Skip to Main Content

Duke University History, the Randolph County Years: Getting Started

This guide is designed to introduce researchers to resources on Duke University history, spanning the years from 1839 to 1892 when Duke was located in Randolph County, NC.

Contact the Duke University Archives

Duke University Archives

at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Visit our website!

Ask Us


Using this research guide (Libguide)

This guide is designed to introduce researchers to resources on Duke University institutional history when it was located in Randolph County, NC. Approximately fifty miles west of its current location in Durham, Duke University started in the more isolated and rural Randolph County and went by various names and served different purposes. It started as a primary subscription school known as Brown's Schoolhouse before becoming a private academy in 1839, called Union Institute. In 1851, it rechartered to Normal College, a training school for teachers. Finally in 1859, it became Trinity College, a liberal arts college connected to the Methodist Episcopal Church. It moved to Durham in 1892.

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

  • Secondary Sources: Books and other publications about the institution's time in Randolph County. 
  • 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.
  • Campus Publications: Publications produced for Duke students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
  • Photographs
  • 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.

Accessing Duke University Archives Materials

The Duke University Archives, part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, is the official repository for the historical records of Duke University. Visit our website to learn more about us!

The materials described in this guide may be used in the Rubenstein Library's reading room. Some materials have been digitized and are available online, and will be marked accordingly in this guide.

Helpful Links:

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.