Category Archives: New at the Rubenstein Library

10 Days, 10 New Acquisitions: Day Three

We’re celebrating the beginning of a new fiscal year by reviewing some notable items and collections that arrived here at the RBMSCL in the past year. Get ready for announcements of many more exciting acquisitions in 2011-2012!

Illustration from The Story of Bunny Cortex, 1915

The Story of Bunny Cortex, 1915

2010-2011 saw the beginning of a “Literature as Advertising” collection in the Hartman Center: a group of stories, poems, and similar literary works whose primary purpose is the promotion of a product or service.  The collection includes examples from the 1880s to 1950s, featuring such characters as Santa Claus (for the Golden Rule Bazaar of San Francisco), Lewis Carroll’s Alice (selling dairy products), the “Toastie Elfins” (for Post Toasties cereal), and the Pied Piper (for Pied Piper shoes).

From the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History.

Through July 25th, find more examples from the Hartman Center’s “Literature as Advertising” collection in their exhibit, “Look Boys and Girls! Advertising to Children in the 20th Century.”

For more photos of our new acquisitions (and other materials from the RBMSCL’s collections), check out the “From the RBMSCL’s Collections” set on the Duke University Libraries’ Flickr photostream.

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.

Previous posts:

10 Days, 10 New Acquisitions: Day Two

We’re celebrating the beginning of a new fiscal year by reviewing some notable items and collections that arrived here at the RBMSCL in the past year.  Get ready for announcements of many more exciting acquisitions in 2011-2012!

Metropolis, First and Second Editions

Metropolis by Thea van Harbou, 1st and 2nd editions, 1926 and 1927

The first (at right) and second editions of Thea van Harbou’s Metropolis are notable additions to the Glenn Negley Collection of Utopian Literature.  Iconic as the basis for the 1927 expressionist film by Fritz Lang (von Harbou’s husband), the early editions are also notable for the striking graphic design of their covers.  The second “photoplay” edition also features stills from the film.  The editions were acquired as part of a large collection of German science fiction and fantasy from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

For more photos of our new acquisitions (and other materials from the RBMSCL’s collections), check out the “From the RBMSCL’s Collections” set on the Duke University Libraries’ Flickr photostream.

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.

Previous posts:

10 Days, 10 New Acquisitions: Day One

We’re celebrating the beginning of a new fiscal year by reviewing some notable items and collections that arrived here at the RBMSCL in the past year.  Get ready for announcements of many more exciting acquisitions in 2011-2012!

"My Body My Right," Girl Germs Poster

Girl Germs Posters, 1996-1999

A collection of nine 18 x 24″ posters created and distributed as part of The Coalition for Positive Sexuality‘s Girl Germs campaign in the late 1990s. These posters were created by artist Jeanette May, who was also a founding member of the CPS. The posters were aimed at young women, addressing the issues of safe sex, sexual health, sexuality, pregnancy, and birth control.

"Some Girls Like Other Girls," Girl Germs Poster

From the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

For more photos of our new acquisitions (and other materials from the RBMSCL’s collections), check out the “From the RBMSCL’s Collections” set on the Duke University Libraries’ Flickr photostream.

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.

Under the Floorboards

Early last week, friend of the RBMSCL and James B. Duke Professor of Economics Dr. Craufurd Goodwin came to us with an exciting discovery. He has kindly shared a few words about it, noting that “archives are where you find them.”

When my wife and I moved from Durham in 1977 to a property called Montrose on the edge of Hillsborough, a venerable green 1961 Chevrolet pickup truck was included. Legend had it that the truck had mainly gone once a week to a garbage dump on the edge of town and spent the rest of its life in its garage. It had 18,000 miles on the odometer.

Holland Holton, February 1922

After moving most of our possessions from Durham, the old truck reverted to its traditional role and has today only 33,000 miles. But last week, on the old truck’s fiftieth birthday, it seemed appropriate to let someone else play with this toy and I sold the truck. Soon after it left the driveway, I heard from the young man who bought it that he had discovered a photograph taken by a professional studio in Durham called “Miss Johnson, Durham, N.C.” of a person described on the back as “Holland Holton, 1922.”

Holton was one of the first professors at Duke University and an administrator in various capacities; his papers are now at the Duke University Archives. There was no dated photograph of Holton in the RBMSCL’s collections until this week, but now there is.

It is a complete mystery how this picture ended up on the floor of the old truck for at least 34 years, and perhaps 50.  My predecessor at Montrose and in the truck was A. H. Graham, a prominent figure in the state (Lieutenant Governor, Highway Commissioner, etc.) but Carolina all the way. How a picture of a pioneering Duke professor ended up in his farm truck we shall probably never know.

Post contributed by Dr. Craufurd Goodwin, James B. Duke Professor of Economics at Duke University.

An Anonymous Author Unveiled, 125 Years Later

Title Page of The Fall of the Great Republic
Title Page of The Fall of the Great Republic.

It’s not often that we acquire two copies of the same work at the Library.  Sometimes, however, a second copy can have unique characteristics that make it nearly irresistible—as in the case of a copy of The Fall of the Great Republic recently acquired for the Glenn R. Negley Collection of Utopian Literature, which may have solved the 125-year-old mystery of its author’s identity.

A well-known anti-socialist and xenophobic dystopian work published in 1885 and foretelling the demise of the United States, the book was published under the pseudonym Henry Standish Coverdale.   The copy now at Duke seems to establish the author as New Lebanon, N.Y. newspaperman Abner Hitchcock (1851-1936).  The volume comes from his library, bears the ownership signature “Hitchcock,” and includes a penciled note in the rear, dated from August 1924, stating that “Authorship [was] kept a complete secret.”

The specially-bound volume contains clippings and reviews of the work from across East and parts of the Midwest, including a suspiciously positive review from the Boston Journal, a paper for which Hitchcock wrote.   Of the various reviews, the owner has written in the volume: “The most striking thing about it is in the illustration the pasted-in comments give of the impression it made on different readers. – One sees in me an ass, and one a prophet. I suspect there is some basis for both judgements.”

Clippings pasted into The Fall of the Great Republic
Clippings pasted into The Fall of the Great Republic.

The volume was discovered by a bookseller cleaning out of the attic of the Hitchcock House in New Lebanon, now a bed-and-breakfast inn.  It has now found its permanent home at Duke, where it will remain a one-of-a-kind resource for future generations of scholars.

Special thanks to Garrett Scott for permission to quote from his description of this item.

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.

Human Rights Records, Electronically

I’m a history Ph.D. candidate, so I knew something about working in archives when I started my internship with Technical Services at Duke’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library (RBMSCL), but not a lot about processing paper records, never mind electronic ones. However, as I started processing several collections acquired through the Archive for Human Rights, I discovered that electronic files were often just as important to the collection as paper ones. When I started working on the Common Sense Foundation Papers, I faced over 16,000 electronic files in addition to 34 boxes of paper records! A North Carolina think-tank active from 1994 to 2008, the Common Sense Foundation (CSF) worked on initiatives such as the death penalty, testing in public schools, and LGBTQ rights.

When I met with Paula Jeannet Mangiafico (Senior Processing Archivist), Seth Shaw (Electronic Records Archivist), and Patrick Stawski (Human Rights Archivist) to discuss the collection, we decided to integrate the electronic and paper files in the finding aid since the content overlapped and the volume was about equal. A researcher interested in the death penalty will thus find both electronic and paper records described in the Criminal Justice Subseries, which contains letters written by incarcerated people, a survey of capital defense lawyers, research on specific death-row inmates, and documents reflecting the daily work that occurred in CSF’s office surrounding this policy initiative.

Just as when working with paper documents, I screened the electronic files for sensitive information, such as personal, financial, and medical records. I then used the original path of the networked drive to describe the electronic files in the finding aid and used both the number of files and the megabyte size to indicate the physical extent. That way, researchers interested in a particular aspect of CSF’s work will know which electronic folders to request from RBMSCL staff, just as they would request a physical box by its number.

The RBMSCL has acquired almost 200 collections with electronic records in the past few years. Hopefully, my work with the CSF Papers will serve as model for processing future collections with strong electronic components.

Post contributed by Liz Shesko, Technical Services Processing Intern.

The Common Sense Foundation Papers are currently being processed. The finding aid will be published and the collection will be available for use in January 2011. For more information, contact the RBMSCL at special-collections(at)

Our National Sweepstakes

In the spirit of election day, we are highlighting a new acquisition: the James Cartoons Posters, a series of political cartoon posters created by the New Process Electro Corporation in 1920 and 1921.

They are remarkable for a number of reasons—including their large size (21 x 31 inches) and their beautiful colors. Originally offered as a subscription for $1.25 per week, the posters feature not-so-subtle commentary on everything from the League of Nations, prohibition, Russian aggression, and the Ponzi scheme. One common topic is the 1920 presidential election, where Warren G. Harding challenged James Middleford Cox. One of our favorites, “The Home Stretch!,” stars Harding (riding on the GOP Elephant) and Cox (being pulled in a wagon by the Democratic Donkey) racing towards the Election Day finish line.

Detail from “The Home Stretch!”

Many of the posters reflect America’s increasing isolationism, particularly regarding Europe and the League of Nations. Harding’s campaign for a “return to normalcy” struck a chord with voters who were exhausted by World War I and disillusioned by global politics. He defeated Cox in a landslide on November 2, 1920.

The James Cartoons Posters collection has only a sampling of the originally published series, so unfortunately we don’t know what the artist had to say about Harding and the Republicans post-election.

Detail from “The Home Stretch!”

Post contributed by Meghan Lyon, Accessioning Associate.

D is for Diaries, Drama, and Dracula

Buck and his chewing gum.

I’m lucky. As a volunteer at the RBMSCL, I’ve been creating finding aids for small manuscript collections—collections such as love letters and travel diaries from the 19th century—which can be more compelling than any historical novel. One in particular I found to be especially memorable is the John Buck Diary.

Elaborate script and comic sketches recount the eight week long vacation in England and Scotland in 1887 of John Buck, an affluent, young American who spent several days in close company with Henry Irving, the famous English actor; the equally famous actress and Irving’s rumored paramour, Ellen Terry; and the business manager of the Lyceum Theatre as well as Irving’s personal assistant, Bram Stoker. Yes, the Bram Stoker who later wrote Dracula. His visit begins with the Royal Lyceum’s performance of another popular demonic tale:

I reached Edinburgh at seven o’clock and was met by Mr. Stoker. He took me to the Edinburgh Hotel (close by the station) where Mr. Irving was staying. . . . Mr. Stoker after fixing me comfortably hurried away to the theatre and I had my dinner served in Mr. Irving’s dining room. The dinner was good but I was so anxious to see some of “Faust” that I left at the end of the third course and jumping into a hansom drove to the Royal Lyceum Theatre, where I found Mr. Stoker “laying” [?] for me. He . . . took me into the only remaining private box. Mephistopheles was just transforming Faust into a young man as I entered the box, so I had not missed much of the play. . . . At the end of the act Mr. Stoker took me around [to the stage] to see Mr. Irving and Miss Terry. . . . While we were chatting and I was being questioned about “home affairs” the scene shifters were building Marguerite’s room around us, and very soon I was compelled to “skip” as the curtain was about to be rung up. . . . Mr. Irving was grand, and he will make a tremendous hit with Faust in America. (pages 67-70)

One of Buck's sketches.

The diary is so extraordinarily descriptive and entertaining; it is as if Buck, who loved the theater, were writing the storyline for his own theatrical play. At times, I could imagine his diary recast as a BBC period drama! Equally remarkable is the extent to which Buck’s personality is so clearly revealed. He was sometimes irreverent and informal, even when visiting the Duke of Beaufort at Badminton House in Gloucestershire, highly competitive, a bit arrogant, and more interested in pretty young women, having fun, and socializing than sightseeing; he seemed so American, and so amazingly like a few modern young men that I have known.

Happy Halloween!

Post contributed by Danielle Moore, RBMSCL Technical Services volunteer.

My RBMSCL: Reading Dorothy Allison

Today, we’re starting a new feature: mini-essays from friends of the RBMSCL on the collections they’ve used and treasured. Below, Sharon Holland’s mini-essay about Dorothy Allison was inspired by the RBMSCL’s recent acquisition of Dorothy Allison’s papers

Photo courtesy of Sharon Holland.

I first encountered Dorothy Allison’s major work, Bastard Out of Carolina, on an overnight train (the Orient Express, no less) from Vienna to Paris. I wasn’t prepared for what would eventually happen in the book and when I got to the fateful scene in the car outside the hospital, I impulsively threw the book out of the window—it is still in a field somewhere along the train line. My reaction is a testament to the importance of the scene of violation that Allison wanted to construct for the reader—it was real, and sudden and devastating. I purchased the book upon my return to the United States and it has been one of my favorites since. Acquiring her papers is a serious accomplishment for Duke. Thank you for preserving the work and ultimately the memory of one of the most important feminist authors of the 20-21st century.

Post contributed by Sharon Holland, Associate Professor, English and African and African American Studies, Duke University.

Interested in contributing a mini-essay? E-mail me at amy.mcdonald(at)!

Dorothy Allison Papers Arrive at Duke

In the early 1990s Ginny Daley, then director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, was convinced that Duke should acquire Dorothy Allison’s papers. “I saw her as the quintessential Southern writer,” Daley wrote recently. “Her personal papers and literary works fit well with Duke’s collections of Southern literature and women’s culture, while bringing fresh perspectives on queer culture and truth-telling to the mix.” Through campus visits and other seed-planting efforts, Ginny Daley introduced Ms. Allison to the possibility of Duke as the permanent home for her collection.

Photo by Brett Hall.

Now, after a nearly twenty year period of considering this momentous decision, Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina and other works and renowned activist in the LGBTQ community, has selected the RBMSCL to be the repository for her papers. Bingham Center and literary curatorial staff collaborated on the initial acquisition of nearly 60 boxes of Allison’s papers, including drafts of her writings, extensive correspondence and research files, personal journals documenting her life and creative process, and more. For Allison, a South Carolina native now living in California, it’s a relief to have the papers at the RBMSCL: “All I know is that now I feel that all that . . . I saved is going to be safe and of use. Since we are entering high summer here with 90 degree temperatures and high risk of fire, I can also stop worrying that a wildfire might sweep through the redwoods and erase all that history. Safe and of use is infinitely preferable.”

The papers will be a rich resource for those interested in Allison’s life and work, as well as for researchers exploring the development of LGBT and Southern literatures, lesbian communities and families, and the history of American sexuality, among many other topics. Materials will be added to the collection as Allison continues to write and publish (a new book of short stories and a novel coming soon!).

A preliminary finding aid for the collection is now available here. In the coming months staff will review, process, and revise the finding aid for the collection to make it available for research. Researchers interested in using the papers should contact the Bingham Center staff to discuss their availability.

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.