Category Archives: Manuscripts

RBMSCL Scholars: Emily Herring Wilson

We’re beginning a new feature today! We’ve asked some of the wonderful authors and scholars that the RBMSCL has hosted over the years to contribute a few words on their new books and research projects. We’re going to start with an essay from Emily Herring Wilson, editor of the newly-released Becoming Elizabeth Lawrence: Discovered Letters of a Southern Gardener.

Years of research for a life of North Carolina garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence (1904-1985) led me many places, but none more inviting than my trips to Duke’s Special Collections Library, where I found hundreds of letters in the Ann Preston Bridgers Papers that brought Lawrence to life as no other materials, including interviews with family and friends who had known her. As I went through box after box of letters from Elizabeth to Ann (all beautifully catalogued by Janie Morris), I discovered a collection that not only informed the biography I wrote about Lawrence (No One Gardens Alone) but gave vivid testament to the importance of women’s friendships. (Bridgers, a successful playwright and a founder of the Raleigh Little Theatre, was teaching young Elizabeth how to write and how to live, all vividly revealed in the letters.) This month John F. Blair, Publisher, released my edited collection, Becoming Elizabeth Lawrence: Discovered Letters of a Southern Gardener. Among the books I have been privileged to write or edit, it is my favorite because of the charm and intelligence of a private life.

These letters from Elizabeth to Ann are lively with gossip, anecdote, reflection, regret, aspiration, and love—the love of friends, the love of gardens, and the love of literature. I still regard it as a miracle that they were not destroyed after Ann’s death in 1967 but ended up in the Bridgers Papers. I hope that you will read them and enjoy them as much as I did.

Ashkar-Gilson Manuscript in the News

The RBMSCL’s Ashkar-Gilson Manuscript is currently on display at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum where it has been reunited with another fragment from the same 1,300-year-old scroll.

The story of the reunion of these two manuscripts, which contain portions of the Song of the Sea, was picked up on the AP wire. Here’s a link to the article as it appeared in the Jerusalem Dispatch.

This photo of the Ashkar-Gilson manuscript was taken with special lighting so that the writing on the aged manuscript could be seen.

A Valentine’s Day Puzzle

William Tell Steiger, undated
William Tell Steiger, undated

In November 1828, William Tell Steiger wrote in his notebook that he had presented his beloved Anna Maria Shriver with an anagram: “O evil here I am at.”

He continues, “she deciphered it and returned an anagram in answer containing the following: ‘That love deserves to be returned.'”

Three years later, the couple married on September 20th.

We leave you to puzzle out the first anagram (which you can find in our Steiger-Shriver Family Papers). And yes, Anna Maria Shriver was the great-great-great aunt of journalist and First Lady of California Maria Shriver.

Bundled Up and Ready for School


These cheerful and warmly dressed children, enrolled in Durham’s Scarborough Nursery School, were posed on the front steps for a class photograph on a chilly day in 1932. But this was 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression. Durham was in the heart of the Jim Crow South.

The significance of this progressive school is tremendous. Founded by Mrs. Clydie Fullwood Scarborough, it provided effective and healthy daycare for African American children. With a safe place for their children, mothers could confidently work and help provide the family with necessities, including these little coats and hats.

The detailed inventory of the Clydie F. Scarborough Papers, 1818-1984, which documents her work, is available here. For more information on using this collection, contact the RBMSCL staff at special-collections(at)duke.edu.

Post contributed by Elizabeth Dunn, Research Services Librarian

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.