Caroline Edmondson (T'26)

As a sophomore pursuing Theater Studies with many interests in the performing arts, my passion for storytelling drew me to this project. I love theater because it brings stories to life through the ever-changing relationship between performer and audience. I was fascinated to see how Duke's history would shift in the hands of every viewer that entered the exhibit. I was also excited to engage with this project because I am from North Carolina. This project has answered some of my long-standing questions about Duke's relationship with my home state, and increased my awareness of the role I play in both communities. Through our archival research and our conversations with alumni, faculty, and students, I have learned to appreciate our place in the Duke timeline. Duke has been in a state of flux and growth since it was founded, and I feel fortunate to have had a glimpse into the changes that brought us to this moment. I am grateful to be surrounded by a Duke community that is passionate about creating a brighter future and ensuring that each new chapter in Duke's story is better than the last.

Top Six Items

4 playing cards with symbols on them

ESP Cards

I've enjoyed learning about some of Duke's quirkier stories, including the Parapsychology Lab. Imagine how different the university must have been when researchers studied telekinesis and mind-reading! Other favorite Duke history rabbit holes include the Rice Diet and the murder of Dr. Robert Jones, Jr. — I'd recommend looking into these wild stories if you're interested.

Playbill with a black background and a man smoking

Duke Players Script and Playbill

I had a blast sharing photos of these objects with my fellow Theater Studies majors and members of Duke Players, and I can't wait to see them in the exhibit. We read The Glass Menagerie in my Directing class, and it's fun to imagine how Duke Players staged the play in Page Auditorium in 1949. I especially enjoyed reading the students' notes in the margins of the script.

Playing cards with Duke faculty, staff, and administrators on them

Faculty Trading Cards

Every Duke student's experience is shaped by the incredible faculty they learn from, and this lighthearted expression of faculty appreciation amused me.

Cover of a llight blue handbook with blue text of 'Design for a Duchess.'' Includes a blue silhouette of a duchess
Handmade black and white zine called Design for a Duchess

Design for a Duchess Handbook and Zine

We spoke to Jean O'Barr, a former faculty member at the Woman's College who was instrumental in the founding of the Women's Center and Women's Studies (now Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies). I was inspired by her perspective on the changing experiences of women undergraduates at Duke, especially about what women gained and lost when the Woman's College merged with Trinity. I felt that these artifacts spoke to that story, and I'm interested to see how viewers engage with them.

Drumhead reads 'DUKE' in large blue letters

DUMB Drumhead

Duke is known for its incredible school spirit, and the Duke University Marching Band (affectionately known as the DUMB) plays an important role in maintaining that enthusiasm. I am a major fan of the DUMB, especially because my roommate is on the drum line, so I love looking at this drumhead and imagining all the music made by previous generations of the DUMB.

photograph slide shows an image of plants, text reads No. 199 - Sept. 10, 1935

Duke Forest Glass Lantern Slide

This artifact is definitely one of the most beautiful objects in the exhibit. I was struck by how similar the picture appears to the modern Duke Forest, even though it was taken almost a century ago. Engaging with this artifact made me feel grateful for the stewardship efforts that preserve the Duke Forest.