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Duke University Medical Center Archives


How to Find Archival Materials

You can learn more about our collections and the materials they contain by looking at our finding aids. A finding aid is a detailed guide that describes an archival collection and its contents. 

To view our finding aids, visit the Collections Listing page on our website. To search for a specific collection, use the "filter" box. To search across our collections, use the search box in the upper right corner of the site and be sure to click on the "Finding Aids" tab. (This is best if you have a particular topic in mind, such as "polio" or the "Bell Building.")

While most of the materials listed in the finding aids are not currently available online, they are available for use at our facility. Please contact us before your visit so we can ensure that your requested materials will be ready for you to use.

Medical Center Archives Collection Highlights

The Duke University Medical Center Archives contains materials documenting the history of the School of Medicine, Hospital, and Medical Center. Below are a few collections recommended for beginning researchers interested in learning more about the medical center's founding and evolution. For a complete list of our collections, see the Collections Listing page on our website.

  • Wilburt Cornell Davison Papers, 1881-1972  Davison was the first Dean of the School of Medicine and Director of the Hospital. His papers contain a wealth of information about the founding of the school and the hospital's early days as well as information about Davison himself, including biographical materials, correspondence, professional writing, scrapbooks and memorabilia.
  • School of Nursing Records, 1930-2006 This collection documents the founding, history, and evolution of the School of Nursing as well as the School of Nursing Alumni Association and other nursing student organizations. Types of materials include correspondence, newsletters, budgets, reports, class records, ephemera, and more.
  • Photograph Collection, 1926-2011 The Photograph Collection contains hundreds of photos documenting key people, construction and buildings, events, educational activities, and technology throughout the medical center's history. Selected highlights from this collection are available online via our digital repository, MEDSpace.
  • Publications Collection, 1947-2013 This collection contains newsletters and periodicals, primarily produced by and for the Duke University Medical Center and Health System communities. This collection is an excellent resource for finding information about a particular time period, and can be useful for locating information about a particular subject, event, or individual.
  • 65th General Hospital Collection, 1926-2002 This collection contains personal papers, photographs, reports, and memorabilia of the United States Army 65th General Hospital, a United States Army Medical Corps unit staffed by Duke University Medical Center alumni in England during World War II. Unlike most general hospitals which received casualties that had been evacuated backward from the front lines through a series of medical corpsmen, first aid stations, field and evacuation hospitals, the 65th treated freshly-and often severely-wounded airmen returning directly from bombing runs over Germany in bullet- and shrapnel-riddled airplanes.