Category Archives: Archive of Documentary Arts

Announcing our 2022-2023 Travel Grant Recipients

The Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022-2023 travel grants. Our research centers annually award travel grants to students, scholars, and independent researchers through a competitive application process. We extend a warm congratulations to this year’s awardees. We look forward to meeting and working with you!

Archive of Documentary Arts

Rebecca Bengal, Independent Researcher, “‘Bad Roads Ruin Even the Best of Cars’: William Gedney’s Kentucky.”

Alexandra Le Faou, Independent Researcher, “James H. Karales European Exhibition.”

Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture (Mary Lily Research Grants)

Brianna Anderson, Ph.D. candidate, Department of English, University of Florida, “‘A Smidgeon of Ecofeminism’: Envisioning Environmental Issues and Activism in Women’s Zines.”

Rachel Corbman, Faculty, Mount Holyoke College, “Conferencing on the Edge: A Queer History of Feminist Field Formation, 1969-1989.”

Benjamin Holtzman, Faculty, Lehman College, “’Smash the Klan’: Fighting the White Power Movement in the Late Twentieth Century.”

Cindy Lima, Ph.D. candidate, Northwestern University, “Transnational Latinas: A Twentieth Century History of Latina Politics.”

Molli Spalter, Ph.D. candidate, Department of English, Wayne State University, “”Feeling Wrong and Feeling Wronged: Radical Feminism and ‘Feeling Work’.”

Emily Hunt, Ph.D. candidate, Emily Hunt, Georgia State University, “‘We are a Gentle Angry People and We are Singing for Our Lives’: A Story of Women’s Music, 1975-1995.”

Felicity Palma, Faculty, Department of Film and Media Studies, University of Pittsburgh, “of flesh and feelings and light and shadows.” (Grant sponsored jointly with the Archive of Documentary Arts.)

Lara Vapnek, Faculty, Department of History, St. John’s University, “Mothers, Milk, and Money: A History of Infant Feeding in the United States.” (Grant sponsored jointly with the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History.)

John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History and Culture

William Billups, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Emory University, “”Reign of Terror”: Anti-Civil Rights Terrorism in the United States, 1955-1976.”

Thomas Cryer, Ph.D. candidate, Institute of the Americas, University College London, “’Walking the Tightrope’: John Hope Franklin and the Dilemmas of African American History in Action.”

Mikayla Harden, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, University of Delaware, “Remnants: Captive African Children in the Black Atlantic World.”

Frances O’Shaughnessy, Ph.D. candidate, University of Washington, “Black Revolution on the Sea Islands: Empire, Property, and the Emancipation of Humanity.”

Emily Tran, Ph.D. candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “American Reckonings: Confronting and Repressing the Racist Past and Present, 1968-1998.”

Evan Wade, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, University of Connecticut,” Henrietta Vinton Davis: From Teacher to Black Nationalist– an examination of a Black Woman’s Politics.”

Elizabeth Patton, Faculty, Department of Media and Communication Studies, University of Maryland Baltimore County, “Representation as a Form of Resistance: Documenting African American Spaces of Leisure during the Jim Crow Era.” (Grant sponsored jointly with the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History.)

Harry H. Harkins T’73 Travel Grants for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History

Mori Reithmayr, Ph.D. candidate, University of Oxford, “Community Before Liberation: Theorizing Gay Resistance in San Francisco, 1953-1969.”

Cathleen Rhodes, Faculty, Department of Women’s Studies, Old Dominion University, “Touring Tidewater: An Immersive Virtual Walking Tour of Southeastern Virginia’s Queer History.”

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History (John Furr Fellowship)

Jennifer Hessler, Faculty, Department of Media, Journalism, and Film, University of Huddersfield, “Television Ratings: From Audimeter to Big Data.”

Conrad Jacober, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University, “Debt Prophets: American Bankers and the Origins of Financialization.”

Jeannette Strickland, Independent Researcher, “Lever Brothers Advertising and Marketing, 1900-1930, in the J. Walter Thompson Archives.”

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History (Alvin Achenbaum Travel Grants)

Anne Garner, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History and Culture, Drew University, “Recovering Throwaway Histories: Patent Medicine, Black Americans and the Blues in the Postbellum Piedmont.”

Rachel Plotnick, Faculty, Department of Cinema & Media Studies, Indiana University Bloomington, “License to Spill: Where Dry Devices Meet Liquid Lives.”

Elizabeth Patton, Faculty, Department of Media and Communication Studies, University of Maryland Baltimore County, “Representation as a Form of Resistance: Documenting African American Spaces of Leisure during the Jim Crow Era.” (Grant sponsored jointly with the John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History and Culture.)

Lara Vapnek, Faculty, Department of History, St. John’s University, “Mothers, Milk, and Money: A History of Infant Feeding in the United States.” (Grant sponsored jointly with the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.)

History of Medicine Collections

Jessica Dandona, Faculty, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, “Skeletons in the Drawing Room: Popular Consumption of Flap Anatomies, 1880-1900.”

Jeremy Montgomery, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Mississippi State University, “‘Look To Your Map’: Medical Distinctiveness and the United States, 1800-1860.”

Haleigh Yaspan, Master’s candidate, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, “Forceps, Women’s Rights, and Professional Turf War: Pregnancy and Childbirth in the United States, 1914-1962.”

Human Rights Archive

Molly Carlin, Ph.D. candidate, School of Media, Arts and Humanities, University of Sussex, “How to Jail a Revolution: Theorising the Penal Suppression of American Political Voices, 1964-2022.”

Tyler Goldberger, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, College of William & Mary, “”Generalísimo Franco is Still Alive!”: Transnational Human Rights and the Anti-Fascist Narrativization of the Spanish Civil War and Francisco Franco Dictatorship within the United States, 1936-Present.”

Thomas Maggiola, Master’s candidate, Department of Latin American Studies and History, University of California San Diego, “Guatemala’s Transnational Civil War, 1970-1996.”

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Research Travel Grants

Jennifer Doyle, Faculty, University of California Riverside, “Alethurgy’s Shadows: Harassment, Paranoia, and Grief.”

Annie Sansonetti, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Performance Studies, New York University, “Reapproaching Feminine Boys and Transgender Girls in Queer and Trans Theory and Art.”

Post compiled by Roshan Panjwani, Staff Assistant, Rubenstein Library

Archive of Documentary Arts Announces 2021-2022 Collection Awards

Submitted by Caitlin Margaret Kelly, Curator, Archive of Documentary Arts

The Archive of Documentary Arts is pleased to announce the 2021-2022 Collection Awards. We will be adding four projects related to environmental (in)justice to the Archive, including three photographic portfolios and one video.

Alphabetically the awardees are:

Crystal Z. Campbell, A Meditation on Nature in the Absence of an Eclipse, 2020, Digital Video

Film Still
Photo: Film still

A Meditation on Nature in the Absence of an Eclipse is a poetic glimpse of how centuries of extraction, racism, pollution, and commoditizing nature has altered our relationship to sacred land and resources. How has nature been historically shaped and imaged for pleasure, status, and control by many hands of invisible labor? Constellated and intersectional histories and source material include testimony from a Water Protector at Standing Rock protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, contaminated water in Flint Michigan, original footage of Hierve el Agua near Oaxaca, Mexico revered for its healing properties, archival images of gardens and hands of artists who resided in Tulsa, Oklahoma and children brushing their teeth––a reflection of the innocuous ways which contaminated water and resources shapes the lives of individuals completing banal, daily, routine tasks.

Critical to the film is the intentional use of unlicensed footage, bearing a brand across the center that detracts from what’s happening in the actual footage, and becomes a viewfinder for how that footage is read or deemed important enough to view because there is a branded stamp of approval. Historically, the watermark is used to connote ownership and authenticity. The film is a consideration of how documentary practice can be another form of resource extraction, of which this filmmaker is implicated. Licensing fees are an example of the barriers to access, ultimately deciding who will control critical narratives of environmental racism and discourse. Originally commissioned by Wave Hill Public Garden & Cultural Center, the work was made in 2017 and reedited in 2020.

Crystal Z Campbell (they/them) is currently a 2021–22 UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar, multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer of Black, Filipinx, and Chinese descents. A 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in Fine Arts, Campbell finds complexity in public secrets—fragments of information known by many but undertold or unspoken. Using archival material, recent works revisit counternarratives of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, questions of immortality and medical ethics with Henrietta Lacks’ “immortal” cell line, ponder the role of a political monument and displacement in a Swedish coastal landscape, and salvage a 35mm film from a demolished Black activist theater in Brooklyn as a relic of gentrification.

Bio:

Their work in film/video, performance, installation, sound, painting, and text, has been exhibited and screened at The Drawing Center, MOMA, Nest, ICA-Philadelphia, Bemis, Studio Museum of Harlem, SculptureCenter, and SFMOMA. Honors and awards include a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship, with Pollock-Krasner Award, MAP Fund, MacDowell, Skowhegan, Rijksakademie, Whitney ISP, Franklin Furnace, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, UNDO Fellowship, and Flaherty Film Seminar. Campbell’s writing has been featured in World Literature Today, Monday Journal, GARAGE, and Hyperallergic. Campbell, a former Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center & David & Roberta Logie Fellow, was recently named a Creative Capital Awardee, and is founder of the virtual programming platform archiveacts.com. Campbell lives and works in New York and Oklahoma.

Stacy Kranitz, Fulcrum of Malice, 2017, Photographs

 

Photo: View of Alsen, LA
The Ronaldson Field Debris Landfill
Within just a few years of the closing of the Rollins toxic waste facility, a local businessman named Sid Brian purchased a plot of land in the center of Alsen. Because of the rezoning of the community, Brian was able to secure a construction debris landfill permit and began taking in debris from old abandoned homes being torn down across Baton Rouge as part of an initiative to rid the city of its blight. Soon after the landfill opened, Alsen experienced an infestation of rats, termites, and snakes inside homes. The swampland that had been used by the community for hunting and fishing for many generations was now overrun by mountains of rotting debris that caused the air to stink throughout the community. In 2016, after historic rain flooded huge sections of the city, an emergency order required that the landfill take in 900,000 cubic yards of rotten and moldy housing debris. The residents were never notified of this emergency order. They only realized something was happening when debris trucks began causing traffic jams on the main street through Alsen. Eventually the piles of rotten debris grew so high that they looked like they were about to topple over onto homes just 300 feet away. The Enviromental Protection Agency warns of potential danger from construction and demolition waste, due in part to the fact that construction dust is particulate matter that is difficult to breathe especially if you are very young or old or have breathing problems already. There are also concerns that rotting dry wall emits dangers levels of dioxane into the air. These problems are exacerbated by the heat and humidity so endemic to Louisiana’s climate.

Fulcrum of Malice is the story of one community’s fight against the 25 polluting facilities that surround them. For more than fifty years, Alsen, LA has been caught in an environmental discrimination struggle that disproportionately burdens it with environmental hazards unparalleled in nearby white communities. Within a four-mile radius there are 11 petrochemical plants, 3 Superfund sites, 5 hazardous waste pits, 2 city garbage dumps, and 3 privately owned waste facilities surrounding them. Residents first began complaining of breathing problems, spontaneous nose bleeds, and headaches in the late 1970’s. High cancer rates, asthma, birth defects, stillbirths, and miscarriages continue to plague the community to this day. Many of the historic African American neighborhoods along the 140-mile Cancer Alley petrochemical corridor were developed after the Civil War when the government established small land grants for former slaves working on sugar cane plantations along the Mississippi River.

Alsen was established in 1872 as a small agrarian community on the outskirts of Baton Rouge. The environmental threats first began in the early 1900s when Louisiana politicians enticed large petroleum companies to the region with lenient environmental policies. In the 1950s, the government voted to rezone the farmland around Alsen from agriculture to industry. The rezoning faced little opposition since there were very few registered voters in Alsen at the time and no elected officials of color in the parish. The petrochemical industry became the backbone of the state’s economy and government officials were eager to bring in more companies. They did this by relaxing industrial zoning regulations near low-income Black communities along the Mississippi river. This method has been used to justify and grow petrochemical corridors around the world. This work is a testament to what has happened. Even if the government and industry continue to refuse to address this problem, the community itself deserve a visual record of the damage that details those responsible for it. This work is for them. And this work is for the rest of us because it is time, we all take responsibility and collectively acknowledge our complicit role in this pattern of systemic racism. The portfolio will be accompanied by a book containing the complete series of images and an investigative narrative detailing the histories of the 25 polluting facilities surrounding the community of Alsen.

Bio:

Stacy Kranitz’s work explores representation and otherness within the documentary tradition. Her work focuses on the complex relationship between land and people. Kranitz was born in Kentucky and currently lives in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Tennessee.  She has received funding support from the Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography, Southern Documentary Fund, Magnum Foundation and the National Geographic Society. In 2019 her work was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Discovery Award. She has presented solo exhibitions of her photographs at the Diffusion Festival of Photography in Cardiff, Wales and the Rencontres d’Arles in Arles, France. Her work has been written about in the Columbia Journalism Review, British Journal of Photography, Journal of Appalachian Studies, Time, The Guardian, Liberation, and the Royal Photographic Society Journal. Her photographs are included in permanent collections at the Harvard Art Museums and the Museum of Fine Art, Houston. She works on assignment as a photographer for publications including Time, Vanity Fair, The New York Times and National Geographic. For the past twelve years, she has been working on a project called As it was Give() to Me.  A monograph of this work will be published by Twin Palms in  2022.

 

Emilio Nasser, La Cornuda de Tlacotalpan, 2016, Photographs

 

Prints of La Cornuda de Tlacotalpan

“Times have changed and the story of La Cornuda de Tlacotalpan has been disappearing. People say that when you don’t believe in something, it ceases to exist”

This project re-imagines the story of La Cornuda de Tlacotalpan in the face of its possible disappearance through collaboration with the community of Tlacotalpan, Mexico. La Cornuda is the mysterious being who lives in the depths of the Papaloapan River in Veracruz Mexico, who appears to disappear, frightens, scares away and explains the unexplained.

Through a collective, playful and participatory re-construction, La Cornuda is reinvented. In its attempt to survive the forgetfulness of modern times, it makes a decision that requires courage. Leaving the river, crossing the threshold of the shore, transforming itself, and entering into Tlacotalpan. While La Cornuda walks around invisible to the eyes of the community, the photographic lens reveals its new life.

La Cornuda de Tlacotalpan documentary project is part of an ongoing series called Memory is a Swamp (2016-ongoing), focused on myths, urban legends, local stories and oral histories that adopt, retell and re-interpret these narratives in a changing contemporary world, opening a space for experimental visions, re-framings and collaborative working contexts.

Bio:

Through photographic practice, video, drawing and diverse collaborative strategies, Emilio Nasser’s projects have been attempted to navigate the infinite and multiple possibilities in visual narratives. Embarking on different paths, his works are based on and with local histories, re-visited myths, oral memories, identities, belonging, imagination, community, and some other things that are still complicated to explain with words on a conscious level. Graduated in Photography at Spilimbergo School of Applied Arts in Argentina. Then, at the outbreak of the 2001 socio-economic crisis, he became a cook. While living between Latin America and Europe, he has engaged in multiple educational experiences; such as Criticae-Max Pinkers, Folio Phmuseum, Laura El-Tantawy-Sybren Kuiper, Experimental’s Photobook-Julián Barón, 20Fotógrafos, Estudio Marcos López, Rodrigo Fierro-Gabriel Orge, among others. Currently in ISSP Masterclass-Rhizoma: Political Constellations with Lisa Barnard. Exhibited at spaces like Phmuseum Days (IT), Verzasca Foto Festival (CH), Emergentes International Photography Award-Encontros da Imagen (PT), Valongo Festival Da Imagen (BR), Yet-Magazine (CH), PHEspaña (ES), SCAN PhotoBooks (ES), Ojo de Pez (ES). Twice awarded grants by the Fondo Nacional del Arte (AR).

 

Lawrence Sumulong , “No Longer Can I Stay; It’s True.” The Marshallese in Springdale, Arkansas, 2016, Photographs 

A display outside of one of the few Marshallese owned businesses in Springdale, AR

No longer can I stay; it’s true.
No longer can I live in peace and harmony.
No longer can I rest on my sleeping mat and pillow
Because of my island and the life I once knew there.

The thought is overwhelming
Rendering me helpless and in great despair.

My spirit leaves, drifting around and far away
Where it becomes caught in a current of immense power –
And only then do I find tranquility

-The Bikinian Anthem (1946) by Lore Kessibuki (1914-1994)

In 2016, I looked at daily life in Springdale, Arkansas, where the largest community of Marshallese in the United States currently resides. Specifically, I focused on the traumatic history of the Bikinians, a community of about 5,000+ Pacific Islanders, whose homeland in the Bikini Atoll remains radioactive and uninhabited due to years of deadly US nuclear testing.

The Bikinians have lived in exile on the islands of Kili and Ejit in the Marshall Islands for 76 years. Currently, there are only a few remaining Bikinians out of the original 167 who were asked to leave their homeland in 1946 by the US military.

The relatively recent emigration to the United States entails yet another significant move away from their ancestral homeland. Their migration was motivated by the ability to live, work, and study in the United States according to the Compact of Free Association. However, as a new immigrant and historically exploited community, the Marshallese American livelihood remains entwined with blue collar work in the poultry industry of Northwest Arkansas.

Pre and post covid-19 pandemic, the successes and struggles of both the Bikinian and general Marshallese population offer a complicated look into what it means to be a part of American society. I wanted to learn from an adjacent and related ethnic experience, to foster empathy across cultures, and understand who we are as Americans in this new administration and era. To that end, I saw the use of printing on banana fibre paper to be a visual way of connecting my own heritage with the Marshallese experience in that it is a crop endemic to both the Marshall Islands and the Philippines.

Bio:

I am a Filipino American photographer based in Brooklyn, New York City. I also run a commercial studio with my wife, Sarah, and our two Siamese-Maine Coon cats, Miko and Oliver.  My personal work looks for ever-shifting approaches to documentary storytelling and imagery as a means of both questioning my own point of view as well as depicting reality. My perspective reflects how particular historical moments alter, disrupt, and shape one’s society and sense of self. Despite the United States existing as both my place of residence and birthplace, my work for over a decade had focused exclusively on my relationship to the Philippines. Most recently, I’ve been documenting emerging Asian American and Pacific Islander communities at a time where it feels absolutely necessary to depict the nuances within the panoply of AAPI experiences and histories, while also thinking about intersections.

 

Applications Open for 2022-2023 Research Travel Grants

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2022-2023 research 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!

Research travel grants of up to $1500 are offered by the following Centers and research areas:

  • Archive of Documentary Arts
  • Harry H. Harkins T’73 Travel Grants for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History
  • History of Medicine Collections
  • Human Rights Archive
  • John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture
  • John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
  • Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture (Mary Lily Research Grants)
  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Papers

We encourage applications from students at any level of education; faculty members; visual and performing artists; writers; filmmakers; public historians; and independent researchers. (Must reside beyond a 100-mile radius of Durham, N.C., and may not be current Duke students or employees.) These grants are offered as reimbursement based on receipt documentation after completion of the research visit(s). The deadline for applications will be Saturday, April 30, 2022, at 6:00 pm EST. Grants will be awarded for travel during June 2022-June 2023.

An information session will be held Wednesday, March 23rd at 2PM EST.  This program will review application requirements, offer tips for creating a successful application, and include an opportunity for attendees to ask questions.  Register for the session here. Further questions may be directed to AskRL@duke.edu.

Image citation: Cover detail from African American soldier’s Vietnam War photograph album https://idn.duke.edu/ark:/87924/r4319wn3g

Call for Submissions: 2021 Human Rights Audio Documentary Award

Post Contributed by Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist

Annoncement Date: June 1st, 2021

What is audio documentary? How do recording technologies, sonic vernaculars, activism, and dissent come together in a documentary art form that engages with our ears?

This new award, sponsored by the Human Rights Archive and the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, seeks to support outstanding documentary artists exploring human rights and social justice and expand the audio holdings in the Archive for long-term preservation and access. The awardee will receive a $2,500 honorarium and be invited to give a talk at Duke.

In our inaugural year we will focus on works that explore language. Books are burned, buildings are bull-dozed, bodies are buried…and people escape with only their language and the memory work it will enable. How can spoken language serve as a form of sonic resistance to colonialism and cultural genocide? How does language persevere even when individuals and entire communities are disappeared? How do the language practices of the indigenous, the displaced, the incarcerated, and the oppressed buttress memory, build community and identity, and demand social justice and human rights?

Why should I apply?
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Library has a strong commitment to human rights and the documentary arts through collecting and making available works by creators from around the world. Our collections document the impact that organizations and individuals have, and the role documentary plays, to motivate the thinking of others, and the influence that has on private and government policies.

We encourage submissions from individuals or groups from across the globe, whose work is not already in the collections of the Rubenstein Library. Documentarians working in their own communities are encouraged to apply, and we are particularly interested in submissions from communities underrepresented in the archives. We are not accepting submissions from employees of Duke University, or those currently enrolled in a degree-granting program.

For more information on the award and how to apply please visit: https://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/human-rights/audio-award

This award is an initiative of the Human Rights Archive and the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Learn more about Special Collections at Duke…

Contacts:

Patrick A. Stawski, Human Rights Archivist, patrick.stawski@duke.edu, and Caitlin Margaret Kelly, Curator, Archive of Documentary Arts & Director Power Plant Gallery, caitlin.kelly@duke.edu

The Enduring Power of Witness

Post Contributed by Caitlin Margaret Kelly, Curator, Archive of Documentary Arts & Director, Power Plant Gallery

Spider Martin Photographs

When I opened the newly arrived box the first photograph on top of the stack was one of the few with a title, called, “Two Minute Warning.” It is an iconic image taken on March 7, 1965 in Selma, Alabama, by a young photojournalist for the Birmingham News, James ‘Spider’ Martin. This print is among the more than 40 gelatin silver prints by Martin recently acquired by the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The prints depict the violence of Bloody Sunday, the men and women of the Selma to Montgomery March, and George Wallace on the campaign trail. There are photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and Ralph Abernathy, among many others.

But in among the well-known visages, are many unknown faces, all marching through the landscape. It wasn’t long into my inspection of these prints that I started to notice the suitcases, the socks, a backpack worn by John Lewis, and the straining hands holding up Amelia Boynton – grasping for the fabric of her coat.

While a few of the prints were made in 1965, most were reprinted by Martin between 1993-1999. Some of the later prints come with handwritten reflections. On the back of a photograph of Ralph Abernathy and M.L.K. at the Selma March, Martin writes:

Spider Martin Photographs

“Dr. King knew he was a target. Many times I was tipped off that he might be assassinated. I look at this picture and think that Dr. King is looking towards heaven and thinking that it is enevitable (sic) that he will die fighting for the struggle. I think of the gospel song “Commin’ Home (sic).”

As a member of the news media, Spider Martin was on site to cover a march. It wasn’t until the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge that he also became a witness to the violence of Bloody Sunday. John Lewis is quoted as saying, “he left, through the power of his camera and with a quick eye, images that will educate and sensitize unborn generations.”[1].

Spider Martin Photographs

The particular print, which I mentioned at the start of this blog post, came with a note from Martin’s daughter, Tracy, “He would make a perfect print and send to the client which was common a long while back, but he would always make them a titch darker and contrastier because he thought all printed publications lost that in the print process.” This particular print, now part of the ADA, may have been destined for publication in the book ‘Weary Feet, Rested Souls’ by Townsend Davis.

In addition to the newly added photographs by Spider Martin the Archive of Documentary arts, also holds the work of photographer James H. Karales,[2] and his coverage of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. They are joined by various other collections at the Rubenstein Library including the Abraham Joshua Heschel papers documenting his participation in the Selma to Montgomery March.[3]

[1] http://www.spidermartin.com/new-page-1

 

[2] https://repository.duke.edu/dc/karales

 

[3] https://archives.lib.duke.edu/catalog/heschelabraham

 

I Wander all Night in My Vision: Commemorating William Gedney and Walt Whitman

Post contributed by Paula Jeannet, Visual Materials Processing Archivist at the Rubenstein Library

“Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with
linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.”

Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” Section 4

June 23, 2019 marked the 30th anniversary of photographer William Gedney’s death in New York City in 1989 at the young age of 56.  Gedney’s career spanned a time of great changes in American society and elsewhere, and in his photographs he captures the vitality and promise of those decades as well as the counterweights of social isolation and poverty.  A lover of literature, he found early inspiration for his work in another New Yorker: Walt Whitman. Like Whitman, Gedney was fascinated by people in all their complexity and was an exceptional portraitist, using his camera rather than a pen; like Whitman, he was especially drawn to street life and crowds.  The full extent of Gedney’s preoccupation with Whitman can be more fully explored through the photographer’s archive; for now, this blog post will indicate some starting points in the collection.

Born in 1932, Gedney grew up in rural Greenville, New York, in the Hudson River Valley.  As a child, his family took him to visit relatives in the big city, and ultimately he studied art at Pratt Institute and moved into a cold-water flat in Brooklyn in the mid-1950s. While working as a commercial photographer to pay the bills and cover darkroom expenses, he roamed Brooklyn neighborhoods, his camera loaded with black-and-white film.  Many of the images capture daily life and the inhabitants of Myrtle Avenue, where he lived.  He continued this documentary work for the rest of his life.

Black and white photograph with elevated railway on Myrtle Ave in Brooklyn
Myrtle Avenue, May 5, 1969, 4:45 pm [taken from Gedney’s apartment window].  Print RL10032-P-1580-6682-08.   From this vantage point, Gedney also documented the demolition of the elevated railway soon after its closure in October 1969.  William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Black and white photograph of two boys
Caption: Brooklyn, 1955-1959. Print RL10032-P-B14-75-21. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Person with their arms out wide and head thrown back, perhaps smiling.
O’Rourke’s, January 9, 1960. Print RL10032-P-0057-0589-43. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

In 1966, William Gedney’s photographic life took flight: he traveled to Kentucky (twice), cross country to California (also twice), then across the ocean to Ireland, England, Paris (twice again), and India, also twice.  Brooklyn always drew him back.

Sometime around 1968 or 1969, perhaps inspired by Whitman’s interest in celebrating and documenting urban street life, he began a consuming project to uncover the history of Myrtle Avenue from its beginnings in the 18th century, using newspapers and literary sources, including the Brooklyn Eagle, for which Whitman served as editor, writing copious notes and pasting clippings in two volumes, Myrtle Avenue 1 and 2 – another habit he would continue throughout his life.  Some of his notes include transcripts of Whitman poems:

Two pages from Gedney's journal from 1969.
Myrtle Avenue, Book 1, pages 6-7. Transcription of Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road,” Leaves of Grass.

At some point (probably earlier than 1969), he discovered that Walt Whitman had lived in Brooklyn, on 99 Ryerson Street, just a few blocks from Gedney’s neighborhood on Myrtle Avenue.  While living at that address, Whitman published his ground-breaking epic poem Leaves of Grass in June 1855.

Although it’s not clear when the idea first came to him, in 1969 Gedney began to create the layout for a project to combine Whitman’s verses with his own photographs of New York City.  In one of his notebooks, titled only with the year 1969, he writes about “the bridge” photographs, and of framing them with Hart Crane’s poem “The Bridge.”

Black and white photograph of the Brooklyn bridge.
Brooklyn Bridge, circa 1959, Print RL10032-P-0008-0076-30. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

A few months later, in the same notebook, Gedney writes “I think the bridge pictures would be best paired with Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry poem under the overall title ‘Brooklyn Crossing.’  His poem is the one I was most under the influence at the time.”  The Brooklyn Bridge book maquette in the Gedney archive contains no accompanying texts; however, during the recent Rubenstein project to rehouse and digitize the Gedney archive, the lead archivist came across this item hiding out in a box of oversize materials:

Stanza 2 of Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” in Gedney’s own hand. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Sometime around 1970, Gedney again turned to Whitman’s verses, this time selecting the poem “I wander all night in my vision” to introduce his planned book of night photographs taken in India.  Clearly Whitman was still on his mind and informing his work.

Man asleep on a ledge in an alley at night
Benares, India, 1969-1971. Print RL10032-P-BE121-0950-26. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Whitman quote of "I wander all nigh in my vision"
Layout page from planned photobook of night photography from Benares, India, circa 1980. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

I had thought Gedney’s connection to Whitman largely remained unexamined, with the exception of Margaret Sartor’s comments in her seminal book introducing Gedney and his archive to the world: What Was True: the Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney (W.W. Norton, 2000). Then, while researching this blog post, I discovered Mark Turner’s book, Backward Glances: Cruising the Queer Streets of NY and London (Reaktion Books: London, 2003), which in the context of the phenomenon of male cruising, discusses the remarkable parallels between Gedney and Whitman. The two clearly favored male liaisons, and this orientation was reflected to some degree in their poetic and artistic work.  Beginning in 1975, Gedney began extensively documenting the exuberant gay pride parades as well as street hustlers in San Francisco and New York, until a few years before his death.  At the same time, he was intensely private about his personal life, never fully coming out even to his closest friends.

“…as I pass, O Manhattan! your frequent and swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering me the response of my own–these repay me,
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.”

Walt Whitman, “Calamus 18”

Men sitting on the grass, one man with his head resting on the lap of another
June 25, 1978, New York City, gay march, Central Park. Print RL10032-P-1876-9617-07. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Man with unbuttoned shirt standing on street near strip club.
No known title, 1969. Proof print, contact sheet 1588. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Like William Gedney, Walt Whitman also celebrates an anniversary in 2019: he was born 200 years ago on May 31, 1819.  Many events have been planned in his honor:  http://waltwhitmaninitiative.org/

It’s easy to imagine that he would have been intrigued by Gedney’s photography and pleased at the idea of a publication of Brooklyn images prefaced by his own verses.

Sadly, it was not to be: Gedney bequeathed the world a body of compelling, eloquent photographic work, but his many book projects remained unpublished, with only the book maquettes in the archive as evidence of Gedney’s hopeful plans.  Perhaps with the right editor, these two artists will be joined again as Gedney had imagined.

“These and all else were to me the same as they are to you,
I loved well those cities, loved well the stately and rapid river,
The men and women I saw were all near to me,
Others the same—others who look back on me because I look’d forward to them,
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)”

Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” stanza 4

No known title, circa 1968. Print RL10032-P-1537-6255-32. Tree in foreground, Walt Whitman’s tomb in background, Camden, New Jersey. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

 


Note about the Gedney Collection: Although William Gedney’s work was still largely undiscovered by mainstream audiences at the time of his death in 1989, it stood on the cusp of an awakening, thanks primarily to the efforts of close friends Maria and Lee Friedlander, and John Sarkowski, curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art.  Eventually the entire Gedney archive — over 49,000 photographs, negatives, artwork, and papers – came to Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and is now being digitized in its entirety (the finished prints and contact sheets are already available online). You can learn more about the collection by visiting the collection guide online.

Announcing our 2019-2020 Travel Grant Recipients

The Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019-2020 travel grants! Our research centers annually award travel grants to students, scholars, and independent researchers through a competitive application process. Congratulations to this year’s recipients:

Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture (Mary Lily Research Grants):

Emily Fleisher, Artist: Artistic project will include a series of drawings based on historic needlework that create a narrative about the lives of American women before 1920

Charlie Jeffries, Faculty, University of East Anglia: Your Best American Girl: Construction of Adolescent Sexualities in the US Culture Wars

Laura Kenner, Doctoral Candidate, Harvard University, History of Art and Architecture Department: Text, Sex, and Video: New York City’s Downtown/Underground Scene (1973-1996)

Nell Lake, Doctoral Candidate, Brown University, American Studies Department: Research for dissertation that will link 20th century moral discourse around care and domestic labor with 20th century politics of women’s work

Jessica Lapp, Doctoral Candidate, University of Toronto, Faculty of Information: The Provenance of Protest: An Exploration of Feminist Activist Archiving

Kaja Marczewska, Research Fellow, Coventry University, Centre for Postdigital Cultures: Distribute-it-Yourself: Judy Hogan and the History of North American Small Press in Circulation (1960s-1990s)

Jennifer Withrow, Doctoral Candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Economics Department: Three Essays on Labor and Marriage Markets: Farm Crisis and Rural-to-Urban Migration in the United States, 1920-1940

 

John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History and Culture:

Selena Doss – Faculty, Western Kentucky University, Involuntary Pilgrimage: Black Southerners and Territorial Separatism, 1783-1904

John Harris – Faculty, Erskine College, Pirates of New York: The United States and the Final Era of the Illegal Slave Trade, 1850-1867

Jacqueline Fewkes – Faculty, Florida Atlantic University, American Mosques: An Ethnohistory of Space, Memory, and Muslim-American Community

Crystal Sanders – Faculty, Penn State, America’s Forgotten Migration: Black Graduate Education in the Age of Jim Crow

Kali Tambree – Doctoral Candidate UCLA, Enslaved African peoples who jump off of the slave ship as it is en route to the Americas

Charles Weisenberger – Doctoral Candidate, University of Massachusetts-Amherst “The Telfair Family and the Antebellum One Percent: Slavery in the Early United States, 1735-1875”

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History:

Sarah Arnold, Faculty, Maynooth University, Department of Media: Television, Technology and Gender: New Platforms and New Audiences

Mark Bartholomew, Faculty, University of Buffalo, School of Law: “Advertising Outrage and its Legal Regulation”

Rachel Kirby, Doctoral Candidate, Boston University, American and New England Studies: Study of visual representation of Southern agricultural products

Shayan Lallani, Doctoral Candidate, University of Ottowa, Department of History: Cultural Globalization in the Caribbean: Dining and the American Middle-Class Turn in Cruise Ship Tourism, 1920-2016

Adam Mack, Faculty, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Liberal Arts Department: Limitless: Supermarkets and the Dilemma of Choice

Brent Malin, Faculty, Pittsburgh University, Department of Communications: Ordinary and Necessary: A History of the American Tax Deduction for Advertising

James McElroy, Doctoral Candidate, University of Minnesota, Department of History: Racial Segregation and Market Segregation: The Late-Twentieth Century History of the American City Supermarket, 1960-1990

Emily Morgan, Faculty, Iowa State University, Department of Visual Culture: Imagining Animal Industry: Visualizing the American Meatpacking Trade, 1890-1980

Robert Terrell, Faculty, Syracuse University, Department of History: The People’s Drink: The Politics and Culture of German Beer in the Twentieth Century

Emily Westkaemper, Faculty, James Madison University, Department of History: Career Women: Image and Reality in U.S. Popular Culture, 1940-2000

 

History of Medicine Collections:

Matthew Barrett, Doctoral Candidate, Queen’s University, History Department: Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Doctor: Medical Attitudes toward Homosexuality and the Court-Martial of Dr. Percy E. Ryberg

Kelly O’Donnell, Faculty, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Humanities and Sciences: Study of the role doctors’ wives played in the medical profession, recasting the history of American health care by focusing on the women behind the “great men” of medicine

Laura Smith, Doctoral Candidate, University of Arkansas, History Department: Southern Doctors from Southern Communities: Medical Education and Professionalization in the Nineteenth-Century South

 

Human Rights Archive (Marshall T. Meyer Research Travel Grants):

Meghan Gibbons, Independent Researcher: Nationalism and Maternal Protest in the US, El Salvador, and Argentina

Gabrielle Girard, Doctoral Candidate, Princeton University, History Department: Modeling Democracy: The Global History of an Argentine Human Rights Experiment, 1978-1991

Michael Jones, Doctoral Candidate, Tulane University, Department of Political Science: Blood & Peace in the Hills of Africa: Post-conflict Institutions in Comparison

Zachary Norman, Faculty, University of Utah, Department of Art & Art History: “Researching Images of Incarceration: Developing Visual Art & Studies Courses to be Taught Inside”

Mira Rai Waits, Faculty, Appalachian State University, Department of Art: Colonial Carcerality: The Birth of the Modern Prison in India

 

Harry H. Harkins T’73 Travel Grants for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History:

Jonathan Coleman, Independent Researcher: Anywhere, Together: A Queer History of Kentucky

Benjamin Serby, Doctoral Candidate, Columbia University, History Department: Gay Liberation and the Politics of the Self in Postwar America

 

Photographic Research Grants, Co-Sponsored by the Archive of Documentary Arts and the History of Medicine Collections:

Rachel Fein-Smolinski, Faculty, Syracuse University, Department of Transmedia: “Sex Lives of Animals Without Backbones: A Study of the Aesthetics of Pain and Courage Within the Western Healthcare System”

 

We look forward to working with you all!

Developing a Code of Ethics for Rubenstein Library Instruction Sessions

So far this academic year, Rubenstein librarians have taught 132 class sessions (though we won’t finalize these numbers until the end of the spring semester). You’d think that’d be enough to fill our time, but we’ve also been meeting monthly to discuss our individual teaching practices and how to improve our students’ experiences in our class sessions. We want to inspire confident special collections researchers for life!

Through our discussions, we realized that we often returned to couple of key points about archives and primary source research in our class sessions. We’d broach those points on an ad hoc basis as they arose in classes, but we wondered if starting our class sessions off with a shared understanding of those points would be useful, reassuring, and perhaps even empowering for our students.

We’ve followed the development of codes of ethics for different spaces and organizations within (and beyond) our profession and thought that model might also work for us. Early this semester, we drafted and began implementing what we’re calling our approach to classes at the Rubenstein Library. (“Code of ethics” seemed so heady that it might have the unfortunate effect of tamping down student engagement.) Here is what we developed:

Explore and be curious! Our class sessions are interactive, hands-on opportunities to look at lots of materials, so take advantage of this time. Challenge yourself to look (even briefly) at items that don’t initially catch your interest—you might be surprised at what you discover.

Our class sessions seek to be inclusive, offering multiple perspectives, viewpoints, or lived experiences, but may not include the voices of every population for a number of reasons. Let’s talk in class about the voices that aren’t being presented.

The background, experience, and knowledge you bring to this class session are valuable. There isn’t one right interpretation of a historical document. Please listen carefully and treat everyone’s responses respectfully.

The material you encounter in this session has the potential to be uncomfortable or upsetting. Be kind to yourself and recognize your limits. You can look at something else or even step out of the room to take a break.

When working with historical documents, you may encounter racist, oppressive, or outdated language in the documents themselves or in the archival record. When we discuss these items, we will want to use terms that reflect the ways these communities describe themselves today.

Later this month, we’ll come together as a group of instructors to talk about how we’ve been able to incorporate the code into our class sessions—but informal reports suggest it’s been useful! Our practice has generally been to give students two to three minutes to individually read over the code (presented on a slide) and then talk as a class about any questions they might have and how the individual points in the code might come up in the class session.

Color photograph of librarian teaching the code of ethics to a class session. The code appears projected on a screen behind her. Students sit at a conference table in front of the screen.
A Rubenstein librarian teaches our new instruction code of ethics in a recent class session.

We see this as a living document that we’ll continue to refine and add to as needed. So please do let us know what you think and feel free to borrow or adapt our instruction code of ethics for your own class sessions!

Applications Now Accepted for the 2019-2020 Travel Grant Program

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2019-2020 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!

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, the Human Rights Archive, and the Archive of Documentary Arts, 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, 2019. Recipients will be announced in March 2019.

New Acquisitions – Photobooks in the Archive of Documentary Arts

Post contributed by Lisa McCarty, Curator, Archive of Documentary Arts

 

 

Over the past three years the Archive of Documentary Arts (ADA) has focused on building its collection of photobooks. The ADA is most interested in photobooks in which images are the primary content, or are considered co-equal with a text. Much like artists’ books, photobooks are conceived as artworks in their own right and can be considered art objects. Photobooks are often the primary medium for a series of photographs and as such, attention to the interaction between form and content, as well as the relationship between text and image, are central concerns to the artist.

Photobooks first emerged soon after the advent of photography in the 1840’s. Anna Atkins’ handmade book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions from 1843 is credited as the first book illustrated with photographs and William Henry Fox Talbot’s Pencil of Nature followed soon after in 1844. Since the nineteenth century, photobooks have proliferated as a medium which allows for artistic exploration and as means to circulate photographs to a wider audience. Today artists continue to make photobooks both in small editions by hand or using print-on-demand services, and at a large scale, most often through partnerships with academic and independent publishers.

In the 2016-2017 academic year the ADA welcomed over 100 photobooks to the collection. This included historic and contemporary photobooks by individual artists such as Zalmaï Ahad, Barbara Bosworth, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Petra Barth, Andre Bradley, William Christenberry, Masahisa Fukase, Juan Giraldo, Meg Griffiths, Gregory Halpern, Justine Kurland, Susan Lipper, Mary Ellen Mark, Paula McCartney, Cristina de Middel, Nancy Rexroth, Alec Soth, Matjaz Tancic, Mickalene Thomas, Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb.

The ADA also collects the complete output of several publishers who specialize in photobooks, including Aperture, Daylight Books, Horse and Buggy Press, and Radius Books.

All ADA photobooks are available to researchers in the Rubenstein Library.

Browse our photobook holdings in the online catalog >