Born in Proskurov, Russian Empire (now Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine) as Chaya Kaufman to Jewish parents Ethel Appel Kaufman and Joseph Kaufman. The family emigrated to the United States in 1901. She met her future husband when she was a student at Ferrer Modern School in New York City. He was then a teacher at the school, but resigned his post to marry Ariel, who was 15 at the time of the wedding, on October 31, 1913.
The Durants were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968 for Rousseau and Revolution, the tenth volume of The Story of Civilization. In 1977 they were presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Gerald Ford, and Ariel was named "Woman of the Year" by the city of Los Angeles.
The Durants wrote a 420-page joint autobiography, published by Simon & Schuster in 1978 (A Dual Autobiography; later ISBN 0-671-23078-6).
- Mitgang, Herbert (October 28, 1981). "Ariel Durant, Historian is Dead; Wrote The Story of Civilization". The New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
- Hyman, E Paula; Moore, Deborah Dash, eds. (1997), "Durant, Ariel", Jewish Women in America, Taylor & Francis, p. 343.