Category Archives: From Our Collections

OUCH! : Over a Century of Getting Vaccinated at Duke

Post contributed by Brooke Guthrie, Research Services Librarian.

You may have noticed (and we really hope that you have) that campus life is a bit different in Fall 2020. We’re all wearing masks, washing our hands, and obsessively monitoring our symptoms. We’ve also spent at least a few minutes speculating on the many unknowns—including the possibility of a coronavirus vaccine and how it might be distributed to the Duke community. The Duke Compact asks students, staff, and faculty to pledge to “Get the flu shot and other required vaccinations by designated deadlines.” And that made us wonder about the history of vaccinations at Duke.

You can learn a lot about Duke history from the Duke Chronicle and its predecessor, the Trinity Chronicle. Luckily for us, issues of the newspaper from 1905 to 2000 have been digitized by Duke University Libraries and can be fairly easily searched. Searching the newspaper reveals that campus-wide vaccination efforts are nothing new to Duke. Here are a few of the examples we found.

We’ll start by going way, way back to a time before Duke was called Duke. In 1914, during the Trinity College days, a vaccine against typhoid fever was offered to students, faculty, and their families. In addition to announcing the availability of the vaccine, the Trinity Chronicle published information on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine as well as the number of deaths caused by typhoid in the state (about 1,200 each year). The article ends by noting that the administration “is anxious to see a large number of students avail themselves of the opportunity to obtain immunity from typhoid.”

The front page of the October 7, 1914 Trinity College. The headline to the relevant article reads "Typhoid Vaccine is Offered Trinity Men."
October 7, 1914 front page of the Trinity Chronicle with article discussing typhoid vaccine. Read article.

A little over a decade later, in 1928, students were asked to get a smallpox vaccine. The very short announcement suggests that vaccination is no big deal: “the nurse will give the vaccines in a few minutes, and it will all be over.” Although noting that there were no serious cases on campus, the article says that six students were confined and lists their names. (Reporting campus illnesses and including the names of the ill was a fairly common practice back then.)

Polio was perhaps one of the most troubling diseases in the mid-twentieth century and the widespread concern was justified. In 1948, the worst year for polio in North Carolina, 2,516 cases and 143 deaths were reported in the state. In October of 1950, a Duke undergraduate named Daniel Rathbun died after contracting polio and spending two weeks in an iron lung at Duke Hospital. When a polio vaccine became available in 1955, vaccination campaigns were held throughout the country. In October of 1956, the Duke Chronicle announced that student health would offer the vaccine to all under 45 years old. For students, the vaccine cost $3.00. The article discusses what is known about the relatively new vaccine, emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated, and notes that previously most college students were required to get vaccinated for typhoid fever (as if to say “why should this be any different?”).

October 12, 1956 Duke Chronicle article announcing polio vaccinations on campus. The headline reads "For All Under 45: Student Health Will Offer Polio Vaccine."
October 12, 1956 Duke Chronicle article announcing polio vaccinations on campus. Read article.

Efforts to vaccinate campus continued through the rest of the 20th century. In the mid-1970s, an outbreak of swine flu in the United States led to a nationwide vaccination drive. In November of 1976, Duke announced that it had 5,000 shots available to students and staff. In the 1980s, measles was a cause for concern on campus. In March 1985, the Chronicle published a large notice to let unvaccinated students know that “YOU NEED TO BE VACCINATED NOW.” A few years later in January 1989, a statewide outbreak spread to campus and Duke quickly “issued more stringent vaccination requirements” for both students and staff. Soon after Duke issued the new requirements, all unvaccinated students and staff were excluded from campus for two weeks. Staff were told to stay home. Students were barred from campus housing and had their Duke cards deactivated.

Notice published in the March 15, 1985 Duke Chronicle directing students to get the measles vaccine. The ad begins: "Attention Upperclassmen and Graduate Students: Help Keep Measles Off Duke Campus."
Notice published in the March 15, 1985 Duke Chronicle directing students to get the measles vaccine.

Concerns around meningitis in 1987 brought similar calls for large scale vaccination after a small number of students were infected. The Chronicle reported that mandatory vaccination was possible and, in March of 1987, thousands of students received a vaccine in a single day as part of the administration’s goal to distribute 6,000 doses.

Article on the front page of the March 6, 1987 Chronicle. The headline reads "Thousands receive shots to stop meningitis threat." A black-and-white photo of students waiting in line for the vaccinations accompanies the article.
Coverage of the 1987 meningitis vaccine effort of campus. Read article.

There are many other examples of vaccination efforts in Duke’s history—the campus-wide distribution of the annual flu vaccine is one we’re all familiar with and, in 1999, students were encouraged to get a hepatitis B vaccine with a hip Chronicle advertisement that said “Hepatitis B is a very uncool thing” and the vaccine will keep you from “turning an embarrassing shade of yellow.”

If you’re interested in exploring this history more, try searching digitized issues of the Duke Chronicle or get in touch with our helpful staff. And, while we have your attention, make sure to get your flu vaccine this year!

Colonizing Latin America with Pan American World Airways

Post contributed by Leah Tams, Pan Am CLIR Grant Intern.

The United States has long been an empire with colonial holdings, even since its inception. The U.S. has carried out its colonialism in many different ways, depending upon the time period and area being colonized. In the 1930s and 1940s, the “Good Neighbor Policy,” first articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, became an avenue for the United States to commercially influence Latin American nations. In the spirit of the Good Neighbor Policy, the United States didn’t send hundreds of people to colonize Latin America—instead, it sent businesses to establish and extend their economic influences within the region. One of the key businesses sent to Latin America was Pan American World Airways (Pan Am).

This colorful ad for the Pan American Airways System shows a crowd in stereotypical South American clothing, including a man on horseback, watching the arrival of a Pan Am airplane. The tagline reads "The good neighbor who calls every day . . . "
The Good Neighbor Who Calls Every Day…, Pan American Airways System, 1941, AdAccess Digital Collection

The John W. Hartman Center’s earliest ads from Pan Am illustrate the Good Neighbor Policy in action: “Out of the Muck of the Mazatlán,” Pan Am created airfields in Latin America, which were heralded as “Another ‘Stepping Stone.’” These “stepping stones” would allow the United States to connect with various Latin American cities and civilizations, thus extending U.S. influence southward. Other early advertisements were even more overt in their reference to the policy, proclaiming that Pan Am was indeed “The Good Neighbor Who Calls Every Day” who would create meaningful—and influential—political and economic contact between both regions. As historian Jennifer Van Vleck argues, “the development of commercial aviation did important work to make the U.S. presence in Latin America appear more benign while also bringing the region within closer reach of Washington and Wall Street.”[1]

Once Pan Am had an established presence in Latin America, it was fairly simple to begin advertising the wondrous destinations available—particularly because Pan Am (or, more accurately, Panagra, as the joint venture in South America was known) presented the region as an almost-undiscovered land. Ads from the late 1940s assured travelers that they would “travel in the intrepid footsteps of Pizzaro [sic],” in a paradise “spangled with the glories of past centuries.”[2] These intimations of Francisco Pizarro—the Spanish conquistador who invaded Panama and Peru—and other overt references to the colonialist efforts of Pan Am, which injected U.S. influence and culture into South America, would continue for decades.

A black-and-white announcement of JWT's new advertising campaign for Panagra airline. In green text, the announcement proclaims "Greatest campaign since Pizarro!" Images of the ads that will be included in national print publications are included.
Greatest Campaign Since Pizarro, PANAGRA, 1962. J. Walter Thompson Co., Domestic Advertisements Collection

In 1962, the J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT), Pan Am’s principal advertiser, launched a campaign for Panagra that touted the “Charms of South America” to potential travelers. To its travel agents, JWT called this effort the “Greatest Campaign Since Pizarro!” Other Panagra advertisements from the 1960s celebrate Pizarro’s lasting impact upon Lima, Peru, stating that “He laid out the city’s streets, the government buildings, the cathedral, just where you see them today.” With these references to and celebrations of Pizarro, it seems as though Pan Am is encouraging its travelers to once again conquer and colonize Latin America—in fact, Panagra ads from 1965 invite travelers to “Capture the city Pizarro couldn’t!” (referring to Machu Picchu in Peru) and underscore the flippant imperialism of the U.S.

This ad shows a color aerial photo of Machu Picchu with the tagline "You've taken your fill of the Acropolis; you've stormed the seven hills of Rome. Now . . . Capture the city Pizarro couldn't!"
Capture the City Pizarro Couldn’t, PANAGRA, 1965. J. Walter Thompson Co., Domestic Advertisements Collection

To be sure, contemporary advertisements for Pan Am’s flights to Europe portray the continent and its destinations as commodities, most often as dollar amounts. But where European cities and regions are reduced a monetary figure, they are never reduced to places that can be conquered, subdued, or gifted civilization the way that Latin America is. In Latin America, it seems that Pan Am found the perfect candidate for profit and U.S. imperialism, veiled in the thin language of adventure.

[1] Jennifer Van Vleck, Empire of the Air: Aviation and the American Ascendancy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 54.

[2] “Panagra Vacation,” 1947, https://repository.duke.edu/dc/adaccess/T1593.

New Online Exhibit! Early Studies in Parapsychology at Duke

Post contributed by Steph Crowell, the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Intern for 2019-2020. Steph curated the digital and physical exhibit Early Studies in Parapsychology at Duke.

Have you ever had a paranormal experience?

It can be easy to dismiss, but we are proud to announce that the new online exhibit Early Studies in Parapsychology at Duke is here to showcase some of the people whose job it is to scientifically study those experiences.

When J.B. and Louisa Rhine came to Duke in 1930, there were no scientific protocols to confirm or reject the reality of clairvoyance or telepathy but that was soon to change. In starting the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke, the Rhines as well as their fellow researchers made it their jobs to apply the scientific method to these phenomena—with surprising results.

One of the most famous tests to come out of the laboratory is testing with Zener cards. Named after Dr. Karl Zener who helped develop them, Zener cards are simple: each is printed with one of five symbols: a circle, a cross, wavy lines, a square, and a star. A test is deceptively simple. One person holds the cards and another person sits opposite them. A screen separates them. The person with the cards gives them a shuffle and picks one at random and asks the other person if they can sense the symbol on the card.

Man and woman stand around Zener Card display
Undated Zener test, University Archives Photograph Collection.

This test alone required hundreds of tests to determine the probability of randomly guessing correctly and to determine how many guesses in a row were required to get a meaningful result. In addition, it was found the mood of the participant could have a profound effect on results. Researchers also had to ensure that there was no way for a participant to get information from a researcher’s expressions, body language, and that nothing like an accidental reflective surface could give insight to the participant about which card was being held up.

With the laboratory at Duke, there was a wealth of student volunteers to help in testing. Some photos of those students working with both J.B. Rhine and fellow researchers still exist at Duke as part of the University Archives Photograph Collection.

Aside from those, the main collection of Parapsychology Laboratory Records can also be found in the Rubenstein. There are over seven hundred boxes of research notes, paraphernalia, letters, publications, research supplies and more. In addition, the Rubenstein houses other researchers’ personal papers, like Louisa Rhine, J. Gaither Pratt, and William McDougall.

People from the Parapsychology Lab sitting on steps
Group photo from the University Archives Photograph Collection

After J.B. Rhine’s retirement in 1965, the laboratory was renamed the Institute of Parapsychology and moved to the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man. Even later, in 2002, the laboratory had to move again to its current home, The Rhine Research Center.

The Rhine Research Center is a non-profit still operating in Durham. You can read more about them and their current projects on their website here. To this day, the research continues and there are still opportunities for students to be involved.

When our exhibit spaces reopen, we invite you to visit the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room which will host a physical version of the online exhibit. We would like to give special thanks to Barbara Ensrud, Sally Rhine Feather, and John Kruth from the Rhine Research Center for contributing their insight and several photograph’s from the Center’s own archive.

Post contributed by Steph Crowell, the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Intern for 2019-2020. Steph curated the digital and physical exhibit Early Studies in Parapsychology at Duke.

New Methods for Undergraduate Outreach

Kate Collins, Research Services Librarian

If you stopped by the coffee shop in Perkins Library in February, you might have been surprised to see undergraduate students crowded around a table using glue, scissors, and images from the Rubenstein Library. They were using, of course, scanned images from the collections that had been printed out for students to use for the Valentine’s Day pop-up. There were copies of historical valentines, as well as anatomical hearts from the History of Medicine Collection, Victorian floral illustrations, photographs of friends, and doodles from zines, that students could cut out and collage together to make their own valentines to send to friends and family.

Valentine’s day pop-up, 2020.

The Valentine’s Day craft pop-up is just one of the ways we’re working to connect with students beyond the classroom. Hundreds of Duke undergraduates come into our reading room and classrooms each year, but we also want to build relationships with students that transcend their coursework. For the last two years, Lucy Dong T’20 served as the Middlesworth Outreach and Social Media Fellow in the Rubenstein Library, helping us develop creative ways of reaching undergraduates both on campus and online.

With Dong’s assistance and the gift of two mobile exhibit cases from Ken Hubbard T’65 and Tori Dauphinot P’15 P’16, we’ve been able to safely bring our collections out for pop-up exhibits, going beyond our usual classroom and exhibit spaces to reach students who may never make it to the Rubenstein. In the fall, we hosted pop-up exhibits recognizing Transgender Awareness Week and Native American Heritage Month. Both of these small exhibits took place outside of the popular coffee shop in Perkins Library and included a variety of eye-catching material from across the Rubenstein Library’s collections, inviting passersby to slow down and take a closer look.

Trans history and Native American Heritage Month pop up events, 2019.

In the digital realm, Dong focused her work on our Instagram account, a platform popular with undergraduate students. She explored the Rubenstein Library’s collections to find content that would interest the Duke community. One of her favorite finds was the Library Question and Answer Book with student queries from the 1980s, a flashback to when typewriters were essential to Duke students and an anonymous student’s concerns about becoming a slave to technology seem quaint. Dong also used the platform to help students to see themselves as creators of history, encouraging student organizations to place their records in the University Archives.

Our long-running Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen blog series also got an update, thanks to a collaboration between Dong and Sonia Fillipow T’20. Inspired by minimalist cooking videos on platforms like Buzzfeed and Bon Appetit, they brought this snappy modern style to retro recipes for Jell-O they found in a 1962 Joys of Jell-O cookbook from our Nicole DiBona Peterson Collection of Advertising Cookbooks. Their three minute video walked viewers through making an attention-grabbing “Crown Jewel Dessert” cake and a Jell-O vegetable salad.

We look forward to continuing to find new ways to engage with Duke students and helping them get to know the Rubenstein’s collections in ways that inspire curiosity, foster creativity, and inform their understanding of the present moment.

Teaching Remotely, Staying Connected: Rubenstein Library Instruction Goes Online

Amanda Lazarus, Eleonore Jantz Reference Intern, 2019-2020

Special thanks to Assistant University Archivist, Amy McDonald, for her generous help in digitizing the photobooks used for this session, and to Hannah Jacobs, Wired! Lab Digital Humanities Specialist at Duke University, for consulting on and hosting the photobook WordPress site.

In spring 2020, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders limited access to educational and research resources on Duke’s campus, and the world over. During this time, the Rubenstein Library, which offers object-based instruction sessions for Duke University students, took quick and measured steps to keep teaching, and moved instruction online. Here is a brief look at how one Rubenstein Library instructor converted a scheduled, on-site instruction session on photobooks to a virtual one, and the steps taken to help students connect with Rubenstein Library materials and each other.

Edmonds, John. Higher. New York: Capricious, 2018.

 

After consulting course instructor Phyllis Dooney, we decided to move forward with a virtual, synchronous instruction session for her Digital Photography course, focusing on six photobooks from the Rubenstein Library’s collections that I digitized before the university closed in March. While preparing to move the session online, I tried to anticipate and prevent logistical and/or technological issues that might arise. To that end, I shared several resources with Phyllis and her students in advance of our virtual class:

Lesson Plan

 

The session was conducted via Zoom, and was divided into roughly two hour-long blocks. The beginning of class was reserved for student check-ins–an act of care and connection that Phyllis and I agreed was vital, and one which she had already put into practice in her own virtual classroom. I then followed a more conventional lecture format and introduced students to the Rubenstein Library’s services and collections, and provided a brief historical overview of photobooks.

 

Matyas, Emily. Sol y tierra: vistas más alláde la frontera México-EEUU, 1988-2018. Daylight, 2019.

In the second half of the session, I used Zoom breakout rooms to divide students into small groups, and assigned each a photobook to review using the discussion questions already provided. Students accessed the digitized photobooks prepared in WordPress using the 3DFlipbooks plugin (an attempt to recover some of the browsing and haptic experience of working with a physical photobook that was lost in virtual translation). Afterwards, students shared their findings with the whole class, discussing the images, narratives, technologies, and aesthetic choices they encountered in their photobooks.

Discussion topics the students used in their breakout sessions.

Remote instruction with special collections presents an opportunity to leverage technology to help bridge the gap between the physical and the virtual. For my part, it was a positive experience and helped me to feel more grounded and connected.

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library is committed to providing enriching, collections-based instruction to the Duke community and beyond. As the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly changed higher education, the Rubenstein Library’s instructors have developed new digital pedagogy resources, and offer unique instruction sessions and services through synchronous and asynchronous teaching online.

Gearing Up to Work from Home

The Rubenstein Library transitioned to working from home on March 17. The work of five departments and forty-one staff has continued despite this unexpected change in our daily work, and we continue to move forward on many exciting projects and initiatives, while taking this opportunity to think about our spaces, services, and work in new and exciting ways.

Collection Development
Andy Armacost, Curator of Collections

  • Andrew Armacost, Curator of Collections, has been named a co-director of a new Franklin Humanities Institute Research Lab, entitled Manuscript Migrations, which will explore ownership and provenance in manuscript studies.
  • Sara Seten Berghausen, curator for the Economists’ Papers Archive, has launched a new collections portal with updated information on many newly available collections.
  • John Gartrell, Director of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, has been preparing a major digitization grant proposal to digitize all of the oral histories in the Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South collection.
  • Rachel Ingold, Curator of the History of Medicine Collections, served as program chair for the Librarians, Archivists, and Museum Professionals in the History of the Health Sciences (LAMPHHS) 2020 annual meeting where on short notice she helped transfer the conference to a virtual format.
  • Laura Micham, Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture, has been working with a group of student curators on an exhibit to celebrate the centenary of American Women’s Suffrage.
  • Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist, has been preparing an exhibit related to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, drawn from the recently acquired Witness to Guantanamo Video Collection.
  • Jacqueline Wachholz, Director of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, is completing a CLIR grant with the University of Miami to document the history of Pan American World Airways. Images from the advertising collections will help document the history of the firm and its worldwide services.
Andy Armacost, Sara Seten Berghausen, John Gartrell, Patrick Stawski, and Jacqueline Reid Wachholz. Not pictured: Rachel Ingold and Laura Micham.

 

Exhibitions
Meg Brown, Head of Exhibition Services and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Exhibits Librarian

The exhibition department is creating online exhibits and curating future physical displays, planning to be ready with great visual experiences when our community can safely return to the libraries. With a host of exhibition curators that include librarians, interns, students, and faculty, we have been working on:

  •  A Place Outside the Law: Forgotten Voices from Guantanamo and Suffrage Centenary, as noted above.
  • Early Studies in Parapsychology at Duke, curated by History of Medicine intern Steph Crowell and Rachel Ingold.
  • James Van Der Zee and Michael Francis Blake: Picturing the “New Negro” of the 1920s, curated by John Hope Franklin Center intern Jessica Stark and John Gartrell.
  • 35 Years of East Asian Collecting, curated by International Area Studies librarians.
  • Commemorating Dante. An undergraduate course taught by Dr. Martin Eisner spent the spring semester exploring Dante’s works. For their final projects, students submitted creative and thoughtful proposals for a Chappell Family Gallery exhibition. We will work virtually this summer with Professor Eisner and a few students to make these proposals into an actual exhibition!

And we have created digital exhibitions for two of the current physical exhibitions:

The exhibition department is also taking this time to work with colleagues in Digital Strategies and Technology to migrate older digital exhibitions to the platform we currently use and to explore how we might streamline the creation of future digital exhibitions.

Draft of Guantanamo exhibit on SketchUp: 3D Design Software, created virtually with curators.

 

Research Services
Katie Henningsen, Head of Research Services

Instruction librarians are working with peers around the country to develop remote teaching resources and converting existing courses and workshops to the online environment. In the fall we will offer asynchronous instruction sessions and digital assignments. Developing these tools will allow us to expand our instruction capacity and engage more Duke students and students from other institutions to use Rubenstein Library materials. This summer we are offering our first Digital Archival Expeditions fellowships for Duke graduate students. Seven students and one peer-coordinator are developing online teaching resources and assignments for specific Duke courses in the fall. We are looking forward to having these students’ subject expertise and collaborative work featured on our website at the end of the summer.

Research Services continues to respond to reference questions, reproduction requests, and requests for permissions to publish. The reproduction staff are organizing several years of images scanned for researchers, and they are using those images and digital collections to fill reproductions orders when they can. As we prepare for fall, we are rethinking our services, spaces, and work with researchers to continue providing high-level services in new and exciting ways.

Research Services Staff, clockwise from top left: Katie Henningsen, Jennifer Baker, Kate Collins, Elizabeth Dunn, Joshua Larkin Rowley, Megan O’Connell, and Kelly Wooten. Not pictured: Trudi Abel, Hope Ketcham Geeting, Brooke Guthrie, and Lucy VanderKamp.

 

Technical Services
Meghan Lyon, Head of Technical Services

Creating description of rare materials without being able to look at the item itself is very challenging, but Technical Services staff have found a number of creative ways to keep working from digital copies or substitutes. In the days before leaving Duke’s campus, archivists and catalogers scanned title pages and took photographs of comic books, manuscripts, and other in-process priority projects so that they would have reference images to continue cataloging from home. Combined with Duke’s institutional access to HathiTrust, and using digitized copies of our own materials in the Internet Archive, Technical Services continues to publish new catalog records and collection guides. Our remote work has also included long-desired description for digitized audiovisual, born digital, and electronic media; updating of departmental documentation and policies; and migrating legacy description from paper box-lists to online platforms. And, speaking of migration: Technical Services staff have been deeply involved in the development of ArcLight, a new portal for searching our archival collection guides that launched in July. You can read more about this project on the The Devil’s Tale blog, or check it out yourself at archives.lib.duke.edu.

Technical Services Staff, clockwise from top left: Meghan Lyon, Craig Breaden, Noah Huffman, Tracy Jackson, Paula Jeannet, and Alice Poffinberger. Not pictured: Liz Adams, Jonathan Cogliano, Richard Collier, Jessica Janecki, Leah Kerr, Megan Lewis, Laurin Penland, and Lauren Reno.

 

University Archives
Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist

The University Archives is meeting virtually with Duke offices and student groups, and we have accepted almost a dozen new digital accessions. We are glad to have the technology to fulfill our mission to collect and document Duke’s history! As part of our collecting and documentation, the University Archives launched the Share Your COVID-19 Story initiative in April, which provides Duke students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to share their personal stories. We aim to capture as many experiences of the Duke community as possible so that future researchers will understand not only the administration of Duke, but also the realities of life for the Duke community during this time. Materials in this collection will be available online in late 2020. This summer, the University Archives is also sponsoring a Data+ project, On Being a Blue Devil, which (virtually!) brings together three undergraduates and a graduate student to create visualizations of the geographic origins of Duke students over time. The students will produce maps and interactive features to show how Duke’s student body has changed from a regional cohort to one that includes students from across the country and around the world.

 University Archives Staff, clockwise from top left: Valerie Gillispie, Amy McDonald, Hillary Gatlin, and Matthew Farrell.

 

Research Support in a COVID-19 World: A Series of Anecdotes

On Wednesday, March 11, we made the decision to close the reading room the following Saturday. In those final days the reading room was filled with faculty, researchers, and graduate students utilizing the seven reading room scanners to image material they would need for their courses and research. Our staff immediately stepped in to offer support, routing material for scanning to the Libraries’ Digital Production Center (DPC), digitizing material on staff scanners.  After the reading room closed, staff spent a day scanning material for Duke classes to finish the spring semester. Below are just a few stories of how Rubenstein Library staff are making material available to researchers during the pandemic.

Hope Ketcham Geeting, Research Services Assistant

For the past two years, Building Duke, a Bass Connections course, has used University Archives to research the development of the campus from 1924 through present. During the spring semester, Dr. Kristin Huffman brought the Building Duke students to the reading room multiple times each week for research. As we began preparing to close the reading room, reproduction staff worked closely with Dr. Huffman to digitize the material her students would need to complete the semester. Since scanners were in high demand, many large blueprints went to the DPC for digitization and I worked with Dr. Huffman to digitize the rest in the reading room. Collectively we were able to scan all of the materials needed for Building Duke to complete the semester.

Master plan, existing conditions, 1 sheet, diazo, undated. Sarah P. Duke Gardens records, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

 

Matthew Farrell, Digital Records Archivist

Since my work is mostly back-of-house, I don’t frequently work with Rubenstein Library researchers directly. That said, since starting remote work in mid-March, I’ve been as busy as ever. Making newly (and in some cases, not-so-newly) acquired born-digital files ready for our processing archivists to describe has taken a front seat and involves:

  • Identifying collections appropriate for remote arrangement and description (e.g., collections that are not too large, have as few “weird” file formats as possible);
  • Refining documentation, which was definitely geared toward having physical access to our spaces and collections; and,
  • Juggling remote access to our electronic records processing workstations.

Similar to on-site work, this involves a lot of wrangling information in various forms (e.g. spreadsheets, calendars, documentation) and keeps the boredom at bay.

Keeping track of collections ready for remote arrangement and description.

 

Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist

For the University Archives, the end of each academic year usually brings a flurry of discussions with undergraduate student group leaders interested in archiving their groups’ past year of records. This year—even as students scattered to their homes and the University Archives staff began working from home—was no different. Digital Records Archivist Matthew Farrell and I worked with a number of student groups—including the Native American Student Alliance, theater performance group, All of the Above, and the Duke Club Ballroom Dance—to either archive new records or begin conversations about what the archiving process would look like for them. We’re so pleased that the pandemic hasn’t prevented these student voices from joining the University Archives’ collections!

Photograph of Black Caucus 2019 leaders, 18 September 2019. Black Student Alliance records, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

 

Kelly Wooten, Research Services and Collection Development Librarian for the Sallie Bingham Center

At the end of March, after closing the Rubenstein Library’s reading room, I noticed a tweet from the account @fanzines looking for the zine Girl Jock from the early 1990s. They were having trouble locating copies after seeing a mention of the title. The Bingham Center has a few issues in our zines and periodicals collection, and I recalled taking pictures of the covers in a history class session on Men, Women, and Sport earlier in the semester. We don’t have the zines digitized, but these handy photographs were able to fulfill some curiosity on the fly. The reply from @fanzines: “Wowowow! Thank you so much, Kelly! This is awesome. Interesting that they made the leap to a professionally printed magazine.”

From the Collections

Kelly Wooten, Research Services and Collection Development Librarian for the Sallie Bingham Center.

For over twenty years, the Rubenstein Library has offered travel grants for researchers. The first grant began with the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture’s Mary Lily Research Travel Grant program and grew to include the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture; John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History; History of Medicine Collections; Human Rights Archive; and most recently, the Harry H. Harkins T’73 Travel Grants for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History.

As archivists, we have long understood that research, scholarship, writing, and creative processes take time. The outcomes from the people and projects we support often come to fruition years in the future. Thankfully, we stay in touch with many of our grant recipients long after they visit the Rubenstein Library, and are thrilled to celebrate their publications and projects once they are out in the world. Here are a few selections we’d like to highlight:

Anesthesia Mask, 4”x5” printed plexi glass plate, 2016-2018. History of Medicine Collections, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, c. 20th c.

Lindsey Beal, Mellon Faculty Fellow at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, received a History of Medicine travel grant in March 2016. Beal’s photographic work, Parturition, features History of Medicine Collections instruments and artifacts with a focus on obstetric and gynecological tools.

Little Cold Warriors: American Childhood in the 1950s by Victoria Grieve, Associate Professor of History at Utah State University, was published by the Oxford University Press in 2018. Dr. Grieve visited the Rubenstein Library in May 2016 as a Foundation for Outdoor Advertising Research and Education Fellow through the Hartman Center to use the Outdoor Advertising Association of America archives, the Garrett Orr papers, and the J. Walter Thompson Co. Writings and Speeches Collection.

Her Neighbor’s Wife: A History of Lesbian Desire Within Marriage by Lauren Jae Gutterman, professor of American studies at the University of Texas at Austin, was published in 2019 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Dr. Gutterman received a Mary Lily Research Travel Grant from the Bingham Center in 2013. Her research focused on the Minnie Bruce Pratt papers, as well as the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance’s archives and the papers of prominent feminist thinkers Robin Morgan and Kate Millett. Dr. Gutterman is also co-host of the podcast Sexing History.

Marjorie Lorch, Professor of Neurolinguistics, Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, University of London, visited the Rubenstein Library in February 2018 as a History of Medicine Collections grant recipient, utilizing the Henry Charles Bastian papers for her research. Her article, “The long view of language localization” was published in Frontiers in Neuroanatomy in May 2019. She also co-authored an article with R. Whurr, “The laryngoscope and nineteenth-century British understanding of laryngeal movements,” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, also published in May 2019.

Rachel R. Miller successfully defended her dissertation “The Girls’ Room: Bedroom Culture and the Ephemeral Archive in the 1990s” to complete her Ph.D. in English at the Ohio State University on May 18, 2020. She received a Mary Lily Research Grant to use the Bingham Center’s zine collections in 2018. Since her defense was held via videoconference, Dr. Miller noted on Twitter, “I’ve been working for four years on a project about how teenage girls’ bedrooms are archival spaces, so I guess it’s only appropriate that I’ll be defending my project from my bedroom.”

Erik A. Moore, postdoctoral associate at the University of Oklahoma’s Humanities Forum, visited the Rubenstein Library in May 2017 as a Human Rights Archive grant recipient. His article “Rights or Wishes? Conflicting Views over Human Rights and America’s Involvement in the Nicaraguan Contra War” was published in the journal Diplomacy & Statecraft (v. 29, no. 4) in October 2018. Dr. Moore used the Washington Office on Latin America records in his research.

Wangui Muigai, Assistant Professor in African and African American Studies and History at Brandeis University, is a historian of medicine and science. She received a Franklin Grant in 2015 for research on infant mortality and race from slavery to the Great Migration. Dr. Muigai  was awarded the Nursing Clio inaugural prize for best journal article for “‘Something Wasn’t Clean’: Black Midwifery, Birth, and Postwar Medical Education in All My Babies” in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (v. 93, no. 1,) in 2019, which cites an interview from the Behind the Veil oral history collection.

John Hervey Wheeler, Black Banking, and the Economic Struggle for Civil Rights by Brandon K. Winford, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, was published by the University of Kentucky Press in 2019. . Dr. Winford is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and went on to receive his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He was awarded a Franklin Research Center grant in 2015-2016. While visiting the Rubenstein Library, Dr. Winford consulted the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company archive, the C.C. Spaulding papers, the Asa and Elna Spaulding papers, and the Rencher Nicholas Harris papers. In February 2020, Dr. Winford returned to Duke to give a talk about the book and his research at the Duke University Law School.

Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America by Wendy Woloson, Associate Professor of History, Rutgers-Camden, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in September 2020. Dr. Woloson visited the Rubenstein Library as a Hartman Center grant recipient in 2017 and used the Advertising Ephemera Collection and the Arlie Slabaugh Collection of Direct Mail Literature.

 

Tracing “Miss Violet”

Contributed by Amelia Verkerk, Graduate Intern, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture

This past fall the Sallie Bingham Center received a reference question from Dr. Elizabeth Harmon, American Women’s History Initiative Digital Curator at the Smithsonian Institution Archives about Serena Katherine “Miss Violet” Dandridge. Dr. Harmon wanted to know more about Dandridge’s involvement with the women’s suffrage movement since Dandridge was employed as a scientific illustrator at the Smithsonian Institution in the early 1900s. In her research, she had not come across many other women employed at the Smithsonian who had also been active in the campaign for women’s right to vote. Within the Bedinger and Dandridge Family Papers which comprise 64 boxes of correspondence, journals, sketches, photographs, and poems spanning across generations are archival materials relating to Violet’s life and her experiences with the suffrage movement and as a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Maryland around the same time.

Serena Katherine “Miss Violet” Dandridge was born March 15, 1878, at her family home of “Rosebrake” in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to parents Danske Bedinger Dandridge and Adam Stephen Dandridge. Violet grew up at Rosebrake with two younger siblings, Stephen Hawks and Dorothea Spotswood, until moving to D.C. at the age of 18 in 1896 to begin studying art. She returned to Rosebrake in 1897 after her younger brother unexpectedly died while attending the University of Virginia. Dorothea Spotswood also died at a young age from an unspecified illness in 1907.

Portrait of Serena Katherine “Miss Violet" Dandridge. She is standing wearing a tweet suit.
Serena Katherine “Miss Violet” Dandridge

By 1903, Violet had moved back to Washington, D.C. and began drawing marine and fauna wildlife for publication at the National Museum in the Smithsonian Institution. In 1914, her parents committed her to Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, one of the nation’s oldest psychiatric hospitals in Maryland, for bouts of “nervousness” and possibly an eating disorder. The superintendent of the hospital stated that they resorted to force feeding Violet as she did not “retain food well” and her weight was a concern. However, in a letter to her family two weeks later, Violet noted that the staff were “kind and helpful” and the food was “delicious,” but she was just too anxious to finish her meals because she was worried about her mother, Danske, who also had a history of mental illness and particularly struggled after the deaths of Violet’s two younger siblings. Danske passed away from suicide during one of Violet’s stays at the hospital, but the nature of her death was concealed from Violet by doctors and family members out of concern for her well-being.

Violet was involved in the movement for women’s suffrage, and by 1915, she was regularly making donations, attending local meetings, and subscribing to suffragist newspapers and magazines. Violet most likely became involved in women’s suffrage before her time at the hospital, as the superintendent in February of 1914 claimed that Violet “wishe[d] to die on account of man’s injustice to woman.” Violet also had a deep love and appreciation for the environment, being arrested twice when she was 52 years old for interfering with a company’s plan to cut down local trees. She found inspiration for her poems and her art in nature, particularly trees. Sometime after being released from the hospital, Violet moved back to her family home to raise sheep and live with her cousin, Nina Mitchell, both never marrying.

During the 1940s, Mary Katharine Kern, a graduate student at Duke University, contacted Violet to learn more about Danske Dandridge for her thesis on poets of the Shenandoah Valley in West Virginia. The acknowledgments of her thesis and correspondence from the curator at the time indicate that the library acquired the Dandridge Family Papers from Violet as a purchase. The library also acquired Violet’s cousin Nina Mitchell’s papers, which also hold traces of Violet’s story.  Violet died on November 7, 1956, at age 78 after returning to Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital for further treatment related to mental illness.

In the fall semester of 2019, we shared the letters sent from Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital as primary evidence of early twentieth century treatment of women with mental illness with students in Seth LeJacq’s Writing 101 course on Women and Western Medicine. These letters provided a poignant complement to this course’s analysis of texts like Charlotte Perkins Gilman book The Yellow Wall-paper. Violet’s papers are a unique portrait of women’s involvement in science and politics as well as personal experiences with mental illness in the early 1900s.

Sources:
Bedinger and Dandridge Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.