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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

Erwin Cotton Mills Records, 1832-1976 

Founded in 1893 by Benjamin Duke, who selected William H. Erwin to manage the business. Their first factory opened in West Durham, with others in Erwin, NC and Cooleemee, NC opening later. Collection includes account books, alphabetical subject files, and documentation of the company's relations with its workers, the Textile Workers Union of America, and the federal government, mostly in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Frank Traver De Vyver Papers, 1899-1980

De Vyver was an economist, professor of economics, and university administrator at Duke University from 1936-1980, and Vice-President of Personnel and Labor Relations at Erwin Cotton Mills from 1945-1955. His papers include a variety of materials about Erwin Cotton Mills Company including collective bargaining agreements, analyses of jobs and personnel, and extensive clippings about strikes, especially the strike of 1945-1946. 

Durham Hosiery Mills records, 1887-1962

Incorporated in 1898 after the merger of the Durham Hosiery Co., founded 1895, and the Golden Belt Hosiery Co.. The firm operated at least seven mills, including facilities at High Point and Carrboro. Correspondence, bills, time books, ledgers, check stubs, inventories, broadsides, stock certificates, dye house records, and other materials. The bulk of the correspondence, 1895-1897, dates to George M. Graham's service as secretary and treasurer of the Durham Hosiery Company. Letters discuss machinery purchased from firms in the North, newly organized textile mills in the South, the installation and repair of machinery, and the sale of hosiery.

Durham Cotton Manufacturing Company Records, 1896-1937 (bulk 1915-1934)

Durham Cotton Manufacturing Company founded, 1884 by J. A., J. M., and W. R. Odell, W. H. Branson, and Julian S. Carr. Headquartered in Durham, N.C. Most of the material represents the years 1915-1934. Includes information on fluctuations in cotton prices, export trade in cotton cloth, types of cloth and machinery, freight rates, salaries, workers' medical care, tenement rents, stockholders, dividends, and distribution of excess profits.

Wright Machinery Company Records, 1943-1989

Durham, NC company founded in 1893 by Richard Wright. It was first concerned with packaging tobacco, and later diversified by packaging other products.Collection chiefly contains publications, publicity, and company history files. Included are photographs of company picnics, clippings, and runs of the company newsletter (1957-1963 and 1981-1983). Printed materials also include a 1943 publication celebrating the company's anniversary, and a series of Rexham Employees newsletters (1978-1982)