Historical scrapbooks donated to Durham Public Library

Historical scrapbooks donated to Durham Public Library

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DURHAM — Recording the history of a town takes a certain amount of dedication; dedication that a select few of Durham residents have in spades. 

On Friday, Nov. 8, members of the Julia C. Bryant Memorial Music Fund and the Durham Cooperative Nursery School presented two handmade scrapbooks to the Durham Public Library detailing the history of the school and teacher Julia Bryant. 

“The parents had to participate in the school. They had to come in and be the teachers, they had to clean the school, they had to help build the equipment and all that and it was a great introduction to the community for the parents,” said Lainy Melvin who used to be director and teacher at the co-op. 

The cooperative school opened in the fall of 1956 and closed it’s doors in 2017. 

“It’s had a different little history that’s kind of a part of the local lore,” said Melvin. 

Melvin said that it took her about five weeks to complete the scrapbook on the nursery school. Each book was filled news clippings, photographs and handwritten notes that paint a detailed picture of Durham’s past. 

Helen Pearce, chair of the Julia C. Bryant Memorial Music Fund, wanted to dedicate a scrapbook to the memory of cooperative teacher Julia C. Bryant because of her impact on the community. 

“She was one of a kind,” Pearce said. “People should know. I think that it’s interesting and a lot of people went to the co-op kindergarten and nursery school so maybe they can share with their kids.” 

The co-op lost Bryant in 1967 after she was found murdered in her home. 

Two student’s of Bryant’s, Katy Forline and Lynn Johnson also shared Pearce’s sentiment. 

“She really integrated nature into the classroom. I remember her bringing weird things in like a caterpillar on a stick and the class had a pet opossum,” said Forline. “And it was great.” 

Library Director Christine Michaud plans on adding the scrapbooks to the library’s local history room, creating an even more detailed record of the life of the town. 

“This is wonderful,” she said. “The Durham Co-op Nursery School was such a big part of the childhood of more than one generation of kids growing up here, so it really is an important part of the history of the second half of the twentieth century and into the twenty first.” 

Twitter: @everett_bishop