Arthur F. Burns papers, 1911-2005 and undated, bulk 1940-1987 18.5 Linear Feet — approximately 2,675 items — 2.6 Gigabytes
The Arthur Frank Burns Papers cover the years 1911 through 2005. The bulk of the material was created from 1940 to 1987 and pertains to Burns's career as an economic advisor, particularly to Republican administrations, as the chair of the Federal Reserve, and as ambassador to Germany. The collection is arranged into seven series: Correspondence, Honors and Awards, Journals, Personal Papers, Photographs, Print Materials, and Research and Teaching. There are also oversize materials housed at the end of the collection. Topics of interest in this collection include but are not limited to: the United States economic system and fiscal policies; the Federal Reserve Board and related committees; recessions, unemployment, and inflation; the world economy and finance; the U.S. presidency during the time period; the Nixon presidency in particular, including the Watergate affair; presidential campaigns and elections; and diplomacy. There is a small amount of research and teaching material, chiefly from the 1920s-1930s. The most significant component of the collection is the correspondence between Arthur Burns and Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, as well as substantial exchanges with economists Milton Friedman and Wesley Clair Mitchell.
The most substantial and notable papers are found in the Correspondence Series, which contains letters and memoranda written from 1911-1997 both to and from Burns and/or his wife, Helen. The series is organized into three subseries, Correspondence by Individual, Correspondence by Topic, and Correspondence to Mrs. Helen Burns. The majority of the exchanges in the first subseries are letters written to or by presidents or vice presidents (Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Spiro Agnew, Hubert Humphrey, and Nelson Rockefeller). Burns's correspondence with presidents Eisenhower and Nixon is particularly extensive and reveals the making of crucial policy decisions. Also included is Burns's correspondence with economists Wesley Clair Mitchell, Milton Friedman, and George Stigler. This subseries is organized alphabetically by correspondent and then chronologically.
The Correspondence by Topic subseries contains letters and attachments primarily related to Burns's work in academia, politics, and the private sector. Finally, the Correspondence to Mrs. Helen Burns subseries contains letters written by prominent figures such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Mamie Eisenhower to Burns's wife, Helen, both during his life and after his death.
High-value correspondence, including originals signed by presidents and some other notable correspondents, are separately stored and restricted to use except under direct staff supervision. Photocopies of these original manuscripts have been made for researcher use. Other letters signed by mechanical means have not been photocopied, but they are filed with the photocopies of original letters.
The other series house papers and memorabilia documenting Burns' career, including photocopies of two handwritten journals (1969-1974) kept by Burns during the Nixon Administration; several folders of early research and teaching materials; honors and awards received by Burns; personal correspondence, clippings, and other materials; lectures, speeches, and articles from Burns's career as economist and ambassador; photographs of Burns, his wife Helen, and political figures and celebrities attending events; publicity items such as news clippings, interviews, and articles about Burns; and program materials for the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship, an exchange program for German and U.S. media professionals. Further description available at the series level in this collection guide.
The great majority of the Burns papers are in English, but there are roughly ten items in German and a few items in French and Russian (Cyrillic script).