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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

Malbourne Addison Angier, 1818-1900

Businessman who served as mayor of Durham, N.C. and county commissioner; father-in-law of Benjamin N. Duke. Correspondence, financial statements, bills and receipts. Two ledgers and a daybook belonged to the M. A. Angier Co., a grocery business owned by Benjamin N. Duke, Malbourn A. Angier, James T. Stagg, Thomas J. Walker, and W. T. O'Brien. Correspondence and financial statements chiefly relate to the manufacture of shoes and horse collars in Thomasville and Raleigh, N.C. by the firm of W. H. Wetmore and Co., with which Angier was partner, beginning in 1883.

Atlas M. Rigsbee Papers, 1859-1905

Rigsbee was merchant and property owner in Durham in the late-nineteenth century. The collections contain account books for Rigsbee's mercantile store and rent ledgers for his real estate operations. A broad spectrum of Durham residents patronized Rigsbee's store, with accounts for African Americans, Jewish immigrants, doctors, and tobacco dealers.  Select accounts have been digitized and are available on Digital Durham.

North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company archives, 1850-2008

The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded in Durham, N.C. in 1898 and is the oldest currently active African American-owned insurance company in the United States. Dating from 1850 to 2008, with the majority of the items dating from 1898, the year of founding, to 2008, the material covers nearly every aspect of N.C. Mutual's operations, management, and milestones.  A small selection of images from the NC Mutual Life Archives is avaible online.

Great Durham Chamber of Commerce Records, 1910-1981

The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce serves the needs of businesses, non-profits, and government agencies of all sizes by helping to create and sustain a healthy economic climate. The collection largely contains photographs of Durham businesses, homes, schools, places of worship, and individuals. It also includes two bound volumes of meeting minutes, by-laws, and correspondence which date from 1915-1923 as well as material sent to members, such as newsletters.