Category Archives: Research Tips

Researching an Important Duke Milestone

Logo for the Commemoration of 50 Years of Black Students at Duke UniversityIn 2013, Duke will mark 50 years since the desegregation of the undergraduate student body.  The campus-wide theme, “Celebrating the Past, Charting the Future: Commemorating 50 Years of Black Students at Duke University” will be woven into annual events, like commencement, reunion, and Founder’s Day, and will also be a topic of reflection through exhibits, speakers, and service opportunities. Working together across the University, this milestone year offers all of us the opportunity to learn more about Duke’s history.

The University Archives has a rich photographic collection, and we have added a number of photos on Flickr as part of the anniversary celebration. They show us moments of protest and performance, as well as celebration. The photographs are featured on a new website dedicated to this fiftieth anniversary commemoration.

The University Archives contains many collections that provide historical context and primary source documentation on the desegregation of the school, the black student experience at Duke, and much more. Interested in diving in? A new guide to conducting research on African-American history at Duke is now available, and the UA staff is glad to consult on particular questions or projects. (Contact us here!)

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, University Archivist.

E-Records in the Reading Room

Special Collections Library reading rooms often require special equipment to view non-traditional record formats such as VHS players, cassette players, microfilm readers, etc. The Rubenstein Library recently welcomed a new piece to the set: a desktop computer.

Rubenstein Library Research Services staff check out the reading room's new e-records computer work station.
Rubenstein Library Research Services staff check out the reading room's new e-records computer work station.

Though public computers have been available in our reference room for a long time to assist in finding and requesting physical materials in the reading room this new machine has been designed to support providing local access to electronic records and audio/video materials.

Some of the materials you can explore on the computer include:

Visit the reading room today and start that e-research!

Post contributed by Seth Shaw, Electronic Records Archivist.

Duke University Archives @ the Internet Archives

Cover of Catalogue of Trinity College, 1858-1859
Cover of the Annual Catalogue of Trinity College, 1858-1859

The recent digitization of many years of the Chanticleer, Duke University’s yearbook, has been a great benefit for both archivists and researchers.

Now, the yearly catalogs, known as Bulletins, are being digitized thanks to the Internet Archive’s Scribe machine located here at the Duke University Libraries. These newly-searchable resources provide more and better access to historical information about Duke University. The catalogs include information like courses offered, of course, but they are also full of other useful facts.

For instance:

  • What was the Trinity College undergraduate tuition for the 1892-1893 academic year (the college’s first year in Durham)? ($25.00 per term)
  • How many bound volumes did the Library contain at the end of the 1923-1924 academic year? (71,520)

In addition, there were specialized catalogs for graduate and professional education, so that someone researching the School of Medicine, for example, can learn more about that program in particular. There are even fun extras like aerial views of campus from the 1930s.

Virtually turning the pages of these historical catalogs provides a wealth of information. In the 1934-1935 Law School bulletin, for example, it lists the current students. One, Richard Milhous Nixon of Whittier, California, was a first-year student at the time. We can also tell from the catalog that school started on September 19 that year, and that “in addition to concert programs, recitals, and lectures, motion pictures are shown in the campus auditorium twice a week.” Sounds like a pretty interesting place to get an education!

Find links to Chanticleers and Bulletins at the Duke University Archives section of the Internet Archive. Additional Bulletins will be digitized in the near future, along with other Duke University resources.

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.

5,000 Digital Books and Counting

The Internet Archive just reached an important milestone by digitizing 5,000 books at Duke. The 5,000th book, The British Album: In Two Volumes, contains poetry by “Della Crusca, Anna Matilda, Arley, Benedict, The Bard” and other writers on themes including love, horror, jealousy, and death, and is part of the general collections of the Rubenstein Library. The “Ode to Death” begins “THOU, whose remorseless rage, Nor vows, nor tears assuage, TRIUMPHANT DEATH!—to thee I raise, The bursting notes of dauntless praise!” The second volume can be found here.

The Scribe Scanner
The Scribe Scanner. Photo by Rita Johnston.

The Internet Archive scanning center at Duke University has been in operation for one and a half years and has digitized materials from collections within the Rubenstein Library, including the University Archives, Utopian Literature, and Confederate Imprints. I scan about 450 pages per hour and around 50 books a week. Most books in the public domain under 11 x 13 inches in size can be digitized on the Scribe book scanner, as well as pamphlets and loose documents.

Books digitized through Internet Archive are usually available on the site by the next day, are full-text searchable, and can be read in a web browser or downloaded to a computer; e-book reader; or mobile device. You can find newly digitized Duke materials by clicking on the RSS feed link at the bottom right on this blog or by visiting the Duke University Libraries Internet Archive page. Patrons can request a book to be digitized by the Internet Archive by contacting Rubenstein Library staff.

Post contributed by Rita Johnston, Scribe scanner operator.

Researching the Civil War?

This has been the most terrific days battle since commincement. The enemy made a terrible charge over our Breastworks with re-inforcementz & succeeded in charging some of our men out of them, capturing many of our Division. All our Regiment that were left from the first days fight were captured.
—from the Henry Beverige Diary, Thursday, May 12, 1864.

Beverige, a soldier and hospital steward with the 25th Virginia Regiment of the Confederate States of America, describes one of the many terrifying, bloody days of the American Civil War. His diary is one of the numerous first person accounts available in the Rubenstein Library. Other perspectives on life during the conflict are offered by fiery teenager Alice Williamson;  Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow, African Americans such as Edgar Dinsmore, and the many others who experienced the loneliness, losses, and deprivations—and occasional triumphs—of the conflict.

"Come and Join Us Brothers," 1863

To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Rubenstein Library staff have collaborated on a guide to Civil War resources that provides highlights of our rich collections. Special sections describe manuscript and print material related to military history, medicine, women, African Americans, literature, and music in the Rubenstein Library, as well as other library guides and relevant databases and websites.

We anticipate that this guide will be helpful for scholars, genealogists, and anyone with a personal interest in Civil War history. Please contact us if you have questions or comments about our collections.

Post contributed by Elizabeth Dunn, Research Services Librarian.