The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University, home of the Franklin Research Center, contains more than 150,000 printed volumes and upwards of 11,000,000 items in manuscript and archival collections. Among these holdings are a wealth of material concerning African-American history and culture. The library safeguards letters, lists, ledgers, photographs, films, and rare books documenting some three centuries of African-American experience. The collection is especially strong regarding nineteenth century slavery, and African-American life in the post-civil rights era.
Below is a representative, but in no way exhaustive, account of material related to African-American life available in Rubenstein Library at Duke and available through the Franklin Research Center. The account is arranged in chronological periods and is drawn, often verbatim, from online catalog records and several of the library's manuscript guides: Richard C. Davis and Linda Angle Miller's Guide to the Cataloged Collections in the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library, Duke University (1986) and Jennifer Morgan and Virginia Daley's Retrieving African-American Women's History: A Methodological Guide to Sources in the Perkins Library Manuscript Department (1989). Parties wishing a more detailed reckoning of African-American materials at Duke are strongly urged to use the Morgan and Daley guide as a starting point. Those desiring information about the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in general should access the Library's website or request the library's brochure.
The library is continually working to expand the scope and depth of its African-American holdings. The Rubenstein Library is especially interested in documentary materials concerning African-American life in the post-World War II civil rights era and items regarding African-American life in the Jim Crow South (the 1890s through the 1930s).
Last updated September 2011
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