Skip to Main Content

African Americans in Durham, NC in the Rubenstein Library

Collections Documenting Black Life in the Bull City

Archive of Documentary Arts

  • Kristin Bedford photographs, 1930s-2018 - The 172 color photographs taken by Bedford from 2012 to 2018, derive from three projects: "Be Still: A Storefront Church in Durham," which consists of images of African American worshippers and their pastor in Durham, North Carolina.
  • Center for Documentary Studies Neighborhoods Project records, 1997-2004 - Collection includes black-and-white photographs, negatives, and slides from projects created by students at Durham's E.K. Powe and W.G. Pearson elementary schools between 1997 and 2004.
  • Center for Documentary Studies student documentary projects, 1980-2010 - The projects focus primarily on the social life and customs of persons living in and around rural and urban areas of Durham, Chatham, and Orange counties, North Carolina, although there are a few images from Virginia, and summer project work from Boston, Tel-Aviv, and Tennessee. 
  • Will Grossman photographs of Durham, North Carolina, 1969-1979 - Will Grossman was a 20th century documentary photographer based in Durham, North Carolina. Grossman's subjects include barns and rural landscapes; houses and churches; tobacco warehouses, a cigarette factory, and other industrial buildings; tobacco workers and other portraits of individuals, including many African Americans; scenes along the Eno River; and the Durham County Fair.
  • Hugh Mangum Photographs, 1890-1922 - Hugh Mangum was a white commercial portrait photographer from Durham, North Carolina. The images were taken as Mangum traveled a rail circuit through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. The images are chiefly individual and group portraits of residents in those areas - women, children, and men, either in a studio setting or outdoors. The majority are white men and women, but there are also many African Americans. Print photographs from this collection are available online here
  • North Carolina Self-Portrait Photography collection, 1930-1996 - The North Carolina Self-Portrait Photography Collection includes copy negatives, contact sheets, prints, information sheets, agreements, and voice recordings created as part of the North Carolina Self-Portrait Project, undertaken to build an archive of images and other materials documenting the experiences of African American families in the South.
  • Caroline Vaughan photographs, 1977-1992 - Collection comprises 63 exhibit-quality black-and-white photographic portraits of Durham, North Carolina citizens of all races, ages, genders, and sexual orientations, taken from 1989 to 1992 for a Center for Documentary Studies project.
  • Youth Document Durham and Durham Works Project records, 1995-2008 - The Youth Document Durham and Durham Works project records span the years 1995-2008 and document the process of training young people in Durham, North Carolina schools to use photography and other arts, oral histories, and writing to record the history and members of their communities and the local issues affecting the students' lives.


Duke University Archives

  • Black History at Duke - LibGuide authored by the Duke University Archive dedicated to resources documenting the experiences and activities of African Americans at Duke 
  • Booker T. Washington Visits Trinity College in Durham, NC - In 1896, Booker T. Washington was invited to speak at the Durham County Colored Fair by John Kilgo, president of Trinity College (Duke University's predecessor)

General Rubenstein Collections

  • Picture File, 1700s-1970s - The Picture File was created as a vertical file from the 1950s to the 2019 by library staff in the former Manuscript Department, and its successor, the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. Sear for "Durham," "African American," and "Negro" may render relevant materials on African Americans in Durham.

Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture

  • Mandy Carter papers, 1970-2013 - Mandy Carter is a self-described "southern out black lesbian social justice activist." Since 1968 she has been involved in peace, social, racial and LGBT organizing at the local, state, regional, and national levels. She has been based in Durham, N.C., since 1982. 
  • Theresa El-Amin papers, 1960s-2010 - Theresa El-Amin is an activist and union organizer who's worked with national and local organizations. Her papers contain materials related to the Durham NAACP and Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.
  • Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Durham, records, 1894-1992 - The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Durham was founded in 1920 and served the larger Durham community from the 1920s until the 1970s. The Harriet Tubman branch of the Durham YWCA served the African-American community in particular and, through collaboration with the Central branch, fostered integration in a racially segregated Durham.