Tag Archives: games

Spirit of Play

I was absolutely taken with this albumen image as I reviewed the “From Atlanta [,] Georgia to Mammoth Cave [,] Kentucky, November 1895” photograph album prior to my cataloging it. The children are laughing and making faces, perhaps interrupted in a game of “cops and robbers,” since many of the boys are holding guns or rifles. Their sense of fun is infectious and it reminded me of the neighborhood games groups of us played during my childhood. Yet I was surprised that such a large interracial group would have been playing together at this time. Is this a late-nineteenth-century South I never dared imagine?


Post contributed by Alice Poffinberger, Original Cataloger in the Technical Services Department.

Fascinating Finds in the Stacks: Women’s Lib?

In the wake of our collections move, I came across a board game, “Women’s Lib? A Game of Women’s Rights.” As a child of the seventies, the box’s Bob Fosse-esque cover image caught my eye, as did the oh-so-1970 line drawings that reminded me of Schoolhouse Rock and other educational cartoons of my youth. However, this board game has a decidedly adult theme.


womenslibEach player selects a character that represents one of six different stances on the Women’s Liberation Movement, ranging from “Male Chauvinist” to “Moderate Woman,” to “W.O.M.B. (Women Opposed to Male Bigots).” Characters then vote on contemporary issues as prompted by playing cards. These topics are familiar to us over 40 years later:  Abortion, Day Care, Employment Equality, Women’ Legislation and Domestic Issues. In fact, the only category on the election docket that we don’t hear much about today is “Male Contraception.”

Points are awarded to players who successfully campaign and debate to achieve the goals favored by the character they represent. The game sets out to educate players about controversial gender issues in a rapidly changing world. Although this piece of memorabilia seems anachronistic today, the topics it addresses are still extremely relevant.

This board game joins a number of other games and playing cards held by the Bingham Center that explore issues related to women and gender. For even more fun and games in the Rubenstein Library, check out the Richard Pollay Collection of Advertising-Related Board Games, or the Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games.

Post contributed by Megan Lewis, Technical Services Archivist for the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

In the Lab: The Mad Dog, or, Take Care of Yourself

This delightful manuscript item came to conservation for some minor repairs and housing.  It is an eighteenth-century card game with a sheet of instructions describing itself as “The Mad Dog, or Take Care of Yourself: A Company Play with coloured Plates on 12 Cards in a Paper Case.”

The faces of the cards are delightfully hand-drawn and painted in watercolors.  The instructions describe them thus:

To this play belong 6 principal Cards and a few vacant ones, the latter distinguished only by 2 different colours….  The objects represent:  1. The Courthouse, 2. The Police Officer, 3. The Hunter, 4. The Physician, 5. A man bit by a mad dog and 6. The mad dog itself, represented exactly with all the symptoms of madness.

Cards and instructions for "The Mad Dog," ca. late 1700s.
Cards and instructions for “The Mad Dog,” ca. late 1700s.

The game consists of a person bit by a dog making a complaint to the court, asking for monetary restitution and seeking to have the dog killed, either by the police officer, the hunter, or the physician, all with various fines and rewards.  The winner seems to be the person who ends up with the most money.

mad dog - box beforeblogThe cards and instruction page were in good condition, having only a few minor tears, but the little box was in a poorer state.  It had split at the seams, and at some point in its history someone with good intentions had neatly sewn it together with thread (which I like much better than tape)!  It was interesting to peek inside and see that the box was made of discarded print and manuscript papers layered together.

I removed the threads and hinged the broken sides back together, mended the instruction page, and provided a polyester “sling” for the cards to slide in and out of the box without abrasion.  Then I made a thick new folder to house the case in a recessed opening and the instructions in a polyester sleeve.  The folder will go back into the manuscript box it came from.  This was such a fun little project!

mad dog - folderblog

Post contributed by Grace White, Conservator for Special Collections, as part of our ongoing “In the Conservation Lab” series.

New Acquisition: Panko Playing Cards

When you hear the word “Panko,” do you think of Japanese bread crumbs?

Box cover for Panko, or, Votes for Women: The Great Card Game
Box cover for Panko, or, Votes for Women: The Great Card Game

I did, until the Sallie Bingham Center acquired this deck of Panko playing cards. It’s named for the leader of the British suffrage movement, Emmeline Pankhurst  (1858-1928), and pits opponents and supporters of suffrage against each other in a game similar to rummy. The advertisement for the game claimed, “Not only is each picture in itself an interesting memento, but the game produces intense excitement without the slightest taint of bitterness.”

Pank! Pank! Pank! for Emmeline Pankhurst
Pank! Pank! Pank! for Emmeline Pankhurst

This translation of the women’s suffrage movement into card games, and also board games, helped bring the message of the cause into domestic circles where more overt forms of propaganda might not have been welcomed. These cards were designed by the well-known Punch cartoonist E. T. Reed, and published by Peter Gurney in 1909.

Votes for Women.
Votes for Women, say the suffragettes.

These particular playing cards are owned by only three other libraries and are an important, rare piece of suffragette memorabilia that joins a number of other decks of cards held by the Bingham Center that explore issues related to women and gender. Check out the Panko catalog record here!

Post contributed by Megan Lewis, Technical Services Archivist for the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

From the Rubenstein Wire

Korean Man Reading, ca. 1917-19. From the Sidney D. Gamble Photographs.

Before we dive into another exhilarating semester, it’s high time we caught up on some recent articles about the Rubenstein Library and its collections.

In the Lens blog at the New York Times, David Gonzalez explores William Gedney’s photographs of the Myrtle Avenue El in New York.

University Archivist Valerie Gillispie was introduced to the Durham community in a Durham Herald-Sun article.

NPR featured an interview with Robert Korstad and Leslie Brown about Behind the Veil: Documenting African-American  Life in the Jim Crow South.  The interview includes selections from a few of the one hundred oral histories now available online.

Neil Offen wrote an article about the exhibit “From Campus to Cockpit: Duke University During World War II.”  (The exhibit will be on display until January 29!)

Gamers far and wide noticed the opening of the Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games with our first-ever Game Night, including the blogs Robot Viking and 88 Milhas por Hora (in Portuguese) as well as more local sources.