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G. Adlai Feather family papers,

Identifier: Ms-0335

Scope and Content

The G. Adlai Feather family papers span the years 1866 to 1987. The bulk of material pertains to G. Adlai Feather and his personal and research activities, but also includes other material relating to his daughter Ilka Feather Minter (1920-2005), as well as other family members. Most of those materials are located in the Photographs series.

The Feather papers are divided into seven (7) series: Family history, Personal files, Research files, Horticulture, Oral interviews and transcripts, Published materials, and Photographs. The Family History file contains excerpts of published material and unpublished documents that outline the Feather family lineage. The Personal files series documents Adlai Feather's varied interests in the Mesilla Valley. Included among these materials are administrative documents, correspondence, financial records, programs, and organizational membership records.

Feather's work in researching many entries in New Mexico Place Names, and in compiling other data pertaining to the history of New Mexico and the southwest United States are located among the Research files series. Among the documents included are monographs, maps, brochures, correspondence, research files, newsclippings, programs, and printed material. Other maps were separated from the publication Geology and Water Resources of Tularosa Basin, New Mexico, by O.E. Meinzer and R.F. Hare (1915). Some maps are fragile and require special handling. Please inquire with reference archivists regarding the viewing of these items.

Correspondents among the Research and Personal Files include William A. Sutherland, Louis E. Freudenthal, Erna Fergusson, and John Wilson.

Although the decided majority of items are described in English, some personal and research material is in Spanish. These are mostly items acquired during Professor Feather's time spent as Professor of Modern Languages at the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. Many are of a personal nature, and were presumably acquired during visits to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, on the south side of the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

Outside of his scholarly work, Mr. Feather also held detailed interests in the nursery business. These records are found within the Horticulture series, which contain indices, index cards, annotated scrapbooks, newsclippings, and printed material. These include detailed listings pertaining to flower plantings and varieties planted by Feather's nursery venture, which was started in the 1930s.

The Oral interviews and transcripts series contain lectures and interviews conducted by both Adlai Feather and his daughter, Ilka Feather Minter. Not all recorded material has been transcribed. Much of the material pertains to the history of the Mesilla Valley and the people significant in the settlement of the Las Cruces area in the mid-19th Century. In addition, the Family history, located in the first series of manuscript materials (see beginning of Container List), is useful for identifying the photographs of the many relatives of the Feather and Minter families.


  • 1866-1987

Language of Materials


Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the Search Room.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with copyright and other applicable statutes.

Restricted Material

A file pertaining to the New Mexico Society for Crippled Children and Adults from the Research Files series has been restricted due to privacy concerns.

Copyrights associated with this collection have not been transferred and assigned to New Mexico State University.

Biographical Sketch

George Adlai Feather was born October 22, 1892, in Perry, Iowa. His parents were Lorenzo Feather, a feed lot owner, and Mary Vlesta Beranek Feather. He became known as Adlai. Since his mother, of Czech heritage, never learned English, young Adlai learned the Czech language, a fact that would later affect his academic life.

Due to heart and pulmonary problems, Feather's parents moved to a drier climate in Artesia, New Mexico in 1906. Here he played clarinet in the school band, and began to learn Spanish. He graduated from high school in 1910 and enrolled in Park College at Parkville, Missouri, but left in 1912 before graduating.

Feather returned to New Mexico and enrolled at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, alternating semesters between the University and remaining in Artesia to help in the care of his mother, whose health had worsened to invalid status. In spite of the difficult arrangements, Feather remained active on the UNM campus, and was granted a Bachelor's degree Greek and Latin in 1916. He remained there and received that University's first Master of Arts degree in 1917, in Latin. More importantly, Feather was named a Rhodes Scholar that same year, chosen to study at the University of Oxford in England. However, with World War I still being fought in Europe, the 1917 Scholars could not travel to Britain at that time; they would not leave for the continent until 1919.

Feather enrolled at Wadham College in Oxford, where he studied Russian and other European languages. After Feather's studies in Britain were finished, his language skills enabled him to obtain a position with the Hoover Commission in 1920 in Germany, as they worked in exchanging German and Russian prisoners in the aftermath of World War I and the Russian Revolution. Feather remained in Europe, studying at the University of Madrid, Spain in 1921, and later teaching languages at Durham University in Great Britain the following year.

Feather returned to the United States and married Ilka Italia Howells, an American woman whom he had met at Oxford, in 1923. Their first daughter Ilka was born in 1924. Four other children followed later, one of whom died in infancy. That summer the Feathers moved to Mesilla Park, New Mexico, where Adlai accepted a position as Professor of Modern Languages. He later earned a Ph.D in European Languages from Oxford University in 1926. He stayed in that position until 1935, when he started his own nursery business in Mesilla Park.

Active in civic and cultural affairs in the Las Cruces area through the latter part of his life, Dr. Feather was a member of the Farm Bureau, Easter Seal Society, New Mexico Folklore Society, the New Mexico Historical Society, and many other organizations. He also was one of the original signatories for the charter of the organization that would become the Do?a Ana County Historical Society. Feather was known best for his wide range of research interests, his and his willingness to assist scholars through his vast knowledge of local history and folklore of the region. Adlai Feather died on October 30, 1976, at 84 years of age.

References from"George Adlai Feather: Renaissance Man", by Ilka Feather Minter and Robert R. White, from the Southern New Mexico Historical Review 1:1, 1994, and in the 1923-1924 and 1926-1927 New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts Catalog.


4.5 Linear Feet


George Adlai Feather was a Rhodes Scholar, historian, and nurseryman, serving as Professor of Languages at New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (present-day New Mexico State University) from 1923-1937.


Gifts of Ilka Feather Minter and Lowery Davis:
  1. A 76-130
  2. A 76-136
  3. A 77-014
  4. A 77-146
  5. RG78-014
  6. RG78-107
  7. RG79-010
  8. RG79-060
  9. RG80-073
  10. RG81-107
  11. RG82-056
  12. RG82-088
  13. RG83-162
  14. RG85-133
  15. RG86-099
  16. RG86-161
  17. RG88-158
  18. RG90-024
  19. RG91-127
  20. RG92-044
  21. RG92-144
  22. RG95-021
  23. RG97-027
  24. RG98-031
  25. RG98-060
  26. RG99-040
  27. RG99-068
  28. RG99-155
  29. RG 2004-068

Related Material

Louis E. and Carmen K. Freudenthal papers. Ms 0002Archives and Special Collections, New Mexico State University Library. Lee Myers papers. Ms 0024Archives and Special Collections, New Mexico State University Library. S.H. "Bud" Newman papers. Ms 0066Archives and Special Collections, New Mexico State University Library. William Weatherby family papers. Ms 0070Archives and Special Collections, New Mexico State University Library. Do?a Ana County Historical Society records. Ms 0153Archives and Special Collections, New Mexico State University Library. John P. Wilson papers. Ms 0220Archives and Special Collections, New Mexico State University Library. Sutherland-McManus family papers. Ms 0431Archives and Special Collections, New Mexico State University Library.

Separated Material

A Mexican coin described as "estado de Chihuahua, 1/4 real, 1856" has been removed from the manuscript collection and placed in the memorabilia room of the Archives and Special Collections Department.


Contact Information

  1. Archives and Special Collections Department
  2. New Mexico State University Library
  3. P.O. Box 30006
  4. Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003-8006
  5. Phone: (575) 646-3839
  6. Fax: (575) 646-7477
  7. Email:
  8. URL:



References from"George Adlai Feather: Renaissance Man", by Ilka Feather Minter and Robert R. White, from the Southern New Mexico Historical Review 1:1, 1994, and in the 1923-1924 and 1926-1927 New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts Catalog.
Processed by William B. Boehm, assisted by Jackie Duncan and Allison Galey, May 2005
© 2005
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA