Guide to the Doris Duke Papers, 1798-2003 and undated (bulk 1930-1999)
Born on November 22, 1912, Doris Duke was the only child of James Buchanan (J.B.) Duke, a founder of the American Tobacco Company and Duke Energy Company and a benefactor of Duke University, and Nanaline Holt Duke. Inheriting a bulk of her father's estate in 1925, which included Duke Farms in New Jersey, Rough Point in Newport, R.I., and a mansion in New York City, Doris was soon dubbed by the press as "the richest girl in the world." Although Doris did her best to live a private life, she contributed to a number of public causes and was an active supporter of the arts, historic preservation, and the environment. Doris Duke died in October 1993 at the age of 80. In her will she left the majority of her estate to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
The Doris Duke Papers were created by combining materials maintained by staff at the Duke Business Office and/or household staff of the Main Residence, on Doris Duke's behalf. It mostly contains the personal papers generated by or about Doris Duke throughout her lifetime. The collection covers the period 1798 to 2003, although the majority of the collection is concentrated in the 1930s to 1993. The collection is organized into 9 series limited to Doris Duke's personal relationships, dealings, and interests: Administrative Records, Personal Correspondence, Financial Records, Legal Records, Reports and Summaries, Subject Files, and Duke Business Office Safe.
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
- Duke, Doris, 1912-1993
- Doris Duke Papers 1798-2003 and undated (bulk 1930-1999)
- Language of Material
- English, French, Italian
- 245 Linear Feet, 81,656 Items
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
The Doris Duke papers (formerly MSS.001) 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 is artificial in nature, created by combining materials maintained by staff at the Duke Business Office and/or household staff of the Main Residence, on Doris Duke's behalf. It mostly contains the personal papers generated by or about Doris Duke throughout her lifetime. Since Doris Duke's staff maintained her professional and personal records, often in the same filing structures, materials regarding her personal life were intermingled throughtout the larger collection. In order to improve access to important documents, all materials of a personal nature were selected out and incorporated into this collection. The only major exception is Series VII: Duke Business Office Safe, where the personal and professional contents of the office are maintained together to preserve the integrity of the materials and serve as a testament to business operations.
The Doris Duke Papers covers the period 1798 to 2003, although the majority of the collection is concentrated in the 1930s to 1993. The collection is divided into 7 series limited to Doris Duke's personal relationships, dealings, and interests: Administrative Records, Personal Correspondence (RESTRICTED), Financial Records, Legal Records, Reports and Summaries, Subject Files, and Duke Business Office Safe.
Collection is open for research, however there are restrictions on certain materials within the collection. See Series level descriptions for more information.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
Also, all of this collection is 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.
Electronic records in this collection have been migrated to a library server and digital use copies can only be accessed onsite in the Rubenstein Library Reading Room. To request access, please contact a reference archivist before coming to use these records.
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.
This series contains an assortment of materials related to the broad and varied business and personal activities of Doris Duke. Materials related to business activities include correspondence, agendas, reports, and minutes from Doris Duke's business team. Topics range from investments, new ventures (including the chartering of the Newport Restoration Foundation), and loans, to job descriptions, stock donations, approval of gifts (donations), and information on the General Charitable Aid Association. Other business related materials include activity reports, repairs to homes, design proposals, NRF work progress reports, and requests for interviews. While these materials are related to Doris Duke's business pursuits, the personal side of life is also reflected as the authors often comment on current events and other daily activities such as congratulations on her marriage to Porfirio Rubirosa.
Materials related to the personal activities of Doris Duke include invitations to a variety of charitable events, solicitations for charitable contributions (letters addressed directly to Doris Duke and not her charitable organization often from individuals not personally acquainted with her), datebooks, address books, personal letters to friends (copies), magazine subscriptions, and correpondence related to travel. Of particular interest is correspondence (letters, telegrams) between Doris Duke and her mother Nanaline and between Doris Duke and her half-brother Walker Inman Sr. (Miss Duke signed her letters "Sis"), and two letters from Doris Duke while on her honeymoon in 1935.
The materials are loosely arranged in chronological order. Note that the subseries contains several documents written in French and Italian with no translation.
This series also contains electronic records related to a variety of administrative activities at the Duke Farms residence and includes monthly reports from managers, summaries of correspondence generated by the Duke Business Office staff, telephone messages, and lists of request for donations from the Doris Duke Foundation. The Duke Business Office arranged the electronic records in folders by both subject and by month and year.
RESTRICTED: Access to several folders in Box 6 are restricted and require prior written approval from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to view.
Electronic records have been migrated to a library server for preservation and digital use copies can only be accessed onsite in the Rubenstein Library Reading Room. To request access, please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.
A majority of the correspondence in this series are written to Doris Duke by a variety of family, friends, and acquaintances. Materials include letters, telegrams, cards, notes, and postcards. Of particular interest are outgoing letters from Doris Duke to Marian Paschal while she was an International News Service (INS) correspondent during World War II. These letters give insight to Doris Duke's experiences while overseas.
A majority of the series is arranged alphabetically by sender. The last box in the series contains general correspondence in which senders could not be identfied and/or letters that may or may not attest to a deeper relationship with Doris Duke. Note that the subseries contains letters written in French and Italian with very few translations.
The materials in this series are RESTRICTED and requires prior written approval from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to access and duplicate.
The Financial Records series contains a wide assortment of records related to Doris Duke's financial activities, including personal donations and loans, tax returns, and analysis of her personal net worth. This series is further arranged into three subseries: General Financial Records, Loans, and Ledgers.
This series illustrates the broad, diverse financial activities of Doris Duke, and covers a variety of personal and business related topics. Materials include letters to Doris Duke thanking her for generous donations (personal donations, not through her Foundation), estimates for Shangri La by the Hawaiian Contracting Company Ltd, invoices for furniture and other purchases at Parke-Bernet, personal expenses such as clothing, hair, repairs to residences, rental of a Lear Jet, and transportation of swans and camels from New Jersey to Newport (and the other way around). Also included in this series are Doris Duke's personal tax returns (with supporting documentation of donations given for the year, journal entries, and "work papers"), stock and bond advice, personal bank and credit card statements and annual reports on Doris Duke's net worth. Of particular interest is correspondence related to Doris Duke Cromwell's financial assistance to Miss Ruby Roney and Mildred Brett, distant Duke family members.
The materials in this subseries are loosely arranged in chronological order.
All the materials in this subseries are related to personal loans Doris Duke made to a variety of individuals including friends, family, staff members, and businesses. While a small portion of these loans are to strangers who wrote to Doris Duke requesting a loan, most reflect Doris Duke's support of ballet companies, film production, and the needs of her friends. Materials include correspondence, vouchers, promissory notes, and financial records concerning loans forgiven by Doris Duke.
The materials in this subseries are arranged alphabetically, by subject.
This subseries consists of ledgers mainly from Doris Duke's lifetime, but also includes ledgers from J.B. Duke's time. Such ledgers refer to Trusts made for and on behalf of Doris Duke. The ledgers cover a wide range of financial topics including assets, liabilities, trial balance sheets, expenses, vault records, dividends, cash balances and income.
The ledgers are arranged in the order in which they were found.
The Legal Records series consists of legal dealings of a personal nature. Topics include Doris Duke's divorce from James Cromwell, lawsuits with the township of Hillsborough, NJ, power of attorney agreements, and other matters.
RESTRICTED: Access to one folder in Box 167 is restricted and require prior written approval from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to view.
The Reports and Summaries series contains a wide assortment of records related to the management of the objects contained in and moved between Doris Duke's properties. The series is further arranged into three subseries: General Reports and Summaries, Black Books, and Inventory Cards.
This subseries contains a variety of reports and summaries in the format of appraisals, inventories, lists and journals. Of particular interest are the Recipe Books maintained by chefs at various estates, and the menu books, which list out the daily menus for Duke Farms, Newport and Hawaii. Some pages of the menus have notes and edits by Doris Duke and some include the names of the cooks who prepared the meals. Other materials of interest include antique appraisals, inventories of fur, silver, and wine, and documents tracking the movement of objects between homes.
The Black Books were maintained by the Duke Business Office staff to inventory and track the movement of objects on and between Doris Duke’s properties. The books contain photographs and provenance information (when known) of almost every object owned by Doris Duke. Many of the books include paper inventories and miscellaneous notes about the objects. These Books are numbered in the order in which they were found and processed.
This subseries primarily consists of inventory cards either in binders (books) or unbound and were maintained by the Duke Business Office staff, circa 1970s–1990s, to inventory and track the movement of objects on and between Doris Duke’s properties. These cards have been left in the original order they were found and presumably created in. For the most part, they are arranged by location and room thereunder, except as noted below. Also in this subseries are invoices (copies & originals) from art and antique dealers documenting the purchase of art, furniture and other objects from the 1930s to the 1960s, and miscellenous correspondence and inventories from the various residences.
Inventory books 1-47 are arranged by location and room thereunder. Books 48-59 have been arranged by medium and location thereunder. Unbound inventory cards have been kept in the original order they were found and presumably created in. As such, they have been arranged by location and room thereunder. The unbound Shangri La inventory cards were not stored with the other inventory cards but were included in this subseries as they compliment the rest of the Shangri La inventory cards.
The Subject Files series reflect the categories either Miss Duke or her staff established to organize her personal and professional records. This series contains a wide assortment of materials ranging from financial records to scrapbooks created by Doris Duke when she was a child. The series is further arranged into twenty one subseries.
RESTRICTED: Access to folders in boxes 242, 256, 257, 291, 294, 296, 303, and 332 are restricted and require prior written approval from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to view.
Doris Duke's Boeing 737-300 airplane was placed into service in 1987 and was sold in January 1995 after her death. The materials document the refurbishing, repairs and maintenance, and personal use of the aircraft. Materials include invoices, correspondence, manuals, fueling cards, reports, passenger manifests, insurance on the aircraft, applications for licensing of facilities, and travel itineraries and associated costs to different locations both in the United States and abroad.
Arrangement Note: This subseries has been left in the original order it was found and presumably created in. For the most part, this subseries is arranged alphabetically and chronologically thereunder.
This small collection provides some insight to the funds provided by Doris Duke (via the Doris Duke Foundation) to "develop an authentic and elaborate history of the American Indians." Materials include correspondence, newspaper clippings and progress reports as a result of the funds provided by the Doris Duke Foundation. Also included are a few research proposals for different projects as part of the American Indian History Project.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Animal Medical Center (AMC) had a research center on the Duke Farms estate to study the aging in large animals. Doris Duke not only provided grants to the Animal Medical Center (via the Doris Duke Foundation), but also leased pastures and barns on the property of Duke Farms for a cattle center. The relationship with the AMC ended in 1974. This materials in this subseries include annual reports, leases, and correspondence and memoranda related to various subject matters of the Animal Medical Center and its rental of land at Duke Farms.
DORIDE Corporation, Inc. was incorporated in 1938 as a "holding corporation, as nominee for sole stockholder." It was dissolved in 1990. Materials in this subseries primarily document the financial activities of DORIDE and include bank statements, authorization letters to complete transactions of shares for DORIDE, vouchers from transactions, and reports and tax bulletins for payment of the Delaware franchise tax.
The General Charitable Aid Association was a membership association of which Doris Duke was a member. Nanaline Duke and Walker P. Inman, Sr. were also members. Doris Duke contributed a monthly sum to the association which often included a list of those individuals whom she felt were considered "worthy and deserving of assistance." The materials include correspondence such as charitable requests, charitable support and thank you letters from those receiving assistance, annual reports of contributions and donations, and an account book for all those receiving aid from the charitable association.
Doris Duke was an International News Service (INS) staff correspondent during World War II and was primarily stationed in Italy. A majority of the materials in this subseries are articles written by Doris Duke exclusively for the INS while in Italy. She wrote dispatches from different parts of Italy including Rome, Milan, Ischia, Trieste, Linz, and Gorizia. Photocopies of these articles are included with the originals. Also included in this subseries is correspondence and agreements related to Doris Duke's financial backing of The American Publishing Co., Inc. and indentification documents carried by Doris Duke. Of particular interest is a letter from Doris Duke to "Tom" regarding complications obtaining a Passport while a correspondent.
Irwin Bloom was the Certified Public Accountant for Doris Duke from 1987-1992. The materials in this subseries reflect the wide range of responsibilities held by Mr. Bloom during this period, including the preparation of financial statements, management of leases for Somerville rentals, preparation of tax returns, and advice on business adventures. Materials include correspondence, memoranda, and reports related to the routine business matters of Irwin Bloom.
Jenny Renaud was employed by Mrs. J.B. (Nanaline) Duke in 1921 as a companion to Doris Duke and to give her education in the French language. Ms. Renaud lived with the Dukes until 1934. In 1933, Doris Duke established a trust for the benefit of Jenny Renaud, which stayed in place until her death in 1958. Materials are primarily related to this trust and include correspondence, financial statements and trust indentures.
This subseries primarily documents jewelry purchased by Doris Duke, although it also contains jewelry purchased by her father, J.B. Duke and clothing purchases. Many of the jewelers that worked with Doris Duke are well known, including Cartier and David Webb. Materials include invoices, correspondence, and inventories of the jewelry owned by Doris Duke.
JODO Inc. was a recording company founded by Doris Duke in August, 1964 to produce records. It attracted a few well known recording artists such as Kitty White and Anita O'Day. JODO dissolved in 1966 and became Clover Enterprises, Inc. The materials in this subseries document the daily activities of establishing and running a "budding" record company, and include artist recording agreements, invoices, requests for funds, promissory notes, and business correspondence. Of particular interest are the reports about the music industry which were provided by Peter Brook.
Doris Duke was the sole proprietor of LADD Interiors, a proprietorship with the purpose of purchasing home furnishings and some antique furniture and then transferring these goods to her for use in her own personal residence(s) or as she desired. The first purchase by LADD was in 1972, and with few exceptions all purchases by LADD were made in connection with refurbishing Doris Duke's residences at Duke Farms, Rough Point, Shangri La and her Park Avenue apartment. Materials in this subseries primarily consist of invoices and correspondence for these purchases and for the restoration of some furniture. Other materials include tax documentation, inventories (including color photographs), bank statements and fabric samples.
Materials in this subseries document Doris Duke's medical history, including her interest in alternative medicine, health issues, and her hospitalization after medical procedures. Materials include newspaper articles, medical records, paid medical bills and x-rays.
RESTRICTED: All boxes in this subseries with the exception of Box 270 are restricted and require prior permission from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to access and duplicate the materials.
The materials in this subseries vary widely and serve to document general subjects related to Doris Duke that are not documented in the other subseries. It is the only subseries that includes materials from Doris Duke's childhood such as her school composition books, homework assignments, and glossy photographs/scrapbooks of magazine clippings of actors and actresses from the 1920s. Other materials included are notes and lyrics written by Doris Duke, original dress designs from the House of Paquin for Doris Duke, Playbills from shows attended by Doris Duke, and newspaper clippings organized by Doris Duke that were of interest to her. Inside these folders are the spines of the binders (paper) with her handwriting on how they were separated. Of interest is the "Me" binder (folder) which contains clippings about Doris Duke.
RESTRICTED: Access to one folder in Box 373 is restricted and requires prior written approval from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to view.