The oldest structure built on the northwest corner of Erwin and Trent drives, the George Hackney designed dormitory for nursing opens. In 1952, a new nursing dormitory and teaching facility was built and named “Hanes House”. Coincidentally — our building became known as the “Hanes Annex”. By the mid 1970’s, Hanes Annex served undergraduates at Duke and by 1980, it was comprised entirely of freshman as part of a cluster of buildings known as “North Campus”. In 1994 the Hanes Annex was closed and stood vacant for 7 years.


The Franklin Humanities Institute (named after Dr. John Hope Franklin), was co-founded by Cathy Davidson, vice-provost for Interdisciplinary studies at Duke.  Cathy and professors Karla Holloway (Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences) and Bruce Kuniholm (vice-provost of International Affairs) worked together with the administration and members of the university community to plan a large center to honor Dr. John Hope Franklin.


Duke University renovates the old dormitory adding a striking 2-story glass facade; opening the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies in honor of noted historian, intellectual leader, lifelong civil rights activists and professor emeritus at Duke. The center, as well as the Franklin Humanities Institute and the Center for International Studies located within, was home to 15 programs in the humanities, arts and social sciences. With a focus on using technology in teaching and learning, the Franklin Center flourished with seminars, conferences, gallery exhibits, and public lectures


Professor Gil Merkx was hired as vice-provost for International Affairs at Duke and succeeded Bruce Kuniholm as the next executive director of the Center for International Studies.  In 2003 professor Srinivas Aravamudan became the first faculty chair of the Franklin Humanities Institute. (FHI)  In 2007, the program in African and African-American Studies received departmental status and moved from the center to the Friedl building on east campus.  The same year, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies moved into the Franklin Center.  The following year (2008), professor Gil Merkx stepped down as VPIA and continued to serve as executive director of DUCIS and International Area Studies.


Our namesake, John Hope Franklin, passed away on March 25 at the age of 94.  His passing was felt around the world and prompted immediate reflections on his life’s work.  On June 11, “A Celebration of the Lives of John Hope and Aurelia Whittington Franklin” was held in Duke Chapel.  Former president Bill Clinton and civil rights activist Vernon Jordan gave featured remarks alongside numerous faculty, family, and friends.  The same year, professor Ian Baucom became chair of the Franklin Humanities Institute while the former chair, Srinivas Aravamudan, became Dean of the Humanities at Duke.


The Franklin Center reorganized with the exit of the Franklin Humanities Institute and the entry of the department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. In addition to being the new home for a large, international department, the Franklin Center welcomed professor Mark Anthony Neal and began production on the weekly webcast, “Left of Black,” furthering it’s roots in interdisciplinarity with special emphasis on the African American experience.  In 2014, the university began a year-long centenary celebration of Dr. Franklin’s life with public lectures, performances, symposiums, and art. In 2015 professor Giovanni Zanalda was appointed as the new director of DUCIGS and International Area Studies. In 2022, DUCIGS was disbanded but the centers and initiatives remain within the John Hope Franklin Center as separate entities.

The physical building oh the John Hope Franklin Center, a grid of windows on the front