Tag Archives: photography

Hugh Mangum Exhibit at Durham History Hub

Portrait photos by Hugh Mangum. From the Hugh Mangum Photographs, #N258.
Portrait photos by Hugh Mangum. From the Hugh Mangum Photographs, #N258.

The portraits of Durham photographer Hugh Mangum are the subject of a new exhibit, opening July 22nd at the Museum of Durham History’s History Hub. “Hugh Mangum on Main Street: Portraits from the Early 20th Century” shows Mangum’s largely unknown portraits of Southern society after Reconstruction.

Mangum was born in Durham in 1877 and began establishing studios and working as an itinerant photographer in the early 1890s. During his career, Mangum attracted and cultivated a clientele that drew heavily from both black and white communities, a rarity for his time. Mangum’s photographs are now part of the Rubenstein Library’s Archive of Documentary Arts.

“Although the late-19th-century American South in which he worked was marked by disenfranchisement, segregation and inequality — between black and white, men and women, rich and poor — Mangum portrayed all of his sitters with candor, humor, and spirit. Each client appears as valuable as the next, no story less significant,” said curator Sarah Stacke. “His portraits reveal personalities as immediate as if the photos were taken yesterday.”

Stacke, a photographer and a 2014-2015 Lewis Hine Fellow at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, and Margaret Sartor, who teaches at CDS, are working together on a book about Mangum’s life and work. This new exhibit expands on “Keep All You Wish,” an exhibit of Mangum’s work that Stacke curated for CDS in 2012.

“Hugh Mangum on Main Street: Portraits from the Early 20th Century” opens at the History Hub, 500 W. Main St., on Tuesday, July 22 and runs through August. The exhibition will be in the Our Bull City area.

The public is invited to a launch party for the exhibition on Wednesday, July 23, from 5:30pm to 7pm, and a program on Mangum and his work at 3pm on Sunday, August 10.There is no charge for the exhibit, program, or party. The Hub is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

Photographers Vincent Cianni & Mariette Pathy Allen, April 23-25th

Cover of Gays in the Military by Vincent CianniThe Archive of Documentary Arts has partnered with Daylight Books, the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the Center for Documentary Studies, and SPECTRE Arts to bring documentary photographers Vincent Cianni and Mariette Pathy Allen to Durham for a series of events April 23-25.

  • Wednesday, April 23 at 12:00pm: A Conversation with Vincent Cianni and Mariette Pathy Allen, Center for Documentary Studies, 1317 W. Pettigrew Street, Durham, N.C. Lunch will be provided.
  • Thursday, April 24 at 6:00pm: Artist Talk and Presentation, SPECTRE Arts green space, 1004 Morning Glory Ave., Durham, N.C.
  • Friday, April 25 at 6:00pm: Book Signing and Opening Exhibit, Daylight Project Space, 121 West Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC

The series will culminate in a book signing and exhibition of work by the artists to celebrate the release of the artists’ monographs TransCuba and Gays in the Military. The book signing and exhibit will take place at the Daylight Project Space on April 25 from 6 to 9pm. Refreshments will be served and the artists will be on hand to sign books and answer questions. More information at www.daylightbooks.org

Cover of TransCuba by Mariette Pathy Allen

About the Artists:

Through compelling photographs and interviews made over three years on road trips across the US, Vincent Cianni (born 1952) has created an important historical record of the struggles of gay and lesbian veterans and service members in the US military. As the Human Rights Commission attests, the US military has a long history of civil rights abuses against homosexuals, with harassment and discrimination frequently resulting in lost careers. In many cases, these men and women—highly skilled, well educated, patriotic, courageous and productive—had attained high rank, received numerous medals and held top-level jobs essential to the military. With essays by Alison Nordstrom, Don Bramer and Alan Steinman shedding light on the cultural, personal and political consequences of the ban on homosexuality, this volume tells the stories of men and women who served in silence and oftentimes were penalized and prohibited from receiving the benefits accorded them for serving in the military.

For more than 30 years, New York based photographer and painter Mariette Pathy Allen has been documenting transgender culture worldwide; in 2004 she won the Lambda Literary Award for her monograph The Gender Frontier. In her new publication, TransCuba, Allen focuses on the transgender community of Cuba, especially its growing visibility and acceptance in a country whose government is transitioning into a more relaxed model of communism under Raúl Castro’s presidency. This publication therefore records a cultural watershed within Cuba. In addition to color photographs and interviews by Allen, the book also includes a contribution from Raúl Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, who is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana. In 2005, Castro proposed a project, which became law three years later, to allow transgender individuals to receive sex reassignment surgery and change their legal gender.

Post contributed by Kirston Johnson, Curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts.


The Curious Case of Frances Benjamin Johnston

FrancesBenjaminJohnstonBlogsizedThe Library recently acquired a small album of photographs taken in Virginia’s Tidewater region. It contains six cyanotypes depicting work at the freight docks of Newport News and other subjects.  Of particular interest is a laid-in cyanotype which appears to be a portrait of Frances Benjamin Johnston, a pioneering female American photographer.

Johnston was a remarkable photographer.  She took portraits of American presidents and the high society of the turn of the nineteenth century from her Washington, D.C. studio, but also participated in ambitious documentary projects, such as her architectural photographs of Southern states.  For one of her best-known commissions, she traveled to Virginia to document the students of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in 1899-1900.  Her photographs of this important education institution for African Americans and Native Americans are preserved in her collection at the Library of Congress.

Based on the probable identification of the woman in the photograph as Johnston and the photographs of the area around Hampton in the album, these photographs have been dated to the first decade of the 1900s.  However, no information about the photographer is yet known.  Were they a student or colleague of Johnston?  Is it possible that the photographs (or some of the photographs) are by Johnston herself?

African American women aboard a steamboat, from the Tidewater album, ca. 1900.
African American women aboard a steamboat, from the Tidewater album, ca. 1900.

TidewaterAlbumPyroDeveloperBlogsizeThe album is also accompanied by handwritten directions for making “Pyro Developer” and a “fixing bath for platinum prints,” which may provide further evidence that the creator may have been a student or novice photographer.  (The large initial “B” on the “Pyro Developer” formula bears some resemblance to Johnston’s handwriting, but the handwriting of the rest of the formula does not appear to be similar to hers.)

If anyone has clues or guesses to contribute to the mystery of the photographer’s identity, please share them in the comments section below!

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.

‘Tis the Season: Gifts to the Rubenstein Library, Day Three

Frontispiece of Holy Bible, with circular photographic onlay.
Frontispiece of Holy Bible, with circular photographic onlay.

To celebrate the holiday season this week, we’re highlighting a few of the many wonderful books that the Rubenstein Library has received as gifts over the past year.  We are truly grateful for the generosity of our donors.  A hearty “Happy holidays” and thanks and to all of those who have contributed to making 2013 a wonderful year for the Rubenstein Library!

Funds donated to the Rubenstein Library in 2013 facilitated the purchase of two very different books featuring photographs.  One, the Holy Bible published by Eyre and Spottiswoode in 1865, features twenty mounted photographs by Francis Frith.  Frith, an Englishman, was a pioneering photographer of the Middle East in the 1850s, and some of the early photographic views of Holy Land sites such as Bethlehem and Jerusalem are included in this Bible.  This purchase was made possible by the addition of funds to the Leland Phelps Rare Book Endowment Fund.

"Bethlehem with Church of the Nativity," by Francis Frith, from Holy Bible.
“Bethlehem with Church of the Nativity,” by Francis Frith, from Holy Bible, 1865.

A generous donation of funds for materials related to military history facilitated the acquisition of Lee and Amy Pirkle’s work A Real Fighting Man.  Published in an edition of twenty copies in 2012, A Real Fighting Man is an artist’s book that combines art based on snapshots sent home by Lee Pirkle (Amy’s grandfather) from the Korean War with text chosen by Amy from an essay that Lee wrote about his wartime experience.

Lee and Amy Pirkle, A Real Fighting Man. Image courtesy of Vamp & Tramp Booksellers.

A Real Fighting Man‘s flag book structure, as seen above, allows the reader to juxtapose sections of image and text in many revealing ways.

New Acquisitions: Icons of Civil War Photography

In June and July we’ll celebrate the beginning of a new fiscal year by highlighting new acquisitions from the past year.  All of these amazing resources will be available for today’s scholars, and for future generations of researchers in the Rubenstein Library! Check out additional posts in the series here.

Some of the most celebrated, recognizable, and graphic images of the American Civil War come from Alexander Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War and George N. Barnard’s Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign, both published in 1866. Among the most important pictorial records of the conflict, together they shed a stark light on the destruction witnessed during the war and its aftermath. As legendary examples of early American photography these albums also help us to understand the history of documentary photography and the emergence of the widespread documentation of war.  Look for a feature on these important new additions to the Library’s Archive of Documentary Arts in the next issue of RL Magazine!

Alexander Gardner, "President Lincoln on Battle-Field of Antietam," 1862.
Alexander Gardner, “President Lincoln on Battle-Field of Antietam,” 1862, from Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War.
George Barnard, "City of Atlanta no. 2," from
George Barnard, “City of Atlanta no. 2,” from Barnard’s Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign.

The Rubenstein Library is grateful to the B. H. Breslauer Foundation for their generous support of the acquisition of Gardner’s Sketch Book.

Post contributed by Kirston Johnson, Curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts.

This Post is DUMB

In an earlier blog post, we mentioned that we’ve been processing thousands of sports-related negatives and prints transferred to the Duke University Archives by Duke’s Sports Information Office.

I recently began reviewing images from the 1930s and 1940s.  In envelopes labeled “football sidelights” are negatives of the Duke University Marching Band, fondly known as DUMB.

In existence since the early 1900s, DUMB is an integral part of Duke sports, providing music and vocal support at games, and has established a reputation for performing creative and highly entertaining halftime shows.  For more information, take a look at the finding aid to DUMB’s own records, part of the University Archives’s collections.  Below are a few of my favorite images.

Duke University Marching Band, October 7, 1939
Duke University Marching Band, October 7, 1939
Duke University Marching Band Drum Line, October 21, 1939
Duke University Marching Band Drum Line, October 21, 1939
Duke University Marching Band, October 28, 1939
Duke University Marching Band, October 28, 1939
Majorette Lucille King and her Mother, November 19, 1938
Majorette Lucille King and her Mother, November 19, 1938
Duke University Marching Band and Blue Devil, 1940
Duke University Marching Band and Blue Devil, 1940

Post contributed by Kimberly Sims, Technical Services Archivist for Duke University Archives.

New Acquisitions Week, Day Four: The British, in India and Cast Away

We’re celebrating the beginning of a new fiscal year with a week’s worth of new acquisitions from the first half of 2012.  Two newly acquired selections will be featured in a post every day this week.  All of these amazing resources are available for today’s scholars, and for future generations of researchers in the Rubenstein Library!

  • Samuel Bourne Photographs: Samuel Bourne is the best-known photographer of India under British rule, capturing landscapes, architectural studies, and genre scenes from 1863 to 1870.  He co-founded the studio Bourne and Shepherd, still active today in Kolkata as the world’s oldest operating photographic studio.  The Library has acquired over 300 of Bourne’s photographs, prized for their technical quality, their documentation of Indian sights, and the insight they can provide into British views of Indian life.  The Bourne photographs are a valuable addition to a growing body of photographs of India in the Archive of Documentary Arts.
Samuel Bourne, “The Taj, from the Garden, Agra,” 1860s.
  • Daniel Defoe, The Life and Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe; The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe; Serious Reflections Upon the Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe: One of the most groundbreaking and influential narratives in literary history, Defoe’s tale of a castaway on an uncharted island  has been endlessly reprinted, adapted, updated, copied, and critiqued since its first appearance in 1719.  Thanks to a generous donation by Alfred and Elizabeth Brand, the Library now holds the second edition of The Life and Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, printed days after the first edition in 1719, as well as first editions of the two continuations of the story, including the famous map of Crusoe’s “Island of Despair.”  This invaluable set will be a jewel in the Library’s large collection of works by Defoe, and is also a key complement to the Negley Collection of Utopian Literature.

Previous posts:

A Fond Farewell in Photography

Karen Glynn, long-time Photography Archivist in the Archive for Documentary Arts, retires today to move to South Africa. In her honor, we present some images of travel and farewell from our digitized collections. Happy trails, Karen! We’ll miss you!

Sidney Gamble, Men in boxcar ("Travelling Fourth Class"), China, 1917-1919. From the Sidney D. Gamble Photographs.
William Gedney, South Dakota, 1966-1967. From the William Gedney Photographs and Writings.
ca. 1980s, from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America Archives.
Gary Monroe, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1994. From the Gary Monroe Photographs.

Fascinating Finds in the Stacks: Oversize Gems

Preparing our oversize manuscripts for the upcoming renovation means spending lots of time in a corner of the stacks, pulling folder after folder out of our oversize cabinets and trying to prepare these giant documents and photographs to be moved in a few months. “Oversize” is a term that archivists use to refer to things that are bigger than legal- or letter-sized paper. At Duke, our oversize documents range in dimensions from 11×14 all the way up to 40×50 inches in width and height. (We have things in our collections that are even bigger, but their move prep is a different process.)

The oversize cabinets have been used to house collections for decades, and there are hundreds of folders in each cabinet. It’s challenging work, but also fascinating to spend time with manuscripts and photographs that we’ve never had a chance to see in our years of working at Duke. (Usually, as Technical Services archivists, we work with new or unprocessed collections; most of the oversize cabinet collections are very old and were processed a long time ago.) There are so many wonderful collections in the Rubenstein, there’s no way that we would normally have the time to poke through them all — except now we get to, because we have to check them over for the renovation. Here are our favorite “new to us” discoveries from our oversize stack work. This project will be ongoing for the next several months, so more photos to come as we keep digging!

J.B. Duke and Directors of the Aluminum Company of America, 1925
This huge panoramic photo features J.B. Duke and his fellow directors of the Aluminum Company of America in July 1925. From the George Garland Allen Papers.
Here's a close-up of J.B. Duke, with his trademark cigar. This photograph was taken shortly before his death in October 1925.
Civil War vetaran Randall B. Williams poses with his memorabilia in 1924.
Civil War veteran Randall B. Williams, from Maine, poses with all his Civil War memorabilia for a 1924 reunion photograph. He was 80 years old at the time. From the John Mead Gould Papers.
Fred Chappell acrostic poem
Not everything we find is old: Students presented poet and author Fred Chappell with this acrostic poem after his visit to their classroom. From the Fred Chappell Papers.
There is a penciled caption at the top that reads, "This was dropped from an Airplane in Durham N.C. about June 11, 1919. The plane passed over my home, and it was the first one I ever saw! -- Mrs. Angier." From the John Cicero Angier Papers.

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian and Meghan Lyon, archivists in Rubenstein Technical Services.

Student Photographs Duke Construction

Charles Wesley Clay at Commencement, 1929One of the best parts about being the University Archivist is the unexpected treasure that sometimes arrives in the mail.

Recently, I received a small packet of photographs from the family of Charles Wesley Clay, a Methodist minister and alumnus from the classes of 1929 and 1932. Clay earned bachelor’s degrees from Trinity and Divinity, and he happened to be on campus from 1925 to 1932, during the heyday of construction on East and West campus.

This small collection of 42 snapshots includes Clay posing next to Duke buildings—some completed, some under construction—as well as shots of equipment, scaffolding, and snowfall on the as-yet unmanicured quads.

We have other construction photos taken by Duke’s construction company, but it is revealing to see the “student’s eye view” of what it was like to be at Duke in these early, exciting days.

Charles Wesley Clay at East Campus Union, 1927
Charles Wesley Clay in front of the East Campus Union in the spring of 1927.
Construction of Duke Stadium, 1929
Duke's football stadium (now known as Wallace Wade Stadium) under construction in 1929.
View of West Campus Construction, 1929
A view of West Campus from the Medical School in the fall of 1929. Note the railroad spur that brought Duke stone from Hillsborough directly to campus.

Check out the whole collection on Flickr!

The University Archives is interested in documenting student life through materials like photographs, diaries, and scrapbooks. Please contact us if you have items you would like to donate.

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.