Researching Places in Durham

Maps, Plans, and other Materials

Maps including street, road, and neighborhood; land planning and land use; historic; and census. Plans and schematics for city and county facilities, homes, churches, neighborhoods, and commercial buildings. Tourism and event posters. Aerial photographs and other large format materials.



Changes in the Landscape of Downtown Durham
More than 300 slides shot by Durham native Ralph Rogers that show the changes in downtown Durham over a fifty- year period. Audio of Mr. Rogers describing the scene accompanies many of the pictures.

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 Durham scenes.

Digitized Collections

Durham Urban Renewal Records
These records primarily consist of property appraisal forms completed as part of Durham’s plans to redevelop the Hayti-Elizabeth St. area and the downtown business district. Includes hundreds of photos of Durham buildings slated for demolition.

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 online.

External Resources

Digital Durham
Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library and the Digital Durham Project provide a collection of maps that depict Durham from the late 1860s to the present day.

North Carolina Maps
Digitized maps from UNC-Chapel Hill and the North Carolina State Archives. Browse by location to find Durham city and county maps.

Sanborn Maps North Carolina
The Library of Congress provides digital access to North Carolina fire insurance maps published by the Sanborn Map Company. Durham maps on the site date from 1884 – 1950.

Open Durham
Gary Kueber’s web site (formerly known as Endangered Durham) is a treasure trove of information about land use, history, architecture, and sustainable development in Durham.