Guide to the James Buchanan Duke Papers, 1777-1990 and undated
James B. Duke (1856-1925) was a tobacco manufacturer, industrialist, and philanthropist, of Durham, N.C., and New York City.
Collection includes: correspondence; business, legal, and financial papers; estate and inheritance records; printed materials; miscellaneous materials; architectural drawings and blueprints; and pictures chiefly relating to the businesses, enterprises and philanthropy of James Buchanan Duke in North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, and New Jersey. About one-half of the collection documents the administration of his estate. Subject areas represented include: American Tobacco Company; business; finance; tobacco industry, marketing and taxation; hydroelectric power; textile mills; charitable works; architecture; interior decoration; genealogy of branches of the Duke family; inheritance and succession; and legal procedure for wills, inheritance and business.
- James Buchanan Duke papers, 1777-1990 and undated
- Duke, James Buchanan, 1856-1925
- 33 Linear Feet, ca. 24,000 Items
- Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Durham, North Carolina 27708-0185
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
- Correspondence Series, 1880-1933 (bulk 1900-1911)
- Business Papers Series, 1884-1941 (bulk 1910s-1920s)
- Legal Papers Series, 1878-1926 and undated (bulk 1910s-1925)
- Financial Papers Series, 1874-1933 and undated (bulk 1900s-1925)
- Estate Series, 1777-1934, and undated (bulk 1926-1928)
- Miscellaneous Series, 1890-1990, undated
- Pictures Series, 1870s-1960s, undated (bulk 1910s)
- Oversize Materials
The papers of James Buchanan Duke span the years 1777 to 1990, although the bulk of the material dates from the 1890s to the mid-1930s. They consist of correspondence; business, legal, and financial papers; printed materials; and visual materials. The collection documents James B. Duke's business and financial investments, and some aspects of his philanthropy. About one half of the collection documents the administration of the Estate of James B. Duke, Deceased, including legal proceedings stemming from claims made against the estate. Subject areas represented in the collection include: business and finance; philanthropy; genealogy on branches of the Duke family; inheritance; legal procedure; architecture and interior decoration; and, to a lesser degree, family life.
Although the Correspondence Series primarily relates to business topics, personal letters are scattered throughout. Financial transactions, such as exchanges of stocks and cash, which often occurred between members of the Duke family, are recorded in both the Correspondence and Financial Papers Series. Aspects of both familial and business relationships between brothers, James B. and Benjamin Newton Duke, and their father, Washington Duke, are documented through their correspondence. James B. Duke often received requests from individuals, many of them strangers, for financial aid and other forms of assistance or favors, such as making investments and employment. Written exchanges also document various aspects of the Duke tobacco businesses, the professional relationships of James B. and Benjamin N. Duke with other members of the business community, and personal and business financial transactions. Correspondents include Lida Duke Angier (Mrs. J.C. Angier), Richard B. Arrington, W.T. Blackwell, Betty Roney Daily (Mrs. John C. Daily), Benjamin Newton Duke, Washington Duke, George Watts Hill, Maude D. Karnes, William R. Perkins, and Alexander H. Sands.
James Buchanan Duke was known for his business acumen, especially in national and international tobacco industries and hydroelectric power. The Business Papers Series furnishes partial documentation for some of his businesses. The most complete records are for Duke Farms Company in Somerville, N.J. (apparently a holding company). The Duke Farms Company's records include documentation for Piedmont Electro-Chemical Company, Southern Power Company, Orlando Water Power Company, and other Duke-owned businesses. Mr. Duke made substantial investments in textile mills and corporations, such as the Aluminum Company of America. Records of his investments, including extensive stocks and bonds transactions, are in the Business and Financial Papers Series.Acquisition of exclusive rights to a cigarette manufacturing machine produced by the Bonsack Machine Company, which allowed for very rapid processing of cigarettes, enabled the Duke companies to move into the forefront of the cigarette industry. Extensive correspondence documents the negotiations between James B. Duke, President of The American Tobacco Company, and D.B. Strouse and P.A. Krise, of the Bonsack Machine Company. It is filed in the Business Papers Series under both the Bonsack Machine Company and the W. Duke, Sons and Company and occurs in The American Tobacco Company letterbook. After the dissolution of The American Tobacco Company in 1911, Mr. Duke focused his attention more on the hydroelectric power industry than on tobacco. Histories of some of James B. Duke's businesses and investments, especially hydroelectric power, are in the Miscellaneous Series. Many of Mr. Duke's business investments and other enterprises were continued after his death by his executors until the estate was liquidated.
The philanthropic work of James B. Duke included contributions to Duke University (Trinity College) and other educational institutions, a fund for "worn-out" Methodist preachers, an endowment for Lincoln Hospital (designated for use only by a black institution), funds for building churches, and other charitable causes. Representatives of educational institutions and churches wrote to request various types of financial support from Mr. Duke, including endowments and one-time donations. Avenues for contributions to most of these institutions and charities were later consolidated under the auspices of the The Duke Endowment. Information about Mr. Duke's philanthropic activities is documented in the Correspondence, Financial, and Legal Papers Series
Mr. Duke owned homes and estates in New York, N.Y., Somerville, N.J., Charlotte, N.C., and Newport, R.I. The houses contained many works of art and antiques, and the grounds of the Somerville estate, Duke Farms, were renowned for their statuary and landscaping. Records for architecture, decoration and renovation, deeds and property transfers, and maintenance of Mr. Duke's properties are found throughout the collection. Volumes in the Financial Papers Series have entries for household and estate expenditures. Considerable information for the Duke Farms estate in Somerville, N.J., is in the Correspondence and Business Papers Series. Other information about various homes and properties, including architectural plans by Horace Trumbauer, is in the Pictures and Miscellaneous Series. Detailed inventories of properties, including furnishings, are in the Petitions on First and Final Accountings filed in the Estate, Legal Papers Subseries.
The Last Will and Testament of James B. Duke and its Codicil included provisions for trusts including The Doris Duke Trust, The Duke Endowment, and for individuals, such as Nanaline H. Duke and Doris Duke. Item VI of the Will of James B. Duke provided for the distribution of two million dollars to living descendants of the brothers and/or sisters of James B. Duke's father, Washington Duke, and his mother, Artelia Roney Duke. The executors of the estate, Nanaline H. Duke, William R. Perkins, and George G. Allen conducted a prolonged investigation to determine who were legitimate heirs under Item VI of the will. Earlier, in 1924, Benjamin N. Duke had begun to try to identify individuals who were related to him through his father and mother. After James B. Duke's death, Benjamin N. Duke's earlier communications with "Duke" family members were closely scrutinized, especially his correspondence with Edna L. Vaughan of Warrensburg, Mo. Some of these letters were later used as legal evidence when James B. Duke's will was disputed. Genealogical information related to inheritance under James B. Duke's will is scattered throughout the Correspondence Series, especially in the years 1924 and 1925. The Estate Series also contains extensive correspondence and other documents that contain genealogical information about various Duke families. A significant portion of the series documents the settlement of Item VI of Mr. Duke's will.
The Estate, Correspondence Subseries includes inquiries to the executors and to Benjamin Newton Duke from individuals or their attorneys who thought that they were related to James B. Duke and wanted to file a claim for the inheritance under Item VI. The executors responded to most initial inquiries from claimants in November 1925 with a form letter which required them to submit affidavits stating their relationship to James B. Duke. Usually three affidavits were submitted: one by the claimant and two from individuals who stated their knowledge of the claimant and the alleged relationship to James B. Duke. To gather more information, in January 1927 the executors sent claimants a questionnaire about detailed genealogical history. Most affidavits and questionnaires are in the Estate, Legal Papers Subseries, but some are scattered in the Estate, Correspondence Subseries which also has information about evidence used in the court hearings.
Two sets of claims posed particular problems for the executors and are extensively documented in the Estate, Correspondence and Legal Papers Subseries. These claims, one from the Vaughan family and another group claim from individuals associated with Elizabeth Duke of Marshall and Wichita Falls, Tex., were the subject of extensive correspondence. They were researched in great detail by Charles Caldwell, a lawyer, and brought to the courts in New Jersey for final determination. Elizabeth Duke claimed a relationship through Thomas Duke; the Vaughan family claimed theirs through Polly (Mary) Duke Vaughan. Caldwell was engaged by the executors in May 1927 to conduct detailed research into these claims. The investigation generated extensive, detailed documentary genealogical information regarding not only the families of Washington Duke and Artelia Roney Duke but also about other families that claimed a Duke family connection. Charles Caldwell conducted research in archives and interviewed claimants in Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Missouri, and North Carolina. While his research primarily documents individuals whose claims were spurious, the information collected by Caldwell also describes, to a more limited extent, the claims of legitimate heirs. The executors published a book, Determination by the Executors of James B. Duke, Deceased . . . (1927), with appended schedules of allowed and rejected claims, that discusses the settlement of the will.
Lida Duke Angier (Mrs. J. C. Angier) and Betty Roney Daily (Mrs. John C. Daily), James B. Duke's cousins, worked with the executors to find information that would determine legitimate heirs. Letters they wrote reveal knowledge of the families of James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke. Benjamin N. Duke's written responses to the executors' requests for his knowledge of the relationships put forth by claimants are dispersed in the correspondence. Other correspondents include attorneys, archivists, genealogists, historians, and handwriting and other document experts who were employed by the executors or who responded to their requests for information. Experts also submitted reports of their findings. Individuals represented in the Estate Series include George G. Allen, Charles Caldwell, Clarence E. Case, Elizabeth Duke, Nanaline H. Duke, William P. Few, Forrest Hyde, C.E. Mapes, William R. Perkins, Alexander H. Sands, James E. Stagg, and Eugene L. Vaughan.
The Estate, Financial Papers Subseries documents distributions made under most provisions of the will and expenses incurred by the estate in administering the will, including those from legal research and fees. Records for the distribution under Item VI of the will are useful for information about individuals who were determined to be legal heirs.
Other collections in the Rubenstein Library that document James Buchanan Duke's life include the Washington Duke Papers, the Benjamin Newton Duke Papers, and the Semans Family Papers. Related collections include the William Robertson Perkins Papers and the Aluminum Company of Canada, Ltd., Papers. For information on The Duke Endowment, see the Archives of The Duke Endowment. For further information on the contributions of the Duke family to Duke University, contact the staff of the Duke University Archives.
Collection is open for research.
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. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
The copyright interests in the papers of James Buchanan Duke have not been transferred to Duke University. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Special Collections Department.
Primarily letters and telegrams received and sent by James B. Duke or his agents, with letters received by Benjamin N. Duke scattered throughout the loose correspondence. Since the series includes several letterbooks, the correspondence was not divided between personal and business subjects. Richard B. Arrington, a secretary and agent for Benjamin N. Duke and James B. Duke, is the principal correspondent on behalf of James B. Duke in the letterbook dated from August 1, 1900 to January 30, 1906. Alexander H. Sands, another secretary and agent for Benjamin N. Duke and James B. Duke, is the principal correspondent on behalf of James B. Duke in the letterbook dated from February 20, 1920 to January 17, 1923. Arranged chronologically, with loose correspondence first.
Photocopying of the letterbooks is not permitted.
Includes correspondence; minutes of corporations; financial records including ledger books, journals, cashbooks, voucher records, vouchers and cancelled checks; stock certificates; contracts; maps of power transmission lines; and financial worksheets. Enterprises documented include The American Tobacco Company; British-American Tobacco Company, Ltd.; Buchanan Investment Corporation; Duke Farms Company; Orlando Water Power Corporation; Southern Investment Company of Canada; Southern Investment Company of Delaware; Southern Investment Company of New Jersey; Southern Power Company; Quebec Development Company; and W. Duke, Sons and Company. For W. Duke, Sons and Company material dated after its merger with The American Tobacco Company, see The American Tobacco Company. The Bonsack Machine Company correspondence is filed under the company's name as well as interfiled with the W. Duke, Sons and Company correspondence. See also oversize materials. Arranged by name of the business and type of material, then chronologically.
Property deeds and transactions, wills, indentures, and records for the divorce of James B. Duke from Lillian N. Duke (1906) form the bulk of this series. In 1925 Lillian N. Duke appealed the divorce and the case was heard by the New York Supreme Court. The series includes copies of records from the original divorce case as well as records from the appeal in 1925. Arranged by subject, then chronologically.
Includes ledger books, journals, cashbooks, voucher records, deposit slips, cancelled checks, stock certificates, account balance worksheets, and expense records for payroll and other costs in the Duke households and offices, including The Duke Endowment. Some miscellaneous business records are scattered throughout. There are orders, invoices and receipts for jewelry, travel, club memberships, automobiles, and other expenses. See also oversize materials. Arranged in descending order according to the hierarchy of the bookkeeping system, followed by miscellaneous financial records and subject folders.
Divided into four subseries: Correspondence, Legal Papers, Financial Papers, and Printed Materials, all pertaining to the administration of the estate of James B. Duke.
Chiefly correspondence received and sent by the executors, claimants, attorneys, witnesses, and Benjamin N. Duke. Includes correspondence; some affidavits and other legal documents; and reports. Charles Caldwell's materials filed in the series include correspondence and activity and expense reports. Arranged chronologically.
Includes records collected and notes and reports of findings made by Charles Caldwell during the pre-trial period of discovery; notes and legal research by executors and attorneys; reports and correspondence from private investigators and handwriting and other experts, affidavits, completed questionnaires, and related correspondence submitted by claimants; court records including evidence; records for the distribution of the monies under Item VI of the will; and other legal records. See also oversize materials.
Includes final accounting work papers for the estate, a ledger book, journal, cashbooks, trial balances, analysis of income, statements of income, voucher records, vouchers and receipts, and income tax returns. Inventories of Mr. Duke's personal properties are filed under Receipts for Legacy and Refunding Bonds, 1926. Receipts for specific bequests are filed alphabetically by recipient name. Arranged with the estate's final accounting work papers first (related to Order Allowing Final Account); followed by volumes and records in descending order according to the hierarchy of the bookkeeping system, miscellaneous bookkeeping records, subject files, and banking records. Vouchers and receipts are arranged into categories (schedules of accounting) ascribed by the executors.
Includes publications used by the executors to substantiate their legal case.
Includes printed material; clippings; a scrapbook of business (especially hydroelectric power), philanthropic and family subjects; a list of charitable contributions; a birth certificate; a history of the Inman family; a genealogical chart; biographical information; memorials; resolutions; blueprints of land plats and buildings; and architectural drawings. There are three subseries: General, Clippings, and Printed Materials. See also oversize materials. Arranged by subseries, then alphabetically by subject, title, or author's name (when known).
Subjects include family, friends, and colleagues of James Buchanan Dukeand buildings, homes, and estates. The motion picture film was copied from a silent movie on cellulose nitrate film. An album is first, followed by loose pictures, and then motion pictures. Negatives from the album have been separated from prints to allow for improved housing and preservation, and are not available for general reference use. Loose pictures are arranged alphabetically by name of person or by subject.
|1856, Dec. 23||Born, Orange County, N.C.|
|1870s||Attended Eastman Business College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.|
|1878||Full partner in newly incorporated W. Duke, Sons and Company|
|ca. 1883||President, W. Duke, Sons and Company|
|1884||Moved to New York, N.Y. Negotiated contract with Bonsack Machine Company for use of cigarette manufacturing machine|
|1890||Organized The American Tobacco Company|
|1902, Sept. 27||Signed agreement with British tobacco manufacturers to form British-American Tobacco Company|
|1904, Sept.||Married Lillian McCreedy (divorced 1906)|
|1905||Established Southern Power Company with Benjamin N. Duke and George W. Watts|
|1907, July 23||Married Nanaline Holt Inman|
|1911, May||Dissolution of the American Tobacco Company ordered by the United States Supreme Court|
|1912, Nov. 22||Daughter, Doris Duke, born|
|ca. 1915||Purchased hydroelectric power resources on Saguenay River, Quebec, Canada|
|1915-1919||Began plans for a philanthropic trust to serve educational and other institutions in North Carolina and South Carolina|
|1917||Duke Farms Company, Somerville, N.J., incorporated|
|ca. 1923||Duke-Price Power Company established|
|1924, Dec. 11||Signed indentures establishing The Duke Endowment and The Doris Duke Trust|
|1925, Oct. 10||Died, New York, N.Y.|
|1928, May 21||Final determination by State of New Jersey Court in the Matter of the Estate of James B. Duke, Deceased|
|1930||Remains removed to the Memorial Chapel of Duke University Chapel|
|1934, June 18||Estate of James B. Duke liquidated|
|1961||Widow, Nanaline H. Duke, died|
[Identification of item], James Buchanan Duke Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
The James Buchanan Duke Papers were transferred to the Special Collections Department from various sources beginning in 1957 and continuing through 1990. Funds from The Duke Endowment supported the reprocessing of this collection from 1991 to 1992.
Processed by Donna Longo DiMichele
Completed April 2, 1992
To allow for improved housing and preservation, negatives in Pictures Series were separated and re-housed by Elizabeth Terry, and finding aid adjusted, June 2007.
Encoded by Robin LaPasha and Stephen Douglas Miller
This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.