Alvin M. Josephy papers , 1940-2002

Overview of the Collection

American Heritage Publishing Company; American Heritage Publishing Company; Josephy, Alvin M., 1915-2005
Alvin M. Josephy papers
1940-2002 (inclusive)
163.25 linear feet, (242 boxes, 1 folio, 1 folder, 1 package)
Collection Number
Coll 014
Alvin Josephy, Jr (May 18, 1915-October 16, 2005) was a historian and author on the American West, especially American Indian life, culture, and the development of American Indian Policy, a journalist and editor, and was the founding chairman of the board of trustees of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. The collection contains Josephy's literary manuscripts, professional correspondence, personal papers and correspondence, material related to Josephy's work with American Heritage Publishing Company, and also publications, correspondence, minutes and other material pertaining to Indigenous peoples and organizations, and the development of American Indian policy.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. (May 18, 1915-October 16, 2005) was "a leading historian of the American West" who authored and edited "many award-winning books, including The Patriot Chiefs, The Indian Heritage of America, Now That the Buffalo's Gone, 500 Nations, Red Power, and A Walk Toward Oregon" (American Heritage).

"He was the Editor of American Heritage Magazine and was the founding chairman of the board of trustees of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and president of the Western History Association" (American Heritage).

"Josephy Jr. was born on May 18, 1915, in Woodmere, N.Y., and raised in New York City. His family were prominent members of East Coast literary society - his mother was a sister of the publisher Alfred A. Knopf - but growing up, Alvin Jr. dreamed of the West" (Fox).

"Forced by the Depression to leave Harvard after two years, Josephy found work as a screenwriter in Hollywood before returning to New York, where he became a reporter. During World War II, he was a combat correspondent with the Marines in the Pacific and was awarded a Bronze Star" (Fox).

"After the war, Josephy returned to screenwriting. (His credits include "The Captive City," a 1952 film starring John Forsythe as an investigative journalist based on Mr. Josephy.) In 1951, he became an associate editor of Time magazine, and in 1960 joined American Heritage, retiring in 1979" (Fox).

Josephy Jr. also served as an advisor to President Richard Nixon regarding Federal Indian Policy.

[Source: American Heritage website:] [Source: Fox, Margalit. "Alvin M. Josephy Jr., 90, Historian on Indian Life, Dies." New York Times. October 18, 2005. Web.]

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Alvin Josephy started donating his personal papers to the University of Oregon in 1968. The materials were received in three separate batches, and the three separate materials were processed individually into three discrete collections: Coll 014 (processed in 1981); Coll 188 (processed in 1989); and Coll 234 (processed in 1994). Since then, these collections have undergone many physical changes and thus, the old finding aids are no longer accurate.

A project was begun in 2000 to physically reprocess the three collections into one. The reprocessing project remained unfinished as of 2012, and at that time, the project changed to focus on the intellectual integration and organization, in order to produce a useable list as soon as possible that could be published as a finding aid.

Thus, the physical folders still have old collection numbers, box numbers, and folder numbers written on them. The list below will guide patrons to the appropriate box and folder for their research needs. The physical replacement of folders may continue, but the Coll 014 finding aid now accurately reflects the contents of the collection.

(Parts of Coll 234 which contained gathered environmental organization material and publications, additional American Heritage material, and other publishing company material were kept under the call number Coll 234, which is now also available. See the Related Materials Note.)

Coll 014 series arrangement and content is as follows:

Series I: Literary Works (1947-2002) contains manuscript material of Josephy's books, edited works, contributions to other works, and articles for serials and other publications. Material is grouped by title and or chapter, but often titles appear multiple times throughout the collection.

Literary Works is arranged into subseries:

Subseries A contains manuscripts of books by Josephy; Subseries B contains manuscripts of Josephy's edited works; Subseries C contains contributions by Josephy to other edited works; Subseries D contains periodical articles by Josephy; Subseries E contains conference papers, speeches, and lectures by Josephy; Subseries F contains manuscripts and correspondence related to works reviewed by Josephy; Subseries G contains screenplays, teleplays, and short stories by Josephy; Subseries H contains works by others.

Manuscripts of books and edited works by Josephy include Black Hills, White Sky, The American Heritage History of the Congress of the U.S., Days of Rage, 500 Nations, Red Power, A Walk Toward Oregon, Now That the Buffalo's Gone, Indians of the Sound, and Great North Dakota Boondoggle.

Material in this series includes drafts and annotated drafts, revisions, notes, related correspondence, research material, outlines, galley proofs, mock-ups, and contracts.

Series II: Correspondence (1940-2002) is partially arranged by date and partially grouped alphabetically by title of work and/or author. Correspondence files may also include contracts and manuscript material.

Series III: Development of American Indian Policy (1953-2000) contains material from private and governmental organizations, and individuals. As part of his membership and work with some of these organizations, Josephy created, gathered, or was sent this material.

Subseries A: National and Cultural Organizations, Federal Policy, and Civil Rights contains material created by or for private and public organizations and departments, including museums, and also documents related to the development of U.S. Federal policies towards America's indigenous peoples .

Organizations include: Museum of the American Indian, Association of American Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Native American Rights Fund. Material includes correspondence, meeting minutes and reports, financial information, membership lists, and ephemera.

Subseries B: Arts and Crafts contains material by or from the Indian Arts and Crafts board, the Museum of the American Indian, and other Native American arts and crafts organizations, individuals, or events.

Subseries C: Education contains material related to American education policy towards Native Americans, and research, reports, correspondence, articles, and clippings on Native American Youth and their educational opportunities.

Subseries D: Publications contains serials, newspapers, newsletters, and other publications by Native American individuals, groups, or organizations. Material is grouped by title of publication.

Series IV: Personal (1953-1999) contains personal papers and correspondence if Alvin Josephy, Jr. Of particular note is the material regarding his military service, and material documenting the reunion Josephy took part in, of the 50th anniversary of the 3rd Marine Division landing in Guam.

Series V: American Heritage Publishing (1961-1976) contains material related to Josephy's work as Editor of the publishing company, as an an author. Material includes correspondence, contracts, financial information, meeting minutes, and printed matter.

Photographs and slides were removed from their original placement in the collection(s) for preservation reasons, and are stored separately under the call number PH133. Photographs include oversized images used in Josephy's research. Slides are of locations and canal work in Minnesota including Pine River, the McCluskey Canal, a farmstead, mudlflats that were once John Lake, and "gutted and ravaged land."

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • American periodicals
  • Authors and publishers--Correspondence
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Environmental policy--United States--History
  • Periodicals--Publishing
  • Publishers and publishing

Personal Names

  • Josephy, Alvin M., 1915-2005

Corporate Names

  • American Heritage Publishing Company
  • American Heritage Publishing Company

Geographical Names

  • Northwest, Pacific--History

Form or Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts for publication