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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 carried on the Duke family's pattern of philanthropy by contributing to a number of public causes such as 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 Memorabilia Collection contains personal artifacts belonging to Doris Duke. The artifacts widely vary, yet tend to reflect what was important to Miss Duke including travel, philanthropy, growing orchids, and music. Of particular interest are those items from Doris Duke's childhood including scrapbooks, yearbooks, and homework assignments.

The Doris Duke Memorabilia Collection 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 personal artifacts belonging to Doris Duke. The artifacts widely vary, yet tend to reflect what was important to Miss Duke including travel, philanthropy, growing orchids, and music. Of particular interest are those items from Doris Duke's childhood including scrapbooks, yearbooks, and homework assignments.

The Doris Duke Memorabilia Collection covers the period 1898 to 2011 and is divided into 5 series: Awards and Tributes, Indentification and Membership Cards, Invitations, Miscellaneous, and Postcards. The materials are loosely arranged in chronological order.