Outrageous Ambitions: How a One-Room Schoolhouse Became a Research University

Learning

The curriculum of the school has evolved from a handful of course options in the earliest days to today’s wide-ranging selection of classes. Presidents and administrators were intimately involved in teaching and learning, and thought creatively about how to expand educational offerings. 

Lecture notes composed by Trinity College president Braxton Craven in advance of a lecture on geology.

Braxton Craven Geology Lecture Notes

Braxton Craven Geology Lecture Notes

Braxton Craven, who was president of the school from 1842-1882, taught nearly all classes offered at Trinity at one point or another.  These are lecture notes from a class he taught on geology.

Students in a forestry class take measurements in the 1950s.

Forestry Class, 1950s

Forestry Class, 1950s

Duke has long encouraged unconventional learning.  This photograph of students in a forestry class in the field dates from the 1950s.

Student petition submitted to Duke University president William Preston Few.  The students were seeking the addition of a creative writing class to the curriculum.

Student Petition for Creative Writing Class

Student Petition for Creative Writing Class

This petition, submitted to President Few around 1933, was signed by students interested in taking a creative writing class.  It is particularly notable because of Duke’s rich history with creative writing.  There are several very successful novelists who are Duke alumni, including Pulitzer Prize-winners William Styron and Anne Tyler, and longtime faculty member Reynolds Price.

Notes from a constitutional law lecture on slavery in America given by Trinity College president Braxton Craven.

Braxton Craven Constitutional Law Lecture Notes, page 1

Notes from a constitutional law lecture on slavery in America given by Trinity College president Braxton Craven.

Braxton Craven Constitutional Law Lecture Notes, page 2

Notes from a constitutional law lecture on slavery in America given by Trinity College president Braxton Craven.

Braxton Craven Constitutional Law Lecture Notes, page 3

Notes from a constitutional law lecture on slavery in America given by Trinity College president Braxton Craven.

Braxton Craven Constitutional Law Lecture Notes, page 4

Braxton Craven Constitutional Law Lecture Notes

Braxton Craven, who was president of the school from 1842-1882, taught nearly all classes offered at Trinity at one point or another.  These are his notes from a constitutional law lecture he delivered on slavery.

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Students participate in a class at the Duke Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, North Carolina in the 1940s.

Class at the Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, 1940s

Class at the Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, 1940s

Duke has long encouraged unconventional learning.  This photograph of women conducting experiments at the Marine Laboratory in Beaufort dates from the 1940s.

The valedictory address given at Trinity College in Randolph County, North Carolina, in 1873.

1873 Valedictory Address

1873 Valedictory Address

The valedictory speech given at the 1873 Trinity College graduation ceremony in Randolph County.