The Franklin family had the pleasure to call Durham home twice in their lives. John Hope first came to Durham to research his PhD dissertation in Duke University’s manuscript department in the late 1930’s. When John Hope was offered a teaching position at the North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) in 1943, he and Aurelia moved from Raleigh, NC to take jobs. While John Hope worked in the department of history, Aurelia worked as a law librarian at the school. The Franklin’s enjoyed Durham, particularly the bustling African American community but left for Washington DC in 1947.
In 1980, John Hope Franklin and his wife Aurelia relocated to North Carolina, after he retired from the University of Chicago. Franklin served as a fellow with the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park for one year. In 1982, he joined the faculty at Duke University as the James B. Duke Professor of History, becoming the first Black professor to hold an endowed chair at Duke University. Franklin served as emeritus professor of history from 1985-1995 and Professor of Legal History from 1985-1992.
John Hope became rooted in the Duke and Durham community for the remainder of his life. He served on boards like the Durham Literacy Center, wrote insightful editorials for the Herald-Sun newspaper and Trumpet of Conscience newsletter, and spoke at local events. The John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies was the first academic building named for an African American on Duke University’s campus. The Center, located at the corner of Erwin Road and Trent Drive, opened in 2000.
Franklin lived in Durham until his death in 2009.
This series is a part of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin@100: Scholar, Activist, Citizen year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin
Submitted by Gloria Ayee, Franklin Research Center Intern