The African American Collection in the North Carolina Collection of the Durham Public Library
Lynn Richardson is a Senior Librarian at our County Library, and the person who has almost singlehandedly expanded the NC Collection at the Durham County Library into the extensive collection it is today.
Ms. Richardson was introduced by Rotarian and former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Willis Whichard, a major supporter of the North Carolina Collection.
For her presentation, she informed us that she would focus on photographs from the collection,
rather than just showing pictures of documents on the screen. For those of us who are historians, that was an adjustment, since we always enjoy working through all those “old dusty documents”. But the photographs of people and scenes in Durham’s history was certainly more effective as a Rotary program.
Under Lynn’s direction, the NC Collection has added the collected papers of a number of interesting
Durham residents. She gave credit to our own Lois Deloatch for providing a lot of materials and assisting
in collecting other documents. Ms. Richardson was able to bring in a large number of African-American collections thanks to a Glaxo Smith Kline grant of $100,000.00. With an eye toward diversity, she began an outreach program.
The NC Collection at Durham County Library now has over 150 collections, with half of them being African American.
The collection includes such items as photographs, postcards, urban renewal documents, property appraisals, and graduation programs. Specific examples include a photograph of a young Arthur Ashe, who visited the Algonquin Tennis Club in Durham, NC. There are also photographs from the African American Quilt Club, the Corn Club, and one of Hillside High from 1956. Other examples include a photo of the young Mayor Bell, the first African-American county manager, Jack Bond, and a visit by Martin Luther King, Jr. to White Rock Baptist Church in 1960.
The relationship of the NC Collection to the Museum of Durham History is interesting. The MDH does
not collect historical materials, but rather has the purpose of displaying such items about Durham’s history.
it is the NC Collection that keeps such historical materials. In conclusion, it is obvious that the NC Collection is a treasure house of the history of many families and leaders of Durham.
Submitted by Brady Surles