Category Archives: Featured

Roderico Yool Díaz Wins Rubenstein Library Digital Storytelling Award

Photojournalist and documentarian Roderico “Rode” Yool Díaz is the winner of this year’s Digital Storytelling Award presented by the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University.

An older man in a suit and glasses, is in the foreground, facing the camera. He is in a large room with auditorium style seating. The room is crowded with people. Directly behind him are a number of people with cameras and video cameras, seemingly trying to take his picture.
Ríos Montt durante lectura de la sentencia por Genocidio, 2013.

Yool Díaz received the award for his digital project documenting the 2012-2015 genocide trials against former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. The project includes photos, video, and audio recordings of the trial proceedings, the reading of the verdict, and Ríos-Montt and his legal team reacting to the verdict.

“Time and again documentarians such as Rode remind us that impactful storytelling is contingent on being present,” said Caitlin Kelly, curator for the Rubenstein’s Archive of Documentary Arts, which co-sponsors the award. “Not just to get the shot and leave, but to hold a story with care such that one cannot put it down so easily. Rode’s work isn’t just coverage of a trial, but an unmasking of a legal performance with consequences far beyond the courtroom.”

Born and raised among Guatemala’s indigenous Maya Kaqchikel community, Roderico Yool Díaz has worked as a photojournalist for over 15 years. In Guatemala, he covers issues related to the aftermath of the internal armed conflict (1960-1996) and current economic and political pressures affecting rural campesino and indigenous communities.

A woman standing outside, holding a handwritten sign that reads "Urge gobernabilidad en Nebaj." She is wearing a woven headscarf and her mouth is open like she is yelling. Further behind her is a crowd of people, some of whom are also holding signs.

As Yool Díaz notes, “This collection is part of a larger archive of five years of hearings from the genocide trial against former dictators Efraín Ríos Montt and Romeo Lucas García. While most of my photojournalistic work has focused on the survivors of the genocide, in this collection I wanted to highlight the defendants as a way of unmasking the leaders responsible for the violence suffered by hundreds of thousands during the war and genocide against the Mayan people in the 1980s.”

The project is divided into four sections: Ríos Montt appears in court for the first time (2012); Intermediate phase hearings, when the case is sent to trial (2012-2013); Genocide trial (March-May 2013); Annulment of the sentence and the second trial (2013-2018).

“Trials are such an important and integral element of the human rights movement going back to Nuremberg,” said Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist at the Rubenstein Library. “The Human Rights Archive has extensive documentation on trials from around the world, but Rode’s project reminds us that trials are not just procedural. His images capture an insurgent, emotional, historical event, one that is simultaneously public yet intimate and affectively human through and through.”

A survivor of the genocide himself, Yool Díaz was born in 1975 on a Dutch-owned coffee plantation where his family had lived and worked as sharecroppers for generations. As a small child, Yool Díaz worked picking coffee and cardamom. He and his family were forced to flee in the early 1980s due to repression by the Guatemalan military. Like thousands of others, his family suffered forced disappearances and recruitment by the Guatemalan military and paramilitary forces.

Yool Díaz spent the rest of his childhood separated from his nuclear family. He worked agricultural jobs and attended night classes. He was the first in his family to attend college, where he studied anthropology, supporting forensic teams in exhumations of mass graves from the internal armed conflict.

After the peace accords in 1996, Yool Díaz witnessed continued violence by police and military against rural indigenous communities, acts that many believed to be a thing of the past. He realized he needed to document the violence to prove that it was still happening.

“I think it is important to understand a story is not just a collection of facts or the narrative of a specific event,” said Yool Díaz. “It is a human experience and has to be treated with care. It is essential not to reproduce the extractivist cycle that for so long has been applied to indigenous people and our communities.”

Since moving to North Carolina, Yool Díaz also documents resilience through culture and activism in Latin American immigrant and indigenous communities of the South.

The Rubenstein Library Digital Storytelling Award is co-sponsored by the Human Rights Archive and the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The award seeks to support outstanding documentary artists/activists exploring human rights and social justice, while expanding the digital documentary holdings in the archive and ensuring long-term preservation and access to their work. The award seeks to encourage artists/activists that pull from the strengths of multi-modal documentary and digital deployment. Going beyond the core mission of transmitting information, these digital storytellers create deeply contextualized, multi-sensory projects that may include still image, moving image, oral histories, soundscapes, and documentary writing. Winners receive $2,500 and are invited to present their work at Duke University, where they collaborate with a team of archivists to preserve their work.

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 support action that will transform the world.

Roderico Yool Díaz papers: https://archives.lib.duke.edu/catalog/yooldiazroderico

Roderico Yool Díaz website: https://rodediaz.com/

 

Come See “Something Special” – Exhibit highlighting the History of the Rubenstein Library and Special Collections at Duke

Post contributed by Roger Peña, Research Services Librarian

Wood paneled room with glass exhibit cases. The items in the cases cannot be clearly seen but look like books and other publications.
Stone Family Gallery on West Campus

What do a Nobel Prize, the first issue of Marvel’s Fantastic Four, a 2000-year old beer receipt, a 1925 advertisement for Heinz Ketchup and a page of the Gutenberg Bible have in common? All these items call Duke University’s Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library home and are currently on display in the Stone Family Gallery on West Campus.

Special collections at Duke have a long history and the university’s collections of rare books, manuscripts, and archives have grown in both size and scope since it first began collecting rare materials in the 1890s (when it was known as Trinity College). Today the Rubenstein Library holds more than 400,000 rare books and over 12,000 manuscript collections, documenting over twenty centuries of human history, culture, and society. Collections range from ancient papyri to colonial and Civil War era manuscripts, and from first editions of literary classics to social media and born-digital files. Thousands of students, visitors and researchers use the library’s resources each year, both online and in-person.  The growing collections of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library have helped to make Duke University a world renowned institution of primary source research. But where did it all begin?

“Something Special” examines the history of special collections at Duke University, from the Trinity College Historical Society and the Duke endowment of 1924 to the growth and expansion of Duke Libraries into the 21st Century. “Something Special” welcomes you to explore a (small) selection of materials collected throughout the history of Duke’s special collections – on display in the Stone Family Gallery (located on the 1st floor between the Rubenstein Library and Perkins).

Sex, Race, and Sweet Petunias: A Bass Connections Team Conversation with Rissi Palmer

Date: Tuesday, April 9, 2024
Time: 6:30 p.m. — A reception will precede the conversation at 6:00 p.m.
Location: Smith Warehouse Bay 4, Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall
Please RSVP here.

The “Rosetta Reitz’s Musical Archive of Care” Bass Connections team welcomes Rissi Palmer! She’ll be in conversation with us as we explore the album Sweet Petunias, issued by Rosetta Records in 1986 (part of the Rosetta Reitz Papers in the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture). The conversation will also feature Bass Connections undergraduate team members Lindsay Frankfort and Trisha Santanam and team co-leader singer-songwriter Tift Merritt.

A reception will precede the conversation at 6:00.

Registration not required, but much appreciated. Please RSVP here.

Hosted by the Forum for Scholars and Publics (Forum @ FHI), with the support of Bass Connections, the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the Social Science Research Institute, and Duke Arts.

Black Lives in Archives Day 2024

Date: Monday, April 1, 2024
Time: 11:00am-2:00pm
Location: Gothic Reading Room, Rubenstein Library 2nd Floor

The Rubenstein Library is pleased to announce our 3rd annual Black Lives in Archives Day.

This one-day only immersive exhibition will allow visitors to browse, touch and feel special selections from the collections of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library by and about Black lives. Feel free to chat with Rubenstein Library staff and explore one-of a kind Black primary source material. From rare first editions books, to published works exploring Black life in Durham, to publications by Black students at Duke, the event will give attendees a hands-on experience with the richness of Black print culture!

This event is free and open to the public. Information on visiting the Rubenstein Library, including parking and campus maps, is available on our website.

Not What the Doctor Ordered

Post contributed by Sarah Bernstein, Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Intern. 

Cover of small green paperback booklet with the title ""Healthful Rays." Next to the booklet is a yellow measuring tape showing the booklet is 4.5 inches long.

As someone who studies unorthodox and fringe medicine, I was incredibly pleased to find the large arrangement of unorthodox, fringe, strange, and frankly “quack” medicine within the Rubenstein Library. While the rich History of Medicine Collections includes classics of Western medicine like a first edition of Andreas VesaliusDe Humani Corporis Fabrica, a memento mori in carved ivory, and various microscopes (on permanent display in the Trent Room), I am glad to share that there are also patent medicine bottles, advertisements, and numerous writings and publications on alternative and unorthodox medicine. George Starr White’s My Little Library of Health is one such series of advice from a so-called “quack,” or an illegitimate and opportunistic, doctor.

Advertisement for George Starr White's books. The title, in large font, reads "The Thumb-nail Editions" followed by four paragraphs of text describing the books. The advertisement is black text on green paper. The 1928 “little library” by White is a series of 28 books whose length ranges from 20–48 pages. While small, I would say that calling them “thumb-nail” editions is a little misleading; the books measure at 4.5 inches in height and near 3.5 inches across (3 ⁷⁄₁₆ to be exact) is far from what is considered a miniature book or thumbnail sized. The advertisement at the back for each book boasted that each book contained illustrations, sometimes in color, and provided White’s sound advice on “health building by natural living.” Each book could be purchased for 25 cents (now somewhere near $4.50) or, for 5 dollars prepaid (around $90 for us today), one could score for the entire set.

White was a proponent of chromotherapy, light therapy, and heat therapy. In My Little Library of Health he informed his readers about his research and strong belief in the healing properties of Ultra-Red Rays. Although White’s belief in chromotherapy began by viewing sunlight through oak leaves, based on his account in volume 27, his tests had revealed to him that artificial lights from electric lamps still produced healing effects. In fact, some electric lamps worked better than others. Why? Ultra-Red Rays, that White describes as “the ‘thermalRays upon which all life depends,” more commonly known as infrared light. Based on these beliefs, White developed the “Filteray Pad,” a heat pad which generated Ultra-Red Rays and was meant to be applied to the affected area. The price for this cure-all device? A cool $35 (~$620-30 in 2024).

Image of the Filteray Pad, a light gray, roughly square shaped, cloth with an electrical cord attached.
Figure of the Filteray Pad in Volume 28, page 14, of My Little Library of Health (1928).

White would go on to develop other light-based therapies and medical systems. In 1929, White was unflatteringly covered in the “Bureau of Investigation” section of The Journal of the American Medical Association (volume 92, number 15) for his dubious claim of medical schooling and his career in patent medicines. The article lambasted White and all of his medicines and cures. Along with the “Filteray Pad” there was “Valens Essential Oil Tablets” (sold during the 1918 Flu Epidemic for “Gripping the Flu out of Influenza”) and his methods of “Bio-Dynamic-Chromatic (B-D-C) Diagnosis” and “Ritho-Chrome Therapy” (light-based diagnosis and cure using multiple colored rays that were similar to other forms of chromotherapy; the “Electronic Reactions of Abrams” by Albert Abrams and Dinshah Ghadiali’s “Spectro-Chrome” device respectively).

The Bureau of Investigation (formerly the Propaganda for Reform Department) was created as an outgrowth from the Council on Chemistry and Pharmacy to specifically investigate, disprove, and inform the public about fraudulent nostrums and patent medicine. The effort was headed by Dr. Arthur J. Cramp, a passionate doctor who was highly critical of nostrums, patent medicines, and the lax regulations which enabled proprietors to label and advertise their products as legitimate medicines.

George Starr White was just one of many quacks that Dr. Cramp and The Journal of the American Medical Association investigated and denounced, and who are represented in the Rubenstein Library’s collections. While I would not advise anyone to turn to White for medical advice today, I would encourage people to think about illegitimate medical professionals like White—and the world that they operated in—in contrast to medicine and the medical system today. These quacks from the past can provide insight into how medicine is legitimized, the rise of the medical profession, and continuous efforts throughout history to seek and provide unorthodox care.

Photograph of George White Starr, a White man with thick beard, wire-rimmed glasses, and balding head. Below the photograph is Starr's large signature.
Page with a portrait of George Starr White signed “Youthfully yours” at the end of each My Little Library of Health (1928) book.

Constructing a Century

Post contributed by Shaina Leverett, Harry H. Harkins Intern for the Duke Centennial, Duke University Archives

If someone approached you and asked- “What is this thing you call Duke University? What does it mean? Where does it come from? Who makes it? Who continually makes it?” How would you respond to that?

Four undergraduates applied to create an exhibit showcasing the last 100 years of Duke history. As part of a Story+ summer research program, their jobs were to comb through the University Archive and chose 100 items that evoked Duke’s last 100 years, and subsequently curate an exhibit. Now, to give you some perspective on what that task entails, the university archive contains about 11,000 linear feet of records (including digital records).

Here’s the moment where we scratch the track and ask “Wait, hasn’t Duke been around more than 100 years?”, and the answer is yes, technically speaking Duke began as Brown’s Schoolhouse in the year 1838. Instead, the Duke Centennial celebrates the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Duke Endowment by James B. Duke. This charitable organization supports a number of causes and organizations, one of them being Trinity College. The college quickly changed its name to Duke University to reflect the transformative nature of this ongoing gift. The Story+ scholars looked back through the records since that pivotal year, and their work resulted in a rich and kaleidoscopic narrative of our school, which is now on display in Chappell Gallery in Perkins Library and online.

The students tasked with this project are Caroline Edmondson (T’26), Prisha Gupta (T’ 26), Zoe Tishaev (T’ 24), and Melody Tzang (T’ 25). Their project was managed by Jessica Orzulak, PhD, and they were further assisted by a team of staff at the Rubenstein. I sat down with each of the four undergraduates and asked them a series of questions ranging from the practical and philosophical struggles of the task. Their responses highlighted the difficulty in attempting to tell a ‘complete’ story about our institution, and the reasons we try to do it anyway.

Student Curators (L to R): Melody Tzang, Zoe Tishaev, Caroline Edmondson, and Prisha Gupta

Interviewer: Your task was to create an exhibit showcasing the last 100 years of Duke’s history. How did you find a focus for that wide of a time period?

Caroline: Yeah, that was definitely a big challenge. We came up with a list of themes that we knew we wanted to cover, as well as events that we already knew about just from our experience being here. Then it was a little easier to narrow the search and say, okay, let’s find some stuff that talks about the Woman’s College. Okay, let’s find some stuff that talks about the Graduate School or the Duke Forest. Also, we would look at collections that interested us, or that we thought might contain some insights. We tried to find objects that sort of spoke for themselves or spoke to parts of the stories that we didn’t necessarily know.

Interviewer: Part of looking back, especially over the course of a century, means we have to sometimes look upon some disappointing parts of history. How did you consider including the parts of our history that are more difficult to engage with?

Zoe: I think I’m a big believer that we criticize the institutions that we love. Because we want to learn from our past and we want to make them better, right? So it’s good to look back and to reflect and to see where things have changed and how we can learn from our past and the shortfalls of things that we’ve tried that haven’t worked. Something that’s easy to forget about when we step into leadership positions is [that] we forget to think about what’s been tried already and how we got to where we are, and all the mistakes and all the successes that have led us here. Until we understand that, it’s difficult for us to truly move forward.

Interviewer: How do you hope people will react to this exhibit?

Prisha: [Looking at] the Trinity Archive from the 1920’s, the editor had written their editor’s letter on Duke’s name change. I loved getting to read that. That person was definitely only here for 4 years, but what they had written meant a lot to somebody–to me! I’m somebody in the future! Even small pins, T-shirts, and the photos that people take, I think it builds such an impact on what we understand to be Duke’s history. I just hope that people realize after they leave the exhibit that they matter to this institution in some way.

Interviewer: What have you learned about Duke’s past 100 years that most surprised you?

Caroline: There are some smaller stories that were definitely surprising, like my mind was totally blown when we found out about the parapsychology lab. I was also struck by how frequently I found things that were so similar to what’s happening today. I’m a member of Duke Players, which is our oldest student theater organization. One of the objects that we pulled out to represent that group is a script in a Playbill from a production of the Glass Menagerie. Like decades and decades ago, and now we still read that play all the time!

Interviewer: What advice would you give to your fellow undergraduates, who maybe haven’t utilized the archive yet?

Zoe: You should absolutely do it. At least once in your career. It’s so touching and grounding to connect yourself back to the students who roamed the same halls as you and walked the same ground. There’s something very humbling about that and it’s just so fascinating to see. I think the library staff are nothing but helpful. Just go into the archives, they’re open for everybody. And ask the staff member to walk you through it. They will be delighted and thrilled that you have taken an interest, and honestly, our library system is probably one of the best in schools of our caliber.

Interviewer: Are there any skills you gained from this experience that you see yourself using in your education or your future job?

Melody: For sure, all of the soft skills that are super important in the workplace- collaboration, problem solving, also, just being able to communicate properly with so few words. [My] writing skills definitely came in handy with the label writing. It’s a really difficult learning how to be concise in your writing with so little space, especially for the [artifact] labels.  Cutting it to 100 to 150 words is really tough because we’re doing all that primary source research we come across. Maybe we only write 10% of what we’ve actually researched, and so [from] that whole breadth of knowledge [it] is really hard to pick and choose what our general audience would want to take away from an artifact. Or maybe there’s too much information that we just can’t put in there that we actually really wanted to share. So, a lot of it was how do we be concise with our writing? How do we also be creative in combining information together and spread it across different labels [so] that information still gets out there.

Interviewer: What is your favorite artifact in the exhibit?

Melody: My personal favorite item in the exhibit is this printing plate of the Duke alma mater. The alma mater was originally titled “Hymn to Trinity” by a graduate student named Robert H. James. It was a devotional for Trinity College before Trinity College became Duke University. He was inspired to write a hymn to Trinity in order to show his own gratitude and devotion to his college, and then also to express the feelings of his fellow students and others in what he called “the little worlds of Trinity.” It kind of mirrors that sort of same devotion and gratitude that I have for Duke.

Zoe: I change my answer on this every time. I think my traditional answer has been the roller skates. [Follow the link for more details on a 1949 bus boycott against the rise in bus fares between East and West Campus.] I am a very pedestrian centered person. My whole thing on campus is fighting for more pedestrian access and less auto-centrism.  So just seeing the energy people went through to walk from East to West campus because of a fare hike . . . it was more about the principal than the affordability of it. It’s a combination of civic engagement and people standing up for what they thought was right. Today, [that protest] could never happen. Students would not get that outraged. Or maybe they’d get outraged, but they wouldn’t organize around something of that scale. People drive from East to West Campus every day, and I just think it’s a strange shift because the distance hasn’t changed, but the students have.

Prisha: The picture of Jelly Leftwich and the Blue Devil is . . . [imagine here Prisha’s facial expression of palpable glee and adoration]. I’m a notorious Jelly Leftwich fan. I did a small research project on his scrapbook a while back and we don’t have the scrapbook in the exhibit, but that’s also an object worth checking out. Basically, he came here in 1926 to direct the three main bands at Duke. He’s kind of credited with revitalizing the music department at Duke. His scrapbook is really funny. Newspapers would also often call him handsome or something, and he would underline it every time.

Caroline: One of my favorite things that I totally found by chance was a glass lantern slide from 1935 of the Duke Forest. It’s meant for a projector, so it’s just kind of like tiny green glass image that you would put in front of a projector that would get displayed on a wall. When I checked out the collection, I thought it was going to be documents, but it was all these little glass lantern slides. It’s stunning and it honestly took my breath away a little bit. Because it looks just like it does now, like in 1935, the Duke Forest had as much beauty in it as it does now and I thought there was something remarkable about that. The Forest isn’t one of the institutions at Duke that I engage with very frequently, but it really put things into perspective for me. How lucky we are to have this resource that has been preserved for so long and will hopefully be preserved for decades to come. And to have this image of it from almost 100 years ago that looks so identical to how it looks now . . . it honestly made me a little emotional, this tiny image that someone took for research purposes in 1935 tells such a beautiful story of almost 100 years of the Duke Forest, which I thought was really cool.

The exhibit titled Our Duke: Constructing a Century will have its kick-off event on January 24th, 2024 from 4-6, with our curators set to give remarks at 4:45. On behalf of my fellow staff members in the University Archives department, we are exceptionally proud of the work of these four bright students. You can see from the exhibit, the level of care and gravity they considered when telling their story of Duke. We look forward to officially celebrating the fruits of their several months of hard work, and hope you will join us. To see more on the exhibit, including a virtual exhibition and the curator’s statements, please visit it OUR DUKE: Constructing A Century.

Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South

Date: Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Rubenstein Library Room 153, Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Duke University (the event will be recorded)
Contact: Rachel Ingold (rachel.ingold@duke.edu or 919-684-8549)

               Dr. Kylie Smith

Please join us on Tuesday, January 23, for our next Trent History of Medicine Lecture Series event. Kylie Smith, Ph.D., will present “Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South.”

The Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s sought to end racial segregation in all U.S. public institutions, including hospitals. Psychiatric hospitals became political battlegrounds over segregation and patients’ rights, setting the scene for disparities that continue today.

“Jim Crow in the Asylum” explores the process of desegregation and deinstitutionalization in state psychiatric hospitals in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. It draws on original records, court cases, and personal testimony to expose the racist ideas that underpinned the treatment of African Americans with mental illness and saw psychiatric hospitals used as dumping grounds for some of the South’s most vulnerable people.

Kylie Smith is Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Healthcare History and Policy in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Associate Faculty in the History Department, at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her PhD in the history of psychiatry in Australia, and is the author of the award winning book Talking Therapy: Knowledge and Power in American Psychiatric Nursing published by Rutgers University Press in 2020. Her new book entitled Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South will be published by UNC Press early in 2025 and is supported by the G13 Grant from the US National Library of Medicine.

This event is sponsored by the History of Medicine Collections in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine. The Trent Center is holding another talk by Professor Smith on Wednesday, January 24, at noon

Occupational Therapy Reveals “A Psychiatrist’s Anthology”

Post contributed by Roger Pena, Research Services Librarian

During the Fall 2023 semester, the History of Medicine Collections of the Rubenstein Library welcomed close to 50 first-year graduate students from the Occupational Therapy program at Duke’s School of Medicine. Duke Health and Hospitals have provided occupational therapy services since the 1940s and 2021 marked the inaugural year of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program.

Occupational Therapists (OTs) are trained in the social, emotional, and physical effects of an illness, injury or disability and help support the development of daily life (occupational) skills to help patients live independently and perform everyday tasks more easily and with less pain. For example, one (of many) functional areas OTs address is handwriting, where providers support skills through physical exercises, self reflection, organizational goals and confidence building.

Although it may be considered a “new” field, with the establishment of the National Society for Promotion of Occupational Therapy (now known as the American Occupational Therapy Association, or AOTA) in 1917, many principles and treatments of occupational therapy can be seen throughout medicine prior to the 20th century in areas such as psychiatry, hygiene, physical therapy and rehabilitation. What may surprise some is the fact that some early interventions of occupational therapy took from the arts and crafts movement of the early 20th Century as well as weaving, gardening and the art of bookbinding. By 1918, occupational therapy schools were established in Boston, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Philadelphia to train reconstruction aides (as OTs were known at the time) in evidence-based practices and treatments to help soldiers returning from World War I. Soon, however, occupational therapy would grow to reach a wider range of patients and those in need of more holistic interventions.

The visit to the Rubenstein Library served as an opportunity for these future OTs to interact with the History of Medicine Collections and Duke Medical Archives artifacts, manuscripts and rare books related to the history of their field and related branches of medicine.

Materials included:

  • Massage roller and devices to help feed patients with physical limitations
  • Duke football programs from the 1950s commemorating annual match between Duke and UNC to raise money for the NC Cerebral Palsy Hospital in Durham and raise awareness
  • Medical illustrations and student journals from OTs

A Psychiatrist’s Outlet

Cover of "A Psychiatrists Anthology"While curating Rubenstein Library materials for this session, one title of particular (and peculiar) interest was “A Psychiatrist’s Anthology” by Dr.  Louis Karnosh, published in 1932 (2nd edition) by the Occupational Therapy Press. This small publisher was part of the formally named Neuro-psychiatry Department at City Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.  Dr Karnosh, a psychiatrist, was the head of the above-mentioned department and also served as a professor of pathology and dentistry at Case Western Reserve University. “A Psychiatrist’s Anthology” – a collection of poems and stories – is inspired by Karnosh’s patients and looks at six different psychiatric conditions suffered by those he is treating – delirium tremens, general paresis, melancholia, schizophrenia, paranoia, and senile dementia.

The anthology also serves as an ode to his love of poetry and book printing. The first part explains Karnosh’s reasoning for creating an anthology of poems and stories while also describing his desire to publish a book in the tradition of Old World book binding and printing. “As a specimen of bookcraft, this is but an amateur’s feeble emulation of master bookmakers of yesterday … The pen and ink sketches, the type composition and printing are done by the author.”  The uncut pages, woodcut illustrations, the typography of the movable type, and the limited numbered copy give the air of books printed centuries before.

Every part of this anthology has symbolism and meaning to represent the six conditions Karnosh delves into through story and rhyme. The preface is written in poetic verse and explains Karnosh’s thoughts and ideas on what it means to be a psychiatrist while the introduction gives Karnosh the opportunity to speak to his readers about empathy for his patients – to not convolute mood with madness. ” I must keep to the road… Luring sirens… are calling and are singing phantastic farrago of popular psychologies. I must retain an objective calm…. I must first be an able dissector before I can synthesize…. Above all I must not treat diseased effectively by interjecting my own into the problem at hand. There must be no clash of feeling with feeling.” Each of the six conditions includes an original hand-drawn illustration, poem, and patient anecdote by Karnosh as well as a short encyclopedia entry about a mythical or literary figure to help the reader better connect to the condition(and patient) described. The folly of Prometheus to describe delirium tremens (alcohol withdrawal); Don Quixote to describe the condition of paranoia.

The (Poet) Doctor is In

Newspaper clipping with the headline "Jobless, Man Shoots Doctor. Blames Him for the Failure to Get Disability Compensation."
Newspaper article reporting Karnosh attack

Physicians as poets and writers is a tradition that dates back centuries, from John Keats, William Llyod Carlos and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. to the contemporary Nawal El Saadawi, Irène Mathieu and Rafael Campos. Physicians have long seen the therapeutic value of writing and reading poetry for both patients and themselves. At Philadelphia Hospital, founder Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Benjamin Rush were proponents of patients using writing as therapy while Walt Whitman was known to visit field hospitals and read poetry to wounded soldiers during the Civil War.

A look into the life of Dr Karnosh revealed an interesting and almost haunting past. Aside from his responsibilities as the head of the Neuropsychiatry Department at Cleveland Hospital and medical school professor, Dr Karnosh served as an expert witness in the Cleveland area murder cases[1] for both prosecutors and defense teams, having the ultimate responsibility of determining the mental capacity of the accused to stand trial. In 1940, Dr Karnosh was shot[2] on the front door of his home by a former patient who had accused him of writing a negative evaluation that resulted in the loss of the patient’s pension. Karnosh survived the attack.

Writing and poetry seemed to have had a therapeutic value for Dr Karnosh and may have served as an outlet for all the stress and pressure that came with his responsibilities. He was known to give lectures on various topics across the Ohio area and contributed advice columns[3] in local papers. A look at the catalog record at Case Western Reserve University’s Library, shows several books attributed to Karnosh as the main author, co-author or medical illustrator, including a textbook on psychiatry for nurses that had eight different editions.

As for the link between physician and poetry,  Dr. Rafael Campos, physician, poet and Director of Literature and Writing Programs of the Arts and Humanities Initiative at Harvard Medical School explains, “Poetry does a better job in teaching because it is about embracing the human aspect of suffering.” He goes on to say, “It’s our own humanity. That can be really healing for patients.”[4]

A New Approach

In explaining his thoughts for writing a “Psychiatrists Anthology,” Karnosh mentions that it is a “product of avocational moments of a psychiatrist who spends time with his patients in occupational therapy.” By the time the first edition was printed in 1931, occupational therapy had been an officially recognized medical discipline for close to fifteen years but “didn’t fit neatly into the medical model.” OT took a more holistic approach to therapy with aspects of nursing care, physical therapy, social work, psychiatry, health advocacy, and orthopedics seen in its treatments and interventions. Were poetry and art how Karnosh connected with his patients? Were these occupational skills part of his own mental well-being?

At a time when those with mental illness, physical disabilities and depression were seen as ills of society, occupational therapy and new OTs seemed to bring a breath of freshness to medicine with a focus on developing vocational skills as well as supporting the mental well-being of patients.

Today, there are approximately 500 accredited Occupational Therapy programs (with nearly 200 more vying for accreditation status) and over 180,000 occupational therapists and OT assistants practicing in schools, hospitals and outpatient clinics across the United States. As of December 12, 2023, Duke University’s Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program was granted accreditation  from the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Footnotes

[1] The Evening Review. East Liverpool, Ohio. Tuesday, January 26, 1932

[2] The Daily Sentinel-Tribune.Bowling Green, Ohio. Wednesday, July 03, 1940

[3] The Coshocton Tribune. Coshocton, Ohio. Thursday, October 12, 1939

[4] Demarco, S. (2020, March 11). Doctor-poets search for the right words to help patients heal. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-03-11/column-one-doctor-poets

 

 

2024-2025 Research Travel Grant Program

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for the 2024-2025 Research Travel Grant Program, offering awards of up to $1500 to support research projects associated with the following Centers, subject areas, and collection holdings:

  • Archive of Documentary Arts
  • Doris Duke Foundation Research Travel Grants
  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Travel Grants
  • 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)

Anyone whose research would be supported by sources from the Rubenstein Library’s research centers is eligible to apply. We encourage applications from students at any level of education; faculty and teachers; visual and performing artists; writers; filmmakers; public historians; and independent researchers. For assistance determining the eligibility of your project, please contact AskRL@duke.edu with the subject line “Travel Grants.”

Eligibility

Applicants must reside beyond a 100-mile radius of Durham, N.C., and may not be current Duke students or employees.

Information Session

An online information session will be held Thursday, January 11, 2024, 2-3 pm EST.  This program will review application requirements, offer tips for creating a successful application, and include an opportunity for attendees to ask questions. This program will be recorded and posted online afterwards.  Register for the session here.

Timeline

The deadline for applications will be Thursday, February 29, 2024, at 6:00 pm EST.

Decisions will be announced by the end of April 2024 for travel during May 2024-June 2025. Awards are paid as reimbursement after completion of the research visit(s).

Sensing Race in the Pacific World

Post contributed by Chris Blakley, Visiting Assistant Professor, Occidental College and History of Medicine Travel Grant Recipient, 2023-2024

Handwritten document on white paper with text in brown ink. Across the top is written the title "Joint Committee on the Library of Congress, June 14, 1850" with one paragraph of text below.
14 June 1850 resolution of the Joint Committee of the Library of Congress, Box 15, Wilkes Papers

 

Upon successfully passing the motion at their meeting in June 1850, the Joint Committee of the Library of Congress resolved to compel Charles Wilkes to “notify Mr. Pickering that the Committee think he was not authorized to devote his time” as a member of the United States Exploring Expedition between 1838 and 1842 to jotting notes for his book The Races of Man.[1] Nevertheless, Pickering published The Races of Man as the ninth volume of the multi-volume Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition in 1848, six years after returning from their voyage under the command of Lieutenant Wilkes. The committee’s resolution to Wilkes and Pickering is among the Wilkes Papers held by the David M. Rubenstein Manuscript and Rare Book Library, which generously funded my research at the library in the summer of 2023.

During their time in the Pacific Ocean––including stopovers in the Tuamotu Archipelago, Tuvalu, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Hawaii, and the Philippines––Pickering resolved to produce a classificatory schema of “all eleven races of man.”[2] At the start, he found “difficulty arose, in fixing in the mind, while passing from place to place, the relative shades of complexion” of the people the Exploring Expedition, or Ex. Ex., encountered during their voyage.

Fijian skin, for instance, upset English-speaker’s reliance on vision to discern race in the early nineteenth century. In May, 1840, Pickering looked through a spyglass from the deck of the Vincennes, the squadron’s flagship, toward a cluster of people gathered on the shore of Levuka, a town on the eastern coast of Ovalu, to obtain “evidence of the lightness of the Feejeean complexion.” Ovalu is one of the more than three hundred volcanic islands that make up the Fiji archipelago in the South Pacific.

At first, Pickering incorrectly hypothesized the group contained a mixture of “Malayan”, “Polynesian”, and “Negro” peoples rather than Fijians. Seeing people from afar thus proved to be inadequate for the purposes of collecting scientific facts concerning skin color in the Pacific Rim. Pickering improvised by terming them “purple men” on closer inspection. Ocularity and visibility, then, proved to be incomplete methods for knowing race.[3] So, Pickering concluded, his racial scientific program required collecting “more obvious distinctive characters” to serve as an evidentiary basis for his racial taxonomy. Some of these characters included notes on Papuan skin as “harsh to the touch, and the hair crisped or frizzed”, hearing Pa‘umotus “making a kind of purring noise”, and wincing at “the strong ill odour” of Fijians that “make them thoroughly disgusting to persons newly arrived.”[4]

Handwritten document on yellowed paper with text in black ink. At the top of the document is the title "Organization for the Exploring Expedition" with several paragraphs of text below.
“Organization for the Exploring Expedition”, Box 3, Folder 1, Wilkes Papers

 

Pickering’s inability to fully rely on vision matters for historians of science and the senses. Relying on prior analyses of race as a phenomenological apparatus, in particular the scholarship of philosophers including Sachi Sekimoto and Christopher Brown, I am investigating how the Ex. Ex. produced scientific ideas about race via the sensorium. What is at stake here is the place of vision and visibility in histories of science in the Enlightenment as hallmarks of modern scientific epistemology. Forms of visualization equipped what Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison term the disciplinary eye that lay at the ethico-epistemic foundations of contemporary science.[5] Yet, scientists like Pickering used hearing and ideas about noise, smell and notions of cleanliness, and mores around touch and taste, to articulate race as a scientific fact through the itinerary of the Ex. Ex. Put simply, ocularcentrism was too brittle an epistemological basis for the Ex. Ex. to taxonomize the various groups they “discovered” through their transpacific itinerary. Rather, the Ex Ex used olfactory disgust, sonic boundaries, and norms surrounding touch and gustation to classify Pacific Islanders as racialized others through the body and the senses.

Before the Ex. Ex. departed from Hampton Roads in 1838, Wilkes argued that the operation would prove to be “useful to the Navy, honorable to this Country, and highly advantageous to the Commercial interest of the Country” and to “Science generally.”[6] In his “Organization for the Exploring Expedition”, Wilkes did not propose sending a race scientist like Charles Pickering––who joined the Ex. Ex. as the scientific corps’s zoologist––along with the other “Scientifics” like the geologist James Dwight Dana, the botanist William Rich, or the artists Alfred Thomas Agate and Joseph Drayton.[7] The Wilkes Papers at the Rubenstein contain material on these figures, as well as the John Torrey Papers, which pertain to the Ex. Ex. Torrey––a botanist who did not travel with Wilkes––later classified the plant collections made by the scientific corps and prepared specimen catalogues as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and his papers contain letters with people associated with the SI like Spencer F. Barid, Joseph Henry, and Louis Agassiz. Torrey’s correspondence also contains letters from the phrenologist Johann Gaspar Spurzheim, and Josiah Nott, a leading race scientist of the antebellum era.

Moving forward, my aim is to produce a phenomenological account of the Ex. Ex. that provides insight into the formation of the racist ideas that undergirded Indian removal and Manifest Destiny via the senses. Like Sachi Sekimoto––who argues that “race constantly renews its material presence through latching onto our bodily felt, sensorial experiences, making itself feel-able and sensible and therefore ‘natural.’”––I claim that the narratives produced by the scientific corps and the naval personnel of the Ex Ex justified beliefs in American Indian and Polynesian “savagery” in Jacksonian America.[8]

[1] Wilkes Papers, Box 15.

[2] Charles Pickering, The Races of Man: And Their Geographical Distribution (London: H. G. Bohn, 1850) 2nd edition, 2.

[3] Charles Pickering, The Races of Man: And Their Geographical Distribution (United Kingdom: John Chapman, 1849), 146-147.

[4] Pickering, The Races of Man, 3; Wilkes, Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, vol.1, 324;  Walter Lawry, Friendly and Feejee Islands: A Missionary Visit to Various Stations in the South Seas in the Year MDCCCXLVII, (United Kingdom: C. Gilpin, 1850), 79-80.

[5] Lorraine Daston, and Peter Galison, Objectivity (Princeton: Zone Books, 2007), 48, 148

[6] Wilkes Papers, Box 3, “Organization for the Exploring Expedition”

[7] William Reynolds, Voyage to the Southern Ocean: The Letters of Lieutenant William Reynolds from the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 (United States: Naval Institute Press, 1988), 3.

[8] Sekimoto, “Race and the senses”, 83.