Scope and Contents note
This Vaux Family Papers is comprised of correspondence, reports, photographs, and administrative records primarily related to Native American affairs and Quaker meetings. The collection is divided into four series: “George Vaux, Sr.;” “George Vaux, Jr.: United States Board of Indian Commissioners;” “Mary Morris Vaux Walcott: United States Board of Indian Commissioners;” and “George Vaux III.”
The “George Sr.” series includes many of his collected records related to Quaker meetings and history. Spanning from 1708 to 1910, this series includes Quaker meeting minutes from places such as Antigua, London, and Philadelphia. Also included are the Quaker publications The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Discipline and Thomas Parker’s The Book of Discipline. A 1782 land title has been included with this series, and although the document is not directly related to him, George Sr. was greatly interested in collecting material related to Quakerism in Philadelphia. Therefore, it was kept within this series. The “George Vaux Jr.: United States Board of Indian Commissioners” series includes correspondence and administrative, governmental, and photographic records related to his role as Commissioner in Indian Affairs within the Department of the Interior. His “Administrative Materials” include surveys of American Indians, which hold information regarding education, land ownership, funding, health, population, Advisory Council Meeting Minutes, maps, and official rosters from 1906 to 1927. The “Reports” include Department of the Interior Reports, Acts of Congress, Appropriation Bills, and reports pertaining to tribes of North and South Dakota. George Jr.’s “Correspondence” contains letters to and from the Department of the Interior officials and Native Tribes from 1910 to 1927. It should be noted that within the “Mary Vaux Walcott: United States Board of Indian Commissions” series, are additional letters to George Vaux, Jr. from the time when he served as Chairman of the board, that Mary herself collected. His “Photographs” include a photo album from a trip taken to Indian reservations in the Southwest in 1917 and 1918, and two other unidentified photographs of George Jr. with Indian tribes. Also of note in this series is George Jr.’s appointment as a Commissioner to the United States Board of Indian Commissioners signed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.
“Mary Vaux Walcott: United States Board of Indian Commissions” is the third series in the collection, ranging in date from 1916 to 1932. Within this series are three sub-series which include “Administrative Materials,” “Collected Letters,” and “Miscellaneous.” The first sub-series “Administrative Materials” is comprised of the following: a 1932 annual report; information on the 1916 Lake Mohonk Conference on the Indian and other Dependent Peoples; and other assorted documents, including reports, handbooks, correspondence, pamphlets, newsletters, clippings and materials related to the United States Board of Indian Commissions. Within “Collected Letters,” researchers will find letters from Board members F.H. Abbott, Edward Ayer (Commissioner of the Board), Franklin H. Lane, and William H. Ketchum. These letters are largely written to George Vaux, Jr. at the time when he served as Chairman of the board. “Miscellaneous” consists of stationery collected by Mary Vaux Walcott, as well as a title from September 15th, 1917 to property on Passyunk Avenue in Philadelphia.
The final series in the collection is the “George Vaux III” series. Within this series are the following three sub-series: “Friends Indian Committee Materials,” “Quaker Materials,” and “Collected Materials.” Researchers will find within the first sub-series, “Friends Indian Committee Materials,” records from 1938 through the late 1960s. Included are deposits and contributions from 1938; information on Indian Committee Salary and Wage Taxes for 1966; and documents pertaining to the financial holdings of the committee during the 1960s. The sub-series “Quaker Materials,” consists of records George Vaux III collected regarding the preservation of Quaker buildings and landmarks in Philadelphia, Quaker Missions in the Virgin Islands, and the Friends World Committee Conference. Completing this series is “Collected Material” which dates from 1897 through 1995. Included in this sub-series are documents related to the 12th Street Meeting House (1897-1973), Thomas O. Hiscott Writings and Manuscripts, as well as a postage stamp collection.
This collection may be of special interest to researchers who are studying both the history and recent state of affairs of Native Americans in the United States. Of note in the collection are original Department of Interior documents, first hand written accounts, and letters. Also, of great note are surveys, which provide valuable information from the early 1920s regarding the health, education, population, and land ownership of Native Americans, as well as maps and photographs.
The Vaux family was deeply involved with Quaker and Native American affairs throughout much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. George Vaux, Sr. was involved in Quaker activity through the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and other Quaker meetings throughout the world, including Antigua and London. Both George Vaux, Jr. and his sister Mary Morris Vaux Walcott served as commissioners for the U.S. Board of Indian Commissioners. The United States Congress established this organization as a part of the Department of the Interior in 1869 to watch over federal policies regarding Native Americans and to make certain that treaty obligations were fulfilled, especially in reference to supply deliveries. An overarching goal of the U.S. Board of Indian Commissioners involved preparing the Native American population for assimilation into mainstream society. George Vaux, III worked as the treasurer of the Indian Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
George Vaux, Sr. (also known as George Vaux VIII (1832-1915)), served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Swatara Coal Company. He served for one year as President of Friends Historical Society, and also as an unofficial correspondent for the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and London Yearly Meeting. George Vaux, Sr. married Sarah H. Morris; their children were George Vaux, Jr., (also known as George Vaux IX), and Mary Morris Vaux Walcott.
George Vaux, Jr. (1863-1927) was born on December 18, 1863 and obtained his education from Haverford College. Graduating in 1884, he received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he worked as a lawyer for P. Pemberton Morris, focusing much of his interest on the areas of prison reform and penology. He served as an inspector on the board of the Eastern Penitentiary. He was also involved in the House of Refuge in Philadelphia which became Sleighton Farms when it was relocated to Glen Mills in 1910.
In 1906, he was appointed by Theodore Roosevelt to serve on the Board of Indian Commissioners. He became the Commission's chairman in 1913 and held the post until his death in 1927. He also served as a board member of the Academy of Natural Sciences from 1894 until his death. In addition to his interests in prison reform, and Native American issues, George Vaux, Jr. also studied mineralogy and glacial activities. His interests in Friends’ education spurred his involvement in the Friends’ Select School; also Westtown School, Haverford College, and the establishment of what is now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. On April 2, 1907, George Vaux, Jr. married Mary Walsh James. They had two sons. George Vaux, Jr. died on October 24, 1927 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania at the age of 64.
Mary Morris Vaux Walcott (1860-1940) was born on July 31, 1860. She was educated at the Friends Select School of Philadelphia. In 1914, she married Charles Doolittle Walcott, an invertebrate paleontologist who discovered fossils in Burgess Shale in British Columbia, and served as the secretary of the Smithsonian Institute from 1907 to 1927. In 1927, both her brother, George Vaux, Jr. and her husband died. Following her brother’s death, Mary M.V. Walcott was appointed to the Board of Indian Commissioners, serving until 1932.
Mary M.V. Walcott was an artist and naturalist known for her watercolor paintings of wildflowers. An avid mountain climber, in 1900 she was the first woman to climb Mt. Stephens in British Columbia. She also joined the Society of Woman Geographers, and was elected president in 1933. She died on August 22, 1940 in New Brunswick, Canada at the age of 80.
George Vaux III, also known as George Vaux X, (1909-1996) was a 1930 graduate of Haverford College. He was Treasurer of the Indian Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and Chairman of the Friends Historical Commission. He was also involved in the preservation of Quaker buildings and landmarks across the Philadelphia region.