Geographically the county is of two halves and three rivers. The western half is hilly, running up into the Pennines, the eastern half flat with a harsh and somewhat unattractive coastline. It has always been mining country, with iron and lead in the hills and coal in the coastal plain. The northern boundary, dividing it from Northumberland, is the river Tyne and its tributary the Derwent; the southern is the Tees, flowing through Barnard Castle and separating the county from Westmorland and Yorkshire; through the middle flows the Wear, from Bishop Auckland to Durham, and on through Chester-le-Street to Sunderland.
In Roman times the area formed part of the territory of the Brigantes. After the Saxon occupation, it was part of Bernicia, the northern half of the great kingdom of Northumbria. The county owed its distinctiveness and pre-eminence largely to one man, St Cuthbert. Camden noted in the 16th cent. that the shire was often referred to as the Land of St Cuthbert or his patrimony. Cuthbert died in 687 on the Farne Islands and was first buried on Holy Island or Lindisfarne, of which he had been bishop. In 875 the monks were forced by Viking raids to abandon the place and, taking Cuthbert's coffin with them, established themselves at Chester-le-Street, which in turn became a bishopric. In 995, in the face of further raids, they fled once more, taking the remains first to Ripon, then to Durham, where it has remained. There it attracted the great wealth on which the power of the later bishops depended. The name—Dun-holm, the island on the hill—reflected the nature of the place, a rocky promontory, almost completely surrounded by a loop of the river Wear, and offering an ideal defensive position.
The region was not included in the Domesday survey and offered fierce resistance to the Norman Conquest. When finally it was subdued, the bishop was given palatinate powers, partly to deal with the local population, partly to resist Scottish incursions. The castle at Durham was begun by William in 1072, blocking the neck of the peninsula: the great cathedral, replacing an earlier 10th-cent. one, was started in 1093.
The palatinate powers exercised by the bishops were formidable. They included full ownership of land; the right to levy taxes; the power to raise troops; full jurisdiction, including capital offences, together with the power of pardon; the claim on property of traitors and outlaws. Such sweeping powers led to repeated clashes. Anthony Bek, one of the most powerful of the ‘prince-bishops’, was at odds with Edward I over military obligations against the Scots and with the archbishop of York over ecclesiastical jurisdiction. But by an Act of 1536 in the reign of Henry VIII, the legal powers were removed, and the remaining palatinate privileges were suppressed in 1836 during the episcopate of van Mildert.
Although the coal measures had been worked since the 13th cent., Durham remained thinly populated. Some of the market towns and ports had a local prosperity but none, with the exception of Durham, was given representation in Parliament. Defoe visited the county in the 1720s and was not greatly impressed: Darlington had ‘nothing remarkable but dirt’, and Chester-le-Street was ‘an old dirty, thorough-fare town’. At the first census in 1801, the population was still only 149,000. But the industrial, mining, and shipbuilding developments of the 19th cent. acted as a magnet, and by 1891 the county had well over 1 million people. Though 21st county in size, it was 7th in population. Darlington had grown from a town of 5,000 to 36,000; Gateshead from 8,000 to 85,000; Hartlepool from 1,000 to 15,000; South Shields from 8,000 to 97,000; Stockton from 4,000 to 51,000; and Sunderland, which established itself as a major industrial centre of shipbuilding, pottery, and glass, from 12,000 to 156,000.
The need to find cheaper ways of carrying coal made Durham the birthplace of railways. Well before the 19th cent., the county was networked with rail tracks, usually using wooden rails and horses. The Causey Arch, near Stanley, built by the ‘grand alliance’ of coal-owners in 1727 to carry their plate-way over a deep ravine, has a claim to be the first railway viaduct. The Stockton and Darlington railway, laid out by George Stephenson, which opened in 1825 was the first to convey public freight, with passengers an afterthought. Timothy Hackworth's locomotive works at Shildon opened in 1833 and Stephenson's Locomotion No. 1 is preserved at Darlington. The Brandling Junction Railway between Sunderland and Gateshead opened in 1839 and the main NER line from Darlington to Gateshead via Penshaw and Washington was opened in 1844, with a branch to Durham.
Nineteenth-cent. prosperity was not maintained and the collapse of shipbuilding, mining, and the steel industry led to massive unemployment. The industrial base of the county has diversified, with chemicals at Billingham, car manufacture at Sunderland, and light industry in the Team valley south of Newcastle. In the 1990s the new universities of Northumbria and Sunderland joined the 19th-cent. establishments of Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne.
The county lost areas in the north to Tyne and Wear and in the south-east to Cleveland under the Local Government Act of 1972. In the local government reorganization after the Banham Commission report of 1994, Durham continued as a county, but with unitary authority status given to Darlington, Gateshead, Hartlepool, South Tyneside, Stockton, and Sunderland.
J. A. Cannon
DURHAM , city in North Carolina, U.S. Jewish communal life formed in the late 1870s as the agrarian village grew into a New South industrial town. The Jewish population, with neighboring Chapel Hill, rose from 40 in 1880 to 305 in 1910. As the region evolved into a Sunbelt academic, research, and retirement center, the Jewish population reached 5,000 in 2005.
In 1874 the first permanent Jewish settlers, Polish-born brothers Abe and Jacob Goldstein, opened a general store, which served as a way station for peddlers. By 1880, ten more Jewish merchants, all of German origin, had arrived from Virginia to establish dry-goods stores. In the early 1880s tobacco magnate James B. Duke contracted with a young Ukrainian immigrant, Moses Gladstein, to bring more than a hundred East European proletarians from New York to roll cigarettes in his factory. These Jewish rollers formed a chapter of the Cigarmaker's Progressive Union and later an assembly of the Knights of Labor. In 1884 Duke automated the factory and dismissed the Jewish workers. Most returned north although several, including Gladstein, opened Durham stores.
Immigrant peddlers, artisans, and storekeepers, mostly of Latvian-Lithuanian origin, created a viable community. Durham was a typical New South mill and market town. Jews provided mercantile services to workers, farmers, and industrialists. Durham's appeal was enhanced by the educational opportunities of Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jewish faculty began establishing themselves in the 1930s. They included European émigré scholars, notably Polish law professor Raphael *Lemkin, author of the Genocide Convention. In 1943 Duke became the first southern campus to institute Jewish studies with the hiring of Judah *Goldin.
East European Jews resided first in a ghetto near the African-American "Bottoms" and then in a middle-class neighborhood near Main Street. The community supported chapters of B'nai B'rith, Hadassah, Mizrachi, and the Zionist Organization of America. In 1951, E.J. Evans, running on a progressive platform with black support, was elected to the first of six terms as Durham mayor, and in 1991 Kenneth Broun was elected Chapel Hill mayor.
Religious services were held as early as 1878, and a burial society formed in 1884, under Myer Summerfield, a Prussian-born Orthodox merchant. Two years later the Durham Hebrew Congregation organized, and by 1892, when it received a state charter, it had evolved into an East European shul. After meeting in rented halls, the congregation purchased a wooden house in 1905. In 1921 it built a brick, downtown cathedral-style synagogue, renaming itself Beth El. Evolving into a Conservative congregation, it dedicated a new suburban synagogue-center in 1957. Beth El also housed an Orthodox Kehilla.
In 1961 Judea Reform Congregation formed, and it built a temple in 1971. Growing into the area's largest congregation with 550 members, it built a new campus in 2003. The Lubavitcher movement established Chabad houses in Durham and Chapel Hill. In 1996 the Chapel Hill Kehillah, a Reconstructionist congregation, organized, and it purchased a synagogue five years later. The area also accommodated a Triangle Congregation for Humanistic Judaism. The communities are united by the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation and Community Council, founded in 1977, which supports Jewish Family Services, and Midrasha, a supplemental high school. In 1995 the Lerner Jewish Community Day School opened with a religiously pluralistic program. Both Duke and unc erected new Hillel centers and expanded their Jewish studies programs.
Durham-Chapel Hill's growth reflects the national Jewish population movement toward the Sunbelt. With two major universities and the creation of the Research Triangle Park in 1959 it also reflects the Jewish demographic movement into the professions. Scientists Martin *Rodbell and Gertrude *Elion won Nobel Prizes at the Park. The moderate climate and college-town ambience also draw retirees.
E. Evans, The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South (2005); L. Rogoff, Homelands: Southern Jewish Identity in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina (2001).
[Leonard W. Rogoff (2nd ed.)]