Tag Archives: Behind the Veil

An Interview About a Duke University Pioneer

Nathaniel White, Jr was among the first five black students to attend Duke University in 1963. He was not, however, the first person in his family to attend college. His father, Nathaniel White, Sr., had attended Hampton Institute prior to founding his own printing business in Durham. In a newly-digitized interview, White, Sr. discusses his life, his memories, and his experience as a black man living in Virginia and North Carolina during the 20th century.

White’s interview is part of the Behind the Veil digital project, which has just added over 300 new interviews with North Carolinians, including many from Durham. The interviews capture details of what life was like in the Jim Crow South for African Americans. In White’s interview, he shares the story of his childhood, the black business community in Durham, and the influence of scouting on his life. Of particular interest to local researchers, he describes individuals and businesses in the Durham black community in the mid-20th century, providing deep insight into Durham’s history.

Nathaniel White, Jr., center, was a native of Durham and one of the first three African-American students to graduate in 1967.
Nathaniel White, Jr., center, was a native of Durham and one of the first three African-American students to graduate in 1967.

He also briefly discusses his son’s pioneering role at Duke. He mentions that White, Jr., had considered Hampton Institute himself, but then had the opportunity to attend Duke. His father candidly remarks in the interview, “There’s one thing about a situation like that, it’s more like the real world than some other places that you might go and everything seems like it’s alright but it’s not training you for what you’re going to meet when you get outside. It’s a real struggle out there. The sooner you learn that, the better off you might be. . . . In other words, every day he had what it’s like to be an African American citizen in this country. So he didn’t have to learn that after he graduated. He learned it every day at Duke.”

Learn more about the fascinating Behind the Veil project on Bitstreams, the blog of the digital collections department of Duke University Libraries.

Post contributed by Val Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.

North Carolina Interviews added to Behind the Veil Digital Collections

The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture is pleased to announce the addition of 310 oral history interviews to the Behind the Veil Digital Collection. The addition to the collection documents the lives of African Americans from the state of North Carolina who lived through the era of Jim Crow in the Charlotte, Durham, Endfield, New Bern and Wilmington areas. The digitization efforts were made possible by the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s Content, Context and Capacity grant project to document the Long Civil Rights Movement in the state. Researchers now have access over 400 digitized interviews from the collection from states throughout the American South.


To listen to the digitized interviews please visit – http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/behindtheveil/

To view the entire collection, please visit – http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/findingaids/btv/

To learn more about the making of digital collection, please visit the Digital Collections blog: http://blogs.library.duke.edu/bitstreams/2014/02/07/announcing-310-new-behind-the-veil-interviews-and-a-new-blog/

For more information, contact, John B. Gartrell, Director, Franklin Research Center.

From the Rubenstein Wire

Korean Man Reading, ca. 1917-19. From the Sidney D. Gamble Photographs.

Before we dive into another exhilarating semester, it’s high time we caught up on some recent articles about the Rubenstein Library and its collections.

In the Lens blog at the New York Times, David Gonzalez explores William Gedney’s photographs of the Myrtle Avenue El in New York.

University Archivist Valerie Gillispie was introduced to the Durham community in a Durham Herald-Sun article.

NPR featured an interview with Robert Korstad and Leslie Brown about Behind the Veil: Documenting African-American  Life in the Jim Crow South.  The interview includes selections from a few of the one hundred oral histories now available online.

Neil Offen wrote an article about the exhibit “From Campus to Cockpit: Duke University During World War II.”  (The exhibit will be on display until January 29!)

Gamers far and wide noticed the opening of the Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games with our first-ever Game Night, including the blogs Robot Viking and 88 Milhas por Hora (in Portuguese) as well as more local sources.