Category Archives: New Finding Aids

All in a Day’s Processing

As the archivist that handles accessioning, I receive collections into the RBMSCL’s Technical Services department that range in condition from “perfectly arranged upon arrival” to “dumped in a box and shaken up a bit in transit.” The Hypes Family Papers, an expansion upon a small collection of World War I photographs by Samuel Loomis Hypes, came to us in envelopes and a box that had seen better days.

To begin processing the collection, I first had to find out what it contained. Each envelope revealed another surprise—various family photographs, including a daguerreotype; tickets from the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893; postcards the family collected from their trips around the world; family history research; and a lot of Y.M.C.A. materials (at least two generations of Hypes men worked for the organization). By the time I had spread it all out to sort it, my table was looking particularly messy.

I decided to arrange the collection by family member, which allowed me to keep it in basic chronological order while still grouping each person’s activities together within the collection. Photographs and tickets were sleeved, clippings were photocopied, and the daguerreotype was housed in its own envelope for protection. Things were looking much better on my processing table.

Next, I created a finding aid for the collection, folding in the original collection of World War I photographs. Using the collection’s family history materials, I was able to loosely reconstruct the family tree. An updated catalog record finished up the collection. Now ready to use, the Hypes Family Papers offer a fascinating glimpse into one family’s activities around the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Post contributed by Meghan Lyon, Accessioning Associate.

10 Days, 10 New Acquisitions: Day Eight

We’re celebrating the beginning of a new fiscal year by reviewing some notable items and collections that arrived here at the RBMSCL in the past year. Get ready for announcements of many more exciting acquisitions in 2011-2012!

Annotations and Manuscript by Brigid Brophy
Brigid Brophy Collection, 1937-1953

Brigid Antonia Brophy, Lady Levey (1929-1995), was an English writer of novels, biographies, essays, and other works, and a major feminist and pacifist voice of the 1960s and beyond.  She was greatly influenced by Freudian psychoanalytic theory, and this collection shows her engaging with Sigmund Freud’s texts: marking passages of interest to return to, jotting notes to capture moments of inspiration.  In one volume she laid in an untitled manuscript on telepathy.

From the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

For more photos of our new acquisitions (and other materials from the RBMSCL’s collections), check out the “From the RBMSCL’s Collections” set on the Duke University Libraries’ Flickr photostream.

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.

Previous posts:

10 Days, 10 New Acquisitions: Day One

We’re celebrating the beginning of a new fiscal year by reviewing some notable items and collections that arrived here at the RBMSCL in the past year.  Get ready for announcements of many more exciting acquisitions in 2011-2012!

"My Body My Right," Girl Germs Poster

Girl Germs Posters, 1996-1999

A collection of nine 18 x 24″ posters created and distributed as part of The Coalition for Positive Sexuality‘s Girl Germs campaign in the late 1990s. These posters were created by artist Jeanette May, who was also a founding member of the CPS. The posters were aimed at young women, addressing the issues of safe sex, sexual health, sexuality, pregnancy, and birth control.

"Some Girls Like Other Girls," Girl Germs Poster

From the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

For more photos of our new acquisitions (and other materials from the RBMSCL’s collections), check out the “From the RBMSCL’s Collections” set on the Duke University Libraries’ Flickr photostream.

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.

Human Rights Records, Electronically

I’m a history Ph.D. candidate, so I knew something about working in archives when I started my internship with Technical Services at Duke’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library (RBMSCL), but not a lot about processing paper records, never mind electronic ones. However, as I started processing several collections acquired through the Archive for Human Rights, I discovered that electronic files were often just as important to the collection as paper ones. When I started working on the Common Sense Foundation Papers, I faced over 16,000 electronic files in addition to 34 boxes of paper records! A North Carolina think-tank active from 1994 to 2008, the Common Sense Foundation (CSF) worked on initiatives such as the death penalty, testing in public schools, and LGBTQ rights.

When I met with Paula Jeannet Mangiafico (Senior Processing Archivist), Seth Shaw (Electronic Records Archivist), and Patrick Stawski (Human Rights Archivist) to discuss the collection, we decided to integrate the electronic and paper files in the finding aid since the content overlapped and the volume was about equal. A researcher interested in the death penalty will thus find both electronic and paper records described in the Criminal Justice Subseries, which contains letters written by incarcerated people, a survey of capital defense lawyers, research on specific death-row inmates, and documents reflecting the daily work that occurred in CSF’s office surrounding this policy initiative.

Just as when working with paper documents, I screened the electronic files for sensitive information, such as personal, financial, and medical records. I then used the original path of the networked drive to describe the electronic files in the finding aid and used both the number of files and the megabyte size to indicate the physical extent. That way, researchers interested in a particular aspect of CSF’s work will know which electronic folders to request from RBMSCL staff, just as they would request a physical box by its number.

The RBMSCL has acquired almost 200 collections with electronic records in the past few years. Hopefully, my work with the CSF Papers will serve as model for processing future collections with strong electronic components.

Post contributed by Liz Shesko, Technical Services Processing Intern.

The Common Sense Foundation Papers are currently being processed. The finding aid will be published and the collection will be available for use in January 2011. For more information, contact the RBMSCL at special-collections(at)

Scrapbooking for Victory

“Every Girl Pulling for Victory.” 
“Back Up the Boys.” 
“Keep Him Smiling!” 
“Morale is Winning the War.”

These chipper slogans grace the 20 posters, handbills, brochures, stickers, song lyrics, newspaper ads, and cartoons found in a United War Work Campaign Scrapbook recently acquired by the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History. This collection of fundraising and morale-boosting materials was produced for a multi-institutional drive during the final months of World War I. Only one other copy is known to exist at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution Archives.

On September 9, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson wrote to Raymond Fosdick, coordinator of the War Department’s Training Camp Activities, requesting that aid organizations pool their resources on a massive single campaign to raise funds for soldier morale programs “in order that the spirit of the country in this matter may be expressed without distinction of race or religious opinion in support of what is in reality a common service.”

The campaign coordinated the efforts of seven organizations that had previously managed individual fundraising drives: the YMCA, YWCA, American Library Association, War Camp Community Service, National Catholic War Council (Knights of Columbus), Jewish Welfare Board, and Salvation Army. Each organization would continue to address their traditional demographic or service focus (for example, the Knights of Columbus worked primarily with Catholic communities, and the American Library Association sent books to soldier encampments) while organizing their activities around a central set of promotional messages.

The goal was to raise $170 million during a campaign scheduled for the week of November 11-18, 1918 (whether prescient or brilliantly planned, November 11 was also the day that Germany signed the Armistice, officially ending hostilities.) The end of the war was already in sight during the campaign-planning period, but it was estimated that the demobilization of nearly four million U.S. troops would require at least two years and a staggering sum for programs to maintain the morale of returning soldiers. With a nearly $1 million operating budget, a National Publicity Committee was formed and chaired by Bruce Barton, a journalist and magazine editor who had been an active official with the YMCA. All media would be employed: print, outdoor advertising, leaflets, stickers, lapel pins, radio spots, motion picture shorts, even a women-run telephone brigade. The campaign was a resounding success, raising over $203 million dollars that funded soldier aid programs through 1920. It was hailed in the press at the time as the largest fundraising event in human history.

As an advertising history-related aside, the United War Work Campaign may have been the launching platform for one of America’s most successful advertising agencies. Ad men Roy Durstine and Alexander Osborn worked on the campaign alongside Bruce Barton. In early 1919, just a few months after the campaign wrapped up, the three men founded ad agency Barton Durstine & Osborn, which merged in 1928 to become Batton, Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BBDO). BBDO rapidly grew to become one of the largest and most respected advertising agencies in the United States. The Hartman Center is proud to add this important scrapbook to its growing collection of war-related advertising materials.

For more photos from the scrapbook, take a look at the scrapbook’s set on the RBMSCL’s Flickr photostream.

Post contributed by Rick Collier, Technical Services Archivist for the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.

Final Papers, Meet New Finding Aids

Time to get cracking on those final papers? Start your research with one of the collections described in these brand-new finding aids!

African American Miscellany, 1757-1983

This collection of approximately 400 print and manuscript items relating to African and African American history was assembled over a number of decades by the staff of the RBMSCL. These documents—largely from the southern United States—speak to the sales, escapes, and emancipations of slaves from colonial times through the Civil War, the civil rights era from 1950-1970, and to a lesser extent, the period in between the 1870s and the 1950s.

South Africa Documentary Photographs Collection, 1940s-2007 and undated

Metal artist Titus Moteyane, Atteridgeville, Pretoria, 1984. Gisele Wulfsohn. From the South Africa Documentary Photographs Collection.

Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts, the South Africa Documentary Photographs Collection consists of four series of photographs documenting South African social conditions under and after apartheid, dating from approximately the 1940s-2007: Beyond the Barricades, The Cordoned Heart, Then and Now, and Underexposed. Each series originated in an exhibition, book, or project developed jointly by Duke University and South African institutions. The collection represents work by 45 South African photographers, many of whom were members of Afrapix, a collective photography agency that was politically active in the 1980s, or were otherwise active in documenting anti-apartheid struggle.

Louanne Watley Photographs, 2002-2010

The photographs and supporting materials created by Louanne Watley depict communities of Catholic nuns in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia, and images of their religious life in those communities. She typically focuses on the women’s individual faces, hands, and feet. There are also a few images of monks and their communities as well. The formats are primarily black-and-white prints with some color prints, contact prints, Polaroids (diffusion transfer process), large color inkjet prints, and negatives. As with many Archive of Documentary Arts collections acquired in recent years, digital scans of Watley’s work are also included.

Walter McGowan Upchurch Papers, 1841-1977

Walter McGowan Upchurch, Jr. served as a member of Duke’s Board of Trustees and was senior vice-president of Shell Companies Foundation, Inc. This collection contains personal correspondence among members of the Upchurch family, including correspondence between Upchurch and his brother during World War II, when they were both serving in the U.S. Navy; professional correspondence concerning Duke University administrative affairs; and genealogical materials for the Upchurch, Daniel, and Meadows families of North Carolina. Additional materials include Shell Development Company records on personnel issues such as labor relations and salary administration at the progressive Emeryville Laboratories; and Shell Companies Foundation records from 1963 to 1974, chiefly relating to the foundation’s endowments, scholarships, grants, and donations. The Duke University Archives also holds a smaller collection of Upchurch’s papers.

Please remember that many RBMSCL collections are stored off-site in our wonderful Library Service Center and need to be requested by RBMSCL staff members at least 24 hours before your research visit. We encourage you to e-mail special-collections(at) for assistance.

Our National Sweepstakes

In the spirit of election day, we are highlighting a new acquisition: the James Cartoons Posters, a series of political cartoon posters created by the New Process Electro Corporation in 1920 and 1921.

They are remarkable for a number of reasons—including their large size (21 x 31 inches) and their beautiful colors. Originally offered as a subscription for $1.25 per week, the posters feature not-so-subtle commentary on everything from the League of Nations, prohibition, Russian aggression, and the Ponzi scheme. One common topic is the 1920 presidential election, where Warren G. Harding challenged James Middleford Cox. One of our favorites, “The Home Stretch!,” stars Harding (riding on the GOP Elephant) and Cox (being pulled in a wagon by the Democratic Donkey) racing towards the Election Day finish line.

Detail from “The Home Stretch!”

Many of the posters reflect America’s increasing isolationism, particularly regarding Europe and the League of Nations. Harding’s campaign for a “return to normalcy” struck a chord with voters who were exhausted by World War I and disillusioned by global politics. He defeated Cox in a landslide on November 2, 1920.

The James Cartoons Posters collection has only a sampling of the originally published series, so unfortunately we don’t know what the artist had to say about Harding and the Republicans post-election.

Detail from “The Home Stretch!”

Post contributed by Meghan Lyon, Accessioning Associate.

D is for Diaries, Drama, and Dracula

Buck and his chewing gum.

I’m lucky. As a volunteer at the RBMSCL, I’ve been creating finding aids for small manuscript collections—collections such as love letters and travel diaries from the 19th century—which can be more compelling than any historical novel. One in particular I found to be especially memorable is the John Buck Diary.

Elaborate script and comic sketches recount the eight week long vacation in England and Scotland in 1887 of John Buck, an affluent, young American who spent several days in close company with Henry Irving, the famous English actor; the equally famous actress and Irving’s rumored paramour, Ellen Terry; and the business manager of the Lyceum Theatre as well as Irving’s personal assistant, Bram Stoker. Yes, the Bram Stoker who later wrote Dracula. His visit begins with the Royal Lyceum’s performance of another popular demonic tale:

I reached Edinburgh at seven o’clock and was met by Mr. Stoker. He took me to the Edinburgh Hotel (close by the station) where Mr. Irving was staying. . . . Mr. Stoker after fixing me comfortably hurried away to the theatre and I had my dinner served in Mr. Irving’s dining room. The dinner was good but I was so anxious to see some of “Faust” that I left at the end of the third course and jumping into a hansom drove to the Royal Lyceum Theatre, where I found Mr. Stoker “laying” [?] for me. He . . . took me into the only remaining private box. Mephistopheles was just transforming Faust into a young man as I entered the box, so I had not missed much of the play. . . . At the end of the act Mr. Stoker took me around [to the stage] to see Mr. Irving and Miss Terry. . . . While we were chatting and I was being questioned about “home affairs” the scene shifters were building Marguerite’s room around us, and very soon I was compelled to “skip” as the curtain was about to be rung up. . . . Mr. Irving was grand, and he will make a tremendous hit with Faust in America. (pages 67-70)

One of Buck's sketches.

The diary is so extraordinarily descriptive and entertaining; it is as if Buck, who loved the theater, were writing the storyline for his own theatrical play. At times, I could imagine his diary recast as a BBC period drama! Equally remarkable is the extent to which Buck’s personality is so clearly revealed. He was sometimes irreverent and informal, even when visiting the Duke of Beaufort at Badminton House in Gloucestershire, highly competitive, a bit arrogant, and more interested in pretty young women, having fun, and socializing than sightseeing; he seemed so American, and so amazingly like a few modern young men that I have known.

Happy Halloween!

Post contributed by Danielle Moore, RBMSCL Technical Services volunteer.

Dorothy Allison Papers Arrive at Duke

In the early 1990s Ginny Daley, then director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, was convinced that Duke should acquire Dorothy Allison’s papers. “I saw her as the quintessential Southern writer,” Daley wrote recently. “Her personal papers and literary works fit well with Duke’s collections of Southern literature and women’s culture, while bringing fresh perspectives on queer culture and truth-telling to the mix.” Through campus visits and other seed-planting efforts, Ginny Daley introduced Ms. Allison to the possibility of Duke as the permanent home for her collection.

Photo by Brett Hall.

Now, after a nearly twenty year period of considering this momentous decision, Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina and other works and renowned activist in the LGBTQ community, has selected the RBMSCL to be the repository for her papers. Bingham Center and literary curatorial staff collaborated on the initial acquisition of nearly 60 boxes of Allison’s papers, including drafts of her writings, extensive correspondence and research files, personal journals documenting her life and creative process, and more. For Allison, a South Carolina native now living in California, it’s a relief to have the papers at the RBMSCL: “All I know is that now I feel that all that . . . I saved is going to be safe and of use. Since we are entering high summer here with 90 degree temperatures and high risk of fire, I can also stop worrying that a wildfire might sweep through the redwoods and erase all that history. Safe and of use is infinitely preferable.”

The papers will be a rich resource for those interested in Allison’s life and work, as well as for researchers exploring the development of LGBT and Southern literatures, lesbian communities and families, and the history of American sexuality, among many other topics. Materials will be added to the collection as Allison continues to write and publish (a new book of short stories and a novel coming soon!).

A preliminary finding aid for the collection is now available here. In the coming months staff will review, process, and revise the finding aid for the collection to make it available for research. Researchers interested in using the papers should contact the Bingham Center staff to discuss their availability.

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.

Nell Irvin Painter Reflects

Date: Monday, 13 September 2010
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Rare Book Room
Contact Information: Amy McDonald, 919-681-7987 or amy.mcdonald(at)

Photo by Robin Holland.

With a career that has stretched from top public universities and the Ivy League to institutions in Italy, Ghana, and France, Nell Irvin Painter brings her rich experience to a personal consideration of African American women in academia. In “Alone and Together: One African American Woman’s Experiences in the Academy,” Dr. Painter will reflect upon her professional successes and challenges, as well as her career-long exchanges with several fellow African American women scholars.

Dr. Painter’s professional and personal papers, which are held by the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, have recently been opened to public research. For more information about her papers, visit the collection inventory or contact special-collections(at)

This program, part of a year-long celebration of the 15th anniversary of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History, is the first in a series of two events co-sponsored by the Franklin Research Center and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute.

For more information about the second event, hosted by the Franklin Humanities Institute the following day, please visit the event’s webpage.