I spent my first full day at Duke today, working in Special Collections at Duke's Perkins Library on my John Hope Franklin Grant. So far so good -- technically I applied to work on South Africa in the 1980s but really I am looking at several collections related to a handful of topics on which I am working, including bus boycotts; my book on sport, race, and politics; and my comparative bus boycotts project.
As always happens with research, the things I assumed I'd find have proven disappointing but the things I assumed would occupy a passing glance have proven invaluable. No matter what happens with the digitalization of archives I will always believe that nothing compares to digging through the boxes. Those fools who talk about how we MUST make higher education more efficient have never been in an archives and have never sat in a seminar. Education and scholarship are oftentimes by their very nature inefficient, and that's a good thing.
Duke will always hold a place in my heart. This was the first school to recruit me seriously to run (well, jump) track, and while Williams won out for a host of reasons, when I wandered Duke's campus for a while I certainly knew that I could have spent four years here and have been happy. And although he is a giant douchebag, the Thunderstick went to Duke, and despite my better judgment, he is one of my best friends and when he was a senior and I was at UNCC there were a few drunken weekends on this campus. In fact the last two days likely represents the longest sustained period of sobriety I have ever spent at Duke. And to think, I have another week here.