Wendy Rouse on the Feminist Self Defense Movement of the 1970s

Contributed by Dr. Wendy Rouse, Professor of History, San José State University; Recipient of a 2023-2024 Mary Lily Research Travel Grant Award from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. Her book, Her Own Hero: The Origins of the Women’s Self-Defense Movement, is available from NYU Press.

Press release from the Women's Martial Arts Union from July 1975.
“For Immediate Release,” July 30, 1975, WMAU NY, 1972-75 File, Box 14, Kathy Hopwood Papers

“The right to self-defense is one of the most basic human rights. It is usually one of the first rights denied and oppressed group by their oppressors . . . Each woman who defends herself against attack strikes a blow at the culture that allows men to brutalize women and trains women to submit to men. We will not submit!” – Women’s Martial Arts Union, New York, 1975 [1]

The feminist self-defense movement of the 1970s emerged out of the anti-rape and battered women’s movement of the era. By calling attention to the issue of violence against women, feminists moved these topics out of the shadows and into the mainstream. They demanded societal reform to end women’s oppression. In the meantime, grassroots groups of women, many of them sexual assault survivors themselves, formed rape crisis centers and battered women shelters across the nation. In addition to support for survivors, some feminists also advocated for self-defense as a rape-prevention strategy. They recognized that self-defense training was not only a way to defend against assault but was also as a way to challenge gendered notions that women are inherently weak. In 1969, Dana Densmore, Abby Rockefeller, and Jayne West of Cell 16, a radical feminist group in Boston, issued a powerful call to action:

“We must learn to fight back. It must become as dangerous to attack a woman as to attack another man. We will not be raped!”[2]

Taking up the charge, a group of women in New York formed the Women’s Martial Arts Union (WMAU) in 1972 declaring self-defense a basic human right.[3]

Black and white photograph of a group of women marching a sidewalk on UNC's campus. They are carrying homemade signs, some of the signs read "Support Women's Anger" and "Rape is Everyone's Problem"
Rape Awareness March and Rally, June 24, 1984, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, North Carolina, Box 25, Kathy Hopwood Papers.

The Kathy Hopwood papers at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture is a carefully curated collection of materials that documents the history of the women’s martial arts and self-defense movement. In 1982, Hopwood and her partner Beth Seigler opened their own martial arts/self-defense school in Durham, North Carolina. Hopwood also served as the project archivist for the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF). Hopwood’s careful efforts to preserve the history of the women’s martial arts and feminist self-defense movement are evident in the wide range of materials representing local martial arts schools, regional groups, and national organizations.

Before the feminist self-defense movement of the 1970s, few women had access to martial arts or self-defense training and those that did were often the only woman in schools dominated by men. While some women enjoyed supportive and friendly training environments, others encountered condescension, hostility, and sexual harassment. Gerry Fifer, Barbara Landy, Nadia Telsey, Sue Ribner, Eva Blinder, Roberta Schine, Annie Ellman, and Valerie Eads were some of the women who participated in the WMAU with the goal of providing a support network for women martial artists. They hoped to make self-defense widely available and accessible to all women.[4]

But the founders of the WMAU experienced a great deal of personal backlash. Their male martial arts teachers insisted they stop teaching. Roberta Schine’s teacher laughed out loud when she asked permission to teach a short self-defense course for women. He said absolutely not. She did it anyway, adopting the pseudonym Florence Flowerpot to keep her identity secret. Some of the other women of the WMAU were demoted or banned from their schools for continuing to teach. But, they persisted because they envisioned a world where women could live free from the threat of violence and they weren’t willing to wait around for someone else to make that happen.[5]

Two women in black gis demonstrating moves.
Beth Seigler and Kathy Hopwood teaching self-defense at NWMAF Special Training, no date, Box 25, Kathy Hopwood Papers

From 1972-1974, the WMAU hosted trainings for women martial artists and self-defense practitioners. These gatherings provided opportunities to not only share their skills but to discuss ways of combatting larger structural issues related to the sexism, classism, homophobia, and racism in society. Following the WMAU example, Nancy Lehmann and Dana Densmore organized the first national conferences for women martial artists and self-defense teachers in Minneapolis in 1975 and Washington DC in 1976. Lehmann hosted the first national women’s special training camp in Minneapolis in 1976. These early gatherings were the model for what would become annual special trainings (1976-present) and the eventual formation of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation. The NWMAF remains the longest standing national group dedicated to supporting women in the martial arts and training self-defense instructors in the principles of feminist self-defense.

By the mid 1970s the women’s martial arts and feminist self-defense movement gained steam as evidenced by the number of women’s martial arts schools and self-defense courses that began popping up across the country. On the west coast, a group called the Women Martial Artists (now known as the Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists) began holding annual training camps in 1978.[6] The number of women instructors and the availability of women’s self-defense courses also rapidly expanded over the next several decades.

 

In our present day, it is no longer rare for women to train in martial arts and many women have taken some sort of self-defense course. The feminist self-defense movement has expanded into a broader Empowerment Self-Defense movement that advocates for self-defense for all marginalized genders and oppressed groups, picking up the banner of previous generations and carrying on with the rallying cry: “We will not submit!”[7]

References

[1] “For Immediate Release,” July 30, 1975, WMAU NY, 1972-75 File, Box 14, Kathy Hopwood Papers.

[2] Female Liberation, “More Slain Girls,” No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation 3 (November 1969), 109-110.

[3] “For Immediate Release,” July 30, 1975, WMAU NY, 1972-75 File, Box 14, Kathy Hopwood Papers.

[4] “Women’s Martial Arts Union,” Black Belt Woman 1, no. 3 (January/February 1976), 18; “Herstory of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation,”  NWMAF Newsletter, 3, no. 3 (August 1985): 5-8.

[5] Interview with Roberta Schine, conducted by Wendy Rouse, May 15, 2023.

[6] Laurie Cahn, “Martial Arts Camps for Women: It’s About Time,” Black Belt Magazine (August 1986): 67-69, 86.

[7] “For Immediate Release,” July 30, 1975, WMAU NY, 1972-75 File, Box 14, Kathy Hopwood Papers.

In Conversation about the National Black Justice Coalition – Tuesday, October 24

Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Time: 5:00 p.m.- 6:30 p.m.
Location: Rubenstein Library 153 (Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room)
Please register here. Free parking for registrants.

Please join the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture for “In Conversation about the National Black Justice Coalition with Mandy Carter (Social Justice Activist), Victoria Kirby York (Director Of Public Policy And Programs, NBJC), Eric D. Martin (LGBTA Center Coordinator, NCCU), and Kamau Pope (Ph.D. candidate, Duke University)” exploring the history and future of America’s leading national civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+, and same gender loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) people. Learn more about the NBJC on their website.

**Register hereRegistrants will receive an email with a pass for free parking at the lower level of the Bryan Center parking garage.

Portrait of Mandy Carter. She is a Black woman, and is seated facing the camera with her chin resting on her hand. She is wearing a black long sleeve shirt and glasses.
Mandy Carter

This event is part of a series associated with the exhibit, Mandy Carter: Scientist of Activism, honoring the decades-long work of Mandy Carter, a Durham, NC-based Black lesbian feminist activist who has been central in the struggle for social justice. The exhibit was curated with intention by Kamau Pope.

The exhibit will be on view June 10, 2023 – December 3, 2023 in the Jerry and Bruce Chappell Family Gallery, Rubenstein Library.

While celebrating Mandy and her community organizing tactics, this exhibit celebrates four central anniversaries of national and regional organizations that Mandy joined, founded, or led. These organizations: War Resisters League, celebrating 100 years; 60 years since March On Washington; Southerners On New Ground, celebrating 30 years and the National Black Justice Coalition, recognizing its 20th year, are all central to the legacy of nonviolent resistance, Black freedom movements, and queer liberation and through this exhibit shows what it takes to get us free.

The exhibit design was created by a Durham, NC-based, Black-owned firm, Kompleks Creative and the typeface was designed by Tre’ Seals of Vocal Type.

Q&A with Archival Expeditions Fellow Katie Carithers

Katie Carithers was an Archival Expeditions fellow in Spring 2023. Archival Expeditions introduces Duke graduate students to teaching with digital and physical primary sources. Each student partners with a Duke faculty sponsor to design an undergraduate course module that incorporates primary source material from the Rubenstein Library’s collections tailored to a specific class taught by that faculty member.

Katie’s excellent course module, as well as previous modules created through the program and program information, can be found on the Archival Expeditions website

Archival Expeditions is generously funded by the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, Ed Balleisen.

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

Photograph of young woman with light colored hair and glasses wearing a green scarf.
Katie Carithers.

I am a third-year doctoral student in the English Department here at Duke, and I am also pursuing a Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. My research interests are located at the intersection between Victorian Studies and contemporary postcolonial, feminist, and queer theory. Currently, I am thinking about how nineteenth-century novels figure consenting, desiring, and gendered subjects and how those notions transform across the nineteenth century.

I applied to the Archival Expeditions out of an excitement to work with the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Papers. In April 2022, Rubenstein announced that the collection was now open to researchers, and this fellowship seemed like a wonderful opportunity to engage such an expansive and heterogenous collection in a way that would allow the archive to shape the project. I think that my faculty sponsor, Gabriel Rosenberg (History and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies), was similarly excited by the possibility of exploring this archive, not knowing what would be in the collection, and letting the collection inform where we would go with the module.

What is the focus of the course module you created and what did you learn from the experience of designing it?

The module was designed for an “Intro to LGBTQ Studies” course. Since Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is often considered one of the founding thinkers of queer theory and LGBTQ studies as a discipline, this collection opened numerous pathways to think about central concepts as well as field formation (and transformation) over time.

Ultimately, the module revolves around one of Sedgwick’s seminal monographs, Epistemology of the Closet, which students will study in the class. Over the course of the module, students will encounter a range of archival artifacts—from teaching material and grant proposals to letters and marginalia—that span the creation and reception of Epistemology.

In addition to being able to spend time exploring the collection, one of my favorite aspects of the fellowship was its emphasis on pedagogy. Given the constraints of a module, I could focus on the reasoning behind each part of the lesson plan and modify as the semester progressed. As a fellow, I had the opportunity to shadow archival visits, workshop the conceptual plan for in-class activities and assessments, and receive feedback on the lesson plan and worksheets. The structured opportunity for that kind of attention to pedagogy was immensely valuable.

Meetings with my faculty sponsor as well as with Brooke Guthrie (Rubenstein Research Services,) Seth Anderson (Duke Learning Innovation), and Laura Micham (Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture) were especially instrumental.

Also, since archival visits are usually already different from a regular class session, the module encouraged experimenting with activities and projects in its design, which was fun to think about!

What do you hope undergraduate students will gain from the experience of working with archival sources like the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick papers?

The overall goal of the module is for students to use these archival materials to situate Sedgwick as a thinker within a cultural history. Through the selected archival materials, students will encounter Epistemology as thinking and writing that is in progress and in dialogue with other scholars and writers. And not just academic writing! There are zines, newspaper clippings, comics, and other written/visual artifacts. The aim is that, by close reading these materials, students will analyze how the taking up of sexuality as an analytic framework is tied to authorial and historical politics — and how that this is true for Sedgwick as well as scholars of LGBTQ studies today. I think that can help students reflect on the kind of questions they want to animate their own work and how they perceive their own writing in relation to their current moment.

Hopefully these archival artifacts will also showcase disciplinary formation as students encounter LGBTQ studies as something that is in the process of being thought of as a discipline, which may help highlight how that disciplinary formation is continuous and ongoing even now.

What did you enjoy about working with the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick papers and what were some of your most interesting finds?

There’s such a range of the kinds of materials. Everything from written materials like drafts, letters, notes, and syllabi to textiles, collages, photographs, and other artwork. The collection continually surprised me! There were days when I would have no idea what the inside of a particular box would look like until I was unwrapping its contents.

For my research, I primarily focused on the first twenty or so boxes in the collection, which include teaching materials, research, and professional correspondences as well as artifacts pertaining to specific monographs. What struck me when reading through these different documents is the presence of Sedgwick as an artist and poet as well as scholar and teacher. That inseparability is apparent in Sedgwick’s published work, and it’s really interesting to see how the archive also cultivates that sentiment.

One of my favorite finds was a notebook that comprises a typescript for “The Warm Decembers.” Stanzas are repeated and reworked and rewritten. I personally loved coming across drafts, writing in-progress, or different iterations of a piece. For example, there are notes on Proust and different sets of binaries that then are described in a grant proposal for Epistemology of the Closet and later in the book’s introduction.

Typed copy of "The Warm Decembers" poem with handwritten revisions done by Eve Sedgwick in black ink and pencil.
Edited typescript of “The Warm Decembers.”

Would you recommend the Archival Expeditions program and, if so, what advice would you offer to future fellows?

Absolutely! I think Archival Expeditions offers a unique opportunity to develop archival research skills and pedagogy. It’s also a great way to become much more familiar with the collections at Rubenstein. I learned about collections that I hope to work with in the future for my own research.

My advice for future fellows would be to let the archive alter and shape what you are going to do! It’s necessary to come in with a plan, but there are so many resources and parts of collections that you may discover during research that can lead to exciting new places.

 

The Stuff of Spies

Post contributed by Michelle Wolfson, Research Services Librarian for University Archives.

On my usual hunt for women in medicine, I came across a biography within the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library entitled Nurse and Spy in the Union Army: Comprising the Adventures and Experiences of a Woman in Hospitals, Camps, and Battle-Fields. A nurse and a lady spy, too? I immediately requested the book.

Portrait of Emma Edmonds showing a woman with should-length dark hair wearing a long black dress standing next to a dark-colored horse.
Emma Edmonds, from Nurse and Spy in the Union Army: Comprising the Adventures and Experiences of a Woman in Hospitals, Camps, and Battle-Fields, 1865.

I zipped around the book to get a sense of Emma Edmonds’s time during the Civil War. She was a nurse and when a need arose to infiltrate the Confederate army, Edmonds stepped up. Edmonds went through a process to test her abilities, and a line that stood out to me was regarding her phrenological examination—it showed that she was capable of being a spy.

Phrenology has been covered here on the Devil’s Tale before, such as in this excellent post about the phrenology of the Dukes, and the History of Medicine collection includes several phrenological books to enlighten us further. To sum up, phrenology claimed to discern the strengths and weaknesses of a person’s character by measuring the distances from the top of their spinal cord (around the opening of the ear) to the surface of the head, with different characteristics assigned to different parts of the brain/regions of the head. Scientific Phrenology: Being a Practical Mental Science and Guide to Human Character, an Illustrated Textbook by Bernard Hollander, offers a guide on cranial measurements that one should start with their children at six months and go until the age of puberty.

Series of sixteen head shot photographs of a man with dark hair, a mustache, and wearing a dark suit. In each photograph, the man's head is positioned slightly differently showing the placement of a metal tool for measuring the skull.
Cranial measuring image from Scientific Phrenology: Being a Practical Mental Science and Guide to Human Character, an Illustrated Textbook, 1902.

 

People could participate in readings out of their own interest, to check their compatibility with a suitor, to aid in the raising of their children, and phrenologists also played a part in court cases. The pseudoscience’s popularity overlapped with the American Civil War, and apparently also guided in the hiring of spies.

Heads and Faces, and How to Study Them, a Manual of Phrenology and Physiognomy for the People by Nelson Sizer and H.S. Drayton give us a breakdown of the characteristics phrenology covers.

Outline of a human head showing lines radiating out from the spinal cord to the skull.
Measuring from the spinal cord to the head from Heads and Faces, and How to Study Them, a Manual of Phrenology and Physiognomy for the People, 1887.

Edmonds mentioned her phrenological exam found her organs of secretiveness and combativeness to be largely developed, then included a vague “etc.”. Regarding secretiveness and combativeness, Sizer and Drayton define it as:

  • Combativeness. Meets duty bravely, has moral courage, intellectual enterprises, energy of character
  • Secretiveness. They do not say or do anything in an open, frank manner, but it is by concealment, by artifice, and there is mystery in all they do
Illustration of eleven facial profiles shown in row.
Facial profiles from Heads and Faces, and How to Study Them, a Manual of Phrenology and Physiognomy for the People, 1887.

 

I then decided to make some guesses on what the “etc.” might include. If I were to guess at the qualities Edmonds was strong in (and I don’t mind guessing because this is quack science anyway, though my enthusiasm was tempered by the gross racism found rampant in phrenology and physiognomy), I would guess the following:

  • Inhabitiveness. Love of home, patriotism;
  • Self-esteem. Gives confidence in the exercise of courage and judgment;
  • Firmness. Working with Combativeness, it produces determined bravery;
  • Imitation. This attribute mostly calls for people to become more refined by imitating others, but it also refers to imitation in common modes of doing and acting;
  • Individuality. Eager to see all that may be seen and nothing escapes their attention;
  • Locality. Remembers where things or places are in respect to themselves; they will remember roads and places and directions in a town (here is where I would completely fail as a spy);
  • Time. Remembers dates and times but also has a sense of time/how long things take; and
  • Finally, I think Edmonds would have been low on Cautiousness, which can cloud over all manifestations, paralyzing courage, energy, determination, and Hope.
Outline of a human head showing the locations of the mental organs. Below the head are brief descriptions of each mental organ.
Model head image from Heads and Faces, and How to Study Them, a Manual of Phrenology and Physiognomy for the People, 1887.

 

Lest we get too excited about lady nurses/spies and their exciting phrenological aspects, Scientific Phrenology reminds us that a woman like Edmonds is an exception, because as Hollander says, the average woman is less intellectual and more emotional than the average man “because of their mammary glands […], their sexual organs being concealed in the pelvis […]”, and various differences in their brains, such as their smaller frontal lobes.

Oh, phrenology, also a friend to misogyny.

This sort of reasoning is, of course, one of the reasons I seek out women in medicine, science, and life. And so we do not end on the sour note of misogyny, you can find meaningful resources on this LibGuide about women and their work in science and medicine.

Photograph of nurse Florence Gaynor, a Black woman wearing a Black dress, seated at a table holding an award plaque while other women stand behind her.
From the Florence Small Gaynor scrapbook, 1970-1972, manuscript.

 

Humanizing History, Complicating Memory: A Trip into the Past

Post contributed by  Carolyn Robbins, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Communication, University of Maryland; recipient of a Marshall T. Meyer Research Travel Grant.

On a warm Monday morning in June, I caught an Uber to Union Station in Washington D.C. and boarded a train to Durham, North Carolina. I was on my way to the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University. As a recipient of the Marshall T. Meyer Research Travel Grant, I had the opportunity to conduct archival research in Duke’s Human Rights Archive. It was a week of firsts for me – first Amtrak ride, first funded research trip, first time doing research in a physical archive, and even my first time discussing my dissertation in-depth with people outside of my university community. I was so excited to take this huge step forward in my scholarly journey.

Before my archival research, I had a very general idea for my dissertation. I knew that I wanted to write an abolitionist dissertation that tackles the ways we understand, remember, and therefore create and uphold systems to respond to those deemed “criminal.” My argument wasn’t fully formed, but I knew it would be something about interrogating and complicating the hegemonic stories U.S. American society tells us about the prison-industrial complex. In order to make this argument, I planned to use the Attica Prison riot of 1971 as a case study. I don’t have the space here to do the story of Attica justice, but I will try to describe the riot in a nutshell. In 1971, prisoners at Attica had repeatedly brought their complaints about things like overcrowding, water shutoffs, and rotten food to prison officials. Despite the prisoners’ rights to adequate space, water, and food, nobody in power responded to these complaints. Eventually, the human rights violations, egregious human rights violations, and a string of violent treatment of incarcerated people across the country inspired the Attica prisoners to band together and take over Attica. They took guards and prison staff hostage and cut the phone lines as they ransacked the prison.

This got the attention of prison officials, and they entered into several days of negotiations with the prisoners. The progress was slow and tedious as tensions mounted between the prisoners, the hostages, and the state officials. Eventually, one hostage died in a scuffle with the prisoners, and the negotiations immediately shifted from improving prison conditions to seeking amnesty and freedom from reprisals for the riot. Eventually, the negotiating committee left the prison and the government sent in state troopers. The prisoners and hostages were in D-Yard of the prison, a courtyard surrounded by high walls. The state troopers marched onto the catwalk atop the walls surrounding D-Yard on a rainy Monday morning. As the troopers donned gas masks, a helicopter flew over the yard dropping tear gas onto the prisoners and hostages, bringing all of them to the ground. The troopers, their vision impeded by the haze of the tear gas, the fog of the drizzly morning, and the thick eye protection of their gas masks, then fired thousands of rounds from their rifles indiscriminately into the crowd of prisoners and hostages. After this initial siege, state agents retook the prison. The guards ordered the surviving prisoners to strip, beat them, burned them with cigarettes, and sexually violated them with sharp objects. The state agents even forced them through a torturous obstacle course including a gauntlet of guards beating them with clubs while running up and down the stairs and crawling naked over broken glass. By the end of this so-called “prison riot,” 43 people, including both prisoners and hostages, had died violent and gruesome deaths.

The Rubenstein Library is home to several collections related to this riot: the Elizabeth Fink Papers, the Malcolm Bell Papers, and the Jomo Joka Omowale Papers. Elizabeth Fink was the lead attorney in the decades-long effort to seek justice for the Attica Brothers, the men who were incarcerated at Attica Prison and mercilessly tortured by state agents. The legal proceedings didn’t end until 2001, at which time the Attica Brothers were forced to settle the case for much less than they sued the state for. Elizabeth Fink kept many letters, documents, and news clippings related to the cases that gave an inside view into the struggle that continued so long after the initial riot. She also kept many documentaries, news clips, interviews, and other audiovisual materials that allowed me to experience this story from decades before my own birth in an immersive way. These files will elevate my podcast chapter by sharing the stories of what happened to the men at Attica in their own voices.

Malcolm Bell was the New York State prosecutor on the Attica case, When he saw the injustices of the Attica trial and the massive coverup the state attempted to create, he resigned in disgust and became a whistleblower and activist on behalf of the Attica Brothers. His correspondence, meticulous notes on legal documents, and copious writings on the coverup provide invaluable insight into the ongoing injustice of the Attica case. Bell’s advocacy is the reason that the public has access to much of the legal documentation about Attica, though a good portion of it remains sealed to this day.

Jomo Joka Omowale was one of the Attica Brothers who survived the siege. His papers include a wide variety of documents including personal correspondence, newsletters, newspaper clippings, and several handwritten and illustrated books. Within these papers, I also came across a prison pay stub that showed Jomo earned $1.60 for 8 days of work ($11.55 in today’s money) along with some mysterious objects that Academic Twitter helped me identify as pipe filters. This collection allowed me to gain a better understanding of the connections and divisions between the Attica brothers and other movements across the nation and the world, along with Jomo’s specific role in forming the Attica Brothers’ identity.

As I boarded my train home to D.C., I thought about all I learned from these artifacts I had spent the week examining. Spending time with Elizabeth, Malcolm, and Jomo helped me crystallize my  understanding of what really happened at Attica and what my argument is going to be for my dissertation. I am going to talk about the connections between riot rhetorics and rhetorics of civility as demonstrated at Attica. I am also going to demonstrate the relationships between identity, identification, agency, and power as exemplified through the relationships between the prisoners, state agents, hostages, and public throughout the riot. Finally, I will talk about the impact of public memory on current systems of oppression. I am so grateful to all of the staff at Rubenstein Library. Every answered question, scanned document, removed staple, and shared audiovisual file allows me to create a dissertation that adds another perspective to the important and ongoing conversation about the Attica Prison riot.

Carolyn Robbins (she/her) is a doctoral candidate in Rhetoric and Political Culture at the University of Maryland. She has forthcoming episodes about her archival research and the Attica riot on her podcast, Getting Critical with Carolyn.

How to be a Super Researcher

We recently published a larger version of our classic “Super Researcher” minizine full of tips for planning a successful research visit to an archives. This zine was originally created in 2016 as a lighthearted approach to exploring the world of primary source research. At the Rubenstein Library, about half of our reading room visitors are undergraduate students, and we recognize that even seasoned scholars may need help navigating our particular practices. This pocket-size guide has been distributed to hundreds of students and other library users at Duke and across many other institutions. We are happy to share this new edition with larger print, updated content, and most importantly, more clip art!

Stop by our reading room to pick up a copy, or you can download printable PDF versions of the original mini-zine (prints on 8.5×11 in. paper) and new quarter-size zine (prints on 11×17 in. paper). The Publisher versions of the files are also available in case you want to adapt them for your own institution. These publications are created by Kelly Wooten and licensed for sharing through Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Front and back of the minizine. The front has the title "How to Be a Super Researcher (or at least fake it" and the back has tips on self-care

Annie Sansonetti on Queer and Trans Childhood in Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Papers

Contributed by Annie Sansonetti, Ph. D. candidate, Department of Performance Studies, New York University; Recipient of an Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Research Travel Grant, 2022-23, supported by the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Foundation.

There is a photograph of my best friend and I as children that I especially love. The year is 2002. In the photo, I am in her “girl” clothes and she is in my “boy” clothes. We pose, my hand on my hip, her arm by her side. We smile with our other arms around each other. I remember our debut in her big, sun-filled kitchen: coffee and pastries on the table and the surprise on our parents’ faces. Laughter ensued, someone took a photo, and we played in our shared clothing all day. I assume that I eventually swapped her clothes for mine, although this moment does not stand out in my mind. The memory of my friend’s roomy walk-in closet and our subsequent exit of it—down the spiral staircase hand in hand, with our footsteps set to a symphony of our giggles—does.

I call this moment, and the gendered and (trans)sexual activity that transpired there, “Eve’s closet.” Play in Eve’s closet is my descriptor for queer and trans pleasure in the curvature of sexual and gendered spaces, what Sedgwick described in a response to an essay by Jacob Hale as an “identification with what is, at any given moment, understood to be the growing edge of a self.” It recalls moments of childhood play—“of daring surmise and cognitive rupture”—between queer and trans kids (here trans feminine and trans masculine), where clothing, make-believe, and toys are the “very stuff” of queer sexuality and/or where friendship is a medium for gender transition or sex change. Eve’s closet is a funhouse for kids: comprised of many entrances and exits, where they are encouraged to come in and come out when they are ready. It is like a theatre’s backstage, or a dressing room, where costume choices are endless. In Eve’s closet, and in play among children, even bridal lingerie has queer and trans potential.

Eve Sedgwick poses in front of a shop called Eve’s Closet, Greenwich Village, NY, undated. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Papers, Box 16.

I visited the Eve Kosofksy Sedgwick papers at Duke University’s Rubenstein Library with an interest in Sedgwick’s writing on trans feminine childhood—what was then-called “feminine boyhood,” “boyhood effeminacy,” or “boyhood femininity” in common parlance of queer theory in the 1990s. I am interested in how stories of trans feminine childhood—of feminine boyhood and trans girlhood—have been written and performed in theatre and the performing arts, especially when friends (or other queer- and trans-loving collaborators) are the chosen or desired audience members or co-stars. I read an early 1989 draft of her now-famous essay “How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay,” later re-published in Tendencies in 1993 with the subtitle “The War on Effeminate Boys,” as well as her lesser-known 1989 essay “Willa Cather and Others” on Cather’s 1905 short story titled “Paul’s Case: A Study in Temperament.” But I soon became fascinated by Sedgwick’s collaborations with her best friend and once-roommate Michael Moon, especially their co-authored 1990 essay, more of a “performance piece,” on the topic of “divinity,” what they called “a little-understood emotion.”

In “Divinity,” Moon and Sedgwick reflect on the “roominess” of the fat woman’s body—and her closet—for the feminine boy. While I am interested in the content of the essay (especially a film still of Divine and the “Infant of Prague” from John Waters’ 1970 film Multiple Maniacs, and I certainly have my own stories of play in fat women’s closets as a girly-boy), for the purposes of this report, I want to dwell on Moon and Sedgwick’s collaboration for what it teaches us about the pleasure and play of the trans masculine and trans feminine relation. In Sedgwick’s papers, there are multiple drafts of “Divinity”—some with misplaced paragraphs, others with Moon’s and Sedgwick’s marginalia, and a few with Moon’s initials swapped for Sedgwick’s and vice versa, as if they were sharing and exchanging each other’s voices, or playing dress up with each other’s bodies, if you will.

Moon and Sedgwick both spent time in the closet. Moon as a “proto-gay,” feminine boy and Sedgwick as a fat woman who accompanied them there (and who was, especially in her white glasses, a fat woman who was a gay man). But they also stepped outside them quite proudly and defiantly, both together and apart, like me and my friend. For Moon and Sedgwick, their play-space was writing; for my friend and I, it was clothing. Inspired by Moon and Sedgwick’s essay and my photograph, we might make the claim that queer and trans children’s play with each other (both “actual” children and the inner child of the queer or trans adult who is “co-present,” not gone, after Mary Zaborskis) can constitute felt and pleasurable enactments of queer sexuality and/or gender transition beyond the confine of an “adult”—legal, medical, and political—form of legibility and between friends.

Play in each other’s shared clothing is co-authorship. It a chance for queer and trans kids to stage the bodies and lives they want for themselves and their friends, at least for the time being, and until they have the autonomy to demand more from the world at the level of sexual and gender-determination in an adult-centric world. In extant queer and trans scholarship and popular culture, tomboys and sissies are often staged far apart from each other. But what about their conviviality and solidarity—the “I have what you need/want, you have what I need/want” kind of mutual aid? Think: my photograph. It occurs to me that in our play, a repertoire that was certainly “t4t,” we relished the share of clothing, bodies (body parts?), and toys that sustained our queer and trans childhood—little-by-little, day-by-day, and moment-by-moment, like the best scenes of queer and trans childhood’s “divinity.”

In this sense, play among queer and trans children is best encapsulated in Sedgwick’s last words on the “divine” collaboration between Divine and Waters (and, I add, herself and Moon, and me and my friend). This play, is, as Sedgwick writes, “as scarce as it is precious.” It offers us “opulent images and daring performances that suggest the experiment of desires that might withstand the possibility of their fulfillment.” In the absence of a certain fulfillment, there is no “finale” to such play’s enactment of desire. Instead, there are only a bunch of opulent and daring debuts with the friends who withstand the often frustrated, unrealizable experiments in queer and trans desire with you. This is “Eve’s closet,” where children can change their genders/sexualities, stage a scene, and strike a pose with a friend, always as if for the first time. There may even be someone queer- and trans-loving around to photograph it.

 

Fallout Shelter Fallout

Post contributed by Joshua Larkin Rowley, Reference Archivist, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.

The January 1962 issue of Consumer Reports, the flagship publication of the consumer education and advocacy non-profit of the same name, included a much-anticipated article titled “The Fallout Shelter: A review of the facts of nuclear life and the variables that bear on the effectiveness of a shelter.”  Cold War consumers were eager for guidance from a trusted source of product evaluation.  However, Consumer Reports essentially took a pass.  According to the organization, all the variables that might make a shelter effective or ineffective were simply unknowable and unpredictable.  While the organization side-stepped recommending specific shelters, the Technical Department, the unit responsible for creating testing procedures, methods, and reports, retained forwarded letters documenting reader reactions to the article.  For a moment, the fallout shelter article became a flashpoint for the hopes, fears, and anxieties of Cold War citizens.

Front cover of the January 1962 Consumer Reports magazine. The cover is blue and features article titles including "the fallout shelter" and "new compact cars" along with images of several small cars.
Consumer Reports cover, January 1962

Some readers applauded the article as the most objective and thorough review of the facts regarding the effectiveness of fallout shelters.  Others were not so complimentary.  A professor of architecture at the University of Florida and self-described instructor in “Fallout Shelter Analysis,” accused the organization of using the same tactics as cigarette advertisers, “arguing from a conclusion using pseudo-technical jargon.”[1]  Another agreed that Consumer Reports had not “..lived up to its own standards in discharging the awesome responsibility…of giving advice that might mean life or death to large numbers of people.”[2]  Some took an optimistic something-is-better-than-nothing stance.  “You apparently cannot admit that a partial solution is better than no solution at all,” wrote one subscriber.[3]  Yet another reader relays that he is often asked by friends and acquaintances whether he is afraid that the shelter he is currently constructing might not work.  His reply, he shares, is always: “No—My greatest fear has been that it (nuclear war) might happen, and I would be faced with the knowledge that I hadn’t even tried or made the effort.”[4]

Other readers felt the article reinforced their own principled stance concerning nuclear armament.  A letter from a couple from Bellaire, Ohio included their own vision of Civil Defense titled Civilization Defense: A Creed, in which they lay out a list of principled teachings that they plan to instill in their children amid the omnipresent threat of nuclear war which concludes: “This creed is the only shelter I will build for my children.”[5]  A research psychologist at the University of Michigan argued that the greatest threat posed by the fallout shelter fad was not their inadequacy, but their “psychological and political consequences during a time when an attack might still be prevented.”  He goes on to argue that shelter programs are but “a step in the long chain of events” that could actually provoke a nuclear war.  Lynn and Michael Phillips of Berkley, CA, agreed, commending the article’s importance in “preventing people from making the deadly mistake of accepting nuclear war” as a means to rid the world of Communism and survive.  In the mind of the Phillips’s the only way to protect a nation’s people from nuclear war was disarmament.

Typed document on white paper showing "Civilian Deference: A Creed" with the handwritten signature of Milton and Charlotte Levine near the bottom of the page.
Civilization Defense: A Creed, 1962

Consumer Reports was also critical of companies eager to leverage the demand for fallout shelters.  In an article titled “Enter the Survival Merchants,” the magazine characterized the “survival business” as a natural home for “fly-by-night operators, high pressure salesman, and home improvement racketeers” and accused the industry of preying on people’s fear as well as their patriotism.  A letter from an executive at KGS Associates, later to be revealed as a civil defense merchandiser, accused the publication of intentionally setting out to discredit the civil defense industry.  In the case of a nuclear attack, the writer wondered “how fast the Consumer Reports staff…will run for the shelters, eat the food, and drink the water provided by the men they have described as hungry, callous, and even a bit shady.”  Another shelter defender pointedly stated, “your implication that all shelter designers are out to fleece the public is untrue and not up to the high standards I have always looked for in Consumer Reports.”[6] The organization did not let large corporations off the hook either.  General Mills, the processed foods manufacturer, also came under fire for their marketing of Multi-Purpose Food (MPF), a shelf-stable nutritional supplement designed specifically to stock fallout shelters and meant to be mixed with other foods.  Brochures for the product were often displayed alongside fallout shelters at civil defense trade shows, piggybacking on the shelter craze.

Two pages from the Multi-Purpose food brochure. The pamphlet is yellow with red text and features images of canned foods and information about the product.
Multi-Purpose Food brochure, General Mills, September 1961.

Looking back on the controversial issue two years removed from its publication, Consumer Reports staff took time for an LOL moment.  In an internal memo, a staff member noted an article published in the New York Post that day about fallout shelters that cited a local company “…buying up prefabricated fallout shelters for conversion to hot dog stands and cabanas. ‘Swords into plowshares’” he quipped.[7]

 

[1] King Royer to Consumers Union, 12 January 1962.  Consumer Reports. Technical Department Records, Box 54

[2] Jack Hirshleifer to Irving Michelson, Director of Public Service Projects, 15 March 1962, Ibid.

[3] John F. Devaney to Dexter Masters, Director, Consumers Union, 11 January 1962 Ibid.

[4] Thomas McHugh to Consumer Reports, 8 April 1962.  Consumer Reports. Technical Department Records, Box 54.

[5] Charlotte Levine to Consumer Reports, 14 January 1962, Consumer Reports. Technical Department Records, Box 54.

[6] McHugh to Consumer Reports.

[7] Memoranda, 17 July 1963, Consumer Reports. Technical Department, Box 54

Raymond C. Battalio and John B. Van Huyck Papers Electronic Records Fully Processed

Post contributed by Zachary Tumlin, Project Archivist for the Economists’ Papers Archive.

Raymond Battalio (1938-2004) and John Van Huyck (1956-2014) were American academic economists who spent their entire careers at Texas A&M University (TAMU; 1969-2004 and 1985-2014, respectively), where they contributed to the development of experimental economics. Battalio was one of the 12 founders of the Economic Science Association in 1986 and served as its third president, and together, they founded the Economic Research Lab at TAMU in 1997. They are primarily known for their lab work on the problem of multiple equilibria in game theory. Along with Richard Biel, they carried out a series of experiments on coordination that began with the minimum-effort coordination game in 1990. They helped explain why players will fail to coordinate even when it is in their best interest to do so, and they showed the importance of learning because player behavior will change over time.

A university computer lab with dividers separating each desktop computer. Each computer has a CRT monitor and large tower.

A university computer lab with dividers separating each desktop computer. Each computer has a LCD monitor and no towers are visible.
Figure 1: The Electronic Research Lab in 2004 (photo by Van Huyck) versus 2021 (from the ERL Twitter account). Dividers ensure that participants cannot easily screen peek, and their computers are networked together and controlled by a separate computer at the front of the room.

Dr. Jonathan Cogliano, former Project Archivist, began processing their papers (combined into one collection due to their close working relationship) in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic and leaving to become an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston in summer 2020. Undergraduate Elizabeth Berenguer imaged and reported on 442 floppy disks during the fall 2022 semester, and Project Archivist Zachary Tumlin finished processing the electronic records in June 2023.

Archival boxes displayed on a table, containing floppy disks, optical disks, hard drives, audio cassettes, and micro cassettes.
Figure 2: Boxes 66-81 of the collection.

There are 65 boxes with 81 linear feet of paper records and 16 boxes with 1,568 electronic record carriers and 43 pieces of audiovisual material. This breaks down as 1,309 floppy disks (both 3.5” and 5.25”), 245 optical disks (CDs and DVDs), nine hard drives (internal and external), five quarter-inch cartridges, three USB thumb drives, 29 audio cassettes, and 14 microcassettes. Some of these disks were separated from related paper records, while others were not. This is the greatest number of electronic record carriers in an archival collection at Duke, and most or all belonged to Van Huyck. Interested in and knowledgeable about the use of technology, he maintained backups and migrated files to newer storage mediums to prevent data loss, or to transport files between his home and office before he would later use Dropbox.

The front cover of Turtle's Discovery Book, which has an illustration of a turtle holding a computer terminal and surfing on water spilled from a bucket by a rabbit who has tripped.
Figure 3: Van Huyck taught his children how to program in the Logo language using Turtle’s Discovery Book, written by Jim Muller and illustrated by C. Micha in 1995.

These carriers contain approximately 1.5 million files that total 655 gigabytes, with the hard drives being the largest source. This material was appraised down to 390,864 files that total 56.2 gigabytes and arranged into ten sets (top-level folders) based on the arrangement of the paper records. There are three main reasons for this reduction: 1) some disks are clearly labeled as copies of other disks, 2) some disks are installation disks for software, and 3) the hard drives contain system files that are never retained, and they show an evolution over time due to being used as backups. However, duplicate files remain, especially between different mediums. Seven of these sets are now open for research but three have restricted access due to the presence of personnel records or personally identifiable information.

A screenshot of the landing page of a computer program in DOSBox. It lets the user know that some personal information will need to be collected first for administrative purposes, and it lists the design consultants and programmers at the bottom.
Figure 4: RL11714-FL3-0744 contains a demo of a Bayesian learning experiment that can be played by an individual against a simulated opponent. It appears to be from the Economic Science Laboratory at the University of Arizona in the early 1990s.

There are correspondence files with email messages and typed letters, files on their professional activities as economists, manuscript files with writings, research files, files on their university activities as faculty (including teaching and advising), and personal files related to Van Huyck and his family. In particular, there are extensive research files on their experiments, including executable files that theoretically, in the right networked environment, could allow users to replay these games/replicate these experiments using the original source code. This offers interesting possibilities, such as an interactive component of an exhibit on the history of experimental economics or specifically experiment design.

A screenshot of an computer-based experiment showing a box divided into four squares. The player chooses one column while the other player chooses one row, and each player has a balance and earnings.

A screenshot of a computer-based experiment involving investing, estate, and savings. Players are able to message and make proposals to each other.
Figure 5: These screenshots, stored on different disks, show two different experiments and operating systems; the first is in DOS and the second is in Windows and on unstructured bargaining.

Randall Hinshaw Papers Reopen for Research

Post contributed by Vincent Carret, Part-time Research Scholar for the Economists’ Papers Archive and Visiting Scholar at the Center for the History of Political Economy.

The Randall Hinshaw papers have been reprocessed, and four new boxes have been added. The collection is now fully described, and open for research. This blog post describes what is in the papers, by going over the life and work of Randall Hinshaw.

Randall Weston Hinshaw was born on May 9, 1915, in La Grange, Illinois. His father, Virgil Goodman Hinshaw, was chairman of the Prohibition Party National Committee (1912-1924) and a longtime advocate of the temperance movement (transcripts of his diaries in the collection document his advocacy at the turn of the century). Virgil and his family moved to Southern California in the mid-1920s, and Randall grew up in Pasadena with his five brothers. He attended Occidental College during the 1930s, graduating with a BA (1937) and MA (1939); he went on to Princeton University, where he obtained a PhD in economics (1944) after a lecturing stint at Harvard University in 1942-1943.

The image shows Randall Hinshaw's diplomas from Occidental College (BA and MA).
Hinshaw’s BA and MA diplomas.

In the 1940s, Hinshaw worked at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, in the Division of Research and Statistics. A number of memoranda and unpublished manuscripts from this time can be found in the collection, including some co-authored with Lloyd A. Metzler and other economists. He then joined the successor agency working on implementing the Marshall Plan in Europe, and was stationed in Paris for a few years, during which he was involved in the intergovernmental negotiations on international payments, economic cooperation, and regional monetary agreements.

The image shows the cover page of a report from Randall Hinshaw and Lloyd Metzler on "World Prosperity and the British Balance of Payments."
A report by Hinshaw and Lloyd Metzler.

At the end of the 1950s, Hinshaw left government service and returned to academia in the US. After short-term visiting positions at Yale University, Oberlin College, and the Council on Foreign Relations, he secured a position in 1960 at the newly founded Claremont Graduate School, where he remained until his death in 1997, becoming a professor emeritus in 1982.

Black and white photo of a group of 5 white men standing and talking in a room.
Hinshaw (left) with colleagues from the Claremont Graduate School’s Circle of Associates.

Hinshaw was well-connected with many leading economists in international trade through his education and through his role in the federal government. His association with the Bologna Center of Johns Hopkins University led to the organization of the first Bologna Claremont Monetary Conference in 1967. This conference brought together economists from academia, government, and the private sector to discuss the problems and evolution of the international monetary system.

Several boxes contain the correspondence related to the organization of the Bologna Claremont  Monetary Conferences, which continued until Hinshaw’s death in 1997 . Among the economists who took part in the debates were Paul Samuelson, Robert Solow, Milton Friedman, Lionel Robbins, James Tobin, Jacques Rueff, Robert Triffin, and many others. Three boxes of audiocassettes and two boxes of reel-to-reel tapes contain audio recordings of most of these conferences, along with audio letters sent to Hinshaw by his family and colleagues.

Two boxes filled with audiocassettes and tapes.
Audiovisual material in the collection.

This collection will be of interest to those researching the international monetary system from the 1940s to the 1990s, from the point of view of both government experts and academics. Although the conference proceedings have been published, the correspondence on their organization documents what happened behind the scenes. Some dramatic moments surface from these letters, for instance the London School of Economics protests in the late 1960s, which prevented Robbins from attending one of the conferences; other tensions between the participants illustrate the saying that academic rivalries are only as vicious as the stakes are small.

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