Important Information for Researchers
Collection Scope and Content Summary
Title: Charles F. Lummis papers
Date (bulk): bulk 1904-1914
Collection Number: MS-R033
Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928
5.6 linear feet
(14 boxes and 1 oversized folder)
Languages: The collection is in English. A few letters are in Spanish.
University of California, Irvine. Library. Special Collections and Archives.
Irvine, California 92623-9557
Abstract: Charles F. Lummis explored and documented the culture and history of the Southwest in his writings and photography from 1884
until his death in 1928. A resident of Los Angeles for most of his life, Lummis was city editor of the
Los Angeles Daily Times, city librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, an advocate of Native American rights, and founder of the Landmarks Club
and the Southwest Museum. This collection contains a portion of his prolific correspondence to friends and colleagues, documents
his tenure as Los Angeles Public Librarian, provides a sample of his photography, and offers a rare glimpse into his college
interests and activities.
Important Information for Researchers
The collection is open for research. Box 13 is restricted due to fragility of the materials. Photocopies were not made for
these items; special permission is required to use them. Box 14 is restricted due to mold. Photocopies were made and have
been integrated into the collection.
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and
their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Charles F. Lummis papers. MS-R033. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.
Acquired as part of the Don Meadows collection, 1996.
The papers were collected by Don Meadows. It is not known how or when Meadows acquired them.
Processed by Cyndi Shein and Michelle Weng, 2007.
Charles Fletcher Lummis explored and documented the cultures and histories of Spanish California and the Southwest through
his writings and photography from 1884 until his death in 1928. He resided in Los Angeles for most of his life and influenced
Southern California as city editor of the
Los Angeles Daily Times, city librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, and an advocate of Native American rights. He gained fame in 1884 during
his "tramp across America," when he walked from Ohio to California, dispatching newspaper articles about his adventures and
gaining respect for the Southwest and its people as he went. He wrote numerous books, reported on the injustices committed
against Native Americans, battled to have Native American children released from government schools and returned to their
families, advised President Theodore Roosevelt on "Indian affairs," and established the Sequoya League to defend Native American
rights. Lummis also photographed and explored the Southwest, Mexico, Central America, and South America, collecting artifacts
along the way. He also collected Native American and Spanish folktales and recorded many traditional songs on wax cylinders.
He founded the Southwest Museum in Los Angles to share his collections with the public and established the Landmarks Club
to restore the old Spanish missions. Lummis' campaigns and editorials in favor of preserving Native American and Spanish
culture were unusual for the time and often generated great debate.
Lummis also positively affected the community of Los Angeles during his controversial tenure as city librarian. In 1905 veteran
librarian Mary L. Jones was fired (without apparent justification) from her job as city librarian of the Los Angeles Public
Library (LAPL) and replaced by Lummis, who was a popular figure, but had no library experience. In 1910, during a very public
scandal surrounding his second divorce, Lummis was accused of neglecting his duties and was forced to resign his position.
In spite of his stormy career as librarian, Lummis' contributions to the community were significant. He insisted on equal
access to library materials for all people regardless of their social or economic standing, instituted entrance exams for
library employees in an effort to establish fair hiring practices, and lobbied to increase salaries for library employees.
Lummis also boosted the popularity of the library, built a collection of contemporary biographies and autographs, instituted
the branding of books to prevent theft, improved children's services, and moved the main library to a better facility.
Lummis' personal life was as turbulent as his professional life. His mother died when he was young and his father remarried.
He grew up with one sister, three half sisters, and one half-brother. He was married and divorced three times. He fathered
one child before he was married and later had four children with his second wife, Eve. He received his early education from
his father, Reverend Henry Lummis, and later attended Harvard. While at Harvard, he worked summers in the print shop of a
resort in New Hampshire, where he printed and sold his first work,
Birch Bark Poems. In spite of his demonstrated intelligence, Lummis was unenthusiastic about his studies. Ultimately, he failed two final
exams in mathematics and, rather than retake the exams, he left Harvard without a degree. Years later, after Lummis had gained
national renown, Harvard bestowed an honorary bachelor's degree upon him. He received other honors during his lifetime, including
an honorary degree from Santa Clara College and knighthood from the King of Spain. Aside from his service as LAPL librarian
and his time as editor of the
Los Angeles Daily Times and
Out West Magazine, he depended upon the sale of his books, articles, and essays for income. Charles F. Lummis died of cancer at his home,
El Alisal, in 1928. The home, which Lummis built with his own hands, is now a historic landmark in Los Angeles.
|1859 March 01
||Born Charles Fletcher Lummis in Lynn, Massachusetts to Harriet Fowler Lummis and Reverend Henry Lummis.
||Entered Harvard University as a freshman.
||Worked at Profile House resort hotel in New Hampshire as a printer.
||Printed and sold his
Birch Bark Poems.
||Unbeknownst to Lummis, daughter, Bertha Belle was born to Emma L. Nourse and soon adopted by the Page family.
|1880 April 16
||Married Mary Dorothea Rhodes (Roads) in Boston Massachusetts. Rhodes went by her middle name, Dorothea, and is sometimes called
"Dolly" or "Thea."
||Left Harvard after completing all the coursework, but without passing two of the final exams. Moved to the Rhodes' family
farm in Chillicothe, Ohio.
||Became editor of
Scioto Gazettein Chillicothe.
||Began walk from Cincinnati, Ohio to Los Angeles, California. Dispatched reports of his progress to
Los Angeles Daily Times and
Chillicothe Leader along the way.
|1885 February 01
||Arrived in Los Angeles and was appointed city editor for the
Los Angeles Daily Times.
||Traveled to the Arizona territory to report on the campaign of General George H. Cook against Geronimo and the Chiricahua
The Home of Ramona (Los Angeles: Charles F. Lummis & Co.).
||Suffered a stroke which paralyzed the left side of his body.
|1888 February 05
||Traveled to New Mexico for convalescence from his stroke. Stayed first in San Mateo with Amado Chavez and family and then
moved to the pueblo of Isleta.
||Explored the Southwest with archaeologist Adolph Bandelier.
||Dissolution of marriage to Dorothea Rhodes.
|1891 March 27
||Married Eva "Eve" Francis Douglas in San Bernardino, California.
A New Mexico David and Other Stories and Sketches of the Southwest (New York: C. Scribner's Sons).
|1892 June 09
||Daughter, Dorothea "Turbesé" Lummis born to Eve Lummis in Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico.
||Secured release of Native American children (from the pueblo of Isleta) that had been kept against their families' wishes
at the government school in Albuquerque, Mew Mexico.
||Relocated Eve and Turbesé from Isleta to Los Angeles and joined Bandelier on an archaeological expedition to Peru and Bolivia.
A Tramp Across the Continent (New York: C. Scribner's Sons).
Some Strange Corners of Our Country (New York: The Century Co.).
||Returned to Los Angeles.
The Land of Poco Tiempo (New York: C. Scribner's Sons).
The Spanish Pioneers (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co.).
|1894 November 15
||Son, Amado Bandelier Lummis born.
The Man Who Married the Moon, and Other Pueblo Indian Folk-Stories (New York: The Century Co.).
||Became editor of magazine,
Land of Sunshine.
The Gold Fish of Gran Chimú (Boston and New York: Lamson, Wolffe & Co.).
||Founded Landmarks Club with the intention of restoring and preserving the old Spanish missions of California.
The Enchanted Burro: Stories of New Mexico and South America (Chicago: Way and Williams).
The King of the Broncos, and Other Stories of New Mexico (New York: C. Scribner's Sons).
||Began to build his home,
El Alisal, on three acres along the Arroyo Seco, just north of downtown Los Angeles.
The Awakening of a Nation: Mexico Today (New York and London: Harper & Bros.).
|1900 January 19
||Son, Jordon "Quimu" Lummis born.
|1900 December 25
||Son, Amado Bandelier Lummis died of pneumonia.
||Summoned to Washington, D.C. to advise President Roosevelt on Native American issues.
||Founded the Sequoya League as an instrument to defend Native American rights.
||Became chairman of the Warner's Ranch Indian Advisory Commission.
||Changed title of magazine
Land of Sunshine to
||Founded the Southwest Society, a branch of the Archaeological Institute of America.
||Received honorary degree from Santa Clara College in recognition of his service to the history of the American West.
|1904 August 20
||Son, Keith Lummis born.
||Appointed Los Angeles City Librarian.
||Granted honorary bachelor of arts degree from Harvard at 25th class reunion.
||Bestowed Lummis name upon newly discovered daughter, Bertha Belle Page, and invited her to live with him at
||Founded and acted as secretary of Southwest Museum in California.
||Became founding board member of the School of American Archaeology at Santa Fe, New Mexico.
||Separated from wife, Eve.
||Ceased to edit
El Alisal and his collections to the Southwest Museum.
||Was forced to resign from the Los Angeles Public Library.
Pueblo Indian Folk-Stories (New York: The Century Co.).
||Led expedition to Mayan Ruins of Guatemala, where he contracted "Jungle Fever." Fever reportedly left him temporarily blind.
My Friend Will (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co.).
||Wrote column, "In the Lion's Den," for
West Coast Magazine.
|1912 June 13
||Dissolution of marriage to Eve.
|1912 November 16
||Participated in the groundbreaking of the Southwest Museum.
In Memory of Juan Rodrígues Cabrillo, Who Gave the World California(Chula Vista, California: Denrich Press).
|1914 August 01
||Opened Southwest Museum to public.
||Acted as founding member and vice-president of the Arroyo Seco Association.
|1915 March 11
||Resigned as secretary of the Southwest Museum.
|1915 March 15
||Knighted by Alfonso XIII of Spain for his sympathetic portrayal of the actions of Spain in the Americas.
|1915 May 09
||Married Gertrude Redit in Los Angeles, California.
Spanish Songs of Old California (San Francisco: Scholz, Erickson & Co.)
||Separated from wife, Gertrude.
Mesa, Cañon and Pueblo: Our Wonderland of the Southwest (New York and London: The Century Co.).
||Diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
A Bronco Pegasus (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.).
|1928 November 12
||Suffered a massive hemorrhage and fell into a coma.
|1928 November 25
||Posthumous publication of
The Spanish Pioneers and the California Missions (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co.).
||Posthumous publication of
Flowers of Our Last Romance (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.).
||Cultural Heritage Board of the city of Los Angeles declared
El Alisal a historic monument.
El Alisal: Where History Lingers. Brea, California: Premier Printing Corporation/Sultana Press, 1994.
Fiske, Turbesé Lummis.
Charles F. Lummis: The Man and His West. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1975.
Charles F. Lummis: Crusader in Corduroy. United States: Cultural Assests Press, 1972.
Charles F. Lummis: A Bibliography. Tucson: Graduate Library School University of Arizona, 1977.
American Character: The Curious Life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the Rediscovery of the Southwest. New York: Arcade Pub., 2001.
Collection Scope and Content Summary
This collection contains a portion of Charles F. Lummis' prolific correspondence to friends and colleagues, documents his
tenure as Los Angeles Public Librarian, provides a sample of his photographic prints, and offers a rare glimpse of his early
interests and activities through a personal scrapbook that he assembled during his college years. Lummis' papers include
manuscripts, typescripts, notes, articles about and by Lummis, news clippings, publications, photographic prints, legal transcripts,
correspondence, invoices, and printed ephemera, all of which are related to his personal and professional interests.
This collection is arranged in six series.
- Series 1. Scrapbooks and photographic prints, 1877-1927, undated. 1 linear foot.
- Series 2. Family correspondence, 1904-1928, undated. 0.4 linear feet.
- Series 3. Personal and professional papers, 1879-1928, undated. 3.4 linear feet.
- Series 4. Ephemera, 1909-1928, undated. 0.2 linear feet.
- Series 5. Clippings, 1891-1926, undated. 0.4 linear feet.
- Series 6. Publications, 1884-1914. 0.2 linear feet.
Damaged newspaper clippings and journal articles with significant preservation issues that were also available online were
Related materials are found in the following collections:
- Charles F. Lummis Manuscript Papers Collection. Autry National Center, Southwest Museum. http://www.autrynationalcenter.org/mwebcgi/mweb.exe?request=record&id=CGAV06-A0&type=201
- Charles Fletcher Lummis Papers (Collection 763). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University
of California, Los Angeles. http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf6n39p0x7
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928 -- Archives.
Los Angeles Public Library -- Archives.
California -- Archives.
San Francisco (Calif.)-- Photographs.
Genres and Formats of Materials
Letters -- 20th century.
Cyanotypes -- 19th century.
Cyanotypes -- 20th century.
Scrapbooks -- 19th century.
Scrapbooks -- 20th century.
Photographic prints -- 19th century.
Photographic prints -- 20th century.
Ephemera -- Southwest, New -- 20th century.
Ephemera -- California -- 20th century.
Ephemera -- Massachusetts -- Cambridge -- 19th century.
Meadows, Don -- collector