Duke Forest records, 1931-2021

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Duke Forest (Durham, N.C.)
The Duke Forest is more than 7,000 acres of forested land in Durham, Orange, and Alamance counties, managed by Duke University for teaching and research. The Duke Forest records contain a wide variety of materials documenting research projects and forest management.
148.5 Linear Feet
32 Gigabytes
Materials in English
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
10 -- Executive VP and Treasurer & Administration (Business and Finance)
10 -- Executive VP and Treasurer & Administration (Business and Finance) > 09 -- Duke Forest


Scope and content:

The collection includes maps, aerial photographs of the Forest, notes and correspondence related to research projects, ledgers documenting lumber sales, details of forest plots, information on types of vegetations and tasks performed including thinning, data and statistics, and many other materials.

Biographical / historical:

The Duke Forest is owned and managed by Duke University. It consists of over 7,000 acres of forested land and open fields in Durham, Orange, and Alamance counties. It has been managed for teaching and research purposes since 1931.

The mission of the Duke Forest is to facilitate research that addresses fundamental and applied questions across a variety of disciplines and to aid in the instruction of all students in their pursuit of knowledge, especially regarding the stewardship of our natural resources.

Management of the Forest is guided by a comprehensive plan that promotes the Forest's academic mission while ensuring the protection of its natural resources. The Duke Forest also provides education and outreach through tours and volunteer events and serves as an outdoor recreation destination for the local community.

Beginning in the mid-1920s, Duke University purchased many small farms and interspersed forestland to buffer and expand the new campus. These tracts, totaling 4,696 acres, became the Duke Forest in 1931 when they were placed under the stewardship of Dr. Clarence Korstian, the first director of the Duke Forest and founding dean of the School of Forestry.

Over the years, largely through the efforts of Dr. Korstian, some of the income derived from the sale of forest products was used to purchase additional land. Today the Duke Forest covers over 7,000 acres of land in 6 divisions and 1 dedicated natural area across 3 North Carolina counties.

Early management objectives of the Duke Forest were designed to complement the School of Forestry's mission to advance graduate forestry education in the southeastern United States. They were: to demonstrate practical and economical techniques for managing timber; to develop an experimental forest for research in the sciences associated with growing timber; and to provide an outdoor laboratory for students of forestry.

As academic uses of the Duke Forest broadened to encompass a variety of disciplines in the natural and environmental sciences, the School of Forestry transitioned into what is now the Nicholas School of the Environment. For both the school and the university, the Duke Forest remains an invaluable asset and premier facility for teaching and research.

Text taken from Duke Forest website homepage, https://dukeforest.duke.edu/, and History page, https://dukeforest.duke.edu/about/history/, both viewed 2018 October 22.

Acquisition information:
The Duke Forest Records were received by the Duke University Archives as a series of transfers in 2018-2023.
Processing information:

Collection guide prepared by Tracy M. Jackson, October 2018; updated in 2021 by Noah Huffman; updated in 2022 by Tracy M. Jackson.

For the most part, original file titles have been retained.

Accessions described in this collection guide: UA2018.0036, UA2018.0073, UA2018.0094, UA2019.0079, UA2021.0014

UA2023.0034 added and finding aid updated by April Blevins, September 2023

This collection guide was created or updated with information provided by donors or external parties, and box or file lists have not been verified by Rubenstein Library staff. Errors may be present and can be reported to AskRL@duke.edu.


Collection is arranged by Accession; no additional arrangement has been performed and materials are in order as received from Duke Forest.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Forests and forestry -- Research -- North Carolina -- Durham
Forest management -- Research -- North Carolina -- Durham
Duke Forest (Durham, N.C.)
Nicholas School of the Environment (Duke University) -- History


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Access restricted. Collection requires additional arrangement, description, and/or screening. Contact Research Services for more information.

Access restricted. Collection contains Duke University administrative materials. For a period of twenty-five years from the origin of the material, permission in writing from the office of origin and the University Archivist is required for use of administrative records. After twenty-five years, records that have been processed may be consulted with the permission of the University Archivist. Contact Research Services for more information.

Access note. Some materials in this collection are fragile audiovisual/photographic formats that may need to be reformatted before use. Contact Research Services for access.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Duke Forest Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.