This post is contributed by Erin Rutherford, Josiah Charles Trent Intern, History of Medicine Collections.
“…there is no limit to the marvelous powers attributed to females” (Pliny, NH, 28.23).
When Pliny the Elder spoke of female powers in his Natural History, he attributed the most marvelous among them to menstrual blood. A menstruating woman could sour crops, tarnish mirrors, blunt razors, kill bees, drive dogs insane, and stave off hailstorms.
How unfortunate that the same womb which, in a woman’s younger years was blamed for such chaos, could be even more problematic in her later life.
For centuries it was believed that the menses were a means to cleanse poisons from a woman’s blood. When a woman’s menstrual period came to a permanent end, toxins could accumulate and stimulate disease (in addition to a slew of physical and mental conditions). “The Change of Life,” as the cessation was referred to, was the harbinger of both barrenness and wildness, sullenness and excitability, lethargy and hysteria, volubility and melancholy. Pathologized and medicalized, this physiological transition was viewed as anything but a natural, biological process.
The term now widely used to describe this phase – menopause – comes from the Greek words men (“month”) and pausis (“cessation”). Since French physician Charles-Pierre-Louis de Gardanne coined the term in 1821, knowledge about what menopause denotes has grown significantly.
The items in this exhibit trace changing perspectives on menopause – from early proponents who labelled it a debilitating disease to the women who have reclaimed it as an empowering transition. The exhibit aims to make visible the experience of menopause, dispel myths, and encourage public conversation about a topic that has, for too long, been considered taboo. Its curation was inspired by the words of feminist Rosetta Reitz:
“I’m going to pull menopause out into the open, remove the cobwebs, clean it off, and look at it.” 
Curated by Erin Rutherford, Josiah Charles Trent Intern, The Change of Life: Menopause and our Changing Perspectives, runs from March 20 – July 14, 2018, and is on display in the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room.
 Menopause: A Positive Approach. Rosetta Reitz (1924-2008). New York: Penguin Books, 1979, c1977, pg. 1.
Post contributed by David Romine, Rubenstein Library Technical Services intern and P.h.D . Candidate, Duke University Department of History
The story of how Florence Tate, a journalist from Dayton, Ohio, and a fixture in the city’s civil rights struggle, became active in African independence movements unfolds in her archive, recently processed and available for researchers at the Rubenstein Library at Duke.
Born in 1931, Florence Tate grew up in during an era when African Americans had already begun to see links between budding African liberation movements and domestic civil rights struggles. Honing her skills in mass communication and expanding her connections with Black reporters and government officials as the first Black female reporter for the Dayton Daily News, Tate also hosted young African exchange students in her home. Along with her husband Charles Tate, she was active in the Dayton chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), founded several local civil rights organizations including the women’s group Umoja, and was a tireless member of Friends of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). When the Coordinating Committee for the 1972 African Liberation Day invited her to participate as the national communications coordinator, she was able to put her skills to use on a national scale. While there had been other days that celebrated African liberation movements in the 1950s and 1960s, the 1972 African Liberation Day, held on Saturday, May 27, proved to be the largest in history and marked a sea change in African American activism.
Marches were scheduled for numerous American cities, including, Chicago and Pittsburgh, but the largest protest was to be held in Washington, DC. On the morning of the march, nearly 10,000 African Americans, some traveling from as far away as Houston, assembled in the Washington neighborhood of Columbia Heights where they set off on a long, snaking route to the National Mall. The marchers walked down Embassy Row and through Rock Creek Park, surprising many white citizens of the District as they loudly chanted, “We are an African People!” Among those leading the march was Queen Mother Audley Moore, a dedicated Black nationalist who had advocated for African independence movements since her days as a member of Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association. At the end of the route, marchers listened to speeches at the Mall given by Imamu Amiri Baraka, Rep. Charles Diggs, and others who implored them to think of the “Black community” as greater than that of any one nation.
While much of Tate’s work on the march was behind the scenes, organizing and handling administrative details, and crafting press releases and other public statements, her role was nevertheless central to the national event. Two years later, during the Sixth Pan-African Congress (6PAC) held in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, Tate traveled to Africa for the first time. Not only was she there in the capacity as a reporter, but she was also visiting her daughter, Geri, who was living in Tanzania at the time. It was at 6PAC that she came to meet several Angolan revolutionaries and, upon returning to the United States, began to devote more and more of her time to their cause. She founded several organizations to get the message of the Angolan liberation movement out to Americans and publicly advocated for those fighting the Portuguese government in African American political circles. These activities were not without controversy. Florence Tate threw her support behind the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) at a time when many of her closest fellow activists, and her own daughter, supported the Popular Movement of the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the group that went on to govern independent Angola.
As her archive reveals, Tate’s skillful use of official documents and opinion pieces increased American awareness of the conditions of the Angolan independence fighters. However, two of the groups she organized in Washington went further than op-eds and reportage. One of the first organizations she founded, Friends of Angola, organized a call for trained doctors, nurses, and other medical specialties to apply to be doctors in Angola. Another group, the African Services Bureau, publicized the plight of the Angolan groups fighting Portuguese rule. Having relocated to Washington, DC, she hosted dissident Angolan independence fighters on their visits to the United States, introducing them to diplomatic officials, writing press releases, and publishing op-eds in various American newspapers that were critical of the remaining colonial governments in Africa. Even as she served as the Press Secretary for Marion Barry’s first Mayoral Administration and later for Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential run, Tate remained focused on Angola throughout the 1980s.
While driven by the idea that the Black community extended beyond national boundaries, Tate’s archive reveals the ways in which she was also influenced by the personal connections and her on-the-ground experiences in Africa. Correspondence in her archive reflects the development of long-standing personal friendships and constant communication with Angolan revolutionaries and dissidents throughout the subsequent years of the Angolan Civil War, which did not end until the early 1990s. While other activists’ archives have documented the relationship between African Americans and the West African nations of Ghana, Nigeria, and Guinea, Tate’s archive is one of the first to offer insight into the freedom struggles in former Portuguese colonies, and bring to life in less-explored ways the links between the US Southern Freedom Movement and freedom movements in Southern Africa.
Locations: March 23 – White Lecture Hall, Duke East Campus, March 24 – LeRoy T. Walker Complex, North Carolina Central University
On Friday, March 23, and Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Durham, North Carolina, the SNCC Legacy Project, Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, and Duke University Libraries will host closing events for the SNCC Digital Gateway, a project made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This two-day symposium will reflect on the creation of the SNCC Digital Gateway, where those who made the history are central to telling the story. Activists, scholars, and archivists together reflect on how SNCC’s organizing can inform struggles for self-determination, justice, and democracy today. Highlights include: Keynotes by Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson, co-executive director, Highlander Research & Education Center and philip agnew, co-director, Dream Defenders. We hope you can join us! Follow this link to register and see the full schedule: https://snccdigital.org/conference/
Post contributed by Patrick Stawski, Archivist, Human Rights Archive
Assassination of a Saint: winner of Duke 2017 Méndez Book award
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Noon – 1:00 pm
Rubenstein Library Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room 153
Duke University named Matt Eisenbrandt’s Assassination of a Saint: The plot to murder Óscar Romero and the quest to bring his killers to justice (University of California Press, 2017) the winner of the 2017 Méndez Book Award. Eisenbrandt will be visiting Duke on March 20, 2018 to receive the award and discuss his book. The event is free and open to the public, light lunch served. Following the event, The Gothic Bookstore will be selling copies of the book and Eisenbrant will be on hand for a signing.
Assassination of a Saint traces the thrilling story of how an international team of lawyers, private investigators, and human-rights experts fought to bring justice for the slain archbishop. Eisenbrandt, a lawyer who was part of the investigative team, recounts how he and his colleagues interviewed eyewitnesses and former members of death squads while searching for evidence on those who financed them, with profound implications for El Salvador and the United States.
This award honors the leadership of Juan E. Méndez, a human rights champion who has devoted his life to the defense of human rights. First awarded in 2008, this award selects among the best current non-fiction books published in English on human rights, democracy, and social justice in contemporary Latin America. Méndez’ papers are housed at Duke’s Human Rights Archive.
Co-sponsored by the Rubenstein Library’s Human Rights Archive, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute (DHRC@FHI), and the Forum for Scholars and Publics.
This workshop has been cancelled. We plan on offering it again in the future.
Date: Monday, March 26, 2018 Time: 10am-12pm Location: Rubenstein Library 349 Register Here
Archives are loaded with legal questions. For almost any item created in the last 150 years, copyright, privacy and other laws play a major role in how you can reuse those materials in research. This session will cover how to understand what material is legally restricted, how to make uses by obtaining permission or exercising fair use, and how to navigate the ethics of researching when the law is unclear.
This session will be led by Dave Hansen, Duke’s Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communication. Dave is a lawyer and librarian who works with Duke faculty and students to help them understand the scholarly publishing system and find ways to help them disseminate their research broadly.
This workshop will count towards Duke Graduate Students’ RCR training hours. Advanced registration is required, sign up now.
Post contributed by Mandy Cooper, Research Services Graduate Intern, and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Okay, maybe we don’t typically use the word “mendacious” (which means lying) much anymore, but this quote sounds like it could be about a current headline. It reflects an incredibly divided country in which words were a weapon used to condemn everyone and everything on the other side. This quote, though, is from December 1860 and refers to an account of a mob meeting the Prince of Wales during his visit to Richmond, Virginia. The letter was written by John Rutherfoord, a prominent political figure in Virginia, in response to his English cousin’s question about the reports he had heard that a mob met the prince in Richmond.
The report in question was an article published in the New York Times on “The Prince’s Visit to the United States. The Richmond Mob and the Irish Insult.” Despite Rutherfoord’s furious denials of the report as an outright “malicious fabrication” by a reporter for the “venomous Abolition Journal” the New York Times, the article was actually originally published in the London Times and focuses primarily on anti-Irish prejudice. The author assured his readers that most Americans were disgusted by “the Richmond mob” and had “no sympathy with the acts of Irish emigrants in New-York.” Even the author’s description of events in Richmond revolved around anti-Irish sentiment: he thought the mob could have been “stirred up by some Irish or semi-Irish demagogue.” According to the author, the “disorderly mob” pressed constantly on the prince and his party and threw insults at them. After saying that lower-class southern whites were the most “ruffianly and depraved” in America, he then painted a picture of the mob for his readers: “Fancy a mob of four or five hundred slave-dealers, horse-dealers, small planters, liquor-store keepers, and loungers, together with, probably, a large sprinkling of blackguardism from Ireland.” The rest of the article had a similar anti-Irish tone, focusing on the response to fears of a similar situation with Irish immigrants in New York City.
As you might expect, Rutherfoord was furious at the depiction of his fellow southerners, particularly since the event took place in his own city of Richmond. He informed his cousin that even though the prince’s visit was not anticipated or expected, of all cities in the U.S., the prince would have been the most welcome and hospitably entertained in Richmond. He described the last-minute preparations to honor the prince and his party during his visit: from a military escort to the best accommodations in the city. However, the prince asked for no public ceremony or reception and had already found accommodations. He informed his cousin that though there was a crowd to see the prince, “the greatest order & decorum” prevailed, and that even the press of the crowd upon him was not as great as that “by the ruder population of the larger cities in the north.”
This last statement provides a clue about the real reason for Rutherfoord’s anger at the Times and their “mendacious scribbler.” He wrote this letter just over a month after Abraham Lincoln was elected president and just two days after South Carolina’s secession convention unanimously voted to secede from the United States. Not only did he call the New York Times a “venomous Abolition Journal” that constantly vilified the South, but he argued that the North’s “white slaves” were “inferior to our colored slaves in decency and good manners.” The final two-thirds of the letter focused on a second question that his cousin had asked: what he thought of Abraham Lincoln’s election.
Rutherfoord was a wealthy, white, slave-owning southerner. Though his brother-in-law Edward Coles had freed the enslaved people he inherited and, as governor of Illinois, had gotten abolition written into Illinois’s state constitution, Rutherfoord and the rest of his prominent Virginia family were certainly not abolitionists. He told his British cousin, that not only was Lincoln a “third rate Western Lawyer” who was a “small caliber” politician but also that Lincoln’s election was “a great national calamity” that “seriously threatens the dissolution of the American Union at no distant day” and may bring “a disastrous civil war” without a peaceful separation of states. According to Rutherfoord, the southern states were completely faultless in the situation. In fact, he placed the blame squarely on the “sectional party” of Lincoln whose policies would completely ruin the South. More than that, though, Rutherfoord placed the blame for the system of slavery with two groups: England, who introduced slavery to the American colonies, and the northern states. He argued that though Virginia and the rest of the South wanted the abolition of the international slave trade in the Constitution, northern states like Massachusetts insisted that the slave trade should continue for twenty years. He stated that during those twenty years, the northern states imported more than 100,000 slaves, which they sold to southern masters after realizing that free labor was more lucrative and suitable for their states. His description of events makes it clear that in his view any reports that stated otherwise (especially if communicated by abolitionists or other northerners) were unequivocally false.
What can we take from this rambling letter full of exaggerations, stereotypes, and misinformation? Just like the Times article was really a forum to vent anti-Irish prejudice, Rutherfoord’s letter was a place to vent his anger and frustrations with the North. It was a place to set the record straight (at least in his view) about the roots of sectional tensions in the U.S. and the role slavery played in that. While Rutherfoord tried to convince his cousin that the South was the wronged party, his justifications for sectional tensions and possible secession were all about one thing: the threat posed by Northern states (and particularly the Republican Party) to the continued existence of the system of slavery. And so we return to the opening quote: a “malicious fabrication” by a “mendacious scribbler for the ‘New York Times.’” The Times, as a “venomous Abolition Journal” could not be trusted to provide the truth. Any reports about the South were, quite simply, malicious lies.
Post contributed by Heather McGowan, Public Services Intern for the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture
Eleanor Butler was the youngest daughter of the Earl of Ormonde of Kilkenny Castle in Ireland. Her siblings wed and secured their family’s future, but in 1778 39-year-old Eleanor had no plans to marry. Her brother threatened a nunnery and life in a convent for Eleanor.
Twelve miles away, 23-year-old orphaned Sarah Ponsonby, was facing the unwanted sexual advances of her cousin and guardian Sir William Fownes. As Lady Betty Fownes became ill, Sir William was waiting for the day he could call Sarah his new Lady Fownes.
Both women were trapped in unbearable situations. The Ladies met in 1768, Eleanor was appointed Sarah’s tutor and the two formed a deep friendship. They decided to run away to England together and missed the ferry, forcing the two women to hide in a barn. They were caught and taken home. When Sarah became ill, Eleanor ran away to Sarah’s home at Woodstock and hid in Sarah’s bedroom, where Sarah’s maid Mary Carryll smuggled food in to the room. Eleanor was found again, but her family refused to take her back. After a few days, Sarah’s family let them go. The Butlers agreed to provide Eleanor with an annual income of £200, and Sarah’s beloved cousin, Mrs. Sarah Tighe, agreed to a yearly supplement of £80.
In 1778, the Ladies, along with their maid Mary, eloped to the rural vale of Llangollen in Wales and settled down for a life of “delightful retirement.” The Ladies redesigned their cottage in the Gothic style, and spent 50 years studying literature, learning languages, and piecing together a collection of woodcarvings and other works of art. The letters that make up the majority of the Ladies of Llangollen collection in Rubenstein Library are written from Sarah to her cousin, Mrs. Sarah Tighe, who hesitantly accepted the Ladies’ lifestyle.
The two Sarahs wrote to each other for the remainder of Ponsonby’s life about their lives in Ireland and Llangollen. Tighe kept Ponsonby abreast of political happenings (revolutions and counter-revolutions in Ireland between the 1770s and 1820), as well as social and family matters at home, while Ponsonby told Tighe of her idyllic life iwth Eleanor reading, gardening, and enjoying the culture in Llangollen.
Despite their hopes to live a life of quiet retreat, their elopement catapulted the Ladies into the nineteenth century press. The highest echelons of cultural and social elites found their way to the door of the Ladies home, Plas Newydd. They entertained up to 20 visitors a day; William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Walter Scott and even Queen Charlotte all came to talk and spend time with the Ladies of Llangollen. Questions about the nature of the Ladies ‘romantic friendship,’ circulated around this extraordinary pair both during and well after their lifetimes. Eleanor was described as masculine, while Sarah was seen as more feminine, but once in Llangollen, both cropped their hair and wore dark riding habits. The Ladies shared a home and a life of devotion in their retreat at Llangollen. Eleanor Butler died on June 2, 1829 and three years later Sarah Ponsonby died in December of 1832. Upon Sarah’s death, Plas Newydd was publicly sold.
In addition to the letters in the collection, the Ladies of Llangollen, their home, and Llangollen itself are thoroughly documented in drawings, photographs, and print materials produced throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Their position as courageous and audacious Irish aristocrats who broke away from the constraints of convention gained them substantial notoriety.
This collection, especially the objects and printed material, capture the world’s curiosity about the Ladies’ life. Their images were printed on tea cups, figurines, prints, and postcards, and their story was told and retold in accounts by neighbors, friends, and visitors to Llangollen. As a result, Llangollen became a destination and an ongoing source of fascination because of the two ladies who risked everything to live the life they always dreamed of, together.
Tell us a little bit about your new job at the University Archives!
As the Records Manager, I will be working closely with University Archives staff and other university stakeholders to update, redesign, and guide Duke’s records management program to ensure that the significant records of the university, including both paper and electronic formats, are preserved and made available for future research. I will be assisting offices and departments to help them identify, retain, and dispose of their records appropriately by creating records retention guidelines, assisting with records transfer, and providing guidance on electronic records management. You will see me out and about on campus as I work with departments and offices.
Why is records management important?
Records management is all about getting the right information to the right people at the right time. The goal is to ensure that employees have access to the information they need to be successful here at Duke while also protecting personal information and sensitive data in accordance with best practices and federal regulations. Records management is also crucial when documenting university history. The work we do at Duke is important, and we should make sure the records of it are preserved in the Archives for future research and scholarship.
Can you give us a sneak peek of some upcoming changes for the records management program?
The Archives will soon be unveiling new webpages with updated information on records management procedures, including a new online form to streamline the records transfer process. Later this year, we will begin offering introductory records management presentations to offices and department staff.
What is one thing that people may not realize about records management?
Records management is everywhere! Records management plays a role in everything from records creation to access and use to destruction or preservation of records. People use records management every day whether they think about it or not; naming a document, saving a photo, filing an email—all of these tasks involve records management. Records management is a crucial part of our lives—and you may not even notice!
How did you become a records manager/archivist?
My interest in records began during my undergraduate work at the University of Mary Washington, where I studied historic preservation. I then attended the University of Pittsburgh to get my MLIS in Library Science. I took two classes on Records Management, and I realized I had found my calling.
What aspects of your new job are you most excited about?
As a records manager, I get to know campus well. I get to work with new people all the time, and I enjoy working with people from all across campus. I also get to know campus spaces. I frequently go to departments and get to see their storage spaces. I’ve been in more basements, “troll dungeons”, closets, and attics than I can count. While those places are not good spaces for storing records, they make for interesting visits!
Tell us one fun thing about yourself.
I love football—both professional and college! I look forward to cheering on the Blue Devils in the ACC!
Any last words of wisdom?
Are you having difficulties managing your records? You are not alone! Sometimes people feel they are the only ones facing records issues. Every department and office faces these problems, and the Records Management program is here to help. Just ask!
Post contributed by Jessica Janecki and Lauren Reno
Over the past few years, the Rubenstein Library acquired some early editions of the Narrative of Sojourner Truth. These new acquisitions allowed catalogers in the Technical Services department to reevaluate and re-catalog these editions of the Narrative according to more current standards. We were surprised to find upon searching OCLC, the union catalog used by libraries around the world, that authorship for the Narrative was given to Olive Gilbert in most of the catalog records for various editions. This gave us pause and cause to look more closely at the history of the Narrative, the life of Sojourner Truth, and ultimately how to approach the cataloging of one of the most important books of the 19th century by one of the foremost abolitionists and feminists.
The attribution to Gilbert is problematic given that the first edition in 1850 and subsequent editions to 1878 reference Truth as the author in the publication statement with wording such as, “Printed for the Author,” or “Published for the Author.” Cursory research would show that Truth acted as her own publisher and distributor. This statement confirms that she also considered herself the author. Additionally, Gilbert’s name does not appear anywhere on any 19th century editions of the Narrative. Meaning, those attributing authorship to Gilbert had to be conducting some research into the history of the Narrative, and were likely to come across the fact that Truth was also the publisher and distributor.
What emerged when we looked at more recent research, mostly consulting Nell Irvin Painter’s biography Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol, was unsurprisingly that the history of the writing and publication of the Narrative is complex. This however does not account for this century-long misattribution of authorship.
Please join the History of Medicine Collections for our next Trent History of Medicine Lecture Series event. Gerrit Bos, Ph.D., will present
“Moses Maimonides, medical doctor and author: Aspects of his work, medical training, theory, and practice.”
Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, most commonly known as Maimonides, was a 12th century philosopher and physician. Maimonides authored numerous philosophical and medical treatises. In his talk, Professor Bos will cover a short survey of Maimonides’ medical works, his training as a doctor, and some central aspects of his medical theory and practice such as proper regimen, including the sex res non-naturales (six things non-natural), the role of one’s nature, and his wariness to apply bloodletting.
Dr. Bos is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Martin Buber Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Cologne. His main fields of research are medieval Jewish-Islamic science, especially medicine, medieval Hebrew, and Judeo-Arabic studies.
The event is free and open to the public.
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University