Calvin Durfee was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on October 6, 1797, the son of John Durfee and Mary Peck. He had one sister, Mary Ann (b. 1810), who married Samuel Lashier of Union, New York. Durfee graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1825, and was ordained in Hunter, New York, on April 21, 1828; he then became the minister of a local church. From 1836-1851, Durfee lived in South Dedham, Massachusetts, and from 1851-1855 he lived in Brooklyn, Ohio. After returning to Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1855, Durfee became a financial agent for his alma mater and authored two texts on the college: History of Williams College (1860) and Williams Biographical Annals (1871). He married Maria Beckwith in 1828 and, after her death, Sarah Tappan (m. 1831). He had at least one son, Charles S. Durfee, who became a Presbyterian minister. Reverend Calvin Durfee died on November 21, 1879.