Category Archives: Human Rights Archive

Witness to Guantanamo

The data from detainees in Guantanamo was adapted from the ACLU website “Guantanamo by the Numbers”. In an attempt to humanize the information, the graphic was hand painted on the wall of the gallery by local artist Renzo Ortega.

Post by Caitlin Margaret Kelly, Curator of the Documentary Arts & Director of the Power Plant Gallery, and Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist

On January 11, 2002, the first prisoners in America’s War on Terror arrived at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Roughly seven hundred and eighty detainees have been housed at the prison thus far. Most of the men were never charged with a crime, yet many were imprisoned for more than a decade. Over the past twenty years many other lives were drawn into Guantanamo: families of the detained, defense lawyers, prosecutors, doctors, interrogators, military personnel, journalists, and diplomats.

Peter Honigsberg has recorded the stories of the people who lived and worked at the naval base, voices that speak truth to power. He founded the Witness to Guantanamo (WtG) Video Collection to draw the history of Guantanamo out of the shadows and reveal its impact on the lives of individuals as well as our nation. He donated the collection to the Human Rights Archive at the Rubenstein Library in 2018.

Oral histories are displayed on televisions throughout the gallery during the Witness to Guantanamo exhibition at the Power Plant Gallery.

In January 2022, the Human Rights Archive and Archive of Documentary Arts collaborated to mount an exhibition drawn from the collection in the Power Plant Gallery in downtown Durham. The first-hand testimonies were paired with photographs by Duke professor Christopher Sims and drawings by court artist Janet Hamlin, in addition to psyops flyers, infographics and maps locating Guantanamo within both the visual and historical record.

Reflecting on his experience visiting the exhibition with his class, Zac Johnson T’22 writes, “Both pain and perseverance were noticeable in the voices of detainees. They spoke about hunger strikes, learning to build relationships with others, and losing hours of sleep every night. They spoke about being physically weak, but never losing hope for the future, even if they believed the U.S. would never hand it to them. Their voices switched back and forth across languages as they sought the right words to explain the torturous circumstances that surrounded them at Guantanamo.”

Photographs of the day to day landscapes of Guantanamo Navel Base by Christopher Sims, Associate Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy, and Undergraduate Education Director, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University.

Another Duke student explained, “This exhibit was a great opportunity to immerse myself in a project that uses storytelling in such a unique and impactful way… the portrayal of these stories forces the viewer to confront the speaker face to face in a way that felt remarkably similar to a personal conversation. I found myself avoiding the speakers’ eyes when they shared particularly tragic or humiliating details, and I somehow felt rude removing my headphones and leaving the station while the speaker was in the middle of telling their story.”

The exhibit was accompanied by a number of virtual and in-person events, including talks by Christopher Sims and Uyghur American activist and WtG interviewee Rushan Abbas and a panel discussion with Peter Honigsberg; Cahalm MacLaughlin, Director of the Prison Memory Archive; and Duke professor Leela Prasad.

Videos and transcripts from the Witness to Guantanamo Collection are available for public viewing through the Duke Digital Repository.

Announcing our 2022-2023 Travel Grant Recipients

The Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022-2023 travel grants. Our research centers annually award travel grants to students, scholars, and independent researchers through a competitive application process. We extend a warm congratulations to this year’s awardees. We look forward to meeting and working with you!

Archive of Documentary Arts

Rebecca Bengal, Independent Researcher, “‘Bad Roads Ruin Even the Best of Cars’: William Gedney’s Kentucky.”

Alexandra Le Faou, Independent Researcher, “James H. Karales European Exhibition.”

Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture (Mary Lily Research Grants)

Brianna Anderson, Ph.D. candidate, Department of English, University of Florida, “‘A Smidgeon of Ecofeminism’: Envisioning Environmental Issues and Activism in Women’s Zines.”

Rachel Corbman, Faculty, Mount Holyoke College, “Conferencing on the Edge: A Queer History of Feminist Field Formation, 1969-1989.”

Benjamin Holtzman, Faculty, Lehman College, “’Smash the Klan’: Fighting the White Power Movement in the Late Twentieth Century.”

Cindy Lima, Ph.D. candidate, Northwestern University, “Transnational Latinas: A Twentieth Century History of Latina Politics.”

Molli Spalter, Ph.D. candidate, Department of English, Wayne State University, “”Feeling Wrong and Feeling Wronged: Radical Feminism and ‘Feeling Work’.”

Emily Hunt, Ph.D. candidate, Emily Hunt, Georgia State University, “‘We are a Gentle Angry People and We are Singing for Our Lives’: A Story of Women’s Music, 1975-1995.”

Felicity Palma, Faculty, Department of Film and Media Studies, University of Pittsburgh, “of flesh and feelings and light and shadows.” (Grant sponsored jointly with the Archive of Documentary Arts.)

Lara Vapnek, Faculty, Department of History, St. John’s University, “Mothers, Milk, and Money: A History of Infant Feeding in the United States.” (Grant sponsored jointly with the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History.)

John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History and Culture

William Billups, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Emory University, “”Reign of Terror”: Anti-Civil Rights Terrorism in the United States, 1955-1976.”

Thomas Cryer, Ph.D. candidate, Institute of the Americas, University College London, “’Walking the Tightrope’: John Hope Franklin and the Dilemmas of African American History in Action.”

Mikayla Harden, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, University of Delaware, “Remnants: Captive African Children in the Black Atlantic World.”

Frances O’Shaughnessy, Ph.D. candidate, University of Washington, “Black Revolution on the Sea Islands: Empire, Property, and the Emancipation of Humanity.”

Emily Tran, Ph.D. candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “American Reckonings: Confronting and Repressing the Racist Past and Present, 1968-1998.”

Evan Wade, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, University of Connecticut,” Henrietta Vinton Davis: From Teacher to Black Nationalist– an examination of a Black Woman’s Politics.”

Elizabeth Patton, Faculty, Department of Media and Communication Studies, University of Maryland Baltimore County, “Representation as a Form of Resistance: Documenting African American Spaces of Leisure during the Jim Crow Era.” (Grant sponsored jointly with the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History.)

Harry H. Harkins T’73 Travel Grants for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History

Mori Reithmayr, Ph.D. candidate, University of Oxford, “Community Before Liberation: Theorizing Gay Resistance in San Francisco, 1953-1969.”

Cathleen Rhodes, Faculty, Department of Women’s Studies, Old Dominion University, “Touring Tidewater: An Immersive Virtual Walking Tour of Southeastern Virginia’s Queer History.”

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History (John Furr Fellowship)

Jennifer Hessler, Faculty, Department of Media, Journalism, and Film, University of Huddersfield, “Television Ratings: From Audimeter to Big Data.”

Conrad Jacober, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University, “Debt Prophets: American Bankers and the Origins of Financialization.”

Jeannette Strickland, Independent Researcher, “Lever Brothers Advertising and Marketing, 1900-1930, in the J. Walter Thompson Archives.”

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History (Alvin Achenbaum Travel Grants)

Anne Garner, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History and Culture, Drew University, “Recovering Throwaway Histories: Patent Medicine, Black Americans and the Blues in the Postbellum Piedmont.”

Rachel Plotnick, Faculty, Department of Cinema & Media Studies, Indiana University Bloomington, “License to Spill: Where Dry Devices Meet Liquid Lives.”

Elizabeth Patton, Faculty, Department of Media and Communication Studies, University of Maryland Baltimore County, “Representation as a Form of Resistance: Documenting African American Spaces of Leisure during the Jim Crow Era.” (Grant sponsored jointly with the John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History and Culture.)

Lara Vapnek, Faculty, Department of History, St. John’s University, “Mothers, Milk, and Money: A History of Infant Feeding in the United States.” (Grant sponsored jointly with the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.)

History of Medicine Collections

Jessica Dandona, Faculty, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, “Skeletons in the Drawing Room: Popular Consumption of Flap Anatomies, 1880-1900.”

Jeremy Montgomery, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Mississippi State University, “‘Look To Your Map’: Medical Distinctiveness and the United States, 1800-1860.”

Haleigh Yaspan, Master’s candidate, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, “Forceps, Women’s Rights, and Professional Turf War: Pregnancy and Childbirth in the United States, 1914-1962.”

Human Rights Archive

Molly Carlin, Ph.D. candidate, School of Media, Arts and Humanities, University of Sussex, “How to Jail a Revolution: Theorising the Penal Suppression of American Political Voices, 1964-2022.”

Tyler Goldberger, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, College of William & Mary, “”Generalísimo Franco is Still Alive!”: Transnational Human Rights and the Anti-Fascist Narrativization of the Spanish Civil War and Francisco Franco Dictatorship within the United States, 1936-Present.”

Thomas Maggiola, Master’s candidate, Department of Latin American Studies and History, University of California San Diego, “Guatemala’s Transnational Civil War, 1970-1996.”

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Research Travel Grants

Jennifer Doyle, Faculty, University of California Riverside, “Alethurgy’s Shadows: Harassment, Paranoia, and Grief.”

Annie Sansonetti, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Performance Studies, New York University, “Reapproaching Feminine Boys and Transgender Girls in Queer and Trans Theory and Art.”

Post compiled by Roshan Panjwani, Staff Assistant, Rubenstein Library

Applications Open for 2022-2023 Research Travel Grants

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2022-2023 research travel grants. If you are a researcher, artist, or activist who would like to use sources from the Rubenstein Library’s research centers for your work, this means you!

Research travel grants of up to $1500 are offered by the following Centers and research areas:

  • Archive of Documentary Arts
  • 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)
  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Papers

We encourage applications from students at any level of education; faculty members; visual and performing artists; writers; filmmakers; public historians; and independent researchers. (Must reside beyond a 100-mile radius of Durham, N.C., and may not be current Duke students or employees.) These grants are offered as reimbursement based on receipt documentation after completion of the research visit(s). The deadline for applications will be Saturday, April 30, 2022, at 6:00 pm EST. Grants will be awarded for travel during June 2022-June 2023.

An information session will be held Wednesday, March 23rd at 2PM EST.  This program will review application requirements, offer tips for creating a successful application, and include an opportunity for attendees to ask questions.  Register for the session here. Further questions may be directed to AskRL@duke.edu.

Image citation: Cover detail from African American soldier’s Vietnam War photograph album https://idn.duke.edu/ark:/87924/r4319wn3g

Contextualizing Insurrection in the Archival Far Right

Post contributed by Richard Branscomb, PhD Candidate at Carnegie Mellon University and a recent Duke Human Rights Archive Travel Grant Recipient.

By many accounts, the riot on January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol building was an unprecedented day of violent, far-right insurrection. Indeed, an attack of that magnitude on the nation’s capital has not occurred since this country’s Civil War. The events of that day drew together various far-right factions with a propensity for antidemocratic violence, including QAnon conspiracy adherents, so-called militia or patriot groups like the Oath Keepers, and the “western chauvinist” group the Proud Boys.[1] While the unfolding violence on January 6 may have been unprecedented, the “revolutionary” narratives undergirding those events are not. And the ultimate incapacity of those rioters to overturn national election results will not preclude others from trying again through other violent means.

My research uses digital and historical archives to trace the sort of conspiratorial narratives that resulted in the January 6 riot. The Rubenstein Library’s exceptional special collections have contributed to the goals of my larger dissertation project, in which I examine particular tropes in the history of firearms advocacy in the U.S. as that history is inflected by ideologies of far-right vigilantism and white supremacist subtext. As a scholar of rhetoric, I’m particularly interested in the ways social movements build and circulate narratives that establish certain senses of identity, urgency, or, in extreme cases, justifications for terroristic violence.

In the Rubenstein Library’s collections, I was primarily examining the periodicals circulated by the civilian militia movement that rose to prominence in the U.S. in the early 1990s. These materials include newsletters and propaganda that these militia groups circulated for recruitment and political antagonism. Overall, what these archival materials help illustrate is that the sort of antidemocratic violence seen on January 6 is neither a new phenomenon of far-right sedition, nor will it be the last. Though hundreds of rioters have now been criminally charged,[2] little accountability appears on the immediate horizon for the sitting members of Congress who refuse to condemn the participants or the election falsehoods that precipitated the riot.[3]

The civilian militia movement has been characterized by a deeply libertarian suspicion (and/or paranoia) of the federal government, and a stalwart dedication to the Second Amendment as a means to reclaim “liberty” for the militias’ overwhelmingly white and male members. This is despite the fact that militias were and are extrajudicial in all 50 states, and that judicial precedent on the Second Amendment does not support private militia formation.[4] The civilian militia movement originated amid a longer history of racist backlash to the incremental victories of the civil rights movement of the twentieth century, which were (and still are) framed on the political right as encroachments of federal government power on everyday American lives. Then, a series of lethal blunders by federal agencies in the early 1990s accelerated militia mobilization across the country: First, in the deadly standoff with a white separatist family at Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992, and second, the 51-day explosive siege of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas in 1993. This movement initially peaked in 1996,[5] but it declined amid the fallout from the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building by white supremacist, anti-government extremists that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.

Drawing of a large boot about to step down onto a foothold trap. The boot has written on the bottom "Federal Tyranny" and the trap says "Citizen Militias." To the left of the illustration is text "It ain't no fun, when the rabbit's got the gun!!"
Cartoon from the Gadsden Minutemen Newsletter (1995) illustrating the purported function of citizen militias in combatting militarized federal tyranny.

As evidenced by archived materials of far-right groups, Ruby Ridge and Waco inspired militia mobilization for years afterward. For instance, the Missouri 51st militia was named for the length of the Waco siege. These events also inspired varying degrees of exhortative rhetoric in militia group publications, up to and including insurrectionary violence.  In a March 1995 periodical for the Alabama-based Gadsden Minutemen Unorganized Militia, one writer reflected on how the movement ought to respond to government overreach, particularly incidents like Ruby Ridge and Waco. The writer concludes by emphasizing the “divine” spirit of the movement, even drawing a timeline from the American Revolution to the 1995 anniversary of the Waco siege’s disastrous end—the date that would in fact coincide with the Oklahoma City bombing:

“As on April 18, 1775, on July 4, 1776, on April 19, 1995, we are ‘ … endowed by our Creator … ’ Not endowed by government. I, we are free, independent and sovereign, with full authority over our lives, our bodies,  and our property. We are rightly answerable to outside authority only for direct infringement of the rights of others. Otherwise only divine authority will obtain. It is our duty, laid on us by God and the generations, to defend our, our children’s, and our neighbors’ liberty. In extremis, to kill; if necessary to die. We, I, individuals, each alone, are individually responsible.”

Masthead and headline for "Taking Aim" newsletter. Headline reads, "Closure or Coverup? Does the FBI really believe McVeigh acted alone?"
Heading for a 1997 issue of Taking Aim, the Militia of Montana’s newsletter, highlighting the persistence of “false flag” and coverup conspiracies centered on federal agencies.

Though this militia group was not responsible for the terrorism in Oklahoma City, these bald exhortations resonate —in extremis—with the broader rhetorical strategies of these civilian militias then and now. Groups like the Gadsden Minutemen and the Missouri 51st militia publicly decried the horrendous violence in Oklahoma City, while asserting that their mission was not to overthrow the federal government but instead to compel the government to “return” to a nostalgic constitutional past. Still other groups like the influential Militia of Montana circulated “false flag” conspiracies about the bombing, claiming it to be yet another federal ruse to dismantle their movement.  After the failed insurrection on January 6, 2021, some on the far-right recapitulated this storyline by claiming that the Capitol riot was itself yet another “false flag.” Still others, including members of Congress, have extended that “revolutionary” timeline to include January 6, 2021.[6]

In all, my research is concerned with critically contextualizing the prominence of heavily-armed vigilante groups in the American political system, particularly their violent vision of enforcing governmental accountability. To be sure, the government and our elected leaders must be held to account for their travesties and abject failures. However, civilian militias and their allies rely on armed intimidation and blatantly antidemocratic terrorism, methods that must be situated in the longer history of racist exclusion and silencing that paints a narrow view of just who “we the people” are.[7] This is why archives like the Rubenstein Library’s collections are particularly valuable for reminding us how we got to where we are now, including the far-right normalization of extremist words and deeds.

[1] https://apnews.com/article/capitol-insurrection-charges-roil-far-right-groups-1e0560dbd5572944e3435e225f8be616

[2] https://www.npr.org/2021/02/09/965472049/the-capitol-siege-the-arrested-and-their-stories

[3] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/more-dangerous-capitol-riot/617655/

[4] https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/2021-06/McCord_final_0.pdf

[5] https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/antigovernment

[6] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/01/25/among-the-insurrectionists

[7] Carol Anderson, 2021, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, Bloomsbury Publishing USA.

Call for Submissions: 2021 Human Rights Audio Documentary Award

Post Contributed by Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist

Annoncement Date: June 1st, 2021

What is audio documentary? How do recording technologies, sonic vernaculars, activism, and dissent come together in a documentary art form that engages with our ears?

This new award, sponsored by the Human Rights Archive and the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, seeks to support outstanding documentary artists exploring human rights and social justice and expand the audio holdings in the Archive for long-term preservation and access. The awardee will receive a $2,500 honorarium and be invited to give a talk at Duke.

In our inaugural year we will focus on works that explore language. Books are burned, buildings are bull-dozed, bodies are buried…and people escape with only their language and the memory work it will enable. How can spoken language serve as a form of sonic resistance to colonialism and cultural genocide? How does language persevere even when individuals and entire communities are disappeared? How do the language practices of the indigenous, the displaced, the incarcerated, and the oppressed buttress memory, build community and identity, and demand social justice and human rights?

Why should I apply?
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Library has a strong commitment to human rights and the documentary arts through collecting and making available works by creators from around the world. Our collections document the impact that organizations and individuals have, and the role documentary plays, to motivate the thinking of others, and the influence that has on private and government policies.

We encourage submissions from individuals or groups from across the globe, whose work is not already in the collections of the Rubenstein Library. Documentarians working in their own communities are encouraged to apply, and we are particularly interested in submissions from communities underrepresented in the archives. We are not accepting submissions from employees of Duke University, or those currently enrolled in a degree-granting program.

For more information on the award and how to apply please visit: https://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/human-rights/audio-award

This award is an initiative of the Human Rights Archive and the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Learn more about Special Collections at Duke…

Contacts:

Patrick A. Stawski, Human Rights Archivist, patrick.stawski@duke.edu, and Caitlin Margaret Kelly, Curator, Archive of Documentary Arts & Director Power Plant Gallery, caitlin.kelly@duke.edu

Library Internship Open House – April 7

Date: April 7, 2021
Time: 3:00 pm ET
Location: Zoom
Register Here

Interested in archival and library work? Come learn about the internships being offered at the Rubenstein Library in Fall of 2021!

On April 7th at 3:00pm Rubenstein Library staff will be hosting an information session and open house where you can learn about the Rubenstein Library, meet the intern supervisors, get details on the internship projects, and ask questions.

The following internships available at the Rubenstein Library in the coming academic year:

  • Consumer Reports Processing Intern: The Consumer Reports Processing Intern will primarily arrange and describe archival materials held in the Consumer Reports Archives collections, part of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing in the Rubenstein Library. The intern may also participate in outreach, programming, and instruction activities, depending on opportunities and the intern’s abilities and interests.
  • Josiah Charles Trent Internship: Working closely with the History of Medicine Collections, this position will provide support for public services and collection development activities of the History of Medicine.
  • Human Rights Archive, Marshall T. Meyer Intern: Working with RL Technical Services and Research Services staff, you will primarily provide support for research services, technical services, and collection development activities of the Human Rights Archive.
  • John Hope Franklin Research Center Internship: The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture seeks a reliable candidate to fill the position of Franklin Research Center intern. Working closely with the center’s director, you will provide support for public services and collection development activities. This internship provides an opportunity to work closely with the center’s collections which include rare books, personal papers and manuscripts, oral histories, audiovisual, and ephemeral materials that document the African and African Diaspora experience from the 16th century to present day.

New Collections Spotlight: The Attica Prison Uprising: “If we cannot live as people, then we will at least try to die like men”.

Post Submitted by Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist

The Human Rights Archive recently purchased two historical publications documenting the Attica Prison Uprising of 1971.  The Rubenstein Library’s Technical Services/Print Materials Cataloging Section has expertly cataloged these items and they are now available for consultation in the Rubenstein reading room.

In September of 1971 inmates at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York, rebelled against prison authorities and took control of the facility.  After four days of attempted negotiations the state police violently suppressed the rebellion leading to the death of 43 staff and inmates.  The Attica Uprising was a watershed moment in the on-going fight to establish respect for human rights within the penitentiary system and to recognize and reform the racist practices and policies of the criminal justice system which feed the carceral machine.  We can thus understand that Attica is a direct ancestor of social movements such as Black Lives Matter that continue this fight today. Attica: slaughter at Attica: the complete inside story is written by journalist James A. Hudson and published in 1971, soon after the uprising.  The publication begins with a quote from Attica inmate Charles Horatio Crowley who was also known as Brother Flip, “If we cannot live as people, then we will at least try to die like men.”

Attica, it is a right to rebel, Cover

Hudson then sets out to provide the details of the actual events of the uprising and oppression, including first-hand accounts from those who were there, a map of the prison grounds with key locations noted, and photographs of the rebellion, the negotiations, and the state’s attack on the inmates and the horrifying aftermath. Hudson also explores what led up to the riot, investigates if the living conditions at Attica were as inhumane as the inmates claimed, and asks readers to consider what role racism played in the state’s deadly response to the rebellion.

Attica: slaughter at Attica: the complete inside story, view of destruction inside the prison

Another newly available item is Attica, it is a right to rebel authored by the Revolutionary Student Brigade, circa 1972.  Printed in stark black and red, the pamphlet is a collaboration between the RSB, some of the Attica brothers, as well as their supporters.  The pamphlet proclaims that “ATTICA IS NOT A TRAGEDY, but a symbol of militant resistance of oppressed people against a system that tries to crush them.”  In contrast to Hudson’s journalistic tone, The RBG invokes a clear call to solidarity and action with the Attica inmates by all people involved in resisting a racist system that terrorizes Black people.  The back sheet of the pamphlet includes the 33 demands of the Attica rebels, many of which we today recognize as basic human rights, “provide adequate food and water and shelter for this group”, “allow true religious freedom”, “Apply the New York State minimum wage law to all work done by inmates. STOP SLAVE LABOR.”

Cover image, book
Attica: slaughter at Attica: the complete inside story, Cover

These new items join the Human Rights Archives extensive collections on the experiences of the incarcerated, and the impact detention and incarceration have on their families and communities.  These include the papers of Jomo Joka Omowale, one of the Attica Brothers who went on trial in the wake of the uprising, and the papers of Elizabeth Fink, a human rights lawyer who represented prisoners killed and injured during the Attica uprising.  To learn more about these collections and how to access them please visit our research guide.

Attica, it is a right to rebel, 33 Demands of the inmates

2020 Juan E. Méndez Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America

Post Contributed by Patrick Stawski, Archivist, Human Rights Archives 

Reagan’s Gun-Toting Nuns: The Catholic Conflict over Cold War Human Rights Policy in Central America wins 2020 Juan E. Méndez Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America

Theresa Keeley’s important and wonderfully detailed book, Reagan’s Gun-Toting Nuns: The Catholic Conflict over Cold War Human Rights Policy in Central America (Cornell University Press, 2020), is the winner of the 2020 Juan E. Méndez Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America.

This is the twelfth year of this prestigious award. The award is supported by the Duke Human Rights Center@the Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and the Human Rights Archives at the Rubenstein Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.

Reagan’s Gun-Toting Nuns is a deep dive into a formative period in human rights, Central American history, and the role of the faith community, in particular the Maryknoll order, on US policy. Keeley will accept the award via a Zoom event that is open to the public. The event will take place on March 16 from 5:30-7 pm.

The judges were unanimous in their praise. Prof. James Chappel, Hunt Assistant Professor of History at Duke University, noted that the book “tells a great story that most people, myself included, know little about. Catholicism, like human rights, is both global and local, and it takes a special kind of historian to explore it with humanity, moral passion, and archival rigor. By integrating geopolitics, theology, and gender into one beautiful narrative, Keeley does all of us a great service.”

Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, currently a senior legal adviser to Human Rights Watch and a former Méndez award winner, commented that the book “covers a history about which I’ve long been curious and that has been central to US human rights policy toward Central America. It does so comprehensively, seriously, and with great care. The author did an impressive amount of research.”

Robin Kirk, chair of the judging committee and the co-director of the Duke Human Rights Center@the Franklin Humanities Institute, commented, “I learned so much from this book: about Central America, US policy, the Maryknolls, and continuing repercussions of divides within Christianity and their links to human rights. Even as an advocate in Latin America, I was unfamiliar with much of this history. So much of this framed the early development of human rights as US policy and a generation of American and European rights activists.”

When notified of the award, Keeley stated, “I am humbled to have my work recognized. At times, I struggled to find ways to convey Central Americans’ and missionaries’ experiences during the 1970s and 1980s. But it was nothing compared to what the people who lived through these difficult, and often violent, times endured. I am thankful to all of the human rights advocates, in the United States and Central America and especially the women religious, who trusted me with their stories. I hope the Méndez Award will bring recognition to them and to the greater need for the U.S. government to consider how its foreign policies affect the human rights of others.”

The judges would also like to extend congratulations to Dan Werb and his excellent City of Omens: A search for the missing women of the borderlands (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019), our runner-up. The judges praised the book’s epidemiological approach and the richly detailed research paired with the stories of the women Werb worked with on the US-Mexico border. Werb’s text was “very compelling and human,” wrote one, “and I loved that it shed light on worlds that most readers do not know about or care to know.”

First awarded in 2008, the Méndez Human Rights Book Award honors the best current non-fiction book published in English on human rights, democracy, and social justice in contemporary Latin America. The books are evaluated by a panel of expert judges drawn from academia, journalism, human rights, and public policy circles.

For more information on the award and previous winners, see https://humanrights.fhi.duke.edu/programs/wola-duke-human-rights-award/.

The Center for Death Penalty Litigation records: the Practical and Intellectual Lessons of Archival Processing

Post contributed by Hannah Ontiveros, Marshall T. Meyer Human Rights Archive Intern

Fall semester 2020 was an odd one, with new challenges, global uncertainty, and everyone stepping out of their comfort zones to find a way to continue learning and working. For me the semester brought unfamiliar work and novel scholarly considerations. As intern for the Human Rights Archive, I spent the semester processing an addition to the Center for Death Penalty Litigation collection. The CDPL is a Durham-based organization that handles post-conviction appeals for indigent people on Death Row in North Carolina. Their ultimate goal is death penalty abolition. Processing this collection raised productive challenges and questions, creating for me a fresh vantage point from which to consider archival practices and the study of human rights.

 

Archive Boxes on a Shelf
Center for Death Penalty Litigation Archive Boxes

The process of rehousing documents, seemingly a simple task of moving papers to a fresh, neatly labeled folder in a fresh, neatly labeled box, comes with unexpected challenges and questions. If the documents weren’t organized and separated into folders to begin with, where do they go now? How do we label folders to be succinct and descriptive for future researchers while reflecting the documents’ original use by the CDPL? What does one do when they come across, as I did, a folder containing one single piece of paper, with nothing on it but letterhead? (I kept the document alone in its folder—some future researcher might come across it and glean meaning that I can’t see.)

And then there are the photographs. Photographs need to be placed in protective Mylar coverings. This preserves the paper and ink and protects the photos from librarians’ and researchers’ hands when handling them. Again, a seemingly standard task with unexpected challenges. In the CDPL collection, the Human Rights Archives house the organization’s case files, which are expansive. CDPL keeps records from clients’ entire legal history, including their original trial and subsequent appeals, even those not argued by CDPL attorneys. The case files for George Goode, for example, include discovery from his original trial, including crime scene photos. This raised two problems: how do I process these photographs while watching out for my own mental well-being, and how do I describe these photographs for future researchers?

Some of the crime scene photos in the Goode subseries and in others (most notably, David Junior Brown) contain really graphic imagery, including substantial gore. It was very difficult to place the photos in Mylar protectors and rehouse them without looking at them. But I determined that, for the sake of my mental health I couldn’t look at them too much. So I devised for myself a simple and makeshift system of keeping photos faced away from me as much as possible, and keeping them covered with a piece of scrap paper. Having needed to glance at these images in order to process them, I knew the collection required careful description so researchers won’t come across these images without proper warning and preparation.

Center for Death Penalty Litigation File

This raised questions for me of how to describe files with sensitive information in them. We need content warnings that adequately prepare people for the content they’re about to see, but that don’t editorialize too much. Personally, I would describe some of the crime scene photos in this collection as “horrifying,” but that may not be particularly helpful to researchers. Moreover, such description may color researchers’ understanding of the case in a way that’s not productive to grasping the legal stakes at play. With advice from Tracy Jackson in the Rubenstein Library’s Technical Services Department, I opted for describing the images as graphic, and containing gore and deceased persons—at the very least, researchers will know what’s in these folders before opening them. I also opted to place the content warnings in the file and box description in the collection guide, as well as on the physical folder. My hope is that no researcher comes across the photos unaware. It is important that these images, along with the other documents in the collection, are preserved and available for use for productive research on the death penalty and human rights. But it’s also important that researchers are prepared so that their work isn’t hindered by coming across shocking imagery in the archive.

 

This processing project was also surprising to me on an intellectual level. The study of human rights is important to my own work. But the driving questions about human rights in my dissertation surround issues of global responsibility for refugees, citizenship, and discourses of deservingness. Prior to processing CDPL documents, I had not given much scholarly thought to death penalty abolition, or to criminal litigation as a method for human rights goals. But this processing project made me think about these things. It made me think about how human rights goals are strived for in criminal courts, and the boundaries and possibilities of the law as an avenue for human rights. Through CDPL documents I could see how attorneys understand their clients as whole and deserving people. I can also see how they utilize legal strategies to make whatever gains they can toward their overarching goal of stopping all executions. This is the value of this internship—it broadens my theoretical and methodological understanding of human rights as a field; and it challenges me to think outside of my existing scholarly and political human rights commitments. Ultimately this will make me a better scholar, with a greater appreciation for how documents are created and preserved, and with a more expansive understanding of the field of human rights.

From the Collections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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