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Dr. Carl Duncan and Patricia Whiting Papers
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Series I: Dr. Carl D. Duncan Letters Bulk, 1965 1964-1966

Physical Description: 1.0 Box

Scope and Content of Series

The material in this series consists of correspondence written between 1964 and 1966 from Dr. Carl D. Duncan to Patricia neé Carpio Whiting during part of her undergraduate career at San Jose State College. The letters not only provide a glimpse into the everyday lives of Carl D. Duncan and Patricia Whiting but also reflect a deep bond of friendship between mentor and student. This series contains letters, poems, postcards, and toasts.
Duncan frequently expressed his admiration of Whiting. Whiting asked Duncan in 1964 if he would like to “adopt” her as his “goddaughter” and often referred to him in her letters as “father.” Duncan and Whiting found an early common bond in poetry and enjoyed critiquing each other’s prose. Duncan’s poems are commonly on light-hearted subjects such as insects, Patricia’s love of cats, and Patricia’s younger siblings. Duncan enjoyed experimenting with different poetic styles such as haiku, sonnet and limerick.
Duncan’s letters reflect the life of an aging professor who, having become recently widowed and having had no children, sought to feel needed in a society dominated by the emerging youth culture. As he stated often in his letters, he desired to remain in touch with the students of the college so that he may best know how to teach them. Rather than embrace his own generation’s conservative reaction to the turbulent 1960s, Duncan chose to keep an open and tolerant mind to the issues of racial prejudice, civil rights movements, psychedelic drugs, transcendental meditation, and anti-war discussions.
Duncan typically wrote Whiting 3-4 letters per week. Common themes in the letters include discussions on nature, family, pedagogy, counterculture, the Vietnam War, and modern philosophy. Duncan often wrote during his trips to national parks, in which he enclosed physical mementos such as flowers, rocks and leaves. Other enclosures include programs from plays and concerts, napkins from restaurants, and newspaper clippings on contemporary topics including LSD, “flying saucers”, fashion, and sensational murder trials. Whiting responses are marginally represented through poetry and occasional brief notes.


This series is arranged chronologically.

Box 1, folders 1-246 Bulk, 1965 1964-1966

Physical Description: 246.0 folders Correspondence

Series II: Patricia Whiting Papers Bulk, 1972-1978 1940-2012

Physical Description: 2.0 boxes

Scope and Content of Series

The material in this series consists of correspondence, poetry, diaries, political ephemera and photographs that document the life and death of Patricia Whiting from 1940 to 2010.
Her diary entries reflect the life and character of a woman who devoted her life to her family, her community, and the preservation of Oregon’s natural resources. Whiting’s poetry is free form in contrast to Duncan’s concrete style, as are her reflective diary entries. Her correspondence with Duncan is playful, as she refers to him as “Father” and presents him with cards and poetry. The bulk of Whiting’s writings begin shortly after Duncan’s death, where she reflected on his impact on her life. Common subjects of her poetry and diary include love, conservation, nature and personal reflections on life. Much of her personal works are addressed to her husband Vince and express her love for him.
Highlights of career photographs document Whiting’s political rise to the Oregon state legislature with photographs from the set of Good Morning America and meeting with President Jimmy Carter, as well as images of Whiting mentoring students at the Oregon state capitol building and publicity photographs from her election campaigns. Her political papers include a collection of newsletters that document local Oregon politics from 1973 to 1978.
Highlights of personal photographs in the collection include photos of Whiting and Duncan together, her extracurricular involvement in arts and music at San Jose State College, wedding vow renewal ceremonies, her lifelong commitment to sheltering abandoned pets, and the documentation of her battle with cancer.


This series is arranged by format.

Box 2, Folders 1-55, Poetry, 1956-1986


Box2, Folders 56-96, Diaries, 1963-1971


Box 2, Folders 96-101, Letters to Carl. D. Duncan, 1964-1965


Box 2, Folders 101-104, Political documents, 1972-2003


Box 2, Folders 105-107, Whiting newsletters, 1973-1978


Box 2, Folder 108, Personal documents, 1965-2010


Box 2, Folder 109, End of life, 2010


Box 3, Folders 1-3, Family photographs, 1940-1960


Box 3, Folders 4-5, College photographs, 1959-1967


Box 3, Folders 6-7, Marriage photographs


Box 3, Folders 8-9, Adulthood photographs, 1968-1995


Box 3, Folders 10-11, Political career photographs, 1972-1979


Box 3, Folder 12, End of life photographs, 2010