About the Exhibit

About the Exhibition

Librarian Lynn Richardson was delighted when photographer Laura Drey offered Durham County Library's North Carolina Collection copies of her photographs of Liggett & Myers's final days in Durham. Cigarette manufacturing, which became the backbone of the U.S. tobacco industry, came to Durham in 1880 and left 120 years later, in 2000. The industry transformed the town from a small stop on the North Carolina Railroad line to a thriving metropolis. Laura Drey's photographs have enabled the library to depict a historic time--L&M's last year in Durham--and the complicated process of manufacturing cigarettes--an industry vital to Durham's history--in a web exhibit that chronicles the end of an era.

Obtaining Copies of Photos

All of the photographs in this web exhibit are copyrighted by the photographer. They cannot be used for any purpose without first obtaining permission. If you are interested in a scan of an image or permission to use any of the images on these web pages, please contact the North Carolina Collection.


The following people were instrumental in the creation of this exhibition:

Laura Drey, photographer, who shared her photographs with the Durham County Library's North Carolina Collection so that they could, in turn, be shared with residents of Durham County and beyond.

Johanna Russ, exhibition designer and graduate student, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, without whose time and expertise this web exhibit would not exist.

Durham County Library employees Lynn Richardson, North Carolina Collection librarian, who oversaw the project from beginning to end, and reference department assistant Patricia Dew and web master Jill Wagy, for their invaluable technical assistance.

Many thanks to these Liggett Group employees, past and present, who welcomed photographer Laura Drey into the factory and educated her in the ways of cigarette production at the end of the 20th century:

Mike Ange, Alfred Avery, Moses Barbour, Allan Bowling, Jackie Boykin, Thomas Burnette, John Carter, Wayne Cash, William Cash, Ricky Cheek, Ronnie Clark, Kenny Cohn, Art Collins, Joe Colvin, Debbie Crabtree, Ricky Daye, Randy Dunnegan, Nelson Edwards, Johnny Estes, Harold Farmer, Steve Garnett, Mike Gentry, Harold Grinstead, Debra Hall, James Harris, Laura Holman, Tim Jackson, Thelma Jones, Ron Kellam, Allen Kennison, Johnnie Knight, Judy Knox, Elaine Kornegay, Jimmy Long, James Nichols, James Moize, Bonnie Parker, Thomas Parker, Bucky Parrish, Alan Riley, Barbara Robinson, Darrell Royster, Mack Smith, Joe Stokely, Linwood Thompson, Billy Turner, David Warren, Paul Williams, Tommy Woodruff

Special thanks to Reggie Lipscomb, who accompanied Laura on her tours of L&M's factory.

Photographer's Statement

Durham once manufactured more cigarettes than any other city in the world. Because of Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company's enormous significance to Durham's history, I felt it would have been a shame--a lost opportunity--if the plant moved to Mebane without having a pictorial documentary. Liggett's leaving marks the end of the era of cigarette manufacturing in Durham.

In these photographs I have sought to chronicle every aspect of Liggett to provide people with an inside look and a greater perspective of the company. The documentation took place over a five-week period in 1999--a year before Liggett's move. I hope the photographs give the viewer an appreciation for what has been so vital to Durham and the region.