Autry Libraries awarded NHPRC grant

Joseph Munk, Adna R. Chaffee, and Hector Alliot laying the cornerstone of the Southwest Museum, 1913.

In May 2010, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) announced it will award the Autry National Center a $98,900 Basic Projects grant. This award will allow for over 1800 linear feet of archival collections held in the Autry Library, Braun Research Library, and Museum of the American West to be better described, organized, and cataloged. At the end of this 2-​year project, researchers will have increased access to collections that broaden the story of the American West, Native American people and culture, Western entertainment, regional California history, and the fields of archeology, anthropology, and ethnology.

Gene Autry and Champion, circa 1950

The collections to be processed include the personal papers of Gene Autry, Charles Fletcher Lummis, Joseph Amasa Munk; and the Miehle Sepulveda Family Papers and the institutional archives of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian; the International Gay Rodeo Association; and Nudie’s Rodeo Tailor company.

NHPRC, as part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), supports projects that promote the preservation and use of America’s documentary heritage essential to understanding our democracy, history, and culture. In 2010, NHPRC awarded 88 grants totaling $7,038,063 for projects in 36 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Only 25 of these recipients were awarded the NHPRC Basic Projects grant.

Gene Autry Personal Papers and Business Archives, circa 1930 – 1998. “American’s favorite singing cowboy,” Autry was a leader in the cultural and economic transformations of the 1930s — 1990s. The Autry archives contain music correspondence, business records, scripts, photos, and ephemera and shed light on Autry’s role as a popular image maker, business man, baseball, media mogul, and founder of the Autry National Center. Making his story accessible to the research community is fundamental to the libraries mission.

International Gay Rodeo Association Collection, 1975 – present. Gay rodeo had its beginnings in 1976 at the National Reno Gay Rodeo in Nevada. In 1985, five local groups founded the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA). IGRA accomplishments include establishing rules and resources for rodeo events, fundraising for local charities, and positively promoting the GBLTQ western lifestyle. The Autry has a strong collections and interest in rodeo to support inquiry in to the sport. The Archive includes business records, rule books, programs, contracts, score sheets, promotional material, and awards.

Nudie's Rodeo Tailors Catalog

Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors Catalog

Nudie’s Rodeo Tailor’s Archives, circa 1950 – 1980’s. This collection includes customer clothing files dating from 1955-​1970s, boot patterns, photographs, correspondence, and financial records. Cohn was a Russian immigrant, who moved to Los Angeles in 1940 and found opportunity in Western style tailoring. The archive offers a close look at the career of a well-​known and successful western-​style tailor who was active in the industry for over 40 years, the business and history of western costuming, and the use of popular Western imagery. Even unprocessed, the Archive is well used by researchers.

Miehle Sepulveda Family Papers, 18th-​19th Century. The Sepulveda family played a prominent role in southern California history and development, most well known family branch were the recipients of a 35,000 acre land grant that later became Rancho Palos Verdes. This collection will shed light on one of the family branches among southern California rancheros and includes correspondence, photographs, diaries, clippings, and family documents from various members.

Charles Fletcher Lummis Personal Papers and Manuscript Collection, 1888–1928. Charles Fletcher Lummis was an influential personality in Los Angeles and the founder of the Southwest Museum. His collection attracts researchers interested in topics such as anthropology, tourism, Native American cultures, Spanish folklore music; and society. This collection consists of correspondence, diaries, literary works, manuscripts, and scrapbooks and only the correspondence and journal entries series are cataloged at the folder level. Over 100 linear feet, is unprocessed and revealed only when researchers visit the library.

Southwest Museum Institutional Archives, 1904–2003. Founded in 1907, the Southwest Museum (SWM) was conceived as a museum of science, art, and history. Later its mission focused on the study of America’s indigenous peoples. Its 250,000 ethnographic and archeological artifacts are one of the largest nongovernmental collections of its type. This collection provides greater context to these prominent collections and includes correspondence, field notes, administrative records, images, and manuscripts.

Joseph Amasa Munk Personal Papers and Manuscripts, 1893–1923. Munk was a homeopathic physician who developed an admiration for Arizona in 1884. In 42 years, he built the Munk Library of Arizoniana and bequeathed it to the Braun Library in 1907. A companion to the Munk Library of Arizoniana is Munk’s collection of personal papers and manuscript. This collection includes his writings, correspondence, ephemera, scrapbooks, realia, and images on Arizona and the Southwest. The centennial anniversary of Arizona statehood is in 2012 and will most likely increase the popularity and interest in researching this region.

Tuzigoot Ruin

Tuzigoot Ruin, Ariz., photograph by Frances Watkins

Frances Watkins Research Materials, circa 1930 to late 1900’s. In Women in Archeology, book author Cheryl Claasen names Frances Watkins as one of America’s first female archeologists. Yet not much is known about Watkins’ career in this field. Her collection at the Braun includes oral interviews, research notes, and manuscripts about Plains Indian women and the roles they played in their societies. Watkins was a SWM employee for almost 20 years and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. This collection could provide insights to the contributions women made in indigenous societies and archeology.

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About the author

Cheryl Miller is Sr. Cataloging and Metadata Librarian at The Libraries and Archives of the Autry.