The CDS Documentary Essay Prize honors the best in documentary photography and writing in alternating years: one year, photos; one year, writing. The focus is on current or recently completed work from a long-term project. The 2017 prize competition was awarded in writing. The winning essay, “The Wrong Place,” was submitted by Carrie Laben, a freelance writer based in Astoria, New York. In her essay, Laben uses her knowledge of birds and personal experiences as a birdwatcher to “illustrate a land-use ethic for the way we live now.”
The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) is the main beneficiary of a $1 million gift to Duke University from CDS cofounder and renowned historian William H. Chafe and longtime educator and social activist Lorna Chafe. CDS receives $700,000 for oral history work; $300,00 will support human rights projects at Duke.
The Julia Harper Day Award was created by the Center for Documentary Studies in 1992 in memory of the young woman who was the CDS’s first staff member, a writer and photographer of real accomplishment. This $500 award goes to a graduating Duke University senior who has demonstrated excellence in documentary studies and contributed significantly to the CDS programs. This year’s Julia Harper Day Award goes to Sharpsburg, Georgia, native Christopher White, a visual and media studies major graduating with a certificate documentary studies as well as a certificate in the Arts of the Moving Image.