All library locations and services will be closed Monday, 5/27, for Memorial Day.
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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. Explore an inventory of our flat files here.


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 1911, as well as microfilm editions of the 1887-1960 editions. Editions from 1875 through 1963 are available online at DigitalNC.

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.

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.

Register of Deeds
The Register of Deeds maintains records related to land, among others. The Register of Deeds in Durham County holds land records beginning in 1881, when the county was formed. You can view our guide to searching these property records here. For records prior to 1881, visit the Register of Deeds in Orange County and the Register of Deeds in Wake County. Note that a small portion of land in east Durham was added from Wake County in 1911, so records for this area prior to annexation would also be with the Register of Deeds in Wake County. For more information about county formation in North Carolina (and beyond), you can consult the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries from the Newberry Library.

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.