Category Archives: From Our Collections

2022 HOPE Center Summer Institute Event

Post contributed by Zachary Tumlin (Project Archivist for the Economists’ Papers Archive), Andrew Armacost (Head of Collection Development), Laura Micham (Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture), and Vincent Carret (2021-2022 HOPE Center Visiting Scholar and 2022 Summer in the Archives Fellow).

On Monday, June 27th, around two dozen participants in the Center for the History of Political Economy’s (HOPE Center) 2022 Summer Institute met with four staff members from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library for a showing of items from the Economists’ Papers Archive (a joint venture between the HOPE Center and Rubenstein Library). The Summer Institute was started in 2010 with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is a two-week long annual event that brings together faculty and PhD students in economics to examine various topics in the history of the field. This year’s focus was on preparing participants to design and teach their own undergraduate-level course on the history of economic thought, along with showing how such concepts and ideas might be introduced into other classes. The instructors were Duke faculty members Bruce Caldwell (HOPE Center Director), Steven Medema, and Jason Brent.

Golden medallion and large certificate on a brown table.
Kenneth Arrow’s 1972 Nobel Prize medal and certificate.

What follows are contributions from Andrew Armacost (Head of Collection Development), Laura Micham (Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture), Zachary Tumlin (Project Archivist for the Economists’ Papers Archive), and Vincent Carret (2021-2022 HOPE Center Visiting Scholar and 2022 Summer in the Archives Fellow) about what they displayed during this event.

Andrew Armacost

While many of the collections in the Economists’ Papers Archive relate to documenting the careers of individual economists, the archive also holds some related collections that offer a larger context for the history and range of work that encompasses this discipline.

Two open books, two gray document boxes, four open folders with papers inside, and one 8x10 inch black and white print on a brown table.

Starting at the bottom right and going clockwise, one goal of the Archive is to chronicle the historical development of the field, and a key early work in this narrative is Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, published in 1776. This work explores the role of markets, international trade, and economic decision making. In it, Smith famously describes market forces acting as an “invisible hand” that guides economic decision making.

Close-up of text on a page.
Place in text where “invisible hand” appears.

The Archive also holds organizational papers, including those of the American Economic Association (AEA; founded in 1885) and its journal American Economic Review. These papers represent more than a century of economic thought and the participation of a broad range of economists, and include correspondence from international economists like John Maynard Keynes, who corresponded on behalf of the Royal Economic Society.

The Archive also holds the papers of economists working in government, such as Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns, who served during the Nixon administration. This collection preserves correspondence between the President and Chairman and their discussions related to economic policy and decisions related to the administration’s ending of the gold standard for US currency.

Laura Micham

The Economists’ Papers Archive holds the papers of several prominent women economists, such as Anita Arrow Summers, Anna Schwartz, Juanita Morris Kreps, Charlotte Phelps, and Barbara Bergmann. Though these scholars emerged from a range of backgrounds and intellectual traditions, and each took different professional paths, they all seem to have been animated by an interest in living independent lives and a realization that financial independence was crucial to that goal.

One open record carton with many folders inside, one open gray document box with folders inside, and five open folders with papers inside on a brown table.

During this event, I shared materials from each of these collections that offer a window into these women’s contributions to the field of economics and to society:

  • Bottom left: Professor Arrow Summers’s graduate student work during the mid-1940s in the University of Chicago Economics Department.
  • Bottom right: Detailed correspondence between Professor Schwartz and Milton Friedman related to their groundbreaking work, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 (Princeton University Press, 1963).
  • Top right: Memos and other correspondence between Professor Kreps and President Jimmy Carter when she served as Secretary of Commerce in his administration.
  • Top left: Heavily annotated writings of Professor Phelps documenting her contributions to behavioral economics.
  • Top middle: Handwritten manuscripts detailing Professor Bergmann’s groundbreaking scholarship on women and children.
Handwriting in pencil on yellow lined paper.
Page 1 of “A ‘cost-sharing’ formula for child support payments,” n.d. by Barbara Bergmann from the Barbara Bergmann papers, 1942-2015.

Barbara Rose Bergmann (20 July 1927—5 April 2015) was a feminist economist. Her work covers many topics from childcare and gender issues to poverty and Social Security. She was a co-founder and President of the International Association for Feminist Economics, a trustee of the Economists for Peace and Security, and Professor Emerita of Economics at the University of Maryland and American University. During the Kennedy administration, she was a senior staff member at the Council of Economic Advisers and a Senior Economic Adviser at the Agency for International Development (USAID). She also served as an advisor to the Congressional Budget Office and the Bureau of the Census.

Bergmann’s archival collection consists of published writings, including congressional testimony, as well as research and project files, and a selection of career awards and books from her library. One of the manuscripts included in the display is “A ‘cost-sharing’ formula for child support payments.” This undated piece was written in pencil on sheets from a legal pad, copiously revised, meticulously calculated, and thoroughly argued. She published several scholarly and journalistic articles on the topic of child support, some likely emerging from this piece, including an article co-authored with Professor Sherry Wetchler in Family Law Quarterly, Fall 1995, Vol. 29, No. 3, “Child Support Awards: State Guidelines vs. Public Opinion” [Duke NetID required for access].

Zachary Tumlin

Starting at bottom right and going counterclockwise: Carl Menger papers, Kenneth J. Arrow papers, Vernon L. Smith papers, and Marc L. Nerlove papers.15 open folders with papers inside, one book with a red cover, four small pocket-size notebooks, and one 8x10 black and white print on a brown table.

Since I began in February, I have been processing a new acquisition: the Marc L. Nerlove papers. The papers primarily document the professional career of economist Marc Nerlove, who specializes in agricultural economics and econometrics (the use of economic theory, mathematics, and statistics to quantify economic phenomena). Upon his election to the AEA as a Distinguished Fellow in 2012, he was recognized for creating a widely used template having to do with the dynamics of agricultural supply, pioneering the development of modern time series methods and the analysis of panel data in econometrics, and being the first to apply duality theory to estimate production functions. During his 60-year career, he held appointments at Johns Hopkins, Minnesota, Stanford, Yale, Chicago, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, and Maryland; worked as a consultant at the World Bank, International Food Policy Research Institute, and RAND Corporation; and was awarded the 1969 John Bates Clark Medal from the AEA.

Like what Vincent will detail next about the highly influential economics department at Chicago, I chose material that showcases his own connections there:

  • Material related to his father, Samuel H. Nerlove, who came to the U. S. from Russia as a toddler in 1904 with his parents, who settled in Chicago; Samuel was a professor in business economics at Chicago from 1923-1965:
    • 1939 syllabus for Business Economics 1.
    • 1972 letter and eulogy from former student and then U. S. House Representative Sidney Yates.
    • Volume 22, number 2 of issues/ideas (Graduate School of Business magazine) from 1974, sent by Dean James Harper at the request of Nerlove’s mother Evelyn (with letter indicating this); includes article “Hunt’s ‘Why’ Unveiled” about unveiling of artist Richard’s Hunt sculpture “Why”, commissioned by the Samuel H. Nerlove Memorial Fund.
  • Material from his time as a student at Chicago and Johns Hopkins:
    • 1953 letter from economist John Nash (subject of the book and film A Beautiful Mind), apparently in response to a letter from Nerlove with a question about utility function.
    • Draft of introduction to Studies in the Quantity Theory of Money by Milton Friedman (published in 1956) and class notes for Friedman’s 1955 course on the same topic (including doddles of trains, a subject Nerlove would write about early in his career in the context of railroads).
  • Material from his time as a professor at Chicago from 1969-1974:
    • 8×10 inch black and white headshot.
    • Letter from his secretary Gloria Feigenbaum upon his departure for Northwestern (pictued right), as well as a candid print of the two of them. Such staff maintained his on-campus files, which are now part of this archival collection, but these people can become invisible without thoughtful description. In this letter, she expresses how he had occasionally forgotten his purpose (research), interfered in matters that were her responsibility (administrative), and prevented her from exercising the degree of initiative that she was used to and capable of, but that she chosen to remain quiet to preserve their good working relationship.
    • Folder of early 1970s material from the Political Economy Club at Chicago (graduate student group). It includes three issues of their Journal of Progressive Hedonists Against Rational Thought (JPHART), a caricature of Nerlove that has him beside the White Rabbit and someone as Alice from one of his favorite books—Alice in Wonderland (these sketches appeared at the end of each issue of JPHART), a script of a skit set in the department that mentions Nerlove, and a copy of Sir Dennis H. Robertson’s poem “The Non-Econometrician’s Lament.”

Vincent Carret

What brings together Leonid Hurwicz, Paul Samuelson, Don Patinkin, and Oskar Lange? Apart from the fact that they were all major economists by any standard (two of them received the Nobel Prize), they were also all affiliated with the University of Chicago at some point.

10 open folders with papers, notebooks, and one press binder inside on a brown table.

In the material I presented, this connection is the link between them. Starting at the bottom right and going counterclockwise are a few of Patinkin’s student notebooks, of which there are dozens. At Chicago, Patinkin attended classes taught by the likes of Jacob Viner, Frank Knight, Jacob Marschak, and Oskar Lange—in particular, Lange’s course on Mathematical Economics and Stability Analysis held during the first half of the 1940s.

It was on this very subject of economic stability that Lange corresponded with Samuelson, who earned his undergraduate degree from Chicago. Their letters on the stability of an economic model called general equilibrium were exchanged in 1942, before Lange published his 1944 Cowles Commission monograph on Price Flexibility and Full Employment. These letters, shown here next to Patinkin’s notes, were duly kept by Samuelson and are now available in his collection of papers, rich in hundreds of folders of correspondence with almost every economist of the 20th century.

At one point in their correspondence, Samuelson asks Lange if he could name a few outstanding graduate students at Chicago, as he was looking for a new assistant. The first name on Lange’s list was that of Leonid Hurwicz, a young Polish immigrant who had arrived in Chicago at the beginning of the 1940s after fleeing Europe. Hurwicz became the assistant of Samuelson, now an Assistant Professor at MIT, in 1941, before coming back to Chicago to work in the Meteorology Department during the war. His papers, which I am currently reprocessing, trace his distinguished career at the University of Minnesota, where he stayed at for more than a half century after being recruited in 1951. For his creation of the field of mechanism design theory (the study of efficient allocation of resources), Hurwicz was jointly awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize at age 90.

In addition to Hurwicz’s correspondence and early manuscripts of his publications, I found in his papers the dissertation of Patinkin, which he annotated [this finding aid will be updated in September after reprocessing is completed]. Among Hurwicz’s many notes taken at seminars and conferences, one often finds more or less elaborate doodles—although the word doodle does not do justice to the intricacies of the abstract geometrical forms that are peppered throughout sixty years of thinking about economics!

Elaborate, abstract doodle in pencil on lined paper with handwritten notes.
One of the more elaborate “doodles” by Hurwicz, drawn during a 1965 meeting of the National Science Foundation Commission on Weather Modification.

Preserving Duke’s Photographic History

Post contributed by Rachael Brittain, Harry H. Harkins, Jr. Intern for the Duke Centennial at the Duke University Archives.

As the Harry Harkins Intern, I have been working with the Duke Photography collection to rehouse materials; assist on reference questions; create timestamps for archival films; and help identify collections at Duke related to its early history. My primary focus has been the Duke Photography Job Numbers Collection. which contains original photographs taken by Duke Photography from 1960 until 2018.

Capturing unique images and perspectives of Duke University as well as operating as a hired service to photograph faculty, staff, and student headshots, Duke Photography was present at many major university events, including basketball, lacrosse, football, and other athletics; visiting lecturers and guest speakers; building construction and grand openings; campus scenes, and other aspects of campus life at Duke. The time frame that Duke Photography was active means that there is a mix of analog and digital files, switching to primarily digital in the early 2000s.

An open, brown Paige box contains a few hundred manila envelopes.
The Duke Photography Job Numbers Collection before processing. Look at all those manila envelopes!

As the University prepares for the 2024 Duke Centennial, we wanted to make sure our photograph collections were as accessible as possible. The years between 1988 and 1994 have presented a unique challenge as many of the images are stored in old manila envelopes, some of which are missing. The manila envelopes are a less than ideal way of storing photographs and negatives due to the amount of acid present in the envelopes. Eventually, this would cause the images to yellow. The items stored in these envelopes must be rehoused into safer, archival materials. Across 28 boxes and over 11,000 manila envelopes, I have found 35 mm, 120 mm, 4 x 5″ negatives, contact sheets, prints, and occasionally slide film.

A blue-gloved hand holds a vertically-oriented 4 x 5" negative in a plastic sleeve. The negative shows performer Avner the Eccentric climbing a rope. He is wearing a costume of high-waisted pants with suspenders and a bowler hat.
A negative of Avner the Eccentric performing at Duke in 1990.

The variety of materials used by the photographers largely depended on the purpose and printing needs of the subjects. 35 mm film, both black and white and color, was standard for most events due to its ease of use and availability. 120 mm film, also in black and white and color, produced a larger negative allowing the photographers to print larger, with greater detail, and with less film grain (a granular texture that is left on film when over enlarged). 4 x 5” negatives created an even larger negative and were frequently used to make copies of images. Once an image was printed from 35- or 120-mm film and corrected properly, it was faster for photographers to photograph the final image and print from the new negative, creating a copy negative, these make it faster and easier for an image to be reprinted at different sizes and at a consistent quality.

Negatives need to be stored in specialized plastic sleeves to keep them organized, protect them from fingerprints, dust, and getting scratched, all of which would permanently damage the images and make future use more difficult. Contact sheets—which were created by laying an entire roll of film across a page and helped the photographers to get a quick glance at what photos were on the roll of film and determine which they wanted to print—are being transferred to acid free folders. When more than one page or print is in an envelope, plastic sleeves are used to keep them separated and prevent scratches. This will also make it easier for future researchers and library staff to use the folders without having to use gloves to handle the materials. The Duke University photographers would make contact prints and send them to the different Duke departments so the subjects themselves could select which images they wanted printed.

As I’ve processed the collection, I’ve noted that not every envelope contains prints, as the prints were usually sent off to whichever department requested them. However, there are occasionally black and white prints, done in-house by Duke as well as envelopes full of 3.5 x 5” color prints that came from specialized color printing labs. Occasionally, there are notes left in with the photos, stating who is in each frame, what the event was for, letters requesting images, and notes scribbled on the back of event programs. By capturing events, staff, and students, this collection provides visual documentation of Duke’s recent history and will be made accessible through improved storage and descriptions.

An open gray Hollinger box shows around 30 white paperboard folders, each containing photographic material sleeved in clear plastic.
After processing: the work of Duke photographers, stored in archival sleeving and folders.

“What, Me Worry?”: The Nick Meglin Papers at the Rubenstein Library

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

The papers of Nick Meglin, longtime editor of MAD Magazine, are now available and open for research at the Rubenstein Library.

Meglin was affiliated with MAD Magazine for decades. As a newly-minted graduate of the School of Visual Arts, Meglin was hired at MAD Magazine in 1956. Over the course of his life he held various titles at MAD, including Idea Man, War Correspondent, Associate Editor, Tennis Editor, Co-Editor, and, upon his retirement in 2004, Contributing Editor. Meglin played a central role in shaping MAD’s editorial voice and recruiting artists to join the “Usual Gang of Idiots.”

The Nick Meglin Papers include extensive material which convey how MAD Magazine was edited and produced, such as layout art, ideas for features, inside jokes between editors, parodies, celebrity correspondence, and detailed accounts of the yearly MAD staff trips. One folder, “Horrifying Cliches,” includes “a freak accident,” “a flaming passion,” “a blessing in disguise,” “a gross understatement,” and “a bloodless coup,” among others.[1] Another folder, Typewritoons, chronicles a 1965 reader contest to generate cartoons from the script of a typewriter.[2]

Meglin’s creative pursuits expanded far beyond MAD Magazine, and the Nick Meglin Papers gives a sense of his enormous output. The collection includes Meglin’s illustrations, many of his essays, song lyrics, and two musicals he wrote, Tim and Scrooge and Grumpy Old Men. It also includes Nick’s greeting card ideas, some of which he sold, including “See, I didn’t forget the occasion!… only the date! Sorry I’m late…” and “happy birthday to the best looking, brightest, and most talented person in the world…me!”[3]

The front of a greeting card created by Meglin. It features hand-drawn newspaper headlines such as "Candy is toxic," "Flowers found to contain DDT," "New cars...dangerous," and "Champagne bad for health!"
A greeting card designed by Meglin.
The inside of the greeting card designed by Meglin. Text reads "I love you too much to send anything but good wishes!"
The inside of Meglin’s greeting card.

Upon his 2004 retirement, Meglin moved to Durham. While living here, he volunteered for WCPE, creating 84 original sketches of composers and musicians, he taught illustration, and he formed a “usual suspects” lunch club of fellow illustrators and creatives. It is exciting for researchers to be able to access the papers of Nick Meglin at the Rubenstein Library, and to learn more about the colorful life and career of Nick Meglin, who was an illustrator, cartoonist, art instructor, essayist, lyricist, writer of musicals – and always a humorist, too.


[1] Horrifying Cliches, 1971. Box 1, MAD Magazine Series, Editorial and Administrative Files Subseries. In the Nick Meglin Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

[2] Typewritoons. Box 2, MAD Magazine Series, Editorial and Administrative Files Subseries. In the Nick Meglin Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

[3] Greeting Card Ideas. Box 8, Other Professional Materials Series, Other Projects Subseries. In the Nick Meglin Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Meet Roger Peña, Trent History of Medicine Intern

Post contributed by Roger Peña, Trent History of Medicine Intern for 2021-2022, and Rachel Ingold, Curator of the History of Medicine Collections.

Roger Peña, wearing a dark blue shirt, stands in front of an exhibit display case. A green sign hanging behind him reads "Good Vibrations: A Look at the Golden Age of Electroshock Therapy."
Roger Peña, Trent History of Medicine Intern, stands by the exhibit “Good Vibrations” that he curated.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Roger, and I grew up in the Boston area. I attended Syracuse University as an undergraduate and earned a Master’s degree in education at Lesley University in Massachusetts. I moved down to North Carolina in 2013 and have served as an educator in private and public schools. I’m currently in my last year at UNC Greensboro’s MLIS program with a specialization in special collections and archives.

My wife and I have two children—ages 3 and 2 months—and we live in Durham. I love all things history and our house is filled with books and magazines related to several historic topics. I really love to cook and try new recipes. We are HUGE Boston sports fans so you will usually find us watching one of my sports teams on TV.

What interests you in working in a library setting, specifically in the History of Medicine Collections?

I’m 35 and a career changer. I had always thought about going back to school to earn an MLIS but never thought I had the time. The COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, and having some extra time to think about career goals rekindled my interest in earning my degree. I’ve always wanted to work in special collections and archives and hope to continue this work after graduation.

As a teenager, I “lived” at libraries and museums in my hometown of Boston. I love studying all things history and being able to handle old artifacts and primary sources—holding history in my hand! I’m that person at museums and historic sites asking questions, trying to touch everything and reading as many labels as possible. Being a history teacher, sharing stories of the past, and having students research and explore topics that interest them has always been important to me.

I love reading, instruction and all things history so I jumped at the chance to work at the Rubenstein Library. The history of medicine is always present when studying other historic topics and the History of Medicine (HoM) collection encompasses that. Even after months as the HoM intern, I’m still blown away by how vast and diverse the History of Medicine collection is and how much it has to offer. I’ve been able to hold manuscripts, artifacts, and books that are centuries old. There’s a special feeling when you pick up these resources; and you can’t help but feel a connection to the past and the individuals who used or created these materials.

The Josiah C. Trent HoM Internship has allowed me to explore the research aspect of special collections; and  I’ve also been able to create and plan exhibits, helped with reference services and  instructional support, and collaborated with other collections at the Rubenstein Library! It’s been a fantastic learning experience.

Can you share a memorable experience from your internship?

It’s really hard to choose just one memorable experience. I’ve enjoyed getting to know other Rubenstein Library staff and meeting researchers from across the world. Walking into the stacks makes me feel right at home and I always have to take a step back and appreciate how special the collection is. Being able to immerse yourself with the material and learning the ins and outs of academic libraries has been especially rewarding.

Participating and helping to coordinate Anatomy Day and researching and curating physical and online exhibits, like Good Vibrations, have been just a few of my favorite moments. Helping with instructional support is always fun as I was able to combine my past experience as an educator and help students interact with primary sources. It’s always fun to see a student’s reaction when something has caught their interest.

Hand colored illustration from Shunrinken kasho in the Japanese medical manuscript notebooks collection. The illustration shows a doctor in gray clothing tending to a wound in a patient's neck.
Hand colored illustration from Shunrinken kasho in the Japanese medical manuscript notebooks collection.

Do you have a favorite item you would like to share?

Again, hard to choose just one. The anatomical flap books and the Four Seasons are quite a sight to see and exemplify how people have always had a curiosity to touch and personally interact with materials. I really loved the East Asian medical books featured at Anatomy Day: Shunrinken kasho (Shunrinken school family book) from the Japanese medical manuscripts notebooks and Shinkan Geka Seisō 新刊外科正宗. The illustrations in these books are phenomenal.

The amputation set from the mid-19th century has probably been the item I spent the most time with. It’s one of those artifacts that you can’t help but want to learn more about. Being a student of American history and an aficionado of learning about the Civil War, the amputation set from the mid 19th century called my name. I first came across the saw when I was assisting Dr. Jeff Baker and Brooke Guthrie with a History of Surgery class and Dr. Baker asked me if I could handle student questions related to Civil War medicine – which I was more than happy to do!

I was fortunate enough to have a blog post published on The Devil’s Tale and Duke Daily where I was able to investigate the history of the saw and its origins. Holding the amputation saw in your hand,  you can easily imagine a world where physicians grappled with decisions regarding the need for an amputation and  the thousands of soldiers whose lives were forever changed by the war and surgical procedure. It was an eye-opening experience and allowed me to explore the unique but very complicated role that North Carolina played in the Civil War.

 

Work and Love are Impossible to Tell Apart: The Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Papers

Post contributed by Laura Micham, Director, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture and Curator

Photograph of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. She is wearing a black top and pants, with a gold necklace with a large pendant. She is standing in a gallery that features fabric sculptures in the shape of bodies without heads, arms, or feet.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick at an exhibition of her artwork titled “In the Bardo,” at Stony Brook University, The State University of New York, 1999. Photographed by H.A. Sedgwick.

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture is pleased to announce that the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Papers are now available and open for research. Sedgwick (1950-2009) was a poet, artist, literary critic, and teacher. As a faculty member in the English Department at Duke from 1988-1997, her work helped establish this institution as an intellectual leader in the critical study of sexuality.

Sedgwick is best known as one of the founders of the field of Queer Theory, a field of critical theory that emerged in the early 1990s. Her call for reparative work and for reading practices grounded in affect and performance have transformed our understandings of intimacy, identity, and politics. She published several groundbreaking books such as Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (1985), Epistemology of the Closet (1990), and Tendencies (1993). Her works and her collection reflect an interest in a range of issues including queer performativity; experimental critical writing; the works of Marcel Proust; non-Lacanian psychoanalysis; artists’ books; Buddhism and pedagogy; and material culture, especially textiles and texture.

handmade purple vase, white with some purple accents.
Hand-built purple ceramic vessel by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, ca. 2001. Photographed by Kevin Ryan.

The Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Papers are comprised of 130 linear feet of materials that document Sedgwick’s scholarly career, her artistic expression, and her personal life. Researchers will find Sedgwick’s writings and speeches as well as the writings of others; her notebooks and calendars; research, teaching, and activism files; event and travel files; correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia; legal, medical, and financial materials; and books and other published material. The collection also includes Sedgwick’s art such as works on paper, textile, clay, glass, ceramic, and other works which are currently being carefully housed by our conservation department.

The Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Papers join an extensive body of collections documenting the work of theorists, poets, and writers such as Kathy Acker, Dorothy Allison, Ann Barr Snitow, Chris Kraus, Kate Millett, Robin Morgan, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Alix Kates Shulman, and Meredith Tax.

In order to facilitate the use of the collection, the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Foundation is generously funding research travel grants. In addition to supporting academic research aimed at producing publications and dissertations, the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Grants will support a wide range of other creative projects such as educational initiatives, exhibitions, films, multimedia products, and other artistic works. The grants are administered by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. The deadline for the first grant cycle is April 30, 2022. For more information please visit our Grants and Fellowships site.

Excerpt of a handwritten draft written on yellow legal pad.
“It is speech and visibility that give us any political power we have. It is speech and visibility that apparently make us threatening.” Detail from a manuscript essay by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick that was published in 2014 with the title, “Censorship & Homophobia,” by Gullotine, New York, NY. The publisher, printer, and binder, Sarah McCarry, discovered the manuscript during her work helping to prepare the collection to come to Duke.

It is truly thrilling to us in the Rubenstein Library, as well as to faculty across the university, that Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s papers have come back to Duke. During her time here she left an indelible mark on our community and her work continues to have a significant effect in shaping the lives and thought of many people.

What I’m proudest of, I guess, is having a life where work and love are impossible to tell apart.
– Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

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

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

Chapter 2: Digging Deeper

In my previous post on this blog, I wrote about finding an 1847 letter written by Jacob Chiles, a formerly enslaved person, in the Joseph Ingram Sr. Family papers here at the Rubenstein Library. In his letter, Chiles explains what slavery and freedom meant to him and his family.

This week I dig deeper into Chiles’s story by exploring what other documents in and beyond the Ingram papers can tell us about him.

Donated to the Duke University Library’s Manuscript Department (now the Rubenstein Library) in 1953, the Joseph Ingram Sr. papers includes approximately 1130 items covering 2.5 linear feet. The bulk of the collection consists of family, business, and transactional correspondence as well as bills and receipts, arranged chronologically, primarily dating to the first half of the nineteenth century.

handwritten bill of sale
Chiles, Thomas, bill of sale to Joseph Ingram, Sr., 13 June 1803, Anson County, North Carolina, Folder 2, Box 5, Joseph Ingram Sr. papers, 1795-1935 and undated, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Based on his reference to having spent “some three score years” in bondage, Chiles may have been around sixty years old by the time of his writing. With Chiles’s possible age and surname in mind, a bill of sale dated June 13, 1803 could be the beginning of his paper trail in the Ingram papers.

The bill details the purchase by Joseph Ingram, Sr. of Anson County, “two certain negroes named Jacob and, other named Ruth, and one horse named Ball for the sum of six hundred Dollars” from a friend of the family, Thomas L. Chiles. The purchase agreement included a clause that essentially boils down to a rent-to-buy-back scheme: Chiles agreed to pay Ingram $60/year to hire Jacob and Ruth on an annual basis, with the understanding that if he were to do this for at least 10 years, thereby paying Ingram up to the original $600, Ingram would “return the said negroes to the said Chiles.” It is likely that Jacob Chiles continued to live in close proximity to both families after 1803, which might explain why he kept Chiles as a surname. In his Last Will and Testament dated 1820, Thomas L. Chiles reaffirmed his agreement to sell Jacob to Joseph Ingram, stating, “It is my will and desire that the Bills of sale I gave Jos. Ingram Sr. for Jacob…to stand good…” Perhaps it was only after this time that Jacob came to live permanently on the Ingram plantation.

The John Hope Franklin Center has digitized scores of similar bills of sale and other items documenting the sales, escapes, and emancipations of enslaved people from colonial times through the Civil War. Browse the American Slavery Documents Collection.

In his letter, Chiles mentions that his two sons, one named Walter, started attending Harveysburg High School during their first winter in Ohio. Founded by Quakers Jesse and Elizabeth Harvey—the latter of whom was also an abolitionist—the Harveysburg School was established in 1831 as the first free school for African Americans in Ohio. Since 1977, it has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places as “Harvey, Elizabeth, Free Negro School.” In addition to telling us something about his dreams for his children’s future and possible educational training prior to leaving North Carolina, Chiles’s naming of the school provides a solid foundation upon which historians and others might dig deeper into the historical record to find more traces of him and his family after slavery.

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

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

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

Chapter One: Finding the Extraordinary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 1 of Chiles Letter

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

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

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

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

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

Panelists include:

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

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

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

Post contributed by Leah Tams, Accessions Coordinator.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visitors will be able to browse special selections from our collections, chat with Rubenstein Library staff, and explore Black primary source materials. From rare first editions by Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass to published works exploring Black life in Durham to publications by Black students at Duke, the event will give attendees a hands-on experience with the richness of Black print culture!

This event is open to the public. Please register for a free timed-entry pass for attendance, but visitors are welcome to stay for the duration of the event. Space is limited so reserve yours today. 

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

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