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Steven Unruhe papers

Identifier: NCC-0188

Scope and Contents

The Steven Unruhe papers primarily document his career and activism, though a small set of materials relate to his personal life. Photographs, meeting flyers, pamphlets, and meeting agendas chronicle Unruhe's involvement in the early 1980s with Citizens for a Safer East Durham, while correspondence and research guides provide evidence of his work in non-governmental and ecumenical organizations. Letters to the editor, columns, and articles authored by Unruhe document his interests in education, politics and social justice. Correspondence, classroom photographs, and presentations to the school board highlight Unruhe's work in the advancement of education, and campaign cards, polling results, political mailings and other materials cover Unruhe's successful 2016 run for the Durham Board of Education.


  • Creation: 1973 - 2016

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

Steven Unruhe, a Durham resident since 1982, is an educator and social activist. He is from Culver City, CA and graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in history. He began his career with the Asia Monitor Resource Center, which included work in California and Hong Kong. After several years of working and volunteering in other non-governmental organizations, Unruhe began a teaching career in Durham. He retired from Durham County Public Schools in 2015 with 29 years of teaching service in mathematics and journalism. Highlights of his teaching career include advising Riverside High School's award-winning student publication, The Pirates' Hook, and receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 1998 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Journalism Education Association. In 2016, he successfully ran for the Durham Board of Education. In alignment with a lifetime of community organization and social activism, Unruhe was instrumental in a successful effort to force the Environmental Recycling Company from East Durham in the mid-1980s after a series of state safety violations and a chemical spill. Unruhe is also an active participant in the life of the Durham community through his numerous opinion pieces and guest columns in area newspapers.


.5 Linear Feet (1 document box)

Language of Materials



Steven Unruhe, a long-time Durham resident, is a retired educator, community activist, and local political figure. The Steven Unruhe papers document Unruhe's personal and career journey from an undergraduate activist for social justice with the World Student Christian Federation in California to his election to the Durham County Board of Education in 2016. A significant portion of the collection is comprised of material relating to Unruhe's work with Citizens for a Safer East Durham, a grassroots organization formed in the early 1980s in response to a chemical spill at the Environmental Recycling Company. Unruhe retired from the Durham County Public School System in 2015 with 29 years of service in teaching mathematics and journalism.


This collection is arranged by subject into the following series: Series 1: Professional Papers. Series 2: Political Papers. Series 3: Citizens for a Safer East Durham and Durham Toxics Action Coalition. Series 4: Personal Papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Steven Unruhe

Finding Aid for the Steven Unruhe Papers
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Processed by Stephanie Barnwell and Barbara Ilie
  • Gift Agreement

Repository Details

Part of the North Carolina Collection Repository

300 N. Roxboro Street
Durham NC 27701 United States