Category Archives: Bingham Center

Remembering Susan Hill

With great sadness, the RBMSCL would like to recognize the passing of Susan Hill, who died Saturday, 30 January, 2010, from breast cancer. Hill gained national prominence as a champion for women’s rights. She was president of the National Women’s Health Organization, a group of abortion clinics in the eastern U.S.

In 2003, Hill donated her papers and the records of the NWHO to the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture (collection guide here).

“We are honored to preserve the papers of Susan Hill. Our thoughts are with her many friends and family members at this difficult time,” said Laura Micham, Director of the Bingham Center.

Her obituary was published in Raleigh’s News and Observer.

Behind the Scenes: Intern Angela DiVeglia

Most people associate Victorian women with high tea and corsets, not with struggles for justice and equality. However, Angela DiVeglia, graduate intern at the Sallie Bingham Center and co-curator of “I Take Up My Pen: 19th Century British Women Writers,” spends much of her days examining the relationships between current feminist thought and the work done by early feminists in the United States and Great Britain.

Angela DiVeglia gives this Frances Power Cobbe pamphlet a thumbs-up.

Several of the items in the library’s current exhibit, such as the pamphlet above (Our Policy: An Address to Women Concerning the Suffrage by Frances Power Cobbe), were produced by strong and outspoken feminists who wrote and lectured widely during a time when women were still expected to remain within the domestic sphere.

DiVeglia writes, “It’s really inspiring and grounding to work with these kinds of materials; it’s easy to think of our own struggles outside of their historical contexts, to feel like we’re the only people fighting these particular fights. Seeing pamphlets and books produced by people like Frances Cobbe and Annie Wood Besant—women who were often ostracized for their work, and who occupy marginal places in history—reminds us that we’re actually part of a huge, rich legacy of people who want to create a better world.”

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the exhibit yet, it will be on display in the Perkins Library Gallery until February 21!

“I Take Up My Pen: 19th Century British Women Writers”

Date: 15 December 2009-21 February 2010
Location and Time: Perkins Library Gallery during library hours
Contact Information: Meg Brown, meg.brown(at)

An Amusing Story by T. Conti
“An Amusing Story” by T. Conti. From the Illustrated London News, 1 April, 1893

Tumultuous, changeable 19th century Britain was the era of the professional woman writer. Amid emerging controversies over women’s suffrage and a woman’s rights over her property, her children, and her own body, women demanded a place alongside men in the world of letters to contribute to cultural discourse, to make their opinions heard, and to tell their own stories.

“I Take Up My Pen: 19th Century British Women Writers” focuses on women’s use of writing as a powerful tool to alter their positions within a social order that traditionally confined them to the home. The women represented here—including Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the Brontë sisters—are lecturers, suffragists, publishers, world travelers, professional writers, poets, journalists, and labor reformers. The exhibit also highlights the fascinating array of literary publications available to 19th century readers and writers: everything from periodicals and the penny press to three-volume bound editions, gift books, pamphlets, letters, and diaries.

Curator Angela DiVeglia arranges exhibit materials
Curator Angela DiVeglia arranges exhibit materials

An online guide to the exhibit offers links to the digitized full-text versions of many rare 19th century works in the RBMSCL’s collections.

“I Take Up My Pen: 19th Century British Women Writers” is presented by the Duke University Libraries and curated by Sara Seten Berghausen, Angela DiVeglia, Anna Gibson, and William Hansen with co-sponsorship from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

For more pictures of the curators installing this exhibit, visit the Duke University Libraries on Flickr!

A Holiday Recipe from Us to You

This season, as you begin to plan your holiday parties, the RBMSCL would like to offer this gem of a recipe, from 1929’s Electric Refrigerator Menus and Recipes.

Frozen Cheese

1/4 lb. American cheese
1 small cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
6 maraschino cherries
6 green mint cherries
1/2 pint cream

Grate the American cheese. Add cream cheese, and mayonnaise dressing and beat thoroughly. Fold in 6 maraschino cherries and 6 green mint cherries, chopped fine, and 1/2 pint cream, beaten stiff. Freeze until set. Remove to serving dish and sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped nuts or paprika. Serve with salad course.

To those of you brave enough to make this, please send us photos. Yum?

Zine Mania, Round One: Cristy Road

Date: Monday, 16 November, 2009
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Duke Women’s Center Lower Lounge
Contact Information: Kelly Wooten, 919-660-5967 or kelly.wooten(at)

Cristy RoadYou know those issues of Greenzine you have stacked on your bookshelf? Now you’ll finally have your chance to meet writer and illustrator Cristy Road as she visits Duke’s Women’s Center for a reading and discussion.

Road, a Cuban-American from Miami, Florida, has been illustrating ideas, people, and places ever since she learned how to hold a crayon. Blending the inevitable existence of social principles, cultural identity, sexual identity, mental inadequacies, and dirty thoughts, she testifies to the beauty of the imperfect. Today, Road has moved from zines to illustrated novels, although her visual diagram of lifestyles and beliefs remain in tune with the zine’s portrayal of living honestly and unconventionally.

Stop by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture during reading room hours to see issue #14 of Greenzine, one of some 4000 zines (and counting!) preserved in the center’s zine collection.

(Artwork courtesy of Cristy Road: “Hope Beyond Despair” from Greenzine 14, 2004)

Zine Mania, Round Two: Zine Making Workshop

Date: Thursday, 19 November, 2009
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Duke Women’s Center Lower Lounge
Contact Information: Kelly Wooten, 919-660-5967 or kelly.wooten(at)

Bring your inner riot grrrl to Duke’s Women’s Center and get ready to cut and paste with the staff of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. You’ll learn all about the Bingham Center’s massive zine collection, as well as how to make your very own zine.

“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)

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