Trinity College (Randolph County, N.C.) collection, 1839-1992

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Duke University. University Archives
Brown's Schoolhouse was established in 1838 in Randolph County, North Carolina. The school would go through iterations as Union Institute Academy, Normal College, and eventually Trinity College. The college relocated to Durham, North Carolina in 1892 and was renamed Duke University in 1924. This collection consists of administrative, academic, and financial records. Materials include accounting ledgers, roll books, student lists and rosters including lists containing the names of students from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, minutes and resolutions, financial and annual reports, account statements, addresses, sermons, correspondence, writings of Braxton Craven, and Trinity College publications.
22.5 Linear Feet
Materials are in English
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
01 -- General Information and University History
01 -- General Information and University History > 02 -- Trinity College (Randolph County, N.C.)


Scope and content:

This artificial collection was assembled by library staff and donors. It contains administrative, academic, and financial records for Union Institute, Normal College, and Trinity College in Randolph County, North Carolina. The collection includes addresses and sermons, college publications, advertisements, and a small amount of writings and correspondence of Braxton Craven and students. Included are ledgers and roll books with records of operational expenses, student grades and fees, assignments, and syllabi. A ledger, "Teaching staff account book, 1859-1862," records some faculty and student activity during the Civil War and makes a few brief references to free Black people traveling with Confederate soldiers.

The collection also includes records of budgets, expenses, and accounts; minutes and resolutions for the Board of Trustees; financial, committee, and annual reports from the president, faculty, and treasurer; and lists with student names. One folder consists of lists with the names of students from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The collection includes a photocopy of an obituary for Will West Long.

Clippings and materials on the history of the college and Trinity, North Carolina are also included in the collection. Some materials in the collection are incomplete or fragmented.

Biographical / historical:

In 1838, Brown's Schoolhouse was established in Randolph County, North Carolina as a private subscription school for local white children with Brantley York serving as the school's principal. As student enrollment increased, a need for expansion led to York reaching out to the community for more investment and support. In response, the Union Institute Educational Society was formed in 1839.

The State of North Carolina incorporated Union Institute Academy in 1841. The school was named Union to reflect its population of students from both the Methodist and Quaker communities. Braxton Craven became principal of Union Institute following York's resignation in 1842. Craven would remain with the institution until his death in 1882.

In 1851, the Legislature of North Carolina chartered Union Institute Academy as Normal College, a school for white male students. The North Carolina Conference of the Episcopal Church, South accepted Normal College as its official college in 1856. The school was rechartered as Trinity College in 1859. Craven was elected president of the college that same year.

Braxton Craven and several of the institution's benefactors and trustees throughout its iterations were enslavers. Craven gave lectures in his courses advocating for the system of slavery. During the Civil War, college administrators established a company of students known as the Trinity Guard and a military department to maintain enrollment while also assisting the Confederacy.

Craven resigned as president in 1863 but remained with the college as a member of faculty. William T. Gannaway served as president of the college until it closed in 1865. Trinity College reopened with Craven as its president in 1866.

From 1882 until 1887, twenty male students of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians were enrolled at Trinity College as part of the Federal Indian boarding school system. According to the Federal Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report, this school system was created with the aim of forcing cultural assimilation and dispossessing Native and Indigenous communities, and its curriculum centered on manual labor and vocational skills. Trinity College was funded by the government to provide boarding, clothing, and instruction to the students. The Federal Indian boarding school at Trinity College became known as Cherokee Industrial School in 1883.

Will West Long, a student at Cherokee Industrial School, ran away from the school and returned home. He later studied at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University). Long developed careers as a woodworker, a scholar of Cherokee language, culture, and history, and as a consultant to sociological and linguistic researchers. He also helped to establish the Cherokee Indian Fair.

After accepting the position of president in 1887, John Franklin Crowell made changes to the curriculum and sought to establish an endowment to offset Trinity College's financial hardships. In 1892, Trinity College moved to Durham, North Carolina after Washington Duke and Julian Carr gifted land and funds for relocation. Following the establishment of the Duke Endowment in 1924, the trustees renamed the college Duke University as a memorial to Washington Duke.

Acquisition information:
This artificial collection is made up of donated and library-created original items, copies, transcripts, and drafts of resources to be used as a reference collection in the reading room. The provenance of original items is unknown in most cases.
Processing information:

Processed by Torrence N. Thomas, May 2000; Jill Katte, October 2002; Kimberly Sims, January 2007.

Encoded by Joshua McKim, December 2002; Kimberly Sims, January 2007.

Updated by Molly Bragg, August 2011.

Arranged and described account books in Boxes 3-7, and 9. Materials fit into new boxes 3-7, and 9 was deleted. Updated by Leah M. Kerr, March 2021

Rearranged, rehoused, and redescribed by April Blevins, July 2023

This collection has been physically reprocessed. Some materials including duplicates of originals have been discarded or removed. Because some items in this collection were digitized prior to reprocessing, digitized items may now be located in physical folders of different titles with items that have not been digitized. Before reprocessing, materials in the "Course schedules and lists of students", "Student grade reports", "Lists containing names of Cherokee students", and "Notes" folders were in a folder labeled "Student lists and grades." This earlier label may still be listed as the title for the online version of these materials.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

Some materials in this collection are undergoing treatment for preservation. Box 6 is closed to use through approximately the beginning of 2024.

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], Trinity College (Randolph County, N.C.) Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.