Cora Murray Duke

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Portrait photograph of Cora Murray Duke, taken by Rufus W. Holsinger in 1915. Reproduced from Jefferson's University.

Cora Murray Duke (born Cora Brown Murray) was a Black faculty member of Jefferson School who taught there for 52 years in total. Her portrait photograph forms a part of the Holsinger Studio Collection.


Duke was born in 1877. She was listed on the Voters Roll Second Ward for Charlottesville in 1904. In the 1914-1915 Charlottesville City Directory, she was listed as a teacher at Jefferson School who lived at 313 Sixth Street SW. On January 24, 1915, her portrait photograph was taken by Rufus W. Holsinger, with this picture later forming a part of the Holsinger Studio Collection.[1] In the 1922-1923 Charlottesville City Directory, she was once again listed as a teacher at Jefferson School.

On July 26, 1922, Duke married George Robert Duke in Charlottesville at the age of 45. In a 1924 issue of the Daily Progress, she was listed as the musical director of Jefferson School and was given special thanks for the success of the Juilee Concert at the Jefferson Theater (the proceeds from which were used to furnish beds in the colored wards of the UVA Hospital). In 1938, Duke wrote an article entitled “Charlottesville Has Club Spirit” for the New Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Virginia), in which she celebrated the success of the city’s Taylor Art and Literary Circle organization in advancing the literary skills of all the community’s female inhabitants.

Duke was listed as the principal of Old Jefferson High School in the 1942 Charlottesville City Directory. On September 16, 1946, she married the teacher Martin Luther Kenney in Staunton, Virginia, at the age of 66. In 1947, Duke retired from the position of principal at Old Jefferson High School and was made principal emeritus; she had previously served as principal for the Jefferson Elementary and Primary Schools as well. In 1957, she was honored by the Charlottesville Players Guild in a testimonial service for the great services she had rendered to her school, church, and community throughout the last decades.

Duke died on November 13, 1970 at the UVA Hospital.


  1. Web. Murray, Cora, Jefferson's University, 02/25/2022