Skip to Main Content

Durham and Local History at the Rubenstein Library

This guide will help you research Durham history using primary source materials held at the Rubenstein Library

Table of Contents

The Rubenstein Library has a wealth of sources documenting Durham's history. This guide covers highlights sources related to common research topics. We have additional sources that are not covered, and we continue to acquire new material, so if you don't find what you need ask us.

African American Life in Durham:  Includes information on collections from both institutions and individuals that document the unique dynamics of race, gender and class in a New South city. Conerstone collections related to Durham history include the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Archives, Lincoln Hospital Records and the papers of C.C. Spaulding and Clydie F. Scarborough.  

Activism: Many of the Rubenstein Library's collections document Durham residents' work to create a more equitable and just city and community. Includes collections from both individuals and organizations.

Labor, Industry, and Commerce: These sections include notable collections that focus on Durham's economic and business history ranging from general stores to industrial operations like Erwin Mills, as well as the black-founded and owned financial institutions that made Durham's Black Wall Street nationally known. The labor section looks at labor activism from Durham's textile mills in the early 20th century to organizers working with immigrant farmworkers in the early 21st century.

Religious and Civic LifeNotable religious institutions and civic organizations. 

ArtsIncludes collections related to individual artists and arts organizations in Durham. Film, literature, theater, and music are all represented. 

Urban Planning: Books, reports, maps, and manuscript collections related to the design, use, and development of Durham's urban environment. Includes information on urban renewal and community resistance to the construction of Highway 147. 

Photographs: Collections include Historic photographs of early Durham, as well as more recent documentary photographs from the Durham community.

Searching the Catalog

The following standard subject headings will help you find additional resources on Durham in the Rubenstein Library

Durham (N.C.) 

Durham (N.C.) -- History

Durham (N.C.) -- Social conditions

Durham (N.C.) -- Race relations

African Americans -- North Carolina -- Durham

Related Guides

Durham and Local History: General guide to researching Durham history, including secondary sources.