All posts by Kate Collins

Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Cooking with Duke Power

Post contributed by Ashton Merck, Graduate Intern for the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History

In the mid-twentieth century, the Duke Power Company Home Service wished its customers a “Merry Christmas” and a “Happy New Year” with an annual collection of holiday recipes.

Covers of two Duke Power cookbooks. Both feature their mascot, a stick figure made of lightning bolts.
“Merry Christmas,” circa 1950s (Item 1950s-0499); “Recipes,” circa 1950s (Item 1950s-0504)

The John W. Hartman Center has at least two of these pamphlets in the Nicole di Bona Peterson Collection of Advertising Cookbooks. These cookbooks focused almost exclusively on holiday baking. One cookbook included separate sections for cakes, pies, candy, cookies, and desserts, while “salads, sandwiches, and breads” were combined into one category.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I decided that I would give one of these recipes a try. Quite a few of them looked recognizable as something my great-grandmothers used to make, like “Cheery Cherry Cake” or “Skillet Cookies.” Others, like a “Chocolate Yule Log” – which involved an unholy combination of mashed potatoes, confectioner’s sugar, and shredded coconut – sounded completely inedible. But one recipe, for “Spiced Cherry Bells,” caught my eye. Somewhat inexplicably, the recipe called for ginger and instant coffee, in lieu of the usual holiday spices like cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg. It also required more advanced assembly than the other cookies or cakes, through the creation of the “bell” shape. It seemed like something that was unusual enough to be worth trying.

Original recipe
“Spiced Cherry Bells,” from “Merry Christmas” cookbook

As soon as I mixed the dry ingredients, it was clear that there was not enough of either the ginger or the instant coffee to overcome the 3 ½ cups of flour called for in the recipe. I took note of that fact, but did not adjust the recipe for my taste, resisting the temptation to add copious amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg. I next realized that the ingredients as mixed was simply too crumbly to form a stable dough that I could roll out, even with the use of a stand mixer. I had to add about another 1/8 cup of heavy cream to get the dough to come together. Even still, it called for so much shortening that it was tricky to roll out to the thickness specified. I eventually managed to get the cookies onto the (mercifully, ungreased) cookie sheet, where I shaped them into something that, if you squint your eyes, could be imagined as “bells.” I then baked them for the allotted time of 15 minutes.

I considered what the small quantity of the “spices” might indicate about the time and place in which this recipe was created, and imagined several possible hypotheses: Perhaps instant coffee or ginger were expensive or hard to come by; or, the far more likely scenario, they were so ubiquitous that they might already be in the pantry anyway. That got me thinking – when was instant coffee invented? Could it have been a new or trendy product at the time?

For an initial answer to these questions, I requested a box from the J. Walter Thompson “Competitive Advertisements” collection. The ads in the folders depicted instant coffee drinkers as married couples engaged in energetic outdoor activities or home improvement projects, like this campaign from 1956:

Vintage advertisement for instant coffee. Illustrated with a picture of a woman pouring coffee for a man. The headline reads "Richer Coffee Instantly!"
“When the Moment Calls for Coffee,” Hot Beverages – Coffee (1 of 2), 1956, Box 1956-15, Competitive Advertisements 1955-1997, J. Walter Thompson Company, Rubenstein Library, Duke University.

Advertisment Martinsons Instant Coffe, featuring "Swedish Beef Puffs"

From looking at these ads, it seemed like instant coffee was one of many “convenience foods” that became tastier and more widely available in the post-WWII era, along with TV dinners and canned foods. I then requested another box from the Alvin Achenbaum collection, which contained several market research studies on coffee. The studies further emphasized that consumers valued instant coffee primarily for its convenience and low cost.

I also noticed that a few ads included recipes that contained small amounts of instant coffee, like this one for Swedish Beef Puffs at right.

But these ads were few and far between. As I perused the market research, I looked to see if the consultants recommended promotion of alternate uses of instant coffee in recipes, or baking, but they did not. Instead, the market researchers were far more interested in carefully segmenting the coffee buying market by their tastes and preferences, rather than by inventing new and creative uses for the product.

So, after this investigation – using Rubenstein collections, of course – it seems that instant coffee was already cheap and ubiquitous by the time it made it into the “Spiced Cherry Bells,” but the choice to use it in a recipe might have seemed as unusual then as it does now.

The Verdict: The cookies were … okay. The flavor of the baked, slightly caramelized maraschino cherry was delicious, and the “filling” mixture which called for pecans, brown sugar, and butter was something of a foolproof combination. But, as I expected, neither the instant coffee nor the ginger came through at all in the final bake.

Ten sort of bell shaped cookies on a baking sheet. They look dry and not particularly attractive.
Unfortunately, they taste as good as they look.

Described by taste-testers as “aggressively neutral” and “a bit dry,” the dough was definitely the weak point in these cookies. “You almost get bored with it halfway through,” one observed. Yet the cookies also had a confusingly familiar flavor to them; there was plenty of room for the individual housewife to give the recipe her own spin enough to call it her own. As another taste tester noted, the recipe is “very much of the era.”

In Search of Their Anti-Racist Lineage

Contributed by Amanda Mixon, PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine. Read more in their recent article: Amanda Mixon (2019): “Not in my name”: the anti-racist praxis of Mab Segrest & Minnie Bruce Pratt, Journal of Lesbian Studies, DOI: 10.1080/10894160.2019.1678964

With the assistance of a Mary Lily Travel Grant, I visited the Sallie Bingham Center in the summer of 2018 to carry out research for my dissertation, which analyzes how a group of white southern lesbian writers theorize whiteness and practice anti-racist activism. The project is as much invested in tracing friendships and influences as it is in elaborating a single individual’s political thought. Therefore, when perusing the papers of Dorothy Allison (1949-), Minnie Bruce Pratt (1946-), and Mab Segrest (1949-), I was especially interested in how the holdings might give voice to these women’s relationships with each other and the two other figures in my study, Rita Mae Brown (1944-) and Lillian Smith (1897-1966).[i]

Conference brochure featuring a portrait of Lillian Smith on the cover.
“‘Listening to Sounds Larger Than Our Own Heartbeat’: A Conference on Lillian Smith” brochure listing talks by both Mab Segrest and Minnie Bruce Pratt, held at Georgetown University, October 7-9, 1994. From the Mab Segrest Papers, Box 63.

I knew that Smith, arguably the most outspoken white southern critic of Jim Crow segregation, had a profound impact on Pratt and Segrest. Her lifelong partnership with Paula Snelling (1899-1985) and searing critiques of white supremacy offered Pratt and Segrest a foundation from which to learn and build. However, when scanning Pratt’s papers, I was surprised to find an unpublished stage play that Segrest wrote about the couple in the late eighties. There, Segrest prioritizes Snelling’s experience, allowing her to criticize Smith for closeting their same-sex relationship. As Segrest told me in person, this centering is an ode to the significant amount of unrecognized work that Snelling contributed to Smith’s career and their collaborative projects. But what I found most compelling was Segrest’s creative license with the couple’s relationship: that is, no primary or secondary sources confirm the dynamic that Segrest depicts. As such, the untitled play is not only an example of how we represent historical figures in order to do them justice, but also an account of what those figures emotionally do for us. In their published nonfiction, both Segrest and Pratt express a yearning for a Smith not bound by the closet’s silence. In the play, Snelling becomes the voice of that desire. She asks: what would it have meant—for Smith’s own career and life, for Snelling, and for the countless women inspired by their work—if Smith had claimed a lesbian identity?

“Scenes from play about Lillian Smith” by Mab Segrest, original pictured here from the Mab Segrest Papers, Box 63. Another copy is located in the Minnie Bruce Pratt Papers, Box 57.

[i] Rita Mae Brown is author of the 1973 lesbian coming of age novel Rubyfruit Jungle. Lillian Smith was a white civil rights activist, known for her 1944 novel Strange Fruit, which featured an interracial couple.

The Disappeared and Their Editor: the Robert J. Cox Papers

Post contributed by Michelle Runyon, Marshall T. Meyer Intern for the Human Rights Archive.

This semester I have had the pleasure of processing the Robert J. Cox papers, the collection guide for which is now available.

Although he wouldn’t know it at the time, 1979 would become the most eventful year of Robert Cox’s life. A British journalist who spent most of his adulthood up to this point in Argentina, Cox found out that his son Peter had received a highly detailed anonymous death threat. The threat came as a result of Cox’s work covering the Dirty War as the editor of the English-language newspaper the Buenos Aires Herald. Cox and his family decided to flee from Argentina. His wife Maud Cox and their five children all came to England and then the United States with him at Harvard where Cox held a Nieman Fellowship. They later came to Charleston, South Carolina where Cox became the assistant editor for the Post & Courier.

A strong theme throughout Cox’s papers is the disappearances of political activists and dissidents, especially those of Jewish descent, throughout the country. Cox himself wrote about the desaparecidos (disappeared) and advocated for the Buenos Aires Herald to cover the violence enacted against them. Articles within the collection that cover the kidnappings range from brief passages to notices created by family members of the “disappeared.” However, one format that stands out above others in the collection never made their way into being published in an official formats – pamphlets created by the family members of the disappeared.

These pamphlets, almost zine-like, were created by Xeroxing official documents, photographs, newspaper clippings, and passages written by the creators alongside one another to create a narrative about what was known about the disappearance of this individual or group of individuals.

We know that at least one of these pamphlets was mailed to Robert Cox himself, as evidenced by Robert Cox’s mailing address on the back of the pamphlet. Working with the ERP (the People’s Revolutionary Army), Jorge Marcelo Dyszel Lewin and his wife Mirtha Nelida Schwalb de Dyszel were disappeared May 18, 1978. They were 22 and 21 years old respectively. Jorge was from a Polish Jewish immigrant family. This pamphlet was likely created by Jorge’s mother, Beatriz Lewin, who was very active in Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo).

First page has "Habeas Corpus a Dios!" in large text at the top, plus additional typewritten text, including a quotation attributed to Albert Einstein. The second page of the pamphlet has additional text, as well as a photographed of a man and a woman, presumably orge Marcelo Dyszel Lewin and Mirtha Nelida Schwalb de Dysze, in the back of the car on what looks like their wedding day.
Pages from pamphlet of the disappearance of Jorge Marcelo Dyszel Lewin and Mirtha Nelida Schwalb de Dyszel

Another pamphlet tells the story of the disappearances of Graciela Antonia Rutilo Artes and her daughter Carla Graciela Rutilo Artes. Graciela’s mother Matilde Artes Company created the pamphlet and became active with Las Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo.

Black and white pamphlet that reads at the top "Quiero a mi hija y a mi nieta." The rest of the page includes columns of text and photographs.
Pamphlet on the disappearance of Graciela Antonia Rutilo Artes and Carla Graciela Rutilo Artes.

The Grandmothers and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo continue to work to hold  accountable those who disappeared their grandchildren and children.

Cox did not return to Argentina for over a decade. However, from afar, Cox wrote about Argentina with continued urgency and commitment. His personal papers reflect this engagement, consisting of his own personal writings and those collected by him written by colleagues or other interested parties about Argentina. When democracy was restored to Argentina with the election of Raúl Alfonsín, Cox reported on this and outlined the challenges that lay ahead of the new president as he grappled with the aftermath of the Dirty War. His reporting continues shape how Argentines and the outside world view Argentina and its recent history.

His story is also told through two books written by his wife Maude, Salvados del Infierno: A 25 años de la dictadura Argentina, and his son David, Dirty Secrets, Dirty War: The Exile of Robert J. Cox.

If you are interested in learning more, a documentary film about Cox’s life and work called A Messenger on a White Horse is available from the Lilly Library.  A shortened version of the film is also available on Amazon Prime.

Applications Now Accepted for the 2020-2021 Travel Grant Program

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2020-2021 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!Black and white, undated, but vintage seeming United Airlines ad. The headline reads "Compare these Travel Costs." It has an illustration of a female flight attendant holding a chart showing the cost of travel to various destinations by train in comparison to fare on United Airlines.

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, and the Human Rights Archive 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, 2020. Recipients will be announced in March 2020.

Medicine and Magic in North Carolina

Post contributed by Steph Crowell, Trent History of Medicine Intern.

Frank Clyde Brown was an English professor at Trinity College in 1909. Although, to call him just an English professor is a bit of a disservice- he was also the chairman of the English department, the University Marshal, the Comptroller of the University… he wore many hats while he was here. But, most importantly for today, he was an avid folklorist throughout his career.

He was so interested in North Carolina and Appalachian folklore that he helped to begin the North Carolina Folklore Society. Although busy with his many university roles, he still found the time to roam about North Carolina (or send his students to do so) and collect people’s stories and beliefs. The resulting collection of all these research materials, the Frank Clyde Brown Papers, 1912-1974, is absolutely massive. Alongside the huge print collection, there is a digitized collection of audio performances Brown collected during the course of his research- the physical wax cylinders and discs that they come from are still in the collection to be seen, but the only way to listen to them is through Duke’s Digital Repository.

But, in the spirit of the season, I took a look at box 45 of the print collection. Folk medicine is a wonderful and often strange portion of the history of medicine, and I quickly found that this collection reflected that idea. In this particular box are folders full of small pieces of paper that have bits of folk knowledge printed on them, as well as the source of that knowledge, be it a person or a book.

Four pieces of paper with folk remedies Brown collected. 1 is binding a frog to your head to cure a headache. 2 is washing your face in a stream of water that runs north to cure a headache. 3 is using beetle blood to cure a earache and 4 is putting ground pepper in your ear to cure a earache.
3:B:Z(8)-3:B:Z(16), Frank Clyde Brown papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Click to enlarge.

As you can see, some of these cures may not be quite what you expect. You couldn’t expect that washing your face with cool water may help alleviate a headache, but water that runs north? Why is that significant? Do beetles really only have two drops of blood in their bodies?

The thing that’s most interesting about this box is how the materials transition from folk medicine cures of diseases and insect bites into the supernatural. Some of these cures could arguably be called magical, but conceptually they still have to do with curing something wrong with the body- but what about spiritual health? What bad omens are out there that could impact my health? How do I know if he loves me or not? How can I get an edge on my exam tomorrow?

Four slips of paper describing various folk charms Brown collected.
4:A-4:C, Frank Clyde Brown papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Click to enlarge.

In a context where the supernatural is accepted and has an effect on one’s personal health, it also stands to reason that one should be afraid of witches. Someone who has the power to bedevil you against your will, curse you with bad luck, make you sick? Because of this fear, the next few folders that follow the common sense cures and the charms are things to directly deal with witches. There are counter-spells, ways of identifying witches, and, most importantly, ways to keep them as far away from you as possible.

Four slips of paper describing signs that someone is a witch or can practice magic, as well as charms to keep witches away.
4:A-4:C, Frank Clyde Brown papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Click to enlarge.

It can be difficult these days to think that medicine can or should be magical, but in the spirit of the season I would invite you to try. These materials are available to you to look at with many more cures and curses, all you have to do is register and request and we’ll be happy to retrieve them for you.

A note about the collection: if you’re looking at the collection, just keep in mind that these papers directly quote real people; as such, there are a handful of these items that contain racial slurs and some other outdated language that we find offensive today.

Staff recommendations from the collection:

If you’re someone who’s more into stories, we would recommend checking out this paper on Witches in Old Salem, this one on vampires, or this one about werewolves.

Honorable mentions for Halloween:

The inspiration for the movie Poltergeist, Ruysch’s dancing skeletons and anatomical sketches, and some of our materials about the famous Lizzie Borden Case, which you can read about here.

A Punk Female Divine

Post contributed by Chiara Amoretti, PhD candidate, University of Bristol, UK

Kathy Ackers astrological chart
Natal Chart found in Box 32, Folder 6 of the Kathy Acker Papers

After the generous award of a Mary Lily Research Grant, I travelled to Duke University this winter to conduct research for my doctoral dissertation, a study on modern and contemporary women writers and the creation of a female divine. My project focuses on three authors, including Kathy Acker, so I was excited to have the opportunity to consult the Kathy Acker Papers housed here at the Rubenstein Library. The collection spans notebooks, drafts, typescripts, annotations, correspondence and much more. My research goal was to find any evidence that Acker engaged with religion and religious discourse or texts, but more importantly how she engaged with it. To better understand her published work’s fragmented use of such suggestions, I wanted to see how Acker had originally worked them into her texts.

In order to do this, I studied the many notebooks containing Acker’s drafts for her novels and other unpublished material. Her drafts amazed me not just for the evidence of relentless work and self-editing that she put her writing through, but especially for the many different uses of heterodox religious language that appear therein. I was particularly struck to find one of her notebooks containing a discussion of her cancer treatment, in an extended metaphor, as a Shamanic initiation rite. This seems to highlight the spiritual significance, for Acker, of her choice of alternative medicine, and a way to reclaim her lived experience in response to her diagnosis.

The archive also illuminated my understanding of Acker’s fascination with para-religious activities and discourses. Her interest in astrology, which her published work hints at, takes on deeper meaning after seeing the natal charts of herself, and other people in her life, that Acker consulted. This shows her attachment to diverse forms of spiritual meaning-making, especially towards the end of her life. My visit to the Acker Papers has been invaluable for my research, showing me many unexpected ways in which Acker devised her own spiritual narrative experimentation.

The Minor Horrors of War (1915)

Post contributed by Steph Crowell, Trent Intern for the History of Medicine Collections.

In the spirit of the season, and in preparation for Screamfest VI here at the Rubenstein, we’ve been combing through our collections for all things creepy and unsettling. The History of Medicine has plenty of these things to go around, from medical instruments and artifacts to anatomical flap books to scary stories submitted to Duke’s old parapsychology lab (which includes the original material for the movie Poltergeist!), and much more. Being so spoiled for choice, we thought it best to ease into the festivities with some small, humble, yet significant contributors to the history of medicine: insects.

One might expect something called The Minor Horrors of War to contain stories related to the horrors of battle, the horrors of field medicine, or something equally gruesome, but this little volume takes a different direction: it talks about the how different arthropods and annelids may cause and treat illnesses for soldiers in the field. It covers lice, bedbugs, flies, mites, moths, and, leeches.

Two page spread of book showing title page and frontispiece. The frontispiece is an enlarged illustration showing a fly.
Frontispiece and title page

 

The wonderful thing about this book is the author’s ability to break up the technical entomological information he provides with easy-to-understand and frequently witty prose. For example, in the flies section of the book there is a particularly gruesome section on the impact of the Congo-floor-maggot, blow-flies, and others responsible for myiasis (“the presence of… larvae in the living body… as well as the disorders… caused thereby.” pp. 81). He ends this section a kind of silver lining to the discussion and says that we have “at least discovered the reason why Beelzebub was called the ‘Lord of the Flies’” (86).

Left page shows an overhead view of a fly, the right page a side view of the fly

Throughout the book, as you can probably tell by the images so far, are figures depicting many of the creatures being discussed. Throughout, you can see all these different kinds of creatures in varying degrees of magnification depending on the needs of the author. As shown below with a couple pictures of mites, this magnification can range from birds-eye views of different phases of an insect’s development to an incredible zoom-in that can more clearly show the reader each individual extremity and wrinkly that may be found on the insect’s body.

Finally, onto leeching. Leeching is perhaps one of the most famous uses of invertebrates in medicine (you can read a little about why that is the case here), and leeches are the creature that this author spends the most time describing. Unfortunately, you won’t find many images of a leeching session in progress but, just like in the rest of the book, there are many illustrations on the fine details of the leech itself. Despite the author’s claim that leeches are “undoubtedly degenerate earth worms” (124), he spends a great deal of time describing both medicinal leeches and exotic leeches (pictured below).

If you have some time, particularly this month, we would highly recommend stopping by for a little while and taking a look at this book. You can find the catalog record here. It’s as easy as hitting the green request button on the page- just remember to give us a couple of days’ notice of your visit so we can be sure we have time to get it ready for you.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for news and announcements related to Screamfest VI. It’s on the 30th this year, so be sure to leave some room in your schedule to come take a break with us! If you have any questions, as always feel free to drop by or contact us any time.

Suggested readings:

The insect folk– a more pleasant depiction of various kinds of insects. Dating back to 1903, this book was created to appeal to children and depicts friendlier versions of friendlier insects, such as dragonflies and crickets.

A natural history of the most remarkable quadrupeds– Like the previous book, this is more of juvenile-friendly account of certain creatures. It extends beyond insects to cover other animals like birds, reptiles, and more.

A short discourse concerning pestilential contagion– this could be a drier bit of reading, but if you’re interested in how insects who spread disease such as the plague were dealt with in the public health sphere, this could be a book for you.

Why Do We Trust Doctors?

Post contributed by Laura Smith, a Doctoral Candidate, History Department at the University of Arkansas. She is a 2019-2020 History of Medicine Collections travel grant recipient. 

This question was the starting point for my dissertation research, and it has guided every research trip I have taken in my quest to understand how medical education functioned in the 1800s.  The answer?  It depends on the time period.  In the 19th century, this wasn’t a question easy to answer.  People didn’t always trust doctors, and they didn’t really start until medical schools began to provide enough clinical experience for their graduates to consistently produce better health outcomes for patients.  I came to Duke to better understand the evolution of clinical experience in medical schools of the 1800s.  These pictures trace that history.

Frederick Augustus Davisson went to Lexington, KY in the 1830s on his journey to becoming a physician.  He took classes at Transylvania medical school from its most notable professors, Drs. Caldwell and Dudley, men whose publications and work in their communities initially gave Transylvania a decent reputation as far as medical schools went in this era.  Davisson took good notes.  He recorded the books that were suggested for him to read, books popular at the time.

Page from Davisson's handwritten notebook. At the top he has written "Medical Books" and the rest of the page lists various titles.
Davisson’s entry of medical books recommended to him.

His notes also reflect that medical knowledge in the 1800s was experimental, controversial, and personal as his writings reflect the differing opinions of his professors.  “Dr. Dudley thinks his own plan better than any” for treating the retention of fluid in the genitals as it is “far more certain less painful and greatly more expeditious.”  Dudley used a knife to drain fluid as opposed to a needle, explaining the benefits of each to his students.

Two open pages of Davisson's notebook. Each page is filled with Davisson's handwritten cursive notes
Davisson’s notes describing Dr. Dudley’s approach to a procedure.

The idea that medical knowledge was not solidified but debated in this era hints that a major challenge to the authority of doctors was surprisingly the slander of other physicians and schools.  When Dr. James Conquest Cross, a professor at Transylvania, released a pamphlet on why Louisville, KY needed a medical school, many wondered how another school could be necessary when Lexington already had Transylvania so nearby.  In the pamphlet, Cross argued that Transylvania’s school offered no actual experience in hospitals, no dissections, and therefore practiced antiquated medicine.  Students improved with the advice of practicing physician-instructors, but nothing compared with the experience of practicing medicine themselves.  Questioning the merit of Transylvania, Cross asked, “Who has ever seen a human body opened before the medical class, for pathological purposes?  Which of her numerous alumni ever made, a pathological dissection under the eyes of one of her teachers?  Of that individual we confess, we are just as ignorant as we are of the inhabitants of the moon.”  Until Transylvania aligned with a teaching hospital like a school at Louisville would, it could not graduate credible physicians.  The Rubenstein Library’s collections show rebuttal from Transylvania, however.  The medical class of 1834 defended their professors, argued they had dissecting experience, and claimed Cross invented lies because of disappointment about being refused a higher position on the faculty.  If it’s difficult for us to know who to believe in this debate, it was even more difficult for the public watching this conflict unfold.

Large newspaper clipping from the March 6, 1834 edition of the Lexington Intelligencer.
Statement from the medical students at Transylvania University defending their professors.

In the end, Louisville did build a medical school.  Louisville Medical Institute wooed students with the promise of study in a working hospital, and Duke’s papers from Courtney J. Clark give a rare glimpse into what that early clinical experience looked like.  Clark traveled from Alabama to take courses at the Louisville Medical Institute in the same era that Davisson went to Kentucky, and while Clark had similar lecture experience from Kentucky physicians, he also had notes from real cases he studied that Davisson did not.  As Clark observed patients in the Louisville Marine Hospital, he learned from his practice, but his work and the work of the LMI faculty also benefitted the poor of the community who could receive low-cost medical care.  Clark recorded the prescriptions and health plans of other physicians while closely monitoring the success of patients.  When most medical history books praise the progressive teaching methods of Northern schools, these notes show that the medical schools of the US South made clear attempts to give experience while attempting to foster positive relationships with their communities.

Page of handwritten notes in a notebook.
Clark’s notes describing his examination of a patient.

This comparison between two Kentucky medical schools through the notebooks of students shed light on how division within the medical community hurt physician trust.  Rifts between schools like that between the cities of Lexington and Kentucky turned into ugly and public spectacles partly because for-profit schools competed so intensely for students and prestige.  Ironically, long-lasting feuds between schools presented the public with a feeling that doctors could not be trusted as they could not even come to agreement among themselves, and in this way, doctors in the 1800s eroded their own medical authority.

So why do we trust doctors now? We trust doctors because most of us have agreed to trust science and evidence-based conclusions.  We trust doctors when they time and again heal us.  But perhaps, we also trust doctors because they appear unified, a surprisingly recent development in medical history offering a cautionary tale useful in our own professional and public divisions.  Yes, even in 2019.

Tobacco Ephemera: The Effects of Public Health Education on Tobacco Advertising

Post contributed by Steph Crowell, Trent History of Medicine Intern.

In 2019, it can be difficult to imagine living in a world where people were allowed to smoke on airplanes, in restaurants, or even in hospitals. Duke itself is doing its part to participate in the history of tobacco regulation these days, declaring that on July 1, 2020, Duke will be one among many universities to finally be a smoke-free campus. If this is news to you, I’m happy to say that the folks at Duke Health have put together an FAQ (and a countdown to July 1).

Because this is such a significant event in Duke’s own history of medicine, we decided to take a look in the Rubenstein’s stacks to see exactly what we had on the subject of tobacco. Below is one of our findings: trading cards.

Yes, trading cards. This set of champion dog trading cards from Ardath Tobacco Company in Great Britain dates back to 1934 and contains twenty-five unique, award-winning dogs. Each card has a colored picture of the featured dog on the front, as well as text telling the avid collector the name of the dog, the breed, and the owners.

Scan showing six trading cards each illustrated with a different breed of dog
Champion Dogs, 1934, 1-5 (front), Terence Mitchell Collection of Tobacco-Related Ephemera, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

 

On the back are more detailed, informal anatomical diagrams of the dogs pointing out their trademark features. A favorite is No. 3, the cocker spaniel, whose eyes are described as “full, not prominent, bright and merry” (pictured below). Also included on the back are the card numbers and branding.

Reverse of trading cards show in the previous image, with a black and white outline of each dogs and text describing their features
Champion Dogs, 1934, 1-5 (back), Terence Mitchell Collection of Tobacco-Related Ephemera, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Champion Dogs, 1934, 1-5 (back), Terence Mitchell Collection of Tobacco-Related Ephemera, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

The collection that houses these cards is massive- it contains multiple sets of trading cards, collectible fabrics, pins, cartons and packs of cigarettes. If you’re curious about the specifics, check out the collection guide. It can be intimidating to look at given the volume of items listed, but Terence Mitchell, the collector, was conscious of this and organized everything by type and topic. As far as trading cards go, there are assorted animals, famous people, famous art pieces, pirates, pieces of architecture, and much more all from a variety of companies in the United States and Great Britain.

The cards served a functional purpose in both the packaging of cigarettes and their marketing. According to the Museum of Obsolete Media, packaging for cigarettes was a bit flimsy from the 19th to early 20th century so these cards were inserted to help it keep its shape. As time went on, however, and the cards began to diversify, people began to be drawn to them because they provided a unique way to see images from around the world that would have been impossible for the average person to afford to go see. It was exciting, enticing, and, most of all, cheap.

These days, because of regulations and public awareness of the negative health impact that tobacco products have on the human body, the age of tobacco trading cards has passed. Companies are forced to be clear about these dangers in their ads, on their packaging, anywhere they might be engaging the public. In a relatively short period of time, this has profoundly affected the way we view tobacco and evaluate the extent to which we will tolerate it in public spaces.

Less than a hundred years after these trading cards were printed, the FDA is still finding its legs in legislating what kinds of warnings should be included on tobacco products. Warnings have been mandatory for only a few years now (to check out all of the FDA’s requirements, check here) and are still in flux.

As these things continue to happen, it can be a comfort to be able to see for oneself exactly why these regulations and initiatives have to be put in place to begin with. This collection of ephemera is available for Researchers to view in the Rubenstein’s reading room. If you’re interested but not sure how that process works, here’s a link to our FAQ, or feel free to contact us to ask any questions you may have!

Curating the Self: The Dawn Langley Simmons Papers and Transgender History

Post contributed by Adrian Kane, doctoral candidate in History at the University of Washington

I travelled to the Rubenstein Library this winter, with generous support from the new Harry H. Harkins Jr. T’73 Research Grants, to conduct research for my dissertation “Narrating Sex: Transitional Bodies and ‘Expertise’ in the British Empire and Commonwealth, 1945-1970.” The Dawn Langley Simmons papers, a collection of correspondence and ephemera related to the English-born Charlestonian author, offer an unusually rich portrait of the life of a woman of transgender experience in the 1960s and 70s—one all the more valuable because Simmons played an active role in the archive’s construction.

Simmons, a prolific biographer in her own right, was keenly aware of the way textual evidence shapes memory. Her sequence of donations to Duke chronicle her 1968 transition and marriage to John-Paul Simmons—the first marriage between a white woman and Black man in South Carolina, she claimed—as well as her struggles with racist violence, housing instability and single-income working motherhood. Many of the documents bear Simmons’s marginal comments in colorful ink, explaining in-jokes or clarifying her relationship to the correspondent. Her 1975 diary, for example, closes with a list of “Points of Int.” written on the inside flyleaf, while the bland, newsy letters from her sister Fay assume a different tone in light of Simmons’s comment that Fay and her right-wing “Powellite” family refused to see her in person after her wedding.

Front endpapers of Dawn Langley Simmon's diary, showing handwritten notes by her on both sides
Front endpapers of Dawn Langley Simmons’s diary

What is largely absent from either the letters or the marginalia, however, is the suggestion that transition was a central part of her identity or a primary source of adversity in her life. Of all the letters she chose to donate only one expresses disapproval of her transition, and her friends in the United States and England alike seem to have readily adopted her new name and pronouns. This may, of course, reflect curation on her part. But even if there are deliberate gaps in the archival record, it is significant that Simmons chose to preserve vacation postcards and programs from her daughter’s Christmas pageants rather than accounts of her changing body or any hostility she endured because of it. Even today, after all, trans people are expected to recount feelings of gender-based misery in order to access basic healthcare and legal support, and, as an historian, I had assumed that the pressure to reproduce the “correct” narrative would have been still greater in the early days of the Johns Hopkins gender identity clinic. Yet Simmons seems to have taken active steps to ensure that no future biographer could reduce her life to a simplistic tale of suffering and its surgical redemption. She was a writer, a mother, a lover of antiques and old houses, a bon vivant, a restless soul with one foot planted on either side of the Atlantic—all of these aspects of her identity come to the fore in the Dawn Langley Simmons papers, and serve as a reminder that published or institutional records of transition cannot fully represent the way mid-twentieth century trans people understood themselves.