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Guide to the Order of the White Duchy Records, 1925-1968

Abstract

The Order of the White Duchy was a secret women's honorary at Duke University. The group was formed in May 1925 by the Order of the Red Friars, a secret men's honorary, to recognize members of the Woman's College of Duke University. The members of the Order of the White Duchy voluntarily disbanded the organization in 1968. Records include constitution, initiation ritual, minutes, correspondence, photographs, membership and alumnae lists, financial records, clippings, issues of the Lucky Number alumnae newsletter, and two scrapbooks. Major subjects within the collection are collaboration between student leaders and college administration and student opinions concerning sororities, social standards, and the honor code. Prominent members include Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, Margaret Taylor Smith, Elizabeth Hanford Dole, Dorothy Newsom Rankin, and Dorothy Battle Rankin.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
University Archives, Duke University.
Creator
Duke University. Order of the White Duchy.
Title
Order of the White Duchy records 1925-1968.
Extent
2.7 linear feet
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult Duke University Archives.
Language
English.

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

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

When the records were accessioned by the library in August of 1968, a restriction of 25 years was placed on them. This restriction expired in 1993 and the records are now open.

warning Use Restrictions

Copyright for official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Contents of the Collection

Arranged chronologically by subject.

History, 1925-1968
Box 1
Constitution, [1925]
Box 1
Initiation Ritual, [1925]; [1948-1949]; undated
Box 1
Membership Lists, 1925-1954
Box 1

Arranged chronologically by school year.

Minutes, 1925-1964; undated
Box 1

Financial reports from 1925-1926 through 1938-1939 are included in the minutes.

Arranged by members' last name for dues, and chronologically by school year for financial reports.

Financial Records, 1947-1961
Box 1

Arranged chronologically by subject.

Correspondence, General, 1952-1968; undated
Box 1
Correspondence Related to Homecoming Breakfasts, 1952; 1953; 1958; 1959
Box 1
Correspondence Related to Homecoming Breakfasts, 1961; 1962
Box 1
Correspondence Related to "Lucky Number" of March 15, 1963
Box 1

Arranged by subject.

White Duchy Organization [Alumnae Organization], Constitution and Policies, undated
Box 1
White Duchy Organization [Alumnae Organization], Stationery, undated
Box 1
Clippings of Alumnae, 1962; 1963; undated
Box 1
"The Lucky Number" [Alumnae Newsletter], 1942; 1945-1949
Box 1
"The Lucky Number" [Alumnae Newsletter], 1950-1951; 1953-1958; 1961-1965; 1967
Box 1
Project, Phi Kappa Delta, [1944-1945]
Box 1
Project, Curricula Evaluation, 1948
Box 1
Project, Sorority Evaluation Committee, [1951-1952]
Box 1
Project, Revision of System of Cuts, May, 1952
Box 1
Project, "Unofficial Guide to Courses for Upperclassmen", 1961
Box 1
Project, The Honor System, undated
Box 1

Arranged by subject

Reference, General, 1961; 1965; undated
Box 1
Reference, "Report of the Ninth National Student Congress", August 21-31, 1956
Box 1
Reference, Class Night, 1961-1962
Box 1
Reference, "Design for a Duchess", 1962
Box 1
Reference, "Student Perspective: The Student Philosophy", 1964
Box 1
Reference, "The Woman's College and the Eastern Areas at Duke University", 1964
Box 1
Reference, The Lansing Agency, "The Lansing Campus Letter", undated
Box 1
Reference, "Student Government Theory and Philosophy", undated
Box 1

Arranged chronologically by school year.

Scrapbook, 1925-1954
Box 2
Scrapbook, 1954-1958; 1964
Box 3

Historical Note

The Order of the White Duchy was founded in May of 1925 by the secret senior men's honorary the Order of the Red Friars. They chose seven women whom they felt were the most outstanding members of the class of 1925 to organize a similar organization, although it was not to be a sister organization. From 1925 on, new members were chosen, or "tapped" into the order, by the seven members of the White Duchy from the previous year. New members were chosen based on their character, qualities of leadership, and outstanding service to the university. The tapping ceremony was held first at the last meeting of the Student Government Association of the Woman's College, and later during the final Class Night of the school year. Although the student body knew of its existence and who its members were, the activities and projects of the order were secret. The only public notice given to the organization by its members was the wearing of a white carnation on one day of each month. Officers consisted of Grand Duchess (President), Petit Duchess (Vice President), Custodian of the Records (Secretary) and Custodian of the Funds (Treasurer). Its members voluntarily disbanded the order in 1968 because it was felt to be too elitist and no longer representative of the leaders of the Woman's College or the university.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Order of the White Duchy Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The records were received as transfers in 1968 and 2001 (Accession numbers: 68-348 and A2001-16).

Processing Information

Minutes were removed from damaged books and divided into folders by class year. Original fasteners were removed from correspondence and other records and replaced with stainless fasteners. It appears that some processing had been previously done, particularly in correspondence. All material was ordered chronologically even when divided into subject categories. White Duchy Organization materials were removed from their original binder due to rust and placed in acid-free folders. Scrapbooks were interleaved with bond or glassine paper to prevent more acid transfer and to protect the contents. As many photographs as possible were enclosed in Mylar sleeves for protection. All records except scrapbooks were rehoused in acid-free folders.

Processed by Sarah Nerney, June 1999

Encoded by Joshua McKim, December 2002

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.