Tag Archives: rubensteinstaff

Welcome, Tracy Jackson!

Tracy JacksonWe recently welcomed a new staff member Tracy Jackson to the Rubenstein Library! We asked her a few questions to help us—and you—get to know her a little better!

Tell us a little bit about your new job at the Rubenstein Library!

My job here at the Rubenstein is Technical Services Archivist for University Archives. I’ll be overseeing the processing of University related collections, including the arrangement, description, and preservation of current and new materials, and I’ll also be a part of the Technical Services Management Team. Since I’m new to Duke, I’m really excited to be working with such great collections and knowledgeable colleagues.

How did you become an archivist?

I knew I was interested in archives when I went to library school, but couldn’t have said why until I started working in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives at UNC. I just loved getting to know the materials, seeing the faces and personalities of people from the past, and since I also worked the reference desk in the graduate library, getting to tell people about all the cool stuff I’d found and why they should go see it, too. Getting to work in-depth with collections is what makes this job so great.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve discovered in an archival collection and why?

With a small collection of family photographs, I discovered a gold-plated, decorative set of make-up cases from the 1940s. There was a powder compact with mirror and a lipstick case, and they were beautiful. In collection of family letter from the 18th and 19th century there was a young woman’s dance card from a ball, with a tiny pencil still attached. I love finding the unexpected in collections, especially the things that remind me how much the people who created them were really not very different from us.

What aspect of your new job are you most excited about?

I’m so excited to get to know the collections here. Duke has such rich collections, and the University Archives document the incredibly diverse activities of the University. I’m very excited about diving in and getting to know, then getting to share, what we have.

Tell us something unique about yourself.

I tried a couple of careers before becoming an archivist, and for a short time I lived in Los Angeles and tried out special effects make-up artistry. I worked on a few student films and ultra-low-budget movies, and even though I didn’t do it for long, it was a lot of fun. These days I only use those skills at Halloween, though!

Thanks, Tracy! We’re so glad you’re here!

“The Guardians of History,” a Documentary

Mary Samouelian, the Heschel Processing Archivist here at the Rubenstein Library, has created a short documentary. “The Guardians of History” features seven archivists working in our Technical Services Department and explores why archivists do what we do.  In Mary’s words, the documentary “reveals our intimate relationship with the historical materials we work with, why we are drawn to the mission of preserving history, and how our work makes it possible for researchers, historians, writers, and the general public to discover and experience intimate connections between their lives and historical materials.”

Mary enrolled as a student at the CDS in 2011 and this documentary piece is her final project for the Certificate in Documentary Arts. The photographs associated with the documentary will be exhibited on the Student Wall in Perkins Library this coming Friday.

Congratulations to Mary on this wonderful work!

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 laura.m@duke.edu

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

Renovation Round-Up

It has been a busy summer here at Rubenstein Renovation HQ. With the help of the entire Rubenstein staff, we have prepared over 50,000 rare books for the move! These are books that have been reviewed and loaded into acid-free cardboard trays for safe transport to and storage at the Library Service Center.

We have made progress on the archival and manuscript collections front as well, and these collections are now almost 100% ready to move to our swing space and the LSC. Below, please find some highlights of some of the work being done:

  • Oversize Materials: 670 linear feet of oversize materials and flat files have been reviewed and re-packaged for long term storage.

    Archivists Meghan Lyon and Mary Samouelian prepare oversize folders for the move.
  • Ledger-mania: Our Conservation Lab has been working wonders on our extensive collection of ledgers. The bulk of this work has been completed. Our ledgers have never looked better! Read more about the ledgers project on the preservation department’s blog Preservation Underground.
  • Extra Extra!The Rubenstein Newspaper collection is getting enhanced catalog records, better housing and some much needed TLC in preparation for its journey and new life over at the LSC. This has been a multi-team undertaking led by the Rubenstein Print Materials Coordinator, her holdings management team, our colleagues at Perkins Technical Services, and of course the Perkins conservation team.

    Newspapers in new boxes, ready fto ship to the LSC
    Newspapers in new boxes, ready to ship to the LSC
  • Manuscript Box Stabilization: Many of our manuscript collections are housed in flat boxes. To keep things from needlessly shifting during transport we have padded boxes with what will forever be affectionately referred to as “burritos.” These are pieces of folder stock rolled into tubes and wrapped in tissue paper so they stay rolled. Here are the burritos in action.

    Flat manuscript box, padded and ready to move.
  • A new Rubenstein Renovation website is in the works! Stay tuned for an announcement about this site, it will be a one-stop shop for all your renovation news needs.

What’s Next?

We are beginning the home stretch of our move preparation efforts. Materials are starting to be shipped over to the Library Service Center in small but consistent batches now that the Center’s 3rd module is nearly online.

The bulk of our materials will be moving in January and early February 2013. This will be a very busy time at the Rubenstein, so if you are planning on visiting us during this time, please contact us so we can plan ahead for your visit. Don’t forget that the reading room will actually be closed December 17, 2012 – January 6, 2013 so we can move the reading room and our offices over to our temporary location on the 3rd floor of Perkins library. We look forward to welcoming you to swing space on January 7, 2013!

Post contributed by Molly Bragg, Collections Move Coordinator in the Rubenstein Technical Services Dept.

Kenny Dennard, University Archives Researcher

Former Duke men’s basketball team captain Kenny Dennard came to visit the Duke University Archives today. We gave him a refresher on his Duke basketball career (1977/78-1980/81), with the help of the Sports Information Office’s Basketball Records.

Kenny Dennard Reads the 1981 Chanticleer, 2012
Photo by Angela Mace.

Here’s Kenny reading the 1981 Chanticleer. Check out Kenny’s reflections on his time at Duke (brought to you courtesy of the digitized edition of the 1981 volume).

Lynn Eaton and Kenny Dennard, 2012
Photo by Angela Mace.

Here’s Kenny and Lynn Eaton, the Hartman Center’s research services archivist. She’s 5′ 6″, by way of comparison.

Thanks for visiting, Kenny, and come back soon!

(By the way, Kenny is a fan of the Duke University Archives on Facebook. Are you? We have only 29 hours left in our Facebook competition with the UNC Archives!)

Week of Students: Rosemary K. J. Davis

We’re wrapping up our celebration of this first week of classes with a final look at one of the wonderful student (well, recent graduate) employees who help make this place run. We wouldn’t know what to do without them, and we’d have a lot less fun, too. Thanks, y’all!

Rosemary K. J. DavisAs Drill Intern in the University Archives, a lot of the work I do for the RBMSCL is behind the scenes. Since starting my position in June, my recent projects have included helping establish the University Archives social media presence and co-curating an exhibition of archival materials for the fall, but the bulk of my time has been spent processing archival collections.

And what does that even mean? Well, it means I’m the person who receives boxes full of sometimes completely jumbled records, papers, notes, journals, and ephemera. It then becomes my goal to take this mish-mosh and make it accessible through arrangement and description. I get to figure out what’s in a collection, why people want to use it, and how to make the organization logical so that researchers can actually find the items and objects they’re seeking. Or maybe even better, so that researchers can find items and objects they never expected to find in the first place.

Truth be told, I really enjoy this work. I get to play detective a little bit: researching subjects, poring over their collected history, picking out clues. Then, I get to make the collections available for others to use for scholarly research, creative projects, and simple personal edification. Plus, since the collections I’m working with pertain directly to the history of Duke University, I am getting to learn more about the buildings, traditions, and fascinating hidden stories surrounding me every day. Having just moved to Durham from Brooklyn, I feel lucky to be working in an environment where connecting with the past is part of my everyday experience.

Post contributed by Rosemary K. J. Davis, University Archives Drill Intern.

Week of Students: Mandy Lowell

After a brief pause to observe an important anniversary yesterday, we’re back to celebrating this first week of classes by taking a closer look at a few of the wonderful student (undergraduate and graduate, Duke and non-Duke) employees who help make this place run. We wouldn’t know what to do without them, and we’d have a lot less fun, too. Thanks, y’all!

Mandy LowellWhat’s the typical day for a student worker in the RBMSCL? That’s a tough question to answer, because almost every day is different. You could find me running around the stacks, pulling and reshelving items. I could also be making a shelf list, repacking a collection into new containers, cleaning and straightening bound manuscripts, or assisting patrons at the front desk. Most days, I spend a lot of time in the elevator.

I have worked as a student assistant in Special Collections since May of 2010. Before I began working here, I was a frequent visitor, using Duke’s collection of early English manuscript facsimiles. Coming to the reading room was always a treat, both because of the wonderful environment and the work that I was able to do there, and sometimes I wished I could get into the stacks, just once, and conduct my own little treasure hunt. Now that I work here, I do this on an almost daily basis, but the library has never really lost its mystique for me.

I love working here in part because I love being surrounded by history. I enjoy having regular access to a part of Duke of which so few students ever see the inside. Also, there are the wonderful people on the staff of the RBMSCL and University Archives. They have always made me feel like a vital part of the team, rather than that annoying kid who runs around underfoot.

Students, if you’re looking for a job on campus, I encourage you to check for openings at the RBMSCL. Tell them Mandy sent you.

Post contributed by Mandy Lowell, Research Services student employee.

Week of Students: Muhammad Shehryar

Here at the RBMSCL, we’re celebrating this first week of classes by taking a closer look at a few of the wonderful student (undergraduate and graduate, Duke and non-Duke) employees who help make this place run. We wouldn’t know what to do without them, and we’d have a lot less fun, too. Thanks, y’all!

Muhammad ShehryarI still remember how excited I got in September of 2010 during a seminar given by a professor and a graduate student on their work in the Economists Papers Project collections at the RBMSCL. After a couple of meetings with Bruce Caldwell, director of the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke, I was told that I would be working at the RBMSCL on the Paul Samuelson Papers. Fast-forwarding through a couple of hectic semesters, I started working on the papers in the first week of July. Mark Wilson, an associate professor from University of West Virginia, would work alongside me during this time.

I spent the first week familiarizing myself with the collection and reading through bits and pieces of Samuelson’s extensive work. From then onwards, I focused on the Unpublished Writings Series, 26 boxes of papers, notes and fragments, and informal correspondence on an amazing variety of topics that were never published. I worked on it for almost five weeks, organizing all the papers into categories, arranging them alphabetically and chronologically, and providing an overall description of the series to aid researchers.

One of the highlights of working on this series was that I found out that Samuelson wrote extensively on topics outside of economics. His writings on thermodynamics, mathematics, and population and sex ratios were extremely impressive. While organizing the correspondence boxes, I noticed that Professor Samuelson interacted frequently with Robert Solow, Franco Modigliani, and Robert Merton—all Nobel laureates after him—and I found out that all three of them have their papers at the RBMSCL, too! After spending the last ten days or so consolidating the boxes and updating the online finding aid, I finally shipped off a massive collection of 158 boxes to the Library Service Center, where it joins the rest of amazing archival collection that is the Economists Papers Project.

Post contributed by Muhammad Shehryar, M.A. student in Duke’s Department of Economics and graduate student employee with the RBMSCL’s Technical Services Department.

Week of Students: Jenny Walters

Today is the first day of a new academic year! Here at the RBMSCL, we’re celebrating this week by taking a closer look at a few of the wonderful student (undergraduate and graduate, Duke and non-Duke) employees who help make this place run. We wouldn’t know what to do without them, and we’d have a lot less fun, too. Thanks, y’all!

Jenny WaltersMy name is Jenny Walters and I am a junior Music major here at Duke.  I have worked in the John W. Hartman Center for Sales,  Advertising, & Marketing History for the past two summers.  This year, in support of the RBMSCL’s upcoming renovation, I got to write up a lot of box lists—basically, inventories of what can be found in each box of an archival collection.  I found a lot of interesting material in these boxes! Some of the funniest things I discovered were job applications for advertisement agencies from the 1950s and 1960s. There were questions such as “Do you have initiative?” and I was surprised to see that many people had answered “no.”  While there is no way that these people would even be considered for a job in this day and age, they were obviously given jobs 50 to 60 years ago.

While I enjoyed discovering everything in all of the boxes, my favorite part of working with the Hartman Center is the advertisements.  I like visually seeing history through the years of advertisements. We even have advertisements from as early as the 1880s!

Two of the most fascinating ads that I worked with this summer were from the 1960s for Seven-Up. The two ads were exactly the same, but one consisted of white people, while the other had black people. The people were in the exact same poses, had the exact same hairstyles, and wore the exact same clothes. Seven-Up wanted to have a broader appeal, but chose to do two ads, reflecting the advertising standards of the day.

Overall, I really enjoy working in the RBMSCL! It’s fun to see all of the different projects people come in to work on and discover something new in the holdings every day.

Post contributed by Jenny Walters, Hartman Center student employee.

The RBMSCL Celebrates Banned Books Week

In honor of Banned Books Week, we’ve asked the staff of the RBMSCL to reflect upon their favorite banned or challenged book:

“To me, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the quintessential banned book. Hilarious, heartfelt, and packed with classic scenes, it has also been seriously offensive in very many ways to very many people in the 125 years since its publication. And yet there has never been any consensus on what, exactly, makes it worth burning—its immorality, poor spelling and grammar, racism, homoeroticism, and encouragement of juvenile delinquency have all come under fire. The book itself remains as tricksy as its narrator, and as its native time and place.”

—Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections

“One challenged book that I enjoyed reading and discussing in school was Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Not only does this book break away from many literary norms, but I think it also succeeds in charging its readers to think about aspects of community, identity, and survival.”

—Jennifer Thompson, Research Services and Collection Development Librarian for the Franklin Research Center

“Widespread celebrations have marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the American Library Association’s Top 100 banned or challenged novels of the 20th century. As a girl in 1960s Alabama, I was deeply troubled by the pervasive racial inequity that was so much a part of the social fabric. I felt a powerful identification with Scout and her father, Atticus, gave me hope that, eventually, individuals might change that fabric.”

—Elizabeth B. Dunn, Research Services Librarian

“While not a banned book (banned broadside), Martin Luther’s 95 Theses which he nailed on the Wittenberg Church door on Oct. 31, 1517 greatly influenced me. As an undergraduate at Duke just after the period of social protests in the 1960s, the idea that a provocative list of concerns by an early 16th century monk could transform the establishment inspired me. I went on study Luther and wrote my senior theses on the use of hymnody for protest. Perhaps those protest songs of the 1960s were not so novel after all!”

—Tim Pyatt, Duke University Archivist

“Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, a rejoinder to Edmund Burke’s 1790 denunciation, Reflections on the Revolution in France, was so popular that it was published multiple times in 1791 and caused a furor in England. Paine argued that human rights are natural (not given) rights and that government’s are a product of and always accountable to the people. Not unexpectedly, Rights of Man was banned by the British crown for supporting the French Revolution and led to the prosecution of Paine who wisely had left England prior to his conviction. In a time when our nation’s human rights record is questionable to say the least, I am heartened, encouraged, and inspired by Paine’s courage and conviction in arguing that human rights are the foundation of a just society and the publication of Rights of Man reminds me that human rights have been with us since the birth of this country.”

—Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist

Take a look at the lists of Frequently Challenged Books available at the American Library Association’s website and tell us about your own favorite banned or challenged books!