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  • Historic Postcards of Durham slide
  • Durham Urban Renewal Records slide
  • History of the Stanford L. Warren Library slide

North Carolina Collection

Five Points looking east. ca. 1926.Durham Historic Photographic Archives
The Durham Historic Photographic Archives consists of around 2,000 images depicting the history of Durham since 1860.
Mosiac of 1916 Durham County CourthouseAnd Justice for All
This exhibit catalogs all the images in the mosaic of the 1916 Courthouse installed in the lobby of the new Durham County Courthouse.
Emily Weinstein and community volunteers painted this mural in Hayti depicting bluesman John Dee Holeman (on steps) and friends at a house party.Celebrating the Arts in Durham
This exhibit is the inaugural project of the Museum of Durham History, Inc. The panels you see in this online exhibit have real-life fabric equivalents—2 ½ x 6’ fabric banners housed in decorative, hand-wrought metal frames.
D. W. NewsomCelebrating D.W. Newsom
On the 80th anniversary of Durham adopting the county manager form of government in 1930, this exhibit celebrates Durham’s first county manager, D.W. Newsom.
Map of Major Downtown Land Uses, 1960.Changes in the Landscape of Downtown Durham, 1950-2000
The site features more than 300 slides that show the changes in downtown Durham over a fifty year period. Many of the frames include audio descriptions.
250 employees, students, and faculty protest in front of the Duke Administration Building on April 19, 1967.Civil Rights Heritage Project
The Durham Civil Rights Heritage Project focuses on collecting photographs and stories about the Civil Rights Movement in Durham. Oral histories of Durham’s civil rights era have also been gathered by the project.
415 Holloway StreetDurham Urban Renewal Records
These records document the plans for the urban redevelopment of Durham in the 1960s and 1970s. Includes hundreds of photos of Durham buildings during the time period.
Durham County Health Department Scrapbook imageDurham County Department of Health Scrapbook
This scrapbook contains public health signs, immunization forms, inspection notices and other items from the 1930s to the 1950s. Full finding aid here.
Durham High School MessengerThe Durham High School Messenger
The 1900-1965 editions of Durham High School’s yearbook, as well as its earlier form as a student publication.
A blend of strip tobacco leaves was sprayed with casing before being conveyed to cutting as pictured here.The End of Tobacco Road
This exhibit chronicles the end of tobacco production in Durham through photographs of Liggett & Myers’s final days of making cigarettes in Durham in 1999.
Main Street looking east from the old post office.Historic Postcards of Durham
The Historic Postcards of Durham Collection, compiled by John Schelp of Old West Durham, consists of more than 150 historic postcards of historic landmarks and buildings in Durham.
Interior of Durham Public Library, 1963History of Public Library Service in Durham
A history of the first 100 years of Durham’s public library service from 1897 to 1997.
Stanford L. Warren LibraryHistory of the Stanford L. Warren Library
This web exhibit is the story of the Stanford L. Warren Library, from its beginnings at White Rock Baptist Church to its evolution into a vibrant center of cultural activity to its present incarnation as part of the Durham County Library system.
Irwin HolmesIrwin Holmes, Scholar and Athlete
This exhibit presents scrapbooks and other materials from the Irwin Holmes Papers, which chronicles the life of the first African American to earn a bachelor’s degree from NC State and the first African American athlete to win a varsity letter in the ACC.
Five Points in Downtown Durham, 1928Short History of Durham (PDF)
A short history of Durham presented in slide format covering the 1600s through the 1990s.
Group of students in a Jeanes school.The Women Who Ran the Schools
The Women Who Ran the Schools presents an overview of Durham County’s Jeanes teachers and the Rosenwald schools they supervised and helped to found.
Updated January 2, 2014.

Books and Other Materials

The North Carolina Collection features a wealth of books and other materials on the history and culture of Durham city and county and the state of North Carolina. Highlights include:

Durham City Directories – Features listings of town residents and businesses (print copies back to 1961, microfilm of 1887-1960, many editions available online).

High School Yearbooks – Many years of the Durham High School Messenger available online through Digital NC

Genealogical Materials – Includes county heritage books

Local and State Government Documents

Papers of Local Individuals and Organizations
The North Carolina Collection is home to more than 100 collections of papers, including such treasures as 2000-plus African-American funeral programs, the diary of imprisoned Civil War Captain John C. Gorman, photos and papers documenting Durham’s urban renewal program, and extensive materials from Jean Anderson, the woman who wrote the book on Durham County history.

Maps, City Planning, and Architecture
Find all kinds of maps—street and road, land planning and land use, historic, aerials, and more, as well as plans for city and county facilities, homes, churches, and commercial buildings.

Subject File
A file of newspaper clippings and other materials about various subjects as they apply to Durham, such as arts and artists, Watts Hospital, traffic accidents, schools and the YWCA.

Biography File
A file of newspaper clippings and other materials about notable Durham residents.

Death, Birth, Marriage and Divorce Announcement Indexes
Use these indexes to find announcements in Durham newspapers archived on microfilm at the Main Library.

Newspapers, Magazines, Newsletters, etc. available in the North Carolina Collection

World War II Scrapbooks
Seven scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, covering 1943-end of the war, related to white servicemen and servicewomen from Durham.

Videos of Library Programs
Among  the library’s humanities programs are many Durham-related programs, including these archived videos.

Reading Lists
Take a look at these guides to books and other materials on topics such as “Researching Your Old House,” “African Americans in Durham,” and “The Civil War in North Carolina.”

Beyond the North Carolina Collection

Durham-Related Websites

Researching Durham History in Other Libraries

Oral Histories
These Durham-related oral histories, panel discussions and radio interviews are available at one of the following institutions: Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Durham County Library, WUNC Radio or Preservation Durham.

Index to Names in Family History Books (PDF)
Researching your family? Check this list to see if your ancestors’ names appear in our collection of family histories.

Biography File
In addition to its many full-length biographies of North Carolina people, the North Carolina Collection maintains a file of newspaper clippings and other materials about notable Durham residents.

World War II Scrapbooks
This link connects you to an index to the names of white servicemen and servicewomen from Durham who are covered in seven scrapbooks of newspaper clippings. Coverage begins January 1, 1943, and goes through the end of the war. The scrapbooks themselves are available to view on microfilm.

Death, Birth, Marriage and Divorce Announcement Indexes
Use these indexes to find announcements in Durham newspapers archived on microfilm at the Main Library.

African-American Funeral Program and Obituary Collection
Since the late 1930s, R. Kelly Bryant has collected funeral programs and obituaries, providing an important record of individuals and families of Durham’s black community.

Heritage Quest via NC LIVE
Durham County Library card-holders may access this genealogy database at home, in the library or from any computer with internet access.

Ancestry.com
This genealogy database may be accessed on any of Durham County Library’s public computer stations.

Genealogical Organizations
These organizations promote genealogy, provide assistance with family history research and build networks of genealogy professionals and enthusiasts.

Genealogy How-To
This guide will help you get started with family history research.

Genealogy Links
On-line resources for family history research.

Genealogy Research at Other Libraries and Archives
These collections, located in the Triangle and beyond, offer materials that are relevant to local, state and family history research.

Durham City Directories
Published yearly from the late 1800s to the present, the Durham city directories provide a snapshot of Durham residents and businesses within the city limits. They are divided into two main sections: 1) an alphabetical listing by last name and 2) a listing by street address. Genealogists, historic preservationists, people doing environmental impact statements and many others find them useful. The North Carolina Collection has print editions back to 1961, as well as microfilm editions of the 1887-1960 editions. Many editions are available online.

NC County Heritage Books
Many North Carolina counties have produced one or more county heritage books, which include genealogical information, family stories, photos and more. The North Carolina Collection strives to have a copy of all of these valuable compilations. This link will take you a catalog search for all the county heritage books in the collection.

Updated September 30, 2013.

Papers of Local African-American Individuals and Organizations
The North Carolina Collection houses an ever-growing collection of Durham-related manuscripts as well as the library archives, including materials from African-American individuals and organizations.

African-American Funeral Program and Obituary Collection
Since the late 1930s, R. Kelly Bryant has collected funeral programs and obituaries, providing an important record of individuals and families of Durham’s black community.

African-American Genealogy
This portion of our Genealogy How-To offers guidance for the unique challenges of researching African-American ancestry.

Civil Rights Heritage Project
The Durham Civil Rights Heritage Project focuses on collecting photographs and stories about the Civil Rights Movement in Durham. Oral histories of Durham’s civil rights era have also been gathered by the project.

Urban Renewal Records
These records document the plans for the urban redevelopment of Durham in the 1960s and 1970s. Includes hundreds of photos of Durham buildings during the time period.

Rosenwald Schools Exhibit
The Women Who Ran the Schools presents an overview of Durham County’s Jeanes teachers and the Rosenwald schools they supervised and helped to found.

History of Stanford L. Warren Library
This web exhibit is the story of the Stanford L. Warren Library, from its beginnings at White Rock Baptist Church to its evolution into a vibrant center of cultural activity to its present incarnation as part of the Durham County Library system.

The Carolina Times
Edited by outspoken advocate for civil rights Louis Austin until 1971, The Carolina Times covers Durham and North Carolina news for the African-American community under the banner “The Truth Unbridled.”

Updated September 30, 2013.

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