Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore: A Definitive Biography

By Blake Hill-Saya

with foreword by Rep. G. K. Butterfield

and afterword by C. Eileen Watts Welch 


Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore (1863-1923) was Durham, North Carolina’s first African American physician, as well as an important business and community leader. He was instrumental in the establishment of Durham's Black Wall Street at the turn of the twentieth century. He is also the founder of Durham Colored Library, Inc. (1913). DCL, Inc. has completed the initiative we began in 2013 of developing a well-researched biography of Moore’s life and contributions to Durham and the American experience. It is now available from the prestigious University of North Carolina Press and at a bookstore near you. 

In 1863, one month after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Aaron McDuffie Moore was born to Anna Eliza Spaulding Moore and Israel Moore in Columbus County, North Carolina. He was the ninth of ten children and part of a third generation of free, yeoman farmers who came from Negro, Caucasian, and Lumbee Indian heritage. Over the course of his life, Moore was a physician, an entrepreneur, and a champion of education. His advocacy for rural schools for Black children enabled scores of families to rise from poverty. In fact, due to his organizing efforts and leadership, North Carolina opened more Rosenwald Schools than any other state, and there were more of these schools in Durham County than in any of North Carolina's other 99 counties. 


Dr. Moore graduated in the second class of Black physicians to commence from Shaw University’s Leonard School of Medicine and moved to Durham in 1888 to begin the city’s first Black medical practice. Moore went on to found or partner in more than ten businesses, organizations, and institutions, including: Durham Colored Library, Inc. (the second library in the state to serve the Negro population), Bull Durham Drug Company, NC Mutual Life Insurance Company, Lincoln Hospital (the first secular hospital in the state that would serve the Negro population) and Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing, Mechanics and Farmers Bank, North Carolina College for Negroes (now NCCU), the Volkemenia and Schubert and Shakespeare Clubs, Durham Knitting/Textile Mill, and Mutual Savings & Loan Association.

The DCL, Inc. board believes it is vital to bring Dr. Moore’s inspirational story into our community’s current conversation and to preserve knowledge of his unique journey for generations to come. We are immensely proud to share this readable and historically thorough work with you. Our promotions, book tour appearances and speaking engagements are ongoing, and our Author and President are available to your organizations for events and book signings, virtual or otherwise. 

Please see our home page for donations and signed copies.