Date: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 Time: 4:30-5:30 PM Register: http://bit.ly/rl-styron (Registration required to receive Zoom link)
Please join the staff of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library for a free ONLINE event on creativity and mental health.
This event recognizes the 30th anniversary publication of William Styron’s Darkness Visible, a memoir of his depression and recovery. Along with discussing Styron’s work, our panelists will speak to the role of creativity, writing, and mental health.
Talks will be provided by:
James L.W. West III, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University, author of William Styron: A Life (1998)
Sneha Mantri, M.D., M.S., neurologist and Director of the Trent Center’s Medical Humanities Program
Megha Gupta, M.D. Candidate, Duke University School of Medicine
Sarah Hodges, M.D. Candidate, Duke University School of Medicine
In The Silver Swan, Sallie Bingham chronicles one of the great underexplored lives of the twentieth century. Bingham is especially interested in dissecting the stereotypes that have defined Duke’s story while also confronting the disturbing questions related to her legacy. According to Gloria Steinem, “Sallie Bingham rescues Doris Duke from this gendered prison and shows us just how brave, rebellious, and creative this unique woman really was, and how her generosity benefits us to this day.”
Treason: A Sallie Bingham Reader is a collection that captures the spirit of the author’s illustrious writing career via short stories, a novella, and a play. From the complex stories of artistic influence and the exhilaration and fright of solitude, to the incendiary rage of a betrayed young wife who sacrifices everything for revenge, to the struggles for independence of the three women who surrounded Ezra Pound like subservient stars, these fictions seize the reader’s attention while slashing stereotypes.
Dismantle white privilege in collections and services.
Diversify our staff.
Develop better relationships with community organizations and groups.
Document and share Duke’s complex institutional history.
And finally, “practice more inclusive metadata creation, with the goal of harm reduction from biased and alienating description and classification.”
Creating “Guiding Principles” for RL Technical Services
The Rubenstein Library Technical Services Department has been seeking to create “inclusive metadata” for much longer than the summer of 2020, but we have recently been inspired by Duke Libraries’ “Statement of Our Commitment” to more formally and concretely define what “inclusive metadata” means. We began this process by collecting and reading library and community literature, listening to panels and presentations on these topics, and researching what our peers and role models are doing. Our staff met and workshopped a draft of new “Guiding Principles for Description,” which was subsequently edited and adopted by the department and is now available here (along with links to some further reading and references):
The Rubenstein Library Technical Services Department acknowledges the historical role of libraries and archives, including our own institution, in amplifying the voices of those with political, social, and economic power, while omitting and erasing the voices of the oppressed. We have developed these Guiding Principles for Description as the first step in our ongoing commitment to respond to this injustice.
We will use inclusive and accessible language when describing the people represented by or documented in our materials. We commit to continually educate ourselves on evolving language and practices of inclusivity and accessibility.
We will prioritize facts and accuracy, and resist editorializing, valorizing, or euphemistic narratives or phrases in our description. This includes a commitment to revisit and revise our past description.
When describing our collections, we will purposefully seek and document the presence and activities of marginalized communities and voices.
We welcome and will seek to incorporate input and feedback on our descriptive choices from the communities and people represented by and in our materials.
We will be transparent about the origin of our description, and our role in adding or replacing description. We will also commit to increased transparency about our own institution’s past descriptive practices.
We will advocate for and celebrate library description, and the essential labor and expertise of the library practitioners who create and maintain that description, as crucial for any ongoing preservation of, access to, and research within library collections.
Developing this list of guiding principles is only one part of our ongoing commitment to create inclusive description of Rubenstein Library materials. Our department processes and catalogs a wide range of special collection formats (printed books, serials, ephemera, zines, archival papers, institutional records, film, video, born digital files, objects, and more) and creates description that is shared across a variety of platforms like the library catalog, finding aid database, and Duke’s institutional repository. Going forward, we hope the “Guiding Principles” will serve as the foundation for any type of description created or managed by Rubenstein’s catalogers and archivists.
Current and Future Inclusive Description Projects
There is much work already underway, and much more planned as Rubenstein Technical Services continues to prioritize the creation of inclusive description. Some of these projects pre-date the coining of our “Guiding Principles” — for example, we are proud of the ongoing cataloging of the thousands of items in the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, where catalogers are creating name authority records and detailed provenance notes tracing the often hidden role of women in printing, publishing, and book-binding. Our work to preserve and digitize film, including creating detailed description for collections like the H. Lee Waters’ Movies of Local People, have ensured the preservation and availability of community histories. When developing ArcLight, our finding aid interface (just launched in July), an important feature was the addition of a feedback button to encourage suggestions, particularly if a user spots harmful or incorrect descriptive language in our metadata.
Our projects continue this fall despite the COVID-19 pandemic. While working remotely, the Rare Materials Section has prioritized creating new manuscript catalog records for the Rubenstein’s American Slavery Documents, which will center the names and lives of Black people who were enslaved. We will share more about this project as the records are published in our catalog later this year.
Our Archival Processing Section has begun reviewing manuscript collections with outdated, inadequate, or offensive description, and they will be reprocessing, re-describing, and exploring how to be transparent about any changes or updates they make through development of a new style guide for finding aids. This includes acknowledging our library’s past decisions or mistakes, which may mean more blog posts like this one that question and critique our institution’s collecting and descriptive choices. Across the department, we intend to ramp up reparative description projects, particularly for our nineteenth-century Southern white family papers, because we know that the records of enslavers may be the only remaining documentation of those who were enslaved. We are seeking marginalized, hidden, and silenced voices. Even in their silences, our collections have much to say. Please stay tuned, and stay in touch, as we pursue this important work.
We’re at home, in our houses, apartments, and dorm rooms. Or, when we venture onto campus, we learn, work, and relax while masked and six feet apart. But in spite of the (social) distance between us, we can still find ways to join together and be creative!
The Duke University Archives invites our fellow Dukies, wherever you are, to recreate and reinterpret one of our historical Duke photographs. Recreated photos will be displayed online and in the library outside the Gothic Reading Room. You can also choose to add your photo to our growing Share Your COVID-19 Story collection!
Starting on Monday, November 2nd, all reinterpreted photos will be available for view on our Flickr site, on University Archives and Rubenstein Library social media, and in a slideshow outside the Gothic Reading Room at the Rubenstein Library. Duke Arts will also share the photos in its Duke Arts Weekly newsletter (sign up here!). And we’ll plan additional ways to share the photos across campus during the Spring 2021 semester.
One more thing: we want everyone in the Duke community to have comfortable and safe homes, particularly during this pandemic. Please also consider making a donation to Duke Mutual Aid or the Graduate & Professional Student Council Food Pantryto support those in our community who need it right now. (Donations are not required in order to submit a reinterpreted photo.)
Give your interpretive powers full rein by matching your recreation to your current experiences and sentiments or aim for faithfulness to the original–bring your creativity to this in any way you choose!
Remember that the photos you submit will be publicly displayed. Here’s the Duke Community Standard for quick reference.
Submitted photos must adhere to masking, social distancing, and other safety requirements outlined in the Duke Compact.
Don’t like any of the photos in the #make2020dukehistory photo pool? No problem! Choose any photo from our Flickr site—but your photo recreation must still abide by social distancing and masking requirements.
Please join the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture for a panel discussion grounded in the history of Southerners on New Ground (SONG) that will explore how activist archives inform intersectional struggles for social justice. Mandy Carter (SONG co-founder), Wesley Hogan (historian), Lisa Levenstein (historian), and Mab Segrest (SONG co-founder) will reflect on the importance and contemporary relevance of SONG’s organizing in the 1990s and beyond.
Post contributed by Brooke Guthrie, Research Services Librarian.
You may have noticed (and we really hope that you have) that campus life is a bit different in Fall 2020. We’re all wearing masks, washing our hands, and obsessively monitoring our symptoms. We’ve also spent at least a few minutes speculating on the many unknowns—including the possibility of a coronavirus vaccine and how it might be distributed to the Duke community. The Duke Compact asks students, staff, and faculty to pledge to “Get the flu shot and other required vaccinations by designated deadlines.” And that made us wonder about the history of vaccinations at Duke.
You can learn a lot about Duke history from the Duke Chronicle and its predecessor, the Trinity Chronicle. Luckily for us, issues of the newspaper from 1905 to 2000 have been digitized by Duke University Libraries and can be fairly easily searched. Searching the newspaper reveals that campus-wide vaccination efforts are nothing new to Duke. Here are a few of the examples we found.
We’ll start by going way, way back to a time before Duke was called Duke. In 1914, during the Trinity College days, a vaccine against typhoid fever was offered to students, faculty, and their families. In addition to announcing the availability of the vaccine, the Trinity Chronicle published information on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine as well as the number of deaths caused by typhoid in the state (about 1,200 each year). The article ends by noting that the administration “is anxious to see a large number of students avail themselves of the opportunity to obtain immunity from typhoid.”
A little over a decade later, in 1928, students were asked to get a smallpox vaccine. The very short announcement suggests that vaccination is no big deal: “the nurse will give the vaccines in a few minutes, and it will all be over.” Although noting that there were no serious cases on campus, the article says that six students were confined and lists their names. (Reporting campus illnesses and including the names of the ill was a fairly common practice back then.)
Polio was perhaps one of the most troubling diseases in the mid-twentieth century and the widespread concern was justified. In 1948, the worst year for polio in North Carolina, 2,516 cases and 143 deaths were reported in the state. In October of 1950, a Duke undergraduate named Daniel Rathbun died after contracting polio and spending two weeks in an iron lung at Duke Hospital. When a polio vaccine became available in 1955, vaccination campaigns were held throughout the country. In October of 1956, the Duke Chronicle announced that student health would offer the vaccine to all under 45 years old. For students, the vaccine cost $3.00. The article discusses what is known about the relatively new vaccine, emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated, and notes that previously most college students were required to get vaccinated for typhoid fever (as if to say “why should this be any different?”).
Efforts to vaccinate campus continued through the rest of the 20th century. In the mid-1970s, an outbreak of swine flu in the United States led to a nationwide vaccination drive. In November of 1976, Duke announced that it had 5,000 shots available to students and staff. In the 1980s, measles was a cause for concern on campus. In March 1985, the Chronicle published a large notice to let unvaccinated students know that “YOU NEED TO BE VACCINATED NOW.” A few years later in January 1989, a statewide outbreak spread to campus and Duke quickly “issued more stringent vaccination requirements” for both students and staff. Soon after Duke issued the new requirements, all unvaccinated students and staff were excluded from campus for two weeks. Staff were told to stay home. Students were barred from campus housing and had their Duke cards deactivated.
There are many other examples of vaccination efforts in Duke’s history—the campus-wide distribution of the annual flu vaccine is one we’re all familiar with and, in 1999, students were encouraged to get a hepatitis B vaccine with a hip Chronicle advertisement that said “Hepatitis B is a very uncool thing” and the vaccine will keep you from “turning an embarrassing shade of yellow.”
If you’re interested in exploring this history more, try searching digitized issues of the Duke Chronicle or get in touch with our helpful staff. And, while we have your attention, make sure to get your flu vaccine this year!
Post contributed by Leah Tams, Pan Am CLIR Grant Intern.
The United States has long been an empire with colonial holdings, even since its inception. The U.S. has carried out its colonialism in many different ways, depending upon the time period and area being colonized. In the 1930s and 1940s, the “Good Neighbor Policy,” first articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, became an avenue for the United States to commercially influence Latin American nations. In the spirit of the Good Neighbor Policy, the United States didn’t send hundreds of people to colonize Latin America—instead, it sent businesses to establish and extend their economic influences within the region. One of the key businesses sent to Latin America was Pan American World Airways (Pan Am).
The John W. Hartman Center’s earliest ads from Pan Am illustrate the Good Neighbor Policy in action: “Out of the Muck of the Mazatlán,” Pan Am created airfields in Latin America, which were heralded as “Another ‘Stepping Stone.’” These “stepping stones” would allow the United States to connect with various Latin American cities and civilizations, thus extending U.S. influence southward. Other early advertisements were even more overt in their reference to the policy, proclaiming that Pan Am was indeed “The Good Neighbor Who Calls Every Day” who would create meaningful—and influential—political and economic contact between both regions. As historian Jennifer Van Vleck argues, “the development of commercial aviation did important work to make the U.S. presence in Latin America appear more benign while also bringing the region within closer reach of Washington and Wall Street.”
Once Pan Am had an established presence in Latin America, it was fairly simple to begin advertising the wondrous destinations available—particularly because Pan Am (or, more accurately, Panagra, as the joint venture in South America was known) presented the region as an almost-undiscovered land. Ads from the late 1940s assured travelers that they would “travel in the intrepid footsteps of Pizzaro [sic],” in a paradise “spangled with the glories of past centuries.” These intimations of Francisco Pizarro—the Spanish conquistador who invaded Panama and Peru—and other overt references to the colonialist efforts of Pan Am, which injected U.S. influence and culture into South America, would continue for decades.
In 1962, the J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT), Pan Am’s principal advertiser, launched a campaign for Panagra that touted the “Charms of South America” to potential travelers. To its travel agents, JWT called this effort the “Greatest Campaign Since Pizarro!” Other Panagra advertisements from the 1960s celebrate Pizarro’s lasting impact upon Lima, Peru, stating that “He laid out the city’s streets, the government buildings, the cathedral, just where you see them today.” With these references to and celebrations of Pizarro, it seems as though Pan Am is encouraging its travelers to once again conquer and colonize Latin America—in fact, Panagra ads from 1965 invite travelers to “Capture the city Pizarro couldn’t!” (referring to Machu Picchu in Peru) and underscore the flippant imperialism of the U.S.
To be sure, contemporary advertisements for Pan Am’s flights to Europe portray the continent and its destinations as commodities, most often as dollar amounts. But where European cities and regions are reduced a monetary figure, they are never reduced to places that can be conquered, subdued, or gifted civilization the way that Latin America is. In Latin America, it seems that Pan Am found the perfect candidate for profit and U.S. imperialism, veiled in the thin language of adventure.
 Jennifer Van Vleck, Empire of the Air: Aviation and the American Ascendancy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 54.
Post contributed by Steph Crowell, the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Intern for 2019-2020. Steph curated the digital and physical exhibit Early Studies in Parapsychology at Duke.
Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
It can be easy to dismiss, but we are proud to announce that the new online exhibit Early Studies in Parapsychology at Duke is here to showcase some of the people whose job it is to scientifically study those experiences.
When J.B. and Louisa Rhine came to Duke in 1930, there were no scientific protocols to confirm or reject the reality of clairvoyance or telepathy but that was soon to change. In starting the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke, the Rhines as well as their fellow researchers made it their jobs to apply the scientific method to these phenomena—with surprising results.
One of the most famous tests to come out of the laboratory is testing with Zener cards. Named after Dr. Karl Zener who helped develop them, Zener cards are simple: each is printed with one of five symbols: a circle, a cross, wavy lines, a square, and a star. A test is deceptively simple. One person holds the cards and another person sits opposite them. A screen separates them. The person with the cards gives them a shuffle and picks one at random and asks the other person if they can sense the symbol on the card.
This test alone required hundreds of tests to determine the probability of randomly guessing correctly and to determine how many guesses in a row were required to get a meaningful result. In addition, it was found the mood of the participant could have a profound effect on results. Researchers also had to ensure that there was no way for a participant to get information from a researcher’s expressions, body language, and that nothing like an accidental reflective surface could give insight to the participant about which card was being held up.
With the laboratory at Duke, there was a wealth of student volunteers to help in testing. Some photos of those students working with both J.B. Rhine and fellow researchers still exist at Duke as part of the University Archives Photograph Collection.
After J.B. Rhine’s retirement in 1965, the laboratory was renamed the Institute of Parapsychology and moved to the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man. Even later, in 2002, the laboratory had to move again to its current home, The Rhine Research Center.
The Rhine Research Center is a non-profit still operating in Durham. You can read more about them and their current projects on their website here. To this day, the research continues and there are still opportunities for students to be involved.
When our exhibit spaces reopen, we invite you to visit the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room which will host a physical version of the online exhibit. We would like to give special thanks to Barbara Ensrud, Sally Rhine Feather, and John Kruth from the Rhine Research Center for contributing their insight and several photograph’s from the Center’s own archive.
Post contributed by Steph Crowell, the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Intern for 2019-2020. Steph curated the digital and physical exhibit Early Studies in Parapsychology at Duke.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and schedule
PDF scans of photobooks
Access to WordPress (photobooks reformatted as flipbooks)
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.
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.
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.
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University