Harry H. Harkins T’73 Travel Grants for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History
History of Medicine Collections
Human Rights Archive
John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture
John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture (Mary Lily Research Grants)
Anyone whose research would be supported by sources from the Rubenstein Library’s research centers is eligible to apply. We encourage applications from students at any level of education; faculty and teachers; visual and performing artists; writers; filmmakers; public historians; and independent researchers. For assistance determining the eligibility of your project, please contact AskRL@duke.edu with the subject line “Travel Grants.”
Applicants must reside beyond a 100-mile radius of Durham, N.C., and may not be current Duke students or employees.
An online information session will be held Thursday, January 11, 2024, 2-3 pm EST. This program will review application requirements, offer tips for creating a successful application, and include an opportunity for attendees to ask questions. This program will be recorded and posted online afterwards. Register for the session here.
The deadline for applications will be Thursday, February 29, 2024, at 6:00 pm EST.
Decisions will be announced by the end of April 2024 for travel during May 2024-June 2025. Awards are paid as reimbursement after completion of the research visit(s).
Upon successfully passing the motion at their meeting in June 1850, the Joint Committee of the Library of Congress resolved to compel Charles Wilkes to “notify Mr. Pickering that the Committee think he was not authorized to devote his time” as a member of the United States Exploring Expedition between 1838 and 1842 to jotting notes for his book The Races of Man. Nevertheless, Pickering published The Races of Man as the ninth volume of the multi-volume Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition in 1848, six years after returning from their voyage under the command of Lieutenant Wilkes. The committee’s resolution to Wilkes and Pickering is among the Wilkes Papers held by the David M. Rubenstein Manuscript and Rare Book Library, which generously funded my research at the library in the summer of 2023.
During their time in the Pacific Ocean––including stopovers in the Tuamotu Archipelago, Tuvalu, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Hawaii, and the Philippines––Pickering resolved to produce a classificatory schema of “all eleven races of man.” At the start, he found “difficulty arose, in fixing in the mind, while passing from place to place, the relative shades of complexion” of the people the Exploring Expedition, or Ex. Ex., encountered during their voyage.
Fijian skin, for instance, upset English-speaker’s reliance on vision to discern race in the early nineteenth century. In May, 1840, Pickering looked through a spyglass from the deck of the Vincennes, the squadron’s flagship, toward a cluster of people gathered on the shore of Levuka, a town on the eastern coast of Ovalu, to obtain “evidence of the lightness of the Feejeean complexion.” Ovalu is one of the more than three hundred volcanic islands that make up the Fiji archipelago in the South Pacific.
At first, Pickering incorrectly hypothesized the group contained a mixture of “Malayan”, “Polynesian”, and “Negro” peoples rather than Fijians. Seeing people from afar thus proved to be inadequate for the purposes of collecting scientific facts concerning skin color in the Pacific Rim. Pickering improvised by terming them “purple men” on closer inspection. Ocularity and visibility, then, proved to be incomplete methods for knowing race. So, Pickering concluded, his racial scientific program required collecting “more obvious distinctive characters” to serve as an evidentiary basis for his racial taxonomy. Some of these characters included notes on Papuan skin as “harsh to the touch, and the hair crisped or frizzed”, hearing Pa‘umotus “making a kind of purring noise”, and wincing at “the strong ill odour” of Fijians that “make them thoroughly disgusting to persons newly arrived.”
Pickering’s inability to fully rely on vision matters for historians of science and the senses. Relying on prior analyses of race as a phenomenological apparatus, in particular the scholarship of philosophers including Sachi Sekimoto and Christopher Brown, I am investigating how the Ex. Ex. produced scientific ideas about race via the sensorium. What is at stake here is the place of vision and visibility in histories of science in the Enlightenment as hallmarks of modern scientific epistemology. Forms of visualization equipped what Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison term the disciplinary eye that lay at the ethico-epistemic foundations of contemporary science. Yet, scientists like Pickering used hearing and ideas about noise, smell and notions of cleanliness, and mores around touch and taste, to articulate race as a scientific fact through the itinerary of the Ex. Ex. Put simply, ocularcentrism was too brittle an epistemological basis for the Ex. Ex. to taxonomize the various groups they “discovered” through their transpacific itinerary. Rather, the Ex Ex used olfactory disgust, sonic boundaries, and norms surrounding touch and gustation to classify Pacific Islanders as racialized others through the body and the senses.
Before the Ex. Ex. departed from Hampton Roads in 1838, Wilkes argued that the operation would prove to be “useful to the Navy, honorable to this Country, and highly advantageous to the Commercial interest of the Country” and to “Science generally.” In his “Organization for the Exploring Expedition”, Wilkes did not propose sending a race scientist like Charles Pickering––who joined the Ex. Ex. as the scientific corps’s zoologist––along with the other “Scientifics” like the geologist James Dwight Dana, the botanist William Rich, or the artists Alfred Thomas Agate and Joseph Drayton. The Wilkes Papers at the Rubenstein contain material on these figures, as well as the John Torrey Papers, which pertain to the Ex. Ex. Torrey––a botanist who did not travel with Wilkes––later classified the plant collections made by the scientific corps and prepared specimen catalogues as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and his papers contain letters with people associated with the SI like Spencer F. Barid, Joseph Henry, and Louis Agassiz. Torrey’s correspondence also contains letters from the phrenologist Johann Gaspar Spurzheim, and Josiah Nott, a leading race scientist of the antebellum era.
Moving forward, my aim is to produce a phenomenological account of the Ex. Ex. that provides insight into the formation of the racist ideas that undergirded Indian removal and Manifest Destiny via the senses. Like Sachi Sekimoto––who argues that “race constantly renews its material presence through latching onto our bodily felt, sensorial experiences, making itself feel-able and sensible and therefore ‘natural.’”––I claim that the narratives produced by the scientific corps and the naval personnel of the Ex Ex justified beliefs in American Indian and Polynesian “savagery” in Jacksonian America.
 Charles Pickering, The Races of Man: And Their Geographical Distribution (London: H. G. Bohn, 1850) 2nd edition, 2.
 Charles Pickering, The Races of Man: And Their Geographical Distribution (United Kingdom: John Chapman, 1849), 146-147.
 Pickering, The Races of Man, 3; Wilkes, Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, vol.1, 324; Walter Lawry, Friendly and Feejee Islands: A Missionary Visit to Various Stations in the South Seas in the Year MDCCCXLVII, (United Kingdom: C. Gilpin, 1850), 79-80.
 Lorraine Daston, and Peter Galison, Objectivity (Princeton: Zone Books, 2007), 48, 148
 Wilkes Papers, Box 3, “Organization for the Exploring Expedition”
 William Reynolds, Voyage to the Southern Ocean: The Letters of Lieutenant William Reynolds from the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 (United States: Naval Institute Press, 1988), 3.
Post contributed by Michelle Wolfson, Research Services Librarian for University Archives.
For as long as I have worked at the Rubenstein Library, I have heard about the Test Kitchen—staff members trying out recipes from our collections and experiencing the complete surprise or regret of trying the tastes of a simpler time.
When I joined the Rubenstein as a full-time staff member (I was an intern before), I thought it would be a safe time to dip into the archives and get cooking. Loving the #girldinner trend, I gathered as many cookbooks that seemed to fit that particular bill, such as The American Girl Cookbook, The Barbie Party Cookbook, and The Political Palate: A Feminist Vegetarian Cookbook (all from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture). I also pulled from University Archives the Law Dames records, 1951-1973. The Duke Law Dames was an organization mainly made up of law student wives (though it was also open to women law students and wives of the law school faculty and alumni) and the records contain two member-made cookbooks.
Again, feeling safe as a full-time staff member, I decided it would be perfectly fine to subject my taste testers to…the asparagus cream mold.
This simple dish needed only four ingredients (Cool Whip, mayonnaise, gelatine, and canned asparagus) and minimal time. Perfect for a busy gal who wants to entertain new friends on an unassuming Monday afternoon.
The first observation from the small but supportive group that had gathered was that the color of it was…unexpected. It looked in color and texture a bit like tofu, which many of us are big fans of, but we were not big fans of the canned asparagus that flopped out as I cut the cream mold into bite-size chunks. The asparagus had floated down to the bottom of the dish, like a mysterious and dangerous deep-sea creature lying in wait.
Three of us (out of maybe ~70 people) tasted the asparagus cream mold. It was described as “shocking”, “special”, and “wild”, three adjectives I pictured in explosive bubbles on a poster featuring the latest 1950s movie monster, The Asparagus Cream Mold. For me, the asparagus taste was overwhelming, while a coworker found the mayonnaise flavor to be prevalent. 0/10, do not recommend you put on a charcuterie board and serve to your besties.
Luckily, right above the asparagus cream mold recipe was the recipe for Bing cherry/Coca-Cola salad. (Have I mentioned we are in the salad section of the cookbook?? We are so healthy.) The very next week, to clear the palates and memories of my coworkers, I made this, another quick and minimal-ingredient dish. I did not have Coca-Cola in my fridge, so I went with the Wild Cherry Pepsi that I did have because who can say no to extra cherries? (Some people might say ‘no’ to Pepsi and I would not blame them.)
I attempted to make the Bing cherry/Coca-Cola salad into a more appealing shape, on a prettier dish (as if that was the main problem with the previous recipe). At least six people participated in the official taste test, and we were all surprised with how it was actually…good? I do not think we would have been as surprised if we did not have the asparagus monstrosity to compare it to, because how can one go wrong with a salad made of Jell-O and soda? Mostly we were all wondering how the pineapple would taste, as we had some self-proclaimed canned pineapple-haters (barely noticeable!) and how the pecans fared (the texture they provided was nice!). It was declared by some to be a bit too sweet (but it’s salad!) and it was not as tasty the next day (when two of your taste-testers were actually kind of craving it??).
The Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Once again, up and running to provide both regret and surprise from the archives.
Post contributed by Rebecca Pattillo, Assistant University Archivist
To celebrate Native American Heritage Month, let’s delve into the archives and explore how Duke’s Native and Indigenous students built a community on campus and took the lead in advocating for more representation among faculty, staff, and students. The first officially recognized student group, American Indians at Duke (A.I.D.), emerged in the 1970s, with ten students, 95% of them being undergraduates. Regrettably, the archives lack additional information about this early student group, leaving us uncertain about its official founding and disbandment dates.
However, we do have knowledge that in 1992, a group of six students founded the Native American Student Coalition (NASC), which received official charter status in 1993. The official charter states, “NASC’s goals and mission are to raise awareness of all Native American cultures and to provide a voice on Duke’s campus concerning Native American issues. NASC also started with the purpose of enhancing the recruitment and retention of Native American faculty, students, and curriculum.”
Throughout the 1990s, NASC organized various well-attended programs at Duke, including visits by Ojibwa activist Winona LaDuke, Lakota musician and hoop dancer Kevin Locke, and Muscogee poet Joy Harjo, among others. One such event, as depicted in a flyer found in the Student Organizations Reference Collection, was an evening symposium titled “As Long as the Grass Grows or Water Runs,” held in 1995.
In 2000, NASC presented “A Proposal for Native American Student and Community Development at Duke” during the annual Unity Through Diversity event. The proposal centered on recruiting and retaining Native students, increasing Native staff and faculty, and securing additional resources for programming. An April 6 Chronicle article from the same year gives insight into the leaders of NASC and their struggles at a predominantly white institution. Despite these obstacles, in the spring of 2001, NASC hosted its first-ever Duke Powwow, which has since become an annual tradition.
By 2003, another report from NASC indicated that due to Duke’s limited recruitment efforts, the group was nearly defunct, as there were only a few Native students on campus, who were too busy with their studies to sustain the group. Sometime between 2003 and 2007, the group experienced a revival and was renamed the Native American Student Alliance, subsequently adopting the name Native American/Indigenous Student Alliance (NAISA), which it is known as today.
Post contributed by Sarah Bernstein, Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Intern.
The History of Medicine artifacts collection presents such a unique opportunity to work with material sources in the history of medicine. In the same way that there is a difference between viewing manuscripts through photographs and seeing them in person, there is something striking about being able to hold an object that you have only read about in books and pamphlets. In my training as a historian, I have been largely trained and relied on primary sources in the form of written materials. It is precisely because of this that I have been thrilled to be able to view and work with the History of Medicine artifacts collection.
Amongst the many marvelous and unexpected items in the collection, from amputation sets and bone saws to carved ivory manikins and elaborate anatomical flap books, I found myself drawn to the multiple British nineteenth century medicine chests within the collection. These stately century solid wood boxes contained custom glass bottles, fitted to each box’s measurements, with some still filled with powders and liquids. Going through them was nothing short of opening a time capsule and a treasure chest at the same time.
Medicine chests like these can provide a window into the past to understand not only nineteenth century medicine, but global, local, and cultural developments as reflected in the items in these chests and the existence of these chests themselves. There are some medicine chests that are smaller than others, with a variety of cork-stoppered bottles, and were likely meant to be portable and used while traveling. Other medicine chests are heavier and equipped with preparatory tools and medical instruments. These large medicine chests were meant to be stationary, within homes or on ships. In England, both types of medicine chests emerged in the context of newfound social and physical mobility for the Victorian public.
Regardless of whether they were meant for travel or to be stationary, the existence of these chests speak to the common practice of self-healing, an anticipated absence of a physician, an expected level of medical literacy, and an interest in maintaining one’s own health. These chests are more similar to our contemporary medicine cabinets and in the household, functioned less like a first aid kit or a form of triage support. Rather than immediately, and always, calling upon a doctor, people would often utilize herbal and botanical knowledge to create remedies at home to alleviate and treat their ailments before turning to a physician. And what exactly did people use as medicine?
In one “home medicine chest” there are bottles of Ipecacuanha (Carapichea ipecacuanha) in various forms. Ipecacuanha is a slow growing plant native to Central and South America that has a long history in British medicine as to treat dysentery, poisoning, fever, and colds. It was commonly prepared as syrup of ipecac, or simply “ipecac,” which would be used to empty the stomach to combat poisoning. Ipecacuanha was also used in Dover’s Powder, a bottle of which also appears in the same home medicine chest, which was a mixture of powdered ipecacuanha, potassium sulfate, and powdered opium as a pain reliever and to treat fevers and colds by inducing sweating.
The same home medicine chest also contains multiple instances of rhubarb: tincture of rhubarb, one simply labeled as “Rhubarb,” and the other specified as “Powder of Turkey Rhubarb.” While today rhubarb may conjure thoughts of confectionery sweets and strawberry and rhubarb pie, rhubarb has historically been prized for its medicinal properties and was highly sought after. Rhubarb itself refers to a species of plant, Rheum palmatum, that native to parts of western China and northern Tibet. It was used to aid in cases of indigestion and as a laxative.
Similarly to ipecacuanha, rhubarb and its various preparations can reveal the rich history and practice of herbal and botanical medicine that persisted into the nineteenth century. Despite both of the plants being non-native to Britain, where these chests were created and their clientele were located, ipecacuanha and rhubarb were popular and common treatments utilized throughout the nineteenth century. The prevalence of ipecacuanha and rhubarb not only serves as an indication of the widespread use of purgative medicine during that era but also hints at the emergence and growth of industries, trade networks, and international relationships necessary for the accessibility of these medicinal plants.
I zipped around the book to get a sense of Emma Edmonds’s time during the Civil War. She was a nurse and when a need arose to infiltrate the Confederate army, Edmonds stepped up. Edmonds went through a process to test her abilities, and a line that stood out to me was regarding her phrenological examination—it showed that she was capable of being a spy.
Phrenology has been covered here on the Devil’s Tale before, such as in this excellent post about the phrenology of the Dukes, and the History of Medicine collection includes several phrenological books to enlighten us further. To sum up, phrenology claimed to discern the strengths and weaknesses of a person’s character by measuring the distances from the top of their spinal cord (around the opening of the ear) to the surface of the head, with different characteristics assigned to different parts of the brain/regions of the head. Scientific Phrenology: Being a Practical Mental Science and Guide to Human Character, an Illustrated Textbook by Bernard Hollander, offers a guide on cranial measurements that one should start with their children at six months and go until the age of puberty.
People could participate in readings out of their own interest, to check their compatibility with a suitor, to aid in the raising of their children, and phrenologists also played a part in court cases. The pseudoscience’s popularity overlapped with the American Civil War, and apparently also guided in the hiring of spies.
Heads and Faces, and How to Study Them, a Manual of Phrenology and Physiognomy for the People by Nelson Sizer and H.S. Drayton give us a breakdown of the characteristics phrenology covers.
Edmonds mentioned her phrenological exam found her organs of secretiveness and combativeness to be largely developed, then included a vague “etc.”. Regarding secretiveness and combativeness, Sizer and Drayton define it as:
Combativeness. Meets duty bravely, has moral courage, intellectual enterprises, energy of character
Secretiveness. They do not say or do anything in an open, frank manner, but it is by concealment, by artifice, and there is mystery in all they do
I then decided to make some guesses on what the “etc.” might include. If I were to guess at the qualities Edmonds was strong in (and I don’t mind guessing because this is quack science anyway, though my enthusiasm was tempered by the gross racism found rampant in phrenology and physiognomy), I would guess the following:
Inhabitiveness. Love of home, patriotism;
Self-esteem. Gives confidence in the exercise of courage and judgment;
Firmness. Working with Combativeness, it produces determined bravery;
Imitation. This attribute mostly calls for people to become more refined by imitating others, but it also refers to imitation in common modes of doing and acting;
Individuality. Eager to see all that may be seen and nothing escapes their attention;
Locality. Remembers where things or places are in respect to themselves; they will remember roads and places and directions in a town (here is where I would completely fail as a spy);
Time. Remembers dates and times but also has a sense of time/how long things take; and
Finally, I think Edmonds would have been low on Cautiousness, which can cloud over all manifestations, paralyzing courage, energy, determination, and Hope.
Lest we get too excited about lady nurses/spies and their exciting phrenological aspects, Scientific Phrenology reminds us that a woman like Edmonds is an exception, because as Hollander says, the average woman is less intellectual and more emotional than the average man “because of their mammary glands […], their sexual organs being concealed in the pelvis […]”, and various differences in their brains, such as their smaller frontal lobes.
Oh, phrenology, also a friend to misogyny.
This sort of reasoning is, of course, one of the reasons I seek out women in medicine, science, and life. And so we do not end on the sour note of misogyny, you can find meaningful resources on this LibGuide about women and their work in science and medicine.
Contributed by Annie Sansonetti, Ph. D. candidate, Department of Performance Studies, New York University; Recipient of an Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Research Travel Grant, 2022-23, supported by the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Foundation.
There is a photograph of my best friend and I as children that I especially love. The year is 2002. In the photo, I am in her “girl” clothes and she is in my “boy” clothes. We pose, my hand on my hip, her arm by her side. We smile with our other arms around each other. I remember our debut in her big, sun-filled kitchen: coffee and pastries on the table and the surprise on our parents’ faces. Laughter ensued, someone took a photo, and we played in our shared clothing all day. I assume that I eventually swapped her clothes for mine, although this moment does not stand out in my mind. The memory of my friend’s roomy walk-in closet and our subsequent exit of it—down the spiral staircase hand in hand, with our footsteps set to a symphony of our giggles—does.
I call this moment, and the gendered and (trans)sexual activity that transpired there, “Eve’s closet.” Play in Eve’s closet is my descriptor for queer and trans pleasure in the curvature of sexual and gendered spaces, what Sedgwick described in a response to an essay by Jacob Hale as an “identification with what is, at any given moment, understood to be the growing edge of a self.” It recalls moments of childhood play—“of daring surmise and cognitive rupture”—between queer and trans kids (here trans feminine and trans masculine), where clothing, make-believe, and toys are the “very stuff” of queer sexuality and/or where friendship is a medium for gender transition or sex change. Eve’s closet is a funhouse for kids: comprised of many entrances and exits, where they are encouraged to come in and come out when they are ready. It is like a theatre’s backstage, or a dressing room, where costume choices are endless. In Eve’s closet, and in play among children, even bridal lingerie has queer and trans potential.
I visited the Eve Kosofksy Sedgwick papers at Duke University’s Rubenstein Library with an interest in Sedgwick’s writing on trans feminine childhood—what was then-called “feminine boyhood,” “boyhood effeminacy,” or “boyhood femininity” in common parlance of queer theory in the 1990s. I am interested in how stories of trans feminine childhood—of feminine boyhood and trans girlhood—have been written and performed in theatre and the performing arts, especially when friends (or other queer- and trans-loving collaborators) are the chosen or desired audience members or co-stars. I read an early 1989 draft of her now-famous essay “How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay,” later re-published in Tendencies in 1993 with the subtitle “The War on Effeminate Boys,” as well as her lesser-known 1989 essay “Willa Cather and Others” on Cather’s 1905 short story titled “Paul’s Case: A Study in Temperament.” But I soon became fascinated by Sedgwick’s collaborations with her best friend and once-roommate Michael Moon, especially their co-authored 1990 essay, more of a “performance piece,” on the topic of “divinity,” what they called “a little-understood emotion.”
In “Divinity,” Moon and Sedgwick reflect on the “roominess” of the fat woman’s body—and her closet—for the feminine boy. While I am interested in the content of the essay (especially a film still of Divine and the “Infant of Prague” from John Waters’ 1970 film Multiple Maniacs, and I certainly have my own stories of play in fat women’s closets as a girly-boy), for the purposes of this report, I want to dwell on Moon and Sedgwick’s collaboration for what it teaches us about the pleasure and play of the trans masculine and trans feminine relation. In Sedgwick’s papers, there are multiple drafts of “Divinity”—some with misplaced paragraphs, others with Moon’s and Sedgwick’s marginalia, and a few with Moon’s initials swapped for Sedgwick’s and vice versa, as if they were sharing and exchanging each other’s voices, or playing dress up with each other’s bodies, if you will.
Moon and Sedgwick both spent time in the closet. Moon as a “proto-gay,” feminine boy and Sedgwick as a fat woman who accompanied them there (and who was, especially in her white glasses, a fat woman who was a gay man). But they also stepped outside them quite proudly and defiantly, both together and apart, like me and my friend. For Moon and Sedgwick, their play-space was writing; for my friend and I, it was clothing. Inspired by Moon and Sedgwick’s essay and my photograph, we might make the claim that queer and trans children’s play with each other (both “actual” children and the inner child of the queer or trans adult who is “co-present,” not gone, after Mary Zaborskis) can constitute felt and pleasurable enactments of queer sexuality and/or gender transition beyond the confine of an “adult”—legal, medical, and political—form of legibility and between friends.
Play in each other’s shared clothing is co-authorship. It a chance for queer and trans kids to stage the bodies and lives they want for themselves and their friends, at least for the time being, and until they have the autonomy to demand more from the world at the level of sexual and gender-determination in an adult-centric world. In extant queer and trans scholarship and popular culture, tomboys and sissies are often staged far apart from each other. But what about their conviviality and solidarity—the “I have what you need/want, you have what I need/want” kind of mutual aid? Think: my photograph. It occurs to me that in our play, a repertoire that was certainly “t4t,” we relished the share of clothing, bodies (body parts?), and toys that sustained our queer and trans childhood—little-by-little, day-by-day, and moment-by-moment, like the best scenes of queer and trans childhood’s “divinity.”
In this sense, play among queer and trans children is best encapsulated in Sedgwick’s last words on the “divine” collaboration between Divine and Waters (and, I add, herself and Moon, and me and my friend). This play, is, as Sedgwick writes, “as scarce as it is precious.” It offers us “opulent images and daring performances that suggest the experiment of desires that might withstand the possibility of their fulfillment.” In the absence of a certain fulfillment, there is no “finale” to such play’s enactment of desire. Instead, there are only a bunch of opulent and daring debuts with the friends who withstand the often frustrated, unrealizable experiments in queer and trans desire with you. This is “Eve’s closet,” where children can change their genders/sexualities, stage a scene, and strike a pose with a friend, always as if for the first time. There may even be someone queer- and trans-loving around to photograph it.
Post contributed by Joshua Larkin Rowley, Reference Archivist, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.
The January 1962 issue of Consumer Reports, the flagship publication of the consumer education and advocacy non-profit of the same name, included a much-anticipated article titled “The Fallout Shelter: A review of the facts of nuclear life and the variables that bear on the effectiveness of a shelter.” Cold War consumers were eager for guidance from a trusted source of product evaluation. However, Consumer Reports essentially took a pass. According to the organization, all the variables that might make a shelter effective or ineffective were simply unknowable and unpredictable. While the organization side-stepped recommending specific shelters, the Technical Department, the unit responsible for creating testing procedures, methods, and reports, retained forwarded letters documenting reader reactions to the article. For a moment, the fallout shelter article became a flashpoint for the hopes, fears, and anxieties of Cold War citizens.
Some readers applauded the article as the most objective and thorough review of the facts regarding the effectiveness of fallout shelters. Others were not so complimentary. A professor of architecture at the University of Florida and self-described instructor in “Fallout Shelter Analysis,” accused the organization of using the same tactics as cigarette advertisers, “arguing from a conclusion using pseudo-technical jargon.” Another agreed that Consumer Reports had not “..lived up to its own standards in discharging the awesome responsibility…of giving advice that might mean life or death to large numbers of people.” Some took an optimistic something-is-better-than-nothing stance. “You apparently cannot admit that a partial solution is better than no solution at all,” wrote one subscriber. Yet another reader relays that he is often asked by friends and acquaintances whether he is afraid that the shelter he is currently constructing might not work. His reply, he shares, is always: “No—My greatest fear has been that it (nuclear war) might happen, and I would be faced with the knowledge that I hadn’t even tried or made the effort.”
Other readers felt the article reinforced their own principled stance concerning nuclear armament. A letter from a couple from Bellaire, Ohio included their own vision of Civil Defense titled Civilization Defense: A Creed, in which they lay out a list of principled teachings that they plan to instill in their children amid the omnipresent threat of nuclear war which concludes: “This creed is the only shelter I will build for my children.” A research psychologist at the University of Michigan argued that the greatest threat posed by the fallout shelter fad was not their inadequacy, but their “psychological and political consequences during a time when an attack might still be prevented.” He goes on to argue that shelter programs are but “a step in the long chain of events” that could actually provoke a nuclear war. Lynn and Michael Phillips of Berkley, CA, agreed, commending the article’s importance in “preventing people from making the deadly mistake of accepting nuclear war” as a means to rid the world of Communism and survive. In the mind of the Phillips’s the only way to protect a nation’s people from nuclear war was disarmament.
Consumer Reports was also critical of companies eager to leverage the demand for fallout shelters. In an article titled “Enter the Survival Merchants,” the magazine characterized the “survival business” as a natural home for “fly-by-night operators, high pressure salesman, and home improvement racketeers” and accused the industry of preying on people’s fear as well as their patriotism. A letter from an executive at KGS Associates, later to be revealed as a civil defense merchandiser, accused the publication of intentionally setting out to discredit the civil defense industry. In the case of a nuclear attack, the writer wondered “how fast the Consumer Reports staff…will run for the shelters, eat the food, and drink the water provided by the men they have described as hungry, callous, and even a bit shady.” Another shelter defender pointedly stated, “your implication that all shelter designers are out to fleece the public is untrue and not up to the high standards I have always looked for in Consumer Reports.” The organization did not let large corporations off the hook either. General Mills, the processed foods manufacturer, also came under fire for their marketing of Multi-Purpose Food (MPF), a shelf-stable nutritional supplement designed specifically to stock fallout shelters and meant to be mixed with other foods. Brochures for the product were often displayed alongside fallout shelters at civil defense trade shows, piggybacking on the shelter craze.
Looking back on the controversial issue two years removed from its publication, Consumer Reports staff took time for an LOL moment. In an internal memo, a staff member noted an article published in the New York Post that day about fallout shelters that cited a local company “…buying up prefabricated fallout shelters for conversion to hot dog stands and cabanas. ‘Swords into plowshares’” he quipped.
 King Royer to Consumers Union, 12 January 1962. Consumer Reports. Technical Department Records, Box 54
 Jack Hirshleifer to Irving Michelson, Director of Public Service Projects, 15 March 1962, Ibid.
 John F. Devaney to Dexter Masters, Director, Consumers Union, 11 January 1962 Ibid.
 Thomas McHugh to Consumer Reports, 8 April 1962. Consumer Reports. Technical Department Records, Box 54.
 Charlotte Levine to Consumer Reports, 14 January 1962, Consumer Reports. Technical Department Records, Box 54.
Post contributed by Zachary Tumlin, Project Archivist for the Economists’ Papers Archive.
Raymond Battalio (1938-2004) and John Van Huyck (1956-2014) were American academic economists who spent their entire careers at Texas A&M University (TAMU; 1969-2004 and 1985-2014, respectively), where they contributed to the development of experimental economics. Battalio was one of the 12 founders of the Economic Science Association in 1986 and served as its third president, and together, they founded the Economic Research Lab at TAMU in 1997. They are primarily known for their lab work on the problem of multiple equilibria in game theory. Along with Richard Biel, they carried out a series of experiments on coordination that began with the minimum-effort coordination game in 1990. They helped explain why players will fail to coordinate even when it is in their best interest to do so, and they showed the importance of learning because player behavior will change over time.
Dr. Jonathan Cogliano, former Project Archivist, began processing their papers (combined into one collection due to their close working relationship) in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic and leaving to become an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston in summer 2020. Undergraduate Elizabeth Berenguer imaged and reported on 442 floppy disks during the fall 2022 semester, and Project Archivist Zachary Tumlin finished processing the electronic records in June 2023.
There are 65 boxes with 81 linear feet of paper records and 16 boxes with 1,568 electronic record carriers and 43 pieces of audiovisual material. This breaks down as 1,309 floppy disks (both 3.5” and 5.25”), 245 optical disks (CDs and DVDs), nine hard drives (internal and external), five quarter-inch cartridges, three USB thumb drives, 29 audio cassettes, and 14 microcassettes. Some of these disks were separated from related paper records, while others were not. This is the greatest number of electronic record carriers in an archival collection at Duke, and most or all belonged to Van Huyck. Interested in and knowledgeable about the use of technology, he maintained backups and migrated files to newer storage mediums to prevent data loss, or to transport files between his home and office before he would later use Dropbox.
These carriers contain approximately 1.5 million files that total 655 gigabytes, with the hard drives being the largest source. This material was appraised down to 390,864 files that total 56.2 gigabytes and arranged into ten sets (top-level folders) based on the arrangement of the paper records. There are three main reasons for this reduction: 1) some disks are clearly labeled as copies of other disks, 2) some disks are installation disks for software, and 3) the hard drives contain system files that are never retained, and they show an evolution over time due to being used as backups. However, duplicate files remain, especially between different mediums. Seven of these sets are now open for research but three have restricted access due to the presence of personnel records or personally identifiable information.