Category Archives: Technical Stuff

April Showers Bring New Finding Aids!

Our technical services archivists have created a veritable deluge of new finding aids for some of our older collections. All of the following collections are open for research. Please contact the Special Collections Library at special-collections(at)duke.edu with any questions.

Japanese Matchbox Label Collection, circa 1910

400 vividly-colored Japanese matchbox labels are mounted in a contemporary paper album and housed in a custom-made cloth box. Unfortunately, the name of the person who created this marvelous collection is unknown.

Ann Atwater Interviews, 2006

Master and use copies of Jeff Storer’s oral interviews with Ann Atwater, an African-American civil rights activist based in Durham regarding her friendship with Ku Klux Klan leader C. P. Ellis.

Montrose Jonas Moses Papers, 1789-1960

The papers of this drama critic, journalist, and author of works on American and European drama and on children’s literature includes correspondence with giants of the turn-of-the-20th-century theater, including Eugene O’Neill, Percival Wilde, David Belasco, and Margaret Anglin.

Thomas Lee Settle Papers, 1795-1949

The papers of this Virginia surgeon, said to have pronounced the death of abolitionist John Brown, shed light on the practice of medicine in the 19th century. Of particular interest are documents detailing Settle’s own medical service for the 11th Virginia Cavalry.

Afghanistan in Pictures

Jirga with Kaniguram in background.
From the R. B. Holmes Afghan War Photographs, 1919.

The harsh and beautiful landscape of Afghanistan has been the site of many conflicts, including the Anglo-Afghan Wars of the early 20th century. The RBMSCL’s Archive of Documentary Arts has recently acquired a collection of 34 black-and-white prints of the 1919 war taken by British photographer Randolph Bezzant (R. B.) Holmes, who owned a photography studio in Peshawar, Pakistan. The majority of these well-preserved, highly detailed, and skillfully composed images depict large British military camps and vast landscapes, sometimes with camel caravans or military convoys. Some scenes show the remains of villages, military features such as towers, and religious structures. The landscape views include the Khyber Pass, Tanai Gorge, Kabul River, and Khargali Ridge. Military camp views, many in grand panoramic scale with fine detail, include Landi Khana, Dakka Plain, and Landi Kotal.

For more information about the collection, take a look at the collection guide. If you’d like to arrange a visit to view the collection, or if you have any questions, please e-mail us at special-collections(at)duke.edu.

Post contributed by Tim Pyatt, University Archivist and Associate Director of the RBMSCL

Merry New Finding Aids!

A few new finding aids to make your season merry and bright. All of the following collections are open for research. Please contact the Special Collections Library at special-collections(at)duke.edu with any questions.

A poster from the Durham Savoyards’ 1972 production of The Mikado.

Durham Savoyards Records, 1898-1989 and undated

This collection contains the archives of the Durham Savoyards, a Durham production company of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Dating from 1898 to 1989, the materials consist of minutes, correspondence, programs, financial records, posters, director’s notes, stage design, photographs, videocassettes, color slides, and clippings. The collection also includes “The Savoyards, Durham Savoyards Limited, 1989” and “Mindful of the Whys and Wherefores; a Savoyard Producer’s Journal” by James L. Parmentier. Photographs predating the 1963 founding of the Savoyards depict comic operas said to have been performed at Durham’s Southern Conservatory of Music.

American Association of University Women Records, 1913-1976 and undated

The records of the American Association of University Women’s Durham chapter span the years from its founding in 1913 through the 1970s. The central organizational records are almost complete for this period, including minutes of Executive Board meetings, Presidents’ files, financial records, membership information, and national and state convention files.

Baher Azmy Papers, 1986-2007 and undated

Azmy, an Egyptian-American lawyer and Professor of Law at Seton Hall University Law School Center for Social Justice, was the attorney for Murat Kurnaz, a citizen of Turkey and permanent resident of Germany, who was held in extra-judicial detention by the U.S. military at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. The material documents Professor Azmy’s legal motions and public efforts for writ of habeas corpus and the release and repatriation of Mr. Kurnaz.

New Finding Aid: The South Asian Pamphlets Collection

Indian Handicrafts, July 1963
Indian Handicrafts, July 1963



The RBMSCL’s South Asian Pamphlets Collection (collection guide here) contains some 7500 pamphlets published in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka between 1920 and 2005.

These English-language publications were received by Duke University’s Perkins Library over four decades through the Library of Congress South Asia Cooperative Acquisition Program (SACAP).

The pamphlets cover such topics as agriculture, arts, economic development, education, industry and commerce, international relations, politics and government, religion and philosophy, rural development, tourism, and women. In particular, the pamphlets form an impressive body of primary sources on ethnic and political conflict, as well as the effects of wars, poverty, and mass education, and issues regarding Islam and other religious traditions.

Researchers wishing to use these pamphlets should note that the entire collection is stored in our off-site storage facility. Please contact the RBMSCL (special-collections(at)duke.edu) at least 24 hours before your visit so that we can request the pamphlets you’d like to see.