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The Duke University Marine Laboratory, founded in 1938, educates undergraduate and graduate students in the marine sciences. Part of the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Beaufort, North Carolina laboratory is also a renowned center of scientific research. The Marine Laboratory Records include photographs, correspondence, memoranda, minutes, recommendations, and reports documenting the Laboratory's work and administration. Major subjects include marine biology, oceanography, and zoology; research and study of the marine sciences; the Marine Biomedical Center; oceanic research vessels including the Monitor; and John D. Costlow, the director of the Laboratory for many years.

The Marine Laboratory Records include correspondence, memoranda, minutes, recommendations, and reports documenting the Laboratory's work and administration. Much of the material focuses on student and faculty research in Beaufort, North Carolina. There are also extensive correspondence and subject files belonging to John Costlow, Director of the Marine Laboratory. The collection also includes personal information on students, faculty, and staff, and these files are restricted under FERPA.

Accessions from 2018 include extensive photographs, including prints and slides, as well as administrative materials, reports, curriculur materials, and others.