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Guide to the Doris Duke Oral History Collection, 1998-2009

Abstract

Established in September 2003, the Doris Duke Oral History Collection documents the testimonies of staff at Duke Farms, at Shangri La, and of close, personal friends of Doris Duke. At present, there are 35 interviews available for research.

The oral histories covers the period 1998 to 2009, and is divided into 4 series: Duke Farms, Shangri La, Newport Restoration Foundation, and Administrative Records. Digital copies of the interviews and transcripts are available in the Rubenstein Library reading room. This collection is currently restricted and requires prior approval by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to use.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Title
Doris Duke Oral History collection 1998-2009
Language of Material
English
Extent
8.7 Linear Feet, 400 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

Established in September 2003, the Doris Duke Oral History Collection is part of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives which were donated to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The collection documents the testimonies of staff at Duke Farms, at Shangri La, and of close, personal friends of Doris Duke. At present, there are 35 interviews available for research.

The oral histories covers the period 1998 to 2009, and is divided into 4 series: Duke Farms, Shangri La, Newport Restoration Foundation, and Administrative Records. In most cases each interview has several components including the original recording of the interview on cassette tape, transcripts (which includes release form, correspondence, and verbatim, edited and final transcripts), and an access copy of both the transcript and interview. For a majority of the interviews, digital copies of the interviews and transcripts are available in the Rubenstein Library reading room.

This collection is currently restricted and requires prior approval by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to use.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is restricted.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

This series consists of interviews of those individuals who either worked for, had a relative that worked for, or were friends with Doris Duke at the Duke Farms estate from the 1930s to the time of her death in 1993. The topics of the interviews vary, but in general provide insight to living and working on the estate, and in particular what it was like working for Miss Duke. The interviews are organized by oral history number.

RESTRICTED: Access to this series is restricted and requires prior written approval from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to use.

Interview dates: 2003 Dec 23, 2003 Dec 27

In 1964, Mr. Dingwall accepted an invitation from the Duke organization to become Assistant Grower of the fledgling Duke Gardens. Within a short time, he was promoted successfully to Chief Grower and Managing Director. Mr. Dingwall discusses his experiences as Managing Director, working with Miss Duke, and a variety of other individuals. He also discusses the challenges involved with maintaining the display gardens.

Transcripts
Box 1
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-3
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2005 Feb 16

Diane Dods served as Stable Manager at Duke Farms from 1988–1990 and then from 1992–2004. Ms. Dods describes the status of the estate’s stables upon her arrival, as well as her responsibilities as Stable Manager, which included the care of Miss Duke’s horses, as well as her two camels, Princess and Baby. She also discusses Miss Duke’s interest in the animals and her concerns regarding their care.

Transcripts
Box 2
Original recording, cassette tape 1
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2004 Feb 2

By the early 1950s, Jerome Eaton had joined the Horticultural Society of New York and became a Board Member. It was through his association with the HSNY that he first came into contact with Doris Duke. Mr. Eaton assisted Miss Duke as she sought to transform greenhouses on her Somerville estate into more useful gardens. Mr. Eaton speaks about his relationship with Miss Duke and his efforts to construct the Duke Gardens.

Transcripts
Box 2
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-2
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2006 Mar 14

Michael Gesing discusses his accomplishments as Farm Manager at Duke Farms from September 1983 through June 1985. During his tenure as Farm Manager, Mr. Gesing developed a successful working relationship with Doris Duke. In the interview, he discusses both her goals for the farming operations and her management style. He also speaks of her views on organic farming and her concern with the treatment of the animals.

Transcripts
Box 2
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-2
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2003 Nov 21

Mr. LaFever discusses his father's employment at Duke Farms for nineteen years. He details the challenges his father faced developing cattle ranching at Duke Farms and his relationship with Miss Duke. Mr. LaFever’s father worked with Miss Duke to develop a nationally known herd of pedigreed Jersey cattle.

Transcripts
Box 3
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-2
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2005 Jan 25

Joseph Palumbo worked as a herdsman at Duke Farms from 1972–1974. After joining the Duke Farms operations, Mr. Palumbo was responsible for managing the herd stabled at the Ohlgart Farm. He details his various activities, as well as interactions with others at the Farms.

Transcripts
Box 3
Transcripts
Box 4
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-2
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2005 Feb 5

Audrey Pitcher lived at Duke Farms as a child and was the daughter of Harold Shaffer, Miss Duke’s long-time electrician. She describes what it was like being a “Duke Farms child” attending the local public school. She also discusses the responsibilities of her extended family, her grandfather and uncles, who also worked on the estate. She then details her father’s work both in Somerville and Rough Point as well as his relationship with Miss Duke.

Transcripts
Box 4
Original recording, cassette tape 1
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2004 Mar 5

Mr. Reed worked in Miss Duke's Business Office. He discusses the business operations of Miss Duke and speaks about people he interacted with, such as Harry Cox, Donald Searles, and Irwin Bloom. He also provides insights into the different organizational changes that occurred as Miss Duke shifted priorities and office locations.

Transcripts
Box 4
Transcripts
Box 5
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-2
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview dates: 2003 Nov 20, 2003 Dec 18, 2004 Jan 21

In the mid-1950s, Mr. Rimmer was hired by Miss Duke to serve as the Park Manager for Duke Farms (he had met Miss Duke while working for Louis Bromfield). Mr. Rimmer discusses his various positions at Duke Farms and individuals with whom he worked. He discusses at great length the challenges he faced as he implemented Miss Duke’s vision of what would become the Duke Gardens.

Transcripts
Box 5
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-3
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2005 Feb 8

Mr. Scagliotta's father was a successful orchid grower at a world renowned nursery in Bound Brook, a position which brought him into contact with Miss Duke. He details his father’s work and describes his impression of the estate, including one memorable occasion meeting Miss Duke while she tended a floral stand on Route 206.

Transcripts
Box 5
Transcripts
Box 6
Original recording, cassette tape 1
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2003 Nov 14

Caroline Schneider is the spouse of Joseph Schneider, an electrician at Duke Farms in the 1950s. She discusses life on the estate and the interaction she had with Miss Duke.

Transcripts
Box 6
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-2
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview dates: 2003 Oct 16, 2004 Jan 14

Russell Shaffer begins the first part of the interview by providing some background information on his father, Irving Shaffer. The senior Shaffer first came to Duke Farms in the early 20th century as a herdsman and quickly rose to become Assistant Superintendent. Mr. Shaffer continues the interview by discussing certain activities and individuals who were associated with the Farm during his tenure there and reference's Nanaline Duke's dislike for the estate as the reason why construction was never completed. He ends the interview by detailing operations in the greenhouses, such as the improvements made to the new greenhouse in the late 1930s.

Transcripts
Box 6
Transcripts
Box 7
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-3
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview dates: 2004 Jun 9, 2005 Mar 22, 2005 May 20

In 1988, Urwashi Singh and her family visited Duke Farms. Although she only intends to stay briefly, Singh is persuaded by Miss Duke to remain, and she begins working as Residence Manager of the estate’s Main Residence. Ms. Singh details the many tasks she undertook to rehabilitate the Residence and also discusses her numerous interactions with Miss Duke. She concludes the interview by opining on Miss Duke’s character and skills as a manager.

Transcripts
Box 7
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-7
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2004 Aug 24

Mr. Sopko discusses his time working at Duke Gardens. In the late 1950s, Mr. Sopko’s company, Bothers Brothers, was hired to build the various wooden structures in the show gardens Miss Duke was constructing. During the next couple of years, Mr. Sopko worked closely with Eduardo Tirella and others to help develop Duke Gardens. Mr. Sopko concludes the interview by reflecting on his experience and encounters with Miss Duke.

Transcripts
Box 8
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-2
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2004 Sep 1

Mary Stockman discusses how her mother, Julia Kable, came to work for Miss Duke in the 1940s. She discusses the various individuals who comprised Miss Duke’s household staff and references some of the interactions between those staff and Miss Duke. She speaks briefly about her own work in the greenhouses before they were transformed by Miss Duke into the Duke Gardens.

Transcripts
Box 8
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-2
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2005 Jun 1

Phil Strider worked for Miss Duke as her butler in the mid-1980s prior to the arrival of Bernard Lafferty. In this interview, he describes life at both Duke Farms and Rough Point, discussed in detail Miss Duke’s dining and entertaining habits, providing several interesting anecdotes, and also talks about Miss Duke’s daily activities.

Transcripts
Box 8
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-3
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2004 May 14

Edward Zarecki worked along with his father, Emil “Democrat" Zarecki, at Duke Farms in the 1930s and 1940s. He detail his various positions on the estate, from park worker to guard, and discusses various individuals he interacted with, as well as a memorable afternoon caddying for Miss Duke and company, which included the movie actor, Errol Flynn.

Transcripts
Box 9
Original recording, cassette tape 1
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 2006 Mar 15

Margaret Clemens discusses her late husband, Vincent Clemens, and his accomplishments as Farm Manager at Duke Farms from 1978 through 1980. She offers a candid appraisal of the state of the farming operations at the time of their arrival, and opines on Miss Duke’s personality and management style.

Transcripts
Box 9
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 2006 Sep 26

Edwin Crotty discusses his association with Duke Farms and its farming operations from the 1950s through the 1980s. Mr. Crotty discusses the state of the herd when he arrived and remedial action he took to improve herd health and productivity. He also discusses the challenges he faced with trying to improve crop production and Miss Duke's goals and aspirations for farming operations, as well as her management style.

Transcripts
Box 9
Transcripts
Box 10
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 2006 Jul 24

Joyce Endris discusses her late husband, Leroy Endris, and his accomplishments as Farm Manager at Duke Farms from 1961 through 1969. Mrs. Endris offers a candid appraisal of the state of the farming operations at the time of their arrival. In addition, she speaks openly of the challenges her husband faced managing the farming operations and of the reasons for their decision to leave.

Transcripts
Box 11
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 2006 Jun 7

Allen Stockberger discusses his accomplishments as Farm Manager at Duke Farms from April 1980 through June 1981. Mr. Stockberger describes the state of farming operations (both the Jersey cattle herd and crop production) upon his arrival, the improvements he made, and finally Miss Duke's goals for the farming operation and her management style.

Transcripts
Box 12
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 2007 Nov 9

Carlos Amaral worked at Duke Farms beginning in 1982, eventually serving as Maintenance Supervisor for Doris Duke from 1990 until her death in October 1993. Mr. Amaral Amaral describes his early projects and interacting with various key staff at the estate and their respective role and personalities. In the interview, Mr. Amaral describes his contact with Miss Duke during his years at Duke Farms, and comments on her complex personality.

Transcripts
Box 13
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 2009 May 29

Jaimie Blackman is a financial manager, who knew Doris Duke back when he was a professional musician. Mr. Blackman discusses his early contact with Miss Duke in the late 1980s and describes visits to Duke Farms and Rough Point. He also opines on her understanding and appreciation for music.

Transcripts
Box 14
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 2006 May 1

Melford Placilla was the Chief of Security of Duke Farms from 1974 to 1983. In this written statement, he briefly reflects on his time at Duke Farms.

Transcripts
Box 14

Interview date: 2006 Aug 21

Karen Lissakers discusses her family’s association with Louis Bromfield and Malabar Farms. Ms. Lissakers briefly describes the time she witnessed Doris Duke during one of her visits to Malabar and her impressions of Mr. Bromfield during her final encounters with him before his death in March of 1956.

RESTRICTED: There is no release form for this interview and thus copyright has not been secured. As such researchers can use the transcript for background information research only and cannot quote from or otherwise use or cite to the transcript without prior permission from the interviewee.

Transcripts
Box 14
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

This series consists of interviews of individuals who either worked for, had relatives who worked for, or was friends with Doris Duke at the Shangri La estate from the 1930s to the time of her death in 1993. The topics of the interviews vary, but in general provide insight to living and working on the estate, and in particular what it was like knowing Miss Duke. The interviews are organized by oral history number.

RESTRICTED: Access to this series is restricted and requires prior written approval from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to use.

Interview date: 2007 Mar 6

Jinadasa “Jin” De Silva worked as caretaker of Miss Duke’s Shangri La estate from 1979 until her death in 1993. De Silva discusses Miss Duke in detail. He describes what a typical day was like for her at Shangri La and comments on a variety of things, such as her culinary tastes, spiritualism, and attire. He also talks about her entertaining habits, including protocol for estate guests. He concludes the interview by opining on both the joys and responsibilities of working for Miss Duke.

Transcripts
Box 10
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 2007 Mar 8

Nuku Makasiale served as Doris Duke’s personal maid from 1987 until the latter’s death in 1993. She discusses her introduction to Miss Duke, including her hiring and initial responsibilities. Makasiale also describes her initial impressions of both Shangri La and Miss Duke, and details what a typical day was like for her while Miss Duke was in residence at Shangri La. Makasiale concludes the interview by reflecting upon Miss Duke’s personality and management style, and speaking about how much she enjoyed working for Doris Duke.

Transcripts
Box 11
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 2007 Mar 4

Jim Nabors was a Honolulu neighbor and close friend of Doris Duke for a decade or more before her death. In this interview, Mr. Nabors reminisces about his long friendship with Miss Duke. Mr. Nabors also discusses his travels with Miss Duke outside of Hawaii, including their trips to Rough Point, Duke Farms, and elsewhere, and offers insights into Miss Duke’s personality, including her love of animals, interest in the arts, and sense of humor.

Transcripts
Box 12
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 2009 Jan 24

Grace Cohen and Eleanor Freedman are the daughters of Samuel Charlop (1900-1968) who was superintendent for Doris Duke's Hawaiian estate, Shangri La, from 1938 through 1941. They talk about how their father came to work for Miss Duke, the state of construction on the estate at the time, and all aspects of life on the estate. Ms. Cohan and Ms. Freedman also discuss their father's working relationship with Miss Duke and their own limited contact with her. They conclude the interview by recalling the December 9, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and how it resulted in their departure from Shangri La and Hawaii.

Transcripts
Box 12
Transcripts
Box 13
Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview date: 1998 Feb 23

Emma Veary is the daughter of Hanna Veary, who was a close personal friend of Doris Duke. In the interview, Ms. Veary discusses how her mother and Miss Duke met and details their 30 year friendship. She also describes her relationship with Miss Duke and Miss Duke's love of music.

RESTRICTED: There is no release form for this interview and thus copyright has not been secured. As such researchers can use the transcript for background information research only and cannot quote from or otherwise use or cite to the transcript without prior permission from the interviewee.

Access copy, DVD
Box 17

Interview dates: 1998 Jan 20, 1998 Feb 21

Johnny Gomez was a lifelong friend of Doris Duke. He met Miss Duke in 1935 and eventually moved to the Shangri La estate in Hawaii, where held numerous roles including manager of both the Hawaiian and Californian estates. Mr. Gomez lived at Shangri La until his death in 1999. In the inteview Mr. Gomez discusses his relationship with Miss Duke, the continuous improvements to the Shangri La estate, and what daily life was like on the estate.

Transcripts
Box 14
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-2
Box 17

Interview date: 1998 Feb 21

Bella Shockley and Nicene Aspa both worked as at Shangri La during the 1980s, Ms. Shockley first as a cook and then personal maid, and Ms. Aspa as a maid. They both discuss their roles at the estate, what daily life was like, and their interactions with Miss Duke. Finally they reflect upon hearing about Miss Duke's death in 1993.

RESTRICTED: There is no release form for this interview and thus copyright has not been secured. As such researchers can use the transcript for background information research only and cannot quote from or otherwise use or cite to the transcript without prior permission from the interviewee.

Original recording, cassette tape 1
Box 17

This series consists of two interviews. Both interviewees worked for the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) in Newport, RI. Marion Oates Charles was also a close friend of Doris Duke. The topics of the interviews vary, but in general provide insight to living and working for the NRF, Miss Duke's involvement in the foundation, and particular for Ms. Charles, what it was like knowing Miss Duke. The interviews are organized by oral history number.

RESTRICTED: Access to this series is restricted and requires prior written approval from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to use.

Interview date: 2005 Apr 25

Marion Oates Charles, “Oatsie,” discusses her early contact with Doris Duke and the extent of Miss Duke’s social activities in Newport. She explains the history behind the creation of the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF), the role of its Trustees (of which she is one), and why Miss Duke eventually stopped acquiring homes for the NRF.

Transcripts
Box 1
Original recording, cassette tapes 1-2
Box 15
Access copy, DVD
Box 16

Interview date: 2001 Apr 26

Phillip Mellow began working for the Newport Restoration Foundation in 1969. In this interview he discusses his various roles and projects at the NRF and Rough Point, and reflects upon his personal relationship with Doris Duke.

RESTRICTED: There is no release form for this interview and thus copyright has not been secured. As such researchers can use the transcript for background information research only and cannot quote from or otherwise use or cite to the transcript without prior permission from the interviewee.

Transcripts
Box 14

This series consists of background information about the oral history program, which was initiated and implemented by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

RESTRICTED: Access to this series is restricted and requires prior written approval from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to use.

Oral History Project, Audio cassettes transfer project pilot program, 2008
Box 14
Safe Sound information, including statement of work, 2008
Box 14
Oral History Project, Audio cassettes transfer, 2008
Box 14

Subject Headings

Related Material

  • Doris Duke Papers on the Duke Farms Residence, 1859-2004 and undated (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library)
  • Doris Duke Papers on the Shangri La Residence, 1932-2003 (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library)
  • Newport Restoration Foundation Records, 1968-1999 (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library)

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Doris Duke Oral History Collection, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The Doris Duke Oral History Collection was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a donation from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in June 2009.

Processing Information

Processed by Mary Samouelian, August 2012

Encoded by Mary Samouelian, August 2012

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: UA2009-0030

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.