Our History

The earliest records date to the early 1950s, before the Duke University Union was officially founded. The bulk of the records date from the 1960s through the 1990s, and deal with general Union operations, as well as Union-sponsored events.

Among the events represented in the collection are numerous concerts and symposia. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Union sponsored an annual symposium that dealt with contemporary issues and problems. These events frequently drew notable speakers, ranging from Allen Dulles to Ralph Ellison. Concerts were also regularly scheduled and sponsored by the Union. Some of the bands represented in the collection include the Grateful Dead, the Dave Matthews Band, Gordon Lightfoot, and R.E.M. Among the recurring events that the Union sponsored and are represented in the collection are Joe College, Oktoberfest, an annual tree lighting in December, and Springfest (now the Last Day of Classes celebration).

Finally, performing and visual arts are both well-represented in the collection. The Union sponsored frequent performances of plays and musicals, as well as shows by local, national, and international artists. The Broadway at Duke series was also sponsored by the Union and is represented in the collection.

Annual Reports