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Edward E. Ayer: Archival Collections

Archives at The Field

Field Museum

From 1894 to 1897, Edward E. Ayer played a formative role in shaping the Museum as its first president of the Board of Trustees. Limited correspondence between Edward E. Ayer and Field Museum Directors, and with FMNH staff members, can be found in the Director's Papers. The Director's Papers documents activities related to the development and administration of the Museum's early years. Ayer's correspondence with the Field Museum continued after his term as Board President concluded as his interest in the Museum and educational institution grew. His participation as President of the Museum can also be noted in the Board of Trustees Executive Committee Meeting minutes. Please email with questions about these papers.

  • Directors' Papers, General Correspondence
  • Board of Trustees Executive Committee Meeting Minutes

Newberry Library

Papers, 1842-1934 (bulk 1880-1934): Correspondence, writings, photograph albums, photographs, etc., dating primarily from the last thirty years of Ayer's life. Ayer Collection related papers include correspondence between Ayer, Ayer librarians/curators Clara Smith and Ruth Lapham Butler, and prominent historians, writers, librarians, and collectors (Ballou, Engelhardt, Hodge, Lummis, Nute, Robertson, Thwaites, Victor, Wagner, etc.) and collection lists, (ca. 1900). Personal correspondence is primarily greetings from family, friends, and associates, but also contains letters concerning Ayer's association with the Field Museum and the Board of Indian Commissioners. Ayer's western travels and automobile trips to North Africa and Europe are documented in his writings and the photograph albums containing snapshots and panoramic views taken by his wife, Emma Burbank Ayer.