The municipal clerk, along with the tax collector, is the oldest of public servants. The early keepers of the archives were often called "remembrancers", and before writing came into use, their memory was the public record. The Office of Clerk can be traced back to the year 1272 A.D. The title as we know it is derived from the middle ages. A "Clerk" was any member of a religious order, a "cleric" or "clergyman." Since, for all practical purposes, the scholarship of the Middle Ages was limited to the clergy, the name "clerk" came to be synonymous with "scholar."
When the early colonists came to America, they set up forms of local government to which they had been accustomed, and the office of clerk was one of the first established. The colony at Plymouth appointed a person to act as a recorder.
Over the years, municipal clerks have become the hub of government, the direct link between the inhabitants of their towns and their government. The clerk is the historian of the community.
How can one office in municipal service have so many contacts? It serves the mayor, the city council, city manager, all administrative departments and citizens without exception. All call on the clerk, daily, for some service or information. The work is not spectacular, but it demands versatility, alertness, accuracy, and patience.
As stated in the North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 153A-111: "The board of commissioners shall appoint or designate a clerk to the board. The board may designate the register of deeds or any other county officer or employee as clerk. The clerk shall perform any dutues that may be required by law or the board of commissioner. The clerk shall serve at the pleasure of the board."
The Durham County Code of Ordinances Chapter 18, Article 1, Section 18-6(a) (contained in the Durham County, N.C. Code of Ordinances Book) states "As provided for by the General Statutes, the county manager, county attorney, and the clerk to the board shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the board."