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History of Durham, North Carolina:
A Bibliography

African-American histories
Additional readings of interest
Web Sites
Searching the online catalog
Other resources

Five Points Photo
Courtesy: Durham Chamber of Commerce


The histories listed below are arranged in chronological order.

Paul, Hiram Voss. History of the Town of Durham, N.C. .... Raleigh: Edwards, Broughton & Co., printers, 1884.
Early history and description of Durham and the tobacco industry. Contains biographical sketches of leading businesspeople and a business directory.
975.656 P324HA. Also Special Collections E P324H.

Boyd, William Kenneth. The Story of Durham: City of the New South. Durham: Duke University Press, 1925.
Classic history of Durham by a Duke history professor.
975.641 B789S. Also Perkins Reference F264.D9 B8 1925 ; Archives 975.641 D961B; Special Collections Reference 975.656 B789S; Medical Center F264.D9 B69s 1925a.

Dula, W.C. and A.C. Simpson. Durham and Her People: Combining History and Who's Who in Durham of 1949 and 1950. Durham: Citizens Press, 1951.
History of Durham from 1885-1950, including photographs and a detailed index.
975.641 D878D. Also Special Collections Reference 975.641 D878 D961 1951.

Kostyu, Joel A. and Frank A. Kostyu. Durham: a Pictorial History. Norfolk, Va.: Donning, 1978.
Over 350 photographs of Durham past and present.
975.6563 K86D. Also Archives 975.6563 K86 D961 1978.

Roberts, Claudia P. The Durham Architectural and Historic Inventory. Durham: City of Durham, 1982.
An excellent building-by-building history of Durham and of its architecture. Thoroughly indexed.
Perkins Reference F255 .B769 1982 . Also Archives 720.9756563 D961 R643 1982; Lilly 720.9756563 D961 R643 1982; Lilly Ready Reference 720.9756563 D961 R643 1982.

Anderson, Jean Bradley. Durham County. Durham: Duke University Press, 1990.
History of the county and city from the 1740s to the 1980s. This is the most recent thorough history of the county.
975.6563 A547 D961 1990. Also Perkins Reference F262.D8 A63 1991 and Lilly Ready Reference 975.6563 A547 D961 1990.

Wise, James E. Durham; A Bull City Story. Charleston: Arcadia, 2002.
The history of Durham from its beginning to the 1990s, told through stories and first-hand accounts.
975.6563 W812 D961 2002. Also Perkins Reference F264.D9 W58 2002 .

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African-American Histories

Here are some works that deal specifically with the history of Durham's African-American community. They are arranged in approximate chronological order by the time periods that they cover.

Quick, Oliver B. Milestones Along the Color Line: a Souvenir of Durham, N.C., Showing the Progress of a Race. Durham, O.B. Quick, c1922.
Mostly illustrations of buildings owned by members of Durham's African-American community during the 1920s.
Special Collections 2nd 89:G-H Box 30 (part of the Southgate-Jones Family Papers; preservation photocopy available).

Brinton, Hugh P. The Negro in Durham: a Study of Adjustment to Town Life. 1930.
975.6563004 B858 N393 1987.

Houck, Thomas H. A Newspaper History of Race Relations in Durham, North Carolina, 1910-1940. 1941.
Perkins Theses A.M. H835 1941.

Wilkinson, Edith Lewis. Pattern of Negro Segregation in Durham, North Carolina. 1950.
Looks at institutions such as hospitals, schools, and hotels in an age of segregation.
Perkins Theses A.M. W686P 1950.

Cannon, Robert. The Organization and Growth of Black Political Participation in Durham, North Carolina, 1933-1958. 1975.
Perkins Microfilm M5241s.

Howard, Chris D. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: the Black Struggle for Civic Equality in Durham, North Carolina, 1954-1963. 1983.
This work traces the civil rights movement until the desegregation of many Durham institutions in 1963.
Archives 904 D877 1983-HO.

Weare, Walter B. Black Business in the New South : a Social History of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993.
This book traces the history of Durham's most prominent African-American business from its founding in 1898 through the 1960s.
368.32 W362 B627 1993. Also Special Collections.

Davidson, Osha Gray. The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South. New York: Scribner, 1996.
A case study of the civil rights movement, highlighting the friendship between a civil rights activist and a Ku Klux Klan leader.
305.8009756 D252 B561 1996.

Redburn, Francis Stevens. Protest and Policy in Durham, North Carolina. 1970.
An analysis of the Civil Rights movement in 1960s Durham.
323.1196073 R312 P967 1980.

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Hand-book of Durham, North Carolina: a Brief and Accurate Description of a Prosperous and Growing Southern Manufacturing Town. Durham: The Educator Company, 1895.
Contains descriptions of businesses, personalities and buildings. Photographs, sketches of Durham sites, and advertisements are included.
Special Collections C Pam H336DU. Also University Archives 975.656 E24H.

Ramsey, N.A. Durham Almanac. Raleigh: [n.d.]
Contains historical and statistical information about Durham, a governmental directory, and advertisements.
Special Collections has 1895, 1896, and 1897.

Souvenir of Durham North Carolina. 1902.
A guide to the town with photos of prominent buildings. The next two works are very similar to this one.
Special Collections Oblong S729D.

Greater Durham in 1904-05: a city of many industries, the tobacco center of the world. Durham: Seeman Printery, 1905.
Special Collections Pam Coll 41773.

Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce. Durham, North Carolina: Thirty Years Ago an Insignificant Village With a Population of Some Five Hundred. Today a City of Twenty Thousand Inhabitants... Durham: Seeman Printery, 1906.
Special Collections C-Pam D961DU.

Durham Illustrated: Containing a Comprehensive Review of the Natural Advantages and Resources of Durham .... Durham: Published under authority, The Merchants Association, printed by Seeman Printery, 1910.
Detailed description of Durham's businesses and industries. Biographical information on prominent townspeople. Period photographs of the town.
Special Collections E Pam 1 f#16.

Upchurch, William Merriman. Durham County, Economic and Social. Durham: Seeman Printery, 1918.
Natural resources, farm conditions, education and marketing in 1917.
975.641 U65F. Also Special Collections E #5970 and E Pam #4249.

Durham, N.C. Chamber of Commerce. Durham, North Carolina: A Center of Industry and Education. 1930.
Includes statistical information, many photographs, a history of Durham and projections of future developments.
Special Collections E Pam #4495.

Newcomers Handbook of Durham for 1929. Durham: 1929.
A snapshot of Durham's institutions in 1929. Includes photos and advertisements.
Archives 975.641 D961PT.

Lemert, Benjamin Franklin. Durham, North Carolina: an Economic Survey. Durham: B. F. Lemert, 1938.
Economic and social conditions of Durham in 1938 by a Duke professor of economics. Exceptionally complete and detailed information.
Special Collections Library Service Center 330.975656 qL552D.

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Additional Readings of Interest

Bamberger, Bill. Durham County Photographs. [North Carolina?]: Rapoport Printing Corporation, 1982.
Photographs of people living and working in Durham County.
Lilly 779.9975656 B199 D961 1982. Also Archives 779.9975656 B199 D961 1982; Special Collections E Pam ff#70.

Bassett, John Spencer. "Old Durham Traditions". (Historical Papers of the Trinity College Ser. 6; Historical Society. Ser. 6, Sect. 5) 1906.
Legends about Durham people and places by a Duke Archives professor.
975.6 T832 ser. 6. Also Special Collections.

Dixon, Wyatt T. How Times Do Change: a Series of Sketches of Durham and Her Citizens. Durham: Central Carolina Publishing, 1987.
Anthology of articles published in the Durham Sun and the Durham Morning Herald from the early 1920s until December 1985.
975.6563 D621 H847 1987.

Evans, Eli N. The Provincials: a Personal History of Jews in the South. 1997.
A combination history and autobiography. Early chapters in particular are about Durham.
975.004924 E92 P969 1997.

First Person America. New York: Knopf, 1980.
This book of oral histories was funded by the Federal Writer's Project. One chapter (p. 139-159) is "Tobacco People of Durham, N.C. in 1938-39".
973.91 F527 1980.

Holloway, Betsy. Heaven for Beginners: Recollections of a Southern Town. Orlando, Fl.: Persimmon Press, 1986.
Mixture of childhood reminiscences with description and history of late 19th and early 20th century Durham. Illustrated with early postcard views of the city.
975.604092 H745 H442 1986. Also Special Collections Duke Authors H745H.

Janiewski, Dolores Elizabeth. From Field to Factory: Race, Class, Sex, and the Woman Worker in Durham, 1880-1940. 1979.
Perkins Theses Ph.D. J33F 1979.

Leyburn, James Graham. The Way We Lived: Durham 1900-1920. Elliston, VA: Northcross House, c1989.
An account of Durham's history in the early twentieth century through the eyes of someone who was a child then.
975.6563 L682 W357 1989.

Lougee, George E. Durham, My Home Town. Durham: Carolina Academic Press, c1990.
Reprints of articles from the Durham Morning Herald. Anecdotes about Durham from the first half of the twentieth century.
975.6563 L887 D961 1990. Also Medical Center Engel Collection Lounge.

Patton, Frances Gray. "The Town Bull Durham Built". Holiday. December, 1959. Vol. 26, p. 96-
Library Service Center Periodicals.

Webb, Mena. The Way We Were: Remembering Durham. Durham: Historic Preservation Society of Durham, c2003.
An anthology of articles published in the Durham Sun and the Durham Morning Herald, from May 1989 until May 1992.  Some autobiographical pieces.
975.6563 W367 W357 2003.

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Web Sites

Durham Historic Photographic Archives, sponsored by the Durham County Library.

Durham History at a Glance, sponsored by the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The History of Old West Durham, sponsored by the Old West Durham Neighborhood Association

Preservation Durham, whose mission is to preserve the history, architecture, and cultural heritage of Durham and Durham County

Web Bibliographies

The following bibliographies compiled by Perkins Library staff may also be useful:

Durham Area Information (Current information about Durham)

Selected Aids for Historical Research on North Carolina

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Searching the Catalog

To find other books on Durham history look in the catalog by subject heading. Use subject headings such as the following (capitalization and punctuation are irrelevant):

Durham (N.C.)

Durham (N.C.) -- Appropriations and expenditures

Durham (N.C.) -- Biography

Durham (N.C.) -- Charters

Durham (N.C.) -- Church history

Durham (N.C.) -- Economic conditions

Durham (N.C.) -- Genealogy

Durham (N.C.) -- History

Durham (N.C.) -- Politics and Government

Durham (N.C.) -- Social conditions

You can also search for "Durham County (N.C.)" with any of the above subdivisions. Be certain to enter "N.C." or you will retrieve references to Durham, England!

If you want to find works about a specific person or family, use the format below:

Merrick, John
Carr family

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The years listed after each title represent the scope of Duke's holdings of the title. Be aware that we have coverage gaps for several of the newspapers below. For complete holdings and location information, consult the staff in the Microforms Department.

Newspapers Currently Received

Carolina Times 1937-date

Durham Morning Herald 1901-1990 (scattered earlier issues)
In particular, note the April 26, 1953, Centennial Anniversary edition.
Durham Sun 1947-1990 (scattered earlier issues)
Durham Herald-Sun 1991-date
On January 1, 1991, the Durham Herald-Sun was formed from the merger of the Durham Morning Herald and the Durham Sun.

Indexes for the Durham Morning Herald and Durham Sun are shelved on the back wall of the reference department index area.
Durham Morning Herald Index 1930-1969
Durham Morning Herald/Sun Index 1970-1981
Ind-ex: An Index to Durham Morning Herald; The Durham Sun

The Independent 1992-1996 and the current month
Index to the North Carolina Independent and the Independent 1983-1996
Perkins Reference 071.5656 I13 N873x

The News and Observer 1880-date; 1991-date is also available in America's Newspapers.
News and Observer Index 1926-1974
Perkins Microfilm S151A
News and Observer Index 1967-1973, 1975-1976
Perkins Reference 071.56551 N558x
News and Observer Index Microfiche Edition 1974, 1977-1981, 1988
Perkins Reference 071.56551 N558x

Newspapers No Longer Received

Carolina Plain Dealer 1972

The Clarion 1924-1926

Durham Daily Globe 1889-1894

Durham Recorder 1820-1911
Also known as the "Hillsboro Recorder".

Durham Tobacco Plant 1872-1889

Durham Miscellaneous Newspapers
A microfilm collection from the North Carolina State Department of Archives and History. Contains their holdings of twelve Durham newspapers from 1876-1898.

North Carolina Leader 1966-1979

For further information about many early (pre-1900) publications, see:

Blakely, Florence. A Sketch of the Newspaper and Periodical Press of Durham, North Carolina. 1954.
Brief descriptions of the newspapers and periodicals published in Durham between 1872 and 1900.
Perkins Pamphlet Collection 11735

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For more information on locations, holdings, and dates of coverage for individual titles, consult the online catalog or the staff at the Current Periodicals desk.

Durham Commentary 1954-1956 North Carolina Anvil 1967-1983
The Durham Record 1983 Southern Exposure 1973-date
Durham Voter's Alliance 1980-1982 Triangle Magazine 1972-1973
Eno 1973-date  

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Other Resources

Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library

The Duke Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library has many other useful sources of historical information. Ask the library staff there for assistance. See also:

Davis, Richard C. and Linda Angle Miller, eds. Guide to the Cataloged Collections in the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library, Duke University. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Books, 1980.
Perkins Reference Desk Z106.5.U62 N838 . Also Archives 016.091 D877 G946 1980; Lilly Reference 016.091 D877 G946 1980; Special Collections Reference 016.091 D877 G946 1980; Law Reference Z106 .D84 1980; Medical Center Hist Ref Reading Room Z6621 D88g 1980.

There are four major collections of Durham photographs that are housed in Special Collections:

Alvin T. Parnell Papers Durham Postcards
Durham Chamber of Commerce Collection Wyatt Dixon Papers


The Public Documents and Maps Department in Perkins Library has local, state, and regional maps. The call number for Durham County maps is G3903 .D8 and the call number for Durham city maps is G3904 .D9. U.S. Census materials for North Carolina are also housed in this department. Ask the staff of the department for assistance in using the collection. See also:

Lemert, Ben F. Economic maps of Durham, North Carolina. North Carolina?: 1938.
The maps in this collection show Durham in the late 1930s.
330.9756 D961L. Also Maps (flat atlas section) 330.9756 D961L; Special Collections Map S-19.

Well & Brinkley Engineers. Map of Durham County, North Carolina. Rocky Mount : Wells & Brinkley for Commissioners of Durham County, N.C., 1920.
This map shows the locations of houses, churches, schools, townships, and school districts in Durham County. A second map shows the town of Durham.
Maps G3903 .D8 1920 .W4. Also Special Collections Map MA-2.


The library has a large collection of pamphlets about Durham. A section of the card catalog entitled "Special Catalogs" is located at the end of the Subject Catalog. "Special Catalogs" includes a catalog of pamphlets subdivided by state. Each state drawer is arranged alphabetically by author. Browsing through these cards for pamphlets on Durham should provide additional sources of historical information.

Other Collections in the Triangle

Duke University Archives keeps information specifically about the Duke family and Duke University. Further information about Durham may be found in other libraries in the area. The Durham County Public Library has an extensive historical collection which includes the Durham historical photographic archives. 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also has a North Carolina Collection in its Wilson Library. One interesting collection there is the North Carolina County Collection of the Photographic Archives. The collection is organized by county and Durham County is included.

City and county government offices are often good sources of information. You may also wish to contact the Historic Preservation Society of Durham.

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Carson Holloway
Perkins Library
Duke University
Durham, NC USA
Last Update: Tuesday, 17-Oct-2006 11:18:53 EDT