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Cookies for the Dead

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 10/26/2020 - 12:17

Post contributed by Kaylee P. Alexander, Eleonore Jantz Reference Intern, 2020-2021

Man dies to live, and lives to die no more…until then, we eat cookies.

Tucked away in the Rubenstein Library’s box of memorial cards, ribbons, notices and ephemera in the Leona Bowman Carpenter Collection of English and American Literature is a lone advertisement for a curious confection: funeral biscuits. Imploring the reader to prepare for death, the ad suggests that one’s funerary arrangements simply cannot be complete without Hick’s biscuits.

Advertisement for Joseph Hick’s Funeral Biscuits (n.d.), Leona Bowman Carpenter Collection of English and American Literature, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Joseph Hick was a Yorkshire confectioner. In 1803, he had opened his first confectionery in partnership with Richard Kilner. In 1822, Kilner dissolved the partnership, leaving sole ownership to Hick, who relocated the business to 47 Coney Street. Hick operated his own confectionary until his death in 1860, when his estate and confectionery were left to his three children. Hick’s youngest daughter was Mary Ann Craven, the wife of Thomas Craven whose confectionery at 19 High Ousegate had been in operation since 1840. When Thomas died in 1862, Mary Ann was left in control of both confectioneries, which she merged and renamed M.A. Craven. In 1881, her son, Joseph William, joined the firm and the company was renamed M.A. Craven & Son.

With its thick black border, Hick’s advertisement mimics the design of early obituaries while inclusion of the elegy, “Prepare to Die,” hints towards the tradition of funeral cards. It is most likely, however, that the advertisement was intended to provide the reader with a sample design of what they might expect to encounter on the paper wrapper of Hick’s funeral biscuits.

Funeral Announcement for Mrs. Mary G. Reed (1832), Leona Bowman Carpenter Collection of English and American Literature, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Biscuit wrapper for the funeral of Mrs. Oliver, Collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford, England.

In nineteenth-century England—particularly in Yorkshire and Lancashire—it was customary to send funeral biscuits to the family and friends of the recently deceased. These confections would often be served with wine to funeral guests, and the wrappers, which frequently bore the name of the deceased, became souvenirs for those who had been in attendance. While the collecting of funeral tokens, from gloves to spoons, was commonplace well before the nineteenth century, the distribution and collection of funeral biscuit wrappers seems to most closely anticipate—in design, materials, and text—contemporary practices surrounding funeral cards.

Marble grave relief with a funerary banquet and departing warriors (2nd century B.C.), Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The custom has typically been seen as a relic of Antique practices in which funerary banquets and offerings of wine and cakes for the dead were standard commemorative practices. The English tradition has also been likened to the Welsh practice of sin-eating, in which a designated sin-eater would consume a ritual meal, passed to him over the coffin, in order to absorb the sins of the deceased.

An 1896 text on English customs describes the use of funeral biscuits as follows:

At a funeral near Market Drayton in 1893, the body was brought downstairs, a short service was performed, and then glasses of wine and funeral biscuits were handed to each bearer across the coffin. The clergyman, who had lately come from Pembrokeshire, remarked that he was sorry to see that pagan custom still observed, and that he had put an end to it in his former cure. […] At Padiham wine and funeral biscuits are always given before the funeral, and the clergyman is always expected to go to the house, and hold a service before the funeral party goes to church. Arval bread is eat at funerals at Accrington, and there the guests are expected to put one shilling on the plate used for handing round the funeral biscuits. (Ditchfield, 202-203)

This tradition was not limited to the British Isles. Variants could also be found in other countries of Northern Europe, and was carried to the American colonies in the seventeenth century by the English and Dutch settlers. Here, the life of the funeral cookie lasted through the nineteenth century, before crumbling in the twentieth. The tradition lives one, however, in the passing out of funeral cards that, like the packing of the funeral biscuit, function as mementos of the deceased.

Though the original recipe(s) for funeral biscuits seem to have been lost to time, some have suggested that ginger or molasses cookies would have been the go-to flavors in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. So, if you’re, like me, interested in resurrecting this uncanny confection, check out these historical and contemporary recipes!

Selected References:
Paul Chrystal, Confectionery in Yorkshire Through Time (Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing, 2009).

Margaret Coffin, Death in Early America: The History and Folklore of Customs and Superstitions of Early Medicine, Funerals, Burials, and Mourning (New York: Elsevier/Nelson Books, 1976).

H. Ditchfield. Old English Customs Extant at the Present Time: An Account of Local Observances, Festival Customs, and Ancient Ceremonies yet Surviving in Great Britain (London: George Redway, 1896).

Robin M. Jensen, “Dining with the Dead: From the Mensa to the Altar in Christian Late Antiquity,” in Commemorating the Dead: Texts and Artifacts in Context, Studies of Roman, Jewish, and Christian Burials, eds. Laurie Brink and Deborah Green (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008)

Summer Strevens, The Birth of The Chocolate City: Life in Georgian York (Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing, 2014).


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‘Physician Heal Thyself!’: The Dr. Percy E. Ryberg Papers

The Devil's Tale - Wed, 10/21/2020 - 09:23

Post contributed by Matthew Barrett, Graphic Artist and Historian at the Canadian War Museum

In December 1944, Flight Lieutenant Percy Edward Ryberg was sentenced to dismissal from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for renting a London apartment with two airmen accused of homosexuality. Ryberg, a medical officer, had earlier published a book, Health, Sex and Birth Control (1942), which included a chapter devoted to understanding homosexuality. The circumstances of the case left me with many questions about Ryberg. I was intrigued to learn that the Rubenstein Library held Dr. Ryberg’s papers.

Graphic history of Ryberg’s court martial, drawn by the author

Thanks to a History of Medicine Collections travel grant from Duke, in September 2019, I was able to explore Ryberg’s history in far more depth. The visit was well worth the trip as his writings and correspondence offered unique insights into his professional career and private life.

Ryberg was born on February 26, 1908 in England but grew up in Argentina. After graduating with a medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires in 1935, Ryberg worked as a physician in the city. Then in 1938 he earned a three-year fellowship to the Mayo Clinic. Following the outbreak of WWII, he joined the RCAF as a medical officer. He served overseas in England until his dismissal in December 1944.

After the end of his military service, Ryberg took up a position in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University in June 1945. Within a few years he opened a private psychiatric practice in New York where he also received appointments to various clinics and hospitals. After a medical career that spanned seven decades, Ryberg died on December 16, 2001 at the age of ninety-three.

Despite having read thousands of pages from his diaries, letters, and memos, Ryberg remains something of an enigma to me. His papers reveal the complexity and contradictions of a private life that departed from the ideal he promoted. He wrote about sexual health and rejected judgmental morality but since teenage years he was deeply ambivalent about sex and tried to repress homoerotic feelings. He upheld marriage as the most important and profound experience in life, but privately called his own marriage a “convenience” that he said brought nothing but regret.[1] A constant theme in Ryberg’s life was the ambiguous definition of “normal.” It is a question that the doctor attempted to answer his entire career and was in part what led him to study medicine.

Graphic history (in style of Dr. Kildare comics) of Ryberg’s career, drawn by author

Ryberg sometimes acknowledged the contradictions at the center of his own life and professional identity. He complained that the public placed physicians and psychiatrists on pedestals only to express “spiteful triumph” when revered medical authorities are exposed for human faults and thereby “reveal their feet of clay.” He resented such sayings as “‘Practice what you preach!’ Or, ‘Physician, heal thyself!'” Ryberg argued that “the psychiatrist who is honest with himself and with others tries very hard to practice what he preaches, though he, like other people, may not always succeed.”[2]

I have only highlighted a few of the contradictions between his professional advocacy and private life, but his long career and contributions to psychiatry deserve far deeper analysis. I continue to work through his papers to better understand his life and experiences.

For more detail on Ryberg’s court martial and his medical career see my article, “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Doctor: Medical Attitudes toward Homosexuality and the Court Martial of Dr. Percy Ryberg,” recently published in the Canadian Journal of History. It is freely available for a limited time at: https://utpjournals.press/doi/full/10.3138/cjh-2019-0053

Matthew Barrett is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the Canadian War Museum. As an artist and historian his postdoc project explores graphic and illustrative storytelling as forms of historical interpretation and analysis.

[1] “Sample Column,” October 1954. Ryberg papers, box 3.

[2] Percy Ryberg, to Barbara Ryberg, 30 Oct 1953. Ryberg papers, box 2.

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Creative writing competition launched for schools

National Archives - Wed, 10/14/2020 - 05:57

Lots of historical records focus on the rich, the influencers or the winners of particular periods. But in a new education resource now available on our website, The National Archives focuses on the voices of the poor in British Victorian society.

Our brand new themed collection, Workhouse Voices, includes letters written by the poor and paupers to New Poor Law officials after 1834. It allows students and teachers to develop their own questions and lines of historical enquiry on the nature of the legislation, the role of the authorities and the impact of the law on those who experienced it first-hand. The collection offers a unique insight into this world with these documents available digitally for the first time.

To highlight this new resource, The National Archives Education team is running its first ever creative writing competition for pupils at Key Stages 2, 3 and 4.

Taking your inspiration from some of the letters, write a short story which describes life in a Victorian workhouse or an experience of the Poor Law. In one of the letters from the collection one child writes, ‘If any of our parents bring anything, we are not allowed to have it’, and another letter states, ‘Take me out of this workhouse, I do not like to be in here’.

Once you have written your story, please submit it to us by Monday 30 November when it will be judged by a panel including acclaimed children’s author Sharon Gosling. More details about the competition can be found here.

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Early Birds for Lady Bird

The Devil's Tale - Wed, 10/07/2020 - 11:24

Post contributed by Liz Adams, Rare Materials Cataloger

“I don’t know when I’ve ever been so flattered to see so many people getting up this early in the morning.”

Lady Bird Johnson wasn’t exaggerating when she stumped for her husband’s presidential campaign in front of a crowd of 12,000 Durhamites on Wednesday, October 7th, 1964.  It was 6:45 AM when a group of “early birds for Lady Bird” congregated to meet her at the Durham Parking Lot, brandishing free coffee and donuts. It was 7:04 AM when North Carolina politicians—including Terry Sanford  (the governor and future president of Duke)—began their remarks. And it was 7:11 AM when the woman of the hour spoke behind Thalhimer’s department store in downtown Durham, highlighting the “present prosperity” of North Carolina, Lyndon B. Johnson’s familial connections to the state, and the Great Society he planned for the country.

A flyer held by the Rubenstein Library offering free coffee and “do-nuts” for those waking up early to meet Lady Bird Johnson in downtown Durham.

To understand why Lady Bird Johnson stopped in Durham 56 years ago, we need to frame our story: It was 1964, and the Civil Rights Act (CRA) had just gone into effect on July 2nd. According to Hersch & Shinall (2014), the CRA “sought to improve access to voting, public accommodations, and employment as well as improve the overall status of individuals discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin” (p. 425). At its heart, the CRA sought to create equalities where none existed, especially for Black Americans. It was and is an important, imperfect piece of legislation, one that only passed after years of tragedy and occasional triumph, including the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the March on Washington, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jr. Relying on an uneasy coalition of Republican and Democrat votes, Lyndon B. Johnson plowed the CRA through Congress. Southern Democrats and the Republican nominee for president, Barry Goldwater, stood in opposition (Hersch & Shinall, 2014).

Lady Bird Johnson believed in the CRA and her husband. Just as relevant to our story, she was also a native Texan and is quoted saying—in a piece for PBS NewsHour by Judy Woodruff—that she was “proud of the South” and “proud that [she was] part of the South” (2014). Lady Bird Johnson thus knew she needed to act. And so as Meredith Hindley documents in “Lady Bird Special,” on October 6th, she climbed aboard a train named the Lady Bird Special and embarked on a Whistle Stop Tour, a four-day trip winding through eight Southern states. Liaising with the spouses of local politicians and their partners, she shored up support for the CRA, defended her husband’s past decisions, and fought for his future plans. In total, she gave 47 speeches and traveled over 1600 miles. Occasionally her path intersected with Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign trail, but for the most part, she travelled alone or with her daughters. Finally, on October 9th, 1964, the Lady Bird Special arrived in New Orleans, La., and the President and First Lady of the United States reunited (Hindley, 2013).

28 days later, on Tuesday, November 3rd, 1964, Americans went to the polls. In a landslide victory, Lyndon B. Johnson won 44 states (and Washington, D.C.), 15 million more votes than Barry Goldwater, and 486 Electoral College votes (Levy, 2019). And although five of the six states he lost were in the South, there was a southern state he didn’t lose: North Carolina (Levy, 2019).

Interested in hearing Lady Bird Johnson’s speech in Durham? The Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library has made the audio recording available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fyDOFkmGg8



Hersch, J., & Shinall, J. B. (2014). Fifty Years Later: The Legacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2523481

Hindley, M. (2013, May/June). Lady Bird Special. Humanities, the Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities, 34(3). https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2013/mayjune/feature/lady-bird-special

Lady Bird’s Whistle Stop: Durham, NC: 10/7/64, 7:04 AM, Sound Recordings of Lady Bird Johnson’s   Whistle Stop Campaign Tour, 10/6/1964-10/9/1965, Records of the White House Communications Agency, LBJ Presidential Library, viewed via YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fyDOFkmGg8

Levy, M. (2019, October 27). United States presidential election of 1964. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/event/United-States-presidential-election-of-1964

NewsHour, P. (2014, October 06). Remembering Lady Bird Johnson’s whistle-stop tour for civil rights. Retrieved October 06, 2020, from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/remembering-lady-bird-johnsons-whistle-stop-tour-civil-rights

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Would You Buy a Comic Book from this Woman?

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 10/05/2020 - 16:20

Post contributed by Sagan Thacker, recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Asheville BA in History. Read more in their senior thesis, “‘Something to Offend Everyone’: Situating Feminist Comics of the 1970s and ‘80s in the Second-Wave Feminist Movement,” forthcoming in the University of North Carolina at Asheville Journal of Undergraduate Research and available to read here.

“Would You Buy a Comic Book from This Woman?” by Barb Behm, in Amazon: A Feminist Journal (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), February 1976. From the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance Periodicals Collection, Box 1.

In January 2020, I traveled from Western North Carolina to the Sallie Bingham Center to study feminist newspapers in two of the Bingham Center’s incredible collections: the Women’s and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Movements (LGBT) Periodicals and Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance Periodicals collections. I was looking for material about feminist underground comics of the 1970s and ‘80s—books such as Wimmen’s Comix and Tits and Clits. I wanted to determine what feminists of the time period thought about the comics, and whether they viewed them as serious literature or just mindless entertainment.

I soon found several articles that turned popular notions of comics on their heads. Most notable was a February 1976 article from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, newspaper Amazon: A Feminist Journal. Written by Barb Behm about the now obscure Pricella Pumps/Star Buckwheat Comic Book by Barba Kutzner (1976), the article cogently praised the book’s relatability and satire of American society and its metaphorical significance for all women. Behm touted Kutzner’s protagonist as both a character with which women could heartily identify and a way to break free from the oppressive system and celebrate non-normativity.

This source was instrumental in showing that feminist underground comics, far from being tangential and lowbrow parts of the second-wave feminist movement, were instead an important part of the intellectual discourse within feminism. By finding a critic who enthusiastically engaged with the work on a level beyond its perceived lowbrow status, it became clear that some feminists viewed comics as a valid and direct medium to write and engage with feminism on a level that would not be widespread until the zine revolution of the late 1980s and early ‘90s. This reframing of comics’ literary history deepens our understanding of second-wave feminism and gives a more nuanced portrait of its discursive diversity.

Cover by Barba Kutzner, Amazon: A Feminist Journal (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), February 1976. From the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance Periodicals Collection, Box 1.


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Duke’s May Queen

The Devil's Tale - Thu, 10/01/2020 - 10:17

Post contributed by Theodore D. Segal, guest contributor1

On September 26, 2020, Duke University announced that the Sociology-Psychology Building on its West Campus was renamed the Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke Building to recognize Reuben-Cooke’s role as one of the “First Five” Black undergraduates at Duke and her many contributions to the university. A fitting honor, this recognition recalls a different time at Duke, one when Reuben-Cooke’s election as the school’s first Black May Queen stirred controversy.

* * * * * * * * *

Although by 1967 a number of longstanding traditions at Duke had been set aside, the annual practice of crowning a “May Queen” endured. Selection of the “Queen” was a centerpiece of popular “May Day” celebrations, a holiday whose origins date back to the ancient world. Villagers throughout Europe would collect flowers and participate in games, pageants, and dances throughout the day. It became customary to crown a young woman “May Queen” to oversee the festivities. During the early 20th century, selection of a May Queen became common at women’s colleges in the United States and had acquired a special meaning in the South. “The crowning of the May Queen as the ritual incantation of Southern society’s ideal of femininity,” historian Christie Anne Farnham wrote, “was a traditional event at Southern female schools. . . . The queen was usually elected by the students on the basis of ‘sweetness’ and beauty,” Farnham explained, although the father’s status often played a role.

May Queen traditions at Duke dated back to 1921 when the school was still known as Trinity College. The Trinity Chronicle reported that 2000 spectators attended May Day festivities that first year, and that the two-day celebration was spent “in gaiety and amusement.” Undergraduate Martha Wiggins was crowned Queen of May that year. The school newspaper wrote that she, “wore a lovely costume of shimmering white, bearing a corsage of white roses with her golden hair cascading in waves down her back, making a charming picture of perfect grace and absolute loveliness.”

Given this context, it was newsworthy when Wilhelmina Reuben, a member of Duke’s first class of Black undergraduates, was selected as the Woman’s College May Queen in spring 1967. As runners up in the voting, white coeds Mary Earle and Jo Humphreys were designated to serve as Reuben’s “court.” The Associated Press picked up the news, reporting that “Mimi, as she is known to her friends, is a Negro—the first of her race to receive the honor at the women’s[sic] college of the university.” Chosen for her character, leadership, campus service, and beauty, Reuben had been selected May Queen by a vote of students in the woman’s college. A fact sheet on Reuben prepared by Mary Grace Wilson, dean of women, described her as “warm, friendly, perceptive and sensitive to the feelings of others.” Wilson called her “one of the most admired and highly respected students on the campus.” Reuben was a member of the freshman honor society and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. A student intern at the State Department, she was listed in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. For her part, Reuben was pleased by her selection. “I’m still trying to adjust to it,” she told the Associated Press. “I’ve been walking around in a delightful haze of disbelief and excitement.”

Many at Duke were pleased with the news. Randolph C. Harrison, Jr., an alumnus from Richmond, Virginia, wrote to Knight that the “undergraduates’ choice of Miss Reuben as May Queen attests once more to Duke’s greatness. What a step towards inter-racial accord.”

If Reuben’s election represented progress to some, however, the prospect of a Black May Queen flanked by two white members of her “court” felt like a violation of the established social order to others. Jonathan Kinney, president of the Duke student government, saw the reaction when he had the responsibility of “crowning” the queen and her court. “I kissed all the rest of the panel,” he recalled, “so I kissed [Wilhelmina Reuben]. There were a lot of boos in that stadium at that time.” An anonymous alumnus sent the Duke president pictures of the “pretty May Queens chosen at Peace, St. Mary’s, and Meredith Colleges,” all of whom were white, along with a picture of Reuben, “a colored girl who was chosen May Queen at our Dear Ole Duke University.” The alumnus noted the “deplorable contrast between the May Queens of other colleges and the stunning representative from Duke.” He told Knight “Duke Alumni everywhere were stunned and several in South Carolina had strokes.” One correspondent, identified as a “lifelong, respected citizen of Wilmington, North Carolina,” outlined with exasperation the problems that Reuben’s election was creating at the city’s annual Azalea Festival where May Queens from throughout North Carolina were invited to attend:

The Sprunt’s annual garden party at Orton [Plantation] for the college queens (held for the past 20 years) has been cancelled; the Coastguard Academy, which was supposed to furnish her escort, says they don’t have a colored boy available; the private home in which she was supposed to stay is not now available; and there are all sorts of complications.

“The crowd who elected her has done a disservice to her,” the writer opined, “and placed a no doubt nice girl in an embarrassing situation.”

Finally, two trustees weighed in. C. B. Houck told Knight that he liked and respected “the colored people” and wanted them to have “every opportunity that the white people have.” Still, he thought Reuben’s election was in “bad taste” and that the “East Campus girls were leaning over backwards to be nice.” For Houck, the symbolism was deeply troubling. “To select a colored person for May Queen and have white maids of honor flanking her on either side,” he concluded, “makes for poor and critical relationship [sic] among many people, particularly in the South.” Trustee George Ivey was also deeply concerned. Writing from Bangkok, Thailand, he called Reuben’s selection “very upsetting to me.” Even if the selection was by Duke’s coeds, Ivey regretted “that the University has attracted the type of students that would vote for a Negro girl as a ‘beauty’ to represent the student body. It is nauseating to contemplate.”

By spring 1967, Duke had eliminated most of the school’s de jure discriminatory policies and practices. Reuben’s election as May Queen could be seen as another positive sign of racial progress. But the episode also shined a spotlight on the depth of attachment some still had to traditional racist ideas. These attitudes would become even more pronounced in the months to come as Black student activism accelerated on campus.

1Ted Segal is a Duke graduate (A.B. 1977), retired lawyer, and a board member of the Center for Documentary Studies at the school.  His book, POINT OF RECKONING: The Fight for Racial Justice at Duke University, will be published by Duke University Press in February 2021. Special thanks to the Duke University Archives for preserving the historical records quoted in this piece and for making them readily accessible.

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Five Photos: New online resource launched

National Archives - Tue, 09/29/2020 - 09:51

Today we are launching Five Photos, a new online resource that aims to engage older generations using imagery from our extensive collection. The resource is aimed at those shielding or in care home settings and is designed to inspire reminiscence, spark conversation and encourage participation on creative follow-up activities.

Photographs from around the world have been selected to feature in the resource and are accompanied by a series of questions and audio recordings offering different perspectives. Activities can be undertaken independently or in a group, with tips for coordinators on how to maximise engagement.

Five Photos has been launched in partnership with Arts in Care Homes, an initiative by the National Activity Providers Association (NAPA) that acts as a central hub for the delivery of arts and creative activities in care homes. This year, the theme is Creative Communities, celebrating the role of the arts in enhancing the lives of people living in care home settings.

Sara Griffiths, Outreach and Inclusion Manager at The National Archives, said: “It’s great to have been given the opportunity to contribute to the Arts in Care Homes initiative. We know our records can be an effective tool for sparking conversations and hope that participants – whether shielding at home or in care homes – enjoy the resource.”

Five Photos is free and can be viewed here.

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Oct. 7th ONLINE: Creativity and Mental Health

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 09/28/2020 - 09:00

Date: Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Time: 4:30-5:30 PM
Register: http://bit.ly/rl-styron (Registration required to receive Zoom link)

Please join the staff of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library for a free ONLINE event on creativity and mental health.

This event recognizes the 30th anniversary publication of William Styron’s Darkness Visible, a memoir of his depression and recovery. Along with discussing Styron’s work, our panelists will speak to the role of creativity, writing, and mental health.

Talks will be provided by:

  • James L.W. West III, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University, author of William Styron: A Life (1998)
  • Sneha Mantri, M.D., M.S., neurologist and Director of the Trent Center’s Medical Humanities Program
  • Megha Gupta, M.D. Candidate, Duke University School of Medicine
  • Sarah Hodges, M.D. Candidate, Duke University School of Medicine

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October 6: Readings and Conversation with Sallie Bingham

The Devil's Tale - Fri, 09/18/2020 - 08:00

Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m. ET
Online via zoom: Registration required to receive Zoom link.
Contact: Kelly Wooten, kelly.wooten@duke.edu or Laura Micham, laura.m@duke.edu

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture  is honored to host a virtual reading and discussion with Sallie Bingham, author of two new books: The Silver Swan: In Search of Doris Duke and Treason: A Sallie Bingham Reader.

In The Silver Swan, Sallie Bingham chronicles one of the great underexplored lives of the twentieth century. Bingham is especially interested in dissecting the stereotypes that have defined Duke’s story while also confronting the disturbing questions related to her legacy. According to Gloria Steinem, “Sallie Bingham rescues Doris Duke from this gendered prison and shows us just how brave, rebellious, and creative this unique woman really was, and how her generosity benefits us to this day.”

Treason: A Sallie Bingham Reader is a collection that captures the spirit of the author’s illustrious writing career via short stories, a novella, and a play. From the complex stories of artistic influence and the exhilaration and fright of solitude, to the incendiary rage of a betrayed young wife who sacrifices everything for revenge, to the struggles for independence of the three women who surrounded Ezra Pound like subservient stars, these fictions seize the reader’s attention while slashing stereotypes.

The Rubenstein Library holds a range of collections documenting the lives of Sallie Bingham and Doris Duke.

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Over £330,000 awarded in grants to archive services

National Archives - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 04:56

During the COVID-19 pandemic, archives have demonstrated an impressive ability to innovate and engage with archive users. To continue supporting this vital work over the summer, The National Archives, along with The Pilgrim Trust and Wolfson Foundation, has awarded grants totalling £302,324 from the Archives Revealed funding programme. In addition, we have also awarded £37,500 in grants to archive services across England through our Collaborate and Innovate funding programme.

The Archives Revealed funding programme has now been running for three years and provides cataloguing and scoping grants that allow archives to better understand, catalogue and promote their collections. One of the recent recipients is West Yorkshire Archive Service, who will catalogue over 170 cubic metres of archives that comprehensively describe the development of the entire Kirklees area since the 1820s. Nottingham Women’s History Group will use their grant to assess the importance of their collections and begin opening them up to researchers.

Collaborate and Innovate is our latest funding programme, which enables archive services to create or strengthen networks or explore original ideas that could have positive implications for the entire sector. Over the summer, we have allocated additional funding to this programme until March 2021 and recipients are free to test their new approaches without fear of failure. The programme only asks each project to share its learnings so that everyone can benefit from them. Among the recent recipients are the South West Heritage Trust, who will explore the possibility of offering a managed digital preservation system for small-scale archives, and the University of Reading, who will investigate how catalogue data and metadata can be represented in a way that is both helpful for users and straightforward to implement.

To find out more about these programmes and the recently funded projects, please visit our funding webpages: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archives-sector/finding-funding/.

If you are interested in applying to one of the programmes, please contact us as we’d be more than happy to discuss your ideas and explain the application process. You can reach the team by email at archivesrevealed@nationalarchives.gov.uk or candi@nationalarchives.gov.uk.

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Digital preservation project shortlisted for award

National Archives - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 07:50

We are delighted to announce that our Safeguarding the Nation’s Digital Memory project team has been shortlisted for The Software Sustainability Institute Award for Research and Innovation at the 2020 Digital Preservation Awards.

This project was supported with grants from the National Heritage Lottery Fund and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The team comprised academics from Warwick University in the Applied Statistics and Risk Unit along with archive professionals from The National Archives, Dorset History Centre, Gloucestershire Archives, TfL Corporate Archives, Special Collections at the University of Leeds and the Design Archives at the University of Brighton along with the Digital Preservation Coalition.

The tool, called DiAGRAM, will enable archives professionals to navigate the complex digital archiving risk landscape and quantify the impact of risks on their collections, helping them to understand and manage digital preservation risk through time.

The Digital Preservation Awards celebrate people and organisations who have made significant and innovative contributions to maintaining our digital legacy. As finalists, the team will deliver a short presentation to the digital preservation community at #WeMissIPRES event on Wednesday 24 September, before discussing the project in more detail with the judges.

Winners will be announced on Thursday 5 November, World Digital Preservation Day.

For more information on the finalists, click here.

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Now Live: ‘Guiding Principles for Description’

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 10:23

Post contributed by Meghan Lyon, Head of Technical Services

The “Duke University Libraries Statement of Our Commitment” (issued in June 2020) commits Duke Libraries to expand our cultural competence and combat racism. The statement offered five goals (summarized below) as a means of upholding that commitment:

  • Dismantle white privilege in collections and services.
  • Diversify our staff.
  • Develop better relationships with community organizations and groups.
  • Document and share Duke’s complex institutional history.
  • And finally, “practice more inclusive metadata creation, with the goal of harm reduction from biased and alienating description and classification.”
Creating “Guiding Principles” for RL Technical Services

The Rubenstein Library Technical Services Department has been seeking to create “inclusive metadata” for much longer than the summer of 2020, but we have recently been inspired by Duke Libraries’ “Statement of Our Commitment” to more formally and concretely define what “inclusive metadata” means. We began this process by collecting and reading library and community literature, listening to panels and presentations on these topics, and researching what our peers and role models are doing. Our staff met and workshopped a draft of new “Guiding Principles for Description,” which was subsequently edited and adopted by the department and is now available here (along with links to some further reading and references):

The Rubenstein Library Technical Services Department acknowledges the historical role of libraries and archives, including our own institution, in amplifying the voices of those with political, social, and economic power, while omitting and erasing the voices of the oppressed. We have developed these Guiding Principles for Description as the first step in our ongoing commitment to respond to this injustice.

    1. We will use inclusive and accessible language when describing the people represented by or documented in our materials. We commit to continually educate ourselves on evolving language and practices of inclusivity and accessibility.

    2. We will prioritize facts and accuracy, and resist editorializing, valorizing, or euphemistic narratives or phrases in our description. This includes a commitment to revisit and revise our past description.

    3. When describing our collections, we will purposefully seek and document the presence and activities of marginalized communities and voices.

    4. We welcome and will seek to incorporate input and feedback on our descriptive choices from the communities and people represented by and in our materials.

    5. We will be transparent about the origin of our description, and our role in adding or replacing description. We will also commit to increased transparency about our own institution’s past descriptive practices.

    6. We will advocate for and celebrate library description, and the essential labor and expertise of the library practitioners who create and maintain that description, as crucial for any ongoing preservation of, access to, and research within library collections.

Developing this list of guiding principles is only one part of our ongoing commitment to create inclusive description of Rubenstein Library materials. Our department processes and catalogs a wide range of special collection formats (printed books, serials, ephemera, zines, archival papers, institutional records, film, video, born digital files, objects, and more) and creates description that is shared across a variety of platforms like the library catalog, finding aid database, and Duke’s institutional repository. Going forward, we hope the “Guiding Principles” will serve as the foundation for any type of description created or managed by Rubenstein’s catalogers and archivists.

Current and Future Inclusive Description Projects The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, 1850. As part of their work to catalog the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein catalogers corrected a century-long misattribution of authorship in the Library of Congress Name Authority File, returning credit back to Sojourner Truth.

There is much work already underway, and much more planned as Rubenstein Technical Services continues to prioritize the creation of inclusive description. Some of these projects pre-date the coining of our “Guiding Principles” — for example, we are proud of the ongoing cataloging of the thousands of items in the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, where catalogers are creating name authority records and detailed provenance notes tracing the often hidden role of women in printing, publishing, and book-binding. Our work to preserve and digitize film, including creating detailed description for collections like the H. Lee Waters’ Movies of Local People, have ensured the preservation and availability of community histories. When developing ArcLight, our finding aid interface (just launched in July), an important feature was the addition of a feedback button to encourage suggestions, particularly if a user spots harmful or incorrect descriptive language in our metadata.

Our projects continue this fall despite the COVID-19 pandemic. While working remotely, the Rare Materials Section has prioritized creating new manuscript catalog records for the Rubenstein’s American Slavery Documents, which will center the names and lives of Black people who were enslaved. We will share more about this project as the records are published in our catalog later this year.

Free papers for Nancy Gardner, 1806. Catalogers are creating new description for manuscripts like this from the American Slavery Documents collection, along with creating name authority records that align with our new “Guiding Principles.”

Our Archival Processing Section has begun reviewing manuscript collections with outdated, inadequate, or offensive description, and they will be reprocessing, re-describing, and exploring how to be transparent about any changes or updates they make through development of a new style guide for finding aids. This includes acknowledging our library’s past decisions or mistakes, which may mean more blog posts like this one that question and critique our institution’s collecting and descriptive choices. Across the department, we intend to ramp up reparative description projects, particularly for our nineteenth-century Southern white family papers, because we know that the records of enslavers may be the only remaining documentation of those who were enslaved. We are seeking marginalized, hidden, and silenced voices. Even in their silences, our collections have much to say. Please stay tuned, and stay in touch, as we pursue this important work.

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Make 2020 (Duke) History!

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 09:00

We’re at home, in our houses, apartments, and dorm rooms. Or, when we venture onto campus, we learn, work, and relax while masked and six feet apart. But in spite of the (social) distance between us, we can still find ways to join together and be creative! 

The Duke University Archives invites our fellow Dukies, wherever you are, to recreate and reinterpret one of our historical Duke photographs. Recreated photos will be displayed online and in the library outside the Gothic Reading Room. You can also choose to add your photo to our growing Share Your COVID-19 Story collection!

How to participate:
  1. Choose from one of the #make2020dukehistory photos from our Flickr site and recreate it. (See guidelines below.)
  2. Send it to us via this submission form by Friday, October 23th at 11:59 PM.
At left: a ca. 1977 photo of caretaker Suzanne Lassiter holding a lemur at the Duke Primate Center, ca. 1977. At right: University Archivist Val Gillispie recreates the same photo with her cat, Barbecue Sauce.

Starting on Monday, November 2nd, all reinterpreted photos will be available for view on our Flickr site, on University Archives and Rubenstein Library social media, and in a slideshow outside the Gothic Reading Room at the Rubenstein Library. DukeArts will also share the photos in its Duke Arts Weekly newsletter (sign up here!). And we’ll plan additional ways to share the photos across campus during the Spring 2021 semester.

One more thing: we want everyone in the Duke community to have comfortable and safe homes, particularly during this pandemic. Please also consider making a donation to Duke Mutual Aid or the Graduate & Professional Student Council Food Pantry to support those in our community who need it right now. (Donations are not required in order to submit a reinterpreted photo.) 

Participation Guidelines:
  • Give your interpretive powers full rein by matching your recreation to your current experiences and sentiments or aim for faithfulness to the original–bring your creativity to this in any way you choose!
  • Remember that the photos you submit will be publicly displayed. Here’s the Duke Community Standard for quick reference.
  • Submitted photos must adhere to masking, social distancing, and other safety requirements outlined in the Duke Compact.
  • Don’t like any of the photos in the #make2020dukehistory photo pool? No problem! Choose any photo from our Flickr site—but your photo recreation must still abide by social distancing and masking requirements.
  • Have fun and ask the University Archives if you have any questions about the historical photos you’re working with!

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DCDC21 Conference: Call for papers

National Archives - Thu, 09/10/2020 - 13:25

The DCDC21 conference will explore how crisis can act as a catalyst for change within libraries, archives, museums and cultural organisations. It will look at the impact that crisis can have on working practices, collections and audience engagement, and how periods of turbulence can lead to new opportunities for research and collaboration. It will seek to examine how cultural heritage organisations can look beyond times of crisis and foster innovation and collaboration in their institutions and communities.

In the midst of an extraordinary time in history, cultural heritage organisations across the globe are facing unprecedented changes and challenges. These events are forcing a reassessment of our place in, and our relationship with, society at large.

The response to recent events has been as varied as the sector itself. Libraries, archives and museums responded swiftly to their communities’ changing needs through adapting their offerings and fostering a spirit of collaboration, innovation and engagement in the digital environment. However, not all organisations have been able to respond in the same way, and the emphasis on digital solutions has highlighted the digital divide between institutions and users, and existing inequalities in digital infrastructure.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasised the deep inequalities which exist within societies based on race, gender, disability and socio-economic background. Initiatives and techniques seen previously as underpinning inclusivity, such as the digitisation of collections, look uncertain within the context of the ‘digital divide’, leaving us to question some of the fundamental assumptions around many of our collective activities.

DCDC21 is now inviting proposals in a range of formats on the theme of ‘catalysts for change’. Proposals should be submitted by 6 November 2020. For more information, please visit https://dcdcconference.com/cfp/.

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Looking Back, Moving Forward with Southerners on New Ground

The Devil's Tale - Fri, 09/04/2020 - 16:18

Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Online via Zoom: Registration required to receive Zoom link
Contact: Kelly Wooten, kelly.wooten@duke.edu or Laura Micham, laura.m@duke.edu

Please join the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture for a panel discussion grounded in the history of Southerners on New Ground (SONG) that will explore how activist archives inform intersectional struggles for social justice. Mandy Carter (SONG co-founder), Wesley Hogan (historian), Lisa Levenstein (historian), and Mab Segrest (SONG co-founder) will reflect on the importance and contemporary relevance of SONG’s organizing in the 1990s and beyond.

Wesley Hogan’s On the Freedom Side and Lisa Levenstein’s They Didn’t See Us Coming both incorporate research using the SONG Records and the papers of two SONG co-founders, Mandy Carter and Mab Segrest, from the Rubenstein Library.

Co-sponsored by the Duke Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and the Center for Documentary Studies.

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The National Archives now open, offering greater access to our collections

National Archives - Fri, 09/04/2020 - 08:00

We’re very pleased to be able to welcome visitors back into our reading rooms, offering a limited service to visitors who need access to our collection of original documents for their research. Following regular reviews since our initial re-opening in July, we are now able to expand our services and increase our capacity, so that we can accommodate more visitors and give them greater access to our collections.

Our second floor map and large document reading room is now also open, and we have increased the number of seats available in our first floor document reading room. Visitors can order more documents each day (nine instead of six), and we will have a small number of two-day appointments available for visitors wishing to research bulk document orders (between 20 and 40).

All visitors are still required to book their visit and order their documents in advance.

In addition, we are pleased to announce that we have restarted our naturalisation certification (HO 334) service, although other record copying and paid search services remain suspended for the time being.

Our building and services will look very different to regular visitors, as we’ve been busy introducing a number of measures to ensure the safety of our visitors and staff. These include:

  • New booking system to help us manage visitor numbers – all visits have to be pre-booked without exception, with a limit of one visit per week, and all documents ordered in advance
  • New document delivery processes to protect visitors and staff, and to ensure that documents are quarantined appropriately
  • One-way systems and capacity controls in frequently used areas
  • Floor markers and temporary signage to help with social distancing
  • Rigorous cleaning during and at the end of each day
  • Easier access to sinks for hand washing and provision of hand sanitiser.

This short video shows what you can expect when you visit. Due to a change in the law, all visitors are now required to wear face coverings during their visit.

We are asking everyone booking a visit to agree to a new coronavirus visitor charter, aimed at encouraging all visitors to do their bit to help us ensure everyone’s safety. We will not permit anyone to enter the building who has not pre-booked, so please do not travel if you have not been able to book as we will not be able to let you in. We are open from Tuesday to Friday, between 10:00 and 14:50.

We are currently able to provide access to our first floor document reading room and second floor map and large document reading room only – our other facilities will remain closed, including our reference library, our exhibition spaces, our shop, and our cafés. We will also be unable to provide many of our other usual reading room services, including, access to microfilm and microfiche, research advice, record copying and access to our computers.

We will continue to provide free downloads of digital records on our website for the time being, as we are initially only able to re-open for a very limited number of researchers. We will keep this, and all of our opening arrangements, under constant review.

Our full Q&A below provides more detailed information about our opening arrangements.

What services are available?

We re-opened our doors in late July to offer a limited service to visitors who need access to our collection of original documents for their research. Visitors must book an appointment to visit our document reading room to consult up to nine documents which they have ordered in advance.

We have worked hard to get the appropriate procedures and staffing levels in place for us to ensure everyone’s safety, in line with government guidance on social distancing. As a result, we are currently unable to open our other on site facilities, including our reference library, our exhibition spaces, our shop, and our restaurant and cafés. We will also be unable to provide many of our other usual reading room services, including access to microfilm and microfiche , research advice, record copying and access to our computers.

Appointments are released on our website on a rolling weekly basis every Monday morning at 10:00. Daily bookings will be available between Tuesday and Friday, when we will be open between 10:00 and 14:50, and your appointment will last for the whole day. We will not permit anyone to enter the building who has not pre-booked a slot, so please do not travel if you have not been able to book as we will not be able to let you in.

What safety measures are in place?

We’re doing all we can to help everyone feel safe when they’re on site, but we need your help too. We ask that all visitors behave responsibly and respect the measures that we have put in place, including:

  • One-way systems and capacity controls in frequently used areas
  • Floor markers and temporary signage to help with social distancing (two metres)
  • Rigorous cleaning during and at the end of each day, including in washrooms
  • Easier access to sinks for hand washing and provision of hand sanitiser.

We will also ask everyone booking a visit to agree to a new coronavirus visitor charter, aimed at encouraging all visitors to do their bit to help us ensure everyone’s safety.

Due to a change in the law, all visitors will be required to wear face coverings during their visit.

We will review these arrangements regularly to ensure that they continue to meet government guidance.

We confirm we have complied with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19, and have also now received the We’re Good to Go mark – the UK’s official mark that shows we are following all government and public health guidance to create a safe and clean environment for everyone.

Why do I have to book in advance?

Although we are expanding our services, we are still only able to welcome a very limited number of researchers. This is why we have introduced a booking system to help us manage numbers – we will also be asking visitors to book a maximum of one visit per week initially to help us administer demand fairly. A small number of two-day visits will be available for bulk order bookings.

Visits must be booked at least a week in advance, and will be made available two weeks before the date of the visit, on a rolling weekly basis every Monday morning from 10:00. Each booking is for one person only on a first come, first served basis – you will not be able to bring anyone with you unless they book a visit themselves. Please be considerate of others when you book – we may cancel your booking if you try to book more than one visit per week, unless you have booked a two-day bulk order visit.

Booking in advance will also help ensure that we have sufficient time to quarantine documents before and after they have been handled by others. You will be able to order up to nine documents when you book your visit, and will be able to suggest a smaller list of alternative documents if any of your first choice are unavailable, for example if they are being used by another visitor or if they are in quarantine if another visitor has seen them within the previous 72 hours. We will let you know before you arrive whether any of the documents that you have ordered are likely to be unavailable for this reason.

A small number of consecutive two-day appointments in both reading rooms are now available for visitors wishing to research bulk document orders (between 20 and 40). Appointments are available for Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday/Friday only. We are able to offer a small number of camera stands for use in the reading rooms – these must also be booked in advance.

If you book a visit and are delayed or unable to attend, please contact us as far in advance as possible using the Live Chat service on our website.

Should I wear a face covering or gloves?

Due to a change in the law, all visitors are required to wear face coverings during their visit. If you are travelling to us on public transport you must also wear a face covering.

If you have a legitimate reason not to wear a face covering, please indicate this on the form when you book your visit – this will help our staff prepare for your arrival and ensure that your visit is not delayed.

We will not allow gloves to be worn in our reading rooms, unless you are handling photographs, in line with long-standing guidance relating to the preservation of our collection. All visitors will be asked to wash their hands thoroughly before and after their visit to the reading rooms.

Some of our staff (for example, our document services staff and security officers) are likely to be wearing face shields and other protective equipment.

Are you quarantining documents after they’ve been handled?

Yes. All documents will have to be ordered in advance, at the point of pre-booking a reading room visit. Documents will be delivered to you on a trolley (rather than in our normal document lockers), so that we can minimise human contact before it reaches you. When you have finished looking at your documents, we will quarantine them for a period of time before they can be handled by another visitor.

If another visitor has already handled a document that you have requested within a certain amount of time before your visit, we will be unable to provide you with access to that document – for this reason, we are suggesting that visitors suggest a number of alternative documents that can be supplied if available.

Will document supports, such as wedges and weights, be available?

Yes, we will supply the appropriate document handling aids, including foam wedges and weights, when we deliver your documents to you. These will also be quarantined for 72 hours before and after you use them.

What’s different about the map and large document reading room?

The map and large document reading room, located on our second floor, is where researchers can access some of the larger and older documents from our collection, including rolls, scrolls, maps and parchment, many of which date from before 1688. The desks in this reading room are much larger than in our first floor document reading room, in order to accommodate the specialist needs of the collections researched here.

The map and large document reading room did not re-open in our initial phase, but we are pleased to be able to open it on a limited basis now.

What are bulk orders and how can I use them?

If you wish to research several documents from the same catalogue series, for example from FO 371 (Foreign Office correspondence), we would class this as a ‘bulk order’. You will be able to order between 20 and 40 documents in your bulk order, but they must all be from the same series, without exception.

There are a few series that we cannot supply as bulk orders – we will contact you if your request is for one of these series.

I’ve booked a visit and want to change the documents I’ve ordered, can I do this?

We understand that some of our visitors may change their minds about the documents that they wish to research, and for this reason we may allow you to make changes within the first 48 hours after you have booked your visit – however, this depends on the documents that you wish to research and their availability, and when you have booked your visit. The confirmation email that you receive when you book will include details of how to contact us with any changes to your document order.

These restrictions are in place because of the quarantine arrangements, which are there to keep everyone safe.

Will I need a reader’s ticket to visit, and should I bring it with me?

Yes, but we can make arrangements to renew expired readers’ tickets or issue new ones if you do not have a current reader’s ticket.

If you already have a reader’s ticket, you will be asked to enter the number when you book, and you will need to bring the ticket with you on the day.

If you do not have a current reader’s ticket, there is an option for this on the booking form – on selecting that option you will receive a link within your confirmation email which will allow you to register for your ticket. You will need to register to renew expired tickets as well as apply for a new one. Registration will need to be completed within 24 hours of your booking. You will then need to bring appropriate forms of identification to complete your registration on the day.

Will I be able to get help with my research?

We will of course do all we can to help you with practical advice during your visit, but we will not be able to offer any research advice in person in the reading rooms. The computers in the reading rooms will not be available, although we will continue to provide free wifi for visitors. Our email and Live Chat enquiry services will remain available on our website, and we would recommend that you use them to plan your research before you visit. We are currently unable to respond to phone enquiries.

Can I access the finding aids in the reading rooms?

You will not be able to use our finding aids during your visit, but we may be able to check these for you to help you identify document references when planning your visit. Please use our enquiry form  to do this – you will need to specify exactly what you are looking for and which finding aids need to be checked. We will not be able to undertake open-ended searches on your behalf or conduct searches that will take more than 15 minutes to research. If you want more than one search to be conducted on your behalf, we will consider this in light of the number of requests we have received from other researchers. We aim to complete these searches within five working days, but your search may take longer if the finding aids in question are in quarantine after previous use.

Will I be able to use the computers in the reading rooms?

Our computers, used by many visitors to access digitised collections on our website and those of our partners, will not be available when we re-open due to the challenges of keeping them clean and safe for everyone. You will however be able to use your own device to connect to our free wifi.

Will I be able to order documents held off site (at Deepstore)?

Yes, we are now able to offer wider access to our documents, including those stored off site at Deepstore.

Can I leave during the day and return later?

Yes, you will be allowed to leave the building/site to get refreshments, although this will obviously reduce your research time. We’d encourage visitors to bring their own refreshments, where possible.

Will I be able to use the lockers?

A limited number of our ground floor lockers will be available for visitors to use, to ensure sufficient distancing in the locker area. These lockers will be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day. We’ll also be carefully managing how visitors and staff move in and out of this area, so please try to minimise your return visits to your locker as much as possible.

Will I be able to use the toilets and washrooms when I visit?

Yes – although we have limited the availability of the toilets and washrooms to make it easier for us to keep them clean to a high standard, a number of our public toilets will be open, including our accessible toilets.

Will I be able to get a cup of tea/coffee or lunch?

Although we are not serving any food or drink, we will make a number of tables and chairs available for visitors to use in our restaurant, which has been rearranged to allow sufficient distance from other visitors. You will also be able to use the picnic furniture in our gardens, which remain open and accessible to all. Please be mindful of other visitors and staff, and dispose of your rubbish responsibly.

Will the car park be open?

Yes, our car park will be available and free of charge to visitors who have pre-booked their reading room visit. We’d encourage all visitors to follow government guidance and avoid public transport as far as possible, preferably walking or cycling to The National Archives.

If you have to use public transport to reach us, please check the government guidance for the latest advice and updates on using the tube, bus and train network safely.

Will arrangements for disabled visitors change?

We have worked hard to ensure that our safety measures and new arrangements do not discriminate against any of our visitors. If you need someone to accompany when you visit, they will also have to book a visit. If you have any other special requirements, please let us know when you make your booking.

Are digital records still free to download from your website?

Yes, we will continue to provide free downloads of our digital collection for the time being, as we are initially only able to reopen our reading rooms for a very limited number of researchers. We will continue to review this regularly.

When will record copying/other suspended services resume?

We have already restarted our naturalisation certification (HO 334) service, although other record copying and paid search services remain suspended for the time being.

We will continue to review the situation as more of our staff return to the building.

When will events/education visits/behind the scenes tours etc. resume on site?

We’ve suspended all of our on site events, including school visits and tours, until further notice, but we’ll continue to review the situation and plan to restart them when we are confident that we can deliver them safely.

In the meantime we are providing a wide variety of education and learning resources free of charge on our website, along with a full online events programme. Our social media channels offer behind the scenes glimpses of our collection, including a curator-led tour of last year’s Cold War exhibition.

Why are you collecting information about my visit?

We will keep a secure temporary record of your visit for 21 days, after which it will be destroyed – during this time your information may be shared with the NHS test and trace service if necessary, for example if a visitor on the same day as you tests positive. We are doing this to help reduce the risk of a local outbreak of coronavirus and in line with government guidance, as we want to do everything we can to protect our staff, visitors and the wider community.

Can I still submit a Freedom of Information (FOI) request?

Please refer to our detailed Q&A about FOI requests for information about how this service has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The post The National Archives now open, offering greater access to our collections appeared first on The National Archives.

Artwork to commemorate heroes of the Blitz commissioned by Ancestry

National Archives - Fri, 09/04/2020 - 04:31

Family history experts Ancestry have commissioned 33 artists around the UK to create artwork based on Civil Gallantry Award records held at The National Archives to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of the Blitz.

The aerial bombing campaign of industrial towns and cities during the Second World War started on 7 September 1940 and continued for more than eight months causing widespread destruction across the UK.

Anna Marrow, Ancestry Blitz Art ‘Extinguishing Fires’

Inspired by the War Artists Advisory Committee established in 1939, the new online gallery depicts 80 stories from areas hit hardest by the Blitz and reveals personal stories of everyday heroism on the home front.

Each piece of art is based on an historical record and true story from the Civil Gallantry Award collection.

Dr William Butler, Head of Military Records at The National Archives, said: “The Civilian Gallantry Award records are a treasure trove of stories, highlighting the incredible and often dangerous work carried out by individuals working as air raid wardens, first aid workers, firewatchers and messengers during the Second World War.


“They provide vivid details of the exploits and heroic deeds of civilians fighting a war away from the battlefields and highlight the sacrifices so often made on the home front.

“This collection of artwork, commissioned by Ancestry, pays tribute to the original War Artists Advisory Committee by adding new reflections on the experiences of many communities during that turbulent time in our history.”

Michael Snodgrass, Ancestry Blitz Artwork ‘Messenger’

Click here to view Ancestry’s online gallery of the new art collection

Explore our Second World War research guides here

The post Artwork to commemorate heroes of the Blitz commissioned by Ancestry appeared first on The National Archives.

OUCH! : Over a Century of Getting Vaccinated at Duke

The Devil's Tale - Tue, 09/01/2020 - 09:00

Post contributed by Brooke Guthrie, Research Services Librarian.

You may have noticed (and we really hope that you have) that campus life is a bit different in Fall 2020. We’re all wearing masks, washing our hands, and obsessively monitoring our symptoms. We’ve also spent at least a few minutes speculating on the many unknowns—including the possibility of a coronavirus vaccine and how it might be distributed to the Duke community. The Duke Compact asks students, staff, and faculty to pledge to “Get the flu shot and other required vaccinations by designated deadlines.” And that made us wonder about the history of vaccinations at Duke.

You can learn a lot about Duke history from the Duke Chronicle and its predecessor, the Trinity Chronicle. Luckily for us, issues of the newspaper from 1905 to 2000 have been digitized by Duke University Libraries and can be fairly easily searched. Searching the newspaper reveals that campus-wide vaccination efforts are nothing new to Duke. Here are a few of the examples we found.

We’ll start by going way, way back to a time before Duke was called Duke. In 1914, during the Trinity College days, a vaccine against typhoid fever was offered to students, faculty, and their families. In addition to announcing the availability of the vaccine, the Trinity Chronicle published information on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine as well as the number of deaths caused by typhoid in the state (about 1,200 each year). The article ends by noting that the administration “is anxious to see a large number of students avail themselves of the opportunity to obtain immunity from typhoid.”

October 7, 1914 front page of the Trinity Chronicle with article discussing typhoid vaccine. Read article.

A little over a decade later, in 1928, students were asked to get a smallpox vaccine. The very short announcement suggests that vaccination is no big deal: “the nurse will give the vaccines in a few minutes, and it will all be over.” Although noting that there were no serious cases on campus, the article says that six students were confined and lists their names. (Reporting campus illnesses and including the names of the ill was a fairly common practice back then.)

Polio was perhaps one of the most troubling diseases in the mid-twentieth century and the widespread concern was justified. In 1948, the worst year for polio in North Carolina, 2,516 cases and 143 deaths were reported in the state. In October of 1950, a Duke undergraduate named Daniel Rathbun died after contracting polio and spending two weeks in an iron lung at Duke Hospital. When a polio vaccine became available in 1955, vaccination campaigns were held throughout the country. In October of 1956, the Duke Chronicle announced that student health would offer the vaccine to all under 45 years old. For students, the vaccine cost $3.00. The article discusses what is known about the relatively new vaccine, emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated, and notes that previously most college students were required to get vaccinated for typhoid fever (as if to say “why should this be any different?”).

October 12, 1956 Duke Chronicle article announcing polio vaccinations on campus. Read article.

Efforts to vaccinate campus continued through the rest of the 20th century. In the mid-1970s, an outbreak of swine flu in the United States led to a nationwide vaccination drive. In November of 1976, Duke announced that it had 5,000 shots available to students and staff. In the 1980s, measles was a cause for concern on campus. In March 1985, the Chronicle published a large notice to let unvaccinated students know that “YOU NEED TO BE VACCINATED NOW.” A few years later in January 1989, a statewide outbreak spread to campus and Duke quickly “issued more stringent vaccination requirements” for both students and staff. Soon after Duke issued the new requirements, all unvaccinated students and staff were excluded from campus for two weeks. Staff were told to stay home. Students were barred from campus housing and had their Duke cards deactivated.

Notice published in the March 15, 1985 Duke Chronicle directing students to get the measles vaccine.

Concerns around meningitis in 1987 brought similar calls for large scale vaccination after a small number of students were infected. The Chronicle reported that mandatory vaccination was possible and, in March of 1987, thousands of students received a vaccine in a single day as part of the administration’s goal to distribute 6,000 doses.

Coverage of the 1987 meningitis vaccine effort of campus. Read article.

There are many other examples of vaccination efforts in Duke’s history—the campus-wide distribution of the annual flu vaccine is one we’re all familiar with and, in 1999, students were encouraged to get a hepatitis B vaccine with a hip Chronicle advertisement that said “Hepatitis B is a very uncool thing” and the vaccine will keep you from “turning an embarrassing shade of yellow.”

If you’re interested in exploring this history more, try searching digitized issues of the Duke Chronicle or get in touch with our helpful staff. And, while we have your attention, make sure to get your flu vaccine this year!

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Colonizing Latin America with Pan American World Airways

The Devil's Tale - Thu, 08/27/2020 - 14:58

Post contributed by Leah Tams, Pan Am CLIR Grant Intern.

The United States has long been an empire with colonial holdings, even since its inception. The U.S. has carried out its colonialism in many different ways, depending upon the time period and area being colonized. In the 1930s and 1940s, the “Good Neighbor Policy,” first articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, became an avenue for the United States to commercially influence Latin American nations. In the spirit of the Good Neighbor Policy, the United States didn’t send hundreds of people to colonize Latin America—instead, it sent businesses to establish and extend their economic influences within the region. One of the key businesses sent to Latin America was Pan American World Airways (Pan Am).

The Good Neighbor Who Calls Every Day…, Pan American Airways System, 1941, AdAccess Digital Collection

The John W. Hartman Center’s earliest ads from Pan Am illustrate the Good Neighbor Policy in action: “Out of the Muck of the Mazatlán,” Pan Am created airfields in Latin America, which were heralded as “Another ‘Stepping Stone.’” These “stepping stones” would allow the United States to connect with various Latin American cities and civilizations, thus extending U.S. influence southward. Other early advertisements were even more overt in their reference to the policy, proclaiming that Pan Am was indeed “The Good Neighbor Who Calls Every Day” who would create meaningful—and influential—political and economic contact between both regions. As historian Jennifer Van Vleck argues, “the development of commercial aviation did important work to make the U.S. presence in Latin America appear more benign while also bringing the region within closer reach of Washington and Wall Street.”[1]

Once Pan Am had an established presence in Latin America, it was fairly simple to begin advertising the wondrous destinations available—particularly because Pan Am (or, more accurately, Panagra, as the joint venture in South America was known) presented the region as an almost-undiscovered land. Ads from the late 1940s assured travelers that they would “travel in the intrepid footsteps of Pizzaro [sic],” in a paradise “spangled with the glories of past centuries.”[2] These intimations of Francisco Pizarro—the Spanish conquistador who invaded Panama and Peru—and other overt references to the colonialist efforts of Pan Am, which injected U.S. influence and culture into South America, would continue for decades.

Greatest Campaign Since Pizarro, PANAGRA, 1962. J. Walter Thompson Co., Domestic Advertisements Collection

In 1962, the J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT), Pan Am’s principal advertiser, launched a campaign for Panagra that touted the “Charms of South America” to potential travelers. To its travel agents, JWT called this effort the “Greatest Campaign Since Pizarro!” Other Panagra advertisements from the 1960s celebrate Pizarro’s lasting impact upon Lima, Peru, stating that “He laid out the city’s streets, the government buildings, the cathedral, just where you see them today.” With these references to and celebrations of Pizarro, it seems as though Pan Am is encouraging its travelers to once again conquer and colonize Latin America—in fact, Panagra ads from 1965 invite travelers to “Capture the city Pizarro couldn’t!” (referring to Machu Picchu in Peru) and underscore the flippant imperialism of the U.S.

Capture the City Pizarro Couldn’t, PANAGRA, 1965. J. Walter Thompson Co., Domestic Advertisements Collection

To be sure, contemporary advertisements for Pan Am’s flights to Europe portray the continent and its destinations as commodities, most often as dollar amounts. But where European cities and regions are reduced a monetary figure, they are never reduced to places that can be conquered, subdued, or gifted civilization the way that Latin America is. In Latin America, it seems that Pan Am found the perfect candidate for profit and U.S. imperialism, veiled in the thin language of adventure.

[1] Jennifer Van Vleck, Empire of the Air: Aviation and the American Ascendancy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 54.

[2] “Panagra Vacation,” 1947, https://repository.duke.edu/dc/adaccess/T1593.

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The National Archives welcomes Swedish School onsite at Kew 

National Archives - Mon, 08/24/2020 - 05:00

We are delighted to announce the commencement of a new strategic collaboration with the Swedish School in London (SSL). The National Archives has a long history of working with and supporting the educational sector, primarily through onsite school visits but also via an extensive programme of online teaching sessions and outreach work. In line with this, we are now welcoming a new partner, the Swedish School, who will locate their Sixth Form on site from November.

Jeff James, Chief Executive and Keeper at The National Archives, said: ’We welcome the Swedish School to Kew and look forward to working alongside them. Both The National Archives and the Swedish School have learning and the acquisition of knowledge at their core.

‘This dynamic, educational partnership will allow both parties to enhance our offer to  students and visitors. We see this as a positive step forward to creating a stimulating, learning environment for the future.’

Jenny Abrahamsson, Headteacher at the Swedish School in London, said: ‘We are delighted to embark on this strategic partnership with The National Archives in Kew, with the relocation of our Sixth Form to this significant British cultural institution. Months of discussion and collaboration in preparation for this move have highlighted just how closely aligned our values around education are, and we look forward to the long-term enrichment of both the Swedish School in London and The National Archives in this exciting new chapter for both.’

The SSL is a registered charity that provides teaching of the Swedish curriculum to Swedish nationals, allowing them to spend time in a different cultural environment without having to take time out from their education. The SSL is consistently rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted and prides itself on offering high quality teaching to pupils of all ages. The Sixth Form (comprising around 70 students and staff) is currently located in Richmond but will move to The National Archives into space not normally occupied by the public.

This collaboration will not adversely impact the services or activities we provide for our visitors, nor will it change our commitment to our statutory obligations under the Public Records Act 1958. There will be no impact on staffing or activities.

It is the result of a long piece of work by the Business Development team at The National Archives who have been looking at commercial opportunities that will realise value and open out more of our collection. As well as supporting our education agenda, this also reinforces our already strong links with the local Richmond community.  We aim to create new, inclusive and exciting spaces, physical and virtual, in which people can encounter our collection in new ways. Income generated from the project will be reinvested in The National Archives to support our services to the public and help to widen the public experience and understanding of archives and our history.

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