Charles Fletcher attended Harvard University and introduced himself to the West on foot during his famous 143 day walk from Cincinnati to Los Angeles. He began work there as editor of Harrison G. Otis' newspaper, The Los Angeles Times. He explored, defended, and promoted the Southwest. His energy and enthusiasm were as broad as the land he loved. His aggressive drive to establish permanent cultural institutions and civic traditions culminated in his work for the Landmark Club, Sequoya League, and, closest to his heart, the Southwest Society and its Southwest Museum. A prolific promoter of the Southwest and California history, Lummis wrote many books on the area. His poetry, articles and reviews were also widely distributed in the leading magazines of his day.
The Correspondence, 1879-1928, includes members of the Lummis family, admirers of his writing, literary colleagues like Hamlin Garland, and political friends that include President Theodore Roosevelt and Major General Leonard Wood.
The Biographical materials and memorabilia, 1884-1973, includes miscellaneous personal items, autobiographical notes including the incomplete typescript of his memoirs, "As I Remember," with different versions and rewrites by his daughter, Turbese. Also includes extracts from Lummis' journal, clippings and a scrapbook.
The Photographs, 1889-1928, including over 300 photographs, many of which are cyanotypes. They depict Lummis throughout his life; his family; his home "El Alisal" being built in 1904; various places he visited; and friends, such as the historian Sharlot Hall, the naturalist John Burroughs, and the artist William Keith. Photographs of the Pueblo Indians date from 1889 to 1896; Acoma and Isleta Pueblos are the most represented. A smaller group of photographs from 1902 depicts Mohave Indians in Needles, California.
Historical materials, 1559-1932, including original and typescript historical documents mainly from Spain and California. The original Spanish ones are a 1559 manuscript concerning the reform of the royal hospital near Burgos, Spain; a 1584 manuscript relating the legal history of this hospital from the 1450's to the 1580's; and a 1613 "purity of blood" testimonial attesting to the non-Jewish background of Estaban Ruiz of Santa Marta, Spain. Among the original California documents are a 1796 manuscript, in Spanish, relating to the Santa Cruz Mission; an 1849 list of ship passengers on board the "Orpheus," from New York to San Francisco; and an 1883 narration, in Spanish, on the century's events in California: including the arrival of the Americans, Santa Ana, and the first printing enterprise.