Category Archives: New at the Rubenstein Library

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)duke.edu!

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.

Selling a Coke and a Smile

Photo by Mark Zupan.

As the adage goes, Coca-Cola sells itself. The John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History’s recently-acquired Coca-Cola Star Salesman Kit might just suggest otherwise. This collection of training materials—including scripted manuals, 35mm film strips with accompanying phonographs, and other training memorabilia housed in a special green suitcase—was created by the Coca-Cola Company’s Sales Promotion Department between 1949 and 1951. The company encouraged route managers to purchase the Star Salesman Kit as a subscription program to educate their salesmen in the latest marketing techniques.

Designed as a series of one hour sessions, the Star Salesman Kit covers eight topics relevant to the company’s goal of increasing route sales, such as merchandising (“It’s Got to Be Sold”), and advertising (“What’s on Your Mind”). In addition, the kit includes training material for best practices in stocking product, refrigeration, and the use of the “red cooler” and vending machines in various outlets.

While most of the Star Salesman Kit is geared toward increasing sales to vendors, the materials do give special attention to instructing route salesmen how to promote Coca-Cola sales to the home market—particularly to the housewife. The session, “The Woman in Your Life,” encouraged the route salesman to market directly to women through techniques such as floor displays and product placement in outlets where women shopped for the home.

The Star Salesman Kit provides a glimpse into the sales and marketing culture of the Coca-Cola Company, the organization of its sales department, training practices, and even refrigeration technology. At the same time, the Star Salesman Kit offers some insights into mid-20th-century social and cultural issues, demonstrating, perhaps, why no other consumer product is a more iconic symbol of American culture than Coca-Cola.

Post contributed by Diana Poythress, RBMSCL Technical Services graduate student volunteer. Thanks to Alexandra Bickel, RBMSCL Technical Services graduate student volunteer, for her assistance with this post.

In the Lab: Boxing the Blue Devil

I love the sort of projects that start with a co-worker saying, “We have something special we want you to box,” because I always know it’ll be anything but a regular book. When I saw this little Blue Devil Doll, I knew a fun project lay ahead.

This doll was donated to the Duke University Archives this spring. It was purchased on campus in 1938 and is made of straw with a wax (I think) head and dressed in a smart blue felt outfit. The devil’s tail has floral wire wrapped around it to provide stiffness. The doll itself is in fair condition but, as you can see below, it has sustained some damage to the felt, most likely from insect activity.

Because of its condition, I wanted to make a sturdy box that had a cushioned interior to protect the fragile doll. The end result would be a drop-spine box, also called a cloth-covered clamshell. Before constructing the outer box, I would have to make an inner box with a cushioned interior.

The inner box is constructed of buffered corrugated board, lined with polyester quilt batting with a cotton fabric liner. The fun part was making the side bolsters to keep the doll from rolling around. These are made from rolled up polyester batting and then encased in a polyethylene pocket using our CoLibri book cover machine to make tubes. These provide enough structure to hold their shape but are still soft should the doll shift. Who knew that all my sewing experience would come in handy this way?

Blue Devil Doll in His Box

Once done with the inner tray, I constructed a clamshell box around it. The final enclosure is sturdy and keeps the doll firmly in place. The creative use of the CoLibri pockets worked really well. I’ll remember that should another devil cross my path.

For more photos of the Blue Devil Doll in his new home, visit the Conservation Lab’s “Boxing the Devil” set on Flickr!

Post contributed by Beth Doyle, Collections Conservator, as part of our ongoing “In the Conservation Lab” series.

A Jazz Master’s Papers Come to Duke

Frank Foster, ca. 1970s. From the Frank Foster Papers.

The Jazz Archive at Duke University announces the recent arrival of the Frank Foster Papers. Foster is one of the leading jazz saxophonists, big band leaders, and composer/arrangers of the post-World War II era. While serving as the primary arranger for the Count Basie Orchestra since the 1950s, Foster continued to compose and arrange for a variety of ensembles, receiving two Grammy Awards in the 1980s for his work. In 2002, Foster received the Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The papers (which range from 1927 to 2009) reveal Foster’s personal and professional lives. Scores and parts composed or arranged by Foster for jazz big bands, as well as business records, publicity, reviews, and news clippings documenting Foster’s career, are complemented by personal correspondence, photographs, and a variety of Foster’s own prose writings. There are also roughly fifty hours of concert recordings featuring various bands Foster performed in.

While portions of the papers are currently open for research, the entire collection should be processed and available for use by the fall of 2010. If you’d like to arrange a visit to view the collection, or if you have any questions, please e-mail us at special-collections(at)duke.edu.

Post contributed by Jeremy Smith, Jazz Archivist.

Patricia Derian Papers Coming to Duke

The Archive for Human Rights has signed an agreement with Patricia Murphy Derian to serve as the repository for her papers, which document her long career in human rights.

Patt, as she is known to friends and family, was involved in the civil rights struggles in Mississippi prior to being tapped by President Jimmy Carter to head the newly-minted Bureau for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. In 1977, she became the nation’s very first assistant secretary for human rights.

Her papers consist of country files, general files, correspondence, and a collection of audio and video interviews. Processing of the collection will begin immediately and should be complete by summer of 2010. If you’d like to arrange a visit to view the collection, or if you have any questions, please e-mail us at special-collections(at)duke.edu.

Post contributed by Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist.

Afghanistan in Pictures

Jirga with Kaniguram in background.
From the R. B. Holmes Afghan War Photographs, 1919.

The harsh and beautiful landscape of Afghanistan has been the site of many conflicts, including the Anglo-Afghan Wars of the early 20th century. The RBMSCL’s Archive of Documentary Arts has recently acquired a collection of 34 black-and-white prints of the 1919 war taken by British photographer Randolph Bezzant (R. B.) Holmes, who owned a photography studio in Peshawar, Pakistan. The majority of these well-preserved, highly detailed, and skillfully composed images depict large British military camps and vast landscapes, sometimes with camel caravans or military convoys. Some scenes show the remains of villages, military features such as towers, and religious structures. The landscape views include the Khyber Pass, Tanai Gorge, Kabul River, and Khargali Ridge. Military camp views, many in grand panoramic scale with fine detail, include Landi Khana, Dakka Plain, and Landi Kotal.

For more information about the collection, take a look at the collection guide. If you’d like to arrange a visit to view the collection, or if you have any questions, please e-mail us at special-collections(at)duke.edu.

Post contributed by Tim Pyatt, University Archivist and Associate Director of the RBMSCL

A Glorious Revolution

Early in Gloriana; or The Revolution of 1900, a rare 1890 novel recently acquired by the RBMSCL, the heroine, twelve-year-old Gloria de Lara, stands on the seashore, plotting:

“I was imagining the foam flakelets to be girls . . . and I looked upon them as my audience. I told them . . . of all the wrongs that girls and women have to suffer, and then I bade them rise as one to right these wrongs. I told them all I could think of to show them how to do so, and then I told them that I would be their leader, and lead them to victory or die. And the wavelets shouted. . . . I seemed to hear them cheer me on, I seemed to see them rising into storm, the wind uprose them, and their white foam rushed towards me, and I seemed to see in this sudden change the elements of a great revolution.”

Years later, posing as a man named Hector l’Estrange, Gloria wins a seat in Britain’s Parliament . . . and you’ll just have to visit the RBMSCL and read the book to find out the rest.

Lady Florence Dixie
Lady Florence Dixie. From the Illustrated London News, March 1883.


The novel’s author, Lady Florence Dixie, was a prominent travel writer and advocate for women’s rights. At her death in 1905, British women were denied the right to vote. 92 years ago today, the Representation of the People Act, which granted voting rights to women over 30, received Royal Assent.

The book joins the Glenn Negley Collection of Utopian Literature as an especially interesting example of feminist utopian writing.

Paul Samuelson Papers Coming to Duke

Paul A. Samuelson, 1950.

The papers of preeminent American economist Paul A. Samuelson (1914-2009), the first American recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics, will be added to the Economists Papers Project in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke. Before his death on December 13th, Samuelson had decided to donate his papers to Duke, where they will join the collections of his MIT Nobel Prize-winning colleagues Robert Solow and Franco Modigliani, as well as those of Nobelists Kenneth Arrow, Lawrence Klein (Samuelson’s first Ph.D. student), Robert E. Lucas, Douglass North, Vernon Smith, and Leonid Hurwicz (all links lead to collection inventories). The Economists Papers Project, developed jointly by Duke’s History of Political Economy group and the RBMSCL, is the most significant archival collection of economists’ papers in the world.

Samuelson was the singular force leading to the post-World War II reconceptualization of economics as a scientific discipline. His “neoclassical synthesis” wedded modern microeconomics to Keynesian macroeconomics, both of which were stabilized through his landmark Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947). His textbook, Principles of Economics, grounded the vocabulary and teaching practices of the economics profession in the second half of the twentieth century, and his career in MIT’s economics department made it the world leader in scientific economics.

Post contributed by E. Roy Weintraub, Professor of Economics, Duke University.

NB: The Paul Samuelson Papers will be transferred to Duke in stages over the next several months. If you are interested in conducting research in the Samuelson Papers once they are made available, please contact Will Hansen at william.hansen(at)duke.edu.