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Guide to the Hartley Burr Alexander Papers
D1943.1  
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Collection Details
 
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  • Administrative Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography of Hartley Burr Alexander
  • Chronology
  • Scope and Contents of the Collection
  • Index Terms

  • Administrative Summary

    Title: Hartley Burr Alexander Papers
    Creator: Alexander, Hartley Burr
    Dates: 1897-2000
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1908-1938)
    Quantity: 8.0 cubic feet
    Repository: Claremont Colleges. Library.
    1090 Columbia Avenue
    Claremont, California 91711
    Abstract: The Hartley Burr Alexander Papers contain correspondence, financial material, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, music manuscripts, and blueprints documenting Hartley Burr Alexander’s many educational and cultural activities. The collection contains papers relating to his teaching career, his writings and musical compositions, his work on architectural inscriptions and decoration, and his work on Indian art in North America. The collection covers the years 1897-2000 with the bulk of the material ranging from 1908-1938. This collection also contains materials of documenting the writing activities of other scholars who were working on similar activities or who had working relationships with Hartley Burr Alexander.
    Collection Number: D1943.1
    Physical Location: Ella Strong Denison Library
    Language: English

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    This collection is open for research with permission from Ella Strong Denison Library staff.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish must be submitted in writing to Denison Library.

    Related Materials at Ella Strong Denison Library

    Title: Hartley Burr Alexander Projects,
    Date: 1929-1933

    Separated Materials

    Oversize material is located in oversize box numbers 1 and 2.

    Preferred Citation

    Hartley Burr Alexander Papers. Ella Strong Denison Library, Scripps College, Claremont, California.

    Aquisition Information

    Gift of Hartley Burr Alexander in 1943.

    Processing Information

    Preliminary arrangement by library staff. Processed by History Associates Incorporated, 2005

    Accruals

    No addition to the collection is anticipated.

    Biography of Hartley Burr Alexander

    Hartley Burr Alexander (1873-1939), educator, author, poet, philosopher, was born on April 9, 1873 in Lincoln, Nebraska and raised in Syracuse, Nebraska by his father, George Sherman Alexander, a self-educated Methodist Minister from Massachusetts, and his artist-stepmother, Susan Godding Alexander. His mother, Abbey Gifford Smith Alexander died when he was three.
    After graduating from Syracuse High School, Alexander attended the University of Nebraska, graduating in 1897 with an A.B. degree. Alexander began his teaching career in the English Department before accepting the Harrison Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (1898-1900). He then transferred to Columbia University where he received his Doctor of Philosophy in 1901. In 1908 he accepted a position teaching philosophy at the University of Nebraska (1908-1927), after which he became Professor of Philosophy at Scripps College in Claremont, California.
    Alexander began his prolific writing career as a member of the editorial staff for G. & C. Merriam Company’s Webster’s New International Dictionary (1903-1908), where he revised the words from “bicycle” to “marriage.” While at G. and C. Merriam Company he was promoted to assistant chief of the editorial staff, revising definitions for words used in philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and mythology. Dr. Alexander’s writing career continued in the publication of several books and numerous articles. In 1904 he published articles and poems constantly, and in 1905 published “Poetry and the Individual” and “Mid Earth Life,” a collection of poems. His most important philosophical contributions include Nature and Human Nature (1923); Truth and the Faith (1929); “The Great Art which is Philosophy,” in Contemporary American Philosophy , Volume I (1930); and God and Man’s Destiny (1936).
    Dr. Alexander also researched extensively in anthropological issues related to philosophy. A significant amount of his work involved recording dances, songs, poems, and sacred stories from many American Indian cultures. Between 1914 and 1917 he devoted his time to his work on the mythology of the North American Indians. It was during this time that he also wrote and directed three summertime pageants that were staged in Lincoln, Nebraska on the University campus. But, Alexander did not solely concentrate on the cultures of the North American Indian. He also created works about the peoples south of the United States, including those of Mexico, the Antilles, and Central and South America. The most significant of which was his publication of “Mythology of all Races, Latin American,” which led to his delivery of a series of lectures at the Sorbonne in Paris [lectures on the “Art and Philosophy of the North American Indians”](1925). As a result of his lecture at the Sorbonne and for his work on behalf of French war orphans, he became a member of the Societe des Americanistes de Pari s, and a recipient of the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.
    Alexander’s interest in native cultures manifested itself into the publication of several important works, his most important of which include his contributions to The Mythology of All Races , Vol. X (1916) and Vol. XI (1920); Odes and Lyrics (1922), a collection of poems; L’Art et la Philosophie des Indiens de l’Amerique du Nord (1926), a publication of his Sorbonne lectures; and The World’s Rim: Great Mysteries of the North American Indians (1953).
    Dr Alexander also combined his interests in philosophy and anthropology in the publication of numerous poems and articles about poetry. He also had great interest in the theater, writing several operettas and plays on the subject of American Indians. Alexander was the author of several popular pageants presented in Lincoln, Omaha, and at the University of Nebraska, including “The Pageant of Lincoln” (1915), “The Gate City” (1916), and the Ak-Sar-Ben Pageant for 1922.
    Hartley Burr Alexander’s interests in philosophy, anthropology, and the arts synthesized with his interest in architecture. Many of Alexander’s thoughts have been cut into stone in the form of inscriptions and symbolic programs in several monuments of American architecture throughout the United States. The most notable are those he created for the Nebraska State Capitol in 1925, Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska, Rockefeller Center in New York City, Bertram Goodhue’s Los Angeles Public Library, and for several buildings at the Century of Progress Exhibition at the 1933in Chicago.
    In 1919, it had been decided that a new capitol should be built in Lincoln, Nebraska. Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue was selected, and construction began in 1922. Goodhue’s design – Roman chariots prancing on a roof – so offended Alexander’s sense of what was appropriate for Nebraska that he wrote Goodhue with suggestions of more appropriate art. Goodhue was so impressed, that he hired Alexander on the spot to direct the artwork and write the inscriptions for the building. It was during his work on the capitol that Alexander first worked with tile designer Hildreth Meiere, and sculptor Lee Lawrie. Alexander worked with them again on other Goodhue buildings, such as the Los Angeles Public Library; the Fidelity Mutual Insurance Building in Philadelphia; Pennsylvania State Finance Building, Chicago Century of Progress Exhibition; the City Hall and Courthouse in St. Paul, the Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C.; the Joslyn Memorial Building in Omaha, Rockefeller Center; and others.
    Several works were written by Alexander concerning his work on the Nebraska State Capitol building, such as “Nebraska’s Monumental Capitol” in Western Architect , 1923; “Lee Lawrie’s Sculptures” in Nebraska State Journal, 1923; “The Nebraska Capitol” in Goodhue Memorial Volume published by the American Institute of Architects, 1925; and Nebraska State Capitol: Synopsis of Decorations and Inscriptions , State Capitol Commission, 1926.
    Between 1935 and 1939, Alexander, in addition to his teaching, remained an extremely active writer. During this period he finished a book on Indian ceremonies entitled “The Great Mysteries of the North American Indians,” and another book which was eventually entitled God and Man’s Destiny (1936). Although Oxford published God and Man’s Destiny in 1936, “The Great Mysteries of the North American Indians” was not published until 1953 by the University of Nebraska Press under the title The World’s Rim.
    Alexander died at his home in Claremont in 1939 at the age of 66. The memorial service was held in Balch Hall Auditorium at Scripps College on July 29. Scripps College honored him posthumously with the establishment of the Hartley Burr Alexander Professorship in the Humanities.

    Chronology

    1873 Born on April 9 in Lincoln, Nebraska
    1897 Graduated from the University of Nebraska with an A.B. degree.
    1898-1900 Taught English at the University of Nebraska
    1901 Received his Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University
    1908-1927 Taught philosophy at the University of Nebraska
    1922 Began designing architectural descriptions for Nebraska State Capitol building
    1924-1931 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, California
    1926-1932 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company Building, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1927-1933 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Home Office Building in Ottawa, Canada
    1929-1932 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Joslyn Memorial Building in Omaha, Nebraska
    1930-1933 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago Illinois
    1931-1933 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Rockefeller Center in New York, New York
    1932-1934 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1932-1935 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Department of Justice in Washington D.C.
    1939 Died at his home in Claremont, CA. at the age of 66

    Scope and Contents of the Collection

    The Hartley Burr Alexander Papers contain correspondence, financial material, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, music manuscripts, and blueprints documenting Hartley Burr Alexander’s many educational and cultural activities. The collection contains papers relating to his teaching career, his writings and musical compositions, his work on architectural inscriptions and decoration, and his work on Indian art in North America. The collection covers the years 1897-2000 with the bulk of the material ranging from 1908 to 1938. This collection also contains materials of documenting the writing activities of other scholars who were working on similar activities or who had working relationships with Hartley Burr Alexander.
    Documents authored by Hartley Burr Alexander may be found in Series 3, Correspondence; Series 4, Faculty Papers; Series 6, Project Records; and Series 8, Writings. Much of the other material in this collection is authored by Hartley Burr Alexander’s family members, friends, and business acquaintances, especially Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, who hired him to direct the art work and write the inscriptions for many of the buildings Goodhue constructed, as well as, material authored by Lee Lawrie, and Meiere Meredith, who worked with Alexander on creating the designs for these buildings.
    With the exception of Series 5 Photographic/Illustrations, and a few photographic prints scattered throughout other series, this collection consists largely of textual records. Textual record types primarily include correspondence, newspaper clippings, reports, notes, financial statements, publications, and manuscripts.
    The largest series is Series 3, Correspondence. Additional correspondence is scattered throughout other series. Other large series include Series 9, Writings, and Series 10, Writings by Others.
    The collection is organized into eleven series:
    • Series 1. Donor Records
    • Series 2. Biographical Material
    • Series 3. Correspondence
    • Series 4. Faculty Papers, 1919-1937
    • Series 5. Photographs/Illustrations
    • Series 6. Project Records, 1922-1938
    • Series 7. University of Nebraska, 1922-1933
    • Series 8. Writings, 1924-1989
    • Series 9. Writings by Others
    • Series 10. Topical Files
    • Series 11. Oversize Material

    Index Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects:

    Alexander, Hartley Burr, 1873-1939 – Archives
    Scripps College (Claremont, Calif.)--Archival resources.
    Scripps College – Faculty – Archives
    Nebraska State Capitol (Lincoln, Neb.)
    Los Angeles Public Library
    Rockefeller Center
    Architectural inscriptions – United States
    Decoration and ornament, Architectural – United States
    Indian art – North America
    Indian painting – North America
    Architecture – Slides
    Musicals – United States

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Genres and Forms of Materials

    Blueprints
    Correspondence
    Pamphlets
    Photographs
    Sketches
    Manuscripts
    Scrapbooks
    Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
    Programs