Tag Archives: dorisduke

October 6: Readings and Conversation with Sallie Bingham

Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m. ET
Online via zoom: Registration required to receive Zoom link.
Contact: Kelly Wooten, kelly.wooten@duke.edu or Laura Micham, laura.m@duke.edu

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture  is honored to host a virtual reading and discussion with Sallie Bingham, author of two new books: The Silver Swan: In Search of Doris Duke and Treason: A Sallie Bingham Reader.

In The Silver Swan, Sallie Bingham chronicles one of the great underexplored lives of the twentieth century. Bingham is especially interested in dissecting the stereotypes that have defined Duke’s story while also confronting the disturbing questions related to her legacy. According to Gloria Steinem, “Sallie Bingham rescues Doris Duke from this gendered prison and shows us just how brave, rebellious, and creative this unique woman really was, and how her generosity benefits us to this day.”

Treason: A Sallie Bingham Reader is a collection that captures the spirit of the author’s illustrious writing career via short stories, a novella, and a play. From the complex stories of artistic influence and the exhilaration and fright of solitude, to the incendiary rage of a betrayed young wife who sacrifices everything for revenge, to the struggles for independence of the three women who surrounded Ezra Pound like subservient stars, these fictions seize the reader’s attention while slashing stereotypes.

The Rubenstein Library holds a range of collections documenting the lives of Sallie Bingham and Doris Duke.

Doris Duke’s Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Milk

Long live the Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen! We’ve had so much fun trying out recipes from our collections that we have decided to continue the series on the last Friday of each month.

Christmas is over, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop eating. If you have room in your life for a little more dessert, I highly recommend trying Doris Duke’s Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Milk, one of hundreds of recipes available in the Doris Duke Papers.

Doris Duke’s collection includes boxes and boxes of recipes and menus from each of her houses — Duke Farms (Somerville, New Jersey), Rough Point (Newport, Rhode Island) , and Shangri-La (Hawaii). Duke appears to have collected a lot of her recipes during her travels (Thai and Hawaiian recipes were favorites), but her books also have plenty of American-style comfort food. Looking through the recipes was really fun, and it was hard to choose just one. I found a great one called Wine Jelly, which appears to be Doris Duke’s take on jello shots — except with sherry.

I wanted to make something to share with the Rubenstein Staff Holiday Party, so I went with the chocolate ice milk. It’s not quite as wild as some jello shots, but does have a ridiculous amount of chocolate, as well as espresso and a bit of cognac. And don’t worry about your New Year’s resolutions: it’s ice milk, not ice cream, so it’s totally healthy!

Doris Duke’s Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Milk, from Box 177 (Folder 2) of the Doris Duke Papers.

The recipe dates from the early 1990s, so I found it fairly easy to make. The “bittersweet” part of the title is misleading — although the recipe has a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, it also has a full 2 pounds of semi-sweet chocolate. I used chocolate chips to save myself the effort of chopping chocolate. I also used homogenized skim milk, which seemed to work fine.

step 1The trickiest part for me was tempering the eggs, which involves pouring some of the warm chocolate into the yolk mixture, and then reuniting all of it back on the stove top. Do not expect any drastic change in the chemical composition of your mixture. When I finished heating everything and was ready to let it chill for 30 minutes, it basically looked like a giant bowl of chocolate milk. I was worried I would have to serve it with a straw.

step2After chilling for 30 minutes, a loose film had started to appear on the top of the mixture, which was reassuring. I put it in my ice cream maker for about 20 minutes, which thickened it up nicely. After an overnight in my freezer, it was ready for the party.

Verdict: This dish reminded me of hot chocolate, except it was frozen. It is extremely rich and pairs well with cake. Don’t skip the cognac. Just think: what would Doris do? (I know what you’re thinking. She’d also make the Wine Jelly. Here’s that recipe.)

wjPost contributed by Meghan Lyon, Technical Services Archivist.

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.


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.

A Candid Doris Duke

Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, Doris Duke Collection Archivist

Cecil Beaton's portrait of Doris Duke
Cecil Beaton’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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

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!