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Glenn Leonidas Emmons Papers

Identifier: MSS-308-BC

Scope and Content

The Glenn L. Emmons papers primarily document Emmons' tenure as Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1953-1961). The collection also contains biographical background, personal miscellany, and a small amount of banking-related materials. The collection is divided into the following series:
  1. Personal Papers
  2. Indian Affairs - Appointment correspondence and speeches
  3. Indian Affairs - Commissioner's conferences, area office files
  4. Indian Affairs - Correspondence files
  5. Indian Affairs - Miscellany
  6. Scrapbooks
In addition to correspondence, speeches, and office files, the collection contains Emmons' day books (1957-1961), news clippings, manuscripts, legislation, publications, an audiotaped interview with Glenn Emmons (1974, 2 reels), and an audio cassette containing a speech by Emmons (1974). As Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Emmons was involved with a gamut of issues which are documented in the collection. These issues include economic development, improving health conditions, and increasing educational opportunities for Indians across the United States. Files pertaining to General Herbert C. Holdridge, a retired Brigadier Army General active in Indian movements aimed at abolishing the modern Tribal Council and reverting to chieftain rule are also contained in this collection. An oversized folder contains posters and newspaper materials.

In November 2012, additional material regrading Indian affairs, politics, and Emmons' personal life were added to the collection. Most of these materials are in box 6, and a few items have been added to the oversize folder.


  • 1922-1983
  • Majority of material found in 1953-1960

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Patrons are required to use microfilm edition of the collection (CSWR E93 E6x), which follows the same sequence as the manuscript collection inventory.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication allowed from microfilm for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

Glenn L. Emmons was born in Atmore, Alabama on August 15, 1895. He moved to Albuquerque with his family in 1905. He graduated from Albuquerque public schools, and then attended the University of New Mexico for three years. Emmons left UNM before earning his degree in order to serve in the military for 2 years, during World War I. Moving to Gallup in 1919, he began his career in the banking business, first as a transit clerk, later as cashier, bookkeeper, and teller. In 1922, he and his older brother joined the newly organized First State Bank of Gallup, where his brother became president, and Glenn, vice president. Glenn was president and chairman of the board from 1935 to 1964. It was through his involvement in banking that Glenn Emmons began to know his Indian neighbors. He became involved with the financial aspects of their business and personal problems.

Emmons was appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs by President Eisenhower in 1953, after being unanimously endorsed by the 74 member Navajo Tribal Council. After visiting with 150 groups of Indians in the fall of 1953, Emmons identified poor health conditions, poor education, and poor economic development as the three major problems facing Indians across the nation. As Commissioner, he was directed to enact programs designed to bring tribal groups to a level where they would need only minimal federal assistance. Emmons' programs effectively increased federal assistance to Indians. Under Emmons' leadership, the Bureau of Indian Affairs health programs were transferred to the U.S. Public Health Service, where there was more funding, personnel, and facilities, which would result in improved services to Indians. Emmons increased government funding for education, which especially helped the Navajo. His programs included converting mobile home trailers into schools and encouraging the public schools to admit Indian children. Emmons also instituted adult education classes, primarily to teach English language skills to adult Indians, and initiated vocational job training programs.

Emmons did not support forced relocation; he advocated reclamation of Indian lands, encouraging development of industry, including oil, uranium, and coal leasing. More roads and bridges were built on Indian lands during his tenure than all other commissioners combined. In 1957, Emmons received the Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Interior for "outstanding achievement in materially improving the health protection, the educational facilities, and the economic prospects for Indian people." Emmons retired from this post in 1961.

Emmons served on the University of New Mexico Board of Regents (1930-1933). In 1977, he was presented with the Zimmerman Award and an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of New Mexico. Emmons ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Gubernatorial nomination in 1944. He was involved in a variety of banking, civic, and church organizations, including the New Mexico Bankers Association, Gallup Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, Inter-tribal Indian Association, School of American Research, Wheelright Museum, and American Legion. Glenn L. Emmons died on March 14, 1980, at the age of 84.


6 boxes (5.5 cu. ft.) + 1 oversize folder

Microfilm Edition

The microfilm edition of the Glenn Emmons Papers (ZIM CSWR Mfilm E93 E6x) follows the same sequence as the manuscript collection inventory.

The following is a list of box contents on each reel.
  1. Reel 1 = box 1, folder 1 - box 1, folder 12
  2. Reel 2 = box 1, folder 13 - box 2, folder 10
  3. Reel 3 = box 2, folder 11 - box 3, folder 7
  4. Reel 4 = box 3, folder 8 - box 3, folder 15
  5. Reel 5 = box 3, folder 16 - box 4, folder 8
  6. Reel 6 = box 4, folder 9 - box 4, folder 14
  7. Reel 7 = box 4, folder 15 - box 5, folder 3
  8. Reel 8 = box 5, folder 4 - scrapbooks
Selections from the Papers of Glenn Leonidas Emmons, 1922-1974. (ZIM CSWR Mfilm HG 1507 E5).

Related Material

Dennis Chavez Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico William Zimmerman Jr. Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Chester E. Faris Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico American Indian Oral History Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Stacher Family Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Vertical File: Emmons, Glenn, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Separated Material

Photographs have been transferred to Glenn Leonidas Emmons Pictorial Collection.

Processing Information

Box 6 was added to the collection in November 2012. In addition, several items were added to the oversize folder.
Finding Aid of the Glenn Leonidas Emmons Papers, 1922-1983 (bulk 1953-1960)
Processed by B. Silbergleit
2000; 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 308 BC::Glenn Leonidas Emmons Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss308bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131