What is that rash? What should you do if you have a snakebite? Are carrots really good for one’s health? What does chicken pox look like?
Long before WebMD and other online tools existed, popular medicine guides were created and consulted to answer such questions. In the United States, there is a long tradition of such home health guides designed to help the common person diagnose and treat illnesses. These guides, often physician-approved and authored, included ways to prevent illness and injury while offering instructions and remedies.
Home health guides offered laypeople (assuming they could read) information on a range of topics: basic anatomy, symptoms of illnesses, exercises for good health, “cures” by water or electricity, sexual education, and much more. These popular medicine guides continued well into the twentieth century with works like Our Bodies, Our Selves. Such works are still printed today in the digital age.
An exhibit featuring a sample of these popular medicine guides from our History of Medicine Collections is currently on display. You can visit the exhibit What You Can Do Yourself: Home Health Guides in the History of Medicine in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room from July 24 – October 13, 2018.
Join the staff of the Bingham Center as we celebrate the newly acquired Sarah Westphal Collection and the opening of an exhibition of works from the collection.
The attention to recovering traces of women’s voices and women’s agency that motivates all of Sarah’s research and work in the field of medieval gender studies also underwrites her approach to building her collection.
—Ann Marie Rasmussen, Professor and Diefenbaker Memorial Chair in German Literary Studies, University of Waterloo
Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 Time: 2:00pm to 3:00pm Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library 153 RSVP on Facebook (optional)
Jean Fox O’Barr, Duke University Distinguished Service Professor
Ann Marie Rasmussen, Professor and Diefenbaker Memorial Chair in German Literary Studies, University of Waterloo
Thomas Robisheaux, Duke University History Department
Sarah Westphal, who received her PhD from Yale in 1983, was a member of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature and an affiliate of the Program in Women’s Studies at Duke from 1983-1986. In addition to her long academic career as a scholar of medieval German literature, Westphal has spent thirty-five years amassing a collection of over six hundred books written, printed, illustrated, or published by women from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Westphal’s particular interest is women in Britain and continental Europe in the eighteenth century. The collection includes monumental works such as a beautifully-bound first edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) as well as previously unrecorded works and unique manuscript collections.
In Sarah Westphal’s own words the collection is “anything and all things that women published or were interested in, especially in the eighteenth century.” The collection ranges from literature for children and adults to science, cookery, travel writing, prescriptive literature, political and philosophical treatises, biographies of women by women, and works by women printers and artists. This exhibition presents eighteen items selected by Westphal, each with its own complex story.
You are cordially invited to a dramatic reading of excerpts from pertinent texts that will bring to life the voices of women and men, past and present, whose perspectives on menopause range from “the historical to the hysterical.” In addition to the readings, individuals are also encouraged to share their own stories and experiences of “the change.”
Using rare books from the Rubenstein Library, this hands-on workshop will introduce participants to the discipline of Book History and explore methodologies for studying books as artifacts. We will explore evidence of the individuals involved in the production, distribution, and consumption of books in the West, including authors, printers, illustrators, booksellers, and readers, from the 15th to the 20th century. Using this evidence, we’ll consider what the roles of these individuals and the relationships between them can tell us about print culture in their time
The workshop will include a discussion of the kinds of evidence and strategies for investigation, followed by lab session devoted to the investigation of individual artifacts in the Rubenstein collection.
Please join us Monday, April 30th at noon for our next Trent History of Medicine Lecture Series. Raul Necochea, Ph.D., will present Contraception Crossroads: Health Workers Encounter Family Planning in Mid-20th Century Latin America.
Between the 1930s and the 1970s, health workers of different types began to embrace, slowly and selectively, the value of smaller families for all people in the region as well as to become used to new types of contraceptive technologies. What were the circumstances under which physicians, nurses, midwives, and social workers first encountered the use of birth control in Latin America? What they did do to advance and limit the use of contraception? How did they interact with birth control users? The answers to these questions help us better understand the context and the mindsets of people on the forefront of a momentous development: the normalization of family planning in the so-called Third World.
Dr. Nechochea is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Medicine & Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of History at the University North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
All are welcome to attend. Light lunch will be served.
Date: April 17, 2018 Time: 11am – 12pm Location: Rubenstein Library 150 Register now
Need tips on getting started with archival research? Curious how archives acquire collections? Thinking about archives as a career? Or just want to know what’s up with the white gloves? Bring your questions to a panel discussion with three archivists from the Rubenstein Library.
John Gartrell, Director of the John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History and Culture
Kate Collins, Research Services Librarian, Rubenstein Library
Tracy Jackson, Head, Center Manuscript Processing, Rubenstein Library
Moderated by Mandy Cooper, PhD Candidate, Duke University Department of History and Rubenstein Library Research Services Graduate Intern
The Rubenstein Library will host a Duke Summer Doctoral Academy entitled “Teaching with Archives.” The one-week, 15-hour workshop will feature faculty from the humanities and interpretative social sciences who have incorporated rare book and special collections materials into their undergraduate courses. The will share their experiences of developing assignments and in-class exercises around these unique sources.
Participating faculty include:
Edward Balleisen (History)
Clare Woods (Classical Studies)
Laura Lieber (Religion)
Trudi Abel (Rubenstein Library, Information Science & Studies)
Victoria Szabo (Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Information Science & Studies)
The workshop will meet May 21-25 from 1:30-4:30. Registration through DukeHub is now open.
This post is contributed by Erin Rutherford, Josiah Charles Trent Intern, History of Medicine Collections.
“…there is no limit to the marvelous powers attributed to females” (Pliny, NH, 28.23).
When Pliny the Elder spoke of female powers in his Natural History, he attributed the most marvelous among them to menstrual blood. A menstruating woman could sour crops, tarnish mirrors, blunt razors, kill bees, drive dogs insane, and stave off hailstorms.
How unfortunate that the same womb which, in a woman’s younger years was blamed for such chaos, could be even more problematic in her later life.
For centuries it was believed that the menses were a means to cleanse poisons from a woman’s blood. When a woman’s menstrual period came to a permanent end, toxins could accumulate and stimulate disease (in addition to a slew of physical and mental conditions). “The Change of Life,” as the cessation was referred to, was the harbinger of both barrenness and wildness, sullenness and excitability, lethargy and hysteria, volubility and melancholy. Pathologized and medicalized, this physiological transition was viewed as anything but a natural, biological process.
The term now widely used to describe this phase – menopause – comes from the Greek words men (“month”) and pausis (“cessation”). Since French physician Charles-Pierre-Louis de Gardanne coined the term in 1821, knowledge about what menopause denotes has grown significantly.
The items in this exhibit trace changing perspectives on menopause – from early proponents who labelled it a debilitating disease to the women who have reclaimed it as an empowering transition. The exhibit aims to make visible the experience of menopause, dispel myths, and encourage public conversation about a topic that has, for too long, been considered taboo. Its curation was inspired by the words of feminist Rosetta Reitz:
“I’m going to pull menopause out into the open, remove the cobwebs, clean it off, and look at it.” 
Curated by Erin Rutherford, Josiah Charles Trent Intern, The Change of Life: Menopause and our Changing Perspectives, runs from March 20 – July 14, 2018, and is on display in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room.
 Menopause: A Positive Approach. Rosetta Reitz (1924-2008). New York: Penguin Books, 1979, c1977, pg. 1.
Locations: March 23 – White Lecture Hall, Duke East Campus, March 24 – LeRoy T. Walker Complex, North Carolina Central University
On Friday, March 23, and Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Durham, North Carolina, the SNCC Legacy Project, Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, and Duke University Libraries will host closing events for the SNCC Digital Gateway, a project made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This two-day symposium will reflect on the creation of the SNCC Digital Gateway, where those who made the history are central to telling the story. Activists, scholars, and archivists together reflect on how SNCC’s organizing can inform struggles for self-determination, justice, and democracy today. Highlights include: Keynotes by Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson, co-executive director, Highlander Research & Education Center and philip agnew, co-director, Dream Defenders. We hope you can join us! Follow this link to register and see the full schedule: https://snccdigital.org/conference/
Post contributed by Patrick Stawski, Archivist, Human Rights Archive
Assassination of a Saint: winner of Duke 2017 Méndez Book award
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Noon – 1:00 pm
Rubenstein Library Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room 153
Duke University named Matt Eisenbrandt’s Assassination of a Saint: The plot to murder Óscar Romero and the quest to bring his killers to justice (University of California Press, 2017) the winner of the 2017 Méndez Book Award. Eisenbrandt will be visiting Duke on March 20, 2018 to receive the award and discuss his book. The event is free and open to the public, light lunch served. Following the event, The Gothic Bookstore will be selling copies of the book and Eisenbrant will be on hand for a signing.
Assassination of a Saint traces the thrilling story of how an international team of lawyers, private investigators, and human-rights experts fought to bring justice for the slain archbishop. Eisenbrandt, a lawyer who was part of the investigative team, recounts how he and his colleagues interviewed eyewitnesses and former members of death squads while searching for evidence on those who financed them, with profound implications for El Salvador and the United States.
This award honors the leadership of Juan E. Méndez, a human rights champion who has devoted his life to the defense of human rights. First awarded in 2008, this award selects among the best current non-fiction books published in English on human rights, democracy, and social justice in contemporary Latin America. Méndez’ papers are housed at Duke’s Human Rights Archive.
Co-sponsored by the Rubenstein Library’s Human Rights Archive, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute (DHRC@FHI), and the Forum for Scholars and Publics.
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University