Guide to the Allen Building Takeover Collection, 1969-2002

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On February 13, 1969, Duke University students in the Afro-American Society occupied the the main administration building to bring attention to the needs of black students. These needs included an African American studies department, a black student union, and increased enrollment and financial support for black students. This and subsequent events became known as the Allen Building Takeover. The Allen Building Takeover Collection contains announcements, flyers, publications, correspondence, handouts, reports, transcripts, ephemera, clippings, a bibliography, WDBS radio broadcasts, oral histories, and photographs documenting Black Culture Week (Feb. 4-12, 1969), the Allen Building Takeover (Feb. 13, 1969), student demands, statements by Provost Marcus Hobbs and by Duke President Douglas Knight, student convocations and demonstrations both in support of and against the Takeover, and later events on the Duke campus and in Durham, N.C. In addition, the collection contains clippings and artwork related to remembering the Takeover, including the 2002 Allen Building lock-in. Major subjects include African American students and civil rights demonstrations. English.

Collection Details

Record Group
Allen Building Takeover collection
Duke University. University Archives
1 Linear Feet
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Collection Overview

The collection features a variety of materials documenting the Allen Building Takeover at Duke University. The first series,Subject files, includes announcements, flyers, publications, correspondence, handouts, reports, transcripts, and ephemera relating to Black Culture Week (Feb. 4-12, 1969), the Allen Building Takeover (Feb. 13, 1969) and student demands, statements by Provost Marcus Hobbs and by Duke President Douglas Knight, student convocations and demonstrations both in support of and against the Takeover, and later events on the Duke campus and in Durham, N.C. Also included are clippings of newspaper and magazine coverage of the Takeover from the campus paperThe Chronicle, as well as local, state, and national media.

In addition, the collection contains clippings and artwork related to anniversaries and remembrance of the Takeover. Students created artwork in this collection while participating in the 2002 Allen Building lock-in, an event commemorating 1960s activism at Duke and an opportunity for students and administrators to discuss the racial climate on campus.

ThreeRelated collectionsdescribed with the Allen Building Takeover Collection consist of sound recordings and photographs. The first collection, WDBS Records, contains recordings of broadcast reports which aired on the campus radio station. These reports (Feb. 13-16, 1969) covered the Takeover, President Knight's response, and subsequent meetings, rallies, demonstrations, and speakers. The next related collection, Allen Building Takeover Oral History Collection, features oral history interviews conducted by Don Yannella for his 1985 senior honors thesis,Race Relations at Duke University and the Allen Building Takeover. The oral histories offer first-hand accounts of and reactions to the Takeover from Duke students, staff, administrators, and members of the Durham community. Finally, the Photograph Collection includes ten black and white photographs taken during and after the Takeover. Several other collections also contain information on the Allen Building Takeover. For a complete subject guide and bibliography of resources, please see theSubject files series.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Using These Materials

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Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Digitized materials from this collection are made available for use in research, teaching and private study. The digital reproductions have been made available through an evaluation of public domain status, permissions from the rights' holders, and authorization under the law including fair use as codified in 17 U.S.C. ยง 107. Although these materials are publicly accessible for these limited purposes, they may not all be in the public domain. Users are responsible for determining if permission for re-use is necessary and for obtaining such permission. Individuals who have concerns about online access to specific content should contact the Rubenstein Library.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Allen Building Takeover Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

1. Subject files, 1969-2002

The Subject files series contains a variety of resources relating to the Allen Building Takeover that have been collected by the University Archives staff for teaching and research. These materials are organized into three subseries: Primary documents, Media coverage, and Remembrance. Primary documents include flyers, publications, handouts, correspondence, reports, transcripts, and ephemera. The media coverage subseries features clippings and photocopied clippings from campus, local, state, and national newspapers and magazines. Both of these subseries contain materials from 1969, both during and after the Allen Building Takeover. The third subseries, Remembrance, features clippings relating to the anniversaries of the Takeover in 1989 and 1999, as well as artwork made by participants in the Allen Building Lock-in on April 5-6, 2002.

Ordered by date.

Black Culture Week flyer, Feb. 4-12, 1969
Box 1
Folder 1
Harambee, Feb. 5, 1969
Box 1
Folder 2
Documents, Feb. 13, 1969

Documents include The Black Demands, Scenario for Campus Revolt, two requests that students leave the Allen Building peacefully made by Provost Marcus Hobbs, A Co-ordinating Council Response, and other materials.

Box 1
Folder 3
Documents, Feb. 14-19, 1969

Documents include A 3 day boycott of classes -- Friday, Saturday, and Monday ON STRIKE!! Statement by Dr. Douglas Knight for WDBS Radio, Saturday, February 15, 1969, and other materials.

Box 1
Folder 4
Carl Anderson letters,February 15, 1969, March 10,1969

Two letters describing the Allen Building Takeover and subsequent events. The letters were written by Oliver Ferguson and Jane Philpott, colleagues of Carl Anderson (1919-2003), a Duke English professor and administrator, who was in Sweden during the Takeover. At the time, Oliver Ferguson was a member of the Duke English department, and Jane Philpott was Acting Dean of the Woman's College.

Box 1
Folder 5
Documents, Feb. 20-28, 1969

Documents include Summary of Action of the Undergraduate Faculty Council and other materials.

Box 1
Folder 6
Documents, March-April 1969

Documents include Why Black Students Need Student Power...Why Black Students Cannot Get Student Power, memoranda and statements from Duke President Douglas M. Knight, Dilemma at Duke, minutes of the Academic Council, and other materials.

Box 1
Folder 7
Pickets, Protests, and Demonstrations Policy Hearing Committee [and related notes],March 19, 1969

The trial was open to the Duke community, and the names of the students charged were made publicly available. These notes describe these open hearings, but not the private committee deliberations on punishment.

Box 1
Folder 8
Undated items
Box 1
Folder 9
Chronicle coverage,Jan. 10,1969-March 14, 1969
Box 1
Folder 10
Durham newspapers, Feb. 9,1969-April 2, 1969
Box 1
Folder 11
State and national press, Feb. 1969-Oct.1969
Box 1
Folder 12
Box 1
Folder 13
The Allen Building Takeover: Thirty Years Later, a supplement toThe Chronicle,February 12, 1999
Box 1
Folder 14
Police, crowdclashed in '69: Black students' list of demands in pivotalyear still on the table, The HeraldSun,Feb. 14,1999: A1.
Box 1
Allen Building Lock-in,April 5-6,2002

Note: One poster and one collage from 2002 Allen Building Lock-in stored in MC 8.

Box 1
Folder 15
Chronology, undated; Subject Guide and Bibliography,1997
Box 1
Folder 16
Malcolm X University, 1969-1970
Box 1
Folder 17
Account of the Events of February 13-March 19, by Harry Jackson, 1969
Box 1
Folder 18

Historical Note

On the morning of February 13, 1969, between 50 and 75 black students entered the Allen Building and proceeded to barricade and occupy it. They renamed the building the Malcolm X Liberation School. The students issued a list of demands to the administration, [which included an accredited African-American Studies Department, a black dorm, a black student union, an increase in enrollment and financial support for black students, protection from police harassment, and better working conditions for non-academic staff of the University]. Provost Marcus Hobbs read a statement to the students at about 3:30 PM, urging them to leave the building within one hour to begin a peaceful discussion of the issues. Sometime after 5 o'clock, after a warning from Provost Hobbs that they would face legal ramifications for staying, the students decided to exit. Although the exit was peaceful, a large crowd of mostly white students had gathered outside the building during the day, and this crowd and the police became entangled. The police fired tear gas on the students.

Immediately following the police action, students met to discuss how to proceed. Many students and faculty were upset by the administration's support of the police action; other students and faculty felt that the takeover of the Allen Building was lawless and disruptive. Those who supported the Takeover called for a three day strike on campus and offered alternative classes. Students opposed to the Takeover urged fellow students to attend classes as normal. The administration attempted to calm the campus and address some of the demands posed by the Takeover participants. President Knight addressed Duke on the campus radio station, WDBS.

Afro-American Society and administration members met several times to begin forming an African-American Studies program. The two parties could not reach an agreement on what type of committee should oversee the program. On March 10, a group of students marched to downtown Durham along with students from other colleges to protest the situation. The next day, March 11, 1969, students again went to downtown Durham and marched with other students and Durham residents. The march turned violent, with store windows smashed and other damage to property. The mayor put a curfew on the city for several days.

Dozens of Duke's black students threatened to leave campus following the lack of agreement on the African-American Studies program. They instead planned to attend the Malcolm X Liberation University, a newly-developed school led by community activist Howard Fuller. However, the students soon reversed their decision and decided to remain at Duke University. On March 19, a University Hearing Committee found the students who had occupied the building guilty of violating university regulations. All defendants were sentenced to one year of probation.

[Written by Valerie Gillispie as part of the web exhibit,Campus Protest: Duke University, 1967-1969.]

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


The Allen Building Takeover Collection was received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1973-2002.

Processing Information

Processed by University Archives staff and Jill Katte, completed January 2004.

Historical note written by Valerie Gillispie as part of the web exhibit, Campus Protest: Duke University, 1967-1969.

Encoded by Jill Katte, January 2004

Updated by Molly Bragg, July 2011

Updated to include digital content by Noah Huffman, April 2013