Miles Poindexter photograph collection, 1880s-1940s  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Poindexter, Miles, 1868-1946
Miles Poindexter photograph collection
1880s-1940s (inclusive)
Photographs and albums (11 boxes plus 1 oversize folder)
Collection Number
Photographs of the family, life, and career of Miles Poindexter, a Superior Court Judge in Washington State, a Congressman, a United States Senator, and a United States Ambassador to Peru
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Miles Poindexter, attorney, member of Congress from Washington State, and diplomat, was born in 1868 in Tennessee and grew up in Virginia. He attended Washington and Lee University (undergraduate and law school), receiving his law degree in 1891. He moved to Walla Walla, Washington, was admitted to the bar and began his law practice. He entered politics soon after his arrival and ran successfully for County Prosecutor as a Democrat in 1892. Poindexter moved to Spokane in 1897 where he continued the practice of law. He switched to the Republican Party in Spokane, where he received an appointment as deputy prosecuting attorney (1898-1904). In 1904 he was elected Superior Court Judge.

Poindexter became identified with progressive causes and it was as a progressive Republican and a supporter of Theodore Roosevelt that he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1908 and to the Senate in 1910. He was an outspoken member of the progressive Republican bloc, known as "insurgents," who revolted against the leadership of Congress between 1909 and 1912. After Roosevelt's split from the Republican Party during the 1912 presidential campaign, Poindexter reluctantly joined the Progressive Party. Dissatisfaction with Wilson's foreign policy and his own loss of enthusiasm for reform measures coincided with his return to the Republican Party in 1915. His efforts on behalf of tariff reform and the regulation of the railroads, banks and other "interests" pleased his political supporters in Washington State, and he won another term to the Senate in 1916.

During his tenure as Senator, Poindexter served on the Interstate Commerce, Judiciary, Mines and Mining, Naval Affairs, Post Office and Post Roads, Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico, and Indian Depredations committees, as well as Committees on Expenditures in the Interior Department and the War Department. One of Poindexter's more notable legislative proposals dealt with the problem of unemployment in a manner that foreshadowed the New Deal. In 1913 he introduced a bill which would have created an "industrial army" to construct public works. He was also a proponent of military preparedness and favored expansion of the Navy.

Poindexter was intensely nationalistic and worked to suppress opposition to America's entry into World War I. He favored wartime censorship, the Sedition Act, and considered pacifism disloyal. He also spoke strongly against "alien slackers," immigrants who turned in their first citizenship papers to avoid the draft. After the war he was an outspoken critic of President Wilson and the League of Nations. He believed Wilson was sympathetic to Bolshevism and criticized the administration for leniency in handling the prosecution of radicals. His position against labor unions and radical groups contributed to the "Red Scare" of 1919-1920.

Poindexter received national recognition, in particular, for his stand against the League of Nations and being pro-American and anti-anarchists/Bolsheviks. This national recognition was one factor in his decision to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1920. He was the first Republican to declare his candidacy (October 26, 1919) but lost the nomination to Warren G. Harding.

After the 1920 election Poindexter became a Harding Republican, favoring business interests over those of labor and farmers. In 1922, he lost his Senate re-election bid to C.C. Dill, a progressive Democrat. In 1923 President Harding appointed Poindexter ambassador to Peru, where he served until 1928. He made another unsuccessful attempt to regain his Senate seat that year. After the death of his wife in 1929 he returned to Virginia. Following his retirement from political life, Poindexter produced three manuscripts about the Inca civilization, two of which ( The Ayar Incaand Peruvian Pharaohs) were published. He died in Virginia in 1946.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Photographs from the life and career of Miles Poindexter. The majority of the collection is comprised of photographs of receptions, ceremonies, other diplomatic functions, and landscapes of Peru during the years Poindexter was ambassador to Peru (1923-1928). Also included are photographs from Washington state and Alaska (including Poindexter's 1911 trip to Alaska with Gifford Pinchot) and Poindexter family photographs.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Container(s) Description Dates
1 Ambassador to Peru photographs 1923-1928
1 Unidentified photographs undated
1 Poindexter family photographs 1927
2 South American landscapes and cities circa 1923-1928
2 World War I circa 1917-1920
2 Washington and Alaska
Includes 103 black and white photographs (4 x 6 ½ inches) of Poindexter's trip to Alaska with Gifford Pinchot, circa 1911 (photographer unknown) and 6 photographs (3 x 4 inches) of Poindexter's trip to Alaska with Gifford Pinchot taken by Levi Chubbuck, September 1911. Includes images of homesteading, farming, mining, and other miscellaneous photographs.
2 Miles Poindexter portraits undated
3-5 Ambassador to Peru photographs 1923-1928
5 Poindexter family photographs undated
5 Constituent correspondence and photographs 1916-1922
5-6 Washington and Alaska undated
6-7 Unidentified photographs 1890s, undated
8 "Centenario de la Batalla de Ayacucho" photograph album 1924
9 Mt. Rainier photograph album circa 1920
10 "Irrigacion Pampas del Imperial" photograph album 1926
10 Peru photograph album circa 1920s
11 Oversize photographs undated
Oversize Folder Oversize Photographs undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Ambassadors--United States--Photographs
  • Ayacucho, Battle of, Peru, 1824--Photographs
  • Cities and towns--South America--Photographs
  • Landscapes--South America--Photographs
  • Personal Names :
  • Poindexter, Miles, 1868-1946--Archives
  • Poindexter, Miles, 1868-1946--Family--Photographs
  • Poindexter, Miles, 1868-1946--Photographs
  • Geographical Names :
  • Alaska--Photographs
  • Colville Indian Reservation (Wash.)--Photographs
  • Pampas (Huancavelica, Peru)--Photographs
  • Rainier, Mount (Wash.)--Photographs
  • Washington (State)--Photographs
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Photograph albums
  • Photographs

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)