The press dubbed Doris Duke “the richest girl in the world” when she inherited a fortune from her father, Duke University founder James B. Duke, in 1925 at the age of twelve. Upon her death in 1993, Duke left the majority of her estate to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Foundation recently gave its historical archives to the RBMSCL. The Foundation’s historical archives, 800 linear feet of materials (an amount that, stacked vertically, would be four times taller than the Duke Chapel), includes photographs, architectural drawings, and motion picture footage of Doris Duke and the Duke family.

Artist’s rendering of a proposed Duke mansion.

Artist’s rendering of a proposed Duke mansion.

Records of Duke’s Foundation for Southeast Asian Art and Culture, the Newport Restoration Foundation, and the Duke Gardens Foundation are in the archives as are documents related to the operation of her properties: Duke Farms, a 2,700-acre estate in Hillsborough, New Jersey, that her father created at the turn of the 20th century; Rough Point, the Duke family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island; and Shangri La, her home in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she exhibited her extensive collection of Islamic art.

All of the materials in the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation historical archives will be open for research in about two years when processing of the materials has been completed.

More information about the collection may be found here. Or, contact the RBMSCL at special-collections(at)duke.edu.

Post contributed by Tim Pyatt, University Archivist and Associate Director of the RBMSCL.




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