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Identifier: R-MC 079

Elizabeth W. Durham Papers


  • 1867-2003

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Elizabeth Wyckoff Durham span the period 1867 to 2003. The bulk of the material is from the 1920s and the 1930s and the thirty-year period 1960-1990. The collection consists of three legal size manuscript boxes, two letter size manuscript boxes, one medium photograph box, one small photograph box, two large photograph boxes, one records center carton, and one large newspaper box. Correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, bound journals, pamphlets, sheet music, plaques, and awards represent the different formats that are included in the collection.

This collection is comprised of two types of material. One type consists of materials related to Elizabeth Durham, while the other consists of the family records that EWD inherited as the last living member of her family. The Elizabeth Durham subgroup has five different series: Personal Correspondence and Miscellany, Awards and Honors, Activities, Photographs, and Journals. The family series are foldered according to family member.

The papers of Elizabeth Wyckoff Durham are varied in type and subject. Many of the papers deal with her many ventures into the world of alumni affairs. Elizabeth Durham's papers include a large quantity of correspondence, both personal and professional, as well as a number of materials produced in honor of and appreciation for her professional and voluntary work. The large number of photographs included in the collection provides information about people important to Elizabeth Wyckoff Durham and her family. Some people only appear once in the photographs, while others appear frequently. This collection includes a number of clippings, both of familial and personal achievements and notices. These are to be found throughout the files, but also as a large grouping of clippings (originally found in a manila envelope marked "clippings"). The clippings that Elizabeth Durham chose to save reflect the topics and events that she considered to be important. Newspaper clippings have been photocopied for preservation.

Topics that are covered in this collection include women's education, women's employment, fashion, World War II, England, musicians, and United States history. Despite the range of material type and subject, not all areas of Elizabeth Durham and her family's lives are covered in depth. The Durham family papers are scant in detail, consisting largely of clippings and programs from functions. John Wyckoff Durham is perhaps the best represented by the inclusion of correspondence, a journal, and a catalog of his music library. Correspondence between John and Ruth along with Ruth's will is included in the Ruth Hulshizer Durham file. The journals kept by Elizabeth Durham and John Wyckoff Durham for the most part do not include the writers' personal thoughts and feelings about their lives. Instead, the journals are used to record appointments, poems, and quotations, and as holders for clippings and pressed flowers. The journal of Elizabeth Durham dating from 1948 to circa 1953 is an exception. In that journal, she expresses her feelings about her sister Leila "Tommy" Gladwell, her mother Ruth Hulshizer Durham, her career, and her personal life. The photographs that are included only provide limited information about Elizabeth Durham, since most of them are not labeled with the date or the location. Although the dates can be estimated and some locations can be determined, having that information would have provided more background information about Elizabeth Durham's personal, early life.


4.4 Cubic Feet (11 boxes)

Language of Materials



A longtime resident of New Brunswick, N.J., Elizabeth Wyckoff Durham was a member of the first class to attend the New Jersey College for Women in Rutgers University, graduating in 1922. She devoted the remainder of her professional life serving the alumni of Rutgers, including a long tenure as editor of the Rutgers Alumni Monthly. Her papers span the years 1867 to 2003 and document her life as well as that of her family.

Biographical Sketch of Elizabeth W. Durham

Born on February 14, 1900 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Elizabeth Wyckoff Durham (EWD) grew up in a family dedicated to music. Her father John Wyckoff Durham, born May 11, 1873, was involved with music throughout his life. After studying music abroad, he returned to New Brunswick where he served as an organist for various local and neighboring churches and gave piano lessons. He died on October 11, 1913 at the age of forty-one after a long illness. Elizabeth's mother Ruth Hulshizer Durham was born in Phillipsburg and married John in 1899. A graduate of the Moravian Seminary where she studied to be a concert pianist, Ruth gave piano lessons and while raising her three daughters. After her husband's death, Ruth took over John's position as organist and served in that post for over ten years. In an effort to share her appreciation for music, Ruth donated music materials to the New Jersey College for Women (Douglass College) and to Rutgers College. She continued to venture further into the public sphere by working as an accountant at an aircraft plant in World War I and, after women gained the vote, served as Vice-Chairman of the Middlesex County Republican Committee until 1930. Ruth was a member of the board of directors of the Middlesex Hospital Aid Association until her poor health forced her to stop working. She died on April 10, 1943.

Elizabeth had two younger sisters, Leila, also called "Tommy," and Charlotte. Leila graduated from high school in 1920 and was active during her early life in studying and performing vocal music. She also served as Vice Chairman of the Young Republicans and served on the Second District of the Fourth Ward election board in New Brunswick. Leila appears to have been married to William Kibbe of Highland Park circa 1940, but later appears to have married Leslie Gladwell. She died on November 14, 1958. Charlotte Durham was born on February 26, 1904. She was active in her church and worked alongside her sister Elizabeth in the Rutgers Alumni Association office. She married Daniel Ballard Frazier on October 25, 1941 and died in 1968.

During her senior year at New Brunswick High School, Elizabeth served as the Assistant Editor on the student staff of The Advocate, a monthly literary publication. She graduated from New Brunswick High School in 1917 and entered the first class at the newly opened New Jersey College for Women (later to become Douglass College of Rutgers University). In her first year, she served as class Vice-President and continued to serve in various positions throughout her academic career. As a sophomore, Elizabeth was engaged to Charles Chalmers, who was attending Rutgers College. According to her journal, he dropped out of school and at some point the engagement was broken off. Graduating in the first class of the New Jersey College for Women in 1922, Elizabeth Durham embarked upon a career characterized by dedication to Rutgers University. Her establishment of the Elizabeth Durham Award in Music for graduating music majors with honors from Douglass College reflected her personal interest in music and helping students. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in economics and was vigorously active in alumni work, church work and personal improvement. In 1941 she was designated the Alumnae President for the Class of 1922.

Upon graduation from the New Jersey College for Women, Elizabeth (also known as "Betty" and "Rusty") served as Assistant to the Alumni Director of Rutgers University until 1944. From 1944 to 1963, Ms. Durham served successively as Class Notes Editor, Associate Editor, and Managing Editor for the Rutgers Alumni Monthly (now known as Rutgers Magazine). From 1963 until her retirement in 1967, EWD served as the Associate Coordinator of Bicentennial Observances (1966) for Rutgers University.

Concurrent to her work with the Rutgers' Alumni Office, Elizabeth was also a member of the American Alumni Council (AAC) and served as the AAC annual yearbook editor from 1942 to 1950. She was also inducted as an honorary member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), which succeeded the AAC.

In 1941, Elizabeth Durham was awarded the first Margaret T. Corwin Award for Alumnae Service from Douglass College, the first of many awards and citations that she received for her services to the college and university. She received the Alumni Service Award in 1953 and was honored by a Rutgers University Tribute in 1967. In 1986, Elizabeth became the first woman awarded the Loyal Son of Rutgers University Award and thus the word "Daughter" was appended to the title.

In addition to her alumni activities, Durham was active in both community and church activities. Elizabeth held the position of treasurer and president of the New Brunswick chapter of the English Speaking Union. In addition to this position, Elizabeth also served as archivist/historiographer and chairman of the Bicentennial Committee for the Christ Church (Episcopal) of New Brunswick.

Around the 1970s until 1991, Elizabeth moved out of her family home at 144 Welton Street and lived in an apartment complex at 11 Raritan Avenue in Highland Park until moving into the Parker Memorial Home, a nursing home, in New Brunswick. In her later years, Elizabeth remained active, regularly composing essays for the New Brunswick chapter of the Travelers Club and contributing articles to the Parker Memorial Home newsletter.

She died on January 27, 2003 in New Brunswick, New Jersey at the age of 102 years.

Arrangement Note

It was not possible to preserve the original order of the collection, as items of varying subjects and time periods were intermingled. Files have been arranged in a roughly chronological order and materials within the subject files have been arranged by date from earliest to latest with undated items appearing first.

The Elizabeth W. Durham Papers are arranged into the following seven series:

  1. I. Personal Correspondence and Miscellany, 1974-1960; 1986-2003
  2. II. Journals, 1895-1985
  3. III. Awards and Honors, 1922-1986
  4. IV. Activities Files, 1922-1996
  5. V. Photographs, circa 1870-1990
  6. VI. Family Papers, 1899-1958
  7. VII. Oversize Material
Guide to the Elizabeth W. Durham Papers, 1867-2003 R-MC 079
Edited Full Draft
Brita Sauer and Amanda Winter
March 2005
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Revision Statements

  • April 2007: Changes made to encoding by Thomas J. Frusciano and Caryn Radick

Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository

Rutgers University Libraries
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
169 College Avenue
New Brunswick NJ 08901-1163
732-932-7012 (Fax)