Category Archives: Featured

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.

 

“Under the Blessed Arm of Freedom” A Blog Series Documenting the Search for Jacob Chiles

Post contributed by Kelsey Zavelo, Doctoral Candidate in History and Eleonore Jantz Reference Intern 2021-2022.

Chapter One: Finding the Extraordinary

While browsing the Joseph Ingram Sr. papers to answer an ordinary reference question, I came across an extraordinary letter. From his new home in Warren County, Ohio, on March 4, 1847 a man named Jacob Chiles wrote to John M. Ingram of Lilesville, North Carolina to satisfy John’s request that Jacob write him once resettled—in Jacob’s words—”in order that you may know how I feel under the blessed arm of freedom.”

I paused, and I read the line again. “…under the blessed arm of freedom.” At that moment I knew I was reading something special: a letter written by someone special. In 1847, Jacob Chiles was a free man writing to someone who once claimed him as property.

If for no other reason, Jacob’s three-page handwritten letter is remarkable for the simple fact that it exists. Because of the literacy skills and resources needed for their production, letters are historical documents that privilege the retelling of some people’s stories over others’. While letters written by political and social elites, business leaders, literary figures, and other (mainly white) educated adults were common to the US antebellum period, letters penned by enslaved- and formerly-enslaved persons were rare. And while some “slave letters” were transcribed by a literate person on behalf of the author, Jacob appears to have penned his letter himself.

Slave letters were rare, but they do exist. Anti-slavery newspapers reprinted the correspondence and other writings of hundreds of black people who escaped or otherwise left bondage to further the abolitionist cause. Still others, especially persons laboring as house servants, artisans, and drivers wrote—sometimes frequently—to family, friends, masters and mistresses, businesspersons, and others. Published in 1974, 1977 and 1978 respectively, Robert Starobin’s Blacks in Bondage, John W. Blassingame’s Slave Testimony and Randall M. Miller’s “Dear Master” reflect a few historians’ conscious attempts to assemble, analyze, and render accessible a rich sampling of letters by persons that the institution of slavery had intended and functioned to silence. Over the years, researchers and staff at the Rubenstein Library have identified dozens of “slave letters” in across its collections.

The content of the Jacob Chiles letter is as extraordinary as is its materiality; it requires no editorial note. (Take, for instance, Jacob’s personal wager to John about the benefits of wage labor: “If you will not pay your hands[,] treat them well…feed them well[,] use the whip but little[,] incourage [sic] them a great deal & I will agree to become your slave again if you do not get more labour from their hands & and that performed in a better manner.”)

In a coming post [now available], I elaborate on what other documents in the Ingram family papers and beyond may suggest about Jacob’s biography and life in bondage. At this point, I simply implore you, dear reader, to read and contemplate Jacob’s letter, his own words.

Page 1 of Chiles Letter

You can also download a transcript of the text and PDF scan of the original letter. Read the second post in this series.

Panel Discussion: J. B. Rhine: ESP at Duke

Date: Thursday, April 14, 2022
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Room 153, Rubenstein Library
Contact: Rachel Ingold (rachel.ingold@duke.edu or 919-684-8549)

The Rubenstein Library houses the Parapsychology Laboratory Records, a collection of 700 boxes of materials that reveal a comprehensive picture of the Laboratory during its existence at Duke. The collection includes personal papers of J. B. Rhine, J. G. Pratt, Louisa E. Rhine, and others, as well as professional correspondence, research records, legal and financial papers, clippings, and photographs.

Join us on Thursday, April 14, at 5 p.m. for a panel discussion on J. B. Rhine: ESP at Duke. Panelists will discuss J. B. Rhine’s pioneering research on telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis.

Panelists include:

  • Barbara Ensrud, Moderator
  • Sally Rhine Feather, Ph.D.,  Clinical Psychologist, co-editor of J. B. Rhine : Letters, 1923-1939 : ESP and the Foundations of Parapsychology
  • John G. Kruth, Executive Director of the Rhine Research Center
  • James Carpenter, Ph.D., Psychotherapist
  • Tom Robisheaux, Ph.D., Professor of History, Duke University

Our event coincides with an exhibit, “Early Studies in Parapsychology at Duke,” on display in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room of the Rubenstein Library.

Welcome Zachary Tumlin!

White man in early 30s with brown hair, beard, and black framed glasses wearing bright blue suit with white shirt and yellow tie stands against brick wall.
Zachary Tumlin

We recently welcomed Zachary Tumlin as a new staff member in the Rubenstein Library’s Technical Services department! We asked Zachary a few questions to help us—and you—get to know him a little better.

Tell us a little bit about your new job at the Rubenstein Library.
I am the Project Archivist for the Economists’ Papers Archive, which is a collaboration between the Center for the History of Political Economy and the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. It contains the papers of over 70 economists (mostly from the 20th century), including several Nobel prize winners. It is also the official repository for the records of the American Economic Association and History of Political Economy (which was founded at Duke in 1969 and is published by Duke University Press).

I am currently processing the papers of Dr. Marc Nerlove, who concentrated on agricultural economics and econometrics. His collection was originally 206 boxes because he was active for 60 years before retiring from the University of Maryland, which is where I earned my graduate degree from. It was not until after I started this job that I learned that he lives in the same neighborhood that I just left, literally only a few minutes’ walk from door to door.

What did your path to becoming an archivist look like?
I am originally from West Virginia and earned my Bachelor of Music in Music Education from West Virginia University (WVU). I was a middle school band director in the state for three years but had a poor experience, and that combined with an autism diagnosis led me to reconsider my career goal to be a high school or college director of bands. I came across librarianship and specifically music librarianship online while exploring my options, and this reminded me of times when I managed sheet music collections for performing ensembles that I was a member or leader of (something I had done since high school).

I have been fortunate to have a large personal library since childhood, and I have always naturally been drawn towards preservation and systemization (I can access born-digital files dating back to elementary school assignments). How autism manifests itself in me combined with my personal characteristics make me well-suited for this field and there are others like me, whether they are out and proud all the way to not even suspecting that they might meet the diagnostic criteria.

Lastly, I have conducted geological research on my family and am a member of the National Society Sons of the American Revolution under two ancestors with others possible. I understand the importance of being able to document and share your story through records.

Tell us about the advocacy work that you do.
My self-advocacy is grounded in the fact that I am an adult diagnosed Autistic, but I also identify as neurodivergent and Disabled because of the need to not silo myself among others who have received the exact same diagnosis. My areas of emphasis include employment, policy and law, history and culture, education, and representation in media.

I specify that I am a formal Disability self-advocate to indicate that I do this both personally and professionally. For example, as a founding Steering Committee member of the Society of American Archivists Accessibility and Disability Section, I have published on inclusive hiring, retention, and advancement, and as a member of the Music Library Association Diversity Committee, I have presented on accommodations for Autistics and training for both allies and other self-advocates.

My initial goal was to connect with anyone and everyone on campus who is doing anything significant related to accessibility and Disability and get involved, so if I have not met you yet, please reach out!

What are you most looking forward to in your new job and in Durham?
First, my most recent job search lasted from January 2019 to December 2022 and totaled 645 applications, 84 screening calls or first round interviews, and six offers, so while my current position is only grant-funded for one year, it is still nice to be able to rest, even if only temporarily.

Second, I eventually narrowed my search to the Washington, DC metropolitan area (where I was still living) and North Carolina (where someone very important to me had relocated to). I needed to secure full-time employment and move closer, so I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to prove myself and the Triangle feels like the best place for me in NC if I had to leave DC. I am looking forward to seeing Australian, Autistic comedian Hannah Gadsby at the Performing Arts Center in April.

Tell us something unique about yourself.
My primary instrument is trombone and at WVU I studied under professor Dr. H. Keith Jackson (now Dean of the College of Creative Arts). In my first semester, I saw (and recorded) him perform a theatre piece (a piece of music that includes directions more commonly seen in theatre—for staging, costuming, lighting, dialogue, movement, etc.). A couple years later, a doctoral student performed a different one (this one included prerecorded audio). Both instances motivated me to ask Dr. Jackson if I could continue this pattern and we agreed on “General Speech” (watch my performance on my YouTube channel). Afterwards, I gave a companion lecture on theatre pieces to the trombone studio, which is a kind of public speaking/presenting I do much more often now.

Thanks Zachary, and welcome to the Rubenstein Library! We’re glad to have you here.

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

“Dearest Sabina”: Addition to the Carl V. Corley Papers

Post contributed by Leah Tams, Accessions Coordinator.

The Carl V. Corley papers at the Rubenstein document the career and artistic output of Carl Corley, a white novelist and illustrator, and notably include works of gay fiction and homoerotic art. Even more notable is the fact that Carl always signed his works with his real name. A recent addition to Corley’s papers, consisting largely of correspondence from Corley to a woman named Sabina Allred (later Sabina Allred Allen), greatly enhances and complicates our understanding of Corley, his life, and his work.

A letter handwritten in black ink that begins "Dearest Sabina." Small illustrations of flowers (red, green, and black) are at the top of the letter.
A World War II-era letter written to Sabina

The Sabina Allred Allen Collection of Carl Corley Papers, received in February 2022, contains World War II-era love letters from Carl to Sabina. In these letters, he frequently addresses how much he loves and misses Sabina, as well as their plans for the future (engagement, marriage, etc.). Carl wrote to Sabina almost every day until his transfer overseas, after which time he still wrote to her at least weekly. 

A pencil illustration on U.S. Marine Corps stationary. The illustration depicts a woman crying while holding a letter. A plantation-style house is in the background. A poem at the bottom reads: "The letter that told it burned my hand; for it broke my heart to see. You said you grieved with tears of love, for our dreams which could never be. But those dreams rise and live, in life, as I and you. They will be there just as we always dreamed--all coming true."
Illustration of Sabina drawn by Carl during World War II

Also included in this addition of material  are illustrations of Sabina that Carl created and gifted to her. The artwork originally accompanied the letters that he sent during World War II, but the drawings were separated from the letters at some point after receipt. Most of the artwork depicts Sabina wearing different outfits and hairstyles, sometimes illustrating a style that Carl mentioned in a letter, while other pieces depict Sabina and Carl together. Several of the illustrations also feature a Southern plantation house that appears to be inspired by Tara from Gone With the Wind, one of Carl’s favorite works.

The World War II-era correspondence between Corley and Sabina ends in early September 1946, after Corley has returned home. In this letter, Corley ends their relationship, citing (among other things) how different they are from each other, as well as issues of trust. A couple weeks later, Sabina married Bobby Arnold on September 21, 1946. Sabina and Bobby divorced in May 1949, and she then married Dempsey Allen on June 13, 1949. Sabina and Dempsey Allen remained together until their deaths in 2008 and 2016, respectively, but Corley did re-enter Sabina’s life in 1999.

Carl Corley and Sabina Allred Allen reconnected in 1999 while Corley was working on his autobiography, which he refers to as “The Art and Writings of Carl Corley.” From these later letters, it seems that Carl reached out to Sabina for her help in reconstructing his adolescence, as well as to see the artwork he created for her during World War II. Sabina was a great source of inspiration for Carl’s artwork, so he likely viewed her as an important figure to include in his autobiography. Carl and Sabina continued to correspond weekly through at least April 2002, discussing politics, family, daily routines, collecting habits, and their past. Many of these letters also contain racist diatribes against Black Americans.

While Sabina Allred is only a blip on the radar in original materials acquired from Corley—she is featured in two small photos in his World War II scrapbook—this new addition suggests that perhaps Sabina’s role in Corley’s life was more significant than the original collection lets on. The addition also suggests that Carl may have been struggling with his identity as a gay man, as well as giving us a window into the bisexual practices of gay men during this period. The Sabina Allred Allen Collection of Carl Corley Papers adds a significant dimension to our understanding of Carl, and we look forward to having faculty, students, and researchers engage with this new material.

“I Got a Story to Tell: Black Voices in Print” A Black Lives in Archives Event

Join the Rubenstein Library as we open our collections for “I Got a Story to Tell: Black Voices in Print.” 

Visitors will be able to browse special selections from our collections, chat with Rubenstein Library staff, and explore Black primary source materials. From rare first editions by Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass 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 open to the public. Please register for a free timed-entry pass for attendance, but visitors are welcome to stay for the duration of the event. Space is limited so reserve yours today. 

Date: Monday, April 4, 2022
Time: 11am-2pm
Location: Gothic Reading Room, Rubenstein Library, West Campus
Contact: John Gartrell (franklin-collection@duke.edu)

Reserve your entry pass: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/i-got-a-story-to-tell-black-voices-in-print-tickets-267083793817?aff=ebdssbdestsearch 

Finding Your Voice: Developing an Exhibit on the History of Duke’s Latina/o/e/x Students

Post contributed by Meg Brown, Head, Exhibition Services and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Exhibits Librarian.

In the spring of his freshman year, Carlo-Alfonso Garza visited the library and saw an exhibition about the 1969 Allen Building Takeover, and decided to use his voice by writing and posting this note:

Carlo-Alfonso Garza's demand, handwritten on yellow paper. He wrote "How about making one of these exhibits for Latinos that Duke always seems to forget. Let's talk, President Price!," followed by his name and contact information.

The librarians read this note, and this small gesture put into motion a plan that eventually became the exhibition OUR HISTORY, OUR VOICE: LATINX AT DUKE // NUESTRA HISTORIA, NUESTRA VOZ: LATINAS/OS/ES/X EN DUKE. To learn more about how it all happened, view a clip of an oral history with Carlo-Alfonso and while you’re there, watch other histories created by students who interviewed a variety of members of Duke’s Latinx community.

Come celebrate the exhibit with the curators (including Carlo-Alfonso) in person on Monday, February 21, 2022  from 4-6:00 PM in the Chappell Gallery, Duke University Libraries. The faculty and student curators will be making remarks at 4:30 PM.

Happy 213th Birthday, Abraham Lincoln!

Post contributed by Naomi L. Nelson, Associate University Librarian and Director, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky, which was on the western frontier of the young United States. His father was a hardscrabble farmer who moved his family several times in search of better opportunities, but the family never escaped poverty.

Lincoln was an avid reader from an early age. He grew up in Indiana and later remembered that he had less than a year’s schooling there—total. He was ambitious and learned by reading. Over his lifetime, Lincoln is known to have read in many disciplines, including the Bible, law and legal history, classical literature, world and American history, and political economy.

In an address to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society in 1859, Lincoln noted “A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish, and facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet] unsolved ones.”

These are words to warm a librarian’s heart. David M. Rubenstein’s Americana Library includes many of the books that Lincoln is known to have read. He has loaned Duke a number of these titles for the exhibition “To Stand by the Side of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the American Nineteenth Century,” now on view in the Rubenstein Library and online.

Interested in learning more about Abraham Lincoln and his place in American history? Please join us on February 16 for “Abraham Lincoln and the American Experiment: a conversation with David M. Rubenstein and Thavolia Glymph.”

Dispatches from the Nuremberg Trials: The Robert P. Stewart Papers

Post contributed by Elliot Mamet, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Duke and Archival Processing Intern at the Rubenstein Library.

What does it feel like to be a fly on the wall at the Nuremberg Trials? The papers of Robert P. Stewart, recently donated to the Rubenstein Library, provide an answer.

Stewart was an attorney and Duke alumnus who served as a legal aide to Judge John J. Parker at the Nuremburg Trials in 1945 and 1946. There, 24 Nazi political and military leaders were indicted and tried with waging aggressive war, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. 19 were found guilty, and 12 were sentenced to death.

An overriding theme of Stewart’s correspondence is the emotional toll that the evidence of Nazi crimes took on the jurists. His letters tell of film evidence taken by the U.S. army when they first encountered the Nazi concentration camps.  “It really was an awful pictorial display of what the Nazis had done—and it upset Judge [Parker] a great deal. The English judges could not even eat.”[1] Judge Parker, Stewart says, became depressed from hearing so much terrible evidence.[2] Compounding this emotional toll was the homesickness felt by the American legal contingent.

A four-page handwritten letter from Robert P. Stewart to Mary Moss, dated December 2nd, 1945. The letter's addressed airmail envelope is also included.

Also in Stewart’s letters is discussion of the secret 1939 non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the USSR—an agreement first disclosed at Nuremberg. Writes Stewart, “perhaps the most interesting bit behind the scenes lately is the way one of the defense lawyers is trying to introduce a document which purports to be a photostat copy of a secret treaty between Germany and Russia in 1939.”[3] That non-aggression pact paved the way for the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939.

Outside of court, Stewart encountered colorful characters during his service at Nuremberg. For instance, he lunched with General Dwight Eisenhower at Eisenhower’s Frankfurt villa, calling Eisenhower “a remarkable man—strictly down to earth,” and noting it was “probably the first time during this war that anyone so lowly as a major sat down to break bread with him.”[4]

Some 35 years after returning from the Nuremberg Trials, Stewart reflected on his service in a profile in The Asheville Citizen. “The most dramatic part of the trials,” Stewart said, “was the evidence on the persecution of the Jews. The films shown and the stories told were horrendous, unbelievable. If I hadn’t been there I would never have believed it.”[5] He was there, and his papers at the Rubenstein help us feel what it was like.

Footnotes:

[1] Letter from Robert P. Stewart to Beverly G. Moss, December 2, 1945. Folder 2, Robert P. Stewart papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

[2] Letter from Robert P. Stewart to Plummer Stewart, January 12, 1946. Folder 2, Robert P. Stewart papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

[3] Letter from Robert P. Stewart to Plummer Stewart, May 30, 1946. Folder 3, Robert P. Stewart Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

[4] Letter from Robert P. Stewart to Plummer Stewart, November 7, 1945, and letter from Robert P. Stewart to C. C. Gabel, November 7, 1945. Folder 1, Robert P. Stewart papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

[5] Tony Brown, “Stewart Had Important Role at Nuremberg,” The Asheville Citizen, September 8, 1981, pg. 9. Oversize Folder 1, Robert P. Stewart papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.