the advice that is just plain weird. Two of the books I looked at had similar remedies for a sore throat. Child’s advice was to bind a stocking on “warm from the foot, at night” while Mrs. Smith said to “Wear a worsted stocking round the throat all night which has been worn on the leg during the day.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I want to try this sore throat remedy.

Rum wasn’t the only alcohol that was suggested for washing hair. Mrs. L.G. Abell’s The Skillful Housewife’s Book suggested wetting the hair “in brandy occasionally to strengthen the roots.” Actually, alcohol is a common ingredient in advice that seems weird to modern eyes. Mrs. Abell also suggested using brandy instead of water when making ink to prevent the ink from freezing.

While it’s tempting to keep going, I’ll stop here with just a sampling of the advice in nineteenth-century prescriptive literature. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop! Come in and take a look at some of the prescriptive literature in our collections—we’d love to have you! And of course, you can always take a look at some of the fully digitized versions of these books available online through HathiTrust.

Apple Pie and Raspberry Shrub (1836) — Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen

Post contributed by Mandy Cooper, Research Services Graduate Intern, and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History.

When I started as the Research Services intern, I knew that I wanted to do a blogpost for the Rubenstein Test Kitchen. But, where to begin? I spent some time exploring our collections and reading over the previous Test Kitchen blog posts as I thought about what I should make. Finally, I decided that since I’m a nineteenth-century historian, I would make a dish from that era, with a drink to go along with it.

After some initial exploration (relying on Ashley Young’s Guide to Food History at the Rubenstein), I settled on using Lydia Maria Child’s 1836 The American Frugal Housewife. The book was part of a genre of prescriptive literature that gave women advice for fulfilling their domestic duties. Child emphasized how to be a good wife, mother, and hostess while maintaining a frugal lifestyle. Many of the tips and recipes included a reference to it being “good economy” to use specific ingredients over others or to use substitutes for things like coffee. (Though, Child pointed out that in the case of coffee, “the best economy is to go without” which is definitely not an option for this graduate student!)

After looking through the recipes, I decided to make a dessert that I could share with my coworkers at the Rubenstein. I found some mouth-watering options, including an apple pie that sounded delightful. Like most recipes from the nineteenth-century, this one was a bit short on details, both for the filling and the pie crust, but the ingredients were simple.

Image showing ingredients used for apple pie: a bag of flour, a bag of sugar, a carton of butter, a jar of cinnamon, a lemon, and five apples

The Filling

photograph of first page of text for apple pie photograph of second page of text for directions for making apple pie

First, I made the filling, which could be easily set aside while I made the pie crust. But, Child didn’t specify how many apples, so I looked at a few other apple pie recipes before deciding to use five apples. I first peeled and sliced all of the apples before putting them all in a pan with about a tablespoon of water. The recipe calls for sugar to taste and says that cloves and cinnamon are good spices for the filling. Since I love cinnamon apples—and already had cinnamon at home—I decided to use cinnamon instead of cloves. I stewed the apples to get them tender, being sure to follow Child’s instructions to stew them “very little indeed,” tasting and adding more sugar and cinnamon as I went to get the flavor right. Child also said “If your apples lack spirit, grate in a whole lemon.” I thought the apples were a bit sweet, so I grated in a bit of lemon zest (thought not a whole lemon!).

photograph showing thinly sliced apples in a pot on a stove top

The Pie Crust

photograph of text of book show recipe for pie crust

The recipe for pie crust was also short on specifics, so I looked up other recipes to determine how much flour I should use. I used 2 cups of flour and about 1.5 sticks of butter for the bottom crust and the same for the top. I set aside a half cup of flour and about ¼ stick of butter to use for rolling out the crust like Child instructed. Since I was (attempting) to stay true to the 19th century recipe, I rubbed the rest of the butter into the flour with my hands, until “a handful of it, clasped tight […] remain[ed] in a ball, without any tendency to fall in pieces.” This was harder than I expected and took more time than I had planned. Once the dough stayed clasped in a ball, I wet it with cold water, rolled it out on a floured surface, put small pieces of butter all over it, floured it, rolled it back up, and repeated this process three times. I did the same thing for the top crust, which was a bit easier. After putting the crust in the pie pan, I poured in the apple filling. I then cut strips of the crust to lay over the top of the pie.

two photographs: the first of stewed apples in a pie crus, the second of a completed unbaked pie with a lattice work top

I put the pie in the oven for 40 minutes, checked it, and then put it back in for another 10 minutes until the crust turned golden.

Raspberry Shrub

Though according to Child “Beer is a good family drink,” I decided to go with a non-alcoholic drink option and try a raspberry shrub to go with my apple pie.

photograph of ingredients for raspberry shrub on kitchen counter: a bag of sugar, a bottle of white wine vinegar, and a carton of red raspberries

Child promised that raspberry shrub is “a pure, delicious drink for summer,” and since it looks like summer has officially arrived here in Durham, I thought it would be the perfect addition to my historical recipe experiment.

I used 12 ounces of fresh raspberries and white wine vinegar. After washing the raspberries, I put them in a pot, covered them with vinegar, and brought them to a boil before letting them simmer over medium-high heat until the berries were soft—a bit less than 10 minutes. I then strained the mixture into a glass measuring cup to get out the seeds and pulp of the berries and make measuring easier.

two photographs: the first of fresh raspberries in a saucepan on a stove top, the second of cooked raspberries in the saucepan being poured through a strainer into a glass measuring cup.

After straining the mixture, I ended up with a little over 1.25 cups of juice, which I poured back into the pot. The recipe called for equal amounts of sugar and juice, so I also added 1.25 cups of sugar. I brought the mixture barely to a boil before taking it off the eye, skimming the foam off the top, and letting it cool. Once it cooled, I poured the juice into a mason jar to store it.

photograph of raspberry shrub in a glass mason jar. the liquid in the jar is a dark red.

Child said to mix raspberry shrub with water for a “pure, delicious drink,” so I added 4 tablespoons of the juice to a glass of water. Then, since I love mint with raspberry, I added a sprig of fresh mint as a garnish.

photograph of completed shrub drink in a glass with ice. The drink is pink, and there is a mint sprig as a garnish.

The Verdict

The apple pie filling was absolutely delicious. The pie crust, though, didn’t turn out very well, even though it looked beautiful. Despite all of the butter, it was dry and tasted like chalky flour with butter, and it was a bit too thick. I might try an apple pie again, but I would definitely find a different recipe for the crust. (I was nice and didn’t inflict this crust on my co-workers here at the Rubenstein!)

The raspberry shrub was a success! Light, refreshing, and sweet—perfect for summer, just like Child said. I’ll definitely be making it again, though I’ll likely let the juice and sugar mixture simmer for a little longer next time, since there was a very slight taste of vinegar to it still.

Emma Goldman Papers – Newly Available

Post contributed by Mary Kallem, field experience student in the Bingham Center and master’s student at UNC’s School of Information and Library Science.

A white woman, Emma Goldman, is phtographed from the waist up, leaning against the back of a chair. She is wearing pince-nez glasses and looking away from the camera to the right.Few anarchists have gained as much mainstream recognition as Emma Goldman, an iconic figure in labor organizing, feminist history, and prison abolition. The Bingham Center acquired a sizable collection of Goldman’s papers as part of the larger Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, a transformative collection documenting the history of women at work.

Dating from 1909 to 1940, the Emma Goldman Papers reflect radical community labor amidst state repression, the financial instability of writers and activists, and a tumultuous political landscape. Goldman’s prescience remains apparent today.

These papers illuminate a historical understanding that reaches beyond her as an individual. In addition to providing an intimate picture of her financial, political, and social lives, this collection also reveals the relational network that  constituted anarchist organizing and publishing of her time.

Letter from Goldman to unnamed comrade, 1909. Click for full letter

With over 300 letters, the collection includes both the revolutionary and quotidian aspects of the relationships between Goldman and her comrades, including Alexander “Sascha” Berkman, Eugene Debs, Alexander Schapiro, and Thomas Keell. The collection also features published material, handwritten articles from Errico Malatesta and Emma Goldman, photographs, ephemera, and more.

This collection of Goldman papers has been in the hands of a private collector until recently, and it is now being opened to the public for the first time. The day-to-day correspondence may be the most striking element of the collection, given its familiar nature: whether asking to borrow money, lamenting poor book sales, or mutually gathering hope, these letters reflect struggle. For those who continue to fight for social change, there is a solidarity to be found in these shared material and emotional conditions.

The Emma Goldman Papers are available for on-site use in Rubenstein’s reading room and online within the Duke Libraries’ Digital Collections.

Ticket to lecture by Goldman, 1933.