Tag Archives: dorisduke

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A Journey’s End

A couple of weeks ago the finding aid for the Doris Duke Audiovisual Collection was posted on the Rubenstein Library website. The audiovisual collection, which is now opened for research, has a fascinating variety of materials, including film reels, vinyl records, and audio cassettes reflecting Doris’ interests in travel, music, the performing arts, and historical events. It’s chock-full of surprises for those willing to delve into the detailed and intricate collection. Homemade recordings of Doris practicing the piano and singing, four original nitrate film reels of the Nazi Supreme Court Trial of the Anti-Hitler Plot from 1944-45 (which we’re presuming Doris obtained while working for the Office of Strategic Services [OSS] during World War II), and a somewhat sketchy telephone interview with Howard Hughes from the 1970s are just a few of the treasures awaiting discovery in this collection.

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The Doris Duke Audiovisual Collection also marks a significant milestone for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives. It is the final collection in the historical archives to be processed, described, and opened for research, thus ending my three year processing journey.

Working so intimately with the materials has been quite a remarkable experience, and not surprisingly I’ve grown quite attached to both Doris Duke and the materials over the past three years! The nineteen collections comprising the historical archives are filled with artifacts and clues that leave evidence of a woman who did big things, yet they also give insight to unexpected and hidden facets of Doris’ life. Collectively they paint a picture of Doris that challenges the general perception of her as an eccentric and tragic figure.

While I am sincerely grateful for having had the opportunity to process and promote the materials in the historical archives, I am equally thankful for having had the chance to meet researchers and patrons interested in both Doris Duke and the historical archives. Their enthusiasm for learning more about her spurred several of the events, exhibits, and digital initiatives developed during the course of the processing project.

And so a journey for me ends, but the journey for the materials in the historical archives continues!

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, the former Doris Duke Collection Archivist. Mary will continue in the Technical Services Dept. as the Processing Archivist for the Abraham Joshua Heschel Papers.

Cecil Barton

A Candid Doris Duke

Cecil Barton's portrait of Doris Duke
Cecil Barton’s portrait of Doris Duke

One of the most well-known photographs in the Doris Duke Photograph Collection is a very glamorous Doris Duke draped in a floral gown and pearls, standing against an ornate backdrop. The photograph was taken in the early 1930s by Cecil Beaton, a fashion photographer known primarily for his portraits of celebrated persons. For most people this image is Doris Duke.

Doris Duke’s class portrait, probably from kindergarten
Doris Duke’s class portrait, probably from kindergarten

However, the recently published Doris Duke Photograph Collection finding aid sets out to introduce you to a Doris Duke who is very different from her public persona. Approximately 3,500 photographs out of 12,000 photographs in the collection have been digitized and are viewable from within the finding aid. Amongst these digitized items you can scroll through images of Doris as a young girl, Doris’ volunteer work for the United States Government during World War II, images of her travel, various estates,and an assortment of pictures of her dogs, cats, cows, and camels!

If you are interested in seeing the actual photographs, you can hover the cursor over any of the images and information about the physical location of the photograph within the collection is displayed. You can then request the box(es) you are interested in using through Duke University’s library catalogue.

Finding aid how to
Hover over digitized photographs to find out which box it’s stored in

The finding aid also describes photographs that have not been digitized but are available for use in the Rubenstein Library. Some of the more fascinating images in the collection are tinted photographs of Duke Farms (Somerville, New Jersey) from the 1900s, autographed pictures of a sultry Rudolph Valentino (Doris’ school girl crush), and color glass mounted slides of Doris Duke’s trip to the Middle East in 1938.

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, Doris Duke Collection Archivist

Collage

The Titans of Commerce and Industry

The History Channel recently aired “The Men Who Built America,” a docu-series about the titans of the early industrial age featuring Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, J. Pierpont Morgan, and John D. Rockefeller. As a self-described history junkie, I was immediately hooked. So imagine my delight when I came across a poster of Hosts & Guests at a banquet tendered for HRH Prince Henry of Prussia, New York, dated 1902 Feb 26 (reprinted 1905) while processing the photographs in the Doris Duke collection.

The portraits in the poster represent a veritable “Who’s-who” of the movers and shakers of the early 20th century, including Vanderbilt’s son William, Rockefeller (and son), Morgan, Nikola Tesla (with his wavy hair and dreamy eyes), his arch-nemeses Thomas A. Edison, Adolphus Busch and Frederick Pabst (for our beer lovers), Marshall Field (perhaps the most well-dressed?), and our very own James B. Duke.

So what brought these men together?

In 1902 Germany made a concerted effort to improve its relationship with the United States. One of the warmest displays of this diplomatic effort was a visit by the younger brother of German Emperor William II, His Royal Highness (HRR) Prince Henry of Prussia (1862-1929). The two week tour (February 22-March 11) was specifically designed to allay misgivings arising from a conflict between the United States and German fleets in Manila in 1898.

On February 25th, HRH Prince Henry made a brief stop in New York City. The next day he attended a formal luncheon with the “representatives of commerce and industry” at 12:30 p.m. after which he continued sightseeing in New York. The banquet was commemorated by the poster now housed in the soon to be available Doris Duke Photograph Collection.

Want to learn more about Prince Henry’s visit? The Internet Archive has made available the “Tour of His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Prussia in the United States of America: Under the Personally-Conducted System of the Pennsylvania Railroad,” a floridly detailed itinerary or “General Programme” of his visit to the United States.

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, Doris Duke Collection Archivist.

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Boxy Lady

Figuring out suitable storage for historical artifacts in a collection is a daily challenge for archivists in the Rubenstein Library’s Technical Services Dept. Our goal is to provide easy access to the artifacts while protecting them in a safe and secure manner. Many times we can manage this with the standard boxes and padding materials we have on hand. However, there are times when the artifacts, because of their unusual shape or fragile condition, don’t quite fit the standard. This is when we call on our friends in the Conservation Services Department to find the best storage solution.

Such was the case with three artifacts in the Doris Duke Memorabilia Collection. A baseball bat with Doris Duke’ name carved through it, a football to Miss Duke from the coaches and players of the Midgets football team that she sponsored, and a partial weathervane believed to be from Duke Farms were prime candidates for Conservation’s resourceful storage solutions. I didn’t know what to expect, but when the newly boxed artifacts safely arrived back to Technical Services for labeling and barcoding, I was truly impressed at the results.

Is this weathervane from the Coach Barn at Duke Farms the same as the one in the Memorabilia collection? It’s up to researchers to find out!

Because of Conservation’s thoughtful and inventive solutions, these three artifacts are now available to researchers. To view the final results and to read how Conservation created these boxes, see the Preservation Underground blog.

All ready for research use!

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, Doris Duke Collections Archivist.

Mary Samouelian in her new forest of boxes for the Doris Duke architectural drawings.

Box-tastic!

Here’s a puzzle for you: How does one best store and deliver architectural drawings ranging anywhere from 6 feet tall to 12 feet long? In these new custom boxes of course!

Mary Samouelian in her new forest of boxes for the Doris Duke architectural drawings.

The wide variety of architectural drawings in the Doris Duke Collection do not always fit into standard sized map cabinets, so they either have to be wrapped around tubes or rolled up within tubes. However, using tubes does not always offer the protection needed to store these fragile drawings — nor are they always the best way to deliver them to patrons for research.

Architectural drawings from the Doris Duke Collection, wrapped around tubes in storage.

The solution? Architectural boxes that give both rigidity and stability to protect the drawings, meanwhile making it easier to deliver to the reading room.

The new boxes will hold our extra-large architectural drawings and protect them from damage.

For more information about some of the Doris Duke architectural drawings, visit the Inventory of the Duke Farms Residence finding aid.

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, Doris Duke Collection Archivist.

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The Doris Duke Collection Reimagined

Since August of 2009, when the Doris Duke Collection first opened for research, patrons using the collection have regularly shared with me two pieces of feedback. First is that there is no historical timeline capturing the major events in Doris Duke’s life that could provide context for the collection. The second is the challenge of navigating such a large and complex collection. Because the Doris Duke Collection is divided into smaller collections and the Rubenstein Library holds other collections that contain materials related to or about Doris Duke, discovering all the various parts can beguile even the most seasoned of researchers.

Acknowledging the merit of this feedback, staff from the Rubenstein Library, including me and Noah Huffman, the Archivist for Metadata and Encoding, teamed up with Application Developer, Will Sexton, Web Developer, Derrek Croney, and Digital Projects Developer, Sean Aery from the Duke University Libraries Digital Experience Services to create a “people portal” to the Doris Duke Collection.  The expectation is that this portal will both introduce you to Doris Duke and some of the wonderful materials within the collection, and assist you in effectively navigating the collection and therefore having greater success in finding the materials you’re looking for.

Screen-capture of the Interactive Timeline

The portal has four major features. The first is the interactive timeline, highlighting key events in Doris Duke’s life. By visually representing her life we hope to offer a quick glance to facts and information about Doris Duke. There are several really snazzy features to this timeline. You can scroll from event to event by clicking on the arrow to the right or the left, or if you’re interested in jumping around in the timeline, let’s say to see what Doris was up to in the 1940s, you can scroll the timeline bar below and select a specific year and associated event(s).

Screen-capture of the portal's Biographical History
Screen-capture of the portal's Doris-related collections list

The second feature is the Biographical History. This presents the events in a more linear fashion and not only offers an enticing sample of the material or materials in the collection related to that particular event, but guides you to the collections within the Doris Duke Collection that contain additional information about that event. The idea is to connect the physical materials in the collection to a more abstract event. So for example, if you want to see a selection of materials related to Doris Duke’s wedding to James Cromwell and their honeymoon, you can locate the event and then click through some materials related to that event. You can then select the “Sources” hyperlink. This shows the three collections that contain material(s) related to this event.

The third feature of this portal is perhaps the most exciting. To help you have a fuller research experience, we have included all the collections within the Rubenstein Library associated with Doris Duke, with a direct link to each of the finding aids. By scrolling down this list, you’ll not only see the various smaller Doris Duke collections, such as the papers associated with the Shangri La residence, but other collections within the library that contain materials about Doris Duke. These collections include the James B. Duke papers, since he was her father, and the Duke Endowment Archives, since she was a board member. This list will expand as we not only open additional materials in the Doris Duke Collection but also as we continue to find collections and resources in the library related to Doris Duke.

The final feature is a quiz to test your knowledge of Doris Duke. We wanted to provide an entertaining way to introduce newbies to Doris Duke and also test those who think they know everything about her. We think you’re in for some surprising revelations!

Screen-capture of the Doris Duke trivia quiz. (Answer: True.)

Since this people portal is the first of its kind, we welcome your feedback and any suggestions for improvement. Visit the live people portal here. If you want to learn more about the technology behind this portal, including the use of Encoded Archival Context (EAC), a newly adopted XML standard for encoding information about the creators of archival materials and the circumstances of record creation and use, see Will Sexton’s blog (with the most awesome title ever!) Engineering the Killer Rabbit: How We Represented a Timeline of Doris Duke’s Life in XML.

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, Doris Duke Collection Archivist.

Doris Duke at Shangri-La, ca. 1960-65.  From the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives.

From the Rubenstein Wire

Doris Duke at Shangri-La, ca. 1960-65. From the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives.

As we cruise into summer after another busy semester, here’s a rundown of some notable recent news stories about the Rubenstein Library:

New York’s Museum of Arts and Design is preparing an exhibition entitled “Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art,” according to GalleristNY.  The story features a beautiful photo from the Doris Duke Papers on the Shangri La Residence here in the Rubenstein. The exhibition is scheduled to open on September 7, 2012.

Two stories in the Durham Herald-Sun document the Rubenstein Library’s May 15 event to celebrate the publication of Reynolds Price’s final memoir, Midstream, and the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of his first book, A Long and Happy Life.

The Raleigh News and Observer reported on Durham County Library’s Comics Fest.  Rubenstein Assistant Curator Will Hansen spoke about the Library’s comic book collections on a panel entitled “Comics Go to College” with colleagues from Duke and UNC.

The May/June issue of Duke Magazine features a piece on advertising pioneer David Ogilvy, whose career is documented in the Kenneth Roman Papers; an article about Princess Irene’s 1967 visit to Duke by University Archivist Valerie Gillispie; and a column on the American Family Robinson radio serial, rare acetate discs of which are preserved in the Randy Riddle Collection of Race Records and Radio Programs.

Look for more exciting news about the Rubenstein Library in the coming months!

A suzani needlework textile.

Gallery Talk: Suzanis, Women, Weaving, Life Journeys

A suzani needlework textile.

Date: Wednesday, February 15
Time: 3:00 PM
Location: Thomas Room, Lilly Library, East Campus
Contact Information: Mary Samouelian, 919-660-5912 or mary.samouelian(at)duke.edu

Please join us to learn more about the Lilly Library exhibit featuring suzani needlework dowry pieces, a custom interwoven within the social fabric of the women of central Asia. Learn about the textile tradition and techniques of the suzani, discover an enthusiast with an intriguing Duke connection, and enjoy the collection on display on the main floor of Lilly Library.

The gallery talk will feature Greta Boers, Librarian for Classical Studies at Lilly Library, and Mary Samouelian, Doris Duke Collection Archivist for the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Ms. Boers will introduce and discuss her private collection on display on the main floor of the Lilly Library and Ms. Samouelian will recount Doris Duke’s introduction to suzanis in her travels as well as her longstanding admiration of these handcrafted dowry cloths.

A reception with light refreshments will be held after the talk. This event is free and open to the public.

3 pieces from the Tiny Thai Village

It Takes a Village to House a Village

Sorting through the unprocessed contents of an archival collection can be compared to a treasure hunt – sometimes you find an unexpected gem that produces an impromptu “ooh,” but then after the initial excitement wears off, you have to figure out what you’re actually looking at and then decide what to do with it.

Box of "Foundation Models"
A mystery box of Foundation Models (100 scale)

A small box marked “Foundation Models (100 scale)” found in one of the unprocessed boxes of the Foundation for Southeast Asian Art and Culture (SEAAC) records was one of those discoveries. Inside the box were fourteen miniature buildings, ranging from about ½ inch to 1¼ inches in size and elaborately constructed from a thin cardboard material. After a bit of investigative work using the other records in the collection, I found that the miniatures were part of a model of a Thai Village Complex that Doris Duke planned to build in Hawaii during the 1960s. The set of miniatures were quickly dubbed the “Tiny Thai Village.”

3 pieces from the Tiny Thai Village

An avid world traveler, Doris Duke fell in love with the art and culture of Thailand during a trip to the country in 1957. It is likely that this visit inspired her to create a Thai village in Hawaii with houses similar to those she had seen. The establishment of SEAAC in June of 1961 resulted in a project that Doris Duke saw as a gift to the people of Hawaii, and one that occupied her for many years. At least five sites in Hawaii were considered for the Thai Village and it was the choice of an appropriate location that ultimately proved the stumbling block to completion of the project. Her dream of a Thai Village was never realized, however Doris Duke’s interest in Asia continued and she purchased art objects right up until her death in 1993.

Now that I knew what these miniatures were, I needed to determine how to make them accessible to researchers. As both the size and delicacy of the objects were obvious barriers, the need for expertise help in creating practical housing for the Tiny Thai Village was essential. Fortunately for the Rubenstein Library, we have a crack team of conservators who like a good challenge. To read how the puzzle of the Tiny Thai Village was resolved, see the Preservation Underground blog.

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, Doris Duke Collection Archivist.