Category Archives: Technical Stuff

Milton Friedman Answers to Arthur Burns: Or, A Blog Post for Economics Geeks!

Finding a gem in a jumbled box of papers and images is always a fulfilling feeling, whether it be an arresting photograph, a revealing letter, or even a scrap of someone’s mundane—but relatable—life.  Of course, some of these gems are hidden and thus require a bit of searching before their worth can be noticed.  Much of this exploring was required with the gem I found in the Arthur F. Burns collection.

Arthur Burns was a notable 20th century economist and diplomat.  Among his achievements, he served as chief economic advisor to President Eisenhower; chaired the Federal Reserve under Nixon, Ford, and Carter; and represented the United States as ambassador to Germany under Reagan.  Because of his high stature in both academia and public service, Burns corresponded with dozens of notable figures in the mid-twentieth century, from the presidents he served to the economists with whom he worked.  This correspondence is a central component of the Arthur Burns papers in the Rubenstein Library, along with copies of Burns’ journals (1969-1974), photographs, and memorabilia.

As I processed an addition to the correspondence series of the collection, I came across some letters from Milton Friedman to Burns.  As an economist junkie, any chance to peek inside the mind of Friedman—a Nobel laureate and the father of monetarist economics—was more than worth my time.  Nevertheless, I expected only routine correspondence, for most of the letters seemed to comment only on personal matters.  But, boy, was I wrong!

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Friedman (left) and Burns (right)

Within the second folder, I found what at first appeared to be only a routine letter between pals, dated February 1, 1951.  As I was about to put the letter aside, I noticed that near the bottom of the page Friedman jumped into defending his views, point by point, on the quantity theory of money in wartime.  After a bit of scrounging around the Internet, I discovered that the comments pertained to Friedman’s draft of “Price, Income, and Monetary Changes in Three Wartime Periods” (1952), which discusses the effects of war on prices and production in the American economy.

I was holding Friedman’s defense of his own work, a draft of which must have been previously critiqued by Burns.  So, as I read Friedman’s article and came up with my own disputes, I could look back at how he would respond.  For me, and for any researcher, this is a remarkable opportunity.  On top of this, it’s possible that Burns used some of this information to advise President Eisenhower during the Korean War.  With the extent of the correspondence between Burns and the President (206 letters in the collection), it’s possible that one may find some remnant of the above letter in Burns’s admonitions to Eisenhower.  That may be a hidden gem that requires more exploring!

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Friedman Letter, page 1

 

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Friedman Letter, page 2
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Friedman Letter, page 3
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Friedman Letter, page 4
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Friedman Letter, page 5

 

Posted contributed by Levi Crews, Technical Services Department student assistant and a rising sophomore at Duke.

The Dawning of Legibility

In 2009, a single-item addition to our Charles Alexander Gore papers turned up in my cataloging queue. The letter surfaced while preparing some collections to move off-site before renovation of the Rubenstein Library began.  When I recalled the appropriate box and pulled the folder into which I was going to place the addition, I noticed that the handwriting on my letter did not match that of Charles Alexander Gore.

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Rev. Charles Gore, circa 1900

Using the embossed address at the top of the letter, I determined that the author probably was Rev. Charles Gore (1853-1932), who became an Anglican Bishop not long after he penned it.  Because we do not have any other items created by Rev. Gore, the letter needed to be cataloged on its own. The problem in doing that, however, was that I found Gore’s handwriting almost completely illegible.

I determined that the first line of the letter mentioned a war, which likely referred to the 2nd Boer War in South Africa, given the fact that the letter was written in 1901. Other than that, I could only pick out individual words or phrases in the piece. Frustrated, I put the letter back on my shelf.  Every once in a while, I would return to it in order to see if I could make progress deciphering it, and even consulted with my British colleague, Mandy Hurt, who also struggled with the penmanship.

I do not know what happened within my brain, but when I recently opened the letter again, I could suddenly distinguish many of Gore’s words! Not all of them, mind you, but enough to catalog the letter with greater confidence regarding its subject matter.  I worked through the sentences, and then showed my transcription again to Mandy, who deciphered several more key words and phrases, she tells me, by searching for “typically British turns of phrase.” Here’s our transcription, as it stands:

Oct. 8 ‘01

Dear Mr. McI[___]

My [pri___,] I believe, is that I am not convinced that, if the raid had been properly punished or negotiations decently conducted, there need have been war at all.

But as things were—with much wrong on both sides (& how anyone can exaggerate the guilt of  Krüger, I think)—war became inevitable.

In the waging of it, I thankfully believe that we have been as merciful as possible. I expect the good behavior of our common soldiers has been without example.

I think the ‘camps’ are a gigantic mistake from many points of view & that the loss of infant life (especially) has been [____ ____].

But now what can be done? As far as I can ascertain the women are allowed to go now if they have anywhere to go to & [bread?] to go. You say—move the camps to the sea: this will curtail a painful journey. Will it remedy loss of life? I suppose the authorities [___ ___ be ___] to do this, if possible, or foodstuffs are more easily supplied by the sea. One camp (Victoria I think) is going, I see.

I do not think it is the [best] use [___] the clergy. [_____] this have no more power than the [“Good Boer,”] even if they have disposition, to move the people to any better [mind?].

There are moments when I do feel it is my duty to go on [_____, _____] in protest & though I know [it will] do no good. But in this matter it is so difficult to form an opinion—the best men are so much divided—different opinions are so justifiable–& ([on all just showing]) we have taken such pains in most points to be compassionate that I do not feel [inspired?] to idly denounce them [___ ___]. I have some present [___] to propose.  Those I have seen who know the [country assure] me the death rate [___] have been as high or higher if they had been left. How can I tell?

A scan of the letter is below.  What do you think about our transcription?  If you have any suggestions to make as to the words we still find illegible, please do so in the comments section.

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Gore letter, first and last pages
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Gore letter, second and third pages

Post contributed by Alice Poffinberger, Original Cataloger/Archivist for small manuscript collections. Mandy Hurt is Assistant Librarian for Electronic Resources & Serials Management.

 

“The Guardians of History,” a Documentary

Mary Samouelian, the Heschel Processing Archivist here at the Rubenstein Library, has created a short documentary. “The Guardians of History” features seven archivists working in our Technical Services Department and explores why archivists do what we do.  In Mary’s words, the documentary “reveals our intimate relationship with the historical materials we work with, why we are drawn to the mission of preserving history, and how our work makes it possible for researchers, historians, writers, and the general public to discover and experience intimate connections between their lives and historical materials.”

Mary enrolled as a student at the CDS in 2011 and this documentary piece is her final project for the Certificate in Documentary Arts. The photographs associated with the documentary will be exhibited on the Student Wall in Perkins Library this coming Friday.

Congratulations to Mary on this wonderful work!

Heschel Highlights, Part 7

“Alas! My teacher Rabbi Professor Abraham Joshua Heschel is no more…He left this troubled world immensely enriched by his brief presence and sojourn thereon. Demanding of none but himself, Rabbi Heschel’s life was a model for others to follow.”

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The Weekly Original Gospel, 1973

The Abraham Joshua Heschel papers abound with examples of Heschel’s commitment to interfaith work as well as commemorations written after Heschel’s death, and the commemoration quoted above highlights both of these aspects.  Jacob Teshima, the author of the commemoration above, was a student of Heschel’s at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). He was also the son of Ikuro Teshima, founder of the Japanese Makuya (tabernacle) movement, or the Original Gospel Movement. The Makuya movement is made up of Japanese Christians who are dedicated to a return to the faith of Hebraic Christianity. This commemoration appeared in a publication of the movement, The Weekly Original Gospel. As part of his commitment to Israel and its people, Ikuro Teshima encouraged Makuya members to learn Hebrew and visit Israel. Ikuro Teshima met with many Jewish leaders in his lifetime including Martin Buber and Zvi Yehuda Kook and spread their teachings to Makuya members.

After helping his father lead the Makuya movement for a few years, Jacob Teshima traveled to New York to work towards his Doctorate of Hebrew Letters (DHL) at JTS. He studied Hasidism under Heschel at JTS and his thesis was entitled “Zen Buddhism and Hasidism: A Comparative Study.” Jacob Teshima’s commemoration reveals his deep respect for Heschel as a teacher and as a religious leader: “Ah, my Rabbi, my dear friend, Abraham Heschel, God’s spokesman in the 20th century of this Earth.”

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Heschel addresses the Makuya Pilgrims

 When Jacob Teshima was learning from Heschel at JTS, Ikuro Teshima and Heschel began corresponding. According to the letters we have in the Abraham Joshua Heschel papers, Ikuro Teshima hoped to bring Heschel to Japan. On April 23, 1971, Teshima wrote that his son Jacob was “thoroughly enjoying” Heschel’s class and invited Heschel to give lectures in Tokyo and Osaka. He offered to book the round trip air-ticket and was eagerly awaiting his arrival. “Shalom from Japan!” another letter from July 22, 1971 began excitedly. The letter continued, “Our prayer is that, after your visit to Japan, you will remember Japan as your third home, perhaps dearer than America.” Besides extending these invitations to Heschel, Ikuro Teshima also translated God in Search of Man into Japanese and published his translation.

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Heschel in his study

In his commemoration, Jacob Teshima included a vignette about a meeting with Heschel on December 22, 1972. Jacob quoted Heschel’s words that afternoon: “Jacob, when I regain my strength, but who knows when that will be; maybe February if I’m lucky; anyhow in May, I hope to visit Japan. I hope you’ll accompany me, Jacob. I’d like to meet your father and see the Makuya people who are so aflame with God’s love.” Unfortunately, Heschel passed away the next day and never fulfilled his wish to visit Japan. But thanks to the Makuya movement’s translation of his books and their dedication to his teachings, Heschel’s presence is alive and well in Japan.

Post contributed by Adrienne Krone, Heschel Processing Assistant

 

Preserving Radio Haiti

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The Radio Haiti Records are the fruit of the work of Haitian dissident and “agronomist” Jean Dominique, and chronicle the station’s role in fighting for the people of Haiti.  Jean Dominique was assassinated on April 3, 2000.  His widow and Radio Haiti partner, former UN Spokesperson Michele Montas, brought the Radio Haiti Records to the Rubenstein Library last year, and while it has its challenges – its primary language is Haitian Kreyol and its 3,420 analog tape recordings have spent the better of their lives in a mold-inducing tropical climate – it is that rare collection where value (historical, cultural, human) outweighs almost any conceivable obstacle to making it accessible.

To begin the process of digitizing the recordings, as a first step to transcription and translation, we have created a small pilot project that tests our capabilities and captures the kinds of numbers we need to evaluate the costs associated with preserving Radio Haiti in the long term.  We made the video below to demonstrate some of the basic considerations in approaching the preservation of this important collection.  For more information, check out the Preservation Underground blog, where Head of Conservation Beth Doyle discusses the process we used to clean the mold off the tapes.

Post contributed by Craig Breaden, Audiovisual Archivist

Bruno Foa’s Trip to Jerusalem

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Portrait of Foa from the Bruno Foa Papers.

Bruno Foa (1905-1999) was an Italian-born, Jewish economist, lawyer, consultant, and professor. Educated in Italy as an economist and lawyer, Foa became Italy’s youngest full professor of economics at age 28. In 1937, he married Lisa Haimann, a refugee from Munich, and they moved to London in 1938. While in London, Foa worked for the British Broadcasting Company, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, and guest lectured at the London School of Economics. In 1940, Foa moved his family to the United States. He began work at Princeton University on a Rockefeller Foundation Grant and later moved to Washington D.C., where he worked for the Rockefeller Foundation, the Office of Inter-American Affairs, the Bureau of Latin American Affairs and the Federal Reserve Board.

We have recently re-processed the Bruno Foa Papers in order to enhance their description and access for researchers as part of the Economists Papers Project here at the Rubenstein Library. The papers include interesting details about his many trips abroad to Italy, Somalia, Spain, and the newly-established country of Israel. It is an added bonus when a collection we acquired for its relevance to the history of economics ends up including materials on other topics too–like mid-twentieth-century travel writings.

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Souvenir postcard collected by Foa during his trip to Jerusalem.

During his life, Foa was invited several times to guest lecture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His first trip was in 1946, just two years before Israel was declared a state. From his writings, Jerusalem seemed to be a city split between the struggles of the time and the echoes of the past. Foa writes, “Jerusalem is indeed an armed camp, and looks like a besieged place. Barbed wire–miles of it– is spread around all public buildings and throughout the city. Tanks and armored cars scout the streets day and night: one of them its Bren guns ready to fire, is permanently stationed at the center of Jaffa Road.” His letter then describes the resiliency of a people who have come to accept as normal daily bomb and landmine explosions, and the strain and tension developing between the Jewish and Arab populations.

But Foa also talks about the natural beauty of the city. From atop Mount Scopus, the view of the city seems to transcend the struggles going on below. “It is a stern view, since Jerusalem is built on stones (beautiful yellow stones) and is surrounded by rocky hills–yet it is a glorious view, when bathed by the warm Palestinian sunshine or the glory of the moon. There, on Mount Scopus, Titus and his legions stood, and from there laid siege to the city. There is the Valley of Final Judgement–as stern as death itself. On the other side, one can see the Jordan, the Dead Sea, the desert of Judaea and the mountains of Noab. Beauty, history and tragedy fill the air. It is a most unforgettable sight.” Bruno Foa’s writings allow us to take a step into the past and see Jerusalem as it stood nearly 70 years ago.

Post contributed by Vicki Eastman, a graduate student at Duke’s Center for the History of Political Economy.

Heschel Highlights, Part 6

Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Voice on the Back of the Page

1 HeschelAnyone familiar with Abraham Joshua Heschel’s English writings has encountered the distinctive cadence of his sentences. From the early book The Earth is the Lord’s (1949) to his final work A Passion for Truth (1973), one can hear and feel the rhythm that we now all find so familiar. Reliant on evocative words, on short phrases strung together mostly through suggestions, his sentences pile steadily one atop another, compelled from within as if by their own heartbeat.

2 HeschelHeschel saved nearly every scrap of paper on which he wrote. From napkins and hotel stationary to JTS announcements and publisher’s proofs, often what we record in the database is only the “front” of the page—what appears to us to be a paper’s final use. But the other side, the crossed out side, is often just as lively, covered in sentence fragments, Talmudic quotations, half-written letters of thanks or condolence. Often these backsides record, as if by sheer happenstance, a couple of seconds of Heschel’s mind, a brief instance when a thought, a turn of phrase, caught him amid other actions and was hastily scribbled down.

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“The Kotzker, on the other hand, was concerned with truth, being in distress {rather} that imagination being dormant. Somber and plaintive he had no patience with the playful or the rhapsodic.”

More often than not Heschel returned to these scraps, edited them, sounding after each change more rhythmically alike to the unhurried but morally tugging voice that characterize his finished prose.

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“We live on the verge of mystery and ignore it. Instead of facing the abyss marvel, we are involved in analyzing reminiscences of old formulations. We take the world for granted, and forget that being is unbelievable. Stand still and behold! Speech is an aftermath.”

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“There is {no} word in biblical Hebrew for doubt. Indeed just as the logic of science ; there are many words for wonder. Just as in dealing with judgment, our starting-point is doubt, {wonder is} our starting-point in dealing with reality. is wonder The biblical man never questions the reality of the world around him. He [unfinished].”
Though he wrote almost without ceasing, few of Heschel’s notes reveal autobiographical awareness. “I” was not a word he employed readily. Coming upon a personal reflection can feel momentous.

6 Heschel[“Prayer
Entering the shul
I first relinquish all I have know.
I start all over again.
And the words niggun comes —
my lips have known silence
stillness of awe
And my stillness awakes
The niggun is {a sphere} far off my mind,
and yet I am all there.
My pride fades to bit by bit.
The niggun never ends.
Abruptness is something
I have never known.
A moment never dies
A song is never is but
a beginning of {one} infinity
of echo.]

 

 

But sometimes, too, there are the pages punctuated by sadness, when the search for God recedes behind the dark memory of all that Heschel, and Judaism, has lost.

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“My people was burned to death in Poland. Almost all traces of its existence are thousand year history were wiped out. Since 1945 the country was rebuilt, the last remnants of its survivors driven out. No one misses mourns for us in Poland, no one seems to remember us in Poland.”

Post contributed by Samuel J. Kessler, intern for the Abraham Joshua Heschel processing project.

Clarissa Sligh: Jake in Transition

Sometimes in Technical Services, we get to work with the visual arts as they intersect with the Rubenstein Library’s mission of cultural documentation.  One such collection, acquired by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, is the Clarissa Sligh Papers. Sligh is a visual artist, writer, and lecturer. As a teenager, she was the lead plaintiff in a 1955 school desegregation case in Virginia which later inspired her book “It Wasn’t Little Rock”. After working in math and science with NASA and later in business, she began her career as an artist, using photographs, drawings, text, and personal stories to explore themes of transformation and social justice.

The Bingham Center began acquiring Sligh’s work in the 1990s as part of a collection of artists’ books by women. In 2011, we began the process of transferring her archive to Duke. One of the works represented in her papers is Jake in Transition, a series of 51 black and white photographs, some superimposed with text, documenting one man’s transition from female to male. The project explores issues of gender, identity, and physicality. Sligh revisited those themes in her book Wrongly Bodied Two, which juxtaposes Jake’s story with that of a female slave who escapes to the North by passing as a white man.

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Sligh took the original “Jake” photographs between 1996 and 2000, a time when transgender issues were still largely ignored. Her work is particularly relevant now that the transgender rights movement has gone mainstream. This isn’t surprising for a woman who has been ahead of her time since at least 1955.

Post contributed by Megan Lewis, Technical Services Archivist for the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

Preserving a Cork-Covered Scrapbook

I’ll soon be meeting with Conservation staff to discuss the preservation issues surrounding a few collections I’ve cataloged recently, including this one, a scrapbook I felt I had to catalog before it absolutely fell to pieces.

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It is likely that Marianne “Nan” Rothholz created this unique cork cover for her scrapbook that contains 69 letters, 22 V-mails, 6 postcards, and 37 black-and-white photographs.

Nan Rothholz began this scrapbook during World War II, when she served as a member of the National Jewish Welfare Board and the Baltimore United Service Organizations (USO). She and her family hosted servicemen, generally medical professionals stationed at Fort Meade, in their Baltimore home. She became especially close to and followed 5 of the men during the final years of the war in Europe, and to me this scrapbook represents her “filing cabinet” for their V-mail, letters, photographs, postcards, and clippings, rather than a traditional scrapbook.

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Rothholz recorded personal details about each serviceman in ink, then pasted in their related material around it. The paper in the scrapbook is of astoundingly poor quality, and breaks into pieces as the pages are turned.

Our challenge here will be how to keep related material together yet preserve the individual items, all before these brittle pages crumble to bits. Conservation staff will advise me on this, and perhaps digitization will be considered to help preserve the relationships in material that Rothholz initiated. Both the National Jewish Welfare Board and the USO commended her on her work, and our work will honor her as well.

Post contributed by Alice Poffinberger, Original Cataloger.

Happy Valentine’s Day, My Rapturous Codfish!

Image of Leon Simon, taken from London's National Portrait Gallery.
Image of Leon Simon, taken from London’s National Portrait Gallery.

As my student assistant, Sophia Durand, began the physical processing of the 131 letters in the Leon Simon collection (1915-1916, 1918), she noticed something intriguing. Leon Simon addressed each letter to his future wife, Esther Ellen Umanski, differently. Until they made official plans to marry, she was “My Dear Nellie.” But once the date was set, Simon became creative and effusive, his word choices sometimes questionable as endearments.

Romantics everywhere tend to be sugary in their pet phrases. Simon was no different, perhaps just more over-the-top. He addressed his letters to: My essence of honeycomb, My exquisite Peach Melba, My lump of sweetness, My peachiest apricot, My succulent meringue, My belovedest mimosa, My jujubious confection, My sweet Sugar plum(p).

As you can already tell, Simon was quite fond of food and cooking. Other highlights in the letters include My stewed apricot, My eversweet parsnip, My most succulent kipper, My pickled herring (You know how I love them!), My pickledest onion (=on’y ‘n  =only one), My own dumpling, My coo (k) ing dove, My rapturous codfish, My toasted crumpet, and–my personal favorite–My incandescent soup-tureen.

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Simon wrote Nellie at least once a week. On October 12, 1915, he called her “My protoplasmic cherub.”

Occasionally, Simon sought to be reassuring about his odd turns of phrase. On October 20, 1915, he wrote to Nellie, who was studying German, “My most exquisite Stumpfenbach, (Don’t worry about the meaning of this; it is a term of endearment invented for the occasion & means nothing at all except that all recognized terms of endearment are hopelessly inadequate)…” A Duke German professor says that he was unwittingly referring to a city in Bavaria.

So, if on this Valentine’s Day your terms of affection seem stale, why not borrow one coined by Simon: My adorable whelk, My kitchy-kooish boo-woo, My jokaceous blue bottle, My bilingual Scaramouche, My unique joy, My tender flamingo, My early paradise, My copious ink-pot, My imperative necessity, My darlingpetangelanddelightallrolledintoone. Perhaps you and your loved one will then share in one of his closings, a “Quintessence of hugs & kisses ad lib.”

Sheesh.

Post contributed by Alice Poffinberger, Original Cataloger.