Guide to the Douglas MacKinnon Papers, 1922-1999


Radio program director, businessman, and music aficionado.

Collection includes materials from MacKinnon's many ventures in music and radio, including his work at Harvard University, his leadership at the WQXR radio station in New York, his service in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Cold War, his work with Radio Free Europe, and numerous other interests and pursuits. Also present are MacKinnon's diaries, datebooks, personal correspondence, and autobiographical writings. Materials are only minimally processed; a detailed arrangement and inventory is not available at this time. Boxlist below includes only series-level descriptions.

Descriptive Summary

David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
MacKinnon, Douglas, 1903-1984.
Douglas MacKinnon papers 1922-1999
Language of Material
14.0 Linear Feet, 10500 Items
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

This collection includes a wide range of materials documenting MacKinnon's many pursuits in radio and music. Collection contains diaries, correspondence, financial papers, photographs, printed materials and news clippings related to MacKinnon's radio broadcasting and business career, as well as his personal life. Some materials pertain to his work in New York where he founded WQXR, Armed Forces Master Records, Inc., U.S. Armed Forces Radio Service, and Radio Free Europe. Also included are critiques of operas he saw around the world, a draft of his autobiography, and other miscellaneous items. It is loosely arranged by content and format into the following series: Autobiographical/Writings; WQXR/W2XR; Army/WWII; Radio Free Europe; Musical Events/Programs/Publications; Name Files; Correspondence; Postwar Employment and Finances; and Personal/Family/Photographs. It has not yet been processed beyond these preliminary series.

Restrictions on Access & Use

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 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. 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

The bulk of this series relates to MacKinnon's drafts and notes regarding his autobiography. Other files include miscellaneous drafts and correspondence with various publishers or prospective publishers.

Miscellaneous materials from MacKinnon's youth, 1920s-1930s
Box 1
Autobiography drafts
6 folders
Box 1
Publishers' correspondence: W.W. Norton and Eric Swendson
Box 1
Writings: miscellaneous essays, articles, drafts
Box 1
Correspondence about MacKinnon's publications
Box 1
2 folders
Box 1

Photographs, correspondence (including fan mail), scripts, radio programs, press, employment information, and other miscellaneous materials relating to MacKinnon's work at the radio station.

WQXR/W2XR files
Box 2-4

Includes materials from MacKinnon's U.S. Army service during and after World War II. Also includes his work with AFMR.

WWII/Army Life
Box 5

Includes correspondence, scripts, schedules, programming suggestions, publicity, and other materials relating to the operation of Radio Free Europe.

Radio Free Europe
Box 6-8

Name Files

2 boxes

Includes files with MacKinnon's correspondence and collectibles from his relationships with various musicians, public figures, and organizations. Arranged alphabetically.

Bartok, Bela, and Georges Enesco
Box 9
Bayreuth, 1963
Box 9
Blair, David
Box 9
Box 9
Box 9
Box 9
Jochum, Eugen
Box 9
Garrison (N.Y.) Art Center
Box 9
Havas, K.
Box 9
Melancon, Louis (photographs)
Box 9
Orff, Carl
Box 9
Ormandy, Eugene
Box 9
Rusch, Cecile
Box 9
de Saram, Rohan
5 folders
Box 9-10
Sergio, Lisa
Box 10
Stravinsky, Igor, 1925-1971
Box 10
Szasz, Tibor
Box 10
Williams, Ralph Vaughn
Box 10
Yablonskaya, Oxana
Box 10
Zander, Benjamin
Box 10

Series includes MacKinnon's incoming and outgoing correspondence to a wide range of professional and personal contacts. Arranged in loose chronological order.

Correspondence, 1922-1979
Box 11
Correspondence, 1980-1985 and undated
Box 12

Includes materials documenting MacKinnon's work with Investors Overseas Services Management (IOS), Career Protreptors, and his financial and other employment records following his work with the U.S. Army. His work with the Metropolitan Opera is documented in the Musical Events series.

IOS, Career Protreptors, and finances
Box 12-15

Series includes diary entries, notes, and private writings created by MacKinnon; family and personal photographs; datebooks and planners; Christmas letters and cards; and clippings saved by MacKinnon. Box 16 includes his musical contributions to Harvard University in the 1930s. Box 17 and Box 19 contain his diaries and datebooks. Box 18 includes loose notes. Box 20 includes photographs and miscellaneous materials. Box 21 includes MacKinnon's guestbook and a history of the WQXR station.

Personal materials
Box 15-21

Includes programs, bulletins, correspondence, and other items from various performances, festivals, and operas held throughout the world. Most materials are filed by location. Includes MacKinnon's work for the Metropolitan Opera, as well as the European Festival and Scenic Tours (1956).

Musical Events, Venues, and Publications
Box 22-26

Historical Note

Douglas MacKinnon studied music at Harvard University. He was musical founder and director of New York's music station WQXR. As assistant to the National Broadcasting Company's Music Counsel, Dr. Walter Damrosch, he helped produce The Children's Hour, did research for the NBC Symphony, and wrote its scripts. In World War II he was a founder of the Armed Forces Master Records (AFMR) which sent disks of classical music to military bases. In the South Pacific he served with the Office of War Information, broadcasting to troops. He also worked as chief of music production for Radio Free Europe.

Other career ventures later in life included Career Protreptors, a music agency; he also reviewed operas throughout the world for the Metropolitan Opera's magazine, Opera News.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Douglas MacKinnon Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.


The Douglas MacKinnon Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by Sara Reams, April 2014

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, April 2014

Accession(s) described in this collection guide: 1987

This collection is minimally processed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition. Materials are described at a series level.

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