Category Archives: Franklin Research Center

RBMSCL Travel Grants: $$$ to Visit Us!

Photo by Mark Zupan.

Good news, researchers! The RBMSCL is now accepting applications for our 2011-2012 travel grants.

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, and the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History will award up to $1,000 per recipient to fund travel and other expenses related to visiting the RBMSCL. The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, artists, and activists living outside a 100-mile radius from Durham, NC with research projects that would benefit from access to the centers’ collections.

More details—and the grant application—may be found on our grants website. Applications must be postmarked or e-mailed no later than 5:00 PM EST on January 31, 2011. Recipients will be announced in March 2011.

We’re also excited to announce that the RBMSCL will be offering three new grants this year for scholars interested in using our German Studies and Judaica collections. Additional information about applying for one of these three grants will be available on our grants website soon. These new grants will have a later deadline.

Nell Irvin Painter Reflects

Date: Monday, 13 September 2010
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Rare Book Room
Contact Information: Amy McDonald, 919-681-7987 or amy.mcdonald(at)duke.edu

Photo by Robin Holland.

With a career that has stretched from top public universities and the Ivy League to institutions in Italy, Ghana, and France, Nell Irvin Painter brings her rich experience to a personal consideration of African American women in academia. In “Alone and Together: One African American Woman’s Experiences in the Academy,” Dr. Painter will reflect upon her professional successes and challenges, as well as her career-long exchanges with several fellow African American women scholars.

Dr. Painter’s professional and personal papers, which are held by the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, have recently been opened to public research. For more information about her papers, visit the collection inventory or contact special-collections(at)duke.edu.

This program, part of a year-long celebration of the 15th anniversary of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History, is the first in a series of two events co-sponsored by the Franklin Research Center and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute.

For more information about the second event, hosted by the Franklin Humanities Institute the following day, please visit the event’s webpage.

From the RBMSCL Wire

Boy lying on couch, reading comics. From the William Gedney Photographs and Writings, 1950s-1989.
Boy lying on couch, reading comics. From the William Gedney Photographs and Writings, 1950s-1989.

Sure, you could lie on a couch and read comic books, but why not have a look at some of the articles and blog posts about the RBMSCL that have been published recently?

A profile of Susie King Taylor appears at TheAtlantic.com. (Read the post here). Taylor’s Reminiscences of My Life in Camp is part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture’s Black Voices Collection.

Our new exhibit, “‘As Far as Possible from Forgetfulness’: The Trinity College Historical Society,” found itself on the front page of the Durham Herald-Sun. (Read the article online.)

And Hartman Center travel grant recipient Ari Samsky wrote about his two-week research visit to the RBMSCL for web magazine Splice Today. You’ll find his essay—which makes us glad that Durham’s cooled off considerably in the past few days—here.

Let us know if you find any other mentions of the RBMSCL during your wanderings across the Internet and through print.

Networks for Freedom

Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Rare Book Room
Contact Information: Amy McDonald, 919-681-7987 or amy.mcdonald(at)duke.edu

1862 broadside.

Join the staff of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture for a program with historian Deborah Lee, recipient of a 2010-2011 Franklin Research Center travel grant.

Dr. Lee’s research traces the networks of anti-slavery activists that operated between 1810 and 1865 in the upper Potomac River basin. As Dr. Lee writes, “these white and black anti-slavery men and women used sophisticated peaceful means—persuasion, law, philanthropy, colonization, and the underground railroad—to help thousands of individual bondspeople obtain freedom, fray the institution of slavery locally, and advance the movement nationally.”

Dr. Lee’s visit to the RBMSCL will allow her to examine a number of our 19th century manuscript collections, including the Rankin-Parker Papers, the John Rutherfoord Papers, and the Funkhouser Family Papers.

Light refreshments will be served.

2010-2011 Franklin Research Center Travel Grants Awarded

John Hope Franklin. From the John Hope Franklin Papers.

The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s travel grants. These grants allow scholars to travel to Durham to conduct research using the Franklin Research Center’s collections.

  • Shanna G. Benjamin, Department of English, Grinnell College, for work on a biography of the late Nellie Y. McKay, Bascom Professor of English and Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Derek Charles Catsam, Department of History, University of Texas of the Permian Basin, for a chronicle of the events of 1985 in South Africa, a tumultuous year in that country’s history.
  • Jametta Davis, Department of History, Howard University, for research for her dissertation detailing the effects of New Deal policies and programs on African American women.
  • Jacob S. Dorman, Department of History, University of Kansas, for an examination of the formation and development of black Jewish religions in the past 45 years.
  • Elizabeth Herbin, Department of History, St. John’s University, for an analysis of racial conflicts and segregation among small Southern farmers from 1900 to 1945.
  • Karen Kossie-Chernyshev, Department of History, Geography, and Economics, Texas Southern University, for an account of “boomerang migration”: the return of African American Southerners from their new homes in the North to participate in social and political uplift activities during the Jim Crow era.
  • Deborah Lee, independent scholar, for a study tracing the networks of anti-slavery activists in the Potomac River basin from 1810 to 1870.
  • Joseph Moore, Department of History, University of North Carolina at Greensboro,for research on the 1850 trial of George Grier, an enslaved South Carolina man, for seditious speech, with emphasis on an exploration of the community of Abbeville County, South Carolina.

Watch The Devil’s Tale for news about upcoming discussions with several of the travel grant recipients from the Bingham, Hartman, and Franklin Research Centers.

Freedom Politics: From Jim Crow through Civil Rights and Black Power

Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Time: 1:30 PM (please see schedule)
Location: Room 240, John Hope Franklin Center (directions)
Contact Information: fhi(at)duke.edu

"After a cross is burned in front of a freedom house, it is turned into a freedom sign." Photographed by Tamio Wakayama.

2009-2010 Mellon HBCU Fellows Rhonda Jones and Dirk Philipsen will bring together leading African American Studies scholars for the Franklin Humanities Institute‘s 2nd Annual HBCU Fellowship Program Symposium. The symposium will explore the relationship between education and democracy, from the history of student-led social movements like SNCC to the use of African American oral histories in civic education today.

The symposium is co-sponsored by John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture and the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture.

Please register by e-mailing fhi(at)duke.edu by Friday, 9 April. A light dinner will be provided for participants in the 5:30 PM workshop, so please indicate in your e-mail if you plan to attend that session. Registration is free.

Talking Toward Common Ground

Date: Thursday-Friday, March 25-26, 2010
Time: please see schedule
Location: Friedl Building, East Campus
Contact Information:


This timely conference will bring together the worlds of social sciences and humanities research for a conversation about how the two can mutually benefit in improving our knowledge of race, inequality, and social difference. Speakers include Duke professors Mark Anthony Neal, Wahneema Lubiano, Dante James, Michael Hardt, and Lee Baker.

The conference is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to register in advance. Public parking information and directions are also available here.

Sponsored by the Center of African American Research in the Department of African and African American Studies. Co-sponsored by the Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality, Sanford School of Public Policy, Mary Lou Williams Center, Department of Sociology, John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, John Hope Franklin Institute for the Humanities, and the Department of Cultural Anthropology.

Q & A with Andrew Kahrl

Tomorrow, the Franklin Research Center will host Dr. Andrew Kahrl, who will present”Losing the Land: African American Ownership of Coastal Property.” We asked him a few questions in anticipation of his talk, which is based on his research in our Behind the Veil oral histories collection.

Q: Could you give us a preview of your talk?

Andrew: I’m going to trace the history of African American coastal land ownership from the late 19th century to the present in order to better understand the relationship between race and real estate development in the making of the modern Sunbelt South and the long civil rights movement.

I plan to discuss the rise of coastal black landownership in the post-emancipation era; African Americans’ economic and emotional investment in coastal property and leisure space under Jim Crow; and the impact of changes to the region’s political economy on black landownership and notions of land-based empowerment. I’ll highlight some of the more revealing interviews in the Behind the Veil collection that speak to the struggle of African Americans to acquire and defend coastal property under Jim Crow and the role of black-owned leisure spaces in shaping class and culture behind and along the color line, as well as the various strategies of expropriation black coastal landowners faced—and continue to face—at the hands of real estate developers, the courts, and public officials from the 1970s to the present.

Overall, I hope to use the story of African American beachfront property to offer new insights into the intertwined stories of Jim Crow, civil rights, and the making of the Sunbelt, and to stimulate discussions on the spatiality of race, wealth, and privilege in modern America.

Q: Tell us more about your research in the Behind the Veil oral histories. Have you made any surprising discoveries?

Andrew: I have made some fascinating discoveries in the Behind the Veil collection. Two years ago, I listened to a small sampling of interviews conducted with residents of coastal cities. Interviewees recounted stories of the places that are the subject of my research that I simply could not have found elsewhere, and offered clues to the hidden history of places and cases of land acquisition and expropriation that led me to pursue other records and, in the end, make fascinating discoveries. In particular, their personal stories of the different strategies real estate developers and their allies in public office employed to seize valuable, black-owned coastal property have helped me piece together a broader set of land-use practices and legal strategies that transformed America’s coastlines in the second half of the 20th century.

The Behind the Veil Collection offers rich and moving stories of African Americans’ struggles to carve out spaces for pleasure and relief under Jim Crow, and reinforces, in my mind, the importance of land ownership in the black freedom struggle and the impact of African Americans’ steady loss of land in recent decades on relations of political and economic power in the South and the nation.

Thanks, Andrew!

“Losing the Land” with Andrew Kahrl

Date: Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Time: 3:00 PM
Location: Rare Book Room
Contact Information: Janie Morris, 919-660-5819 or janie.morris(at)duke.edu

From the Davis Family Papers.

Dr. Andrew Kahrl will discuss the rise and demise of black beaches and coastal property ownership from the early 20th century to the present. Kahrl’s talk, titled “Losing the Land: African American Ownership of Coastal Property,” is based in part on his findings in the Behind the Veil oral history collection at the RBMSCL.

This event is part of the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the RBMSCL’s John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

Kahrl is assistant professor of history at Marquette University and a former fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies.

Tea with Trailblazers: MaryAnn Black

Date: Wednesday 3 February 2010
Time: 2:30 PM
Location: The History of Medicine Reading Room, Duke Medical Center Library (map and directions)
Contact Information: Jessica Roseberry, 919-383-2653 or jessica.roseberry(at)duke.edu

MaryAnn BlackIn celebration of Black History Month, the Duke Medical Center Library and Archives has partnered with the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture to present a special guest, MaryAnn Black, MSW, LCSW. In an informal talk, Ms. Black will share some of her “trailblazing” experiences at Duke and in the Durham community. Ms. Black, who has worked for Duke University since 1981, is the Associate Vice President for Community Relations for the Duke University Health System. Tea and light refreshments will be served.