Tag Archives: interns

The 1954 Firing of Max Wicker

Contributed by Erin Ryan, Drill Intern for the Duke University Archives.

Max Wicker
Max Wicker

The Duke University Archives recently received the Joseph Mitchell Papers on Max Wicker, a collection of letters, news clippings, and other documents that culminate in a 2006 paper, The 1954 Firing of Max Wicker and Two Other North Carolina Student Directors, Jimmy Ray and J.C. Herrin, by Duke alumnus Joseph Mitchell.

Max Wicker, a 1952 Duke Divinity School graduate, was president of Duke’s Baptist Student Union (BSU) in 1953. After graduation, he was hired to work at Duke by Jimmy Ray, secretary of the statewide BSU.

Later that year, Baptist student leaders began planning their annual BSU conference, to be held in November 1953. Ray invited Christian theologian Dr. Nels Ferré, a Congregationalist who taught at Vanderbilt University, to be the conference’s main speaker. But some on the N.C. Baptists’ general board had heard that one of Ferré’s books cast doubt on the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Ferré’s speech was canceled.

Cover of 1953 NC Baptist Student Union Convention program.
Cover of 1953 NC Baptist Student Union Convention program.

The general board then began an investigation of the programs and leadership in the Baptist Student Union throughout the state—as TIME magazine’s April 12, 1954 issue put it, “digging into charges that the Baptist student pastors have been guiding their young congregations independent of regular church supervision.” By 1954, the board had scheduled a hearing for three student leaders—Ray, 39; Wicker, 29; and J. C. Herrin, 39, the secretary of the UNC-Chapel Hill BSU chapter.

Letter from James T. Cleland to Max Wicker, April 14, 1954
Letter from James T. Cleland, then Professor of Preaching at the Divinity School, to Max Wicker, April 14, 1954

The hearing lasted six hours, ending just after midnight on March 31, 1954. Wicker delivered a three-page statement to the board explaining his faith. (TIME magazine quoted him as saying to the board, “I do not deny the virgin birth, and I do not affirm it. My mind is still open.”) In the end, the board dismissed the three leaders from their jobs with the BSU. According to TIME, students at the meeting dissented, but “most of the 500 Southern Baptists present thought that the board was right, and that the young ministers were too ‘interdenominational’ for comfort.” The results of the hearing appeared in front-page stories in newspapers around the state.

Letter from John A. Ellis to Max Wicker, March 31, 1954
Letter from John A. Ellis to Max Wicker, March 31, 1954

After the BSU dismissed him, Wicker continued at Duke—where he remained employed—for a few months as a chaplain, then resigned and became a Methodist minister.

Joseph Mitchell had met Wicker while they were both at Duke Divinity School. (Mitchell graduated in 1953, and later returned to Duke for his doctorate in religion in the 1960s.) Mitchell was also a Methodist minister. After he and his wife Norma retired, they moved to Durham in 2001. There, they lived near Wicker and his wife Ann, and Mitchell began researching the nearly 50-year-old case of his friend’s dismissal to tell his story.

The Joseph Mitchell Papers on Max Wicker are open for research.

See: “Baptist Dismissals,” in TIME magazine’s “Religion” section, April 12, 1954. 

 

“The Journey” of Reverend Jeanne Audrey Powers’ Papers at Duke

Since August of 2014 I’ve had the pleasure of arranging and describing the papers of Reverend Jeanne Audrey Powers. In 1958, Rev. Powers became one of the first women to be ordained in the United Methodist Church, and in 1995, she publicly came out as a lesbian in her most famous sermon, “The Journey.” The reactions she faced as a result of coming out were mixed. Many, like the GCCUIC (General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns) supported her unswervingly, while others, most notably the Institute on Religion & Democracy, campaigned against her, hoping to force Powers into an early retirement.

1980
Interchurch Center Chapel in New York City, 1980

Reverend Powers was involved in organizing the Re-Imagining Conference, the Minneapolis interfaith conference of clergy, laypeople, and feminist theologians that stirred controversy in U.S. mainline Protestant denominations. “Re-Imagining: A Global Theological Conference By Women: For Men and Women,” grew out of a response to the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Decade: Churches in Solidarity with Women 1988–1998. The conference aimed to encourage churches to address injustices to women worldwide and promote equal partnership with men at all levels of religious life. Participants met at the Minneapolis Convention Center from November 4-7, 1993. It brought together 2,200 people, one third of them clergy, and most of them women. 83 men registered. Attendees represented 16 denominations, 27 countries, and 49 states.

JAP1989
From a card distributed by OLOC, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. Taken by Lynn Carpenter Schelitzhe in 2001 when Powers was 69. There is a quote on the back of the card by Gloria Steinem that reads, “One day, an army of grey haired women may quietly take over earth.”

Jeanne Audrey Powers’ papers include planning materials, conference recordings (on cassette tapes, which I hadn’t seen for years!), and material documenting the backlash from the conference by opposing groups. These materials are set aside as their own series to facilitate use by researchers and other readers. The conference also garnered considerable attention from the mainstream media including this 1994 article in the New York Times about the conference and the controversy that erupted afterward.

JAP19802
Riverside Church, from part of a “pre-article” for People Magazine, 1980

Rev. Powers’ papers also document her extensive professional accomplishments and contributions as well as her personal history. Photographs from her childhood, stories about her family, and even two locks of hair can be found within the 98 boxes of material. The materials related to Rev. Powers’ activism, including her support for equal treatment for all persons in the church, are my favorite feature of the collection.

For example, the collection includes Rev. Powers’ files associated with the group, Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian/Gay Concerns. In 1984, in response to “unwelcoming policies toward lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons,” the group issued a call to local churches to “reaffirm that their ministry was open to all persons, including gays and lesbians.”  The “Open the Doors” campaign was sponsored by the Reconciling Congregation group. The goal was to go to the United Methodist Church’s 1996 General Conference in Denver, Colorado to foster discussion around creating a more welcoming atmosphere in the church for lesbian and gay members. The campaign had a moderate level of success with several hundred people attending “Open the Doors” events at the General Conference.  However, the UMC policies discriminating against gays and lesbians were not changed.

The Jeanne Audrey Powers Papers is a treasure trove of materials that I have greatly enjoyed processing.  It’s hard to believe that they will be ready for researchers to use quite soon—an exciting prospect!

2007
Rev. Powers in 2007, age 75

Post contributed by Rachel Sanders, Technical Services Intern for the Sallie Bingham Center.

Super Bowl XIX and the Million Dollar Minute

During this year’s Super Bowl, Kim Kardashian will spoof her own public image to promote a T-Mobile data plan. The cost of airing this half-minute commercial? $4.5 million. The price tag for a minute of airtime has grown exponentially since Super Bowl I, from the bargain rate of $150,000. Advertisers are willing to front the cost because Super Bowl commercials are a cultural phenomenon unto themselves—ad exposure is amplified far beyond television viewership on game day.

Cover of JWT’s study, “The Million Dollar Minute,” 1985.
Cover of JWT’s study, “The Million Dollar Minute,” 1985. From the Burt Manning Papers, 1956-1988.

Super Bowl XIX produced network television’s first million dollar minute in 1985, prompting advertisers to ask, “Is it worth it?” The J. Walter Thompson (JWT) advertising agency set out to convince its clients that—with a stand-out, creative ad—Super Bowl advertising was indeed worth the price. The agency conducted marketing research following the 1985 game specifically to measure the impact of Super Bowl advertising. JWT interviewed over four hundred people about their football viewing habits and attitudes towards Super Bowl commercials, then summed up its findings in a report entitled, “Super Bowl XIX and the Million Dollar Minute: Anatomy of an American Institution.”

Over 100 million viewers tuned in to watch the San Francisco 49ers defeat the Miami Dolphins, 38 to 16, in 1985. This made it the tenth highest-rated show of all time, but it still fell short of the ABC network’s predictions and records set by past Super Bowls. The series finale of M*A*S*H* in 1983 still held the number one spot with a Nielsen rating of 60, compared to Super Bowl XIX’s rating of 46.

Even as football audiences were shrinking and Super Bowl viewership was in decline, the price of advertising spots continued to climb. “But,” JWT asked, “what about values beyond the ratings?” The agency argued that Super Bowl ads had a significant impact on Americans, beyond the number of viewers they reached.

Advertising during the Super Bowl was a gamble. Companies put down major financial outlays in the hopes that the impact of a Super Bowl ad would pay off. Thirty-six advertisers spent a combined $30 million for 52 minutes of commercials spread over six hours for the 1985 championship. JWT warned that an expensive ad could still be drowned out by the “chatter factor” of Super Bowl gatherings, or succumb to the power of the “remote-tuner zapping” channels.

JWT’s study confirmed the obvious with such observations as, “Super Sunday is a major social event” and, “Eating is a major part of Super Sunday.” But it also uncovered what makes a Super Bowl ad a unique opportunity for advertisers. Super Bowl advertisers had an automatic advantage with a significant segment of the audience. 14% percent of the viewers polled reported that they felt more favorable towards Super Bowl advertisers than the promoters they saw during the regular football season. Nearly half of the respondents were able to recall one or more commercials aired during the Super Bowl without any prompting.

IBM invested millions of dollars to air 13 spots sprinkled from the pre-game show through post-game programming. Apple took a different approach by publicizing its sole commercial in advance of game day. The company placed full-page ads in the Sunday newspaper, advising, “If you go to the bathroom during the fourth quarter, you’ll be sorry.” JWT had several high-profile clients in the Super Bowl that year, including Ford Motor Company, Hyatt Hotels, the U.S. Marines, and Miller Brewing Company.

Budweiser, Ford, IBM, and Apple commercials had the highest rate of unaided recall by participants in JWT’s study. IBM ran a 30-second spot over a dozen times featuring a light-hearted Charlie Chaplin impersonator. With slapstick flair, Chaplin shuffled around IBM’s PC Jr, “The computer that’s growing by leaps and bounds.” The PC Jr could run “powerful, up-to-date” programs like Lotus 123 on 8-inch floppy disks.

Apple’s ad, in contrast, had a dark and brooding tone. The minute-long commercial, entitled “Lemmings,” aired just once during Super Bowl XIX. A line of blind-folded businessmen mindlessly trudged one by one across a barren landscape until they plummeted over the edge of a cliff. Apple promised to break the monotony of “business as usual” when it released the Macintosh Office computer. JWT’s study found that the ad was the both the most loved and the most hated game day commercial that year.

The J. Walter Thompson Company’s recommendations for how to make the most of a Super Bowl advertisement sound familiar. Specifically, advertisers should use supplemental promotions and tie-ins with other forms of media to ensure their ad gets noticed. “Create additional top spin,” JWT advised. T-Mobile has certainly done so. The company released its Kim Kardashian ad early, giving Conan viewers the first glimpse. The ad won over 6 million hits on YouTube in two days. Entertainment news outlets, bloggers, and Kardashian’s 28 million Twitter followers have given the commercial momentum before it even appears on television. What is this “top spin” worth? Maybe $10 million.

Post contributed by Georgia Welch, Reference Intern for the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.

Meet our Interns

Every fall the Rubenstein Library welcomes a new group of graduate student interns from Duke and other area universities.  Maybe I just have a soft spot for our interns since I was once one, but I think anyone at the Rubenstein would tell you that our interns are an integral part of the work we do, helping us with processing collections, creating finding aids, answering reference questions, coordinating events, and much more. I’d like to introduce you to some of the interns who are working with the Research Services department this year:

Dominique Dery, Research Services Intern

What she’s studying: I’m currently a PhD student studying Political Theory and Religion and Politics in the Political Science department at Duke. My dissertation links historical accounts of civic friendship with contemporary theoretical and ethnographic work on civic engagement and community service.
What’s she’s been working on at the Rubenstein Library: As the Research Services intern, I serve patrons at the front desk of the Rubenstein, and I also respond to queries from researchers who can’t make it in to the library themselves. So far I’ve searched through and ordered reproductions of letters, sheet music, and pamphlets.
What she likes to do when she’s not with us: When I’m not writing or at the Rubenstein, I love to help out at a friend’s farm in Rougemont and hike along the Eno.
Most interesting thing she’s come across in our collections:  The most interesting thing I’ve come across so far has been the correspondence between Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams while on the hunt for mention of another writer in McCullers’ papers; I love McCullers’ fiction and it was fascinating to get to see some of her letters to her dear friend Tennessee (also known as ’10’ in some of the letters).

Williams to McCullers Letter
Letter from Tennessee Williams to Carson McCullers

 

Danielle Lupton, Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History Intern

What she’s studying: I am a sixth year graduate student in Political Science at Duke University. I focus on international relations, and my work looks at how leaders interact during international crises.
What’s she’s been working on at the Rubenstein Library: In doing research for patrons, I have come across some really neat old advertisements, including some fascinating ads from the turn of the century. I am also doing research for the Hartman Center on Pan American Airlines. Both my parents are pilots, and my father flew for Delta Airlines, who bought out Pan Am. I really feel a connection to the material.
What she likes to do when she’s not with us: In my free time, I am an avid tennis player.
Most interesting thing she’s come across in our collections: I came across this beautiful advertisement from 1896 for Liberty Bicycles on the back of a Kodak ad I was searching for. I think as a political scientist the tag line really resonates with me, and the artwork is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau in advertising.

pan am
1987 Pan Am Billboard

 

Mary Mellon, University Archives William King Intern

What she’s studying: I’m a library and information science student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
What’s she’s working on at the Rubenstein Library: Various projects for the University Archives, including the Chapel sermon recordings digitization project (some of the recordings are being used in the Great Black Preachers of Duke Chapel series on iTunes U), and creating information pages about members of the Duke family.
What she likes to do when she’s not with us: Outside of work and school, I love knitting, baking, and Duke basketball!
Most interesting thing she’s come across in our collections: A 1958 Duke Law School banquet program signed by “Dick Nixon.”

Richard Nixon Signature
Signature of Dick Nixon, Sometime President of the Duke Bar Association

 

Claire Radcliffe, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History & Culture Public Services Intern

What she’s studying: I’m working on a dual masters degree; I just finished my MA in Public History at NC State, and I’m working on my MSLS from Chapel Hill.
What she’s working on at the Rubenstein Library: I’ve been working on a range of things: migrating the website to Drupal, migrating subject guides to LibGuides (and revamping some of them), assisting with remote reference and reproduction, assisting with preparation for classes, helping out with 25th anniversary events, and processing zines.
What she likes to do when she’s not with us: Outside of school and work, I’m interested in photography, old movies, traveling, baking, dance fitness classes, and used bookshops. Although there is distressingly little time outside of school and work.
Most interesting thing she’s come across in our collections: Two of the most interesting things I’ve come across were the pink corset book  and a picture of Kathy Acker with the Spice Girls.

Kathy Acker and Spice Girls
Kathy Acker, third from left, with the Spice Girls