Treasures of the Durham County Library’s North Carolina Collection: Parker family

Parker family papers document everyday life in northern Durham County
Jul. 05, 2014 @ 09:58 AM

The Parker Family Papers include financial records, letters and other materials that document the everyday life of the Parker family of northern Durham County.

Hubert Parker was born September 1884 in Mangum Township, Orange County, and Nancy Langford Parker was born in March 1899 in Durham County. The two were married in December 1916 in the midst of World War I. They were farmers in Rougemont until the farm was repossessed during hard times. 

Hubert had four daughters from a previous marriage, and Hubert and Nancy had nine children. After her husband died in 1936, Nancy worked hard to take care of her family by cleaning and cooking for others, and she also had help from her family. For a brief period during the Depression the family reluctantly resorted to receiving federal assistance. Nancy died in 1965.

Hubert and Nancy Parker’s granddaughter, Rev. Joyce Daye Clayton, who donated the papers, documented her family’s history in “How We Made It Over…The Hubert and Nancy Parker Family Story.” Rev. Clayton’s 124-page work, depicting a proud and loving family over several generations, serves as a guide to the people and events featured in the papers. Here is an excerpt Rev. Clayton wrote about her grandmother Nancy, whom she called Mama:

“Mama was a stern disciplinarian, although I do not recall her ever spanking me. She had rules that you had to observe in her house and I learned to abide by them. You were not to touch her whatnots or any of her possessions unless she gave you permission. She expected visitors to control their children or she would speak to them herself. It was the stern look on her face that put us all into our places. She did not have to raise her voice, simply look at us and we would surrender it all.”

To learn more about the contents of the Parker Family Papers, go to