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Durham and Local History: Getting Started

General guides to materials on Durham

Digital Durham

Digital Durham

Digital Durham is a project of the Library and historian Trudi Abel designed to highlight digital resources about the history of Durham.

Durham Public Library

Durham County Library North Carolina Collection 

  Durham's First Bookmobile

The Durham County Library North Carolina Collection  collects materials concerning the city and county of Durham. Duke researchers often find this collection and its curator, Lynn Richardson, invaluable.


Key Sources


Resources below are arranged in chronological order.

Paul, Hiram Voss. History of the Town of Durham, N.C. .... Raleigh: Edwards, Broughton & Co., printers, 1884.
Early history and description of Durham and the tobacco industry. Contains biographical sketches of leading businesspeople and a business directory.
Library service Center 975.656 P324HA. Also Special Collections E P324H. Also available electronically through the Duke Libraries catalog.


Boyd, William Kenneth. The Story of Durham: City of the New South. Durham: Duke University Press, 1925.
Classic history of Durham by a Duke history professor.
  Perkins and Lilly Reference and Perkins Reference F264.D9 B8 1925 ; University Archives and  Special Collections Reference ; Medical Center F264.D9 B69s 1925a.

Dula, W.C. and A.C. Simpson. Durham and Her People: Combining History and Who's Who in Durham of 1949 and 1950. Durham: Citizens Press, 1951.
History of Durham from 1885-1950, including photographs and a detailed index.
F264.D9 D85 1951. Also Special Collections Reference.


Kostyu, Joel A. and Frank A. Kostyu. Durham: a Pictorial History. Norfolk, Va.: Donning, 1978.
Over 350 photographs of Durham past and present.
  Library Service Center F264.D9 K67 1978. Also in University Archives .

Roberts, Claudia P. The Durham Architectural and Historic Inventory. Durham: City of Durham, 1982.
An excellent building-by-building history of Durham and of its architecture. Thoroughly indexed.
Perkins Reference, Lilly Reference and Perkins Stacks  F255 .B769 1982 . Also in University Archives


Anderson, Jean Bradley. Durham County. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011.
History of the county and city from the 1740s to the 1980s. This is the most recent thorough history of the county.  Two editions and the 2011 edition is online,
Perkins Reference  and Lilly Ready Reference and in Perkins stack, 2 editions  F262.D8 A63 1991 and 2011


Jones, Dorothy Phelps. The End of an Era . Durham: Brown Enterprises , 2001. Perkins F264.D87 J664 2001 The End of an Era portrays prominent  African Americans in Durham from he end of the 19th through the late 20th century.


Roberts, B. W. C.   Bull Durham : business bonzana, 1866-1940    (Durham, N.C. : Genuine Durham Press, 2002.) Perkins HD9139.A44 R634 2002


 Wise, James E. Durham; A Bull City Story. Charleston: Arcadia, 2002.
The history of Durham from its beginning to the 1990s, told through stories and first-hand accounts.
Perkins and Perkins Reference F264.D9 W58 2002 .


Brown, Leslie, Upbuilding Black Durham : gender, class, and Black community development in the Jim Crow South Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2008.  Perkins F264.D9 B83 2008  Prof. Brown has created a scholarly social history of black life in Durham that utilizes numerous primary sources to advantage. Also available online to  Duke users.



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