Burrus, Rufus B. Papers

Dates: 1918-1989

Friend of Harry S. Truman and legal adviser to the Truman family; Assistant County Counselor of Jackson County, 1929-41; U.S. Army officer and member of the Reserve Officers Association, 1929-75; associated with the Harry S. Truman Library, Inc., the Harry S. Truman Library, and the Harry S. Truman Library for National and International Affairs, 1955-90

The papers of Rufus B. Burrus in the custody of the Harry S. Truman Library document primarily his career as an Assistant Counselor of Jackson County from 1927 to 1941, as a friend and political supporter of Harry S. Truman, as a U.S. Army officer and member of the Reserve Officers Association, as a member of the Harry S. Truman Library Institute for National and International Affairs board of directors, and as an attorney for J. Vivian Truman and Mary Jane Truman and their estates. This collection constitutes only about ten percent of the materials accumulated by Rufus Burrus and other members of his family's law firm. Most of Burrus's papers are in the custody of the Jackson County Historical Society.

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

ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 19 linear feet (about 38,000 pages)
Access: Open, with the exception that some material is closed in accordance with restrictions contained in the donor's deed of gift.
Copyright: Rufus B. Burrus II has donated his copyright interest in any unpublished writings in this collection or in any unpublished writings of Rufus B. Burrus that are among collections administered by this or any other repository administered by the federal government.
Processed by: Niel M. Johnson, Raymond H. Geselbracht and Anita M. Heavener (1992); Dennins Bilger and Randy Sowell (2001); David Clark and Cassie Coffman (2012).


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

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1900, April 1

 

Born, Blue Springs, Missouri

1918

 

Private in Student Army Training Corps

1921

 

Graduated from Kansas City School of Law and admitted to Missouri Bar; in private practice thereafter

192l

 

Married to Ila Beets

1927-41

 

Assistant County Counselor of Jackson County, Missouri

1929-41

 

Officer in the United States Army Reserve Corps, in the 379th, 380th, and 381st Field Artillery Regiments of the l02nd Division

1941-45

 

Officer in the U.S. Army; served in the Transportation Corps in the North African and Italian theaters

1949-50

 

President, Missouri Bar Association

1950-55

 

Regional Agency Counsel for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation

1953

 

Promoted to Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve

1957-

 

Attorney for the Harry S. Truman Library Institute for National and International Affairs

1960

 

Placed on retired list, U.S. Army

1963-90

 

Member of the board of directors, Harry S. Truman Library Institute for National and International Affairs

1960-

 

Chairman of the Committee for Arrangements for Fourth of July Ceremonies at the Harry S. Truman Library

1990, July 2

 

Died, Independence, Missouri

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

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Rufus B. Burrus in the custody of the Harry S. Truman Library document primarily his career as an Assistant County Counselor for the Jackson County Court from 1927 to 1941, as an officer in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserve, as a business associate, political supporter and friend of Harry S. Truman, as an attorney for members of Truman's family, as a member of the board of directors of the Harry S. Truman Library Institute For National and International Affairs, and as an active supporter of the Harry S. Truman Library.

After the death of Rufus B. Burrus in July 1990, two archivists from the Truman Library surveyed the records and papers in Burrus's law office to identify files related to Harry S. Truman. A representative of the donor later spent several months surveying Burrus's papers, both those in his law office and those in other locations, and she shared the results of her survey with the Truman Library staff. The materials selected for donation to the Truman Library include files documenting most of the life and career of Rufus B. Burrus, except the bulk of those relating to his law practice; of these latter, only files relating to Harry S. Truman or his family were selected. The portion of Burrus's papers donated to the Truman Library is only about ten percent of the total collection. Most of the remainder, which includes records documenting the legal careers of Burrus himself and of his grandfather, father, and uncle, and of other attorneys who worked for the Burrus firm, was given to the Jackson County Historical Society. Smaller groups of material were given to the National Frontier Trails Center (relating to the Waggoner Gates Mill), the Blue Springs Historical Society, the Missouri State Archives, and the Texas State Archives.

Prior to giving the papers of Rufus B. Burrus to the Truman Library and other archival repositories, the donor removed about five hundred items of correspondence signed by Harry S. Truman and other prominent people. Photocopies of the removed items were substituted for the original documents in their original locations at least in every instance where a defined file location existed. A second set of photocopies of these items was segregated and numbered in the order in which they were discovered in Burrus's papers. These photocopies comprise the Numerical File subseries of the Harry S. Truman and Truman Family File; they include about 457 documents that are not present in photocopy form elsewhere in the Library's portion of Burrus's papers.

The collection is divided into seven series: a Correspondence File, an Assistant County Counselor File, a U.S. Army File, a Reserve Officer Association File, a Subject File, a Harry S. Truman and Truman Family File, and a Harry S. Truman Library File.

The Correspondence File is divided into two subseries. The first, the Personal File, covers primarily the period 1936 to 1938, 1944 to 1953, and 1957 to 1964; it documents Burrus's friendship and business dealings with Harry S. Truman and other associates, and with members of his family. Despite the designation "personal" that Burrus gave to the material in this subseries, it includes documentation of his work as counsel for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and of some other topics that are related more to his career than to his personal life. The second subseries, the Political File, documents primarily Burrus's involvement in local and state politics from 1924 to 1940, and the local and national campaigns of 1948.

Although Burrus served as Assistant County Counselor of Jackson County from 1927 to 194l, the Assistant County Counselor File documents his service only from 1927 until 1936. The series relates mainly to the construction of county roads. County budgeting and financing are also covered.

The U.S. Army File documents Burrus's service in the Army during World War II and in the Army Reserve from 1927 to 1941 and 1945 to 1975. The series includes information about Army Reserve summer training camps during these years, some of which Harry S. Truman attended. There are occasional references to Truman in the correspondence. The coverage of the series is erratic after about 1954.

The Reserve Officers Association File documents Burrus's membership in the Reserve Officers Association. The series includes correspondence files for the period from 1946 to 1972 and for 1976.

The Subject File consists in large part of clippings and other printed items, but also includes some correspondence. The series documents such subjects as the Community Savings and Loan Association, the Judge Richard Duncan Memorial, the Military Order of the World Wars, the General John J. Pershing Memorial In Kansas City, the Scottish Rite of the Masonic Order, and the Vietnam War. The series also includes files on such people as Richard Bolling, Omar Bradley, Rose Conway, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Barry Goldwater, Hubert Bumphrey, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon B. Johnson, Douglas MacArthur, Eugene McCarthy, George C. Marshall, Ronald Reagan, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Ike Skelton.

The Harry S. Truman and Truman Family File includes four subseries: a Chronological Subject File, a Numerical File, a Clippings File, and a Truman Family Legal File. The Chronological Subject File documents Harry S. Truman's career before and after his presidency, including his relationship with the Citizens Security Bank of Englewood, his senatorial elections of 1934 and 1940, the sale of the Truman family farm property, events in which Truman participated after his presidency, different enterprises with which Truman became associated, and discussions and evaluations of events that occurred during his presidency. The subseries also documents Burrus's participation in Truman's career, and his work after Truman's death to commemorate his life and accomplishments.

The Numerical File, the origin and basic character of which is described above, contains primarily letters sent to Rufus Burrus by Harry S. Truman and other prominent people. The correspondence relates to such subjects as the construction of roads and bridges in Jackson County, the county home for the indigent, school loans, property condemnations, county surveyor reports, the Community Investment Company, the Truman family farm property, the Masonic Temple in Grandview, and the estate of Harry S. Truman; and such people as Fred Canfil, Strother J. Twyman, Solomon Young, Roy Roberts, Roger Sermon, Richard Duncan, Jo Zach Miller, and Ted Malone. Of the 499 numbered items in this file, a numerical listing of which is appended to this finding aid, 43 were removed from files in this collection. The numbered items, the originals of which were taken from this collection, are listed in brackets following the titles of the files from which they were removed.

The Clippings File covers primarily Truman's presidency and the period following 1960. The articles that Burrus clipped are almost exclusively from the Kansas City Star and the Independence Examiner.

The Truman Family Legal File documents the legal work that Rufus Burrus did for J. Vivian Truman and Mary Jane Truman, both during their lifetimes and in settling their estates. The series also has a small amount of material relating to Bess Truman and to J. Vivian Truman's children. Some of the material in this file has been restricted in accordance with the provisions of the donor's deed of gift. Categories of documents that are open in court records or state and local government records are also open in this series; consequently, wills and codicils, inventories and appraisements, executor's deeds, medical reports and certificates of death are open. Some communications involving the affairs of living persons or in which a lawyer client privilege may inhere have been kept closed.

The Harry S. Truman Library File has three subseries: a Harry S. Truman Library, Inc. File, which documents Burrus's association with the organization that planned and built the Harry S. Truman Library; a Harry S. Truman Library Institute for National and International Affairs File, which includes information about the awarding of grants to researchers, the planning of scholarly conferences, the publicizing of the Library's holdings and mission, and other Institute operations and programs; and a Harry S. Truman Library Events File, which documents primarily Burrus's participation in the Library's Fourth of July ceremonies and the meetings and other activities that are held each year at the time of Truman's birthday in early May.

Other collections in the Truman Library's holdings relating to Jackson County politics in the 1920s and 1930s include the Papers of Harry S. Truman as Presiding Judge of the Jackson County, Missouri, Court; the Papers of Harry S. Truman as U.S. Senator and Vice President; the President's Secretary's File (Historical File); the Kansas City Star collection of clippings relating to Harry S. Truman; the records of the Kansas City, Missouri, Board of Elections; and the Papers of James P. Aylward, William A. Kitchen, Sister Patrick Ellen Maher, Victor R. Messall, Bryce B. Smith, N.T. Veatch, and Jerome K. Walsh. The following collections include information relating to the Truman family's property transactions: the President's Secretary's File (Personal File and Family Correspondence File), the Papers of Arthur Mag and H.H. Halvorson, the Miscellaneous Historical Documents Collection, and the Vertical File. The following collections include information about the Harry S. Truman Library and the Harry S. Truman Library Institute for National and International Affairs: The Post Presidential Papers of Harry S. Truman (Library Museum File), the records of the Harry S. Truman Library, Inc., and the Papers of Philip C. Brooks, George M. Elsey,