Duke library houses letter penned by Alexander Hamilton

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"Hamilton" the musical is the hottest ticket in town at the Durham Performing Arts Center, but you can truly touch the past when you visit Duke University's Rubenstein Library.

"Hamilton" the musical is the hottest ticket in town at the Durham Performing Arts Center, but you can truly touch the past when you visit Duke University's Rubenstein Library.


Letters penned and signed by Alexander Hamilton and his political rival Aaron Burr, dating back to 1791, are tucked away in the archives.

"Your obedient servant, Alexander Hamilton," Dr. Trudi Abel, an archivist at Duke, read aloud from the bottom of one of the letters in the library's holdings.

The line so happens to be the name of one of the show tunes in the Tony-award winning musical playing at DPAC through Dec. 2.

"A lot of the students are fascinated by Hamilton the musical," said Noah Pickus, Assoc. Provost.

Students were so fascinated in the Broadway show's early days that in 2016, many jumped at the chance to spend their spring break on campus, and take a one-week course for no credit or grade that would allow them to turn history into their own piece of art.

"They would have to look at the original sources, read the debates about Hamilton, and then write their own songs," said Pickus.

Pickus and Abel said while the musical gets some historical facts wrong, it helps inspire people to research the real historical figures for themselves.

"Hamilton is often seen in the musical as this great young immigrant striver, but was seen at the time as very much an elitist," said Pickus.

"This musical gets people excited about history, but what I'd love for people to take note of is there are definitely two sides to the story," Abel said.

Anyone can visit the archives at the Rubenstein Library and see the Hamilton letters.

You just need to bring a photo ID.
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