Category Archives: Collections

– materials (not processing)
– fun new stuff

INSIST! – Black Activist Voices in Music, pt.1

During the recent 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge to DUL staff made by the Racial Justice Task Force, my fellow MonoACQ-er, Stephen Conrad, and I had a number of conversations about Black activist voices in music. This was partly inspired by Stephen’s work with Laura Williams to expand diversity within DUL’s music holdings, and partly due to the fact that the two of us turn to music as a way both to make sense of, and push back against, what we see in our country right now.

We thought it might be nice to replicate and continue that conversation here in Signal Boost. We’re going to do an open-ended run of (very) short posts highlighting tracks of interest. These will be in no particular order and likely will bounce around various genres.

As our first post below will demonstrate, we’ll be delving into the history of Black activism in music, but we’ll be careful not to limit ourselves to sounds of the past. Activism is a thriving part of contemporary music, and we’ll want to highlight that. When we can point to DUL holdings we will, and for emerging voices we’ll do our best to link to sources that benefit artists directly.

We’d love it if anyone else who is interested would join the conversation, either by guest-writing a post or simply by sending us suggestions!

Before jumping in, we’ll note a couple of facts that are glaringly obvious. First and foremost, as two white men we should acknowledge that, while we align ourselves with the voices we’ll be representing, our innate privilege allows us to experience these works of art basically from a position of fandom. To pretend otherwise would be an affront to those who have experienced the struggles from which these voices emerge.

And speaking of being fans, we’ll also point out that neither of us is an historian, a musicologist, or any kind of expert in the music we’ll discuss. We’re just two dudes talking about records. (Because, you know, the world doesn’t have enough of that already.)

So, Stephen, how about if I go first?

For both of us (and, I’ll note, for our fearless leader Dracine who immediately yelled the title of this song when told of our plans for this series), the first piece that comes to mind when thinking of Black activism in music is of course Strange Fruit, as sung hauntingly by Billie Holiday:

This blunt confrontation against the practice of lynching is, to my mind at least, one of the keystones of protest music. It sounds just as raw and sadly relevant today as it did when it was originally recorded in 1939. Its horrific imagery and anti-racist boldness almost ensured that it was never recorded. Columbia Records refused to record the song for Billie Holiday, as did her producer at the time, John Hammond. Only smaller label Commodore had the courage to do so.

Cover Image Billie Holiday cafe society and an early cry for civil rightsThe story of Strange Fruit’s being adapted from a poem and of Billie Holiday’s early performances of it, as well as the impact it had at the time and throughout subsequent decades, are detailed in two resources held by DUL:

  • The book Strange Fruit : Billie Holiday, Café Society, and an early cry for civil rights (online; print)
  • The documentary “Strange Fruit.”, directed by Joel Katz, streaming via Alexander Street Press here.   The DVD is available from Duke University Libraries Lilly Library, here.

(Stephen, you may notice that one of the artists featured in the documentary is Abbey Lincoln, who will figure prominently in our next post…)

Trans Pride in the Duke Libraries Catalog

To wrap up Pride Month, we wanted to highlight some acquisitions from the past few years. The following photobooks feature portraits of trans individuals.


To Survive on This Shore, photographs by Jess T. Dugan

From the publisher: “Representations of older transgender people are nearly absent from our culture and those that do exist are often one-dimensional. For over five years, photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabbre traveled throughout the United States creating To Survive on this Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Older Adults. Seeking subjects whose lived experiences exist within the complex intersections of gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class, and geographic location, they traveled from coast to coast, to big cities and small towns, documenting the life stories of this important but largely underrepresented group of older adults. The featured individuals have a wide variety of life narratives spanning the last ninety years, offering an important historical record of transgender experience and activism in the United States.”


TransCuba, photographs by Mariette Pathy Allen

From the publisher: “For more than 30 years, New York-based photographer and painter Mariette Pathy Allen has been documenting transgender culture worldwide…[In] 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.”



On Christopher Street: Transgender Stories,
photographs by Mark Seliger

From the publisher: “[Seliger’s] portraits of trans people on Christopher Street combined with their moving and deeply personal stories remind us of our need for sanctuary, for a space to call our own. Their presence challenges us to redefine home, community, and ownership. Their presence challenges us to stop and reflect. No longer will we remain idle and pass by them in fear and prejudice. We will stand with them, recognize them, and see them. These are our streets, and these are our people.”


Female, photographs by Pilar Vergara

From the publisher: “Female strives to capture transgender women without artificial studio lighting or the irrelevance of color. While trans people are often sensationalized in the media, Pilar Vergara set out to quietly capture their individuality through intimate portraits.”


American Boys, photographs by Soraya Zaman

From the publisher: “American Boys by photographer Soraya Zaman is a bold and intuitive representation of the transmasculine community from big cities to small towns across the USA. For three years, Zaman traveled to 21 states to photograph and interviewed 29 transmasculine individuals aged 18 to 35 in their hometowns at distinct stages of their transition. Zaman’s sincere and tender portraits and accompanying essays candidly capture their grace and humanity providing viewers with a snapshot into their lives, personality, honesty and journeys across the transmasculine spectrum.”


Finally, we would like to highlight a photobook by Duke alumni, Mikael Owunna.


Limitless Africans, photographs by Mikael Owunna

From the creator: “I found photography as my voice…and in 2013 I began Limitless Africans. Over the course of four years, I would travel to ten different countries across North America and Europe to document, for the first time, the LGBTQ African immigrant experience. Shooting and interviewing over 50 LGBTQ African immigrants, I found that every one had experienced a similar sense of rejection on all sides. This body of work is a collaborative response between me and my community, to re-define what it means to be an immigrant, African and queer in North America and Europe at this time. To confront, with our self-love and stories, the oppressive narratives that say we should not exist. We are Limitless.”

Antiracism Resources at Duke University Libraries and Beyond

Over the past few weeks, there have been many resources shared on race, racism, and antiracism. Libraries have been working to find solutions to the meet the demand for antiracism books.

This list below is just a start. There are many resources to be found, in Duke University Libraries and beyond, to educate, inspire, and call to action. Please feel free to email Jacquie Samples ( with any additional resources you find helpful, and I will add them to the list.

Statement from Duke University Libraries


5 Tips for Being an Ally

Back to Natural

Exploring the Emotions of White Racism and Antiracism

Taking a Stance Against Racism and Discrimination

TED Talks to Help You Understand Racism in America

The Thirteenth Amendment and Civil Rights

White Like Me: Race, Racism & White Privilege in America



75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies by Courtney Ariel

Here’s how to teach Black Lives Matter

How NOT to be an Ally – Part 1 “Centering the Privileged”

How NOT to be an Ally – Part 2 “He-peat, Re-white, and Amplification”

How NOT to be an Ally – Part 3 “Spoken-Language Microaggressions”

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

Understanding Our New Racial Reality Starts with the Unconscious

White Anti-Racism: Living the Legacy



Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century by Dorothy Roberts

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America by Peniel E. Joseph

West Indian Immigrants: A Black Success Story? by Suzanne Model

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

White Men Challenging Racism: 35 Personal Stories


Making the Most of HathiTrust’s Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS)

At the end of March, HathiTrust announced that one of the ways they are responding to the widespread closures of libraries is to launch their Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS) to allow the circulation of millions of digital copies of books now locked up in library stacks. Even those digital books that are still in copyright which under normal circumstances are not available. This is very exciting to those of us whose regular job duties include getting resources into the hands of patrons. Most of us in Technical Services have that mission at the core of our jobs, even though we do not work directly with patrons providing reference or instruction.

After HathiTrust outlined parameters of the ETAS with representatives from member institutions on April 2nd, 2020, an announcement went out to the Duke Community letting everyone know to look for the “Temporary Access” button on HathiTrust’s site, which gives us access to view one page at a time for in- copyright materials of which DUL holds a print copy.

Cory Lown and I quickly started communicating on how we could improve access for our patrons. Because the Hathi BibAPI is already in use for the Books & Media catalog for open access materials, we considered that avenue. Initially, there was not enough metadata available to us to reliably determine which digital books are available through ETAS. So, I started to strategize on how to add records to our Aleph ILS and communicated with our colleagues at UNC-Chapel Hill to determine if their method would work for us. The number of records that would need to be created, though, was high at 1.3 million. That much new access for our patrons is great, but developing the process to get records in, and plan for getting them back out later when ETAS ended, meant that loading records into Aleph was going to be very time consuming.

On April 8th, HathiTrust published an article on their website, “How to Add ETAS Records to Your Catalog” which discusses three ways to provide direct links to the digital surrogate of an institution’s holdings. After reading this article, investigating what our peers were doing, and searching for the information needed to succeed, I realized all of the methods described meant that we had to have access to the HathiFiles database, the Overlap Report for Duke, and authentication credentials so that patrons would be prompted to login with Shibboleth to prove they are Duke people.

I reached back out to Cory to discuss which of the three methods we should use; ultimately, we decided that a combination of two was best for Duke. So, Cory updated how we use the BibAPI to harvest data from a local store of the HathiFiles and Overlap Report to generate URLs that are embedded in records as they are displayed in the Books & Media Catalog.

So, as of April 17th, in addition to being able to search for materials directly in HathiTrust, as they had since April 2nd, patrons now see “View Online” links to the ETAS items directly in our catalog. This temporary access means that approximately 38% of our print holdings now have links to HathiTrust materials (this percentage includes the open access links that were available before making this change).

Here is an example record that shows a “View Online” link:

With teaching, learning, and research activities now having to be done remotely I expect we will continue to look for ways to help our users gain the most effective access we can manage under the circumstances.

Visiting the Library From Home

Even as the Duke University Libraries remain closed, there is no shortage of library resources to be enjoyed remotely.  We asked the Technical Services staff to share how they are using the libraries to make the most of their time at home. Here are some of their responses:

“My family has enjoyed Naxos Music Library. It has over 2.3 million tracks!”
(Natalie Sommerville, Team Lead, Monographic Original Cataloging)


“I’ve been playing mandolin for a few years now, and I like to check out music from the library to work on. I’m pretty slow, so these two should be able to tide me over for some time. Also, both of the Fantastic Beasts movies are on Swank Digital Campus!” (Dennis Christman, Metadata Transformation Librarian)


“I have an issue of one of my favorite manga at home. It’s volume no. 2 of ‘Yotsuba &!’ The series shows the zany antics of a young girl (about 5 years old, I think?) in Japan.  It’s a slice-of-life comedy that always makes me laugh and puts me in a good mood.  I brought the volume home in case I need help feeling joyful in these times.”
(Will Hanley, Electronic Resources Management Specialist)


“I really needed a break from all of the terrible, frightening news, and I REALLY needed to laugh, so I decided to check out Swank Digital Campus.  Swank has a pretty good selection of films in a number of different genres, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up on some I’d always heard about, but had never seen.  I decided upon ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ (I know, I can’t believe I never saw it either!), and really enjoyed it.  I needed something lighthearted and fun and that fit the bill. I may check out ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, and I noticed Swank also has ‘Eat, Drink, Man, Woman’, which I saw years ago and really enjoyed.” (Ellen Maxwell, Library Original Cataloger for Monographic Resources)

“I am using Duke’s OverDrive (in conjunction with Durham Library’s – it’s great, you can combine access to both in the OverDrive Libby app) to find ebooks for leisure reading on my Kindle.

Birds of the World is a great database for those of us who have become amateur bird watchers while at home. We have a great view out of my living room window onto a bird feeder and watch the birds come and go all day. I even spent some time trying to learn to identify bird songs this weekend (not super successful on that one).” (Virginia Martin, Head – Continuing Resource Acquisitions)

“I have stacked on my dining room table around 20 books from DUL that I am using to write an historical article.  It will be entitled, “Selling Virginia: promoting English emigration in the seventeenth century” and will be published in Advertising and Society Quarterly.

I’ve taken photos of many of the images of promotion literature included in these illustrated texts (all public domain, of course.)  They included broadsides, official documents, lottery headers, etc.  Many people don’t realize how rich our collections are in older texts, and the value they provide.” (Beverly Dowdy, Coordinator – Government Documents Processing)

Cataloging the Edwin & Terry Murray Comic Book Collection

Our last blog post talked about the vast variety of materials from around the world that pass through Technical Services every day. Duke’s collections run the gamut from the most esoteric and scholarly to the most popular and mainstream. In recent decades, materials formerly considered to belong firmly in the realm of pop culture have crossed over to academia, however, and have become objects of study as well as entertainment. Comic books are perhaps the best example of this phenomenon, and the Duke University Libraries are currently cataloging the Edwin & Terry Murray Comic Book Collection, one of the largest sequential art collections held by any library in North America, if not the world.

The Murray comics were a gift from local collectors Edwin and Terry Murray to Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library and consists of approximately 55,000 comic books from the 1930s to the early 2000s. While the collection has been described in an archival finding aid since its acquisition in 2003, over the past few years we’ve embarked on a project to catalog it at the title and item level. Now users around the world can see exactly what we have as well as find and interact with the collection in ways that weren’t possible before. Catalogers in Rubenstein Technical Services and DUL Technical Services have been working together to describe and provide access to this remarkable collection more thoroughly, perhaps, than any other comic book collection in the world. They are supplementing title and issue information with character names, creators, and genre headings, allowing users to search and find comics in variety of ways.

The Murray collection features some of the most famous comics ever published, like Flash Comics #92 (cover-dated February 1948), in which Black Canary, introduced a few months earlier as a minor supporting character, moves to a starring role in her own monthly feature. Seventy-two years later, she’s still one of the most prominent superheroes of all time, starring in 2020’s Birds of Prey movie and having inspired and influenced generations of readers, creators, and the hundreds of superheroines who followed her. For the Duke Libraries staff who are longtime comics fans, holding such incredibly famous, iconic, and valuable artifacts in our hands can be breathtaking, and we’re thrilled to be able to make them available for viewing and use in the Rubenstein Library reading room.


Items from this collection pass through the two Technical Services operations constantly, and at any given time we’re working on everything from funny-animal comics to spy thrillers to Westerns. The bulk of the collection consists of superhero comics, though, and includes practically everything published during the Golden and Silver Ages of comics and beyond by Marvel and DC as well as other publishers like Image, Milestone, and Dark Horse.

Right now one of the many titles we’re working on is the Legion of Super-Heroes, who first appeared in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958) and have been one of DC’s flagship franchises ever since. Set 1000 years in the future and mixing super-heroics, science fiction, and soap opera, the team’s adventures have been published almost continuously for over 60 years. Originally supporting characters for Superboy, they became so popular that they eventually pushed him out of his own book, which changed its title from Superboy to Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes to just plain Legion of Super-Heroes. Like all the best comics, the Legion is weird and wonderful, brilliant and bonkers, and absolutely addictive.

Although the title is set 1000 years in the future, it reflects the social norms and mores of the time of its creation as well as hopeful visions of what society might look like in the future. It’s particularly interesting to look at the evolving role of women in the Legion from its beginnings to today. Early issues may have been set in the year 2958, but they were written in 1958, and female characters were portrayed as less powerful, less confident, and often less capable than their male teammates. While many of the male Legionnaires had physical powers such as super-strength, growing to colossal heights, and projecting lightning, the female Legionnaires had less showy (and less aggressive) powers like shrinking, intangibility, and thought-casting. (Even the weirder powers were gendered: Matter-Eater Lad could eat his way through anything, including metal, stone, and energy, while Dream Girl’s super-dreaming usually took the form of her becoming overcome by stress and passing out.)

Apart from Supergirl (an occasional Superboy stand-in), the only female character with purely physical powers was Night Girl, whose super-strength rivaled Superboy’s…but only in the dark, when no one could see her do it. As a result, in 1963 the team rejected her application for membership, declaring her powers too undependable.

Despite being the strongest woman in the 30th and then 31st centuries, it took Night Girl 44 years to take her rightful place among the galaxy’s greatest heroes, finally becoming an official member of the Legion in 2007.

Comic books reflect changes in society perhaps more immediately than any other literary medium, and as the role of women in the 20th century changed, so did the role of their 30th-century counterparts. New female Legionnaires were introduced who were more powerful, more capable, and more nuanced. Old characters such as mind-reading Saturn Girl and the ethereal Phantom Girl were redefined as among the toughest members of the team, and Dream Girl became one of the greatest leaders the Legion has ever seen after being elected to that role by a reader poll. Shrinking Violet, originally the shiest member of the team (hence the name), became one of its fiercest and most fearless fighters, while Princess Projectra, for many decades a spoiled illusion-caster with a towering bouffant, found new ways to use her powers in the 1980s as Sensor Girl, becoming one of the most powerful and fearsome heroes the team has ever seen.

As we catalog the Murray comics, we’re making special efforts to highlight titles featuring female characters. In addition to well-known characters like Wonder Woman and Storm, we want to make sure users can also find works about other female characters like Power Girl, Misty Knight, and Rogue. Sometimes it can be a challenge to make sure users can track characters through various titles over the decades, especially when they keep changing their names like Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle/Batgirl and Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel/Binary/Warbird/Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel. Fortunately for them, and the readers who love them, the catalogers in DUL and Rubenstein Technical Services are experts in keeping track of people, places, things, and titles that keep changing their names again and again.

Cataloging of the Edwin & Terry Murray Comic Book Collection is an ongoing process. Clicking this link will display all the comics in the collection that have been cataloged so far, and more are added every week. Check the catalog regularly to see what new treasures have been made available!


Coming Attractions From the Non-Roman Acquisitions Team

Duke strives to have a diverse collection that supports the research interests of its students and faculty. What you might not know is exactly how diverse that collection can get! One of the best parts of working in library acquisitions is getting to be the first people to see the surprising and fascinating materials that get added to our collection every day.

Here is a quick tour of some material that might surprise you – inter-generational whimsy in the chill of Russia, humanity in propaganda films of North Korea, the co-existence of modern tension and long history in China, and effervescent, universal proverbs from Egypt.

(Disclaimer: Some of this material might still be in process when you read this. That’s OK – just think what else might be on the shelf waiting for you if you go looking!)


Arabic proverbs mirror the beauty of the Arabic language and Arab culture. These proverbs in the Egyptian dialect are part of everyone’s daily routine and life. Each situation has a proverb that fits it perfectly. It is Arabic wit and humor while at the same time the proverbs have lessons we learn from. Their meaning is universal as there are similarities found in other languages.

على رأي المثل      (Find it in the catalog)


Literal translation: If your friend is honey, don’t lick it all.
Hidden meaning: Don’t take advantage of your friends.


Literal translation: After his hair went white, he went to school.
Hidden meaning: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Applicability: Used to criticize someone old trying to do things more suited to young people


Literal translation:  Wonders don’t please him, and even if we postpone Ramadan fasting until next year, he won’t be pleased.
Hidden meaning: Criticism of someone who’s impossible to please.
Applicability: To comment on someone who puts down everything or everyone (Fouzia El Gargouri)


Duke also purchases DVDs of North Korean films for many reasons. We have the opportunity to analyze them as avenues of propaganda and to experience them as humans who may have similar goals, needs, and hopes. Check out two examples of new arrivals below:

사랑 의 종 소리 = The bell of love (Find it in the catalog)
From the back: “Soldiers and people rebuild the branch school on the remote island which was destroyed by flood disaster with join efforts to that they could ring the bell of education forever.”


내 삶 이 닻 을 내린 곳 = My last home (Find it in the catalog)
From the back: “Myong Son is an unconverted long-term prisoner who is embraced in the bosom of the Republic after 45 years of struggle behind the bars in south Korea from the time of the Korean war which was unleashed by the US imperialists, holding fast to his conviction. It is only one year that he spent in the embrace of the Republic. During this period, what did he experience and what is the prop that has supported his destiny?”

These films (and the other films and books in the Duke collection from North Korea) are a great opportunity to consider the intentional and unintentional messages we send when we create literature and art. Piqued your interest? Browse the LibGuide on North Korean films at Duke. (Sara Biondi)


Бумажная архитектура : Антология / Юрий Аввакумов
(Paper architecture: Anthology / Yuri Avvakumov)
(Find it in the catalog)

A peek into an art book can be a window into the dialogue between generations—and into Russian cultural history more broadly. Russian Futurists of the 1920s designed avant-garde architecture to bring their cities into a post-revolutionary modern world. With a relatively clean slate but no resources, many of their designs remained as “paper architecture,” — utopian dreams and sketched images which were never realized in bricks or steel.

When Russian avant-garde architects and artists returned to ‘paper architecture’ during the late-Soviet glasnost’ of the 1980s, they adopted some of the same forms and tropes of the 1920s works–but they were no longer dreaming of a “communist city of the future.” Some images showed a focused collision of themes, as with “Sea Battle” and the (divergent) houses of cards. But sometimes the new generation “just dreamed”; their more personal drawings seem to express longing for the whimsy of private and natural life.

Александр Зосимов – Морской Бой (1985)
Aleksandr Zosimov – “Sea Battle”

Photomontage with images of buildings, a sea foreground, a sky background, and a ship.


Николай Ладовский – Коммунальный Дом (1919)
Nikolai Ladovskii – “Communal House”
A drawing of a house of cards with a prominent top spire, a surprisingly individual element for an architectural concept named to envision communal living.


Юрий Аввакумов, Сергей Подъемщиков – “Catapultower” (1982/2007)
Iurii Avvakumov and Sergei Pod”emshchikov’s house of cards, in 4 sequential images depicting the structure with a “self-raising” catapult-style architectural propulsion.


Никола Овчинников – Московский Парфенон (1995)
Nikola Ovchinnikov “Moscow Parthenon”

Ovchinnikov regularly uses the theme of native Russian birch in his art. Here its inclusion naturalizes the ancient architectural concept into a truly Moscow structure.


Николай Каверин, Ольга Каверина – Второе Жилище Горожанина (1985)
Nikolai Kaverin, Ol’ga Kaverina -“Second home of a city-dweller”
Usually such a living space is a tiny rural cottage (“dacha”) with a garden plot as the center of activity. Here the structure is set as a “still life” in multiple views—the table setting is among the topography of the land and then noted as features of the individual allotments. The land’s produce itself embodies the details of the apple-home and pie-garden spaces. (Robin LaPasha)


Duke’s East Asian collection contains more than 35,000 titles in Chinese. Plenty of those titles contend with the issue of modernization; certainly many are concerned with the long history of the Chinese-speaking world. Here are two recent titles that illustrate both the urgency of change and the long arc of history – both equally important context for China today.

自由係 … : 反送中運動「夢境」紀錄 (Find it in the catalog)
This title documents the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement in Hong Kong (2019-2020 Hong Kong Protests) in text and photographs. 71 citizens of Hong Kong speak directly to us about their pursuit of democracy and freedom in a direct and honest way.
Find this title in the East Asian Collection.


茶馆 (Find it in the catalog)
The movie Teahouse is based on a play by Lao She (Shu Qingchun), a 20th-century Chinese novelist and dramatist. The story spans fifty years of Chinese history, and follows Wang Lifa, the boss of the eponymous teahouse, as well as the many characters that make up the society around him. It’s considered not only one of Lao She’s most important works, but a monumental depiction of Chinese history, depicting the social turmoil and seamier side of society over three dynastic periods.
More of a reader than a movie person? Read the play in bilingual translation. (Yaoli Shi)


Stacks of Jazz

The Music Library and Monographic Acquisitions are working on a project to boost the collections of Free Jazz and Spiritual Jazz (and Jazz Funk, some Fusion, some Spoken Word, Modal, Post Bop, New Sound, etc.), primarily from the 70s and with a focus on American jazz. Expect a brighter spotlight on these efforts in the coming months. But, for now, in the process of digging through the digital stacks, many many gems already in the collection were discovered. What follows is a rundown of just three of them, all LPs from the LSC. Take a stroll sometime through the Jazz at Duke Libraries and you will encounter numerous, and sometimes rare, wonders!

Human Arts Ensemble – ‘Under the Sun’  Universal Justice Records, 1974
(LSC: GX9430)

The 3rd release from the St Louis MO avant troupe, featuring Lester Bowie and Charles Bobo Shaw. Two side-long cuts, the B side is a more free and abstract original, while the A side is the true stunner. A funky one, it is “a free music symphony based on an Afghanistan folk melody, ‘Lover’s Desire’ (Folkways FE 4361) transcribed from radio Kabul.”


Julius Hemphill – ‘Dogon A.D.’  Mbari Records, 1972  (LSC: GX25087)

Another arch of brilliance from St. Louis, this one helmed by composer and reedman Julius Hemphill. The entire album wows, but the title track is a true powerhouse. Hemphill is on alto sax and joined by drums, trumpet, and most impressively: cello. Abdul Wadud commands the left channel with repetitive stringed brilliance while the drums hold down the right and the horns do as they please over everything.


Rufus Harley ‘A Tribute to Courage’  Atlantic Records, 1968  (LSC: GX8482)

Jazz bagpipes? Jazz bagpipes!! Harley (born near Raleigh, no less!) was adept at several instruments (the B side finds him on saxes and flute) but truly made his mark playing bagpipes in a jazz setting. The ears might need a while to adjust, but check out the lone elegiac original, and title track, ‘A Tribute to Courage (JFK)’, for a shining example of his unique stylings.