The Doris Duke Foundation, Inc., formerly known as Independent Aid, Inc., was incorporated in 1934 as a philanthropic organization to operate for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes. In October 1951, the officers of Independent Aid, Inc. voted to change its name to the Doris Duke Foundation. At the time of this change, the foundation's interests were primarily in the fields of education and welfare. The materials in this collection illustrate Doris Duke's devotion to philanthropy as well as her many varied interests. Some of the major topics represented in the Donation Files are poverty, the disabled, education, health care, animal welfare, underprivileged children, and the performing arts. The Doris Duke Foundation continues to exist as a private grant-making entity.
The Doris Duke Foundation records (formerly DDF.9) 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 arranged into three series: Administrative Records, Financial Records, and Subject Files. It primarily spans the years 1934–2009, although the bulk of the collection is concentrated from the late 1940s–1982. The records illustrate Doris Duke's devotion to philanthropy as well as her many varied interests. Some of the major topics represented in the Donation Files are poverty, the disabled, education, health care, animal welfare, underprivileged children, the performing arts (including musical prodigies Lorin Maazel and Dike Newlin), refugees, and various community services. Two topics of great interest to Miss Duke were spirituality and American Indians. This is illustrated by the extensive files on the Self-Realization Fellowship Church and the American Indian Oral History Project. Doris Duke's own notations are sometimes found in the Subject Files series, demonstrating her very close involvement with the foundation. Geographically there is a focus on "local" organizations based in areas connected with the Duke Family. These include New York City, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Hawaii. Several international organizations are also represented.
From the 1930s until the mid-seventies the records were maintained at the Doris Duke Foundation's (also Independent Aid, Inc.'s) office in New York City (New York Business Office was located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza until 1971 when it was relocated to 505 Park Avenue). In March 1975 the Duke Business Office moved to the New Jersey estate, and records from that point on were maintained at Duke Farms.
The records appeared to have been maintained by the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Foundation. These include Marion Paschal beginning in the 1930s/early 1940s until her death in 1946 (although according to the records Clarence E. Pickett served as Executive Secretary during this time period, M. Paschal might have been Treasurer or had a different administrative title); Georgea T. Furst from 1946–1953 (from 1943–1946 she served as Assistant to the Executive Secretary and Board Member Clarence E. Pickett); Sophia van Theis from 1953–1957; and May E. McFarland from 1957 until 1975. After the move to New Jersey the records were maintained by Elisabeth McConville (although she appears to have had a purely secretarial, not executive, position, that role seems to have been taken on by A.E. Searles).