Skip to Main Content

Duke Centennial Resources

A guide for resources to help research for Duke's Centennial in 2024

Duke's 1924 Centennial

What we now call Duke University traces its origins back to Brown's Schoolhouse, opened in Randolph County in 1838. Duke has been through many iterations and a few locations (a notable move to Durham happened in 1892). On December 11, 1924, James B. Duke signs the indenture to create The Duke Endowment, which has contributed funding to Duke University. As a result of this, on December 29, 1924, the Trinity College Board of Trustees changed the name to Duke University. 

1838: Brown's Schoolhouse begins in Randolph County

1839: Brown's Schoolhouse becomes Union Institute

1851: Union Institute becomes Normal College

1859: Normal College's name changes to Trinity College due to the affiliation with the Methodist Church

1892: Trinity College moves from Randolph County to Durham 

1924: Trinity College becomes Duke University

This timeline comes from this larger timeline created by the University Archives. 

Getting Started with Archival Research

What is the University Archives?  The Duke University Archives identifies and preserves administrative, fiscal, historical and legal records that have enduring value for the Duke community and makes those records available in accordance with policies approved by the university's administration, board of trustees and faculty. We are located in the Rubenstein Library.

The University Archives has 11,000 linear feet of records (including electronic records) dating from 1838 to the present, organized into record groups. Read our collecting policy.

Some places to begin your search (other than this guide, of course): 

  • Catalog: Duke University Libraries Catalog. It may be best to filter your searches to University Archives or Rubenstein Library. 
  • Collection Guides: Archives & Manuscripts at Duke University Libraries. Collection guides, also known as finding aids, provide information about what is included within each collection. Collection guides include biographical/historical notes, a scope note (describing what is in the collection), and a box/folder list. 

The materials described in this guide may be used in the Rubenstein Library's reading room.

Please note that university administrative records are restricted for 25 years, except with written permission from the office that created the records. Board of Trustees records are restricted for 50 years, except with written permission from the Board of Trustees. Find more information about University Archives access policies.

Helpful Links:

Using this LibGuide

Rubenstein Library, 1996This guide is designed to introduce researchers to resources on Duke University history, as a guide to doing research for the Centennial. 

The information in this guide is separated into six sections. Please use the tabs at left to navigate to each section. Links to relevant digitized materials are included in each section.

  • Background Information: Books and other publications about Duke University history.​​​​​
  • Archival Collections: A selection of introductory archival collections containing documentation on frequently-researched topics. This should not be understood as containing a comprehensive list of University Archives collections.
  • Photographs, Audio Recordings, and Film / Video: Photographs and audiovisual materials about buildings, people, activities, sports, and construction on Duke's campus. 
  • Posters, Blueprints, and Oversize Drawings: These materials include photographs, posters, blueprints, drawings, and property plats. 
  • Campus Publications: Key publications produced for Duke students, faculty, staff, and alumni, which provide excellent contemporaneous accounts of campus events and dialogues.
  • Related Websites & Other Online Resources: Links to Duke University departments able to provide historical information about specified topics, or links to other websites providing useful information related to Duke's history.

After reviewing this guide, please contact a University Archives staff member if you need further assistance in locating additional resources.

Helpful Subject Headings

The subject headings below will gather together Duke Libraries resources that may be relevant to your research. Clicking on these subject headings will search the entire Duke Libraries catalog.

To narrow the list of results to materials located in the Duke University Archives, select "University Archives" under the Location menu on the lefthand side of the page.