Duke University in Durham, N.C., traces its origins to 1838 when Methodist and Quaker families in rural Randolph County employed Brantley York as a permanent teacher for their subscription school. Under his leadership, the infrequently-used Brown’s Schoolhouse became Union Institute. However, as Quaker support turned toward its own school in Guilford County, Braxton Craven (York’s successor as principal in 1842) turned to the state for assistance. Craven sought and won from the North Carolina legislature a rechartering of the academy as Normal College in 1851 and the privilege of granting degrees in 1853. Thus, when a tiny schoolhouse in Randolph County, North Carolina opened in 1838, it launched an educational institution that grew to become today’s Duke University. This timeline traces the history of the institution as it transformed from Brown’s Schoolhouse to Duke University, and moved from Randolph County to Durham. Each day, Duke students, faculty, staff, and alumni make history in their own way and continue to write the story of Duke. The events showcased here represent just some of the most important events in Duke’s history.

Duke University PresidentsDuke University, Durham, North Carolina

Duke University traces its history back to a tiny schoolhouse in 1838. Since that time, the institution has been guided and changed by its leadership. As Duke inaugurates new president Vincent Price, this timeline offers a look back at the highs, lows, and extraordinary contributions of our presidents.

Duke University Libraries

A desire for knowledge is found at the root of any library’s beginnings. In the past 175 years, that desire has driven Duke University Libraries to grow to one of the top ten private university library systems in the nation. The Perkins Library, Bostock Library, and Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library joined with the Lilly, Music, and Pearse Memorial Libraries, form the center of knowledge and discovery on campus. Combined with four libraries separately administered by the Fuqua School of Business, School of Law, Divinity School, and School of Medicine, Duke boasts a network of ten facilities that create a solid foundation for learning and research. This timeline follows the history of Duke’s libraries, from the earliest known record proposing the library’s creation to today’s newly renovated Rubenstein Library which marks the end of the fifteen-year Perkins Project.

Duke University’s Divinity School’s outstanding academic programs provide a strong foundation for Christian ministry and leadership, ensuring that students are prepared to serve the church and the world. Duke Divinity School’s mission is to engage in spiritually disciplined and academically rigorous education in service and witness to the Triune God in the midst of the church, the academy, and the world. We strive to cultivate a vibrant community through theological education on Scripture, engagement with the living Christian tradition, and attention to and reflection on contemporary contexts in order to form leaders for faithful Christian ministries.

Duke Kunshan University is a partnership of Duke University and Wuhan University to create a world-class university offering a range of academic programs and conferences for students from China and throughout the world. Duke Kunshan is located in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, China. A state-of-the-art campus covers a 200-acre area in Kunshan’s Yangcheng Lake Science and Technology Park. Located in close proximity to both Shanghai and Suzhou, and connected to both by high-speed rail, the city of Kunshan is a center for business and high-tech research and manufacturing, and has one of the fastest growing economies in China.

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business attracts and nurtures a new kind of leader who has the power to bring out the strength in others and move teams forward toward a common purpose. Our community is made up of students and faculty from around the world who thrive in an environment with differing viewpoints. We bring them together to inform a leadership style that inspires entire organizations to do better while doing what’s best.

411 Chapel Drive
Durham, NC 27708
(919) 660-5822
Rubenstein Library Research Services


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