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Durham and Local History at the Rubenstein Library

This guide will help you research Durham history using primary source materials held at the Rubenstein Library

Manuscript Collections

League of Women Voters of Durham (N.C.) Papers, 1947-1991

The League is best known as a non-partisan organization sponsoring voter registration and candidates' forums. In addition, League members held meetings to discuss a broad range of other social and political issues. Issues discussed in depth and documented in the collection include school desegregation; the merger of the Durham city and county school systems; local bond issues; the Equal Rights Amendment; foreign trade; diplomatic relations between the United States and China; water and air quality; solid and toxic waste; and reproductive rights. 

Young Women's Christian Association records, 1920-1992.

Collection contains administrative records since the Durham, N.C. YWCA's inception in 1920, including the Harriet Tubman branch which served Durham's African-American community from the 1920s to the 1970s. Included are scrapbooks, minutes, financial records, subject files, project files, membership records, newsletters, notebooks, films, and other materials. There are also files from the Durham Women's Health Co-op and the Durham Rape Crisis Center which operated through the YWCA Women's Center.

St. Philip's Episcopal Church Records, 1878-2001

Church founded in 1878 in Durham, N.C. This collections contains vestry minutes, correspondence, minutes from various organizations within the church, rector's notes, church bulletins and programs, slides, photographs, financial records, appointment books, scrapbooks, clippings, canvass reports, auditor's reports, sermons, and printed materials. 

Beth-El Synagogue Records, 1899-1988

Founded as the Durham Hebrew Congregation Company in 1902. The name was changed to Beth-El Congregation, Inc in 1921. By 1988 the congregation was known as Beth-El synagogue. Organizational records consisting of records of board, general membership, Beth-El Sisterhood and Ladies' Aid Society meetings between 1930 and 1984, primarily containing minutes and financial reports, but also correspondence, committee reports and other material.

Saint Joseph's A.M.E. Church, Church Fan Collection, 1900s-1950s

African-American church in the early- to mid-twentieth century that was subsequently renovated to become the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC. Sixteen early-twentieth-century hand-held church fans depicting biblical and devotional scenes and displaying advertisements for local businesses (some owned by African Americans).