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Student Photographs Duke Construction

Charles Wesley Clay at Commencement, 1929One of the best parts about being the University Archivist is the unexpected treasure that sometimes arrives in the mail.

Recently, I received a small packet of photographs from the family of Charles Wesley Clay, a Methodist minister and alumnus from the classes of 1929 and 1932. Clay earned bachelor’s degrees from Trinity and Divinity, and he happened to be on campus from 1925 to 1932, during the heyday of construction on East and West campus.

This small collection of 42 snapshots includes Clay posing next to Duke buildings—some completed, some under construction—as well as shots of equipment, scaffolding, and snowfall on the as-yet unmanicured quads.

We have other construction photos taken by Duke’s construction company, but it is revealing to see the “student’s eye view” of what it was like to be at Duke in these early, exciting days.

Charles Wesley Clay at East Campus Union, 1927
Charles Wesley Clay in front of the East Campus Union in the spring of 1927.
Construction of Duke Stadium, 1929
Duke's football stadium (now known as Wallace Wade Stadium) under construction in 1929.
View of West Campus Construction, 1929
A view of West Campus from the Medical School in the fall of 1929. Note the railroad spur that brought Duke stone from Hillsborough directly to campus.

Check out the whole collection on Flickr!

The University Archives is interested in documenting student life through materials like photographs, diaries, and scrapbooks. Please contact us if you have items you would like to donate.

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.