Category Archives: Digital Collections


Card Game Photo from Charles Bagley Scrapbook

It’s been a long and fun year. We’re counting down to LDOC with Duke University Archives photos of Duke students having a good time!

The photo above comes from Trinity College student Charles Bagley’s scrapbook, which documents school life from 1907 to 1913. You’ll find a digitized version of the scrapbook on the Duke University Archives’ Flickr photostream.

(Thanks to University Archives student assistant Crystal Reinhardt for helping with photo selection!)

Human Rights Records, Electronically

I’m a history Ph.D. candidate, so I knew something about working in archives when I started my internship with Technical Services at Duke’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library (RBMSCL), but not a lot about processing paper records, never mind electronic ones. However, as I started processing several collections acquired through the Archive for Human Rights, I discovered that electronic files were often just as important to the collection as paper ones. When I started working on the Common Sense Foundation Papers, I faced over 16,000 electronic files in addition to 34 boxes of paper records! A North Carolina think-tank active from 1994 to 2008, the Common Sense Foundation (CSF) worked on initiatives such as the death penalty, testing in public schools, and LGBTQ rights.

When I met with Paula Jeannet Mangiafico (Senior Processing Archivist), Seth Shaw (Electronic Records Archivist), and Patrick Stawski (Human Rights Archivist) to discuss the collection, we decided to integrate the electronic and paper files in the finding aid since the content overlapped and the volume was about equal. A researcher interested in the death penalty will thus find both electronic and paper records described in the Criminal Justice Subseries, which contains letters written by incarcerated people, a survey of capital defense lawyers, research on specific death-row inmates, and documents reflecting the daily work that occurred in CSF’s office surrounding this policy initiative.

Just as when working with paper documents, I screened the electronic files for sensitive information, such as personal, financial, and medical records. I then used the original path of the networked drive to describe the electronic files in the finding aid and used both the number of files and the megabyte size to indicate the physical extent. That way, researchers interested in a particular aspect of CSF’s work will know which electronic folders to request from RBMSCL staff, just as they would request a physical box by its number.

The RBMSCL has acquired almost 200 collections with electronic records in the past few years. Hopefully, my work with the CSF Papers will serve as model for processing future collections with strong electronic components.

Post contributed by Liz Shesko, Technical Services Processing Intern.

The Common Sense Foundation Papers are currently being processed. The finding aid will be published and the collection will be available for use in January 2011. For more information, contact the RBMSCL at special-collections(at)

New and Improved AdViews!

Just in time for the premiere of the fourth season of Mad Men, the last batch of 3,200 newly digitized D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B) commercials has been uploaded to AdViews!

More commercials than ever! Now there are almost 8,800 commercials in AdViews.

Essential new products! New ads for Oreo, Continental Airlines, Raisin Bran, Mattel, Fresca, Pop Rocks, Legos, Clearasil, Volkswagen, Budweiser, Hardee’s and so much more!

Act now and see expert interviews! Professors Jason Chambers of the University of Illinois and Peggy Kreshel of the University of Georgia give context to advertising targeted towards African Americans and women.

But wait, there’s more! Highlighted content includes a 20-minute film about the creation of a 1970s Post Grape Nuts commercial featuring Euell Gibbons.

After you’ve checked out AdViews, stop back here and let us know your favorite commercials!

Commercials in the Classroom

How have TV commercials changed over time? The answer to part of that question is found in this video about AdViews. Five Duke undergraduates discuss their small group project using commercials found in AdViews as primary sources for a fall 2009 Markets & Management Studies class taught by George Grody.

Using AdViews, the students compared a number of historic 1960s and 1970s commercials with corresponding ones from today. The students analyzed commercials for Hardees, Schick, Bounce, Pledge, and perfume, finding both interesting similarities and drastic contrasts that reflect the branding strategies of each time period.

AdViews, a digital archive of over 8,000 vintage television commercials dating from the 1950s to the 1980s, is one of the newest resources available from the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.

The Hartman Center collects and provides access to commercials, print ads, books, and other documents chronicling the advertising and marketing of products from the mid 19th century to the present. Our staff also provides targeted presentations to a wide range of classes each semester, helping to integrate primary source material into subjects ranging from Anthropology to History to Visual Studies, and most anything in between. Students are able to discover not only how TV commercials have changed, but how advertising tracks the evolution of not only the ad industry but also of society itself.

If you are interested in learning more about AdViews, classroom presentations, or research assistance, please contact the Hartman Center Reference Archivist at hartman-center(at) or 919-660-5827.

Post contributed by Lynn Eaton, Hartman Center Reference Archivist.

Your Bloomers Are Showing

Cover of "The Bloomer's Complaint," 1851.

According to an informal and completely unscientific survey, five out of the eight women who work in the RBMSCL’s reading room are wearing pants today. This might not be the case were it not for the efforts of Amelia Bloomer, early feminist and fashion pioneer, who celebrates her 192nd birthday today.

To honor Amelia, we quote from a 6 August 1851 letter from University of North Carolina chemistry professor Benjamin Sherwood Hedrick to his future wife, Mary Ellen Thompson (from our Benjamin Sherwood Hedrick Papers).

Remarking on current cultural matters from his position at the Nautical Almanac in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he writes:

There is something said every day or two about ‘Bloomers.’ I have seen several of them and like them. The young ladies have changed the fashion of putting up their hair, combing it up and back, something like what is vulgarly called a ‘cow-lick.’ I do not like it.

Professor Hedrick’s progressive opinion on the bloomer suit was not widely shared. Witness the chorus of “The Bloomer’s Complaint,” a charming song also from 1851:

I’ll come out next week, with a wide Bloomer flat
Of a shape that I fancy will fright them,
I had not intended to go quite to that,
But I’ll do it now, only to spite them—
With my pants “a la Turque,”
And my skirts two feet long
All fitting of course, most completely
These grumblers shall own after all, they are wrong,
And that I, in a Bloomer, look sweetly,
And that I, in a Bloomer, look sweetly.

Thanks to Mitch Fraas, RBMSCL Research Services intern, for suggesting this post.

RBMSCL Photos: The Scribe is Here!

Above, Abigail, who is on loan to us from the Internet Archive, begins our Scribe scanning project. Over the next few months, we’ll be digitizing our collections of Utopian Literature and Confederate imprints—and so much more! Remember to visit The Devil’s Tale often for more news about the Scribe.

And have a look at Beth Doyle’s post about the Scribe installation over at Preservation Underground. We’re glad they finally got the Scribe through the doorway.

Photo by Mark Zupan.

Remembering the Woman’s College

Alice Mary Baldwin’s 95-page memoir, “The Woman’s College as I Remember It,” is now online! As the first dean of the Woman’s College at Duke University, Dean Baldwin had a unique opportunity to work for the equality of women and men students. She came to Trinity College in 1923 as the first woman to have full faculty status, and her efforts on behalf of equality allowed Duke to be very progressive. Her memoir illustrates her beliefs and efforts to mold the Woman’s College into an elite institution and shows her effect on Duke University as a whole.

Alice Mary Baldwin’s memoir is an essential resource for understanding the history of Duke University or the history of women in higher education. For more about Dean Baldwin, take a look at this brief biography on the University Archives’ website.

Post contributed by Crystal Reinhardt, University Archives Graduate Student Assistant