All posts by Kate Collins

Time to Travel!

Trying to find a way to visit the Rubenstein Library to use our collections? You’re in luck! The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2014-2015 travel grants.

The reference room for the General Library, now known as the Gothic Reading Room.
Want to be as cool as these gentlemen? Apply for a travel grant and come visit us!

This year are pleased to add another collecting area to our list of travel grant programs. The History of Medicine Collections joins the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, and the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in offering travel grants of up to $1,000 for researchers whose work would benefit from access to our holdings.

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

The deadline for applications is January 31, 2014. Announcement of grant recipients will be no later than March 28, 2014. Travel grants must be used between April 2014 and June 2015.

Another change this year – our application process is now online. You can find more details including the online application on our travel grant website.

Honickman First Book Prize in Photography Reception and Artist’s Talk

gaskinDate: November 7, 2013
Time: 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Location: Center for Documentary Studies, 1317 W. Pettigrew Street, Durham, NC 27705
Contact: Kirston Johnson,

Please join us on November 7 at 5:30pm for an artist’s talk and reception for the book and exhibit Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene photographs by Gerard Gaskin.  The event will take place at the Center for Documentary Studies and is co-sponsored by the Archive of Documentary Arts.

Gerard H. Gaskin is the winner of the 2012 Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. Renowned curator and photographer Deborah Willis chose Gaskin’s longtime project for the prestigious biennial prize: color and black-and-white photographs that document the world of house balls, underground pageants where gay and transgender men and women, mostly African American and Latino, celebrate their most vibrant, spectacular selves as they “walk,” competing for trophies based on costume, attitude, dance moves, and “realness.”

The exhibition, in the Juanita Kreps Gallery at the Center for Documentary Studies, is on view from November 4, 2013, through Februrary 22, 2014.  The photographs will then be placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts in Duke University’s Rubenstein Library.

Gaskin’s book, Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene, published in Fall 2013 by Duke University Press in association with CDS Books of the Center for Documentary Studies, will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

For more information about the prize and to see images from Legendary:

Learn more about the Archive of Documentary Arts.

Reading by Jonathan Katz, 2013 WOLA-Duke Human Rights Book Award Winner

the-big-truck-that-went-by-how-the-world-came-to-save-haiti-and-left-behind-a-disasterDate: November 6, 2013
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: FHI Garage at the Smith Warehouse, Bay 4
Contact: Patrick Stawski, 919-660-5823 or

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Duke University have named Jonathan Katz’s book The Big Truck that Went by: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) as the winner of the 2013 WOLA-Duke Human Rights Book Award.

On November 6 at 5:00pm, Katz will be in Durham, North Carolina to do a reading of his book at the FHI Garage at the Smith Warehouse, Bay 4. An award presentation is planned for March 2014 in Washington, DC.

Katz, who currently lives in Durham, NC,  was a correspondent for the Associated Press on January 12, 2010, when the deadliest earthquake ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere struck the island nation of Haiti. The Big Truck that Went By recounts Katz personal experience when the earthquake hit, and—drawing on his groundbreaking reporting during the period that followed—traces the relief response that poured from the international community and where those efforts went tremendously wrong.

Award judge Roger Atwood states that “Katz’s book brings together everything a winner of this award should have: brave and groundbreaking research, lucid writing, freshness in both form and content, and (best of all) genuine policy applications.”

Describing the book, Dr. Kathryn Sikkink—a member of the 2013 judging panel and winner of the 2011 WOLA-Duke Human Rights Book Award—says that “Katz has written a gripping, well-written book, full of moving stories of the people of Haiti and the tragedies and triumphs of their life during the adversity of the earthquake and the cholera epidemic, and vivid cameos of the very mixed bag of foreigners who seemed compelled to try to make things better there.”

According to Leonor Blum, the chair of this year’s award judging panel and emerita professor of history and political science at Notre Dame of Maryland University, explains that “[Katz’s] easy style, his dramatic presentation of  Haiti’s devastating earthquake, his deep understanding of Haiti and its problems, his willingness to criticize Haiti’s governments as well as the international governmental and non-governmental community, all make The Big Truck that Went By worthy of the WOLA/Duke prize.”

According to judge Holly Ackerman, Librarian for Latin America and Iberia at Duke University Libraries, “The book is a crucial case study of what is wrong with current NGO process and international donor councils. It offers lessons on what is happening with aid/investment but, most important, it unplugs myths for the general public who sent their dollars to the Red Cross and similar organizations at the time of the quake and naturally ask, “Why is Haiti not progressing despite so much aid?”

The judges also listed an honorable mention for Kimberly Theidon’s Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru.

About the Award:

Started in 2008, the WOLA-Duke Human Rights Book Award is a joint venture of Duke University and WOLA, a leading advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. The award honors the best current, non-fiction book published in English on human rights, democracy, and social justice in contemporary Latin America. The books are evaluated by a panel of expert judges drawn from academia, journalism, and public policy circles. The 2013 judging panel included:

Holly Ackerman, Librarian for Latin America and Iberia, Duke University
Roger Atwood, Journalist, Author, and Former Communications Director, WOLA
Leonor Blum, WOLA Board Member and Emerita Associate Professor, History and Political Science, Notre Dame of Maryland University
Robin Kirk, Faculty Co-Chair, Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University
Kathryn Sikkink, Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota

Previous WOLA-Duke Human Rights Book Award recipients include: Hector Abad for Oblivion: A Memoir in 2012; Katherine Sikkink for The Justice Cascade in 2011; Victoria Bruce and Karin Hayes, with Jorge Enrique Botero for Hostage Nation in 2010; Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz for The Dictator’s Shadow: Life Under Augusto Pinochet in 2009; and Francisco Goldman for The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? in 2008.


Kelly McLaughlin, WOLA

Patrick Stawski, Duke University Libraries

The African Americans: Rubenstein Recap

Last Tuesday, PBS premiered the first episode of the six-part series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. Written and narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the documentary traces African American history from the shores of West Africa to the election of Barack Obama. Join us as we feature documents from our Rubenstein Library that resonate with the previous week’s episode.

Episode 1: The Black Atlantic (1500 – 1800) began with the complicated routes of the transatlantic slave trade connecting ports across three continents from Africa to the West Indies, London to South Carolina. The dehumanizing conditions of the Middle Passage and the capital made from human bondage were just some of the factors that made the institution of slavery in the western world so different from any other in world history.

A list of slave ships from the 1790s, detailing the number of slaves that died in route to the western world. (l to r, name of Ship, number of slaves dead, special cause of death):

 William Smith papers, 1785-1860., Box 3, Miscellaneous Papers, Printed Material “Pilgrim - 18 slaves died”
William Smith papers, 1785-1860., Box 3, Miscellaneous Papers, Printed Material “Pilgrim – 18 slaves died”


Arguments for the continuation of the African slave trade:

Resolutions West Indies Planters & Merchants, 1789 of why slave trade should be continued (arguments for property rights, capital reasons, European “constitutions” not be adapted to clearing agricultural land), William Smith Papers, Box 3, Folder (Printed Material, 1788 - 1822)
Resolutions West Indies Planters & Merchants, 1789 of why slave trade should be continued (arguments for property rights, capital reasons, European “constitutions” not be adapted to clearing agricultural land), William Smith Papers, Box 3, Folder (Printed Material, 1788 – 1822)


Episode 1 concluded by contextualizing the importance of the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions. The rhetoric of liberty and freedom at the heart of these movement ignited the entire Atlantic world in the late 18th century, especially the lives of enslaved African Americans, slaves wanted some of that freedom for themselves. This letter from the Edward Telfair papers details an incident where Telfair accuses a white man from British Antigua of “enticing” his slaves away with promises of freedom. Telfair fails to understand that the 3 slaves had reasons enough of their own, especially with liberty in the air.

Edward Telfair Papers
Edward Telfair Papers, Box 2, Folder 1780 – 1783, Letter on Aug. 13, 1782 from N. Brownson & E. Walton: “Mr. Telfair then said that some persons had been seducing from his service, not only those three negroes, but a number of others, enticing them on board the flag vessel, by promises of freedom in Antigua. Mr. Jarvais denied his having any thing to do in it, and that he did not believe the officers or crew of the vessel had; and proposed going down to examine them: but Mr. Telfair observing that if they had villainy enough to commit an act of that kind, they would be at least handy enough to deny it.[…] [Mr. Telfair] forbade Mr. Jarvis from meddling with or harbouring his negroes, and told him if he lost any of them by those means, he would look to him for indemnification. Mr. Jarvis said, ‘to be sure.’

Post contributed by Karlyn Forner, John Hope Franklin Research Center Graduate Student Intern and John Gartrell, John Hope Franklin Research Center Director

New Look for our Homepage

[Update, October 15: Our new website (slated for launch yesterday) isn’t quite ready, but is coming soon.]

As you may have heard and will certainly notice, the Rubenstein Library’s website is getting a new look!  As part of a library-wide website redesign, a new version of Rubenstein Library’s homepage will be launching today.

New Rubenstein Library Homepage


What’s changed?

  • Updates to the tabbed search box on our homepage:
  • Catalog: Search our catalog for both archival collections and print materials
  • Collection Guides: Formerly known as Finding Aids, but you’re still able to search our 2,000+ collection guides which provide provide in-depth descriptions of our archival collections
  • Digitized Collections: Now you can search our digitized collections right from our homepage
  • New location for logging in to your special collections request account and for getting in touch with one of our librarians, both in the upper-right hand corner of our homepage:log in and ask

  • You’ll also find that content throughout our website has been updated to be more current and easier to read.
  • Getting to our homepage from the Duke University Libraries’ main homepage is a little different now too.  Look for us in the header under the “Libraries” dropdown menu:

Main Library Homepage


What hasn’t changed?

  • Requesting Materials.  We’re still using the same online request system that we implemented a year ago that lets you place requests online to use material in our reading room.  Though we do have improved directions for registering as a researcher and requesting material on our new site.

Meet our Interns

Every fall the Rubenstein Library welcomes a new group of graduate student interns from Duke and other area universities.  Maybe I just have a soft spot for our interns since I was once one, but I think anyone at the Rubenstein would tell you that our interns are an integral part of the work we do, helping us with processing collections, creating finding aids, answering reference questions, coordinating events, and much more. I’d like to introduce you to some of the interns who are working with the Research Services department this year:

Dominique Dery, Research Services Intern

What she’s studying: I’m currently a PhD student studying Political Theory and Religion and Politics in the Political Science department at Duke. My dissertation links historical accounts of civic friendship with contemporary theoretical and ethnographic work on civic engagement and community service.
What’s she’s been working on at the Rubenstein Library: As the Research Services intern, I serve patrons at the front desk of the Rubenstein, and I also respond to queries from researchers who can’t make it in to the library themselves. So far I’ve searched through and ordered reproductions of letters, sheet music, and pamphlets.
What she likes to do when she’s not with us: When I’m not writing or at the Rubenstein, I love to help out at a friend’s farm in Rougemont and hike along the Eno.
Most interesting thing she’s come across in our collections:  The most interesting thing I’ve come across so far has been the correspondence between Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams while on the hunt for mention of another writer in McCullers’ papers; I love McCullers’ fiction and it was fascinating to get to see some of her letters to her dear friend Tennessee (also known as ’10’ in some of the letters).

Williams to McCullers Letter
Letter from Tennessee Williams to Carson McCullers


Danielle Lupton, Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History Intern

What she’s studying: I am a sixth year graduate student in Political Science at Duke University. I focus on international relations, and my work looks at how leaders interact during international crises.
What’s she’s been working on at the Rubenstein Library: In doing research for patrons, I have come across some really neat old advertisements, including some fascinating ads from the turn of the century. I am also doing research for the Hartman Center on Pan American Airlines. Both my parents are pilots, and my father flew for Delta Airlines, who bought out Pan Am. I really feel a connection to the material.
What she likes to do when she’s not with us: In my free time, I am an avid tennis player.
Most interesting thing she’s come across in our collections: I came across this beautiful advertisement from 1896 for Liberty Bicycles on the back of a Kodak ad I was searching for. I think as a political scientist the tag line really resonates with me, and the artwork is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau in advertising.

pan am
1987 Pan Am Billboard


Mary Mellon, University Archives William King Intern

What she’s studying: I’m a library and information science student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
What’s she’s working on at the Rubenstein Library: Various projects for the University Archives, including the Chapel sermon recordings digitization project (some of the recordings are being used in the Great Black Preachers of Duke Chapel series on iTunes U), and creating information pages about members of the Duke family.
What she likes to do when she’s not with us: Outside of work and school, I love knitting, baking, and Duke basketball!
Most interesting thing she’s come across in our collections: A 1958 Duke Law School banquet program signed by “Dick Nixon.”

Richard Nixon Signature
Signature of Dick Nixon, Sometime President of the Duke Bar Association


Claire Radcliffe, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture Public Services Intern

What she’s studying: I’m working on a dual masters degree; I just finished my MA in Public History at NC State, and I’m working on my MSLS from Chapel Hill.
What she’s working on at the Rubenstein Library: I’ve been working on a range of things: migrating the website to Drupal, migrating subject guides to LibGuides (and revamping some of them), assisting with remote reference and reproduction, assisting with preparation for classes, helping out with 25th anniversary events, and processing zines.
What she likes to do when she’s not with us: Outside of school and work, I’m interested in photography, old movies, traveling, baking, dance fitness classes, and used bookshops. Although there is distressingly little time outside of school and work.
Most interesting thing she’s come across in our collections: Two of the most interesting things I’ve come across were the pink corset book  and a picture of Kathy Acker with the Spice Girls.

Kathy Acker and Spice Girls
Kathy Acker, third from left, with the Spice Girls

Video Killed the Research Woes

With the Fall Semester well underway, we wanted to let you know about a couple of videos that can make your research at the Rubenstein Library even easier.  For example, not sure where to find us since we moved?

Know that you know where we are and you want to come do research, check out our other videos:

Author Waldo E. Martin Jr. to speak on the Black Panther Party

Bloom&Martin_compREV.inddDate: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Time: 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Location: Rubenstein Library, Perkins 318 (PDF Map)
Contact: John Gartrell,

Black Against Empire: the History and Politics of the Black Panther Party traces the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party against the backdrop global revolution. Co-authors Waldo E. Martin Jr. and Joshua Bloom argue that the Black Panther Party rejected fighting for full citizenship within the U.S. and instead, joined the global struggle against U.S. imperialism. In this comprehensive overview, the authors examine why so many young black people across the country risked their lives for the revolution, why the Party grew most rapidly during the height of repression, and why allies abandoned the Party at its peak of influence.

Dr. Waldo E. Martin Jr., joins us to discuss and sign copies of his new book, Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, co-authored with Joshua Bloom.  




Catherine Nicholson

Sinister Wisdom
Sinister Wisdom, the journal Nicholson co-founded

With great admiration, the Rubenstein Library pays tribute to Catherine Nicholson (1922-2013), theater director/producer, and pioneering co-founder and editor of Sinister Wisdom, who died June 16, 2013. Nicholson’s papers, which are held by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, document her life as a scholar and activist. Beth Hodges, former contributing editor, honored Nicholson with an obituary to be published in the fall issue of Sinister Wisdom. Hodges writes, “Friends remember Catherine as a dedicated lesbian feminist cultural worker, gifted writer, thinker, teacher, conversationalist, and a steadfast friend. Catherine possessed exceptional abilities, vision, and creativity and was also unusually motivated and self-disciplined. She chose to do her best in whatever she undertook, be it acting; directing; editing and publishing a women’s journal; [and] teaching theater and producing the world-premiere of a Monique Wittig play.”

With her partner, Harriet Ellenberger, Nicholson founded Sinister Wisdom, subtitled “A Journal of Words and Pictures for the Lesbian Imagination in All Women.” Hodges writes, “Sinister Wisdom became Catherine and Harriet’s life, took over their house, determined they would drive a truck rather than a sports car, even decided where the couple would live. The job of ‘creating a women’s community on paper,’ as one woman put it, was all-consuming.” Michelle Cliff and Adrienne Rich were the next editors to take the helm of Sinister Wisdom, which continues to be published today under the editorship of Julie Enszer.

Several students from the Duke Women’s Studies Senior Seminar class “Feminist Theory: Durham 1960-1990,” taught by Professor Kathy Rudy during spring, 2013 used this collection in their research on Durham’s activist community of the 1960s-70s. One of those students, Chantel Liggett, received the Middlesworth Award for her paper “Divergent Priorities, Diverging Visions: Lesbian Separatist versus Gay Male Integrationist Ideology Surrounding Duke in the 1970s and 80s.”

Post contributed by Kelly Wooten, Research Services and Collection Development Librarian, Sallie Bingham Center

Vesalius and Football

As Curator for the History of Medicine Collections, I never thought I’d type the words “Vesalius and Football” together. But last week I had the opportunity to showcase De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543), Andreas Vesalius’s landmark atlas of the human body, in a Sports Illustrated photo shoot featuring Duke football player Kenny Anunike. I wonder how many of my colleagues working in historical medical collections have had collection material featured in SI?!?

Behind the scenes during the SI photoshoot
Behind the scenes during the SI photoshoot

Kenny, a senior biological anthropology and anatomy major and Duke defensive end, will be featured in the upcoming college football preview issue of SI in a story highlighting academically-renowned universities that experienced a resurgence in football last year, such as Duke, Stanford, and Northwestern.

As I pulled out our eighteenth-century dissection kit, Kenny talked about some of the dissections on human legs he performed in class. While the photoshoot entailed books rather than instruments, the illustrations in these phenomenal texts detail dissection and other aspects of anatomy quite vividly. The book that Kenny is holding was actually published in 2005, reprints from the original work of J.M. Bourgery’s Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery. The History of Medicine retains the nineteenth-century work by Bourgery that contains these highly detailed, stunning, and graphic illustrations. And for those of you unfamiliar with Vesalius’s work, I recommend the National Library of Medicine’s Turning the Pages site, in which they have digitized portions of De Humani Corporis Fabrica. We are so fortunate to retain this amazing book from the sixteenth century in our Collections.

Kenny with the Athletic Department's skeleton
Kenny with the Athletic Department’s skeleton

And the skeleton? Unfortunately not part of the History of Medicine Collections. It belongs to the Athletics Department and is used in their health and fitness training of student athletes. But we like to think of it as a symbol of Kenny’s “bonified” academic and athletic success.

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, History of Medicine Curator