A view into school segregation: Durham City Schools Slide Collection now online


Elementary school class portrait on steps of an unidentified building

The William Franklin Warren Durham City School Slide Collection, featuring almost 600 lantern and Kodachrome slides, is now available on DigitalNC. This collection is from Durham County Library, and show images of Durham city schools, both White and African-American, from the 1930s and 1940s. The slides include images of classroom scenes, school celebrations, exterior shots of school buildings, a high school class trip to Williamsburg and Richmond, VA, group portraits of sports teams, portraits of teachers and school administrators, and more.  Schools highlighted include Hillside High School and Durham High School, as well as many elementary and junior high schools that no longer exist.  Rosenwald schools are also featured in the images.  In addition there are slides from various school presentations that report district valuations and statistics, and images of other locations in Durham such Duke University, downtown Durham, mills and factories, the Durham Athletic Park, and residential neighborhoods, including Hope Valley. These slides provide rich documentation of segregated Durham school life through the Great Depression and World War II.


Elementary school students taking care of class rabbits

The slides were most likely taken by William Franklin “Frank” Warren (1887-1979), the superintendent of Durham city schools from 1933-1947. In the early twentieth century, Durham’s schools were organized in two separate systems, the county schools and the city schools. Durham city schools originated with the establishment of a graded school system in 1882, with the first white graded school opening in 1882 followed by the first Black graded school in 1885. As elsewhere in the South, the schools at this time were segregated.


Durham High School girls’ gym class

Click here to browse all of the slides in this collection, and here to take a look at Durham County Library’s finding aid. Learn more about Durham County Library by visiting their partner page or website.


Students studying at the library

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