In 2000, the Center for Documentary Studies launched Youth Document Durham, an outreach initiative that united adolescents from all walks of life in the Durham community through documentary. Providing students with documentary equipment, instruction, and inspiration, the summer program aimed to give students the opportunity to document and interpret their surroundings in a new way.

The program was a great success, with several years of Youth Document Durham culminating in a five-year retrospective photography book and exhibit in 2006, as well as becoming the impetus for a new youth radio initiative from CDS in 2003.

For about five years, the Youth Noise Network—a youth radio project based at CDS— continued the work of Youth Document Durham by giving a diverse group of Durham teenagers the opportunity to produce a weekly radio show with segments about issues important to them in their neighborhoods as teenagers. The short radio documentaries aired weekly on WXDU 88.7, Duke University’s local radio station.

Extensive materials from the Youth Document Durham and the Youth Noise Network—both physical and digital—have been archived in the Archive of Documentary Arts, housed at Duke’s Rubenstein Library. Many of these materials are available to the public through an appointment with a reference archivist.