Category Archives: RL Magazine

Aaron’s Book

By Blake Hill-Saya

Above: Portrait in oils of Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore painted by his daughter Lyda Moore Merrick. Located in the North Carolina Collection, Stanford L. Warren Branch of the Durham County Library, Durham, N.C.

Too often we relegate the lives of our ancestors to the basket of nostalgia. We think that because our modern times have dressed us up in different clothes and surrounded us with technology that the lives and struggles of our ancestors can’t speak with any real directness to ours. It is easy in the rush and rattle of the present to allow seasoned historians to define us in macrocosm while overlooking the importance of our own more granular history; a thread waiting to be pulled in the warp and woof of who we think we are. Libraries and historical archives exist to help us pull that thread and expand our understanding of history and our place in it.

Eight years ago, I was chosen by the Durham Colored Library board of directors, led by chairperson C. Eileen Watts Welch, to follow my own ancestral thread and write a biography of my great- great-grandfather, Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore. The dream of this historical biography of Durham’s first Black physician far predates my involvement; it actually predates me. Dr. Moore’s daughter, my great-grandmother, Lyda Moore Merrick, dreamed of a book about her Papa. My grandfather, Dr. Charles DeWitt Watts, a legendary surgeon and healthcare activist in his own right, also dreamed of this book. His dream inspired his daughter, C. Eileen Watts Welch, to make this biography a reality. The Durham Colored Library, an organization founded by Dr. Moore himself in 1913 and now a non-profit focused on uplifting Black narratives, sponsored the project.

The Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library was the first of many such archives that I would find myself exploring on my journey. The hallowed feeling of that space and the respect with which my ancestral papers are cared for there was in and of itself a revelation. Black history is not, in my experience, often afforded this level of protection or gravitas. Having to make a reservation to review things I remember first seeing on my grandfather’s desk years ago was very emotional for me. One document discovery I made, however, vividly illustrates the importance of these archives.

Several years into my research, I was cross-referencing the papers of Dr. Moore’s contemporaries to glean any possible mentions of him. One day, in Charles Clinton Spaulding’s papers, (Dr. Moore’s nephew and another member of Durham’s “Mighty Triumvirate” along with John Merrick) I noticed a file labeled “Anon. memo book.”[1] I am based in Los Angeles, so I asked my research partner (and aunt) C. Eileen Watts Welch if she had time to go and see what it was. When she finally found it, it took her breath away.

In her hand was a brown leather-bound doctor’s visiting book from Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore’s first year of practice in Durham (1888-1889). She could actually feel the imprint of his fingers in the leather. She called to tell me. We both cried. She told me it even smelled sort of earthy and sweaty and maybe even like the saddlebags of the horse he rode on his rounds. Together we had unearthed the Rosetta Stone of Black healthcare in Durham.

The entries start neatly and sparsely and, as the year goes on, the pages fill to the brim. Payments are often recorded as produce, a basket of eggs, a dollar here and there. He is attending to everything from burns and pellagra to child birth and gunshot wounds. His stress level and commitment are visible in the pressure of his pencil on the paper. This miraculous connection was made possible because the Rubenstein Library cared enough to preserve, itemize and digitally list this precious artifact. I will be forever indebted to C. C. Spaulding, the NC Mutual Life Insurance Company’s staff and archivists through the years, and every librarian and archivist who made sure that, 129 years later, his ancestors would get to feel the imprint of his fingers in his visiting book.

Archives and historical collections have the power to heal, inspire and affirm the many diverse threads in the fabric of our national tapestry. History includes all of us.

I hope our adventure sparks the beginning of yours.

Aaron McDuffie Moore: An African American Physician, Educator and Founder of Durham’s Black Wall Street by Blake Hill-Saya is available from UNC Press and can be found wherever books are sold. Contact The Durham Colored Library for official autographed copies.

[1] This item was previously identified as “Anonymous memo book.” Due to Blake Hill-Saya and C. Eileen Watts Welch’s research, the Rubenstein Library was able to rename the description for this item. It can now be found as, Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore doctor’s visiting book, Charles Clinton Spaulding papers, 1889-1990, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

A Year of Reflection, Adaptation and Change

The many disruptions of the past year required RL staff to re-envision all aspects of the ways that we support research and teaching. Adapting to virtual work and social distancing forced us to slow down and to check in on our personal and work priorities. In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the national reckoning about race, we committed to recentering our strategic objectives around anti-racism. Here are some highlights from the year:

Focusing on Digital Access & Digital Collections

  • With our reading room closed, staff focused on digital delivery, sending nearly 170,000 scans to researchers and students all over the world—eight times the number we delivered the previous year.
  • RL instructors learned to teach online, developing both synchronous virtual sessions and asynchronous modules. Their guide to teaching materiality online has been used by librarians and archivists around the country.
  • Records Manager Hillary Gatlin created videos covering many aspects of record keeping at Duke.
  • RL archival processors working at home turned their attention to processing born digital collections, including the contents of floppy disks, hard drives, social media accounts, and cloud servers.
  • The DUL exhibition staff opened five online exhibitions, including one for Tobaccoland, They then migrated and/or edited 41 existing digital exhibitions to extend the impact of our exhibition program.
  • While we miss in-person events, it has been wonderful to connect with people across the country through virtual events.Highlights included Sallie Bingham joining an appreciative audience to read from her two latest books and a panel discussion marking the 30th anniversary of the publication of William Styron’s Darkness Visible during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Prioritizing Anti-Racism

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  • RL Technical Services developed new Guiding Principles for Description and a new style guide to better define and implement “inclusive metadata” practices.
  • Pre-pandemic RL instructors created Our Approach to Classes and continue to refine this methodology to make class sessions more inclusive and welcoming.
  • The Collection Development Department is reviewing and revising our collecting policies to be more transparent about our collecting practices.
  • The Research Services Department seeks to practice equitable access models through their customer service training, and reading room, reproduction, and reference policies.
  • University Archives is partnering with counterparts at Johnson C. Smith University, Davidson University, and Furman University to host a cohort of interns and staff who will explore the racial history of each institution.
  • University Archives and Exhibitions collaborated with Prof. Cecilia Marquez and her students to develop an exhibition on Latinx history at Duke.
  • To call attention to the low number of people of color and women among design professionals, the Exhibitions program committed to using only fonts created by people of color for two years.
  • University Archivist Valerie Gillispie received a CASE District III Gold Award for her article “A More Complicated Love” in Duke Magazine, which calls on our community to reckon with this history so that we can build a better Duke.
  • All RL staff were encouraged to participate in the Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater training and our informal diversity, equity and inclusion reading group met bi-weekly on Slack. Several managers in the RL are taking a course on Inclusive Management Practices.

Looking Forward

  • As we prepare to welcome the Duke community back to campus, and hopefully visitors in the coming months, research and instruction will continue to implement changes to our programs to reflect our anti-racist strategic objectives.
  • The Franklin Research Center is collaborating with the SNCC Legacy Project, the Center for Documentary Studies, the New Georgia Project, BYP 100, and the Ohio Voice on the grant “Our Story. Our Terms: Documenting Movement Building from the Inside Out,” funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The multi-generational project team will convene and record conversations among three generations of activists—SNCC veterans of the Emmett Till generation, young people of the Trayvon Martin generation now leading the Movement for Black Lives, and the new generation of organizers mobilizing in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
  • The Franklin Research Center is also partnering with the Libraries’ Digital Production Center on a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to digitize the “Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South” project archive. This archive is one of the largest collections of oral histories documenting life during the era of segregation in the United States.
  • Using the Guiding Principles for Description and Style Guide, RL Technical Services has begun reviewing finding aids and catalog records for harmful language. In one project, archivists are sponsoring a Data+ student team to extract structured data from over 300,000 catalog cards created from the 1930s through late 1990s so that we might provide better access to this information and use it to analyze our manuscript collections.

 

We Are All Bound Up Together: Race and Resistance in the American Women’s Suffrage Movement

by Laura Micham, Merle Hoffman Director, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, and Meg Brown, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Exhibits Librarian

August 2020 marked the centenary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment enfranchising many American women after nearly eighty years of activism. In order to explore the complexities and strategies of the American women’s suffrage movement, students in Duke’s Fall 2019 “Women in the Economy” course examined materials in the Rubenstein Library and then created the exhibition, Beyond Supply and Demand: Duke Economics Students Present 100 Years of American Women’s Suffrage.

One of the biggest challenges for the students was that the full range of contributions to the American women’s suffrage movement is not represented in the Rubenstein Library’s collections, or in the historical record generally. The dominant narrative of the movement, like the historical record of it, has focused on white women who benefited from the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and neglected the contributions and struggles of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Nevertheless we—students and librarians—tried throughout this exhibit to present a diversity of historical figures and viewpoints.

Because the idea for the suffrage movement began at an anti-slavery conference and borrowed much of its methodology from the abolition movement, it made sense to begin the exhibition there with the first of the ten themes students researched, “Abolition, Racism, and Resistance.” It was equally important to look at all of the themes through the lens of race and resistance because, though much of the current and historical narrative around the suffrage movement has focused on its white leaders, every dimension of the fight for the vote involved BIPOC communities.

Printed photo of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Her head faces the camera while her body is turned to the left. A reproduction of her signature appears below the photo.
Portrait of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Harper, Frances E. W. Iola Leroy, or, Shadows uplifted. Philadelphia, Pa.: Garrigues Brothers, Publishers and Booksellers, 1893, Lisa Unger Baskin Collection.

For example, BIPOC such as Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, an abolitionist, suffragist, temperance leader, and one of the first African-American women to publish a novel (Iola Leroy, or, Shadows Uplifted, Garrigues Brothers, 1893), fought for human rights through their work in women’s clubs and churches in addition to suffrage organizations. Harper spoke at suffrage conventions in the nineteenth century and often clashed with white leaders. She adamantly believed in acknowledging the racism faced by Black people and how that could not be separated from the struggle for equality, including within the suffrage movement. At the same time, white suffragists and anti-suffragists upheld racist arguments, often dividing the movement and excluding BIPOC.

Photo of A. J. H. Cooper seated at a table. A handwritten "Yours sincerely, A. J. Cooper" appears below the photo.
Image of A. J. H. Cooper, A Voice From the South. Xenia, O. : Aldine Printing House, 1892.

As the exhibit illustrates in almost every section, BIPOC suffragists were not deterred. For example, in the “Bible as a Tool,” religious leader, educator, and activist Nannie Helen Burroughs advocated for civil rights and voting rights for Black people, citing the lack of Christian values in discrimination and segregation and the moral importance of voting. Anna Julia Cooper, along with her groundbreaking volume A Voice From the South (Aldine Printing House, 1892), are featured in the “Regional Realities” section. Considered to be one of the first published articulations of black feminism, Cooper analyzes African American women’s realities facing racism, sexism, economic oppression, and lack of voting rights. This book was an especially powerful statement in a region of the country where most white pro- and anti-suffragists centered their campaigns on the preservation of white supremacy.

The green cover of "Why Disfranchisement is Bad." The cover bears the pamphlet's title and the author's name, along with an illustration of a flower.
Grimké, Archibald Henry. Why Disfranchisement is Bad. [Philadelphia : Press of E.A. Wright; 1904?]
Black men are also featured in the exhibit, including Archibald Grimké, a lawyer, politician, journalist, founding member of the NAACP, and activist for African American and women’s suffrage. Born into slavery in South Carolina, Grimké was the nephew of Sarah and Angelina Grimké—often referred to as the “Grimké Sisters”—prominent abolitionists and women’s rights activists. In Why Disenfranchisement Is Bad (Press of E.A. Wright; 1904?), published with the support of Booker T. Washington, Grimké links the enfranchisement of African Americans to achieving racial equality and economic growth. The pamphlet was used to educate the public regarding harmful laws that limited voting rights.

A black and white photo showing Fannie Lou Hamer seated at an event holding an American flag.
Vaughs, Cliff. Photograph of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, 1967. Civil Rights Movement and Wayside Theatre photographs, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

The final section of the exhibit, “The Long Tail of Voting Rights,” shows the continued conversation around women’s rights and voting rights after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. After 1920, there were invigorated movements to educate and mobilize new women voters, and to fight against voter suppression tactics like literacy laws and intimidation at the polls that disproportionately disenfranchised Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. One of the leaders of these movements was Fannie Lou Hamer who, having personally experienced literacy tests and poll tax requirements, became a field secretary for voter registration and welfare programs with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In this role and as leader of the Freedom Democratic Party, she helped and encouraged thousands of African Americans to become registered voters. In her 1971 speech which she titled “Nobody’s Free Until Everybody’s Free,” she told the National Women’s Political Caucus in Washington that Black and white women had to work together toward freedom for all.

Dr. Genna Miller, the faculty member who taught the class, observed:

“The learning that went on during the exhibit project went beyond just the names and dates related to the suffrage movement.  Students learned research methods and critical thinking skills. Students embraced the opportunity to examine and interpret historical documents written by labor activists, journalists, political and social reformers, and others who offered diverse lenses through which to consider and understand the significance of women’s suffrage, and the vast array of issues that the movement encompassed. Participating in this project with my students and the library staff has been an amazing experience. This could only happen at Duke!”

A Code of Ethics for Rubenstein Library Instruction

by Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist, with extensive contributions from Kate Collins, Research Services Librarian

For the past several years, the Duke University Archives has welcomed students from an introductory writing course, “Sports and Social Inequality.” The course provides some preparation for engaging with archival documents—such as photographs of members of a 1930s honorary athletic society dressed in blackface, and stereotypical media descriptions of Asian-American athletes. But confronting those materials in an instruction session can still be a shock. When University Archives staff checked with other Rubenstein Library instructors, we realized that teaching with difficult materials was a challenge we all struggled with.

The Rubenstein Library’s collections document a wide range of history, including some of the ugliest parts, such as racist and anti-Semitic language and imagery, as well as graphic descriptions and depictions of violence. As a group, we began to work toward a shared way of framing these materials in our instruction and were able to introduce our code of ethics—called “Our Approach to Instruction”—in January 2019.

For each course that visits the Rubenstein Library, we often have only one class session to reach all of the students as a group. With such a limited amount of time to make an impression, our code of ethics needed to state our values up-front and clearly, and in a way that demonstrated a commitment to centering students.

At the heart of “Our Approach to Instruction” is a recognition of both the academic knowledge and lived experiences students bring to our classrooms, as these inform and shape their understanding of and emotional reactions to history and primary sources. For this reason, our code of ethics is intended to be used in all classes, not just those with obviously uncomfortable or upsetting material.

It’s been a pleasant surprise to see widespread support for our code of ethics. During instruction sessions, we’ve observed students absorbing and applying it through the questions they ask and the interpretations they bring to the materials in front of them. Faculty members have reinforced its messages over the course of their students’ interactions with primary sources. Instruction librarians across the country have gotten in touch via email and social media with questions and suggestions, as well as the news that they’ve adapted this approach in their own instruction sessions.

We’ve brought the code of ethics along with us as we’ve shifted into online or asynchronous teaching for the 2020-2021 academic year. With our time “in front of” students further limited, our code of ethics has helped us to quickly establish a shared foundation for exploration and discussion. Even our new instruction modules—lesson plans incorporating digitized Rubenstein Library materials that provide an alternative to face-to-face instruction sessions—incorporate the code of ethics. A case in point: the Exploring the Chanticleer module, in which students might encounter offensive images in Duke’s yearbook. Or The Eugenics in North Carolina module, which introduces students to this still-contested and upsetting chapter in North Carolina’s history.

When the Rubenstein Library’s instructors created “Our Approach to Instruction,” we did so with the understanding that it would be a living document, open to frequent reassessment and revision. We commit to keeping it a central and evolving part of our teaching toolkit. And we encourage you to share your thoughts about it with us!

New Methods for Undergraduate Outreach

Kate Collins, Research Services Librarian

If you stopped by the coffee shop in Perkins Library in February, you might have been surprised to see undergraduate students crowded around a table using glue, scissors, and images from the Rubenstein Library. They were using, of course, scanned images from the collections that had been printed out for students to use for the Valentine’s Day pop-up. There were copies of historical valentines, as well as anatomical hearts from the History of Medicine Collection, Victorian floral illustrations, photographs of friends, and doodles from zines, that students could cut out and collage together to make their own valentines to send to friends and family.

Valentine’s day pop-up, 2020.

The Valentine’s Day craft pop-up is just one of the ways we’re working to connect with students beyond the classroom. Hundreds of Duke undergraduates come into our reading room and classrooms each year, but we also want to build relationships with students that transcend their coursework. For the last two years, Lucy Dong T’20 served as the Middlesworth Outreach and Social Media Fellow in the Rubenstein Library, helping us develop creative ways of reaching undergraduates both on campus and online.

With Dong’s assistance and the gift of two mobile exhibit cases from Ken Hubbard T’65 and Tori Dauphinot P’15 P’16, we’ve been able to safely bring our collections out for pop-up exhibits, going beyond our usual classroom and exhibit spaces to reach students who may never make it to the Rubenstein. In the fall, we hosted pop-up exhibits recognizing Transgender Awareness Week and Native American Heritage Month. Both of these small exhibits took place outside of the popular coffee shop in Perkins Library and included a variety of eye-catching material from across the Rubenstein Library’s collections, inviting passersby to slow down and take a closer look.

Trans history and Native American Heritage Month pop up events, 2019.

In the digital realm, Dong focused her work on our Instagram account, a platform popular with undergraduate students. She explored the Rubenstein Library’s collections to find content that would interest the Duke community. One of her favorite finds was the Library Question and Answer Book with student queries from the 1980s, a flashback to when typewriters were essential to Duke students and an anonymous student’s concerns about becoming a slave to technology seem quaint. Dong also used the platform to help students to see themselves as creators of history, encouraging student organizations to place their records in the University Archives.

Our long-running Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen blog series also got an update, thanks to a collaboration between Dong and Sonia Fillipow T’20. Inspired by minimalist cooking videos on platforms like Buzzfeed and Bon Appetit, they brought this snappy modern style to retro recipes for Jell-O they found in a 1962 Joys of Jell-O cookbook from our Nicole DiBona Peterson Collection of Advertising Cookbooks. Their three minute video walked viewers through making an attention-grabbing “Crown Jewel Dessert” cake and a Jell-O vegetable salad.

We look forward to continuing to find new ways to engage with Duke students and helping them get to know the Rubenstein’s collections in ways that inspire curiosity, foster creativity, and inform their understanding of the present moment.

Teaching Remotely, Staying Connected: Rubenstein Library Instruction Goes Online

Amanda Lazarus, Eleonore Jantz Reference Intern, 2019-2020

Special thanks to Assistant University Archivist, Amy McDonald, for her generous help in digitizing the photobooks used for this session, and to Hannah Jacobs, Wired! Lab Digital Humanities Specialist at Duke University, for consulting on and hosting the photobook WordPress site.

In spring 2020, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders limited access to educational and research resources on Duke’s campus, and the world over. During this time, the Rubenstein Library, which offers object-based instruction sessions for Duke University students, took quick and measured steps to keep teaching, and moved instruction online. Here is a brief look at how one Rubenstein Library instructor converted a scheduled, on-site instruction session on photobooks to a virtual one, and the steps taken to help students connect with Rubenstein Library materials and each other.

Edmonds, John. Higher. New York: Capricious, 2018.

 

After consulting course instructor Phyllis Dooney, we decided to move forward with a virtual, synchronous instruction session for her Digital Photography course, focusing on six photobooks from the Rubenstein Library’s collections that I digitized before the university closed in March. While preparing to move the session online, I tried to anticipate and prevent logistical and/or technological issues that might arise. To that end, I shared several resources with Phyllis and her students in advance of our virtual class:

Lesson Plan

 

The session was conducted via Zoom, and was divided into roughly two hour-long blocks. The beginning of class was reserved for student check-ins–an act of care and connection that Phyllis and I agreed was vital, and one which she had already put into practice in her own virtual classroom. I then followed a more conventional lecture format and introduced students to the Rubenstein Library’s services and collections, and provided a brief historical overview of photobooks.

 

Matyas, Emily. Sol y tierra: vistas más alláde la frontera México-EEUU, 1988-2018. Daylight, 2019.

In the second half of the session, I used Zoom breakout rooms to divide students into small groups, and assigned each a photobook to review using the discussion questions already provided. Students accessed the digitized photobooks prepared in WordPress using the 3DFlipbooks plugin (an attempt to recover some of the browsing and haptic experience of working with a physical photobook that was lost in virtual translation). Afterwards, students shared their findings with the whole class, discussing the images, narratives, technologies, and aesthetic choices they encountered in their photobooks.

Discussion topics the students used in their breakout sessions.

Remote instruction with special collections presents an opportunity to leverage technology to help bridge the gap between the physical and the virtual. For my part, it was a positive experience and helped me to feel more grounded and connected.

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library is committed to providing enriching, collections-based instruction to the Duke community and beyond. As the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly changed higher education, the Rubenstein Library’s instructors have developed new digital pedagogy resources, and offer unique instruction sessions and services through synchronous and asynchronous teaching online.

Gearing Up to Work from Home

The Rubenstein Library transitioned to working from home on March 17. The work of five departments and forty-one staff has continued despite this unexpected change in our daily work, and we continue to move forward on many exciting projects and initiatives, while taking this opportunity to think about our spaces, services, and work in new and exciting ways.

Collection Development
Andy Armacost, Curator of Collections

  • Andrew Armacost, Curator of Collections, has been named a co-director of a new Franklin Humanities Institute Research Lab, entitled Manuscript Migrations, which will explore ownership and provenance in manuscript studies.
  • Sara Seten Berghausen, curator for the Economists’ Papers Archive, has launched a new collections portal with updated information on many newly available collections.
  • John Gartrell, Director of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, has been preparing a major digitization grant proposal to digitize all of the oral histories in the Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South collection.
  • Rachel Ingold, Curator of the History of Medicine Collections, served as program chair for the Librarians, Archivists, and Museum Professionals in the History of the Health Sciences (LAMPHHS) 2020 annual meeting where on short notice she helped transfer the conference to a virtual format.
  • Laura Micham, Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture, has been working with a group of student curators on an exhibit to celebrate the centenary of American Women’s Suffrage.
  • Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist, has been preparing an exhibit related to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, drawn from the recently acquired Witness to Guantanamo Video Collection.
  • Jacqueline Wachholz, Director of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, is completing a CLIR grant with the University of Miami to document the history of Pan American World Airways. Images from the advertising collections will help document the history of the firm and its worldwide services.
Andy Armacost, Sara Seten Berghausen, John Gartrell, Patrick Stawski, and Jacqueline Reid Wachholz. Not pictured: Rachel Ingold and Laura Micham.

 

Exhibitions
Meg Brown, Head of Exhibition Services and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Exhibits Librarian

The exhibition department is creating online exhibits and curating future physical displays, planning to be ready with great visual experiences when our community can safely return to the libraries. With a host of exhibition curators that include librarians, interns, students, and faculty, we have been working on:

  •  A Place Outside the Law: Forgotten Voices from Guantanamo and Suffrage Centenary, as noted above.
  • Early Studies in Parapsychology at Duke, curated by History of Medicine intern Steph Crowell and Rachel Ingold.
  • James Van Der Zee and Michael Francis Blake: Picturing the “New Negro” of the 1920s, curated by John Hope Franklin Center intern Jessica Stark and John Gartrell.
  • 35 Years of East Asian Collecting, curated by International Area Studies librarians.
  • Commemorating Dante. An undergraduate course taught by Dr. Martin Eisner spent the spring semester exploring Dante’s works. For their final projects, students submitted creative and thoughtful proposals for a Chappell Family Gallery exhibition. We will work virtually this summer with Professor Eisner and a few students to make these proposals into an actual exhibition!

And we have created digital exhibitions for two of the current physical exhibitions:

The exhibition department is also taking this time to work with colleagues in Digital Strategies and Technology to migrate older digital exhibitions to the platform we currently use and to explore how we might streamline the creation of future digital exhibitions.

Draft of Guantanamo exhibit on SketchUp: 3D Design Software, created virtually with curators.

 

Research Services
Katie Henningsen, Head of Research Services

Instruction librarians are working with peers around the country to develop remote teaching resources and converting existing courses and workshops to the online environment. In the fall we will offer asynchronous instruction sessions and digital assignments. Developing these tools will allow us to expand our instruction capacity and engage more Duke students and students from other institutions to use Rubenstein Library materials. This summer we are offering our first Digital Archival Expeditions fellowships for Duke graduate students. Seven students and one peer-coordinator are developing online teaching resources and assignments for specific Duke courses in the fall. We are looking forward to having these students’ subject expertise and collaborative work featured on our website at the end of the summer.

Research Services continues to respond to reference questions, reproduction requests, and requests for permissions to publish. The reproduction staff are organizing several years of images scanned for researchers, and they are using those images and digital collections to fill reproductions orders when they can. As we prepare for fall, we are rethinking our services, spaces, and work with researchers to continue providing high-level services in new and exciting ways.

Research Services Staff, clockwise from top left: Katie Henningsen, Jennifer Baker, Kate Collins, Elizabeth Dunn, Joshua Larkin Rowley, Megan O’Connell, and Kelly Wooten. Not pictured: Trudi Abel, Hope Ketcham Geeting, Brooke Guthrie, and Lucy VanderKamp.

 

Technical Services
Meghan Lyon, Head of Technical Services

Creating description of rare materials without being able to look at the item itself is very challenging, but Technical Services staff have found a number of creative ways to keep working from digital copies or substitutes. In the days before leaving Duke’s campus, archivists and catalogers scanned title pages and took photographs of comic books, manuscripts, and other in-process priority projects so that they would have reference images to continue cataloging from home. Combined with Duke’s institutional access to HathiTrust, and using digitized copies of our own materials in the Internet Archive, Technical Services continues to publish new catalog records and collection guides. Our remote work has also included long-desired description for digitized audiovisual, born digital, and electronic media; updating of departmental documentation and policies; and migrating legacy description from paper box-lists to online platforms. And, speaking of migration: Technical Services staff have been deeply involved in the development of ArcLight, a new portal for searching our archival collection guides that launched in July. You can read more about this project on the The Devil’s Tale blog, or check it out yourself at archives.lib.duke.edu.

Technical Services Staff, clockwise from top left: Meghan Lyon, Craig Breaden, Noah Huffman, Tracy Jackson, Paula Jeannet, and Alice Poffinberger. Not pictured: Liz Adams, Jonathan Cogliano, Richard Collier, Jessica Janecki, Leah Kerr, Megan Lewis, Laurin Penland, and Lauren Reno.

 

University Archives
Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist

The University Archives is meeting virtually with Duke offices and student groups, and we have accepted almost a dozen new digital accessions. We are glad to have the technology to fulfill our mission to collect and document Duke’s history! As part of our collecting and documentation, the University Archives launched the Share Your COVID-19 Story initiative in April, which provides Duke students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to share their personal stories. We aim to capture as many experiences of the Duke community as possible so that future researchers will understand not only the administration of Duke, but also the realities of life for the Duke community during this time. Materials in this collection will be available online in late 2020. This summer, the University Archives is also sponsoring a Data+ project, On Being a Blue Devil, which (virtually!) brings together three undergraduates and a graduate student to create visualizations of the geographic origins of Duke students over time. The students will produce maps and interactive features to show how Duke’s student body has changed from a regional cohort to one that includes students from across the country and around the world.

 University Archives Staff, clockwise from top left: Valerie Gillispie, Amy McDonald, Hillary Gatlin, and Matthew Farrell.

 

Research Support in a COVID-19 World: A Series of Anecdotes

On Wednesday, March 11, we made the decision to close the reading room the following Saturday. In those final days the reading room was filled with faculty, researchers, and graduate students utilizing the seven reading room scanners to image material they would need for their courses and research. Our staff immediately stepped in to offer support, routing material for scanning to the Libraries’ Digital Production Center (DPC), digitizing material on staff scanners.  After the reading room closed, staff spent a day scanning material for Duke classes to finish the spring semester. Below are just a few stories of how Rubenstein Library staff are making material available to researchers during the pandemic.

Hope Ketcham Geeting, Research Services Assistant

For the past two years, Building Duke, a Bass Connections course, has used University Archives to research the development of the campus from 1924 through present. During the spring semester, Dr. Kristin Huffman brought the Building Duke students to the reading room multiple times each week for research. As we began preparing to close the reading room, reproduction staff worked closely with Dr. Huffman to digitize the material her students would need to complete the semester. Since scanners were in high demand, many large blueprints went to the DPC for digitization and I worked with Dr. Huffman to digitize the rest in the reading room. Collectively we were able to scan all of the materials needed for Building Duke to complete the semester.

Master plan, existing conditions, 1 sheet, diazo, undated. Sarah P. Duke Gardens records, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

 

Matthew Farrell, Digital Records Archivist

Since my work is mostly back-of-house, I don’t frequently work with Rubenstein Library researchers directly. That said, since starting remote work in mid-March, I’ve been as busy as ever. Making newly (and in some cases, not-so-newly) acquired born-digital files ready for our processing archivists to describe has taken a front seat and involves:

  • Identifying collections appropriate for remote arrangement and description (e.g., collections that are not too large, have as few “weird” file formats as possible);
  • Refining documentation, which was definitely geared toward having physical access to our spaces and collections; and,
  • Juggling remote access to our electronic records processing workstations.

Similar to on-site work, this involves a lot of wrangling information in various forms (e.g. spreadsheets, calendars, documentation) and keeps the boredom at bay.

Keeping track of collections ready for remote arrangement and description.

 

Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist

For the University Archives, the end of each academic year usually brings a flurry of discussions with undergraduate student group leaders interested in archiving their groups’ past year of records. This year—even as students scattered to their homes and the University Archives staff began working from home—was no different. Digital Records Archivist Matthew Farrell and I worked with a number of student groups—including the Native American Student Alliance, theater performance group, All of the Above, and the Duke Club Ballroom Dance—to either archive new records or begin conversations about what the archiving process would look like for them. We’re so pleased that the pandemic hasn’t prevented these student voices from joining the University Archives’ collections!

Photograph of Black Caucus 2019 leaders, 18 September 2019. Black Student Alliance records, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

 

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

At the end of March, after closing the Rubenstein Library’s reading room, I noticed a tweet from the account @fanzines looking for the zine Girl Jock from the early 1990s. They were having trouble locating copies after seeing a mention of the title. The Bingham Center has a few issues in our zines and periodicals collection, and I recalled taking pictures of the covers in a history class session on Men, Women, and Sport earlier in the semester. We don’t have the zines digitized, but these handy photographs were able to fulfill some curiosity on the fly. The reply from @fanzines: “Wowowow! Thank you so much, Kelly! This is awesome. Interesting that they made the leap to a professionally printed magazine.”

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.