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The holdings of the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library range from ancient papyri to social media. They number more than 350,000 printed volumes, more than 10,000 archival collections, in addition to extensive photography, film, and audio collections.

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Advertising, Sales and Marketing

The Rubenstein Library houses collections related to the history of advertising, marketing, business, and technology, within the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History such as the J. Walter Thompson Company Archives, and the Consumer Reports Archives.

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African and African American History and Culture

The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture's collections include biographical and autobiographical rare books, manuscripts, and oral histories that tell the stories of people of African descent from the 16th to the 21st century. Selected collections can be browsed chronologically through online timelines (1750-1800, 1801-1865, 1866-1945, and 1946-present), and dedicated guides describe collections related to the African American communities in Durham, NC and at Duke University.

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Chinese History

The Rubenstein holds notable collections of Chinese photography, Cultural Revolution posters and memorabilia, and 20th century oral histories.


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Documentary Film and Photography

The Archive of Documentary Arts collects photography, moving images, and oral histories that document the human condition.


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Duke University History

The Duke University Archives collects paper and digital records created by  administrators, offices, and departments of the university. In addition, we collect a wide range of materials including campus publications, audio and video recordings of events, selected faculty papers, and records of Duke University student groups.


Early Manuscripts

Early holdings include close to 1,400 ancient papyri dating from the early 3rd century B.C.E. to the 8th century C.E. The Rubenstein also holds Arabic, CopticEthiopic, French, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Persian, Spanish, and Syriac manuscripts dating between the ninth and seventeenth centuries. For more information about our early manuscripts, please contact a librarian.

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The Economists’ Papers Archive preserves the personal papers of more than 50 significant economists including Kenneth ArrowCarl MengerFranco ModiglianiOskar Morgenstern, and Paul Samuelson, as well as the records of several journals and organizations such as the American Economic Association.

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German Studies

The Rubenstein Library’s German collections are broad in scope and range from medieval to modern materials. The German Baroque period is highlighted by the Harold Jantz Collection which contains circa 5,000 titles published between 1600 and 1800. Twentieth-century materials include German-Jewish culturenewspapersWWII materials, and science fiction.

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Human Rights

The Human Rights Archive documents the impact that organizations and individuals have had on government policy in support of human rights, the important role that these organizations and individuals have played in the development and transformation of the international human rights movement and the articulation of U.S. social justice movements with the international human rights community.

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History

The library holds rare print and manuscript material documenting LGBTQ history and culture with an emphasis on literature, political activism, and publishing. Highlights include the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance Archives and Periodicals Collection, the Dorothy Allison Papers, the James Sears Papers, the North Carolina Lesbian and Gay Health Project Records, and the Southerners on New Ground Records, as well as collections of lesbian and gay male pulp fiction.



Notable British and American print collections are complemented by archives related to Walt Whitman and many southern writers including, Fred Chappell, George Garrett, Allan Gurganus, Reynolds Price, William Styron, Anne Tyler, and others. The Edwin and Terry Murray Collection include games, fanzines, comic strips, pop culture, and over 67,000 comics. Duke is also home to the Locus Foundation archive and Science Fiction collection, and The Glenn R. Negley Collection of Utopian Literature.

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The History of Medicine Collections document the history of medicine, biomedical science, health and disease.  Collection strengths include anatomy, surgery, human sexuality, materia medica, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology.  See our collection guide for details.

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Middle Eastern History

The Rubenstein Library holds collections of Arabic manuscripts, Turkish printed books and posters, and a collection of Bulaq press imprints.  The collections are strong in caricature and hold a large collection of photographs by Felix Bonfils.



Strengths related to music within the Rubenstein Library include hymnology, 18th century music, popular American sheet music, and jazz. Digital access is available to a variety of music collections including, Historic American Sheet Music ProjectAmerican Song Sheets, and String Quartets.

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As the Special Collections Library for the Divinity School and the Religion Department, the Rubenstein Library holds broad materials about religion and faith, including early manuscripts, printed books, and modern archives.


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U.S. History and Culture

The Rubenstein Library has exceptionally strong holdings relating to the history and culture of the United States, especially the American South. There are extensive collections of American newspapers, Confederate imprints, broadsides, maps, and archival collections.

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Women’s History and Culture

The collection strengths of the  Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History & Culture include Black women and women of color, history feminist theory and activism, gender identity and expression, girl culture, sexuality, women and religion, women artists, women authors and publishers, and women in medicine and science.