Category Archives: Do Your Research

2024-2025 Research Travel Grant Program

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for the 2024-2025 Research Travel Grant Program, offering awards of up to $1500 to support research projects associated with the following Centers, subject areas, and collection holdings:

  • Archive of Documentary Arts
  • Doris Duke Foundation Research Travel Grants
  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Travel Grants
  • 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)

Anyone whose research would be supported by sources from the Rubenstein Library’s research centers is eligible to apply. We encourage applications from students at any level of education; faculty and teachers; visual and performing artists; writers; filmmakers; public historians; and independent researchers. For assistance determining the eligibility of your project, please contact AskRL@duke.edu with the subject line “Travel Grants.”

Eligibility

Applicants must reside beyond a 100-mile radius of Durham, N.C., and may not be current Duke students or employees.

Information Session

An online information session will be held Thursday, January 11, 2024, 2-3 pm EST.  This program will review application requirements, offer tips for creating a successful application, and include an opportunity for attendees to ask questions. This program will be recorded and posted online afterwards.  Register for the session here.

Timeline

The deadline for applications will be Thursday, February 29, 2024, at 6:00 pm EST.

Decisions will be announced by the end of April 2024 for travel during May 2024-June 2025. Awards are paid as reimbursement after completion of the research visit(s).

Wendy Rouse on the Feminist Self Defense Movement of the 1970s

Contributed by Dr. Wendy Rouse, Professor of History, San José State University; Recipient of a 2023-2024 Mary Lily Research Travel Grant Award from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. Her book, Her Own Hero: The Origins of the Women’s Self-Defense Movement, is available from NYU Press.

Press release from the Women's Martial Arts Union from July 1975.
“For Immediate Release,” July 30, 1975, WMAU NY, 1972-75 File, Box 14, Kathy Hopwood Papers

“The right to self-defense is one of the most basic human rights. It is usually one of the first rights denied and oppressed group by their oppressors . . . Each woman who defends herself against attack strikes a blow at the culture that allows men to brutalize women and trains women to submit to men. We will not submit!” – Women’s Martial Arts Union, New York, 1975 [1]

The feminist self-defense movement of the 1970s emerged out of the anti-rape and battered women’s movement of the era. By calling attention to the issue of violence against women, feminists moved these topics out of the shadows and into the mainstream. They demanded societal reform to end women’s oppression. In the meantime, grassroots groups of women, many of them sexual assault survivors themselves, formed rape crisis centers and battered women shelters across the nation. In addition to support for survivors, some feminists also advocated for self-defense as a rape-prevention strategy. They recognized that self-defense training was not only a way to defend against assault but was also as a way to challenge gendered notions that women are inherently weak. In 1969, Dana Densmore, Abby Rockefeller, and Jayne West of Cell 16, a radical feminist group in Boston, issued a powerful call to action:

“We must learn to fight back. It must become as dangerous to attack a woman as to attack another man. We will not be raped!”[2]

Taking up the charge, a group of women in New York formed the Women’s Martial Arts Union (WMAU) in 1972 declaring self-defense a basic human right.[3]

Black and white photograph of a group of women marching a sidewalk on UNC's campus. They are carrying homemade signs, some of the signs read "Support Women's Anger" and "Rape is Everyone's Problem"
Rape Awareness March and Rally, June 24, 1984, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, North Carolina, Box 25, Kathy Hopwood Papers.

The Kathy Hopwood papers at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture is a carefully curated collection of materials that documents the history of the women’s martial arts and self-defense movement. In 1982, Hopwood and her partner Beth Seigler opened their own martial arts/self-defense school in Durham, North Carolina. Hopwood also served as the project archivist for the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF). Hopwood’s careful efforts to preserve the history of the women’s martial arts and feminist self-defense movement are evident in the wide range of materials representing local martial arts schools, regional groups, and national organizations.

Before the feminist self-defense movement of the 1970s, few women had access to martial arts or self-defense training and those that did were often the only woman in schools dominated by men. While some women enjoyed supportive and friendly training environments, others encountered condescension, hostility, and sexual harassment. Gerry Fifer, Barbara Landy, Nadia Telsey, Sue Ribner, Eva Blinder, Roberta Schine, Annie Ellman, and Valerie Eads were some of the women who participated in the WMAU with the goal of providing a support network for women martial artists. They hoped to make self-defense widely available and accessible to all women.[4]

But the founders of the WMAU experienced a great deal of personal backlash. Their male martial arts teachers insisted they stop teaching. Roberta Schine’s teacher laughed out loud when she asked permission to teach a short self-defense course for women. He said absolutely not. She did it anyway, adopting the pseudonym Florence Flowerpot to keep her identity secret. Some of the other women of the WMAU were demoted or banned from their schools for continuing to teach. But, they persisted because they envisioned a world where women could live free from the threat of violence and they weren’t willing to wait around for someone else to make that happen.[5]

Two women in black gis demonstrating moves.
Beth Seigler and Kathy Hopwood teaching self-defense at NWMAF Special Training, no date, Box 25, Kathy Hopwood Papers

From 1972-1974, the WMAU hosted trainings for women martial artists and self-defense practitioners. These gatherings provided opportunities to not only share their skills but to discuss ways of combatting larger structural issues related to the sexism, classism, homophobia, and racism in society. Following the WMAU example, Nancy Lehmann and Dana Densmore organized the first national conferences for women martial artists and self-defense teachers in Minneapolis in 1975 and Washington DC in 1976. Lehmann hosted the first national women’s special training camp in Minneapolis in 1976. These early gatherings were the model for what would become annual special trainings (1976-present) and the eventual formation of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation. The NWMAF remains the longest standing national group dedicated to supporting women in the martial arts and training self-defense instructors in the principles of feminist self-defense.

By the mid 1970s the women’s martial arts and feminist self-defense movement gained steam as evidenced by the number of women’s martial arts schools and self-defense courses that began popping up across the country. On the west coast, a group called the Women Martial Artists (now known as the Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists) began holding annual training camps in 1978.[6] The number of women instructors and the availability of women’s self-defense courses also rapidly expanded over the next several decades.

 

In our present day, it is no longer rare for women to train in martial arts and many women have taken some sort of self-defense course. The feminist self-defense movement has expanded into a broader Empowerment Self-Defense movement that advocates for self-defense for all marginalized genders and oppressed groups, picking up the banner of previous generations and carrying on with the rallying cry: “We will not submit!”[7]

References

[1] “For Immediate Release,” July 30, 1975, WMAU NY, 1972-75 File, Box 14, Kathy Hopwood Papers.

[2] Female Liberation, “More Slain Girls,” No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation 3 (November 1969), 109-110.

[3] “For Immediate Release,” July 30, 1975, WMAU NY, 1972-75 File, Box 14, Kathy Hopwood Papers.

[4] “Women’s Martial Arts Union,” Black Belt Woman 1, no. 3 (January/February 1976), 18; “Herstory of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation,”  NWMAF Newsletter, 3, no. 3 (August 1985): 5-8.

[5] Interview with Roberta Schine, conducted by Wendy Rouse, May 15, 2023.

[6] Laurie Cahn, “Martial Arts Camps for Women: It’s About Time,” Black Belt Magazine (August 1986): 67-69, 86.

[7] “For Immediate Release,” July 30, 1975, WMAU NY, 1972-75 File, Box 14, Kathy Hopwood Papers.

Q&A with Archival Expeditions Fellow Katie Carithers

Katie Carithers was an Archival Expeditions fellow in Spring 2023. Archival Expeditions introduces Duke graduate students to teaching with digital and physical primary sources. Each student partners with a Duke faculty sponsor to design an undergraduate course module that incorporates primary source material from the Rubenstein Library’s collections tailored to a specific class taught by that faculty member.

Katie’s excellent course module, as well as previous modules created through the program and program information, can be found on the Archival Expeditions website

Archival Expeditions is generously funded by the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, Ed Balleisen.

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

Photograph of young woman with light colored hair and glasses wearing a green scarf.
Katie Carithers.

I am a third-year doctoral student in the English Department here at Duke, and I am also pursuing a Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. My research interests are located at the intersection between Victorian Studies and contemporary postcolonial, feminist, and queer theory. Currently, I am thinking about how nineteenth-century novels figure consenting, desiring, and gendered subjects and how those notions transform across the nineteenth century.

I applied to the Archival Expeditions out of an excitement to work with the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Papers. In April 2022, Rubenstein announced that the collection was now open to researchers, and this fellowship seemed like a wonderful opportunity to engage such an expansive and heterogenous collection in a way that would allow the archive to shape the project. I think that my faculty sponsor, Gabriel Rosenberg (History and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies), was similarly excited by the possibility of exploring this archive, not knowing what would be in the collection, and letting the collection inform where we would go with the module.

What is the focus of the course module you created and what did you learn from the experience of designing it?

The module was designed for an “Intro to LGBTQ Studies” course. Since Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is often considered one of the founding thinkers of queer theory and LGBTQ studies as a discipline, this collection opened numerous pathways to think about central concepts as well as field formation (and transformation) over time.

Ultimately, the module revolves around one of Sedgwick’s seminal monographs, Epistemology of the Closet, which students will study in the class. Over the course of the module, students will encounter a range of archival artifacts—from teaching material and grant proposals to letters and marginalia—that span the creation and reception of Epistemology.

In addition to being able to spend time exploring the collection, one of my favorite aspects of the fellowship was its emphasis on pedagogy. Given the constraints of a module, I could focus on the reasoning behind each part of the lesson plan and modify as the semester progressed. As a fellow, I had the opportunity to shadow archival visits, workshop the conceptual plan for in-class activities and assessments, and receive feedback on the lesson plan and worksheets. The structured opportunity for that kind of attention to pedagogy was immensely valuable.

Meetings with my faculty sponsor as well as with Brooke Guthrie (Rubenstein Research Services,) Seth Anderson (Duke Learning Innovation), and Laura Micham (Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture) were especially instrumental.

Also, since archival visits are usually already different from a regular class session, the module encouraged experimenting with activities and projects in its design, which was fun to think about!

What do you hope undergraduate students will gain from the experience of working with archival sources like the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick papers?

The overall goal of the module is for students to use these archival materials to situate Sedgwick as a thinker within a cultural history. Through the selected archival materials, students will encounter Epistemology as thinking and writing that is in progress and in dialogue with other scholars and writers. And not just academic writing! There are zines, newspaper clippings, comics, and other written/visual artifacts. The aim is that, by close reading these materials, students will analyze how the taking up of sexuality as an analytic framework is tied to authorial and historical politics — and how that this is true for Sedgwick as well as scholars of LGBTQ studies today. I think that can help students reflect on the kind of questions they want to animate their own work and how they perceive their own writing in relation to their current moment.

Hopefully these archival artifacts will also showcase disciplinary formation as students encounter LGBTQ studies as something that is in the process of being thought of as a discipline, which may help highlight how that disciplinary formation is continuous and ongoing even now.

What did you enjoy about working with the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick papers and what were some of your most interesting finds?

There’s such a range of the kinds of materials. Everything from written materials like drafts, letters, notes, and syllabi to textiles, collages, photographs, and other artwork. The collection continually surprised me! There were days when I would have no idea what the inside of a particular box would look like until I was unwrapping its contents.

For my research, I primarily focused on the first twenty or so boxes in the collection, which include teaching materials, research, and professional correspondences as well as artifacts pertaining to specific monographs. What struck me when reading through these different documents is the presence of Sedgwick as an artist and poet as well as scholar and teacher. That inseparability is apparent in Sedgwick’s published work, and it’s really interesting to see how the archive also cultivates that sentiment.

One of my favorite finds was a notebook that comprises a typescript for “The Warm Decembers.” Stanzas are repeated and reworked and rewritten. I personally loved coming across drafts, writing in-progress, or different iterations of a piece. For example, there are notes on Proust and different sets of binaries that then are described in a grant proposal for Epistemology of the Closet and later in the book’s introduction.

Typed copy of "The Warm Decembers" poem with handwritten revisions done by Eve Sedgwick in black ink and pencil.
Edited typescript of “The Warm Decembers.”

Would you recommend the Archival Expeditions program and, if so, what advice would you offer to future fellows?

Absolutely! I think Archival Expeditions offers a unique opportunity to develop archival research skills and pedagogy. It’s also a great way to become much more familiar with the collections at Rubenstein. I learned about collections that I hope to work with in the future for my own research.

My advice for future fellows would be to let the archive alter and shape what you are going to do! It’s necessary to come in with a plan, but there are so many resources and parts of collections that you may discover during research that can lead to exciting new places.

 

Humanizing History, Complicating Memory: A Trip into the Past

Post contributed by  Carolyn Robbins, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Communication, University of Maryland; recipient of a Marshall T. Meyer Research Travel Grant.

On a warm Monday morning in June, I caught an Uber to Union Station in Washington D.C. and boarded a train to Durham, North Carolina. I was on my way to the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University. As a recipient of the Marshall T. Meyer Research Travel Grant, I had the opportunity to conduct archival research in Duke’s Human Rights Archive. It was a week of firsts for me – first Amtrak ride, first funded research trip, first time doing research in a physical archive, and even my first time discussing my dissertation in-depth with people outside of my university community. I was so excited to take this huge step forward in my scholarly journey.

Before my archival research, I had a very general idea for my dissertation. I knew that I wanted to write an abolitionist dissertation that tackles the ways we understand, remember, and therefore create and uphold systems to respond to those deemed “criminal.” My argument wasn’t fully formed, but I knew it would be something about interrogating and complicating the hegemonic stories U.S. American society tells us about the prison-industrial complex. In order to make this argument, I planned to use the Attica Prison riot of 1971 as a case study. I don’t have the space here to do the story of Attica justice, but I will try to describe the riot in a nutshell. In 1971, prisoners at Attica had repeatedly brought their complaints about things like overcrowding, water shutoffs, and rotten food to prison officials. Despite the prisoners’ rights to adequate space, water, and food, nobody in power responded to these complaints. Eventually, the human rights violations, egregious human rights violations, and a string of violent treatment of incarcerated people across the country inspired the Attica prisoners to band together and take over Attica. They took guards and prison staff hostage and cut the phone lines as they ransacked the prison.

This got the attention of prison officials, and they entered into several days of negotiations with the prisoners. The progress was slow and tedious as tensions mounted between the prisoners, the hostages, and the state officials. Eventually, one hostage died in a scuffle with the prisoners, and the negotiations immediately shifted from improving prison conditions to seeking amnesty and freedom from reprisals for the riot. Eventually, the negotiating committee left the prison and the government sent in state troopers. The prisoners and hostages were in D-Yard of the prison, a courtyard surrounded by high walls. The state troopers marched onto the catwalk atop the walls surrounding D-Yard on a rainy Monday morning. As the troopers donned gas masks, a helicopter flew over the yard dropping tear gas onto the prisoners and hostages, bringing all of them to the ground. The troopers, their vision impeded by the haze of the tear gas, the fog of the drizzly morning, and the thick eye protection of their gas masks, then fired thousands of rounds from their rifles indiscriminately into the crowd of prisoners and hostages. After this initial siege, state agents retook the prison. The guards ordered the surviving prisoners to strip, beat them, burned them with cigarettes, and sexually violated them with sharp objects. The state agents even forced them through a torturous obstacle course including a gauntlet of guards beating them with clubs while running up and down the stairs and crawling naked over broken glass. By the end of this so-called “prison riot,” 43 people, including both prisoners and hostages, had died violent and gruesome deaths.

The Rubenstein Library is home to several collections related to this riot: the Elizabeth Fink Papers, the Malcolm Bell Papers, and the Jomo Joka Omowale Papers. Elizabeth Fink was the lead attorney in the decades-long effort to seek justice for the Attica Brothers, the men who were incarcerated at Attica Prison and mercilessly tortured by state agents. The legal proceedings didn’t end until 2001, at which time the Attica Brothers were forced to settle the case for much less than they sued the state for. Elizabeth Fink kept many letters, documents, and news clippings related to the cases that gave an inside view into the struggle that continued so long after the initial riot. She also kept many documentaries, news clips, interviews, and other audiovisual materials that allowed me to experience this story from decades before my own birth in an immersive way. These files will elevate my podcast chapter by sharing the stories of what happened to the men at Attica in their own voices.

Malcolm Bell was the New York State prosecutor on the Attica case, When he saw the injustices of the Attica trial and the massive coverup the state attempted to create, he resigned in disgust and became a whistleblower and activist on behalf of the Attica Brothers. His correspondence, meticulous notes on legal documents, and copious writings on the coverup provide invaluable insight into the ongoing injustice of the Attica case. Bell’s advocacy is the reason that the public has access to much of the legal documentation about Attica, though a good portion of it remains sealed to this day.

Jomo Joka Omowale was one of the Attica Brothers who survived the siege. His papers include a wide variety of documents including personal correspondence, newsletters, newspaper clippings, and several handwritten and illustrated books. Within these papers, I also came across a prison pay stub that showed Jomo earned $1.60 for 8 days of work ($11.55 in today’s money) along with some mysterious objects that Academic Twitter helped me identify as pipe filters. This collection allowed me to gain a better understanding of the connections and divisions between the Attica brothers and other movements across the nation and the world, along with Jomo’s specific role in forming the Attica Brothers’ identity.

As I boarded my train home to D.C., I thought about all I learned from these artifacts I had spent the week examining. Spending time with Elizabeth, Malcolm, and Jomo helped me crystallize my  understanding of what really happened at Attica and what my argument is going to be for my dissertation. I am going to talk about the connections between riot rhetorics and rhetorics of civility as demonstrated at Attica. I am also going to demonstrate the relationships between identity, identification, agency, and power as exemplified through the relationships between the prisoners, state agents, hostages, and public throughout the riot. Finally, I will talk about the impact of public memory on current systems of oppression. I am so grateful to all of the staff at Rubenstein Library. Every answered question, scanned document, removed staple, and shared audiovisual file allows me to create a dissertation that adds another perspective to the important and ongoing conversation about the Attica Prison riot.

Carolyn Robbins (she/her) is a doctoral candidate in Rhetoric and Political Culture at the University of Maryland. She has forthcoming episodes about her archival research and the Attica riot on her podcast, Getting Critical with Carolyn.

How to be a Super Researcher

We recently published a larger version of our classic “Super Researcher” minizine full of tips for planning a successful research visit to an archives. This zine was originally created in 2016 as a lighthearted approach to exploring the world of primary source research. At the Rubenstein Library, about half of our reading room visitors are undergraduate students, and we recognize that even seasoned scholars may need help navigating our particular practices. This pocket-size guide has been distributed to hundreds of students and other library users at Duke and across many other institutions. We are happy to share this new edition with larger print, updated content, and most importantly, more clip art!

Stop by our reading room to pick up a copy, or you can download printable PDF versions of the original mini-zine (prints on 8.5×11 in. paper) and new quarter-size zine (prints on 11×17 in. paper). The Publisher versions of the files are also available in case you want to adapt them for your own institution. These publications are created by Kelly Wooten and licensed for sharing through Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Front and back of the minizine. The front has the title "How to Be a Super Researcher (or at least fake it" and the back has tips on self-care

Annie Sansonetti on Queer and Trans Childhood in Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Papers

Contributed by Annie Sansonetti, Ph. D. candidate, Department of Performance Studies, New York University; Recipient of an Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Research Travel Grant, 2022-23, supported by the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Foundation.

There is a photograph of my best friend and I as children that I especially love. The year is 2002. In the photo, I am in her “girl” clothes and she is in my “boy” clothes. We pose, my hand on my hip, her arm by her side. We smile with our other arms around each other. I remember our debut in her big, sun-filled kitchen: coffee and pastries on the table and the surprise on our parents’ faces. Laughter ensued, someone took a photo, and we played in our shared clothing all day. I assume that I eventually swapped her clothes for mine, although this moment does not stand out in my mind. The memory of my friend’s roomy walk-in closet and our subsequent exit of it—down the spiral staircase hand in hand, with our footsteps set to a symphony of our giggles—does.

I call this moment, and the gendered and (trans)sexual activity that transpired there, “Eve’s closet.” Play in Eve’s closet is my descriptor for queer and trans pleasure in the curvature of sexual and gendered spaces, what Sedgwick described in a response to an essay by Jacob Hale as an “identification with what is, at any given moment, understood to be the growing edge of a self.” It recalls moments of childhood play—“of daring surmise and cognitive rupture”—between queer and trans kids (here trans feminine and trans masculine), where clothing, make-believe, and toys are the “very stuff” of queer sexuality and/or where friendship is a medium for gender transition or sex change. Eve’s closet is a funhouse for kids: comprised of many entrances and exits, where they are encouraged to come in and come out when they are ready. It is like a theatre’s backstage, or a dressing room, where costume choices are endless. In Eve’s closet, and in play among children, even bridal lingerie has queer and trans potential.

Eve Sedgwick poses in front of a shop called Eve’s Closet, Greenwich Village, NY, undated. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Papers, Box 16.

I visited the Eve Kosofksy Sedgwick papers at Duke University’s Rubenstein Library with an interest in Sedgwick’s writing on trans feminine childhood—what was then-called “feminine boyhood,” “boyhood effeminacy,” or “boyhood femininity” in common parlance of queer theory in the 1990s. I am interested in how stories of trans feminine childhood—of feminine boyhood and trans girlhood—have been written and performed in theatre and the performing arts, especially when friends (or other queer- and trans-loving collaborators) are the chosen or desired audience members or co-stars. I read an early 1989 draft of her now-famous essay “How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay,” later re-published in Tendencies in 1993 with the subtitle “The War on Effeminate Boys,” as well as her lesser-known 1989 essay “Willa Cather and Others” on Cather’s 1905 short story titled “Paul’s Case: A Study in Temperament.” But I soon became fascinated by Sedgwick’s collaborations with her best friend and once-roommate Michael Moon, especially their co-authored 1990 essay, more of a “performance piece,” on the topic of “divinity,” what they called “a little-understood emotion.”

In “Divinity,” Moon and Sedgwick reflect on the “roominess” of the fat woman’s body—and her closet—for the feminine boy. While I am interested in the content of the essay (especially a film still of Divine and the “Infant of Prague” from John Waters’ 1970 film Multiple Maniacs, and I certainly have my own stories of play in fat women’s closets as a girly-boy), for the purposes of this report, I want to dwell on Moon and Sedgwick’s collaboration for what it teaches us about the pleasure and play of the trans masculine and trans feminine relation. In Sedgwick’s papers, there are multiple drafts of “Divinity”—some with misplaced paragraphs, others with Moon’s and Sedgwick’s marginalia, and a few with Moon’s initials swapped for Sedgwick’s and vice versa, as if they were sharing and exchanging each other’s voices, or playing dress up with each other’s bodies, if you will.

Moon and Sedgwick both spent time in the closet. Moon as a “proto-gay,” feminine boy and Sedgwick as a fat woman who accompanied them there (and who was, especially in her white glasses, a fat woman who was a gay man). But they also stepped outside them quite proudly and defiantly, both together and apart, like me and my friend. For Moon and Sedgwick, their play-space was writing; for my friend and I, it was clothing. Inspired by Moon and Sedgwick’s essay and my photograph, we might make the claim that queer and trans children’s play with each other (both “actual” children and the inner child of the queer or trans adult who is “co-present,” not gone, after Mary Zaborskis) can constitute felt and pleasurable enactments of queer sexuality and/or gender transition beyond the confine of an “adult”—legal, medical, and political—form of legibility and between friends.

Play in each other’s shared clothing is co-authorship. It a chance for queer and trans kids to stage the bodies and lives they want for themselves and their friends, at least for the time being, and until they have the autonomy to demand more from the world at the level of sexual and gender-determination in an adult-centric world. In extant queer and trans scholarship and popular culture, tomboys and sissies are often staged far apart from each other. But what about their conviviality and solidarity—the “I have what you need/want, you have what I need/want” kind of mutual aid? Think: my photograph. It occurs to me that in our play, a repertoire that was certainly “t4t,” we relished the share of clothing, bodies (body parts?), and toys that sustained our queer and trans childhood—little-by-little, day-by-day, and moment-by-moment, like the best scenes of queer and trans childhood’s “divinity.”

In this sense, play among queer and trans children is best encapsulated in Sedgwick’s last words on the “divine” collaboration between Divine and Waters (and, I add, herself and Moon, and me and my friend). This play, is, as Sedgwick writes, “as scarce as it is precious.” It offers us “opulent images and daring performances that suggest the experiment of desires that might withstand the possibility of their fulfillment.” In the absence of a certain fulfillment, there is no “finale” to such play’s enactment of desire. Instead, there are only a bunch of opulent and daring debuts with the friends who withstand the often frustrated, unrealizable experiments in queer and trans desire with you. This is “Eve’s closet,” where children can change their genders/sexualities, stage a scene, and strike a pose with a friend, always as if for the first time. There may even be someone queer- and trans-loving around to photograph it.

 

Gay Liberation and Incarceration in Underground Newspapers

Contributed by Benjamin Serby, Visiting Assistant Professor, Adelphi University; 2019-2022 Recipient of a Harry H. Harkins T’73 Travel Grant for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History

With the assistance of a Harry H. Harkins, Jr., Travel Grant, I visited the Rubenstein Library in the summer of 2019 to carry out research for my dissertation, an intellectual history of the gay liberation movement in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At the Rubenstein Library, I consulted several collections, including the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance (ALFA) Archives and the Faith Holsaert papers, with the intention of tracing the reception of certain understandings of “liberation” in the movement through the lives of key activists, the records of organizations, and the extensive print culture that spanned the country during this time.

In the course of my visit, I encountered a surprising number of fascinating documents that were authored by incarcerated queer and trans people who overcame censorship and the threat of retaliation to demand assistance and recognition from activists and readers on the outside. These sources informed an article that I subsequently published in the Journal of the History of Sexuality.[i] One relevant item is a note to readers of the Atlanta underground newspaper Great Speckled Bird, dated September 5, 1972, which explains that a prisoner, H. Alan “Bunny” Vaughan, was being punished by the authorities for having smuggled photographs of the Atlanta Penitentiary’s segregated gay cell block to the newspaper. One of those illicit images accompanies the report, which praises Vaughan for his commitment to “the fight for dignity and self-respect within prison walls.” This document (which, it should be noted, did not appear in a specifically “gay” publication) raises a number of questions about the oppressive and discriminatory conditions faced by queer and trans prisoners, their relationship to the gay liberation movement, and the role of the press—particularly the underground press—as a means of publicizing the struggles of some of the most marginalized members of the LGBT community.

Newspaper clipping with the headline "Prisons & Sexuality"
“Prisons and Sexuality,” Great Speckled Bird (Atlanta, GA), September 25, 1972
Carbon copy of a typewriter written document from the National Gay Prisoners Council
Statement of the National Gay Prisoners Coalition

A related document that stopped me in my tracks when I first encountered it is the founding statement of the National Gay Prisoners Coalition (NGPC), an obscure organization that was established at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla sometime in the early 1970s. The undated text calls for the abolition of sodomy laws, demands an investigation into the treatment of queer and trans prisoners, and urges members of the LGBT community to join and support the new organization. Its author, who is listed as C. Chris Wheeler, wrote “for publication” in pen at the top, but it is unlikely that this text was ever published. Prior to visiting the Rubinstein Library, I had seen Wheeler’s name in print on a number of occasions. A transgender inmate at Walla Walla, they published countless open letters in several gay liberationist newspapers between 1970 and 1973 that detailed their mistreatment and that of their fellow inmates, appealed to readers for material and emotional support, and facilitated political organizing among queer and trans prisoners across institutions. The NGPC statement is a testament to the extent of that organizing.

Just as they challenged a largely middle-class movement to extend its solidarities to the poor, the nonwhite, and the incarcerated, materials such as these provoked me to incorporate a much broader array of social actors into my narrative and to realize that the activist and print networks that I was mapping were far more expansive and inclusive than I had initially thought. Still, we are left with only a trace, and many questions remain unanswered. What became of Vaughan? Wheeler? The other Walla Walla prisoners? The NGPC?

[i] Serby, Benjamin. “‘Not to Produce Newspapers, but Committed Radicals’: The Underground Press, the New Left, and the Gay Liberation Counterpublic in the United States, 1965-1976.” Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 32, no. 1, Jan. 2023. http://dx.doi.org/10.7560/JHS32101

Announcing our 2023-2024 Travel Grant Recipients

The Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023-2024 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!

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

Ola Aboukhsaiwan, Ph.D. candidate, London School of Economics and Political Science, “Surviving Abortion: Clinics, Competition, and Connections.”

Sophie Abramowitz, Independent Researcher, “Rosetta Records Creative Reissue Project.”

Anne Gray Fischer, Faculty, University of Texas at Dallas, “Women Killers: Murder in the Era of Feminist Liberation.”

Wendy Rouse, Faculty, San Jose State University, “The Feminist Self-Defense Movement in the Era of Women’s Liberation.”

Rachel Tang, Ph.D. candidate, Harvard University; Department of History of Art and Architecture, “Lessons in Repair: History, Materials, and Processes of Pedagogy in American Art.”

Tessel Veneboer, Ph.D. candidate, Ghent University, “Negativity, sexuality, and formal innovation Kathy Acker’s literary experiments.”

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

Anna Duensing, Postdoctoral fellow, Carter G. Woodson Institute, University of Virginia, “Fascism Is Already Here: Civil Rights and the Making of a Black Antifascist Tradition”

Monique Hayes, Writer, “Sally Forth,” a historical novel based on African-American experiences during the American Revolution, 1771-1785.

Marie Hubbard, Ph.D. candidate, Department of English and Comparative Literature, “‘Ivy and Cane’: New and Old Forms of Trans-Atlantic Exchange in the Literature of Ayi Kwei Armah.”

Breanna Moore,  Ph.D. candidate, University of Pennsylvania, “‘Whose Loss?’: Reparations, Indemnities, and Sovereignty During the Era of Slave Trade Abolition in the Atlantic World.”

Elizabeth Schlabach, Faculty, Department of History, Lawrence University, “Segregated and in the Shadows: Black Women’s Off the Books Labor in Jim Crow Southern Cities.”

Katharina Weygold,  Ph.D. candidate, Brown University, “African American Women and Haiti During the U.S. Occupation, 1915 – 1934.”

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

Courtney Block, Faculty, Indiana University Southeast Library, “Rhea White & Margaret Anderson Letters.”

Adam Kocurek, Ph.D. candidate, CUNY Graduate Center, “Academic Closets and Labor Trials: LGBTQ+ Academics and Activism in the Industry from 1960-Present.”

Suisui (Sway) Wang, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Gender Studies, Indiana University Bloomington, “Answering the Call(s): Sexual Politics of Hotlines and Technopolitics of Sexuality.”

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

John Furr Fellowship for J. Walter Thompson Archives Research

Cara Fallon, Faculty, Jackson School of Global Affairs, Yale University, “Ageism in twentieth and twenty-first century United States as it permeated American culture, medicine, and society.”

Susana Sosenski, Faculty, Instituto de Investigaciones Historicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, “The arrival of Kellogg’s breakfasts in Mexico: a history of the advertising campaign 1940-1970.”

FOARE Fellowship for Outdoor Advertising Research

Jacob Saindon, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Geography, University of Kentucky, “The Production of Commercial Attention: Advertising, Space, and ‘New’ Media in the Contemporary U.S.”

Alvin Achenbaum Travel Grants

Maria Elena Aramendia-Muneta, Faculty, Universidad Pública de Navarra, “The use of new energies and technologies for advertising purposes in the atomic age (50s and 60s).”

Aimée Plukker, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Cornell University, “Europe Calling: The Marshall Plan, U.S. Tourism to Europe, and the Making of “the West.””

Pierre-Yves Donzé, Faculty, Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University, “Making Swiss watches and luxury good: the cooperation between J. Walter Thompson and Rolex, 1960-1990.”

Keely Mruk, Ph.D. candidate, Departments of History and History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “A Taste for Existential Threat: Women, Food, and Technologies of Preservation in Cold War America.”

Dael Norwood, Faculty, Department of History, University of Delaware, “The Beginnings of the Businessman:  How Exclusion, Education, and Globalization Shaped an American Identity.”

Stephanie Vincent, Faculty, Department of History, Kent State University, “From Luxury to Defense: Glass, Silver, and China During World War II.”

History of Medicine Collections

Christopher Blakley, Faculty, Core Program, Occidental College, “”Race Science and the Senses in the US Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842.”

Austin Bryan, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, “‘It’s Our Aid’: Liberation Through Disease in Uganda.”

Sarah Parker, Faculty, School of Humanities, Jacksonville University, “Science as Spectacle:  Satirizing Scientific Discourse in Shadwell’s The Virtuoso (1676).”

Matthew Soleiman, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, University of California San Diego, “The Person in Pain: A Genealogy of Bodily Experience.”

Human Rights Archive

Amy Kerner, Faculty, Department of History, University of Texas at Dallas, “Human Rights Activism and Forced Disappearance from the 1976 Coup to the Rome Statute.”

Claudia Monterroza Rivera, Ph.D. candidate, Vanderbilt University, “‘Defender Nuestros Derechos:’ Catholic Women and Transnational Human Rights Activism in Central America and the United States, 1970s-1980s.”

Carolyn Robbins, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Communication, University of Maryland, “Riot Rhetorics: The Language of the Unheard.”

Debbie Sharnak, Faculty, Department of History, Rowan University, “Jewish Internationalism and the Southern Cone Dictatorships.”

Brigitte Stepanov, Faculty, George Institute of Technology, “Cruelty, War, Fiction: Redefining the In-Human.”

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Research Travel Grants

Matilde Manara, Postdoctoral Fellow, Collège de France, “Proustmania! Reading, writing, sewing Proust today.”

Christina Olivares, Ph.D. candidate, Department of English Education, Teachers College at Columbia University, “Reparative Gestures/Queering Education: Eve Kosofsky Sedwick’s pedagogical practices and James Sears’ research in adolescent education.”

Evan Pavka, Faculty, Department of Art & Art History, Wayne State University, “Reconstructing ‘Queer Space’.”

Diseases, Drugs, and Dosages

A Q&A with Jeremy Montgomery, PhD candidate in History at Mississippi State University in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Node of Excellence and a History of Medicine Collections travel grant recipient.

What is your research project?

My dissertation examines the medical armamentarium in the United States between 1800-1860. Taking a synchronic view, my project seeks to describe medical education, knowledge production, and treatment options between the regions. It takes seriously the diverse medical marketplace by incorporating discussions about “regular” and “irregular” forms of medicine. In addition to the types of medical care, my project examines the black and white body, free and enslaved, also. Lastly, my dissertation discusses and describes symptomology, therapeutics, and Materia Medica within the early-to-mid nineteenth century.

The opening pages of the M.M. Haworth Diary.

 

What collection(s) did you use from Duke’s History of Medicine Collections?

While at the Rubenstein Library, I reviewed multiple sources. For this trip, I narrowed my search for sources that discussed Materia Medica and therapeutics. In particular, I reviewed the Peter Washington Little Manuscript, Notes on the Lectures of Materia Medica by Benjamin Barton, M.M. Haworth Medical Diary and Journal, Isaac Brooks Headen papers, Caleb Budlong Physician’s account books, Henry Fish Papers, Salisbury, [Mass.]., Lee Griggs daybook, Lee Griggs physician’s ledger, Lectures on the diseases of children, New Haven; Charles Watts papers, New Orleans, Physician’s account book, Lectures on Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, On the Teaching of Pharmacology, Materia Medica, and Therapeutics in Our Medical Schools, Materia Medica and Therapeutics, and last but not least The Essentials of Materia Medica and Therapeutics.

What surprised you, or was an unexpected find, in the collection you used?

I was surprised by my findings in the M.M. Haworth Diary. From the opening pages (see above) to his prescription list, I found this to be a rich primary source. This source list the diseases and their prescription(s). The multiple prescriptions are revealing because this time period does not connect a particular pathogen to a disease so it may be argued that the treatments will be different. In addition, this source listed the dosages. The apothecary symbols next to the prescriptions allow greater depth with regards to the medical armamentarium in the nineteenth-century. In short, it was a great day!

A list of diseases with their prescriptions from the M.M. Haworth Medical Diary.

 

Anything else you’d like to share?

Yes! The History of Medicine Collections travel grant was my first travel grant I have received in my professional career, and it was generous. Furthermore, the staff at the Rubenstein Library are incredible. I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Ingold—Curator, History of Medicine Collections. Rachel helped me navigate the application process and invited me for coffee when I arrived.  If she invites you for coffee, please accept. We discussed my project some more and she was able to point me to additional resources that I was able to view on my week-long trip. In fact, the M.M. Haworth Diary is an example of an additional source that Rachel was able to help me review on my trip.

Graduate Student Workshop: The Efficient Archival Researcher

Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Time: 9:00am – 1:30pm
Location: Rubenstein Library 249 (Carpenter Conference Room)
Registration required: https://duke.libcal.com/calendar/events/archivesresearch

In this workshop, explore the challenges of working with published and unpublished archival materials. Learn how to find appropriate archives for your research and how to plan a research visit, including for international research. Develop strategies for managing the many files and images you will collect when doing archival research. This session will also cover legal and ethical issues that surround accessing, using, and reproducing rare materials.

The workshop will end with a lunch panel of graduate students who will share the challenges and opportunities of their work in archives and special collections.

Black and white photograph with a white man and white woman wearing mid-century clothing, in a small room filled with file folders, each leafing through documents. Speech bubbles have been added. The man's speech bubble says "I swear it was in one of these folders." The woman's speech bubble says "Please go to the Efficient Archival Researcher"In the workshop you will:

  • Gain skills to locate, use, cite, and manage information related to special collections and archival materials at Duke and elsewhere
  • Learn about key ethical, legal, and scholarly communication-related issues pertinent to special collections research
  • Develop information management best practices and increase your knowledge of tools and expertise available to help you build an information management strategy
  • Connect with other graduate students