Category Archives: Bingham Center

“A Girl on Foot-Ball,” 1893

Also in honor of this Saturday’s football game against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we bring you this poem from the November 1893 issue of the Trinity Archive.

A Girl on Foot-Ball

A girl is not allowed to play foot-ball
And to revel in the delights of a game.
It is only for boys, large, strong and tall
To win for themselves glory and fame.

And when the Trinity foot-ball team in honor roll
They proudly exclaim, “The girls aren’t in it here,”
But if they could see the “NORMAL” girls climb a ten-foot pole
They’d conclude that they were up it there.

At Trinity the boys all think they know
The reason the girls can’t play;
Just let them look in the “gym.” room door
And I guess they’ll believe what we say.

They say that we’re afraid to play
Because we can’t kick the ball aright
But I tell you don’t believe a word they say
For, if we chose, we could kick it out of sight.

But though we do not choose to play,
We can shout and wear the blue
And be able from the depths of our hearts to say
To Trinity we’ll always be loyal and true.

Three cheers for the boys who beat the “N. C. U!”
Long may they be champions of the State
And a girl that wears the Trinity blue
May they finally choose for their mate.

We wonder what the author of this poem—it’s signed “Anon.”—would have thought of 1935’s Pink Pants by Ralph Y. Hopton. This novel tells the story of Brünnehilde “Pussy” Downing, the Amazonian star of Bowlby University’s football team. Wearing pink sateen pants, she single-handedly decimates Harvard’s team, finishing her pummeling of each linebacker with her trademark cry, “I think you’re me-ee-an!”

(N.B.: Established in 1887, The Archive is one of the oldest continuously published literary magazines in the United States and the oldest student publication at Duke.)

An Artist Responds to Hurricane Katrina

The artistic response to societal tragedy is always a difficult balance: how can art contribute to understanding and interpreting, without aestheticizing suffering? In the past decade, films, novels, and other creative approaches to events such as the Holocaust, 9/11, and the conflict in Darfur have provoked controversy and debate about art’s place in the discussion of international politics and personal suffering.

Shortly after the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s 2005 landing on the Gulf Coast, the RBMSCL acquired a unique artist’s book, Katrina by Beth Thielen, made in 2007. An opening supported by waves of paper reveals tiny human figures trapped in a whirlpool, begging for help. The text asks, “How do we make a just society when there is an underlying contempt for helplessness?”


In correspondence with this post’s author, the artist explained: “I made the work because the moment was such a clear and rare reveal of the darker undercurrents of our country…. During Katrina we all watched the images of people with outstretched arms pleading towards the sky. Is there any image more archetypal of helplessness? It is a crying baby’s pose. Reproachful disdain to helplessness… is as primitive as a school yard bully calling someone a crybaby after taking their candy.” She continues, “To feel with is to feel for. A civilized response.”

Thielen’s work joins another artist’s book in the RBMSCL’s collections, Habitat by Jessica Peterson, which explores Katrina’s destruction of Biloxi, Mississippi. Both works add to our collections of Southern Americana and artists’ books by women. Nearly 300 more works of fiction, films, essays, and scholarly works on Hurricane Katrina can also be found in the Duke Libraries’ online catalog (see these catalog records here).

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections

Now Accepting Travel Grant Applications

The RBMSCL is now accepting applications for our 2010-2011 travel grants. 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 will award up to $1,000 per recipient to fund travel and other expenses related to visiting the RBMSCL to use their collections. The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars living outside a 50-mile radius from Durham, NC.

More details—and the grant application—may be found here. Applications must be postmarked no later than January 29, 2010. Recipients will be announced in March 2010.

What Does It Mean to Be an Educated Woman?

Date: Friday-Saturday, 30-31 October, 2009
Time and Location: please see schedule
Contact Information: cwhc(at)duke.edu

What does it mean to be an educated woman? Find out at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture’s 4th Biennial Symposium, held in honor of the 40-year career of Bingham Center co-founder and Duke University professor Jean Fox O’Barr.

Three conversational sessions focused on scholarship, pedagogy, and activism will explore this central question. Speakers will include Dr. O’Barr’s colleagues and former students, as well as librarians whose work relates to women’s education.

Friday evening’s keynote address (4:00 PM; White Lecture Hall, Duke University East Campus) will be given by Dr. Lisa Yun Lee, the Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago and the creator of the Jean Fox O’Barr Professorship at Duke University. Dr. Lee will explore the parallels between her studies as a feminist scholar at Duke and her work as the museum’s director.

As with the Bingham Center’s previous symposia, the theme emanates from a collection strength. The center’s holdings—described in this research guide—include printed materials and manuscripts including the papers of professional educators, schoolgirl diaries, and records of women’s schools and women’s educational organizations.

Information on registration, travel, and the symposium schedule can all be found online.

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, Bingham Center Intern and Conservation Technician