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Prime Minister’s papers from 1995 released

National Archives - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 09:05

Today we have released files from the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office, predominantly covering the years 1994 – 1995 but with some files from the 1950s and 1960s.

The newly released Cabinet Office files (CAB and PREM) shed light on a range of subjects both at home and abroad under John Major’s leadership.

The files are available to view in the public reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew. A selection of files have been digitised and can be viewed and downloaded using our catalogue, Discovery.

Domestically, the files cover issues such as metrication (PREM 19/5119), the refurbishment and reconstruction of No. 10 Downing Street in the 1950s and 60s (PREM 11/5226 and PREM 11/5231) and the launch of the National Lottery (PREM 19/5082 and PREM 19/5083)

Internationally, there are various files relating to UK relations with Romania (PREM 19/4952), Russia (PREM 19/4970), Sierra Leone (PREM 19/4988) and South Africa (PREM 19/4996 – 5000).

You can also find out more about our previous file releases.

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Newly accredited archive services

National Archives - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 04:46

The UK Archive Service Accreditation Committee is pleased to announce that the following archive services were awarded Archive Service Accreditation at a recent panel meeting, meaning there are now over 150 accredited archive services:

  • Brent Museum Archives
  • Historic England Archive
  • Modern Records Centre: Warwick University
  • The National Library of Scotland

Accredited archive services have successfully demonstrated that they meet the UK standard around resourcing, collections management and providing access to collections. They include business archives, specialist repositories, university archives, and local authority archive services.

Archive Sector Accreditation is supported by a partnership of the Archives and Records Association (UK), Archives and Records Council Wales, National Records of Scotland, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Scottish Council on Archives, The National Archives and the Welsh Government through its Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales division.

Find out more about Archive Service Accreditation here and see the full list of accredited archive services here.

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The National Archives announces first Artist in Residence

National Archives - Tue, 07/16/2019 - 08:54

We are delighted to announce that Michael Takeo Magruder will be our first ever Artist in Residence. A renowned artist and researcher, Michael will be tasked with translating The National Archives’ rich digital data sources into thought-provoking and beautiful artworks and installations.

With a vast portfolio of innovative art projects and proven track record in working with digital collections, Michael is well placed to highlight our ongoing work in digital development, as outlined in our new strategy Archives for Everyone. His work involves real-time data, digital archives and immersive environments and has been showcased in over 290 exhibitions in 35 countries.

Caroline Ottaway-Searle, Director of Public Engagement at The National Archives, said: “We look forward to working with Michael to illustrate our digital assets in a way that has never been done before. As our first Artist in Residence, Michael will create a bespoke piece of art that anyone can engage with, inspiring conversations around what makes a 21st century archive.”

The initial artist residency will start in August 2019, with Michael developing the installation concept. This will be followed by a six month art exhibition running from March 2020.

More details will be announced later this year.

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Eleanor C. Pressly: A Duke Alumna at NASA

The Devil's Tale - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 10:20

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, University Archivist.

With the 50th anniversary of the moon landing right around the corner, I’ve been researching Duke’s history with NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I’ve found a number of interesting stories, but I’ve been struck by the work of one Duke alumna whom I had not known about previously—and she’s a woman who deserves our recognition and thanks.

Eleanor C. Pressly, originally from the Charlotte area, received a master’s degree in mathematics at Duke in 1944. After working at Harvard, she served as an aeronautical research engineer at the United States Naval Research Library. She quickly became a specialist in rockets, particularly sounding rockets, which are unpiloted rockets that collect atmospheric data. Responsible for more than two dozen launches at the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico, she was thought to have been the first woman to fire a rocket.

Her work was highly technical and time-sensitive. A 1956 article syndicated by the Newspaper Enterprise Association described her at White Sands: “With one eye on an anemometer, the other on wind reports coming in from balloons and on a crew of computers, she keeps a constant watch six hours previous to firing.” She was responsible for ensuring that the angle of the launch was appropriately calibrated to the weather, and if anything were to go wrong when it was in the air, she would pull the switch that would cause the rocket to self-destruct. Despite her serious scientific bona fides, the reporter could not resist describing her appearance in the article, too, referring to “… this youthful looking woman who gives the appearance of a happy housewife set for a round of afternoon bridge. She has bright blue eyes, blonde hair, and an infectious laugh.”

A 1957 article in the Washington Post and Times Herald claimed she was called “Uncle Sam’s Blonde Rocketeer.” It also connected Pressly to future developments in the space program: “Later this year, if the earth satellite is launched as planned and the world applauds the first ‘man-made’ moon, remember that a woman had a finger in it too. Eleanor helped on the original research to determine how long the satellite could be expected to remain aloft.”

When the Goddard Space Flight Center opened in 1958, Pressley became the head of the Vehicles Section of the Spacecraft Integration and Sounding Rocket Division. She continued to make improvements to the sounding rockets, developing several models of Aerobee rockets, and collecting atmospheric data.

The recipients of the 1963 Federal Woman’s Award for outstanding contributions to government with President John F. Kennedy. Eleanor Pressly is second from the right. Photo from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

In 1963, Pressly was one of six women, selected from nearly 600,000 female federal workers, whose “high achievement, outstanding contributions, and influence on major programs” deserved special recognition. The award was presented by President John F. Kennedy at the White House. Duke President Daryl Hart sent a letter of congratulations, to which Pressly sent a handwritten note. “Of course it was exciting, personally, to win such an award. But my big hope is that more girls in schools such as Duke can be made aware of the tremendous opportunities open to them. We need them.”

Letter from Duke President J. Deryl Hart to Eleanor Pressly, April 22, 1963. From the J. Deryl Hart records. The text of this letter is readable in the image’s alt text. Letter from Eleanor Pressly to Duke President J. Deryl Hart, May 12, 1963. From the J. Deryl Hart records. The text of this letter is readable in the image’s alt text.

Pressly remained connected to Duke through giving, and even served as a class agent for the 1971-1972 Loyalty Fund. Pressly continued her work at Goddard, eventually retired from NASA, and she passed away in 2003. As we reflect on the fifty years since the moon landing, it is humbling to think about the massive amounts of research and testing that led to the fateful moonwalk—and the work that a woman educated at Duke contributed to that effort.

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TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame award

National Archives - Fri, 07/05/2019 - 10:03

We are pleased to announce that The National Archives has achieved TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame award.

The TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence honours hospitality businesses and cultural sites that deliver consistently great service. This designation is presented to businesses that maintain a rating of at least four out of five – approximately 10% of total businesses on the site.

Organisations that have received a Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years qualify for the Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame.

This means we have consistently been rated in the top 10% of all TripAdvisor businesses over the last five years.

We are open to the public from Tuesday – Saturday and on the first Sunday of every month.

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11 of My Favorite Haitian Creole Expressions from the Radio Haiti Archive

The Devil's Tale - Thu, 06/27/2019 - 11:08

Post contributed by Laura Wagner, Ph.D., Radio Haiti Project Archivist

Processing the archive of Radio Haïti-Inter can be difficult work. The collection is filled with human rights violations, suffering, injustice, and death — including both the repression that the station’s journalists covered and the repression they personally endured. Yet despite the heaviness of the subject matter, listening to Radio Haiti is often joyful. Jean Dominique is the single most expressive person I have ever had the privilege of spending time with. (He was, in the words of his friend Jonathan Demme, “an absolute theater superstar waiting to happen.”)  In French, he’d quote Henri de Montherlant and La Rochefoucauld. In Haitian Creole, he’d draw on the language’s evocative proverbs and expressions. Creole is a language of poetry and double meanings, of metaphor and dissembling, of mawonaj.

As I head into my last week on the Radio Haiti project, I wanted to emphasize a lighter side of the project and share some wonderful Haitian Creole phrases. I’ve also learned some fantastic French terms over the course of this project (like scélérat – a villain! often paired with mediocre, because to Jean Dominique, mediocre was one of the worst things a person could be. Or histrion, a buffoon; scribouillard, a penpusher; or crêpage de chignons, a catfight!). But, as I said, in this list I’m going to concentrate on the Creole expressions that I’ve picked up along the way, not only from Jean Dominique, but also from Michèle Montas, J.J. Dominique, Konpè Filo, and other members of the Radio Haiti team, as well as some of the people they interviewed.

    1. Sòt pa touye w, men li fè w swè – Literally, stupidity won’t kill you, but it’ll make you sweat. My personal mantra every time I made a mistake while processing the Radio Haiti collection. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: stupidity isn’t fatal, but it creates a lot more work for you.
    2. Sezi kou berejèn – Very surprised; literally, surprised as an eggplant. I have no idea why.
    3. Depi djab te kaporal – Literally, “ever since the Devil was a corporal.” Figuratively, since the beginning of time. I’m told that’s because the Devil has been a general for a long time, so if he was a low-ranking officer, that must have been a very long time ago.
    4. Mare sòsis – Literally, to tie your sausage together with someone else’s. Figuratively, to be in cahoots with someone.
    5. M a di w sa Kasayòl te di bèf la – Literally, “I’m going to tell you what Cassagnol told the cow.” When you want to curse someone out without doing it directly. No one knows who Cassagnol was, or what he told the cow, but we can only imagine that it was very bad indeed.
    6. Pitit trannde dan – Literally, “a child with thirty-two teeth.” In a report from 1979 by Konpè Filo, sex workers from Port-au-Prince explained that they referred to their pimps as “children with thirty-two teeth” because they were all grown up but still depended on women for everything.
    7. Benyen san kache lonbrit – Literally, bathing without hiding your belly button. Letting it all hang out, not having any secrets.
    8. Panzou – Traditionally, a children’s game in which you slap someone’s hand, often to make them drop something. Panzou came to mean coup d’état, referring to the way the army seized power from Haiti’s democratically-elected government in 1991. The perpetrators of the coup, accordingly, were panzouyis (panzouists).
    9. Mete absè sou klou – Literally, putting an abcess on top of a boil. Figuratively, making a bad situation worse.
    10. Nou se lanmè, nou pa kenbe kras – A proverb, and of Radio Haiti’s slogans. Literally “We are like the sea, we wash away the dirt.” It means “we reveal the truth, we don’t keep secrets.”
    11. Nou pa manje lajan Chango, nou pa manje manje bliye – Literally, “we don’t consume Chango’s money, we don’t eat the food of forgetfulness.” Figuratively, “we’re not taking part in corruption and we never forget.” Chango is a Vodou lwa known for his anger. If you take Chango’s money, you have to be prepared to do something in exchange. The original expression is Lè w manje lajan Chango, fò w peye Chango (“When you use Chango’s money, you better pay Chango back.”)
    12. Degi – A small bonus, like a baker’s dozen. (This twelfth entry on a list of eleven is your degi!) I knew this word before, from every time I’ve bought rice or beans in a Haitian market, but I did not know that degi comes from the Fon language of West Africa, as Jean Dominique learned when he interviewed the ambassador from Benin, Patrice Houngavou, in 1978.

A Note from Rubenstein Staff: Laura, we will miss you! Thank you for your incredible and invaluable work on this massive and complicated project.  We are so lucky to have pote kole with you these past few years. Because of your hard work, expertise, and passion, the Radio Haiti Archive  is accessible to people all over the world. How amazing is that?! We wish you all the best and look forward to hearing about your future endeavors.

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Archives Revealed grant awards announced

National Archives - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 06:03

The Archives Revealed funding programme has awarded a total of £300,000 to nine archives across the UK for cataloguing projects.

The scheme, which we support with The Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation, provides cataloguing grants of up to £40,000 allowing archives to open up their collections to researchers and communities.

Three additional archives were also awarded £3,000 grants for scoping studies with the aim of increasing public engagement with the UK’s rich documentary history. These scoping grants allow organisations to understand the significance of their archive and to take the first steps towards making their collection accessible through an assessment report incorporating expert advice on a range of areas relating to collections management and development.

Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives, said: ‘Cataloguing is the key to revealing archival material that can be used in countless ways by individuals and communities.

‘Today we are delighted to announce funding for the cataloguing of nine highly significant and diverse collections, enabling greater access to our collective heritage and allowing people to gain a deeper insight into the past.’

Georgina Nayler, Director of The Pilgrim Trust, said: ‘The Pilgrim Trust is proud to support the cataloguing of nine inspiring archive collections through the Archives Revealed programme.

‘The archival material that they contain will be valuable to both researchers and the public and we are looking forward to seeing wider audiences engage with these newly available collections.’

The successful cataloguing grant applicants are:

  • Barnsley Archives and Local Studies for ‘All manner of  ‘All manner of wickedness’ £29,500
  • Glamorgan Archives for ‘Time and Tide: Revealing the history of Cardiff’ £37,996
  • Durham County Record Office for ‘Durham Light Infantry  – The Whole Story’ £38,734
  • Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives for ‘The Aberdeen Harbour Board Collection: Navigating Aberdeen’s History’ £39,145
  • The University of Sheffield for ‘The Blunkett Archives’ £20,178
  • Berkshire Records Office for ‘Liquid Assets’ £38,866
  • Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, Heritage Services, Wiltshire Council for ‘Breaking the Mould: The Spencer Moulton and Dr Alex Moulton Archives’ £39,000
  • Leeds University Library Special Collections for ‘The figure in the carpet: Discovering Herbert Read and his cultural networks’ £31,580
  • The National Trust for ‘The Edward Chambre Hardman Photographic Archive – Cataloguing, Conservation and Digitisation’ £25,000

The successful scoping grant applicants are:

  • New Contemporaries
  • The Union Chapel
  • Museum of London Docklands

The post Archives Revealed grant awards announced appeared first on The National Archives.

I Wander all Night in My Vision: Commemorating William Gedney and Walt Whitman

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 11:34

Post contributed by Paula Jeannet, Visual Materials Processing Archivist at the Rubenstein Library

“Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with
linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.”

Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” Section 4

June 23, 2019 marked the 30th anniversary of photographer William Gedney’s death in New York City in 1989 at the young age of 56.  Gedney’s career spanned a time of great changes in American society and elsewhere, and in his photographs he captures the vitality and promise of those decades as well as the counterweights of social isolation and poverty.  A lover of literature, he found early inspiration for his work in another New Yorker: Walt Whitman. Like Whitman, Gedney was fascinated by people in all their complexity and was an exceptional portraitist, using his camera rather than a pen; like Whitman, he was especially drawn to street life and crowds.  The full extent of Gedney’s preoccupation with Whitman can be more fully explored through the photographer’s archive; for now, this blog post will indicate some starting points in the collection.

Born in 1932, Gedney grew up in rural Greenville, New York, in the Hudson River Valley.  As a child, his family took him to visit relatives in the big city, and ultimately he studied art at Pratt Institute and moved into a cold-water flat in Brooklyn in the mid-1950s. While working as a commercial photographer to pay the bills and cover darkroom expenses, he roamed Brooklyn neighborhoods, his camera loaded with black-and-white film.  Many of the images capture daily life and the inhabitants of Myrtle Avenue, where he lived.  He continued this documentary work for the rest of his life.

Myrtle Avenue, May 5, 1969, 4:45 pm [taken from Gedney’s apartment window].  Print RL10032-P-1580-6682-08.   From this vantage point, Gedney also documented the demolition of the elevated railway soon after its closure in October 1969.  William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Caption: Brooklyn, 1955-1959. Print RL10032-P-B14-75-21. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library O’Rourke’s, January 9, 1960. Print RL10032-P-0057-0589-43. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

In 1966, William Gedney’s photographic life took flight: he traveled to Kentucky (twice), cross country to California (also twice), then across the ocean to Ireland, England, Paris (twice again), and India, also twice.  Brooklyn always drew him back.

Sometime around 1968 or 1969, perhaps inspired by Whitman’s interest in celebrating and documenting urban street life, he began a consuming project to uncover the history of Myrtle Avenue from its beginnings in the 18th century, using newspapers and literary sources, including the Brooklyn Eagle, for which Whitman served as editor, writing copious notes and pasting clippings in two volumes, Myrtle Avenue 1 and 2 – another habit he would continue throughout his life.  Some of his notes include transcripts of Whitman poems:

Myrtle Avenue, Book 1, pages 6-7. Transcription of Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road,” Leaves of Grass.

At some point (probably earlier than 1969), he discovered that Walt Whitman had lived in Brooklyn, on 99 Ryerson Street, just a few blocks from Gedney’s neighborhood on Myrtle Avenue.  While living at that address, Whitman published his ground-breaking epic poem Leaves of Grass in June 1855.

Although it’s not clear when the idea first came to him, in 1969 Gedney began to create the layout for a project to combine Whitman’s verses with his own photographs of New York City.  In one of his notebooks, titled only with the year 1969, he writes about “the bridge” photographs, and of framing them with Hart Crane’s poem “The Bridge.”

Brooklyn Bridge, circa 1959, Print RL10032-P-0008-0076-30. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

A few months later, in the same notebook, Gedney writes “I think the bridge pictures would be best paired with Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry poem under the overall title ‘Brooklyn Crossing.’  His poem is the one I was most under the influence at the time.”  The Brooklyn Bridge book maquette in the Gedney archive contains no accompanying texts; however, during the recent Rubenstein project to rehouse and digitize the Gedney archive, the lead archivist came across this item hiding out in a box of oversize materials:

Stanza 2 of Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” in Gedney’s own hand. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Sometime around 1970, Gedney again turned to Whitman’s verses, this time selecting the poem “I wander all night in my vision” to introduce his planned book of night photographs taken in India.  Clearly Whitman was still on his mind and informing his work.

Benares, India, 1969-1971. Print RL10032-P-BE121-0950-26. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Layout page from planned photobook of night photography from Benares, India, circa 1980. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

I had thought Gedney’s connection to Whitman largely remained unexamined, with the exception of Margaret Sartor’s comments in her seminal book introducing Gedney and his archive to the world: What Was True: the Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney (W.W. Norton, 2000). Then, while researching this blog post, I discovered Mark Turner’s book, Backward Glances: Cruising the Queer Streets of NY and London (Reaktion Books: London, 2003), which in the context of the phenomenon of male cruising, discusses the remarkable parallels between Gedney and Whitman. The two clearly favored male liaisons, and this orientation was reflected to some degree in their poetic and artistic work.  Beginning in 1975, Gedney began extensively documenting the exuberant gay pride parades as well as street hustlers in San Francisco and New York, until a few years before his death.  At the same time, he was intensely private about his personal life, never fully coming out even to his closest friends.

“…as I pass, O Manhattan! your frequent and swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering me the response of my own–these repay me,
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.”

Walt Whitman, “Calamus 18”

June 25, 1978, New York City, gay march, Central Park. Print RL10032-P-1876-9617-07. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library No known title, 1969. Proof print, contact sheet 1588. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Like William Gedney, Walt Whitman also celebrates an anniversary in 2019: he was born 200 years ago on May 31, 1819.  Many events have been planned in his honor:  http://waltwhitmaninitiative.org/

It’s easy to imagine that he would have been intrigued by Gedney’s photography and pleased at the idea of a publication of Brooklyn images prefaced by his own verses.

Sadly, it was not to be: Gedney bequeathed the world a body of compelling, eloquent photographic work, but his many book projects remained unpublished, with only the book maquettes in the archive as evidence of Gedney’s hopeful plans.  Perhaps with the right editor, these two artists will be joined again as Gedney had imagined.

“These and all else were to me the same as they are to you,
I loved well those cities, loved well the stately and rapid river,
The men and women I saw were all near to me,
Others the same—others who look back on me because I look’d forward to them,
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)”

Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” stanza 4

No known title, circa 1968. Print RL10032-P-1537-6255-32. Tree in foreground, Walt Whitman’s tomb in background, Camden, New Jersey. William Gedney photographs and papers, © David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

 

Note about the Gedney Collection: Although William Gedney’s work was still largely undiscovered by mainstream audiences at the time of his death in 1989, it stood on the cusp of an awakening, thanks primarily to the efforts of close friends Maria and Lee Friedlander, and John Sarkowski, curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art.  Eventually the entire Gedney archive — over 49,000 photographs, negatives, artwork, and papers – came to Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and is now being digitized in its entirety (the finished prints and contact sheets are already available online). You can learn more about the collection by visiting the collection guide online.

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New partner for DCDC conference series

National Archives - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 05:44

Along with Research Libraries UK, we can today announce that Jisc will be joining us as a partner in the organisation and delivery of the Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities (DCDC) conference series.

In the spirit of collaboration which defines DCDC, all of the partners look forward to ensuring that the conference continues to break new ground, challenge assumptions, and share best practice across the library, archive, heritage and academic communities.

The DCDC conference series is one of the largest cross-sector heritage conferences in the UK and sees archivists, librarians, heritage professionals, and academics exploring ways of enhancing cross-sector collaboration between professional communities during a time of great change.

Attracting more than 400 delegates each year, individual DCDC conferences bring together speakers and delegates from across the UK, Europe, and internationally, to explore a range of issues, from the impact of collections to digital transformation.

Paul Feldman, Chief Executive of Jisc, said: ‘The DCDC conference is unique in the way it brings together practitioners from universities, libraries, archives, museums and galleries to share their expertise and their enthusiasm for curating collections.

‘All these sectors face evolving digital challenges and Jisc is delighted to now be working alongside RLUK and The National Archives to design and deliver the DCDC conference series.

‘We will be looking to blend the strengths of all three organisations to ensure that the event continues to deliver maximum value to the community.’

The 2019 DCDC Conference will be held on 12-14 November in Birmingham, on the theme of ‘Navigating the digital shift: practices and possibilities’.

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What Alumnae Remembered About Duke

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 12:20

Post contributed by Tracy Jackson, Head, Center Manuscript Processing Section and Technical Services Archivist for the Duke University Archives.

The Women’s Studies Program was founded in 1983, but women have been attending and graduating from Duke since the 1870s, and have been active as alums and supporters of the University. In the mid and late 1980s, as the Women’s Studies Program (WSP) was growing rapidly, they began to form a Friends of Women’s Studies group to help support the growth and evolution of the academic program.

In 1987, administrators in WSP created a survey focused on women’s experiences and sent it to the more than 16,000 women who had received undergraduate degrees from Duke since the 1920s. More than 700 responses came back. The first issue of the Women’s Studies Program Friends Newsletter published summary results of the survey in Spring of 1988. The piece in the newsletter breaks down the percentage of responses by decade of graduation, gives an overview of advanced degrees received and professions pursued, and includes information about involvement with alumni organizations, a major concern to WSP at the time. The following two issues of the Friends Newsletter give more in-depth profiles of the two women most commonly cited as role models by the survey respondents, Anne Scott and Juanita Kreps.

The Women’s Studies Program Friends Newsletter article on the survey results

The survey asks about a number of issues not covered in the Newsletter summary, however, and the answers are fascinating. The survey includes questions about what women experienced as women at Duke, about what they would want to discuss with then-current students, about what they saw as the most important events for women in the last 25 years, whether they’d ever heard of Women’s Studies, and what else they should have been asked.

The answers to these questions give us a glimpse of what women’s lives were like at Duke over the decades, but they also show what the respondents saw as mattering to women’s lives at the time. It’s important to realize the limitations of this trove of information: since Duke didn’t desegregate until 1965, this is what predominantly white, relatively affluent women thought in 1987 and 1988. From the perspective of 2019, 30 years later, it is very much of the moment of the late 1980s, yet has strong echoes of concerns women still struggle with now.

The responses on what were the most important issues to women in the last 25 years had a few common themes most often listed: birth control, both contraceptives as in the pill, and legalized abortion after Roe v. Wade, grouped together as well as listed separately; greater number of women in the workplace, sometimes listed in conjunction with concerns about equal pay, sometimes with concerns about the economic necessity of married women working (with some respondents questioning the necessity), and often in conjunction with concerns about the effect of working mothers on “the family”; civil rights; and greater visibility of women’s efforts to achieve equality, as in the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), the women’s movement and feminism, and wondering if women can really have it all. Other concerns often listed include AIDS, drugs, and welfare, issues that would have been frequently and prominently discussed in the late 1980s. In my random sampling I didn’t find any mention of lesbian or queer issues, or of immigration or refugee concerns, and very little mention of the specific needs of women of color. But the focus on issues of equality, economic concerns, reproductive justice, and whether women can really get what they need in a complicated world – these all still ring so true for me today.

From a 1941 graduate.

 

From a 1942 graduate.

 

From a 1952 graduate.

 

From a 1967 graduate.

 

From a 1978 graduate.

The long answers are my favorite, especially about the respondents’ memories of Duke. They’re anecdotal and can’t necessarily be used to draw larger conclusions, but in my brief review some patterns did emerge: there weren’t enough women faculty; everyone wanted more counselling, whether for future careers or life during and after college or handling alcohol; most people struggle to “have it all” and it’s important to address that.

Most of the memories of time at Duke are pleasant, recalling friendships still important in the lives of these women. There are, however, a number of vivid anecdotes of facing sexism from the administration or predominantly male faculty or from the career world outside of Duke. There are also reminisces of struggling to fit in, and struggling to find one’s place in the world or find appropriate role models. These, I think, are concerns still relevant today, even as we have far greater numbers of women in faculty and mentorship roles.

From a 1937 graduate.

 

From a 1940 graduate.

 

From a 1953 graduate.

 

From a 1962 graduate.

 

From a different 1962 graduate.

 

From yet a different 1962 graduate.

 

From a 1977 graduate.These are just a small slice of these surveys. They show a group of women who all seem to be brilliant, capable people. Respondents listed long histories of community involvement, educational achievements, work lives with copious variety, parenting and dedication to families, overcoming disappointments and adversity, and deep interest in what effected women of the time, both Duke students and everyone else. There’s also more I wanted to explore related to discussions of divorce, the often negative perception of the “women’s movement” contrasted with stated support of some women’s issues within the same survey, the differences in reference to some issues between graduates of different decades, the implicit assumption that women WILL become wives and mothers, but there just isn’t space here. It would be interesting to see these experiences analyzed for other trends and patterns (if anyone needs a research project!), but it is also engrossing just to read about the lives of these women, every one of them complicated and compelling.

A response from a 1933 graduate.

 

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New planning guidance for archives and libraries

National Archives - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 05:30

Today we have published guidance with Arts Council England on public libraries and archives advocating within local authority planning. The guide is designed to help anyone working within or alongside library and archive services to better understand the national planning context, local planning processes, and developer contribution schemes. By improving knowledge in these areas, archive and library professionals will be able to champion their organisations in future neighbourhood planning activities.

Along with the Arts Council, we want to see archives and libraries continuing to be part of local infrastructure development decisions. By collaborating and engaging in the planning process, libraries and archives can be a voice in decision-making shaping towns, cities and villages across England. Equally, in a period of limited funding, it is important for archives and libraries to engage with the latest developer contribution schemes outlined in this guidance, such as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106.

The guidance also reflects recent changes to planning frameworks and provides the most up-to-date insight into potential opportunities for both archives and libraries. Case studies are used to illustrate how archives and libraries have successfully engaged with local authority planning to realise benefits for themselves and the communities they serve.

We will work strategically with the library and archive sectors to support colleagues at both pragmatic and strategic levels. Crucially, the guidance serves as a springboard from which both sectors can work in partnership to undertake high level advocacy, engage with key stakeholders, and raise awareness of the contribution archives and libraries can make to local planning issues.

Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives, said: ‘Archives and libraries share a common ground in their work to create better places to live. By working together and extending our knowledge of planning, archives and libraries will be able to play an even greater role in the development of their local areas.

The guidance is available to view here.

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Curating the Self: The Dawn Langley Simmons Papers and Transgender History

The Devil's Tale - Tue, 06/11/2019 - 08:00

Post contributed by Adrian Kane, doctoral candidate in History at the University of Washington

I travelled to the Rubenstein Library this winter, with generous support from the new Harry H. Harkins Jr. T’73 Research Grants, to conduct research for my dissertation “Narrating Sex: Transitional Bodies and ‘Expertise’ in the British Empire and Commonwealth, 1945-1970.” The Dawn Langley Simmons papers, a collection of correspondence and ephemera related to the English-born Charlestonian author, offer an unusually rich portrait of the life of a woman of transgender experience in the 1960s and 70s—one all the more valuable because Simmons played an active role in the archive’s construction.

Simmons, a prolific biographer in her own right, was keenly aware of the way textual evidence shapes memory. Her sequence of donations to Duke chronicle her 1968 transition and marriage to John-Paul Simmons—the first marriage between a white woman and Black man in South Carolina, she claimed—as well as her struggles with racist violence, housing instability and single-income working motherhood. Many of the documents bear Simmons’s marginal comments in colorful ink, explaining in-jokes or clarifying her relationship to the correspondent. Her 1975 diary, for example, closes with a list of “Points of Int.” written on the inside flyleaf, while the bland, newsy letters from her sister Fay assume a different tone in light of Simmons’s comment that Fay and her right-wing “Powellite” family refused to see her in person after her wedding.

Front endpapers of Dawn Langley Simmons’s diary

What is largely absent from either the letters or the marginalia, however, is the suggestion that transition was a central part of her identity or a primary source of adversity in her life. Of all the letters she chose to donate only one expresses disapproval of her transition, and her friends in the United States and England alike seem to have readily adopted her new name and pronouns. This may, of course, reflect curation on her part. But even if there are deliberate gaps in the archival record, it is significant that Simmons chose to preserve vacation postcards and programs from her daughter’s Christmas pageants rather than accounts of her changing body or any hostility she endured because of it. Even today, after all, trans people are expected to recount feelings of gender-based misery in order to access basic healthcare and legal support, and, as an historian, I had assumed that the pressure to reproduce the “correct” narrative would have been still greater in the early days of the Johns Hopkins gender identity clinic. Yet Simmons seems to have taken active steps to ensure that no future biographer could reduce her life to a simplistic tale of suffering and its surgical redemption. She was a writer, a mother, a lover of antiques and old houses, a bon vivant, a restless soul with one foot planted on either side of the Atlantic—all of these aspects of her identity come to the fore in the Dawn Langley Simmons papers, and serve as a reminder that published or institutional records of transition cannot fully represent the way mid-twentieth century trans people understood themselves.

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The National Archives rebrands for the first time in 16 years

National Archives - Mon, 06/10/2019 - 07:00

To mark our commitment to wider public engagement, we have refreshed our brand to introduce a new visual identity created by multi-disciplinary designers HemingwayDesign.

Caroline Ottaway-Searle, Director of Public Engagement at The National Archives, said: ‘Widening our audiences is a key part of The National Archives’ strategy, Archives for Everyone. To reinforce this we are introducing a new visual identity which works impactfully across channels. We chose to work with HemingwayDesign because they demonstrated an understanding of and commitment to our ambition to open up access to the archives.’

Wayne Hemingway, partner at HemingwayDesign, said: ‘Design is about improving things that matter in life and The National Archives definitely matters! It’s a national organisation of real social, historical and cultural importance; fascinating and complex. Our creative response to this was to create a new identity which is intentionally simple to allow for the content of the archives to speak for itself.’

The new identity draws upon a flexible grid system inspired by grids seen across the archival system from record slips and boxes of documents to the architecture on site at Kew – and three core typefaces which can be varied across media. The logo ‘mark’, a box with lettering within, is akin to the official ‘stamp’ marking items in The National Archives collection. The new identity can now be seen in the header and footer across most of our website, including our newly published strategy, Archives for Everyone 2019-23.

Wayne Hemingway will be speaking about the challenge of rebranding The National Archives at a forthcoming talk as part of London Festival of Architecture.

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Happy 200th Birthday, Walt!

The Devil's Tale - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 16:10

Post contributed by Kate Collins, Research Services Librarian

Today marks the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth.  Whitman did “celebrate myself” and perhaps you want to celebrate him too. What could you get America’s Bard? Based on our extensive collection of Whitman’s Papers we’ve got a couple of gift ideas we think the Good Gray Poet would have appreciated.

Slouch Hat

Samuel Hollyer engraving of a daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison,  frontispiece of 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass.

A wide-brimmed hat at a jaunty angle was part of Whitman’s signature look, starting with the portrait of him included in the first edition of Leaves of Grass. His hat even made it in to later editions of Leaves of Grass, where he wrote, “I wear my hat as I please, indoors or out.”

Gift Certificate for a Phrenological Reading

“Phrenological Description of W. (Age 29 Occupation Printer) Whitman by L. N. Fowler N,” 1849, Volume 148, Walt Whitman Papers. Rubenstein Library.

While phrenology is now regarded as pseudoscience, in the nineteenth century Whitman and many others believed that the elements of a person’s character were located in specific parts of the brain that manifested as bumps on one’s skull, which a skilled reader could interpret. In 1849, Whitman had a phrenological reading conducted by Lorenzo Fowler, one of the leading proponents of phrenology in America. Fowler noted, among other things, “You are no hypocrite but are plain spoken and are what you appear to be at all times. You are in fact most too open at times and have not always enough restraint in speech.”

Notebook

Lists of Various Parts of the Body,  verso, circa 1856. Volume 13, Walt Whitman Papers. Rubenstein Library.

Whitman wrote in 1881, “Wherever I go yet, winter or summer, city or down in the country, or alone at home, or traveling, I must take notes,” and throughout his career as a writer he used any scrap of paper he had at hand to jot down his thoughts. Our collection include ideas for poems, notes on reading material, and drafts for stories, sometimes even on the same loose piece of paper.  Whitman definitely doesn’t seem like the bullet journaling type, but maybe a nice Moleskine notebook could keep his notes together in a slightly more orderly manner?

Photo shoot

W. Curtis Taylor, “Whitman with Butterfly,” 1883, photograph, published in Specimen Days, 1882.

Whitman was the most photographed poet of his time, and sat for portraits with noted photographers such as Mathew Brady, as well as many others. Whitman came of age with the developing technology and art of photography, and used it throughout his life as a way to explore different ways of representing himself.

Throw a Party

From program and menu for Walt Whitman’s Seventieth Birthday, May 31, 1889. Shelved with Horace L. Traubel (ed.) “Camden’s compliment to Walt Whitman, May 31, 1889; notes, addresses, letters, telegrams,” Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1889.

Think a physical gift is not enough and want to throw Whitman a birthday bash but wondering what should you serve? Perhaps the menu from  a party held in honor of Whitman’s seventieth birthday can provide some inspiration. “The Feast of Reason” featured clams, fish, lamb, beef, as well as strawberries with cream and ice cream for dessert. 

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Cold War on File: A new resource for students

National Archives - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 11:04

The Online Education team at The National Archives has launched Cold War on File, a brand new online education resource comprising nearly 50 documents, maps and photographs, alongside transcripts and notes for teachers.

The new resource aims to enable students to develop their own lines of historical enquiry on the Cold War. It covers a range of themes including the wartime alliance, potential causes of the Cold War, and Britain in the nuclear age. Highlights include an extract from Klaus Fuchs’ confession, transcripts of a conversation about Cuba between President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, and extracts from Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech.

It is accompanied by an introduction from Mark Dunton, Principal Records Specialist at The National Archives, who said: “Many narratives are available for the Cold War: it is the subject of many books, documentaries and films. However, this package of documents shows us that archives still have the capacity to surprise us about this period in history.”

The launch coincides with The National Archives’ Cold War Season, with a free exhibition ‘Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed’ running until November.

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Volunteers required for our User Advisory Group

National Archives - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 11:00

Would you like to represent the views of archive users and help to improve The National Archives’ services? If you are a regular archive user then we would love to hear from you.

We are seeking new voluntary representatives to join our User Advisory Group (UAG).

The User Advisory Group aims to give people who use our services the opportunity to participate in The National Archives’ planning and decision making processes.

Delegates represent ‘the voice’ of different sections of our user community, not only their own interests. As well as attending meetings each delegate has a responsibility to engage with members of their user communities, to share information and gather feedback.

We would particularly like to hear from users who feel they could effectively represent the following user group:

  • On site personal interest – particularly those interested in areas other than genealogy

Representatives will also need to demonstrate they have the qualities to actively participate in the group, including:

  • Willingness to express the views of their communities in the setting of a large meeting
  • Time to prepare for meetings, including reading papers and networking
  • Ability to see the ‘bigger picture’

Meetings are held at The National Archives in Kew four times a year, usually on Tuesdays during working hours. Dates and times are published well in advance and delegates are expected to make every effort to attend. We ask prospective delegates to commit to a minimum term of one year’s service.

Find out more about the groups already represented, current delegates and how to submit an expression of interest via the UAG pages.

How to submit an expression of interest

If you would like to express interest in representing one of the groups listed above, please email us at the address below with the following information:

  • Indicate in the subject line of your email that it is an expression of interest
  • Indicate which sections(s) of the user community you would like to represent; if you list more than one, please rank them in order of preference
  • Check the list of the sections of the user community which are already represented; if you feel that there is a group that we have not listed, and that you would like to represent, please specify this
  • Tell us about your experience as an archive user and why you feel that you would be suitable as a delegate (please write no more than 150 words)
  • Give examples to show that you have the personal qualities required as a delegate of UAG (please write no more than 150 words)
  • Indicate your ideas and suggestions for how you would disseminate details of the group to the user community or communities that you would be representing, and how you would gather feedback (please write no more than 150 words)

Delegates will be selected based upon the information provided.

Please email your expression of interest to UAGrecruitment@nationalarchives.gov.uk.

The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 21 June at 17:00.

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The National Archives awarded PhD studentships by Arts and Humanities Research Council

National Archives - Tue, 05/28/2019 - 04:27

We are delighted to announce that The National Archives is one of 14 leading institutions and consortia to be awarded an allocation of PhD studentships under the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships programme.

As part of the programme – now in its third round – we have been allocated three studentships per year, for three years, starting from 2020.

Since its launch in 2012, the programme has helped over 500 students to gain vital research and training experience, beyond the higher education setting. Through the programme we will engage with universities, supporting the next generation of PhD students to advance arts and humanities research, and contribute to innovation in archival practice.

This summer we will issue a call for expressions of interest to academics who would like to collaborate with us, supervising the studentships starting in 2020. Keep up to date by signing up to our research newsletter and following us on Twitter.

Find out more about the programme and see the new report published by AHRC, outlining the benefits of the collaborative doctoral studentship.

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London Festival of Architecture

National Archives - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 04:05

We give a lot of thought to what we hold inside our building – over 1,000 years of documents of global historical importance. This June however, we turn our attention to the building that houses our collections as we celebrate the world’s biggest annual architecture festival: the London Festival of Architecture (LFA).

As part of the LFA 2019 programme, we are hosting a series of architecture-focused events, to encourage exploration and discussion of our unique building and public spaces.

Our first building in Kew – known today as Q1 – opened in 1977 following the move of the Public Records Office from Chancery Lane. Designed by John Cecil Clavering for the Property Services Agency, it was built in the brutalist style of architecture popular among contemporary London buildings such as the Royal National Theatre (Sir Denys Lasdun, 1977) and the Hayward Gallery (Hubert Bennett/Jack Whittle, 1968). Q1 is purpose-built for archiving, making use of concrete and extensive air-conditioning units to protect the ever-increasing collection.

We will be holding tours of the Q1 building on 1 and 2 June, which will include the unique opportunity to visit the rooftop, offering a spectacular vantage point over the structure of Q1, as well as far-reaching views of London. Book now

On 26 June, we’ll be hosting Tim Ross, the comedian and design aficionado, as he gives a talk about the campaign to save Sirius, a neglected modernist apartment building in Sydney, from demolition. Tim is best known for his TV and radio work in Australia, and his sell-out live comedy shows, which take place in architecturally significant buildings. Book now

A rare opportunity to hear our design partners from AOC architecture and HemingwayDesign in conversation arises on the 27 June. Geoff Shearcroft (AOC) and Wayne Hemingway MBE will discuss how architecture and design can be used to reimagine the archive and shift its boundaries. Book now

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New Discoveries in the Robert A. Hill Collection: Rev. Claudius Henry and The International Peacemakers

The Devil's Tale - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 10:00

Post contributed by Meggan Cashwell, Technical Service Intern

I recently processed the latest accession to the Robert A. Hill Collection: The Jamaica Series. The series consists primarily of Professor Hill’s research on the Rastafari Movement and Rev. Claudius Henry. While evaluating the materials I came across several particularly fascinating items, including the “Rev. Henry Picture Album.” As I carefully examined each image, the history of Rev. Henry and his followers unfolded.

Emperor Haile Selassie

Professor Hill shared his extensive knowledge of Rev. Henry in an interview for Reggae Vibes. He was wrapping up a research trip in Jamaica in 2010 when he decided to spend part of the remainder of his time meeting with members of Rev. Henry’s International Peacemakers Association at Green Bottom, Clarendon. The elders welcomed him to “Bethel,” a facility Henry and the Peacemakers constructed decades earlier, and they shared about their relationship to the movement.

Rev. Henry (1903-1986) considered himself a prophet after experiencing a vision at age eighteen. He began preaching, eventually moving to Cuba and then America before returning to Jamaica in the 1950s to fulfill his revelation. Rev. Henry accumulated thousands of followers, and in 1959 built The African Reform Church of God in Christ. Professor Hill claims that Rev. Henry’s following constituted the largest Back-to-Africa Movement of its time. Rev. Henry traveled to Ethiopia more than once to meet with officials affiliated with Emperor Haile Selassie, considered by many Rastafarians to be the messiah (image one). Their ambitions to relocate were never realized. In 1960 Rev. Henry and fifteen others were arrested on grounds that they were plotting an insurrection against the Jamaican government. At their trial in 1960, which Professor Hill attended when he was 16, they were found guilty.

 

Peacemakers making baking bread

In 1966 Rev. Henry was released from prison and went back to his followers in the parish of Clarendon. There in Green Bottom, Rev. Henry and others built a commune called the International Peacemakers Association. The Peacemakers were self-sustaining. The pictures displayed in the album show the Peacemakers making tiles, gardening, farming, ranching, baking bread, and performing a host of other duties (images two and three). There was also a school, baptismal house, community center, and worship facility, among other structures (image four).

The picture album is a part of a separate subseries which also contains loose and mounted photographs, correspondence, receipts pertaining to the construction of the commune, programs, posters, and other materials. Collectively, they offer a rich history to researchers, and encourage scholars to ask new questions about the Rev. Henry, the Peacemakers, and their legacy.

Sources:

“Rev. Henry Picture Album,” Robert A. Hill Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

“Rev. Claudius V. Henry and the Radicalization of the Rastafari Movement in Jamaica, 1957-1960,” Interview with Professor Robert A. Hill by Boris Lutanie, Reggae Vibes, Paris, France.

Alexus Bazen, “Ethnography of the International Peacemakers Association,” https://www.curf.upenn.edu/content/bazen-alexus-ethnography-international-peacemakers-association.

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Apply now: Young People’s Film Project

National Archives - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 05:55

We will be running an exciting new film project, ‘Mental Health on Record’, from Monday 29 July to Friday 2 August 2019, and we have places for 14 enthusiastic young people (aged 16-19 years) to take part.

Working with professional filmmaker, Nigel Kellaway, you will have the opportunity to explore original documents from our collection on the subject of mental health. These records reflect the personal stories of individuals from history, whose experiences show how mental health was represented and misunderstood in the past.

You will also work with mental health charity Richmond Borough Mind, to learn about contemporary mental health challenges and how people can seek advice and support today.

The project is an excellent opportunity to gain experience working with original documents, learn film-making skills from an industry professional, and work creatively with your peers. Take a look at some of the previous film projects we have run, including ‘Holding History’,  and ‘Suffrage Tales’, for a sense of what you will achieve.

The closing date for applications is Friday 28th June 2019.

For more information about the project and to apply to take part, click here.

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