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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

Rencher Nicholas Harris Papers, 1926-1965 (includes digitized content)

Rencher Nicholas Harris (1900-1965) was an African American businessman and civic leader of Durham, N.C. Harris was the first African American city councilman in Durham, N.C., and the first black man to sit on the Durham County Board of Education. The collection consists mainly of clippings, correspondence, legal papers, photographs, printed materials, journals and diaries, scrapbooks, and reports relating to Harris' work in political and educational affairs in Durham, North Carolina in the 1950s and early 1960s as a member of the City Council and the School Board, with emphasis on school desegregation, civil rights, and race relations in Durham.

Frederick Herzog Papers, 1947-2011 

Herzog was a faculty member at the Duke Divinity School, was well known for his work on civil rights and liberation theology These papers provide rich documentary evidence on the historical connections between religion, the Civil Rights Movement, and human rights. The material covers specific areas in which Herzog was involved, including the Civil Rights Movement in Durham and other parts of North Carolina.

The Asa and Elna Spaulding Papers, 1909-1997 (includes digitized content)

Asa T. Spaulding was an insurance executive in Durham, N.C. and an activist in civil rights, education, employment, and other work related to minorities' rights. He held various positions in the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company for almost thirty-five years. Elna Bridgeforth Spaulding was an activist in civil rights for minorities and women and involved in local politics in Durham, N.C, serving as a Durham County Commissioner for five terms, from 1974 through 1984. The Spauldings were active in a broad range of political bodies, businesses, civic groups, and activist organizations

Charles N. Hunter Papers, 1850s-1932  (includes digitized content)

Black educator, journalist, and reformer from Raleigh, North Carolina. The collection consist of Hunter's personal and professional correspondence, scrapbooks of clippings, articles, reports, and memorabilia. Specific topics touched on throughout his papers include race relations, voting rights, creating an educational system for African Americans, the temperance movement, reconstruction, African American business and agriculture, the North Carolina Industrial Association, and the North Carolina Negro State Fair. 

C.C. Spaulding Papers, 1889-1990

President of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1923-1952.  The collection includes newspaper clippings originally collected by C.C. Spaulding, Asa Spaulding, and other unknown figures. Topics include the desegregation/integration of schools and public spaces; racial violence, lawsuits, and protests accompanying the civil rights movement. The collection also includes correspondence from the 1930s and 1940s discussing Jim Crow and Civil Rights.

Women-In-Action for the Prevention of Violence and Its Causes, Inc. Durham Chapter Records (includes digitized content)

Women-in-Action for the Prevention of Violence and its Causes is a non-profit, inter-racial organization founded in Durham, N.C. in September 1968. Elna Spaulding was founder and first president. The collection documents the organization's involvement in the Durham community on a variety of issues, including easing racial tensions; smoothing the way for court ordered school integration in 1970; providing for the recreational and cultural needs of disadvantaged youth; and establishing a clearinghouse to offer information and referral services to Durham citizens for a variety of social problems.

Stephen C. Harward Papers

Stephen Cannada Harward served on the Durham City School Board for 12 years in the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, the Durham city and county school districts were desegregated following a series of court mandates beginning in 1963. . The collection contains approximately 300 files stemming from the activities of the Durham City School Board (North Carolina), including audit reports, budgets, financial records, agendas, external and internal evaluations, teachers' manuals, and education policy materials, as well as court and other documents related to the redistricting and desegregation of the Durham city schools. 

Chris D. Howard Papers, 1972-1983

Chris D. Howard was a Duke University undergraduate. The collection contains Howard's research material for an honors thesis. The notes concern the early history of Durham and events related to the struggle for racial equality. There are notes and outlines of interviews (cassette tapes and telephone conversations) and a list of persons interviewed by Howard — including Mary Trent Semans, Floyd McKissick and other persons who participated in or witnessed this struggle.

Sam Reed Papers, 1968-2001 (digitized content)

The Sam Reed Papers span the years 1986-2001 and pertain to his political activism in Durham, N.C. The papers highlight the Civil Rights Movement and subsequent race and labor relations issues in the South. The collection consists of the records of the organization and the newsletter, Trumpet of Conscience. Other papers include articles, correspondence, interviews and speeches by and about Reed.

Ann Atwater Interview, 1996

African-American civil rights activist from Durham, N.C; subject of the 2002 film, An Unlikely Friendship. Collection comprises master copies (4 audiocassettes and a Digibeta videotape) for Jeff Storer's oral interviews with Atwater, an African-American civil rights activist based in Durham, North Carolina, regarding her friendship with Ku Klux Klan leader C. P. Ellis.

Mandy Carter Papers, 1970-2013

Mandy Carter is a self-described "southern out black lesbian social justice activist." Since 1968 she has been involved in peace, social, racial and LGBT organizing at the local, state, regional, and national levels. She has been based in Durham, N.C., since 1982. The Mandy Carter Papers span the dates 1970 to 2013 and include files related to her work as a grassroots organizer and multi-issue social justice activist.

Teresa El-Amin Papers, 1960s-2010

Activist and union organizer who was involved with many organizations, local and nationally. In the Durham area, she's worked with the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People (1999-2010), the Durham NAACP (2000-2010), and in 1998, she helped to found the Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN), which has worked on local issues like the education gap and passing an anti-sweatshop ordinance in the City of Durham.