Boxy Lady

Figuring out suitable storage for historical artifacts in a collection is a daily challenge for archivists in the Rubenstein Library’s Technical Services Dept. Our goal is to provide easy access to the artifacts while protecting them in a safe and secure manner. Many times we can manage this with the standard boxes and padding materials we have on hand. However, there are times when the artifacts, because of their unusual shape or fragile condition, don’t quite fit the standard. This is when we call on our friends in the Conservation Services Department to find the best storage solution.

Such was the case with three artifacts in the Doris Duke Memorabilia Collection. A baseball bat with Doris Duke’ name carved through it, a football to Miss Duke from the coaches and players of the Midgets football team that she sponsored, and a partial weathervane believed to be from Duke Farms were prime candidates for Conservation’s resourceful storage solutions. I didn’t know what to expect, but when the newly boxed artifacts safely arrived back to Technical Services for labeling and barcoding, I was truly impressed at the results.

Is this weathervane from the Coach Barn at Duke Farms the same as the one in the Memorabilia collection? It’s up to researchers to find out!

Because of Conservation’s thoughtful and inventive solutions, these three artifacts are now available to researchers. To view the final results and to read how Conservation created these boxes, see the Preservation Underground blog.

All ready for research use!

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, Doris Duke Collections Archivist.

Dispatches from the German Judaica Project

A cataloger with a photographic  memory could be a source of endless fragments of information. We have only a few minutes with each of the thousands of books that pass through our hands, and much of that time is taking up with verification of details of the title, the imprint, the author’s authorized heading, etc. Subject analysis is often a quick selection from an endless list of dry headings and academic buzzwords—Economic development, Queer theory, Postcolonialism, Lie groups, Wachiperi language—and their associated classification. Some subjects appear over and over. The catalog has 179 entries under “Egypt—History—Protests, 2011-” and more under that heading with subdivisions. In other cases, the cataloger is amazed that even one book has been written on the topic.  The author of a slim volume on Hedjhotep, the Egyptian god of weaving, admitted that this deity is “little known, even among Egyptologists.”

As my memory is far from photographic, sometimes at the end of the day I am hard pressed to remember what parts of the river of human knowledge I have seen flow by. Determining what a book is about, though a fascinating process, gives just a snapshot of the content, and varied snapshots blur together in my mind. After more than thirty years of cataloging as a generalist, I have been exposed to bits and pieces of a wide range of subjects, but questions about any detail send me to Google.

A selection of Jewish prayer books, one for each holiday.

Recently, the library acquired a Judaica collection of more than 6000 late 18th century to early 20th century books. Most are in German, with some Hebrew and Yiddish. As part of a team of catalogers working with this material, I have been able to spend days on end with interrelated books. Questions about the context of a work or an author’s identity send me to Wikipedia, and what I learn there brings more life to the books, which creep into corners of my consciousness not inhabited by my usual work. Opening one dusty anti-Semitic tract after another can be as bone-chilling as the movie Schindler’s List. After cataloging dozens of editions of the Siddur (Jewish daily prayers) I somehow feel that I could step into a German synagogue and pick up a worn black prayer book, and be part of the recitation of words that have comforted so many generations.

This prayer book for Yom Kippur has a title page in both Hebrew and German.

Post contributed by Amy Turner, Original Cataloger in the Cataloging and Metadata Services Dept.

Welcome New Staff!

We are excited to introduce TWO new staff members! First we have Rachel Penniman, a transplant from Vermont who is our new Library Assistant for Technical Services and Research Services. She will be accessioning new archival collections, ordering and wrangling our vast number of archival supplies, and managing ILL requests in Research Services. In her spare time, Rachel likes to roller derby.

We’re also pleased to introduce Lauren Reno, a rare materials cataloger from the Newberry Library in Chicago who will now be cataloging for us here at Duke. We have lots of rare books and maps that are ready and waiting for her. When she’s not cataloging, Lauren enjoys studying German and running.

New Staff: Lauren Reno and Rachel Penniman

Rachel is splitting her time between Rubenstein’s Smith Warehouse and Perkins Library locations. Lauren is based at Smith fulltime. We are thrilled that both are here to help us keep things moving in the Rubenstein!


Introducing the Anna Schwartz Papers

Anna Schwartz in the New York Times, 1982.

I am pleased to announce a new finding aid for one of our newest collections, the Anna Schwartz Papers. Schwartz was an economist at the National Bureau for Economic Research, and collaborated with Milton Friedman on numerous works, including A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960. She also served as the executive director of the United States Gold Commission from 1981 to 1982. Her papers are an exciting addition to the Rubenstein’s Economists’ Papers Project.

The vast majority of the Anna Schwartz Papers are all business: her research and subject files on banking, monetary policy, currency, and the Federal Reserve; Gold Commission materials, including correspondence with fellow commissioner Ron Paul; collaborations and correspondence between Schwartz and Milton Friedman; and numerous articles and lectures by Schwartz from throughout her 70-year career. One bit of material that shows a more personal side of Schwartz are her many datebooks, from the 1950s to 2012, which help document her appointments, schedule, and contacts over the course of her life. I also really enjoyed seeing material from her time at Barnard College in the 1930s. She seemed to constantly win honors there, including Phi Beta Kappa.

Dozens of datebooks from the Anna Schwartz Papers
Dozens of datebooks from the Anna Schwartz Papers.

Upon Schwartz’s death earlier this year, her New York Times obituary described her as “a research economist who wrote monumental works on American financial history in collaboration with the Nobel laureate Milton Friedman while remaining largely in his shadow.” Now, with the opening of this collection, Anna Schwartz’s contributions and scholarship are finally out of the shadows, so to say, and freely available for everyone to use.

Post contributed by Meghan Lyon, Technical Services Archivist.

Assistant Coaches as Style Icons

Or, A Sartorial Look at the Sports Information Office Records

For the last two months, I have been processing a large accession of materials from the Duke Sports Information Office. The vast majority of the accession consists of photographs and negatives from Duke football teams, served with a side of basketball and seasoned with photos of other teams and individual athletes. As you can imagine, I have gone through many generations of athletes, coaches, and of course, fashion trends. This post is dedicated to a few assistant football coaches who weren’t afraid to show add some fashion flair to their official photos.

Assistant Football Coach John Guy
Assistant Football Coach John Guy shows us his kitchen style. The no-apron look was very in that season.


I should also say outright: I love sports, particularly college athletics. I did my undergraduate work at a football school. I have free t-shirts from at least a dozen other athletic teams at my undergrad school. My graduate degrees are from . . . well, another school in the Triangle with a basketball team. As a result, processing this collection has been a lot of fun for me.


Assistant Football Coach David Holton is a man who is not afraid of mixing patterns and textures in his outfits. Stripes, plaid, and corduroy: very boho-chic.

During my time processing the Sports Information Collection, I’ve noticed something about the coaching staff photos: although the head coaches by and large have fairly tame outfits, the assistant coaches most certainly do not. Perhaps they want to ensure that players can see them on the sideline/courtside? Maybe they just love mythologically-inspired ties? We’ll probably never know for sure!


The Ties of John Gutekunst

The photos above showcase the ties of Freshman Football Coach John Gutekunst. I’ve taken the liberty of calling out the patterns on both so that you can see in better detail. Clearly, Gutekunst stayed with the animal theme over the course of his career—by the later picture, he even ventured to wear a butterfly shirt with the mythological tie!

To close out this post, I think we should all tip our hats to the adventurous styles of these assistant football coaches. They have showed us how to look cool on the sidelines, in the kitchen, and in your formal yearbook photos. Keep up the great work!

Now tell me: who’s your style icon? Are you channeling Guy’s daring “no-apron” look, Holton’s mixed patterns and textures, or Gutekunst’s animal-themed accessories?

Post contributed by Maureen McCormick, Drill Intern for the Duke University Archives.

Opening Reception for Farmworkers and Food Exhibits

Date: Sept. 20, 2012
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Place: Rare Book Room, Perkins Library
Contact: Patrick Stawski, patrick.stawski(at)

Three new library exhibitions at Duke explore the human experience of farmworkers and the history of a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving their lives.

For twenty years, Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) has worked to bring together students, community members, and farmworkers in the Southeast to work for justice in the agricultural system. What began as a small group of Duke Public Policy students documenting farmworker conditions has since grown to an independent nonprofit with a national impact. The organization’s papers are held by Duke’s Human Rights Archive in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The first of the exhibits, Student Action with Farmworkers: 20 Years of Growing Farmworker Activists, is located in the Perkins Library Gallery and features documentary photos, protest signs, campaign materials, and more items from SAF’s history. An adjacent exhibit on The Art of SAF demonstrates the organization’s use of creative arts in education and outreach. And in the nearby Rubenstein Library Photography Gallery, Documenting the Politics of Food features photographs of American agriculture and agricultural labor from the Rubenstein Library’s documentary photography collections.

All three exhibits reflect historical and contemporary concerns with student activism, access to safe and healthy food, organized labor, and immigration. The exhibits run through December 9, 2012.

An opening reception for the exhibits will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 20, in the Rare Book Room of Duke’s Perkins Library on Duke’s West Campus. The reception, which will feature Latin American food and live music, is free and open to the public.

“Contrary to the perception of some, Duke students have a rich and impressive legacy of progressive activism,” said Robin Kirk, co-director of the Duke Human Rights Center. “No group symbolizes this more effectively than Student Action with Farmworkers. This feisty group has made a real difference in the lives of farmworkers, normally invisible and largely forgotten by all of us who benefit from their backbreaking work. The partnership between the Human Rights Archive and SAF brings this history into view at a time when the issues involved—fair wages, immigration, and safety for these important workers—are at the forefront of a presidential campaign.”

The exhibits are co-sponsored by SAF, the Duke University Libraries, the Center for Documentary Studies, the Franklin Humanities Institute BorderWorks Lab, the Duke University Service Learning Program, and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

These exhibits are part of a larger series of events around the state celebrating the 20th anniversary of Student Action with Farmworkers, including a portable mural display and oral history interviews with National Public Radio’s StoryCorps. More information can be found at or

Celebrating the John Hope Franklin Papers

John Hope Franklin and Alfred Moss edit from Slavery to Freedom
John Hope Franklin and Alfred Moss edit a new edition of From Slavery to Freedom in 1986.

We are pleased to announce a major addition to the John Hope Franklin Papers.  This gift includes over 300 boxes of papers and other materials belonging to late historian and Duke professor John Hope Franklin.

Franklin is widely credited with transforming the study of American history through his scholarship, while helping to transform American society through his activism. He is best known for his ground-breaking history From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans (1947) and for his leadership on President Clinton’s 1997 National Advisory Board on Race.

Franklin donated a small collection of his personal papers to Duke in 2003. This large addition, donated by Franklin’s son and daughter-in-law John Whittington Franklin and Karen Roberts Franklin, completes the archive of one of the twentieth century’s most distinguished public scholars.

After receiving a doctorate from Harvard in 1941, John Hope Franklin taught at St. Augustine’s University, North Carolina Central University, Howard University, Brooklyn College, University of Chicago, and Duke University—breaking many racial barriers along the way. Deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement, he worked with Thurgood Marshall on the Brown v. Board of Education case and joined protestors in the march led by Martin Luther King, Jr., from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. He was the recipient of more than 100 honorary degrees, and President Clinton awarded him the Medal of Freedom in 1995. He died in Durham, North Carolina, in 2009.

The Franklin Papers include a selection of photographs of John Hope Franklin and his family.

The donation of papers includes diaries, correspondence, manuscripts of writings and speeches, awards and honors, extensive research files, photographs, and video recordings. The collection also includes materials that trace the Franklin family’s personal history, including their long involvement with the civil rights struggle in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Two letters from Thurgood Marshall and Terry Sanford from the John Hope Franklin Papers.

The papers will be held in the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke.  The papers will open for research after conservation review and archival processing are complete. The opening will be announced on the Rubenstein Library’s website.

“John Hope Franklin always wanted his papers to have an academic home where they would get into the hands of students and scholars quickly,” noted John W. Franklin.  “He wanted to make sure that they would be used.  We found such a home for his papers in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the Duke Libraries with a dedicated staff to care for the collection.”

The Duke University Libraries will celebrate the John Hope Franklin papers with a reception on September 14, 2012, at 5:30 p.m. in the Gothic Reading Room of the Rubenstein Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Three Collection Favorites

In my last blog post, I shared how I was assisting the Duke University Archives in developing record groups for the Duke’s institutional records. You can read that post here.

In the end, we created 32 record groups to represent the history, the administrative departments, and the schools of Duke University. Each group speaks to the breadth of material that tells the story of Duke University and its distinguished alums. While going through each record, and carefully determining its placement in the records groups, I uncovered some fascinating collections. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Sarah P. Duke Gardens Records, 1932-2002. The Duke Gardens is a horticulturist’s sanctuary. As a garden hobbyist, I have enjoyed spending time marveling over its beautiful design of plant life and winding paths. This collection shows the vision of the gardens from the beginning when Mary Duke Biddle donated the land in 1932. Included are blueprints and planting plans that any gardener would relish viewing first hand.

2. Randall Frattini Papers, 1974. University Archives has a copy of Frattini’s eyewitness account of students streaking on campus on the nights of February 28 and March 1, 1974. Albeit comical, this collection also suggests the wide variety of records that document student life at Duke in the Duke University Archives’ collections.

Elizabeth Hatcher Conner on an Explorers Club Outing, ca. late 1930s
Elizabeth Hatcher Conner on an Explorers Club Outing, ca. late 1930s

3. Elizabeth Hatcher Conner Photograph Collection. Elizabeth Hatcher Conner attended the Woman’s College during the late 1930s. During that time, she was an active photographer and she often documented the outdoor adventures of the Explorer’s Club. The Explorer’s Club was a group of faculty and students who use to go hiking throughout North Carolina. Her photos give a glimpse into the lives of students at Duke during this time period. Check out some of her photographs on our Flickr site!

These three collections only scratch the surface of the hundreds of records documenting the institutional memory of the University. If you are interested in learning more about the University’s history including a particular school, student life, or athletics; contact University Archives and they can help you uncover your own record gems.

Post contributed by Ashley Brown, William E. King intern at the Duke University Archives.

Make Your Own History Reading, Sept. 19th

Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: Rare Book Room
Contact Information: Laura Micham, 919-660-5828 or

Cover of Make Your Own HistoryJoin the staff of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture for a reading from the new anthology Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist and Queer Activism in the 21st Century (Litwin Books, 2012) with co-editor Kelly Wooten, research services librarian with the Sallie Bingham Center, and contributor Alexis Gumbs, founder of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind multimedia community school and long-time Bingham Center collaborator.

Light refreshments will be served!

Several other contributors to this volume have Bingham Center connections, including co-editor Lyz Bly, Alison Piepmeier, and Kate Eichhorn, all Mary Lily Research Grant recipients; Sarah Dyer, donor of the ground-breaking Sarah Dyer Zine Collection; and Angela DiVeglia,  former intern.

Make Your Own History has chapters about colleting zines; documenting the LGBT community: the future of collecting electronic and online records; and a look at how the Second Wave continues to contribute to the feminist movement. Read more about this book or buy a copy online from Litwin Books.

Post contributed by Laura Micham, Merle Hoffman Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.h

Dwayne Dixon Zine Collection Expands

Cover of Smash Action, no. 3Dwayne Dixon, a graduate student in cultural anthropology at Duke,  recently donated a treasure trove of new titles to the his zine collection, part of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

Dixon wrote in an email to Bingham Center archivists:

While DJing a party last night at a professor’s house, I was told by a faculty member in the Music Dept that my zine collection was being used by a grad instructor teaching a course on punk history. I was so thrilled, as you can imagine, and it inspired me to unbox the last treasured horde of zines. I must confess I held the best in reserve in my initial donation. I have approx. 68 zines that are aesthetically, politically, and creatively rich.  Hand-screened covers, some of the best zine writing ever, and incendiary politics that changed my life.  I want others to be moved, too—by Mimi Nguyen’s Slander zine, by [anonymous’] Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars zine, by the dense tangle of punk and race and gender and a changing America of the last 2 decades.

As Dixon mentions in his note, classes frequently use zines as a resource for learning. As with any other historical manuscript or artifact, zines help illuminate specific aspects of culture through their method of creation and their content. Zine authors use the freedom of the medium to confront important cultural issues as well as to divulge their own reflections and emotions. The handmade nature of zines also allows for more artistic presentations of information, creating visually engaging objects that also serve as reading material.

Cover of A Renegade's Handbook to Love & Sabotage, issue 1While zine culture still exists in a variety of vibrant formats, the movement was at its most powerful from the late 1980’s to the mid-1990’s. During that time, Dixon snapped up a great number of these publications and eventually gifted them to the Bingham Center in 2001 with an initial donation of over a hundred zines. Including the latest addition, the Dixon collection now contains almost two hundred zines chronicling topics such as body image, depression, politics, racial inequality, history, and personal exploration.

The new addition has been added to the finding aid and is now available for research.  Come take a look!

Post contributed by Rosemary K. J. Davis,  Bingham Center volunteer.

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