Category Archives: Featured

Divine Works: Expressions of Faith in Two Religious Communities as Seen in the Photographs of Kristin Bedford

A body of color photography by Kristin Bedford recently acquired as part of the Rubenstein Library Archive of Documentary Arts offers striking images of religious practices in two very different communities of faith, and at the same time challenges cultural stereotypes of African-American worship. The two projects that came out of her experience are titled “Be Still: A Storefront Church in Durham,” and “The Perfect Picture.”

While an MFA student at Duke University, Bedford visited and photographed adults and children in the urban congregation of the Apostolic Deliverance Rebirth Outreach Ministries in Durham, North Carolina for a period of ten months. During worship, she sat in the pews among the congregants, capturing in these rich color portraits what she calls “stillness, contemplation, and the moments between the moments.”

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Cario, September 30, 2012

 

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Larya, March 17, 2013

 

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Quadir, February 10, 2013

Credit: Kristin Bedford photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Bedford’s approach to joining these worshippers while photographing them also informed her stay with a utopian community founded by Father Divine in the 1930’s, whose members call themselves the “International Peace Mission Movement.”  Bedford lived and worked with the community for five weeks in the summer of 2013 at their estate near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She documented their faith as it is lived out in everyday acts of racial harmony and guided by the divine nature of work: a form of the medieval commandment of “ora et labora.”  Bedford came away with extraordinary views of a community that remains devout and committed to the movement despite a declining membership.  She titled this project “The Perfect Picture,” an acknowledgment of Father Divine’s credo that the act of taking a photograph is akin to the faith-driven act of striving for unity and perfection in life.

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The Perfect Picture

 

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Mother and Father Divine Ornaments for “American Christmas”

 

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Father’s Estate, “The Mountain of the House of the Lord”

Credit: Kristin Bedford photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

The photographs and supporting materials in “Be Still: A Storefront Church in Durham,” and “The Perfect Picture,” are available for research use in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.  An online guide has been prepared for the collection.  Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

Post contributed by Lisa McCarty, Curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts, and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, Visual Materials Processing Archivist.

Event: The Archive of Documentary Arts Photobook Club

Photobook Club

Tuesday, January 27, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Center for Documentary Studies Library, 
1317 W Pettigrew Street, Durham, NC 27707

Join us for the second meeting of The Archive of Documentary Arts Photobook Club where we will be discussing Helen Levitt’s first photobook, A Way of Seeing.

Book Discussion Group, Free and Open to the Public, byo beverage and/or snack.

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New York, 1940 (Fraenkel Gallery)

Three editions are on reserve for public use prior to the meeting in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Examine these editions for yourself in person, and/or read more about the book and Ms. Levitt online at the links below:

NY Times Lens Blog,   The TelegraphFraenkel Gallery

**Please note – Discussion will take place at the Center for Documentary Studies while the books themselves are held at The Rubenstein Library.**

Contact: Lisa McCarty, Curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts | lisa.mccarty@duke.edu

How the DPC Magically Digitizes Old Formats for Rubenstein Researchers

Here in Rubenstein Library Research Services, we always strive to fulfill our researchers’ wishes to use our inspiring materials in their work. However, rare materials often come in formats that pose a challenge to standard modern imaging equipment. We frequently receive requests from researchers to digitize books and maps that are too big or too tightly bound for our scanning equipment. Researchers also seek digital files of obsolete audio and A/V formats, such as records, VHS tapes, and audio reel tapes, but our ancient VHS players and reel tape decks went the way of the dinosaur, even as we kept pace with the latest technology for imaging paper, discs, and microfilm.

There’s valuable archival content on that long, slowly degrading strip of plastic film.
There’s valuable archival content on that long, slowly degrading strip of plastic film.

Thankfully, the buck doesn’t stop here in Research Services. We have an amazing digitization resource right here in the Libraries: the Digital Production Center, or DPC, as it is fondly known. DPC staff are highly-trained digitization experts, and their lab is filled with the latest digitizing technology. Mostly they digitize collections (hence our wonderful online Digital Collections!), but when we have a Rubenstein request that can’t be imaged on our equipment, the DPC takes up the challenge and works their magic.

I was invited to train with the DPC wizards recently, studying how they fulfill these challenging requests. Although I learned a lot about how the digitization process works, I still think it’s partly magical.

For visual images such as maps or books, the DPC’s computer monitor must first be calibrated to render the colors with absolute accuracy, or the scanned image might end up with an undesirable color cast. This is done using a color target, X-rite Photo Pro software, and the i1 PhotoPro 2 spectrophotometer, which optically “reads” the colors on the monitor in a magical fashion, just by touching the screen.

Like St. Patrick with the snakes, Mike Adamo casts out those slithery color casts
Like St. Patrick with the snakes, Mike Adamo casts out those slithery color casts

The lighting in the lab uses true full-spectrum daylight bulbs. Even the walls in the imaging areas are painted the exact shade of 18% grey used by photographers to achieve accurate white balance; in this case it also helps to prevent color casts from affecting the image.

For most paper originals, the DPC uses a Phase One camera capable of producing 1200 dpi images. Softboxed sidelighting on two sides provides even illumination. To capture large items, the camera must be raised high on a stand. Too high, and the image will be too pixelated; too low, and the edges of the image could get clipped. Like Goldilocks’ porridge, the height has to be just right.

Zeke Graves adjusts the camera height. Maybe the Phase One should be named Goldilocks.
Zeke Graves adjusts the camera height. Maybe the Phase One should be named Goldilocks.

The DPC can also digitize the many obsolete audio recordings on reel tape, records, or cassettes found in our twentieth-century and newer collections. This kind of magic is especially astonishing: sound vibrations are captured as magnetic density on the tape, which the audio analog-digital interface then samples electronically and translates into 1’s and 0’s. The computer then renders this data visually on the monitor, before assembling it back into sound as an mp3 or wav file.

reel to reel deck
Old technology made recording a lot less spur-of-the moment than lifting up an iPhone
VU meter
Volume Unit meter: the audiophiles’ way to view perceived loudness

Of course, we can’t forget about the ever-popular medium of video. Rubenstein collections include video on several types of exotic tape cassettes, such as VHS, U-matic, Betacam and Hi-8. The DPC rises to the challenge, with media capture decks that play obsolete tape formats and send their signals through analog-to-digital converters to create a tidy video file.

Alex Marsh operates the video deck bank. Tellingly, the digital conversion decks are made by the ‘Blackmagic’ company
Alex Marsh operates the video deck bank. Tellingly, the digital conversion hardware is made by the ‘Blackmagic’ company

After stringent quality control checks, logging of the work done, and backing up to the server, the digital file is uploaded and shared via a media sharing service, and Abracadabra! The millions of zeros and ones reassemble themselves on the researcher’s computer into a perfect facsimile of the original object.

Now, that’s just plain magic.

To see the DPC’s take on the training sessions, check out the Digital Project Team’s Bitstreams blog post.

Post contributed by Megan O’Connell, Reproduction Services Manager

ABC’s of John Hope Franklin – (A) Aurelia

Aurelia Whittington and John Hope Franklin first met in 1931 when they were students at Fisk University in Nashville, TN.  Aurelia was introduced to John Hope by his sister, Anne Franklin, who was her classmate. They remained college sweethearts throughout their time together at Fisk. Aurelia and John Hope were married on June 11, 1940.

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Aurelia Whittington Franklin, 1950s

Aurelia Elizabeth Whittington was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina in July 1915. Her father, Samuel W. Whittington was a U.S. Postal railroad clerk, and her mother, Bertha Kincaid Whittington, was a piano teacher. After graduating from Dillard High School in Goldsboro in 1931, she enrolled as a student at Fisk University, where she majored in English. Following her graduation in 1935, Aurelia taught English in schools around eastern North Carolina, and further pursued her education. She graduated from Hampton Library School in 1939, and later earned a Master’s degree in Library Science from Catholic University.

Aurelia was a devoted homemaker, but also served as John Hope’s adviser and editor, and was often by his side helping him navigate the library stacks when he was doing research.

John Hope and Aurelia Franklin attend a banquet in Durham, NC, 1940s
John Hope and Aurelia Franklin attend a banquet in Durham, NC, 1944

Aurelia and John Hope had one biological son, John Whittington Franklin, in 1952. The couple fostered Bouna Ndiaye, a student from Senegal.

John Hope and Aurelia Franklin in Cambridge, England,1962
John Hope and Aurelia Franklin in Cambridge, England,1962

In her later years, Aurelia faced many health challenges and her husband took an active role in providing care for her. Aurelia passed away in 1999 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

This series is a part of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin@100: Scholar, Activist, Citizen year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin.

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Submitted by Gloria Ayee, Franklin Research Center Intern

Doris Duke’s Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Milk

Long live the Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen! We’ve had so much fun trying out recipes from our collections that we have decided to continue the series on the last Friday of each month.

Christmas is over, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop eating. If you have room in your life for a little more dessert, I highly recommend trying Doris Duke’s Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Milk, one of hundreds of recipes available in the Doris Duke Papers.

Doris Duke’s collection includes boxes and boxes of recipes and menus from each of her houses — Duke Farms (Somerville, New Jersey), Rough Point (Newport, Rhode Island) , and Shangri-La (Hawaii). Duke appears to have collected a lot of her recipes during her travels (Thai and Hawaiian recipes were favorites), but her books also have plenty of American-style comfort food. Looking through the recipes was really fun, and it was hard to choose just one. I found a great one called Wine Jelly, which appears to be Doris Duke’s take on jello shots — except with sherry.

I wanted to make something to share with the Rubenstein Staff Holiday Party, so I went with the chocolate ice milk. It’s not quite as wild as some jello shots, but does have a ridiculous amount of chocolate, as well as espresso and a bit of cognac. And don’t worry about your New Year’s resolutions: it’s ice milk, not ice cream, so it’s totally healthy!

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Doris Duke’s Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Milk, from Box 177 (Folder 2) of the Doris Duke Papers.

The recipe dates from the early 1990s, so I found it fairly easy to make. The “bittersweet” part of the title is misleading — although the recipe has a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, it also has a full 2 pounds of semi-sweet chocolate. I used chocolate chips to save myself the effort of chopping chocolate. I also used homogenized skim milk, which seemed to work fine.

step 1The trickiest part for me was tempering the eggs, which involves pouring some of the warm chocolate into the yolk mixture, and then reuniting all of it back on the stove top. Do not expect any drastic change in the chemical composition of your mixture. When I finished heating everything and was ready to let it chill for 30 minutes, it basically looked like a giant bowl of chocolate milk. I was worried I would have to serve it with a straw.

step2After chilling for 30 minutes, a loose film had started to appear on the top of the mixture, which was reassuring. I put it in my ice cream maker for about 20 minutes, which thickened it up nicely. After an overnight in my freezer, it was ready for the party.

Verdict: This dish reminded me of hot chocolate, except it was frozen. It is extremely rich and pairs well with cake. Don’t skip the cognac. Just think: what would Doris do? (I know what you’re thinking. She’d also make the Wine Jelly. Here’s that recipe.)

wjPost contributed by Meghan Lyon, Technical Services Archivist.

Wonder Woman’s Wintry Foe: The Blue Snowman

WW_BB_Cover (2)-page-001We write a lot about Wonder Woman. We write about her role(s) in nation making and myth making, her background tinged with exceptionalism and her femininity. We write about her big-screen potential, her small-screen potential, and any other mediums she might translate well to. (A serialized podcast, anyone?) What we don’t write about, or at least what we don’t write about often, are her foes—those vanquished, occasionally obliterated super villains who dared to mess with the princess of the Amazon. They are pushed to the periphery, partly hidden behind Diana Prince’s bright sun. Sometimes, however, a villain grinds his/her way back into the orbit, demanding that we take notice. The Blue Snowman is one of those villains.

First appearing in Sensation Comics #59, the Blue Snowman treads a very literal path: he is blue; he is a snowman, albeit one with very bushy eyebrows; and he puffs away at a pipe while plotting mayhem in Fair Weather Valley. A special “blue snow,” a chemical concoction designed to freeze everything and anything, is his weapon of choice. Money is his passion, and blackmail his way of obtaining it. That is, it would be if Wonder Woman hadn’t received a distress call from a friend in Fair Weather Valley, begging for the “marvelous Amazon resistance (4),” Wonder Woman. A swift kick, a lasso of truth whipped into action, and some near misses later, the Blue Snowman is apprehended and all is well.

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A tried and true story, perhaps a throw-away story, except for one small twist that you had to know was coming: the Blue Snowman is not really a snowman at all. Behind the snowman suit of iron is Byrna Brilyant, the daughter of a scientific genius who intended to use his blue snow invention to somehow save humanity. (The mechanics of using a blue snow-like substance for good are left up to the readers’ imaginations. I imagine non-melting ice cream is somehow involved.) This game-changer occurs in the penultimate panel of the comic, and yet, to Wonder Woman and crew, it is not actually a game changer.  Byrna’s story thus ends not with a bang, not even with a whimper, but with the slightest sound of a pin dropping hundreds of miles away.

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Although the reasoning can be guessed, we never learn why Byrna disguises herself as a man; why she chooses to go into crime instead of following in her father’s footsteps; or even why the Blue Snowman’s eyebrows are so bushy. Perhaps we learn her origin story in later comics, but perhaps we don’t. Like so many other super villains (and heroes, for that matter), it seems she can be found mostly in the white gutters between the comic panels. She is liminal, pushing boundaries and existing between boundaries.

She and her brethren don’t have to, though. Within the Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection, there are over four hundred boxes of comic books and counting. And within those comic books, there are thousands of characters ripe for synthesis, dissemination, and massive extrapolation. So here’s to those characters, those slightly quirky, serviceable villains who seek the limelight but somehow still fall short.

Post Contributed by Liz Adams, Research Services Library Assistant

Motivation station: A look at workplace motivational posters from the 1920s

While you are pondering your favorite Demotivators poster, consider the history of the motivational poster genre. It turns out our predecessors in the Greatest Generation needed to be inspired or, perhaps more to the point, advertisers decided they needed to tap the group’s general deep sense of faithful commitment to shape their behavior in the workplace.

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An introduction to the series

 

In the early 1920s, salesman Charles Howard Rosenfeld proposed a series of motivational posters for workers to Charles Mather, who worked for his family’s Chicago printing house, the Mather Company. These “Constructive Organization Posters” were sold by subscription in over 300 varieties between 1923 and 1929.  In 1925, Rosenfeld and another Mather Company employee left to form their own printing company, C. J. Howard Inc., in order to sell their own line of “Action Posters.”

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Caption: The cards were 7” x 4.75”, designed to be displayed individually on workers’ desks on an easel.

 

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The cards were printed as multicolored lithographs, often with striking designs. Unfortunately, the designer is not credited.

 

We have 28 examples of these “Action Posters,” printed instead as a set of cards promoting work habits and qualities that would help the business employee to advance. They hold up examples of those who: consciously earn their fellow workers’ respect, keep healthy and happy, do not worry or gossip, remain loyal to the company, provide accurate work and work steadily, seek constant improvement, have a winning attitude, make good suggestions, take criticism well, and follow through on instructions. All of these traits were in contrast to so-called problem employees, who were unhealthy, resentful, lacking in motivation, and destined to be employed elsewhere in the very near future.

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A not-so subtle message about prattling at the water cooler.

 

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The Action Posters include seasonal well-wishes for employees.

 

We wish you Happy Holidays, no matter where you find your motivation.

Find more information, visit the catalog record for this item.

Post contributed by Alice Poffinberger, original cataloger/archivist for small manuscript collections. 

Tizhe Lizanguage bizof Lizovers: Carny Latin Reincarnated

While I processed a collection of correspondence between two lovers, a handful of letters stuck out. Martha Simpson, then Martha Eleanor Booker, a young African American woman working on her teaching degree at Elizabeth City Teachers College, had a penchant for writing in code. Paul Simpson, her love interest, did not share the same inclination, but did indulge her in his responses. As I read through the letters, the code used in three of them piqued my curiosity. My search revealed that the code used seems to be a form of carnival Pig Latin, also known as Czarny, Z-Latin, or Carny (Hautzinger 30).

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Martha first sneaks in her secret code at the closing of a letter from January 10, 1951, with a little taunt, “Ha, ha, I bet you can’t read it.” Paul’s response to this letter, dated January 13, 1951, briefly acknowledges that he, indeed, could read her secret language with the opening line “Dizear Cizheré,” before continuing his letter unencumbered by the extra z’s.

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But Martha doesn’t give up.  She continues the code in a response from January 17, 1951, written half in this “z-language,” eventually switching back to conventional English.

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Martha’s next letter clearly was not on pink paper (did you catch that one?), but she did keep on with her code. The secret language was formed by inserting iz after the first consonant, and if there was no consonant present, beginning the word with biz. In linguistic circles, this is known as iz-infixation and has been linked to rap and hip-hop music. Examples include Frankie Smith’s 1981 hits Double Dutch Bus and Slang Thang (or Slizang Thizang), both of which boast the iz-infix in their lyrics. More recent examples include work by Snoop Dogg and Kanye West (Viau 1). But these letters come decades before the iz-infix made it big in music, and the question remains: Where did this secret language come from?

We think the answer is this: carnival slang. Published accounts of Carny go back to 1926 (Russell and Murray 401), well before Martha was writing to Paul. It was a language immersed in the subculture of the carnival, intended to distinguish between outsiders and the true Carnies, given the questionable legality of the carnival. Sarah Hautzinger describes it as a dialect that “rearranges English to make it unintelligible to the unenlightened ear” (32). In Czarny, “a Z-sound is inserted after the first consonant, and if the word begins with a vowel, before the vowel sound, in the first syllable only” (32). This certainly seems a lot like the iz-infixes found in the letters between Martha and Paul. Rumor has it that this carny talk found its way into popular culture years later.

Whether or not their secret language was descended from Z-Latin, the coded (and uncoded) correspondence between Martha and Paul D. Simpson provides an interesting read. Recently acquired by the Rubenstein, these roughly 300 letters detail the love, life, and struggles of a young African American couple on their way to becoming teachers.

For more information on the Martha and Paul D. Simpson Papers, check out the collection guide.

For further reading on Carny Latin and the iz-infix, see:

Hautzinger, Sarah. “Carnival Speech: Making the Jump.” Journal of American Culture, 13: 29–33, 1990. Web. 16 December 2014.

Russell, Carol L. and Thomas E. Murray. “The Life and Death of Carnie.” American Speech, Vol. 79 No. 4: 400-416, 2004. Web. 16 December 2014.

Viau, Joshua. “Introducing English [IZ]-Infixation: Snoop Dogg and bey-[IZ]-ond.” 2006 LSA Summer Meeting, 24 June 2006. Web.  16 December 2014.

Post contributed by Janice Hansen, a Ph.D. student in Germanic Languages &  Literature and Technical Services intern at The Rubenstein. 

Glass eyeballs and amputating saws and enema syringes, oh my!

As Curator for the History of Medicine Collections in the Rubenstein Library, I often feel I have one of the best jobs in our library.  I have the opportunity to work with wonderful people, but also remarkable rare books, manuscripts, and a wonderful collection of material objects.

amputating saw

Amputating saw

Over the years, a number of generous donors have given a variety of instruments and artifacts to the History of Medicine Collections. These items are often used in classroom instruction and teaching, and enrich and enliven exhibits and displays. The depth and breadth of this collection represents advances made in science and medicine, and reflect the importance of our historical understanding of material culture.

glass eyeballs

Glass eyeballs

Artifacts range in date from the 17th century to today, with many aspects of medicine highlighted in the collection: surgery, gynecology, pediatrics, and more. That “more” category includes items like our prosthetic glass eyeballs, the irises of which are all blue. These hand-blown glass items were intended to serve as prosthetic eyes. In a box reminiscent of a Whitman’s sampler, these eyes were made in a variety of sizes with differing tints of yellow and white. This box would have been used and carried by a traveling salesman of sorts – a person who visited doctors’ offices and sold them to patients in need.

A remarkable collection guide is now available to document the range of historical medical artifacts we have in our holdings.

enema syringe

Enema syringe

I’m often asked by students and researchers what my favorite item is. It really changes on a weekly basis. Currently, I’m intrigued by our range of microscopes. They are quite beautiful, span several centuries, and some include ivory specimen slides – with specimens!

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Box mount microscope

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Screw barrel microscope

Some of my other favorites? Female pills and dental keys. Why were these female pills created and what are they? When I ask students, they often answer that it’s really just Midol.

female pills

Female pills

The dental keys really illustrate how medical technology has evolved in tooth extraction. The illustration below shows how a dental key would be used. This image is from the monumental work by J. M. Bourgery, Atlas of human anatomy and surgery, that includes a translation of his work and colored facsimiles. Of note, we also have the nine volume original work of Bourgery.

dental chart

key

Dental key

A tremendous amount of thanks go out to so many people: our donors who have generously given such wonderful materials; previous staff of the History of Medicine Collections who researched these items, provided descriptions, and took photos that we can now share; and current staff from the Rubenstein Library’s technical services department and DUL digital projects – all who have made this guide possible.

What will your favorite item be?

Post by Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections in the Rubenstein Library.

Durham’s Beardy Bros

We have collections and rare books from so many far-flung locations, but we occasionally come across historical materials documenting life right here in Durham.

Brush Brothers Plege BookThe city of Durham’s centennial celebrations took place from April 26th through May 2nd of 1953, and people were excited! Excited to reflect on how much Durham had progressed and also on what changes might or should take place in the next hundred years. A particularly strange way in which some chose to celebrate the occasion was to join the Brothers of the Brush. Never heard of ‘em?

Spearheaded by Dante Germino, an engaged Durham resident who worked for the Herald-Sun Co. at the time, the fund-raising effort collected $1.00 per member; and the 3093 members pledged to do their “civic duty” by growing and maintaining a “moustache, full beard, goat-tee, or side-burns” throughout the celebrations. If a member failed to keep his promise he was brought before a Kangaroo Court of his peers.

Roster of the Brothers of the Brush

Evidence from newspapers at the time show that many local businesses took up the challenge. Check out these fellows at Coman Lumber.

Coman Lumber Advertisement, Durham Herald-Sun, April 26, 1953.
Coman Lumber Advertisement, Durham Herald-Sun, April 26, 1953.
Coman Lumber Signatures from the Brothers of the Brush Registry.
Coman Lumber Signatures from the Brothers of the Brush Registry.

Want to find out if a local family member of yours was an official Brother of the Brush? We’ve got the registry in our holdings for you to peruse; and we’ve also got local newspapers from that time.

Times have changed. These days, with so many hipsters out and about in Durham, we’d have an easy time collecting funds from bearded folks throughout the city. We could use Duke Libraries’ button-maker to make buttons for participants! We’ll have to wait until 2053 for the next centennial, though.

Dominique has a lovely beard!Post contributed by Dominique Dery, Research Services Intern, who may or may not have the lustrous and full beard pictured at right.