Harry A. Slattery papers, 1890-1953

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Slattery, Harry A.
60 Linear Feet
circa 35,300
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Harry Slattery Papers span the period 1890-1953 with the bulk dated 1928 to 1944. They include correspondence, memoranda, writings and speeches, printed material, clippings, scrapbooks, and indexes. The collection chiefly concerns positions Slattery held during his years of public service and reflect his lifelong interest in conservation. Very few of Slattery's personal papers are included in the collection.

The bulk of the collection relates to Slattery's positions as personal assistant to Harold L. Ickes (1933-1938), as Under-secretary of the Interior (1938-1939), and as administrator of the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) (1939-1944). Other papers concern his service as secretary to Gifford Pinchot (1909-1912), as secretary of the National Conservation Association (1912-1923), as special assistant to Interior Secretary Franklin K. Lane (1917-1918), as a Washington lawyer (1923-1933), and as counsel to the National Boulder Dam Association (1925-1929). There is also information about the Teapot Dome Scandal. While information about the REA is found throughout the collection, information pertaining to the other topics is found chiefly in the Correspondence, Memoranda, Writings and Speeches, Printed Material, and Clippings Series. A typescript of Slattery's autobiography, From Roosevelt to Roosevelt, Washington, D.C., 1948, and information relating to the published work Rural America Lights Up, Washington, D.C., 1940, which is attributed to Slattery, are found in the Writings and Speeches and Scrapbooks Series. Persons studying conservation issues in the United States and the spread of electricity to rural areas would find this collection particularly helpful.

There is extensive material relating to the controversy surrounding the Rural Electrification Administration, tensions between the REA and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, whose executive manager was Clyde Ellis, and the conflict between Slattery and the Secretary of Agriculture Claude W. Wickard. Correspondents include Harold L. Ickes, Judson King, Basil Maxwell Manly, Gifford Pinchot, Amos R. Pinchot, John Patrick Grace, Cornelia B. Pinchot, and Philip Patterson Wells.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1887, June 13
Born, Greenville, South Carolina
Secretary to Gifford Pinchot, chief forester in Theodore Roosevelt's administration.
Executive Secretary of the National Conservation Association, appointed by its founder, Pinchot
Special Assistant to Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior
Counsel to the National Conservation Association
Practiced law in Washington
Executive and counsel for the National Boulder Dam Association
Counsel for the National Conservation Commission
Washington representative for New York Power Authority
Assistant to administrator of Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works
Personal assistant to Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior
Undersecretary of the Interior
Administrator of Rural Electrification Administration (REA), from which he resigned after a conflict with the Secretary of Agriculture in 1944
Consultant to the power subcommittee of the advisory commission of the Council of National Defense
Received LL.D. from the University of South Carolina
1949, Sept. 1

Slattery attended Mount Saint Mary's College in Maryland, Georgetown University and George Washington University. As part of government efforts to indict big business for the exploitation of the country's natural resources, he was involved in Senate investigations of the Mulhall exposure during Wilson's administration and the Teapot Dome Scandal of 1921. The 1944 controversy between the REA and the Department of Agriculture over the administration of REA led to a Senate investigation. Slattery was involved in the passage of a federal coal and oil leasing measure, federal water power legislation, Alaska coal and home rule acts, and rural electrification legislation. He was a member of the National Power Policy Committee, the Energy Resources and Land Committees of the National Resources Planning Board, the Interbureau Coordinating Committee, the Federal States Relations Committee, the Society of American Foresters, the National Press Club, the Missouri Athletic Club, and Delta Theta Phi Fraternity.

Acquisition information:
The Harry A. Slattery Papers, 1890-1953, were acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library through deposit in 1953 and by gift in 1958.
Processing information:

Processed by Janie Morris

Assisted by Denise Dolan

Date Completed: May 28, 1992

Encoded by Alvin Pollock

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in the Slattery Papers have not been transferred to Duke University. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Special Collections Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Harry A. Slattery Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.