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Jean Bradley Anderson papers

Identifier: NCC-0002

Scope and Contents

The Jean Bradley Anderson Papers are composed of research materials, writings, correspondence, and other professional papers created during a career as a genealogist, historian, teacher, author and preservationist. The material ranges in date from 1934-2012 with a majority dating between 1964 and 2012.The collection documents the scope and depth of Anderson’s intellectual interest in and dedication to local history through research, writing, and historic preservation. Most of the materials present relate to the research and publication of both editions of Durham County: A History of Durham County North Carolina, Piedmont Plantation: The Bennehan-Cameron Family and Lands in North Carolina (1985), The Kirklands of Ayr Mount (1991), and Carolinian on the Hudson: The Life of Robert Donaldson (1996). Source materials relating to the historic foundation, establishment, growth, and development of Durham city and county are present throughout the collection.


  • Creation: 1934-2012, undated
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1964 - 2012


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Jean Bradley Anderson is a historian, teacher, professional genealogist, and pioneer Durham and Durham County preservationist. A Philadelphia native, Anderson graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, received an MA in English from the same institution, and has taught the subject at Duke University and North Carolina Central University. Anderson moved to Durham in 1955 with her husband Carl, who was hired to teach English at Duke University. In the mid-1960s they moved to the country to a house on the Eno River. An old graveyard on the land piqued her interest in who had lived there, and she began to look into the histories of the people named on the tombstones. At the time the Andersons moved to the Eno, the City of Durham was making plans to dam it for a reservoir. Hoping to convince the city to preserve a valuable historical site, Anderson says, "I began to do research in the [Duke Library] manuscripts room looking for anything that pertained to the original families that lived along the river. This was the beginning of my discovery of the treasures in the manuscript room, and I was hooked" (Indy Week, June 15, 2011). Anderson was a founding member of the Historic Preservation Society of Durham, now known as Preservation Durham. She has been active in numerous other local preservation efforts including the Eno River Association, Historic Stagville, and Hill House. She is the author of numerous books on local history including Durham County: A History of Durham County, North Carolina, commissioned by the Historic Preservation Society of Durham, now in its second edition; Piedmont Plantation: The Bennehan-Cameron Family and Lands in North Carolina commissioned by the North Carolina Division of Archives and History in 1948; The Kirklands of Ayr Mount, originally comissioned by the then-owner of Ayr Mount, Richard Jenrette, in 1985; Carolinian on the Hudson: The Life of Robert Donaldson; and Campus Club, Duke University: A History.


18 Linear Feet (32 boxes: 28 document boxes, 2 flat boxes, 2 archival boxes)

Language of Materials



The Jean Bradley Anderson Papers span the years 1934-2012, with most of the material dating between 1964 and 2012. The collection consists of correspondence, research notes, copies of original manuscript material and secondary sources, photographs, clippings, print material, oral histories, and ephemera. The bulk of the collection is made up of extensive material related to the research, writing, and publication of various published works, including both editions of Durham County. The collection also contains material relating to courses Anderson taught on genealogical research methodology, her work as a private researcher with the North Carolina Department of Archives and History, as well as her numerous endeavors on behalf of local historic preservation.


This collection is arranged into the following series: 1. Alphabetical Files, 1934-2012, undated 2. Monograph Files, 1970-2010, undated 3. General Research Files, 1972-1982, undated 4. Print Materials, 1973-2009 5. Unpublished Writings, undated 6. Photographic Materials, undated 7. Oversize Materials, 1951-2002, undated

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Jean Bradley Anderson

Related Materials

Jean Bradley Anderson Papers (Duke University, Rubenstein Library)

Oral history with Jean Bradley Anderson (Contact NCC staff for more information.)

Finding Aid for the Jean Bradley Anderson Papers
Joshua Larkin Rowley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-05: Stephanie Barnwell
  • Gift Agreement

Repository Details

Part of the North Carolina Collection Repository

300 N. Roxboro Street
Durham NC 27701 United States