When a tiny schoolhouse in Randolph County, North Carolina opened in 1838, it launched an educational institution that grew to become today’s Duke University. This timeline traces the history of the institution as it transformed from Brown's Schoolhouse to Duke University, and moved from Randolph County to Durham. Each day, Duke students, faculty, staff, and alumni make history in their own way and continue to write the story of Duke. The events showcased here represent just some of the most important events in Duke's history.
Brantley York becomes principal of Brown's Schoolhouse, a private subscription school in Randolph County.
The Union Institute Society is organized.
Brown's Schoolhouse is formally organized by the Union Institute Society, a group of Methodists and Quakers under the leadership of Reverend York.
North Carolina charters the Union Institute Academy.
Braxton Craven arrives at the Union Institute.
Braxton Craven was made a teacher at Union Institute, and then principal of the school. He would serve as the institution's leader until his death in 1882.
The Columbian Literary Society is founded.
The Columbian Literary Society remained a staple of student life for decades. It encouraged discussion and debate on scholarly, literary, and modern political topics.
The Union Institute becomes Normal College.
The school is re-chartered by the Legislature of North Carolina as Normal College, and its graduates are licensed to teach in the public schools of the state. The following year, the state authorizes Normal College to grant degrees, and the first are awarded in 1853.
Normal College awards its first B.A. degrees.
The Alumni Association is organized with 41 alumni of record.
Normal College becomes Trinity College.
The institution's name is changed to Trinity College upon affiliation with the Methodist Church. The motto "Eruditio et Religio," meaning "Knowledge and Religion," is adopted.
Trinity closes due to war.
For the only time in its history, the Board of Trustees votes to suspend all activities. They took this extraordinary action due to the Civil War and resulting decreasing enrollment.
Chi Phi is organized, the school's first purely social student organization.
Chi Phi is organized with assistance of the Alumni Association as the first student social organization. Alpha Tau Omega follows in 1872 and Kappa Sigma in 1873.
The Giles sisters receive degrees.
Mary, Persis, and Theresa Giles become the first women to receive degrees.
Charlie Soong enrolls at Trinity.
Yao-ju ("Charlie") Soong from Weichau, China enrolls, becoming the school's first international student.
Braxton Craven dies.
Braxton Craven had been a key figure Trinity College (and its predecessors) since he arrived in 1842. At some point, he taught nearly every class offered, and served as president.
Marquis Lafayette Wood becomes president.
Marquis Lafayette Wood serves as president, the only president of Trinity or Duke who was also an alumnus.
John Franklin Crowell is elected president.
Crowell (1857-1931) was an economist, football fan, and Yale graduate.
The Trinity Archive publishes its first issue.
The publication is now the oldest collegiate literary magazine in the country.
Trinity defeats UNC in football.
On Thanksgiving Day, Trinity defeats the University of North Carolina 16-0 in one of the first modern football games played in the South.
Blue is accepted as Trinity's school color.
A college cheer, beginning "Rah! Rah! Rah! For the deep dark blue!" is printed in April's Trinity Archive. This is the earliest evidence of the adoption of a school color. Oral tradition suggests that the color chosen was Yale Blue in honor of President Crowell, a Yale graduate. However, Yale did not adopt blue as its official color until 1894.
The state re-charters Trinity in order to allow its relocation to Durham.
By this time, there was a major effort to move the college to a larger city in North Carolina in the interest of attracting more students and faculty.
A new charter demands that one-third of the Board of Trustees be alumni.
The Board of Trustees votes to admit women to classes.
Women are admitted only as day students and cannot board at Trinity.
Trinity College moves to Durham.
Trinity College relocates to Durham after Washington Duke and Julian S. Carr persuade the Board of Trustees to move the college to their progressive "New South" city. Duke contributes $85,000 for buildings and endowment and Carr donates the site, which is now East Campus.
John C. Kilgo is elected president.
Kilgo was a graduate of Wofford College and a bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church South.
Kilgo bans football.
President Kilgo justifies his decision, saying that it is too dangerous for college students to play.
Trinity's first Native American graduate receives his degree.
The graduate, Joseph S. Maytubby, was originally from Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).
Booker T. Washington speaks on campus.
The renowned African-American leader later noted in his autobiography that Trinity College was the first white institution of higher education in the South to invite him to speak.
Washington Duke donates $100,000 to Trinity's endowment.
He supplements this initial donation by the same amount in 1899 and 1900. As a condition of giving, Duke asked that women be admitted and treated equally at Trinity. A women-only dormitory was promptly built.
Trinity Park School opens in Durham.
Trinity Park School is opened with the aim of educating young people in Durham in order to prepare them for the rigors of college. In 1922, the school shut down due to declining enrollment and a robust public school system.
Founders' Day is celebrated.
Then called Benefactor's Day, the annual celebration was established to honor Washington Duke. The tradition continues today.
Trinity receives a new charter and bylaws.
Much of the charter and bylaws still remain intact. When Duke University was created in 1924, the only change that was made was to replace "Trinity College" with "Duke University." The first article in the 1903 bylaws, "The Aims of Trinity [later Duke] University," is reproduced on the plaque in the middle of the main quad on West.
The "Bassett Affair" erupts.
After an all-night debate that began on December first, the Trinity College Board of Trustees refused to accept John Spencer Bassett's resignation, and on December 2 issued a statement in support of academic freedom. Bassett had recently published a controversial article and was under pressure from some factions on campus.
The School of Law is permanently established.
After intermittent periods of law instruction in the 19th century, a School of Law is established.
President Theodore Roosevelt speaks on campus.
U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt visited Trinity College and spoke in praise of the school for its stand on academic freedom in the 1903 Bassett Affair.
The first issue of the Chronicle is published.
Volume 1, number 1 of the student newspaper, the Chronicle, is issued on December 19.
Trinity's first basketball game.
Trinity plays its first intercollegiate basketball game, losing to Wake Forest 24-10.
President Theodore Roosevelt receives members of the baseball team at the White House.
The group was in Washington as part of its annual Spring tour, a series of six away games.
Trinity beats Furman by either 84 or 85-5 in basketball.
In an early instance of a blowout, the Trinity basketball team defeated the Furman team by the score of 84 (or 85; sources differ) to 5. A home game with Wake Forest that year had to be canceled because the Trinity team wouldn't agree to play according to Wake's rules. Obviously, this was before the NCAA was established.
William Preston Few is inaugurated as President.
The event was one of the most elaborate ceremonies ever held at Duke, with representatives in attendance from colleges and universities all over the United States.
Old Main burns down.
The Washington Duke building, known as "Old Main," burns, becoming the only campus building ever lost to fire.
The Chanticleer, Duke's yearbook, is first published.
The Trinity College Alumnae Association is organized.
The Order of the Red Friars is founded.
The Order of the Red Friars is (arguably) Duke's best-known honorary society for men.
Charles R. Bagley (T '14) becomes Trinity's first Rhodes Scholar.
Football is reinstated following a 23-year ban.
On October 1, 1920, intercollegiate play resumes. Trinity beat Guilford decisively, 20-6 in their first game since 1896.
Phi Beta Kappa is chartered at Trinity.
The first installation of new members takes place in 1920.
The term "Blue Devils" is first used when referring to athletic teams.
Chronicle editors begin using the nickname "Blue Devils" for the athletic teams. "Les Diables Blues" was the nom de guerre of a regiment of French alpine troops widely known for their exploits in World War I.
Alice Mary Baldwin becomes Dean of Women at Trinity College.
Alice Mary Baldwin took up her role as Dean of Women at Trinity College, becoming the senior female administrator and the first woman to hold a faculty appointment here. As Dean of Women, and later, Dean of the Woman's College of Duke University, Baldwin would guide generations of women students until her retirement in 1947.
First homecoming celebration held.
Homecoming has been a staple at Trinity and Duke ever since. It remains a major draw for students and alumni alike.
Trinity college becomes Duke University.
Duke University is founded, named in honor of Washington Duke and his family. On December 11, James B. Duke signs the indenture of trust establishing The Duke Endowment, a family philanthropic foundation that supports education, religion, and health care in the Carolinas. Each fall, Founders' Day commemorates the event. Trinity College would become the name of the new university's undergraduate college for men.
East Campus undergoes renovations.
Original campus is rebuilt with the addition of eleven red brick Georgian-style buildings.
James B. Duke dies.
James B. Duke, the founder of the Duke Endowment, died on October 25, 1925. His establishment of the Duke Endowment transformed Trinity College into Duke University, a world-class university in Durham.
Academic schools expand.
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Religion (now the Divinity School) are founded.
Construction on West Campus gets underway.
A Gothic campus of native Hillsborough stone is built one mile west of the original campus to house the undergraduate college for men (Trinity College) and the professional schools.
Duke awards its first Ph.D. degrees.
The following year, Rose M. Davis becomes the first woman to receive a Duke Ph.D. (She earned her doctorate in chemistry.)
The West Campus cornerstone is set by Doris Duke, only child of James B. Duke.
The stone was moved across the quad to the General Library tower shortly after, as it had been cut too large for the West Campus Union space.
Benjamin Newton Duke dies.
"Mr. Ben" had been a trustee of Trinity since 1889, and was responsible for managing the Duke family's philanthropic activities.
The Blue Devil mascot makes its first appearance.
The Blue Devil mascot made its first appearance at the Duke-Pittsburgh game. This date also marks first use of a West Campus facility: the new football stadium (now Wallace Wade Stadium). Students were bussed over from what is now East Campus. Pittsburgh beat Duke, 52 to 7.
The Duke Chapel cornerstone is set.
Representative university publications, photographs, and other records were placed in a copper strongbox fitted into the cornerstone.
The Woman's College opens on East Campus.
Meanwhile, Trinity College and the School of Medicine and Hospital open on West Campus.
The School of Nursing is founded.
The School of Nursing opened on January 2, 1931 with a class of 24 undergraduates.
Duke Chapel is first used for commencement.
The interior of the chapel was largely incomplete, and there were very few windows at the time of commencement. It would not be completely finished and consecrated until 1935.
Richard Nixon graduates.
Perhaps Duke's most famous alumnus, President Richard Nixon received his juris doctorate.
School of Forestry opens.
"Iron Dukes" football team finishes its regular season.
The "Iron Dukes" completes the 1938 regular season undefeated, untied, and unscored-on.
Duke admitted to the Association of American Universities.
Its admission into this prestigious organization of research universities helped to cement Duke's place among the top tier of America's research universities.
The College of Engineering is organized.
The school is established out of the long-standing engineering curriculum in the science departments.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens is dedicated.
The Gardens are a tribute to Sarah Person Duke, Benjamin Duke's wife, from her daughter, Mary Duke Biddle.
Duke celebrates 100 years of education.
Duke University celebrates the centennial of its founding as an educational institution. Delegates from nearly four hundred colleges and scholarly societies attended. Speakers included the Presidents of Princeton and Brown Universities. The highlight of the celebration was an address by Eduard Benes, the exiled president of Czechoslovakia, who spoke about European politics on the very eve of World War II.
Duke Indoor Stadium opens.
At the time, it is the largest basketball arena south of Philadelphia. It is rededicated as "Cameron Indoor Stadium" (named in honor of longtime basketball coach and athletic director Eddie Cameron) on January 22, 1972.
Robert Lee Flowers is elected president.
Flowers, who had previously been a professor of electrical engineering and mathematics, served Duke for over 60 years. He also held the positions of Treasurer, Vice-President, and Chancellor before becoming President.
The Rose Bowl is moved to Duke Stadium, the only time it has been played outside of Pasadena.
Due to wartime fears, the Rose Bowl game is at first canceled, but then is rescheduled and played in Duke Stadium on New Year's Day. Durham is the only city other than Pasadena to have hosted the Rose Bowl.
The Duke University Loyalty Fund (now the Annual Fund) is established.
The Duke University Loyalty Fund (annual giving) is established by the Duke Alumni office. Today it is called the Annual Fund, with more than 37,000 participating alumni.
A. Hollis Edens becomes president.
"Shoe Leather Day" at Duke
Students declare "Shoe Leather Day" at Duke in protest of a raise of the campus bus fare. Students walked and carpooled between the campuses for two weeks during the boycott.
The University Council is established.
Formal faculty participation in university governance begins with the establishment of the University Council, a high-level advisory committee.
Senator Joseph McCarthy threatens legal action against Duke.
Senator Joseph McCarthy threatened legal action against the University if it did not suppress a faculty member's study of his Senate hearings about communists in the U.S. State Department. The study, "McCarthy versus the State Department," was conducted by Dr. Hornell Hart, of the Sociology Department, and was critical of McCarthy's methods. Duke maintained its traditional support for academic freedom. President Edens replied to the threat that, "It is axiomatic in the University circles that a professor has the right to pursue research investigations of his choice."
The James B. Duke professorships are established.
The James B. Duke professorships are inaugurated with the announcement of thirteen initial appointments funded by the Duke Endowment.
The new administration building is named for George G. Allen.
Allen had been a close associate of James B. Duke and member of the Board of Trustees.
William J. Griffith (T '50) is named director of the student union.
Over the next four decades Bill Griffith (known as "VPG" after being named Vice President for Student Affairs) would be one of the University's most dedicated staff, and a friend and mentor to generations of Duke students.
Hurricane Hazel hits Durham.
The storm uproots over 100 trees and causes massive damage across campus. As a result, homecoming is cancelled at the last minute.
Flowers Building is dedicated for use by the Student Union.
The renovated and renamed Flowers Building (formerly the adminstration building) is dedicated for use by the student-led organization responsible for planning and carrying out a variety of campus-wide cultural activities.
David Sime becomes "the world's fastest human."
Over a period of two weeks, Dave Sime (AB, '58, MD, '62), "the world's fastest human" twice equalled and twice broke world records in three track events. At one time in his career, he held nine world track records.
The term "Duke University Medical Center" is first used.
The term "Duke University Medical Center" is first used to designate the combined facilities for medical and nursing instruction, treatment, and research.
President Edens offers his resignation.
The following month, the Trustees removed Prof. Paul M. Gross from his position as the university's chief academic officer. The "Gross-Edens Affair" was a major administrative crisis that made public different groups' competing visions for the future of the university.
Dr. Julian Deryl Hart is elected president.
A noted surgeon, Dr. Hart retired from his position at the Duke University Medical Center to become president pro tem of the University.
The admissions policy is amended to affirm equality of opportunity regardless of race, creed, or national origin. This was accomplished in a two-step process with graduate and professional schools first and the undergraduate colleges following in 1962.
Duke's faculty legislature is formed.
The group, called the Academic Council, forms partially in response to the resignation of President Edens and the Gross-Edens Affair.
The Duke Symposium draws Allen Dulles as keynote speaker.
A student-run symposium on national defense policy drew former CIA head Allen Dulles to Duke as the keynote speaker. The Duke Symposium series ran for eleven years and was ranked among most topical and significant public affairs programs in American universities.
Douglas M. Knight is elected president.
His tenure as president sees major changes on campus, including physical and academic expansion and increased student activism.
The first five African-American undergraduates enroll.
Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, Mary Mitchell Harris, Cassandra Smith Rush, Gene Kendall and Nathaniel White Jr. formally desegregated Duke's undergraduate classes.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks in Page Auditorium.
His speech addresses the progress of the civil rights movement. The event is standing room only, and the overflow crowd hears the speech on loudspeakers placed outside the auditorium.
The Duke Primate Center is founded.
Dr. John Buettner-Janusch moved his colony of 90 prosimian primates to Duke from Yale when he took a post at Duke. The Duke Lemur Center, as it was renamed in 2006, is the world's largest sanctuary for prosimian primates.
Allen Building Study-In occurs.
Thirty-five students from Duke's Afro-American Society held a sit-in in the Allen Building appealing President Knight to ban the use of segregated facilities by University organizations.
The Duke Vigil begins.
After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., students first marched to University House, where Dr. Knight lived, and presented him with a list of demanded policy changes. When Dr. Knight refused the demands, about 200 students remained in the public part of the house for two days. The protest moved to the quad in front of Duke Chapel, where, for four days, over 1500 students stood silently on the quad in support of higher wages for Dining Services and Housekeeping employees.
The Allen Building Takeover occurs.
Students from Duke's Afro-American Society occupy the Registrar's Central Records Office to call attention to their unmet demands.
The School of Business Administration is founded.
The School of Business Administration (now The Fuqua School of Business), the last of the schools requested by James B. Duke, is established.
The Museum of Art opens.
Planning for a campus museum dates back to 1892, when the Trinity College Historical Society was founded. The Museum of Art is now called the Nasher Museum of Art.
William R. Perkins Library opens.
Perkins, now the main library on West Campus, boasted over five times as much space as its predecessor.
Former North Carolina governor Terry Sanford's first day as Duke President.
Sanford had originally intended to start on April 1, but then said he didn't want to start on April Fool's Day.
The Institute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs is established.
The Institute is later renamed in honor of Terry Sanford and is now the Sanford School of Public Policy.
The women's athletics program begins.
Women's athletics had long been a tradition on campus, with extensive physical education and team sports. However, in 1971, the University formalized the program, in advance of Title IX, and teams formally began intercollegiate competition.
The Woman's College and Trinity College merge.
The merger of the Woman's College and Trinity College forms the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.
The U.S.S. Monitor, a Civil War vessel, is discovered by Duke researchers.
Researchers affiliated with the Duke Marine Lab announced their discovery of the wreckage of the Civil War ironclad U.S.S. Monitor, off North Carolina's Outer Banks. The wreckage site was discovered the previous August, and the ship's identity confirmed after several months of study.
The Mary Duke Biddle Music Building is dedicated.
The building continues to serve as the primary educational facility for music students on campus. It also houses the Music Library.
Former President Nixon considers Duke as the site for his president library.
The announcement was met with considerable protest from faculty, students, and the community. Eventually, President Nixon decided not to pursue the Duke option. His presidential library is co-located in College Park, Maryland and near his birthplace in Yorba Linda, California.
Duke Hospital North is dedicated.
Duke North, still the current primary location of Duke University Medical Center, was a state-of-the-art facility that allowed for extensive and important research almost immediately.
Bryan Center is dedicated.
The Joseph M. and Kathleen Price Bryan Center continutes to be a major gathering point on West Campus.
The Women's Studies Program is established.
Jean O'Barr is appointed the first director of the interdisciplinary program.
The Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture is dedicated.
The mission of the Center is to "promote racial understanding, build community, and foster an appreciation for and increase knowledge of Black people, Black history, Black culture, and the vast contributions of people of the African Diaspora."
"Uncle Terry" writes his "Avuncular Letter."
Duke President ("Uncle Terry") Sanford writes to the Cameron Crazies calling for an end to obscene chants and vulgar behavior at basketball games: "I hate for us to have the reputation of being stupid."
Nancy Hogshead wins four Olympic medals.
Alumna Nancy Hogshead wins one silver and three gold medals in the Olympics. She had previously trained for the 1980s Olympics and was ready to compete before the United States boycotted the games, held in the USSR.
Duke conducts human AZT trials.
In the midst of the unmitigated, emerging AIDS crisis, Duke University Medical Center was one of the first two hospitals to conduct human clinical trials on AZT, a groundbreaking drug to improve the quality of life for AIDS patients.
Dr. H. Keith H. Brodie is inaugurated as president.
Brodie, a psychiatrist, was formerly the James B. Duke Professor of Psychiatry and Law.
The beginning of Krzyzewskiville.
Rather than wait in line for hours before the Duke-UNC basketball game for tickets, several students from Mirecourt (a selective living group on campus) pitch tents outside the stadium. By game time, there were 75 tents set up outside.
The Board of Trustees votes to divest stock in companies doing business in South Africa.
This particular gesture of disapproval was common among American colleges and universities during Apartheid, and put financial pressure on companies across the world.
Men's Soccer team wins the NCAA National Championship.
The team defeats Akron and wins Duke's first NCAA National Championship for any sport.
Men's Basketball team wins its first NCAA National Championship.
The men's basketball team had previously advanced to the NCAA Final Four eight times.
Men's Basketball team wins second NCAA National Championship.
In so doing, they become the first team in 19 years to repeat.
Nannerl O. Keohane becomes president.
Keohane is the institution's 13th leader and first female president.
The Levine Science Research Center opens.
The largest building in the university's history hosts interdisciplinary research.
Freshmen move to East Campus.
This was the first major residential change to go into effect in 20 years. Living groups in the dorms are named Randolph, in honor of Trinity's birthplace, Randolph County, and Blackwell, after Blackwell Park, the old Durham fairground that Julian S. Carr donated as the site for the college's new home.
The School of the Environment becomes the Nicholas School.
The School of the Environment is renamed the Nicholas School of the Environment in recognition of a $20 million gift by Peter M. Nicholas, Class of 1964. This gift, the largest exclusively for endowment in our history, supports a school with an emphasis on interdisciplinary teaching and research. The School had its origins in the former School of Forestry and the Duke Marine Lab.
The Brodie Recreational Center opens.
The University begins a major project to upgrade recreational facilities; the Keith and Brenda Brodie Recreational Center is opened on East Campus, and planning begins for a similar center on West.
Duke celebrates its 75th anniversary.
The University celebrates its 75th anniversary and also that of the Duke Endowment. Founders' Weekend in October sees the dedications of the Wilson Recreation Center on West Campus and a statue of Ben Duke on East.
The Women's Golf team wins National Championship.
The team has been a powerhouse in recent years, going on to win National Championship titles in 2002, 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Board of Trustees approves a new master plan.
The plan includes construction of a new dormitory complex to link Edens Quad with the main West Campus residence halls.
President Nan Keohane launches the Duke Women's Initiative.
The initiative examines the experiences and needs of women at Duke and seeks to develop strategies to address the challenges faced by both women and men.
Richard H. Brodhead takes office as Duke's 14th president.
The first Baldwin Scholars are selected.
The program is created to inspire and support undergraduate women in the classroom and in campus leadership roles.
The Nasher Museum of Art opens.
Previously named the Duke Museum of Art, the museum is re-dedicated in a new location after a major donation from the Nasher family.
New buildings open on West Campus.
Bostock Library, the Westbrook Building, and Goodson Chapel open, the first additions to the main quad on West Campus since the Allen Building.
Duke Lacrosse Scandal erupts.
False accusations of rape are made against three members of the men's lacrosse team. The scandal puts Duke at the center of an intense national debate about race, gender, and legal issues. The charges were dismissed and the students exonerated in 2007.
The program encourages undergraduates to examine and tackle societal problems both domestically and internationally. It provides select undergraduates with full funding to pursue a summer of service either in the United States or abroad. As of 2010, more than 1,000 Duke students had volunteered through the program.
Sanford Institute becomes the Sanford School of Public Policy.
It is Duke's tenth and newest school.
Duke Men's Basketball team wins National Championship.
Duke Forward campaign takes off.
The largest capital campaign in the university's history, the seven-year drive aims to raise $3.25 billion.
Duke Endowment gives $80 million for renovations.
The gift--the largest in Duke history--goes toward renovations of the West Union Building, and Page and Baldwin Auditoriums.
Robert Lefkowitz wins Nobel Prize.
Dr. Lefkowitz, the James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Brian Kobilka for his work with G protein-coupled receptors.
Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Health Education Center opens.
The first new home for medical education at Duke since 1930, the Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Health Education Center is a state-of-the-art facility that includes simulation labs, study and social areas, and an auditorium.
Men's Lacrosse wins National Championship.
The team had made the Final Four each year since 2007, and won the National Championship in 2010.