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Jack Preiss papers

Identifier: NCC-0146

Scope and Contents

The Jack Preiss Papers include materials related to Preiss's involvement in the Durham community, including his city council stint from 1965-1969 and his low-income housing development work through the Durham Housing Authority and the non-profit corporation he founded, New Directions for Downtown, Inc. Most of the collection is correspondence, meeting minutes, and research notes that Preiss kept from the various organizations he was involved in. It also includes newspaper clippings related to Preiss's interests, including development and revitalization in Durham, as well as low-income housing issues both in Durham and North Carolina. Some materials from Duke University focus on the Allen Building takeover and Preiss's later involvement with research through the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development--Long Term Care Resources Program to develop resources for senior citizens in Durham.


  • 1963-2011, undated


Conditions Governing Access

Some financial information is restricted, as noted in the finding aid. The rest of 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

Jack Preiss moved to Durham in 1959 to take a job at Duke University as a sociology professor. With this move came a life-long love of the city and a desire to work to make it better. While at Duke, he was active in efforts to integrate the campus, pushing the university to integrate officially in 1963. Following this victory, he was actively involved with black students at Duke and was a close observer of the actions that were taken following the Allen Building takeover in 1969. He retired from Duke in 1988. Preiss's involvement in Durham went far beyond Duke's campus. As a city council member from 1965-1969, he developed a passion for helping people with low income and special needs as well as senior citizens in Durham and the state of North Carolina to find adequate housing. He was on the Board of Commissioners of the Durham Housing Authority from 1978-1994 and was chairman of the board from 1984-1990. Preiss helped established the non-profit, low-income housing development organization New Directions for Downtown, Inc, in 1979 and was president of the corporation from its inception until it merged with Housing for New Hope in 2005 upon Preiss's retirement. Preiss continues to serve as a consultant to Housing for New Hope as of 2015. Through both organizations, he has been closely involved with building dignified housing for Durham residents, including projects such as Preiss-Steele Place, an apartment complex for low-income senior citizens; Andover Apartments, apartments for those with mental illness; and Edgemont Elms, homes for low-income people. Beyond his housing work, Preiss was very active in the Durham community, having an active voice in major developments in the city including the civic center. He has served in various organizations and on committees relating to low-income housing in Durham including the Durham Affordable Housing Coalition and the Council to End Homelessness in Durham. At the state level he has served on the Multi-unit Assisted Housing with Services (MAHS) committee and the North Carolina Low-Income Housing Coalition. He also was active in the People's Alliance PAC of Durham from 1983-2011.


14 Linear Feet (28 document boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



The collection is organized into seven series that roughly reflect the order that Jack Preiss established for the materials. The folder titles reflect his original folder titles. The series are: 1. City Council Files, 2. Civil Rights Files, 3. Committee and Organization Files, 4. Duke University Files, 5. Durham Development Files, 6. Housing and Real Estate Files, and 7. Miscellaneous. Within Committees and Organizations, there are two subseries, Durham and North Carolina, reflecting the reach of the organizations Preiss was involved in. The Duke University series has one subseries, the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development--Long Term Care Resources Program, which Preiss worked with closely to understand the latest research on the needs of senior citizens. Housing and Real Estate has three subseries: Durham Housing Authority Files, Development Ventures, Inc. Files, and New Directions for Downtown, Inc. Files. The Durham Housing Authority subseries includes material from Development Ventures, Inc., which was a property development arm of the Durham Housing Authority.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Jack Preiss

Related Materials

Duke Protest Newspaper Clippings (NCC.0031)

Durham People's Alliance Records (NCC.0064)

Durham Urban Renewal Records (NCC.0068)

Finding Aid for the Jack Preiss Papers
Kristen Merryman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Kristen Merryman
  • Gift Agreement

Repository Details

Part of the North Carolina Collection Repository

300 N. Roxboro Street
Durham NC 27701 United States