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Burnis H. Thornton photographs and other materials

Identifier: NCC-0177

Scope and Contents

The collection is primarily composed of photographs taken by Theodore Burnis Thornton of houses his father Burnis Hillman Thornton built and later photos taken by another son of Burnis's, Victor Thornton, for comparison. Materials also include a photograph index, newspaper clippings, and a program for Thornton's funeral.


  • Creation: circa 1950-1991
  • Creation: 2015
  • Creation: undated

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

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 Information

Burnis Hillman (B. H.) Thornton was possibly the first African-American bonded contractor in the state of North Carolina. Born in 1906 in Warrenton, NC, he attended North Carolina A&T State University and remained actively involved as an alumnus throughout his life. He served as education director and boxing coach at the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in Rutherford County, NC, and as director of the United Servicemen’s Organization (USO) on Fayetteville Street in Durham. He was involved in education as a school principal and teacher, including service in Durham City Schools, before his work as general contractor and proprietor of Thornton Builders, Inc., in Durham. Thornton was a member of White Rock Baptist Church, Omega Psi Phi fraternity, and the Freemasons. He died in 1991. The collection was donated by two of Thornton's children.


2 Folders

Language of Materials



The photographs are arranged in numerical order according to numbers assigned by the donor.

Physical Access Restrictions

Some of our materials are stored offsite. These items are not available for same day access and require advance notice to retrieve. Contact North Carolina Collection staff at to plan your visit.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Carolyn T. Walker and Victor Hillman Thornton

Collection Name

The name of this collection was changed in Summer 2022. Boxes and folders in the collection may be labeled with the previous name, which was Burnis H. Thornton Photograph Collection. The current title should be used when referring to or citing the collection.

Finding Aid for the Burnis H. Thornton Photographs and Other Materials
Jamie Patrick-Burns
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 February: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace by Stephanie Barnwell.
  • Gift Agreement

Repository Details

Part of the North Carolina Collection Repository

300 N. Roxboro Street
Durham NC 27701 United States