The sequence of the University's desegregation can be confusing. Below are extracts from some of the key documents.
- To the administration and faculty of the Divinity School of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina: We, the undersigned, students of The Divinity School of Duke University, would welcome the fellowship, stimulation, and fuller Christian cooperation that we feel would exist here if Negro students were to join us in our common Christian study as ministers of the Gospel. ... We, the undersigned students, hereby request that serious consideration be given ... to the admission of Negroes to The Divinity School as day-students without affecting the general university policy.
--from a petition by Divinity School students, May, 1948
- Many of us do not understand why this institution is segregated... We should open our doors to all qualified people because we believe in democracy, the principles of Christianity and the manifestation of the ideals of a university. Segregation is wrong.
--from an editorial in The Duke Chronicle, December 13, 1955
- The University Council states that it is the feeling of the Council that action be taken looking toward the admission of duly qualified Negroes in such areas of advanced study in the University as might prove desirable and feasible.
--from the Minutes of the University Council, January 18, 1956
- Resolved that qualified applicants may be admitted to degree programs in the Graduate and Professional Schools in Duke University, effective September 1, 1961, without regard to race, creed or national origin."
--from the Minutes of the Board of Trustees, March 8, 1961
In September, 1961, six African American students were registered. Three later withdrew. Of the others, two were enrolled in the Law School, and one in the Divinity School. The Law School students received their degrees in June, 1964, and the Divinity school student in 1965.
- Resolved: That qualified applicants may be admitted to degree programs in the undergraduate colleges of Duke University without regard to race, creed or national origin.
--from the Minutes of the Board of Trustees, June 2, 1962
In September, 1963, five African American undergraduates enrolled. One left to enter military service, and another left to take a job. The remaining three students received their degrees in 1967.
For a full treatment of this subject, see Jorge Kotelanski, "Prolonged and Patient Efforts: The Desegregation of Duke University, 1948-1963," a senior honors thesis done in 1990. It is available in the University Archives, along with other studies and documents.