Nash, Philleo Papers

Dates: 1925-1998

Special Assistant, Office of War Information, 1942-1945; Special Assistant in the White House Office, 1946-1952; Administrative Assistant to the President, 1952-1953; Chairman, Democratic Party of Wisconsin, 1955-1957; Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, 1959-1961; U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1961-1966

The papers of Philleo Nash consist of correspondence, memoranda, reports, newspaper clippings, other printed materials, speeches and speech drafts, press releases, and other items mostly concerning Nash's career as a government official, and his interest in the problems of American Indians and other minority groups.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


Size: 89 linear feet (approximately 164,000 pages).
Access: Open, with the exception of a few documents that are closed in accordance with the donor's deed of gift.
Copyright: No donation of copyright has been received from the donors of this collection. Documents created by U.S. government officials in the course of their duties are in the public domain. Copyright interest in other documents presumably belongs to the creators of those documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Cathryn Abernathy, Dennis Bilger, and Willie L. Harriford, Jr. (1971); Randy Sowell, Sharie Simon, and Janice Davis (2007).

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


1909 (October 25)


Born, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin



B.S., University of Wisconsin

1935 (November 2)


Married Edith Rosenfels



Ph.D., University of Chicago



Lecturer, University of Toronto



Special Lecturer, University of Wisconsin; Manager, Biron Cranberry Company



Assistant and Special Assistant, Office of War Information



White House Liaison, Interim International Information Agency and Office of International Cultural Affairs



Special Assistant in the White House Office



President, Biron Cranberry Company



Administrative Assistant to President Truman



Chairman, Democratic Party of Wisconsin



Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin



Assistant to the Secretary, Public Land Management, Department of the Interior



Commissioner, Bureau of Indian Affairs



Consulting Anthropologist



Professor, American University

1987 (October 12)


Died, Marshfield, Wisconsin

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


The papers of Philleo Nash mostly relate to his career as a government official, which included service in the Office of War Information during World War II, as an assistant on President Harry S. Truman’s White House staff, as Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, and as Commissioner of Indian Affairs for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. The papers also contain information regarding Nash’s involvement in Wisconsin politics and his career as an anthropologist. Both in and out of public office, Nash’s activities reflected his longtime interest in the welfare of American Indians and other racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States.

The collection is arranged in twelve series and a number of subseries. The first six series, comprising the bulk of the collection, were donated to the Truman Library by Mr. Nash in 1970. The first series, the Office of War Information File, contains correspondence, memoranda, reports, newspaper clippings, other printed materials, and press releases mostly compiled by Nash during his service in the Office of War Information (OWI) as Assistant to the Deputy Director and, later, as Special Assistant to the Director of the Domestic Branch. Nash’s duties at the OWI included providing liaison between that wartime propaganda agency and the White House, with particular responsibility for monitoring race relations and racial tensions on the home front. His OWI papers include extensive information on African-Americans and other minority groups during World War II; racial conflict and tensions in the United States; press coverage of the war in foreign language newspapers; and wartime rumors that circulated among the public. The series includes examples of wartime U.S. propaganda in the form of publications and radio scripts emphasizing the barbarism of the enemy, as well as public opinion surveys related to the war effort. The series consists of two subseries, an Administrative Correspondence and Memoranda File and an Alphabetical File: the former consists mostly of letters and memoranda written by Nash and others regarding wartime morale and the work of the OWI, while the latter, which is substantially larger, includes a wide variety of memoranda, printed materials, reports, and press releases relating to wartime propaganda and problems on the home front.

The second series, the White House File, contains correspondence, memoranda, newspaper clippings, press releases, speeches, reports, and other items pertaining for the most part to Nash’s work as a Special Assistant and later, Administrative Assistant to President Truman from 1946 to 1953. Most of the materials in this series reflect Nash’s responsibility on the White House staff for issues involving racial and ethnic minorities. Many documents are filed under such subject headings as “Civil Rights,” “FEPC,” “Indians,” and “Minorities.” The series includes an especially large amount of information regarding African-American leaders and organizations, racial discrimination in education and housing, and related issues such as segregation in the armed forces and lynching. There is also information in this series regarding Jewish, Japanese-American, and Spanish-speaking minorities in the United States. This focus is further reflected in drafts of speeches by President Truman relating to civil rights, and information about the political aspects of the civil rights issue, particularly during the 1948 and 1952 campaigns.

The third series, the Association on American Indian Affairs File I, contains materials relating to Nash’s role as a longtime director and member of that organization, which was known until 1946 as the American Association on Indian Affairs. The series includes correspondence, press releases, reports, printed materials, and minutes of meetings concerning the organization’s activities, the termination of federal supervision of various Indian tribes, legislation affecting American Indians, legal representation, and Indians in Alaska. Much of the correspondence in this series dates from Nash’s service on the organization’s executive committee in 1953-54.

The fourth series is the Democratic Party of Wisconsin File. It contains printed materials, correspondence, minutes of meetings, press releases, speeches and speech drafts, statistics, and financial records pertaining to Nash’s political activities in Wisconsin, especially his service as chairman of the Democratic Party in the state from 1955 to 1957, and his successful campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin in 1958. The series includes extensive correspondence with Nash during his tenure as chairman, as well as information regarding Democratic state conventions, election campaigns, relations with the Democratic National Committee, and political issues.

The fifth series, the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin File, includes correspondence, memoranda, printed materials, press releases, legislation, speeches and speech drafts, invitations, and daily logs of callers relating to Nash’s service as Lt. Governor from 1959 to 1961, with information concerning civil rights, the Democratic Advisory Council, the 1960 Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Indian affairs, farm problems, taxes, the University of Wisconsin, congressional voting records, and Nash’s continuing interest in anthropology. Included in this subseries are materials documenting Nash’s support for Senator Hubert Humphrey in the 1960 Wisconsin presidential primary; his subsequent support for the Democratic presidential nominee, Senator John F. Kennedy; his association with Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson; and his unsuccessful campaign for reelection as Lt. Governor in 1960. The series is comprised of twelve subseries: 1) the General File, which is the largest subseries; 2) the Correspondence File I, consisting mostly of letters dating from 1958-59; 3) the Correspondence File II, consisting mostly of letters dating from 1960; 4) the Personal Correspondence File I, consisting mostly of letters dating from 1958-59; 5) the Personal Correspondence File II, consisting mostly of letters dating from 1960; 6) the Invitations File; 7) the Legislative File; 8) the Lieutenant Governor—Campaign for Reelection File; 9) the Publications File; 10) the Speech Material File; 11) the State of Wisconsin File; and 12) the Cross References File.

The sixth series in the collection, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs File, contains materials pertaining to Nash’s service as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1961 to 1966. The series includes correspondence, speeches and speech drafts, printed materials, and other items. It is comprised of ten subseries: a Personal File; a Correspondence File; a Speech File; a Task Force File; a 1962 Trip File; a 1963 Trip File; a 1964 Trip File; a 1965 Trip File; a Travel Vouchers File; and a Cross References File. As is apparent from this list, the series contains extensive documentation of Nash’s travels as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, reflecting the impo