On four fall days back in 2002, volunteers with Preservation Durham captured over 250 photographs of structures in one of the city's oldest African American neighborhoods, East End.  Those were still the days of our digital infancy, when camera shops and drugstores would load images from your film onto a CD, and that's exactly where more recent volunteers found these photos in the Open Durham parent organization's records.

A collage of the 2002 Preservation Durham survey photographs - to be uploaded by volunteers like you!


Two decades after they were taken, there are three reasons we've decided to turn the uploading of these images into an open call for your participation and a tour on the community archive.  First, particularly for a neighborhood of its importance and longevity, Open Durham had regrettably little content about East End.  Second, the streets featured here are at the heart of difficult but crucial contemporary conversations about gentrification and displacement, conversations these photographs may help deepen with historical context. Finally, while the brief pages participants will create can only initially scratch the surface of East End history, we know from experience that planting even these incomplete seeds generates opportunities for people to connect, correct, expand, and engage.

Eventually, this tour will give Durhamites a chance to stroll down Dowd and other East End streets as they appeared 20 years ago.  It will never be a substitute for the East End neighborhood page - which handles the long history of the community in greater depth and includes several dozen pages for the area that predate this project  - but we do intend it to spur the much-needed expansion of that content.

Have 10 minutes to help out?  Follow the instructions included below the buildings already added by others, and help us upload this historical inventory!

How You Can Help - Volunteer Instructions

  1. Email opendurham@preservationdurham.org with "EAST END" in the subject line to participate, check email for photo in reply. Download the photo to your computer - it should have a file name consisting of the abbreviated address and date it was taken by a Preservation Durham volunteer.
  2. Log in to Open Durham (create account if new user, follow instructions in email).
  3. In another window, type the prefix of your photo's file name into the search bar on the County Tax Admin website (Ex: If your file is called 900EGeer11012002.jpg, you type in "900 E Geer" and it should pull up the correct property.).  You need two pieces of information from here:
    a. The location of the property - its position on the block, any immediately adjacent cross streets, etc (*note - the address location should still be the same even if the photographed structure no longer appears.).
    b. The 'Year Built' under the 'Building Details' section.
  4. Back in the Open Durham window, click on 'Contribute Content' in the top right of your browser, and select 'Building' to begin adding your page.
  5. The 'Title' of your page should be the address of the building in the photograph, which you already learned from the file name and used once to obtain property info ("900 East Geer Street" in the same hypothetical example we've been using).
  6. Next, click 'Add Media' in the 'Featured Image' section. This is the first of two times you'll use the image file you've been sent. You can either drag-and-drop the image to the 'Choose File' bar or click that bar and select the image from its location on your device. Once you input a simple 'Alternative Text' description, click 'Save and Insert'. A small thumbnail of your image should now appear in the 'Featured Image' section.
  7. Enter address data under the 'Address' tab. Here the number and street name are separate fields (Ex: 900 would go next to 'Street Number' and East Geer Street next to 'Street Name').  If the building you're working on is on a corner, you should also complete the field for 'Cross Street'.  For both 'Street Name' and 'Cross Street' fields, it should suggest names of streets already in the system.  Please double-check spelling; if you've entered it correctly, the auto-location feature should place your page on our map accurately.
  8. You only need to enter info in the first two fields under the 'Categorization' tab.
    a. Select 'Residential' under 'Building Type'
    b. Select 'East End' under 'Neighborhood'
  9. Under the 'Building Information' tab, enter the 'Year Built' as indicated on the County Tax records you pulled above.
  10. In the main 'Body' field, click the 'Insert from Media Library' icon in the toolbar. Since you've already uploaded it as your 'Featured Image', the image should be waiting for you at the top of our database. Select the image and press 'Insert selected'.
  11. When the image appears in the body section, click the 'Edit media' button on it, select the 'Caption' option, and 'Save'. You should now see an italicized caption line below your image, where you'll add the appropriate version of the following sentence: Photograph by Preservation Durham survey volunteers, MM.DD.YYYY (input date from file name).
  12. Now click below the caption in the 'Body' field, and add your version of this sentence to the text: According to county property records, this house was constructed in YYYY (input date from County Tax records).
  13. DOUBLE-CHECK your work, and hit 'Save & Request Review'. Our volunteer editors will ensure your page is published promptly!


Congratulations and thank you! You've helped improve publicly accessible documentation of one of Durham's historically Black neighborhoods!

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