In the Lab: Boxing the Blue Devil

I love the sort of projects that start with a co-worker saying, “We have something special we want you to box,” because I always know it’ll be anything but a regular book. When I saw this little Blue Devil Doll, I knew a fun project lay ahead.

This doll was donated to the Duke University Archives this spring. It was purchased on campus in 1938 and is made of straw with a wax (I think) head and dressed in a smart blue felt outfit. The devil’s tail has floral wire wrapped around it to provide stiffness. The doll itself is in fair condition but, as you can see below, it has sustained some damage to the felt, most likely from insect activity.

Because of its condition, I wanted to make a sturdy box that had a cushioned interior to protect the fragile doll. The end result would be a drop-spine box, also called a cloth-covered clamshell. Before constructing the outer box, I would have to make an inner box with a cushioned interior.

The inner box is constructed of buffered corrugated board, lined with polyester quilt batting with a cotton fabric liner. The fun part was making the side bolsters to keep the doll from rolling around. These are made from rolled up polyester batting and then encased in a polyethylene pocket using our CoLibri book cover machine to make tubes. These provide enough structure to hold their shape but are still soft should the doll shift. Who knew that all my sewing experience would come in handy this way?

Blue Devil Doll in His Box

Once done with the inner tray, I constructed a clamshell box around it. The final enclosure is sturdy and keeps the doll firmly in place. The creative use of the CoLibri pockets worked really well. I’ll remember that should another devil cross my path.

For more photos of the Blue Devil Doll in his new home, visit the Conservation Lab’s “Boxing the Devil” set on Flickr!

Post contributed by Beth Doyle, Collections Conservator, as part of our ongoing “In the Conservation Lab” series.

O Pioneers!

Seth reads the Book of Mormon. Photo by Beth Doyle.

For many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the experience of holding and reading a first edition copy of the Book of Mormon—including one of the two held at the RBMSCL—elicits reverence and profound emotion.

According to the church, the Book of Mormon is the record of ancient Americans and their relationship to God, and includes a visit from Christ after his resurrection. Joseph Smith, under God’s direction, received and translated the work before its 1830 publication in Palmyra, New York, and reestablished the priesthood and Christ’s church.

While the information contained within the Book of Mormon can be found in any of the over one hundred million copies (in 108 different languages), a copy of the first edition represents a physical connection to a prophet, the church’s origins, and God. Indeed, it is among the most requested of our holdings.

From the start, the church suffered intense persecution, moving several times from New York to Kirtland, Ohio to Missouri to Nauvoo, Illinois. This persecution eventually resulted in the death of Joseph Smith and the start of a great western migration lead by religious leader Brigham Young (in time, Young would be sustained as a prophet and Joseph Smith’s successor as the president of the church).

Beginning in April of 1847, Young lead approximately 70,000 pioneers on a western migration from Illinois. On July 24th of that year, weary pioneers arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley, their new home and the future capital city of Utah. This day is celebrated annually by the Latter-Day Saints as Pioneer Day.

Brigham Young prayed that God would grant the pioneers 10 years of peace, which they received almost to the day. In 1857, based on fictitious reports of a “Utah Rebellion,” President James Buchanan appointed Alfred Cumming to replace Young as governor of Utah Territory and sent 2,500 soldiers to quell the supposed uprising. Upon arrival, Cummings discovered a people fearful of attack but respectful of his new position as governor. This experience is documented in the correspondence between Young and Cumming found in the RBMSCL’s Alfred Cumming Papers. These letters, like the first edition copies of the Book of Mormon, represent a relationship to a prophet and a history and are available for you to come see.

Post contributed by Seth Shaw, Electronic Records Archivist. Thanks to Kelly Wooten, Research Services and Collection Development Librarian, for suggesting this post and to Beth Doyle, Collections Conservator, for the photograph.

New and Improved AdViews!

Just in time for the premiere of the fourth season of Mad Men, the last batch of 3,200 newly digitized D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B) commercials has been uploaded to AdViews!

More commercials than ever! Now there are almost 8,800 commercials in AdViews.

Essential new products! New ads for Oreo, Continental Airlines, Raisin Bran, Mattel, Fresca, Pop Rocks, Legos, Clearasil, Volkswagen, Budweiser, Hardee’s and so much more!

Act now and see expert interviews! Professors Jason Chambers of the University of Illinois and Peggy Kreshel of the University of Georgia give context to advertising targeted towards African Americans and women.

But wait, there’s more! Highlighted content includes a 20-minute film about the creation of a 1970s Post Grape Nuts commercial featuring Euell Gibbons.

After you’ve checked out AdViews, stop back here and let us know your favorite commercials!

Dear Diary: Girls Rock!


Dear Zine Diary,

Today was one of my favorite days of the year: zine workshop day at Girls Rock Camp. Amy and I spent the morning doing a zine workshop for about 45 young girls at Durham’s Girls Rock Camp. The day started with everyone standing in a circle, holding hands, and then turning to the person beside them and telling them “You rock!” What a way to start the day. We were able to talk with the girls about zines, as well as more about the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture and how they can come and look at zines in our collection. The girls were so excited to work on their own zine pages. We brought tons of markers, stickers, stamp pads, magazines, and glue sticks for them to make their own zine pages, and they did not disappoint! The zine pages they created included lots of things, such as their band names (Black Lizards, Beach Girls, 24/7, and The Flaming Moonshiners) and stickers proclaiming their love of music (and animals), and included statements like “I want to be a singer, an actress, and an architect.” I was asked how to spell words like “appreciate” and “different.” It was so great. Oh Zine Diary, every day should be like this!

Until next year. . .


Dear Zine Diary,

Kelly and I spent yesterday morning at Girls Rock Camp in Chapel Hill. I was amazed at how eager, smart, and enthusiastic the girls were to learn about women’s history and zine-making! We went around the room and introduced each other and Kelly and I found out the names of the girls’ bands. We talked about the three waves of feminism and we even did the wave! We also talked about female stereotypes and how we can fight them together. Then the girls got down to business with markers, stickers, magazines, glue sticks, and stamps. They made pages for their bands as well as individual pages, and as Rachel mentioned, their pages were creative and inspiring. I was so excited to hear the girls talk about everyday injustices and how they want to fix them. Kelly told them that since they are part of the Third Wave they are the future of feminism and will help to decide the future for women. After yesterday, I’m glad to know the future is in good hands.

Rock on,

For more photos from Girls Rock Camp, visit the Bingham Center’s Flickr photostream!

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, former Bingham Center intern and Conservation Technician, and Alex Krensky, Bingham Center intern.

Networks for Freedom

Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Rare Book Room
Contact Information: Amy McDonald, 919-681-7987 or amy.mcdonald(at)

1862 broadside.

Join the staff of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture for a program with historian Deborah Lee, recipient of a 2010-2011 Franklin Research Center travel grant.

Dr. Lee’s research traces the networks of anti-slavery activists that operated between 1810 and 1865 in the upper Potomac River basin. As Dr. Lee writes, “these white and black anti-slavery men and women used sophisticated peaceful means—persuasion, law, philanthropy, colonization, and the underground railroad—to help thousands of individual bondspeople obtain freedom, fray the institution of slavery locally, and advance the movement nationally.”

Dr. Lee’s visit to the RBMSCL will allow her to examine a number of our 19th century manuscript collections, including the Rankin-Parker Papers, the John Rutherfoord Papers, and the Funkhouser Family Papers.

Light refreshments will be served.

Hot New Finding Aids!

Is the heat wave getting to be too much to bear? Head on over to the RBMSCL and do some research in our cool reading room!

Full Frame Festival Program, 2007. From the Full Frame Archive Film Collection.

Full Frame Archive Film Collection, 1998-2010

The largest film festival in the United States entirely devoted to documentary film, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival has been an annual highlight of Durham’s cultural scene since 1998.

In 2007, Duke University Libraries and Full Frame, with support from Eastman Kodak and Alpha Cine Labs in Seattle, announced the creation of the Full Frame Archive, to be housed at the RBMSCL, with the aim of acquiring, archiving, and preserving copies of all of the Festival’s award-winning films. The Full Frame Archive Film Collection comprises preservation masters of documentary films that won awards at the Full Frame Film Festival between 1998 and 2010. Each year’s festival will bring new additions to the collection!

Confederate States of America Collection, 1850-1876

One of our older collections has a brand new finding aid. This perennially-popular collection includes a wide variety of records from the administrative bodies within the Confederate States of America, including original and typed copies of acts and statutes of the C.S.A. Congress, Army soldiers’ correspondence and papers of several Army units, and records from the Treasury Department. There might even be a clue about the lost Confederate gold!

Rights! Camera! Action!: Trouble the Water

Date: Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Sarah P. Duke Gardens (map and directions)
Contact Information: Patrick Stawski, 919-660-5823 or patrick.stawski(at), or Kirston Johnson, 919-681-7963 or kirston.johnson(at)

As Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans, 9th Ward resident Kimberly Rivers Roberts, an aspiring rap artist, and her husband Scott, used their Hi 8 camera to film their experience of the storm, from the trepidation of the day before the storm’s landfall to the failing of the levees. Trouble the Water weaves this home movie footage with archival news segments and verite footage shot over the next two years to tell the story of a community struggling to rebuild itself.

The film screening will be preceded by a panel discussion with Wahneema Lubiano and Mark Anthony Neal, both of Duke’s Department of African and African American Studies.

The Rights! Camera! Action! film series, which is sponsored by the Archive for Human Rights, the Archive of Documentary Arts, the Duke Human Rights Center, the Franklin Humanities Institute, and Screen/Society at Duke’s Arts of the Moving Image Program, features documentaries on human rights themes that were award winners at the annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. The films are archived at the RBMSCL, where they form part of a rich and expanding collection of human rights materials.

The Star-Spangled Cucumber

As archivists, we know that we’re supposed to mark the Fourth of July with a remembrance of that most celebrated of documents, our Declaration of Independence. We think, though, that we’ll leave the remembering and celebrating to our fine colleagues at the National Archives, and give some attention to a document of a completely different sort—a pamphlet bearing one of the most wonderful titles we’ve ever come across:

Lest you think we’re joking, here’s a link to the catalog record. The pamphlet reprints an oration delivered by David Daggett to the citizens of New Haven, Connecticut on the Fourth of July, 1799.

Of course, at the risk of spoiling the fun, we have to note that the title is actually a reference to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Since Swift was a pretty funny guy himself, we’re hoping you’ll forgive us.

Happy Fourth of July from the RBMSCL!

Thanks to Beth Ann Koelsch, who brought this treasure to our attention many years ago.

Happy United Nations Charter Day!

The United Nations Conference on International Organization officially convened between April 25 and June 26, 1945 in San Francisco. On 26 June 1945, delegations from 50 countries signed the United Nations Charter, a constituent treaty by which all member nations are bound in an international body and in which organization’s mission and commitment to peaceful resolution are defined.

The Veil by Julie Chen, 2002.
Photo courtesy of Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.

Over fifty years later, book artist Julie Chen wove the text of the famously eloquent Preamble into her 2002 free-standing concertina, The Veil. This carousel book offers the artist’s reflections on the political conflicts in the Middle East through both words and abstract visual meditations which unfold over the text of the charter. The Veil will be featured in the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture’s Book + Arts Exhibit this October.

Post contributed by Christine Well, UNC SILS graduate student volunteer, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University