Guide to the League of Women Voters of Durham (N.C.) Papers, 1947-1991
The papers of the League of Women Voters of Durham (LWVD) span the dates 1947-1991, with three main clusters of records: the mid-to-late 1950s, the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the late 1970s through the middle of the 1980s. The papers consist chiefly of newsletters, minutes of the Board and other meetings, administrative and financial records, publicity materials, newspaper clippings, and information related to the political work of the League. Most of the papers address the work of the Durham League, which was founded in 1946 and ceased operations in 1991. Scattered records document the activities of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina (LWVNC).
The League is best known as a non-partisan organization sponsoring voter registration and candidates' forums, and those activities are well-documented here. In addition, League members held meetings to discuss a broad range of other social and political issues, and from those debates formulated positions which the chapter lobbied for in the media and through various political channels. The issues discussed in depth and documented in the collection include school desegregation; the merger of the Durham city and county school systems; local bond issues; the Equal Rights Amendment; foreign trade; diplomatic relations between the United States and China; water and air quality; solid and toxic waste; and reproductive rights. The papers include some correspondence with local, state, and federal officials regarding these and other issues; however, correspondence in general comprises a small portion of the collection.
The papers document the League activities of various Durham women who became prominent in local and state politics. The papers also provide a window into racial politics in Durham, in particular through debates over school desegregation and the proposed merger of the city and county school systems. Voter registration materials and correspondence also shed light on this subject, including a few letters the League received condemning its attempts to register supposedly uneducated African Americans.
- Collection Number
- League of Women Voters of Durham (N.C.) papers
- League of Women Voters of Durham (Durham, N.C.)
- 7.9 Linear Feet, 4,300 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
copyright interests in the papers of the League of Women Voters of Durham (N.C.) have not been transferred to Duke University. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], League of Women Voters of Durham (N.C.) Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Chiefly the bulletins of the LWVD. Also includes scattered newsletters published by the LWVNC and materials relating to publishing the Durham bulletin.
General records pertaining to the operations of the League of Women Voters.
The administrative subseries includes annual reports, minutes of annual meetings, minutes of meetings of the Board of Directors and the general membership, a list of presidents of the League, membership and officer records, bylaws and procedures, general League information, and other non-financial business records. The subseries also includes a scrapbook League members made to commemorate its victory in a local “Ugly Office” contest, as well as scattered papers of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina.
The financial subseries includes monthly treasurer's reports of League income and expenditures, annual financial reports and audits, notes and reports of the Finance and Budget Committees, records of League finance drives, ledgers, and scattered other paperwork documenting the financial affairs of the League.
The personal subseries consists of clippings, speeches, correspondence, press releases, and other materials spotlighting the activities of individual League members.
The photographs subseries consists of reprints of photographs of League members and events. Some photographs were taken by League members, while others are reprints of photographs originally appearing in Durham newspapers.
The publicity subseries includes meeting notes, pamphlets, speeches, and other materials publicizing the LWVD. For materials documenting work publicizing voter registration and other League activities, see the Political Series: Publicity Subseries.
The series consists of briefings and reports, correspondence, clippings, memoranda, position statements, planning notes, publicity materials advertising community forums sponsored by the League, and other papers documenting local, state, national, and international issues which the League took up for debate. The League maintained a strict policy of non-partisanship in local elections, and regularly sponsored candidates' forums and solicited candidates' answers to questions of local importance, answers reprinted in the Durham newspapers. However, the League's non-partisanship did not prevent it from taking stands on various issues (as distinct from backing candidates). Once League members reached consensus on an issue through extended study and debate, they frequently took vocal stands in support of their positions, including support for school desegregation in compliance with Brown v. Board of Education, free speech rights, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and legislation protecting the environment.
The correspondence subseries consists of scattered letters documenting issues not covered in the above subseries.
The publicity subseries includes press releases and other materials pertaining to radio, television, and newspaper coverage of League activities.
The series is organized into subseries according to the LWVNC program: Human Resources (education, the ERA, housing, social services), Natural Resources (planning and protection of air, land, and water resources), Government (procedural matters in government), Voters Services (registration, candidate questionnaires and forums, precint reporting), and General (primarily local and international issues not fitting into the state program).
The series consists of photocopies made from League scrapbooks and from loose newspaper clippings collected by League members. Most of the clippings are of articles appearing in the Durham Morning Herald and the Durham Sun.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- League of Women Voters (U.S.)
- League of Women Voters of Durham (Durham, N.C.) -- History
- League of Women Voters of Durham (Durham, N.C.)
- Equal rights amendments -- North Carolina
- Environmental protection -- North Carolina -- Durham County
- Elections -- North Carolina
- Politics -- North Carolina -- Durham
- Schools -- North Carolina -- Durham County
- Segregation in education -- North Carolina
- Women in politics -- North Carolina -- Durham
The bulk of the papers of the League of Women Voters of Durham (N.C.) was acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library of Duke University as a gift from the League after ceasing operations in 1991. This donation followed the gift of a small collection of League papers from Dr. I.B. Holley of the Duke University History Department in 1975.
Processed by: Ian K. Lekus
Completed February 2, 1997
Encoded by Stephen D. Miller
The League papers included several scrapbooks, primarily consisting of newspaper clippings. Those clippings have been photocopied and are housed in the Scrapbook section of the Clippings Series. For that section, care should be taken by researchers to maintain the order of the clippings in those folders, which maintain the original order of scrapbook pages.
Board minutes, bulletins, financial records (particularly monthly treasurer's reports in the 1970s and 1980s), issue briefings and other papers were sometimes stapled together and sometimes kept unstapled in looseleaf binders before coming to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Researchers unable to find financial records, political materials, or other papers for a given date are advised to check the Board minutes and bulletins for that date, where they may be housed.