Contents and Arrangement

Subseries 1: Administration, 1923-1994

30 boxes
Restrictions may apply. See Access Note.

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Series 1: Organizational Files, Subseries 1: Administration (1923-1994) consists of correspondence, minutes, agenda, transcripts, reports, incorporation papers, articles, and clippings spanning most of the AAIA's existence: from its days as an "Indian interest organization," with non-Indians at the helm, to its days as an "Indian organization," under Native American leadership. This subseries documents the AAIA's administrative activities through the workings of its Board of Directors, committees, and staff; chronicles its evolving goals and the programs designed to realize them; delineates its organizational structure and manner of conducting business; and, last but not least, records the enormous variety of issues it considered over the years.

More than half of this subseries consists of files relating to Annual, Board of Directors, and Executive Committee meetings. These files typically contain minutes, reports, and correspondence regarding the arrangement of meetings and the issues discussed at them. Files from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s often contain transcripts as well. The recordings from which many of these were made can be found in Series 5 (Audiovisual Material). A wide variety of internal committees are also represented in this subseries, including the Health Committee, which concerned itself with such matters as the over-representation of certain diseases, including tuberculosis and trachoma, in the Native American population; the Nominating Committee, which was charged with proposing candidates for the Board of Directors and its committees; the Film Committee, which focused on the frequently unflattering portrayal of Indians in motion pictures; and the Education Committee, which discussed, among other things, boarding schools, head start programs, home study, and the awarding of AAIA-sponsored scholarships.

Files designated "Program & Budget" consist of annual discussions of the AAIA's plans for the forthcoming year in both their programmatic and financial aspects, as well as general long-term planning. Important issues raised in these files include Native American health, education, and welfare; the arts; land and water rights; the termination of federal responsibilities and tribal self-determination; and community development. Additional material related to the budgetary process can be found in Series 1, Subseries 4 (Finances). Other files document wide-ranging policy debates and organizational analyses, including a discussion in the 1950s regarding the merits of converting from a board-run to a staff-run association. Underpinning these deliberations are various foundational documents, such as by-laws, which, among other things, document the various changes in name which the AAIA has undergone. Of particular interest are several files on the merger in 1937 of the National Association on Indian Affairs, as the AAIA was then known, and the American Indian Defense Association, including correspondence reflecting the jockeying for power which accompanied this union of onetime foes.

This subseries also contains numerous reports, including annual reports, albeit inconsistently published; reports of the executive director; and activity and program reports from various board and staff members, all of which offer useful insights into the day-to-day workings of the AAIA, as well as its overall vision. The different styles of the Association's executive directors are well-illustrated by the material in this subseries: from the expressive La Verne Madigan, whose reports could assume the character of stories, to the dispassionate Idrian Resnick, with his emphasis on system.

In sum, this subseries provides a concise overview of the history of the AAIA and the personalities who shaped its course. Many, though not all, of the Association's internal dynamics are laid bare, including the changing relationship between board and staff and their divergent perspectives on the handling of such matters as the administration of programs and fund raising. Gains and setbacks are recorded -- from Secretary of the Interior Fred Seaton's disavowal of involuntary termination in 1958 to Madigan's untimely death in 1962 -- as is the frequently unglamorous activity between such poles. The changing concerns and changing terms of reference of the AAIA can be found elsewhere in this collection, but nowhere does this evolution unfold more plainly.


The materials in this subseries related to Annual, Board of Directors, and Executive Committee meetings for the most part are organized chronologically on a meeting by meeting basis. Committee files are arranged in alphabetical order by name of the committee, followed by Program and Budget files, the various reports, materials related to staff, and general files.

Collection History


No information about appraisal is available for this collection prior to the 2007 addition. Materials related to particular scholarships were separated from the August 2007 addition [ML.2007.027] and returned to the donor as requested.

No materials were separated from subsequent additions in 2008-2015. The exception is the 2014 addition [ML.2014.007]; AAIA newsletters that had already been catalogued by Princeton's Firestone Library were removed.

Approximately 1.5 linear feet consisting of routine financial information, personnel records, and other out-of-scope materials were removed from the October 2016 addition [ML.2016.034].


These records were processed with the generous support of The National Endowment for the Humanities and The John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund.

Processing Information

These Records were initially arranged and described between December 1995 - June 1997 by John S. Weeren, with the able assistance of many hands and, in particular, Tom Rosko, Mitra Martin, Christina Aragon, and Shawneequa Callier. Additions received from 2005 to 2008 were processed in 2008 by Lynn Durgin. An inventory, the MARC record and the finding aid were updated at this time. Materials from subsequent additions from 2009-2016 were added to the collection as separate series. Box and folder lists for these additionss were created and the MARC record and finding aid were updated. Some materials in the May 2011, September 2012, and 2014 additions were re-housed in archival boxes or folders during accessioning. Digital materials in Series 8 were processed by Elena Colon-Marrero in July 2015.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

All records in Series 1 are open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, any copyright vested in the donor has passed to The Trustees of Princeton University and researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of donor-created materials within the collection. For materials in the collection not created by the donor, or where the material is not an original, the copyright is likely not held by the University. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection contains materials acquired from an Apple iMac desktop computer and other unknown desktop computers. Researchers are responsible for meeting the technical requirements needed to access these materials, including any and all hardware and software.

Credit this material:

Subseries 1: Administration; Association on American Indian Affairs Records, MC147, Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 1-30