The Rubenstein Library has a longstanding collecting interest in documenting the history of the southern United States. Beginning in the 1920s, Duke University Libraries began acquiring materials across a broad scope of life in the south. Some of the most common records include family papers, which traditionally provide insight into the lives of farmers/planters, politicians, and business owners from the 18th-19th centuries (1700s-1800s). In the libraries' early collecting history the materials largely represent the perspective of white, Anglo-Saxon, men, with scattered collections created by white women. But embedded in these Rubenstein Library legacy collections one will find documentation of the lives of African Americans, both enslaved and free.
This section is designed to provide tips on searching through the catalog and research guides that will hopefully be useful for researchers.
Guide to Catalogued Collections in the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library, Duke University (1980)
The Guide to the Cataloged Collections... contains information on 5991 archival collections acquired up to 1980 by the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library, now the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University. This guide contains many of the legacy collections held documenting the lives of enslaved and free African Americans. They may contain a wide variety of items such as manuscripts, diaries, correspondence, legal papers, memorabilia, photographs, films, tapes, computer files, maps, drawings, pamphlets, and other forms of material. The Guide to the Cataloged Collections in the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library, Duke University does not contain complete information on the holdings of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.