The Elkus Indian Papers


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Charles Elkus’ papers and correspondence on Indian matters, accumulated over the same period as the collection, contain much information on the history of Indian administration and reform, particularly during the crucial decades of the 1930’s and 1950’s. They also provide insights into the modern development of Indian arts and crafts and the manner in which the Elkus Collection was accumulated. On the basis of these papers he intended to write a book on how government worked, with a focus on Indian administration. He had not yet started it at the time of his death. His papers remained in the hands of his family, and were partly scattered as others undertook and then abandoned the project. Finally, about 1980, the Elkus papers were brought to the Academy through the efforts of his son Ben Elkus.

The Elkuses knew, and were intimately involved with, the politics of their time. The papers include correspondence with important figures of the period, such as John Collier, reforming Indian Commissioner of the 1930’s, and Harold L. Ickes, Franklin Roosevelt’s Interior Secretary and “hatchet man”. Newspaper clippings, magazine articles, government publications, and copies of legislative bills and acts supplement the letters. 

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