Guide to the Arthur F. Burns Papers, 1911-2005 and undated, bulk 1940-1987
Arthur Frank Burns was an Austrian-born economist, policy maker, and diplomat; chair of U.S. Federal Reserve Board from 1970-1978 and economic advisor for six U.S. presidencies. These papers cover the years 1911 through 2005. The bulk of the material was created between 1940 and 1987 and pertains to Burns's career as an economic advisor, particularly to Republican administrations, as the chair of the Federal Reserve, and as ambassador to Germany. The collection is arranged into seven series: Correspondence, Honors and Awards, Journals, Personal Papers, Photographs, Print Materials, and Research and Teaching. Topics of interest in this collection include but are not limited to: the United States economic system and fiscal policies; the Federal Reserve Board and related committees; recessions, unemployment, and inflation; the world economy and finance; the U.S. presidency during the time period; the Nixon presidency in particular, including the Watergate affair; presidential campaigns and elections; and U.S. diplomacy. There is a limited amount of research and teaching material, chiefly from the 1920s-1930s. The most significant component of the collection is the correspondence between Arthur Burns and Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, as well as substantive exchanges with economists Milton Friedman and Wesley Clair Mitchell. There are a few letters in German, French, and Russian.
- Collection Number
- Arthur F. Burns papers
- 1911-2005 and undated, bulk 1940-1987
- Burns, Arthur F., 1904-1987
- 18.5 Linear Feet, approximately 2,675 items, 2.6 Gigabytes
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
- Correspondence, 1911-1997 and undated, bulk 1940-1987
- Honors and Awards, 1965-2000 and undated
- Journals Series, 1969-1974
- Personal Papers Series, 1926-2003 and undated
- Photographs Series, 1958-1999 and undated
- Print Materials Series, 1929-2005 and undated
- Research and Teaching Series, 1927-1930 and undated
- Oversize Materials
- Digital Materials, 1920-1981 and undated
The Arthur Frank Burns Papers cover the years 1911 through 2005. The bulk of the material was created from 1940 to 1987 and pertains to Burns's career as an economic advisor, particularly to Republican administrations, as the chair of the Federal Reserve, and as ambassador to Germany. The collection is arranged into seven series: Correspondence, Honors and Awards, Journals, Personal Papers, Photographs, Print Materials, and Research and Teaching. There are also oversize materials housed at the end of the collection. Topics of interest in this collection include but are not limited to: the United States economic system and fiscal policies; the Federal Reserve Board and related committees; recessions, unemployment, and inflation; the world economy and finance; the U.S. presidency during the time period; the Nixon presidency in particular, including the Watergate affair; presidential campaigns and elections; and diplomacy. There is a small amount of research and teaching material, chiefly from the 1920s-1930s. The most significant component of the collection is the correspondence between Arthur Burns and Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, as well as substantial exchanges with economists Milton Friedman and Wesley Clair Mitchell.
The most substantial and notable papers are found in the Correspondence Series, which contains letters and memoranda written from 1911-1997 both to and from Burns and/or his wife, Helen. The series is organized into three subseries, Correspondence by Individual, Correspondence by Topic, and Correspondence to Mrs. Helen Burns. The majority of the exchanges in the first subseries are letters written to or by presidents or vice presidents (Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Spiro Agnew, Hubert Humphrey, and Nelson Rockefeller). Burns's correspondence with presidents Eisenhower and Nixon is particularly extensive and reveals the making of crucial policy decisions. Also included is Burns's correspondence with economists Wesley Clair Mitchell, Milton Friedman, and George Stigler. This subseries is organized alphabetically by correspondent and then chronologically.
The Correspondence by Topic subseries contains letters and attachments primarily related to Burns's work in academia, politics, and the private sector. Finally, the Correspondence to Mrs. Helen Burns subseries contains letters written by prominent figures such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Mamie Eisenhower to Burns's wife, Helen, both during his life and after his death.
High-value correspondence, including originals signed by presidents and some other notable correspondents, are separately stored and restricted to use except under direct staff supervision. Photocopies of these original manuscripts have been made for researcher use. Other letters signed by mechanical means have not been photocopied, but they are filed with the photocopies of original letters.
The other series house papers and memorabilia documenting Burns' career, including photocopies of two handwritten journals (1969-1974) kept by Burns during the Nixon Administration; several folders of early research and teaching materials; honors and awards received by Burns; personal correspondence, clippings, and other materials; lectures, speeches, and articles from Burns's career as economist and ambassador; photographs of Burns, his wife Helen, and political figures and celebrities attending events; publicity items such as news clippings, interviews, and articles about Burns; and program materials for the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship, an exchange program for German and U.S. media professionals. Further description available at the series level in this collection guide.
The great majority of the Burns papers are in English, but there are roughly ten items in German and a few items in French and Russian (Cyrillic script).
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research. However, originals of high-value correspondence are restricted except for use under direct staff supervision. Patrons are requested to use either CD-ROM surrogates of selected letters or photocopies of originals in boxes 1-3.
Electronic records in this collection have been migrated to a library server and digital use copies can only be accessed onsite in the Rubenstein Library Reading Room. To request access, please contact Research Services before coming to use these records.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Arthur F. Burns Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
The correspondence is organized into three subseries. The Correspondence by Individual Subseries contains correspondence and memoranda between Burns and presidents, vice-presidents, politicians, and prominent economists. The Correspondence by Topic subseries contains letters and attachments primarily related to Burns' work in academia, politics, and the private sector. Finally, the Correspondence to Mrs. Helen Burns subseries contains letters written by figures such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Mamie Eisenhower to Burns's wife, Helen, both during his life and after his death.
Although high-value correspondence can be accessed in several formats, the papers housed in boxes 1-3 are the only complete record of exchanges. These boxes contain photocopies of high-value correspondence along with their original attachments, originals of other correspondence (including originals signed by mechanical means), and original onion-skin paper copies of Burns's out-going correspondence. Originals of high-value correspondence, without the corresponding attachments, are housed separately in boxes 13 and 15, and are closed to use.
Some of the letters from notable correspondents were imaged with a digital camera and provided to the library on CD-Roms. Files from those CD-Roms were migrated to a library server, but not all of the correspondence and attachments are represented.
Organized alphabetically by correspondent and then chronologically, the bulk of this subseries documents Burns's work with several presidential administrations. Correspondents include Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Spiro Agnew, Nelson Rockefeller, and Hubert Humphrey. The subseries also includes correspondence with his mentor, Wesley Clair Mitchell, and with his students, economists Milton Friedman and George Stigler. Burns's correspondence with presidents Eisenhower and Nixon constitute the most significant part of the subseries. These exchanges cover domestic economic matters such as recession, monetary and fiscal policies to regulate inflation and unemployment; international political and economic matters; and domestic political issues such as elections and party politics.
Abramovitz's correspondence to Burns discusses the editing of Abramovitz's monograph, his impressions of Washington, and the work of the War Planning Board.
Agnew's correspondence to Burns consists of routine notes expressing thanks for Burns's support and for having sent materials.
Baker's correspondence to Burns consists of routine notes expressing thanks for Burns's support and advice.
Bush's correspondence to Burns consists of routine notes expressing thanks for Burns's support and for having sent materials. Barbara Bush's handwritten well wishes are affixed to one note.
Burns continued to be the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board during the first year of the Carter administration. This correspondence documents Dr. Burns's work with the new administration especially on the matter of tax reform, along with budgetary issues and policies regarding OPEC. Burns presented his resignation to Jimmy Carter in January 1978. Included in the collection is a January 13, 1978 letter in which Carter accepts Burns's and expresses his appreciation of Burns's leadership of the Federal Reserve over the past eight years. The letters after January 1978 address non-economic issues such as Burns's receipt of the America's Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League and Carter's appreciation of Burns's support for his efforts in human rights. Two letters from Rosalynn Carter are also included.
News clipping from The New York Times re: Role of Federal Reserve in Carter-Ford debate.
Memo re: conversation with Carter and Mondale regarding disagreement about state of the economy and press coverage of Burns's comments during Congressional hearings.
Stephen S. Gardner to Burns. Attached: 3 items. Carter memo re: Civil Rights Act, 1977 July 20. Carter memo re: handicapped people, 1977 July 21. Memo from Gardner, 1977 July 26.
President's remarks at swearing in of G. William Miller as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Burns acted as the Chairman of the Council of Advisors to the President (1953-1956), Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Small Business (1956), and a member of U.S. Advisory Council on Social Security Financing (1957-1958) during the Eisenhower Administration. He played an especially crucial role in steering the implementation of anti-recession policies. Even after he resigned from the Council of Economic Advisors, he continued to counsel the president on economic matters.
Topics in the correspondence include economic issues such as how to combat recession/depression and inflation, unemployment, budget planning, taxes, government expenditure, monetary policy, value of the dollar, and gold reserves. The letters also address U.S. domestic politics and international relations, such as the situation in Vietnam and Cuba and the Mutual Security Program. Burns's correspondence with Eisenhower continued after his term as the President ended in 1961; the topic of the correspondence shifts to personal notes and exchanges on general economic models and policies, evaluation of the Eisenhower period economic policies and assessment, and expresses criticism of economic, political and foreign policies of the administrations of the time.
Charges Union Leaders Plot to Run Nation with handwritten note signed D addressing it to Burns.
Memorandum for Dr. Burns. D.D. Eisenhower submits a copy of the report regarding the overall foreign economic policy of the country and expresses his concerns about the pace of Executive Departments and Agencies in proceeding with the plan in the report.
Attached: 3 items. Memorandum signed by Eisenhower for Burns, 1954 Feb. 1, regarding the measures that the government decided to employ to fight recession and prevent serious deflation and the role Burns is expected to play. Letter from Burns to Eisenhower, 1954 Feb. 8. Letter from True D. Morse to Burns, 1954 Feb. 1, regarding agricultural sector related public projects to be implemented. Formerly classified as SECRET and declassified by the ISOO, 2015.
Attached: 2 items. Letter from Eisenhower to Ruth Caroll, 1954 Dec. 17. Letter from Ruth Caroll to Eisenhower, undated.
Attached: Letter from Edgar Newton Eisenhower to Dwight Eisenhower, 1956 May 29, regarding the issues of budget and tax reform. Contains 2 copies of attached letter.
Re: Burns's meeting with Bill Martins and success in getting unanimous support for the Small Business Report.
Re: Burns's note on the chairmanship of the Cabinet Committee on Small Business and Dr. Saulnier's appointment as the chairman.
Re: Difficulties encountered by the members of the American Economic Association in inviting two Russians to present papers at the association's convention.
Re: Request that Burns write a letter to Time Magazine against the opposition's critiques regarding the recession.
Re: Gratitude for Burns's support for the Department of Defense Reorganization Plan. .
Re: Economic matters in the election campaign and governmental expenditures. Attached: Letter from Ezra Benson to Eisenhower, 1958 Sept. 26, regarding inflationary tendencies and budget deficit. Contains 2 copies of attached letter.
From Eisenhower's assistant to Burns regarding disagreement between Burns and Eisenhower on economic matters.
Re: National Unemployment Insurance and state relations with the federal government.
Re: Burns' conversation with a Russian economist about the United States' transition to a lower level of defense spending.
From Eisenhower's Deputy Assistant Bryce N. Harlow to Burns. Attached: Message dictated by Eisenhower to his Deputy Assistant and sent without signature to Burns because of urgency, 1960 May 14. Eisenhower states concerns about how a possible hindrance regarding the budget allowed to the "Mutual Security Program" would threaten defense alliance structures such as NATO and SEASO.
From Eisenhower's secretary, Ann Whitman, to Burns. Attached: 2 items. Letter from Eisenhower to Felix Edgar Wormser, 1961 Aug. 10. Letter from Wormser to Eisenhower, 1961 Aug. 8, regarding the gold crisis.
Attached: 4 items. Cover note from Eisenhower's secretary, Ann Whitman, to Burns. Letter from Eisenhower to Burns, undated. Letter from Eisenhower to Andrew Baldwin. Letter from Baldwin to Eisenhower, 1962 Dec. 30, regarding plan to stabilize American industry.
Re: Eisenhower's donation of his personal papers to the Eisenhower Library at Abilene and his request to Burns to donate his related personal papers to the same institution.
Re: Burns' decision to donate some of his personal papers to the Eisenhower Library at Abilene.
Attached: 2 items. Excerpt from Jacques Rueff's book The Age of Inflation. Bulletin #503, Dollar Erosion by M. Polyi. Contains copies of both items.
Attached: 2 items. Letter from Eisenhower to Walter Spahr, 1965 Feb. 12. Letter from Rusty Brown to Burns, 1965 Feb. 12.
Re: Eisenhower's view that historians would have a more favorable view on the economy policies of the 1950s than the 1960s.
Attached: Paper presentation by unidentified author, undated, regarding the problems of development in developing countries.
Attached: 4 items. News clippings, De Gaulle's Red Face, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1966 Dec. 5; Amisted Dam-a Reminder, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1966 Dec. 5; Unbridled Insurrection at Berkeley, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1966 Dec. 5.
Re: Eisenhower's comments on Burns' attached speech draft. Attached: Draft of Burns' speech, The Defense Sector: An Evaluation of its Economic and Social Impact, with handwritten notes and comments by Eisenhower, 1967 Nov. 17.
From Brigadier General Robert L. Schulz, Executive Assistant to Eisenhower, to Burns.
Attached: 3 items. Letter from Eisenhower to Maurice Feldman, 1968 Feb. 8. Letter from Feldman to Eisenhower, 1968 Jan. 29. News clipping: Eisenhower's Views on Travel Curbs, 1968 Jan. 28
Mamie Eisenhower's correspondence with Burns consists of notes of greeting, thanks, and condolence.
Burns continued to be the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board during the Ford Administration. Ford's correspondence to Burns primarily consists of routine notes of appreciation for Burns's work, for having sent materials, for his comments on economic matters, and for his donation to the Ford Library. Also included are invitations, congratulations, and notes of regret. Burns's side of the correspondence expresses ideas regarding economic matters such as the ongoing recession, Federal Reserve policies, and the Financial Reform Act.
Attached: Letter from Ford to Charles Percy in support of nomination of Burns as ambassador to Germany, 1981 May 22.
Attached: Guest list for Gerald R. Ford Foundation's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on June 10, 1987
Contains correspondence with renowned economist Milton Friedman that addresses theoretical debates, reactions to other economists' publications, academic posts and publishing, politics, personal matters, and critique and evaluation of each other's work.
From Murray N. Rothbard to Burns with Friedman's handwritten note to Burns. Attached: Professor Nagel's reply to institutionalist criticism of economic theory.
From Friedman to William McChesney Martin with Friedman's handwritten note to Burns.
Haig's correspondence to Burns consists of routine notes expressing thanks for Burns's support and for having sent materials.
Humphrey's letters to Burns are notes of thanks for condolences after electoral defeat and for attending a reception.
In the letters, the President expresses his gratitude for Burns' advice regarding economic issues and for backing the administration's policies in Vietnam. Mr. Burns' activities as a Member of the President's Advisory Committee on Labor-Management Policy and his resignation from the committee in April 1966 are also addressed in the correspondence.
Re: Burns' resignation from the President's Advisory Committee on Labor Management Policy.
Kennedy's correspondence to Burns consists of routine notes of thanks for sending information on economic problems and for serving on the Labor-Management Committee.
Kissenger's correspondence to Burns consists of routine notes expressing thanks for Burns's support and for having sent materials.
Kohl's correspondence to Burns is entirely in German.
Kollek's correspondence to Burns concerns Burns' potential visit to Jerusalem and his help with rampant inflation in Israel.
Kuznet's correspondence to Burns discusses the work of Frank Knight and Albert Wohlstetter on the War Production Board. Topics covered include the analysis of World War I output, the analysis of business cycles, and work on national income problems.
McFarlane's correspondence to Burns consists of routine notes expressing thanks and a reserved optimism concerning the European economy.
McFarlane's correspondence to Burns consists of routine notes expressing thanks for sending materials.
Contains correspondence with Mitchell, an American economist famous for his empirical work on business cycles and for leading the NBER in its first decades, and his wife, Lucy Sprague Mitchell. Great attention is paid by Burns and Mitchell to revising each other's drafts and economic theories. Also included are articles by Mitchell, his obituary, eulogies, and correspondence regarding the dedication of a collection in his honor. Other letters authored by Mitchell can be found in the academic career and National Bureau of Economic Research folders - both in the Correspondence by Topic Subseries.
Reprint of Mitchell's essay Human Behavior and Economics: A Survey of Recent Literature from The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. XXIX
Mitchell's hand-edited copy of the Preface to Measuring Business Cycles, in which Burns and Mitchell propose a statistic-based definition of business cycles
Biographical memoir about Mitchell written by Burns in the Year Book of the American Philosophical Society, p. 280-285
Booklet from the dedication of the Wesley Clair Mitchell Collection in the Bank Street College of Education library
John H. Niemeyer to Burns concerning the dedication of the Wesley Clair Mitchell Collection
Arthur Burns was the economic advisor to Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign and acted as Counselor to the President (1969) for a year after the election. He was appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in February 1970. The Nixon-Burns correspondence sheds light on the controversial years of Nixon's presidency and illustrates disagreements within the government regarding monetary policy, Burns' resistance to the politicization of the Federal Reserve, and his complaints about the White House staff. Burns' personal journals, also part of this collection, provide important and complimentary insights to the issues addressed in the Burns-Nixon correspondence.
Re: Anti-Recession plan. Attached: 2 items. Letters from J. T. Moll to Nixon, 1958 May 15 and 1958 Apr. 2, both with carbon copies.
Re: Nixon's request for Burns to make recommendations about individuals to be recruited by the new administration.
From Burns to Nixon expressing concern about the "official family" (some members of Staff and the Cabinet) and how harmful their leaking of stories to the media is to the Nixon administration. First page has Nixon's handwritten response at top.
Telegram to Thomas M. Macioce. Re: Presentation of Alexander Hamilton Medal to Burns.
Memorandum for Connally, Burns, Shultz, McCracken, Peterson, and Flanigan. Nixon underlines that he does not want anymore speculation and leaks to public regarding important economic matters from the White House Staff. Formerly classified as SECRET and declassified by ISOO, 2015.
[EYES ONLY] Nixon's concerns about the political implications of the tight monetary policy of the FED. Nixon calls on Burns to review this policy.
[EYES ONLY] Nixon's admonishing message concerning Burns's/FED's promise about the money supply. The letter has a handwritten note by Burns.
Re: Burns's support concerning measures against North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam.
Re: Phase III of the Economic Stabilization Program and the Nixon Administration's determination to enforce the program and relevant price and wage control measures
The correspondence from Arthur Frank Burns to Nixon covers the period during which Dr. Burns acted as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and is comprised of letters and memoranda sent to the president. Major issues addressed in the correspondence are economic measures to be taken in order to fight inflation and recession, the monetary policy that the Federal Reserve should pursue in accordance with the Economic Stabilization Act, the issue of wage and price controls, the gold crisis, the value of the dollar, and policies that the administration should implement concerning the international monetary situation.
The letters provide important insights into the disagreements between the Nixon Administration and Chairman Burns with regards to the issues of money supply, the extent and strictness of wage and price controls, and international monetary policy. The letters also address political matters such as Burns' opinions about domestic politics, his complaints about some White House staff, and the Watergate Scandal. International economic and political matters such as the Vietnam War, the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, and US relations with Latin American countries are also mentioned in the correspondence. Burns's handwritten journals, 1969-1974, found in the Journals Series in this collection, compliment this set of correspondence.
Attached: Report, Import Shares in Nonfood Goods and the Cut-Back in Defense Expenditures, prepared by Clayton Gehman, 1970 July 22.
Re: The tragic impact of "irresponsible trade unions" on the construction industry in Kansas City.
Attached: News clipping about the Fed's anti-inflation measures and Burns' comments on Nixon's statement reassuring "adequate money supply" in the market.
Attached: Memorandum from Geoffrey H. Moore, Commissioner of Labor Statistics regarding estimated impact of labor compensation increase on unemployment, 1971 Jan. 15.
Re: Rowen Bart's story about his testimony in The Washington Post. Burns also complains about "well-meaning" but "ill-advised" public talks by White House officials whose statements are presented as indications of a conflict around the monetary policy between Burns and Nixon.
[STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL] Burns's comments on the ongoing international crisis, suggesting that if the US has to suspend gold sales and purchases, it make it appear as if the US government was forced to do so by other governments' actions; otherwise, he argues, the US would have a weaker bargaining position in post-suspension negotiations. He also advises the government to "pay out gold and other reserves in substantial amounts," before a suspension.
Re: Opinion that the fiscal and monetary policies of the government were not as effective as expected.
Re: Suggestion that the differences between us on matters of economic policy are really minor..
Memorandum for the President, in which Burns details his suggestions to Nixon regarding international economic matters. Attached: Letter from Alexander P. Butterfield to Burns, 1971 Sept. 23.
Outline of Phase II strategy of economic stabilization program, and 90-day freeze of wages and prices.
[Personal and Confidential] Burns's report to the President concerning his impressions of the IMF meeting.
Re: Burns's meeting with leaders of the New York financial community concerning the weakness of the stock market.
Attached: Resolution adopted at Executive Session of the Conference of Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of the Federal Reserve Banks, 1971 Dec. 2.
Re: Nixon's concerns about the monetary policy. Burns assures him that the policy will promote economic expansion. Burns also states his doubts about estimated figures in the budget.
Re: Burns's evaluation of the Democrats' success in the recent polls and his suggestion to Nixon about what needs to be done.
Re: Burns's recent trip to Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. Burns addresses the economic and political situation in each country and comments on their economic and political relations with the US.
Re: Senate's failure to adopt the expenditure ceiling and its likely negative financial and monetary impacts.
Re: Nixon's achievement of enduring peace in Vietnam. Also points to the rebellious mood of Congress about excessive executive powers. Burns suggests that Nixon meet with prominent Congressmen and Senators more frequently.
Re: Concerns regarding the Phase III of economic stabilization program. Attached: Report from the Division of Research and Statistic to Burns, Prospects for Inflation Under Phase III; a Preliminary Analysis, 1973 Jan. 23.
Re: Nixon's tone in his upcoming talk regarding Watergate and expression of doubt if his or any suggestions could work at the moment.
Re: Gratitude to Nixon for appointing Burns Alternate Governor of the Monetary Fund.
Attached: 3 items. 2 copies of Burns's report to Nixon, Assistance to the Housing Industry, 1974 Apr. 30. Burns's report to Nixon, Public Service Employment Programs, 1974 May 1.
Burns was U.S. Ambassador to Germany in the first Reagan administration; accordingly, some letters concern German-American relations. Most, however, are routine expressions of thanks or congratulations from President Reagan. Also included are briefly stated pieces of economic advice from Burns to Reagan.
Reagan's correspondence to Burns begins around the 1980 presidential election and accordingly includes many notes of thanks for support and economic advice during the campaign. Also included are Reagan's authorization of Burns as ambassador to Germany and notes on the federal deficit. Birthday wishes and congratulations upon receiving Jospeh Prize for Human Rights are also included.
Burns's correspondence to Reagan consists mostly of congratulations and thanks. Of note, however, is Burns's 4-page confidential memo on the escalating tensions between the U.S. and the Federal Republic of Germany.
Re: Notice of policy statement to be issued by Burns's Committee to Fight Inflation
Re: Note of congratualtions upon Reagan's acceptance of the Republican nomination
Confidential: Discussion of the "accumulating tensions" between the U.S. and the FRG
Regan's letters to Burns are routine notes of thanks for support.
Rockefeller's letters to Burns are routine notes of thanks for friendship and sending materials.
Schmidt's letters to Burns are routine notes of thanks and support for cordial German-American relations.
Schultz's letters to Burns are routine notes of thanks for friendship and sending materials.
Stigler's letters to Burns discuss academic posts, other economists, Milton Friedman, and personal matters.
Thatcher's letters to Burns are routine notes of thanks for friendship and sending materials.
Weinberger's letters to Burns discuss the exports of military and electronic goods to the Soviet bloc and Reagan's Strategic Defensive Initiative. Also included are notes of thanks for sending materials and for successfully intervening with German-American trade relations.
Correspondents include Bob Dole, Warren Berger, and Barbara Walters.
From Elizabeth MacDonald Manning. Attached memorandum: Proposal for the Establishment of a Consultative Body in the Communications Area.
From Jacob K. Javits to Burns. Attached article: Senate Resolutions 197: Resolution to agree to cooperate with the Jacob K. Javits Senate Fellowship Program
Mostly dating from Burns' early career as an economist, this subseries contains Burns' correspondence with other economists, university administrators, the Republican Party, and private sector businesses. Arranged alphabetically by topic and then chronologically within.
Contains correspondence related to Burns' early publications, application for a post at the University of Chicago, and the possibilities of posts at Harvard and Stanford Universities. Also included are letters of recommendation written for Burns by Wesley Clair Mitchell, Frank A. Ross, and Edwin Seligman. Correspondents include F.W. Taussig, J. van Walre de Burdes, Jacob Viner, Durand Spring, Norman Lombard, W.H. Spencer, Herbert Moore, E.S. Shaw, Frank Knight, and Theodore Schultz.
Contains correspondence and other documents related to Burns' post at Columbia University, including appointment letters, salary information, and leaves of absence.
Contains correspondence related to Burns' post in the Eisenhower administration. Topics include legislative proposals, economic reports, employment, taxation, and the National Highway Program. Correspondents include Sinclair Weeks, Henry O. Talle, Percival F. Brundage, Moses Abramovitz, Rowland Hughes, Bryce Harlow, Maxwell Rabbs, and Douglas R. Stringfellow.
Contains correspondence about the appointment and work of Burns and other economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Also included are letters of recommendation written for Burns. Correspondents include Edwin F. Gay, Wesley C. Mitchell, William J. Carsous, Maurice W. Lee, Solomon Fabricant, Moses Abramovitz, and Simon Kuznets.
Contains correspondence regarding columns written by Burns on various economic topics. Also includes notes, drafts, and clippings of columns. One heavily-edited draft of a column on business forecasts has been removed to Oversize Box 14.
[1 item removed to Oversize Box 14]
Contains correspondence regarding Burns' work in the private sector with companies such as Standard Oil, Salomon Brothers, Smith Barney, Calvin Bullock, IBM, Federated Department Stores, and Morgan Guaranty Trust. Correspondents include A.L. Williams, Henry Kaufman, Frank G. Zarb, and Fred Lazarus Jr.
Contains correspondence between Burns and the Republican National Committee regarding contributions and strategy. Also included is correspondence and clippings about Jewish support for calendar reform. Correspondents include Charles P. Taft, Val J. Washington, and Chauncey Robbins.
Contains correspondence and other documents related to Burns' post at Rutgers University, including appointment letters, salary information, and leaves of absence.
Contains letters written to Burns' wife, Helen, both before and after his death. Letters of condolence and remembrance predominate. Correspondents include Mamie Eisenhower, Richard and Pat Nixon, Barbara Bush, Ronald Regan, and Gerald and Betty Ford.
Attached: Public statement by Reagan re: Burns' death, 1987 June 26.
This box contains originals of high-value correspondence without the corresponding attachments or Burns's side of exchanges. Use copies of the letters contained in this box along with their original attachments are located in boxes 1-3.
CLOSED: Materials in this series are closed to use.
The series contains Burns' honorary doctoral degrees, awards, and memorials from various national and international organizations.
[Original removed to Box 3]
Images from the award ceremony are in the Photographs Series.
Contains photocopies of two notebooks handwritten by Arthur Burns between January 20, 1969 and July 25, 1974, when Burns was acting as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve during the Nixon Administration. The journals are comprised of 235 pages, are chronologically ordered in seven folders, and are accompanied by transcripts. They provide invaluable insights into the economic concerns and policies of the period as well as the personal and professional relations among Burns and the White House staff, Cabinet members, and the President. Burns describes at length his interactions with and personal opinions about prominent political figures of the time such as Richard M. Nixon, John Connally, H. Robert Haldeman, John D. Ehrlichman, John N. Mitchell, Spiro Agnew, Henry Kissinger, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and George Shultz, among many others. The journals record Burns' changing opinions about President Nixon, including disagreements between Burns and the White House concerning issues such as monetary policy and wage and price controls, the Federal Reserve, and relations with international economic partners. Burns' writings also provide important insights into his and others' opinions regarding Watergate and the White House's response to it. Other topics include employment and presidential appointments. There are also entries that discuss the all-volunteer army, busing, community action programs, congressional testimony, energy, food stamps, the Headstart Program, housing, Job Corps, mass transit, malnutrition, model cities program, oil imports, revenue sharing, urban policy, welfare reform, and the Soviet immigration of Jews. There are often long time lapses between consecutive entries; however, Burns addresses the major developments during the time he did not write.
The journals in this collection are photocopied from originals housed at the Ford Library. Since Burns' handwriting is difficult to read, Ford Library staff created transcripts which were then edited by Arthur F. Burns' former secretary, Gail Veenstra. Each photocopied page is accompanied by a transcript. Some words still remain illegible and are identified with brackets; any additional editing by Duke Library Staff is in pencil.
Contains materials related to Burns' memorial service as well as personal correspondence, clippings, and other materials from his life, such as various versions of his CV, checks written to his father in the 1930s, a 1940 deposition regarding his legal name, and a two-dollar bill signed by Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon. Also included is an audio recording of his memorial service in 1987. In original order as received.
[Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Digital file listening copy is available. For access to the recorded content, please contact Research Services before coming to use this collection.]
Comprised of 1092 black-and-white and color photographs, chiefly of Mr. and Mrs. Burns. The photographs come in various sizes and vary from snapshots to professional portraits; many are mounted in souvenir photograph albums. They show Mr. and Mrs. Burns at social and political occasions such as service ceremonies, lectures, meeting with the U.S. and foreign political figures, and other social gatherings. There are also images taken during trips to international locations.
Composed of three subseries for writings, publicity, and materials related to the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship. The Writings Subseries is organized chronologically and includes lectures, public statements and addresses, reprints of articles, and bound volumes containing speeches he made as ambassador to Germany. The Publicity Subseries contains news clippings and articles, interviews, commentaries, and pieces published after his death. The Arthur F. Burns Fellowship (AFB) is an exchange program for German and U.S. media professionals; folders in this subseries are organized by topic and then chronologically.
In Business Week Number 2335. Bound copy of full issue.
Contains news clippings and articles related to Burns' career. Included are interviews, commentaries, and memorial articles and obituaries following his death. There are a few articles in German. In original order as received
Organized by year, these materials provide general information about the program goals along with specific details about where each fellow was accommodated the previous year, and their reports and articles published in the course of their fellowship terms. Three issues of the Arthur F. Burns International Program newsletters are also included.
Contains undated syllabi and exam questions from economics courses taught by Burns and materials related to Burns' research on certification and labelling standards in the late 1920s. These materials include notes, correspondence responding to Burns' requests for materials, Department of Commerce publications, news clippings, book reviews, and academic articles. In original order as received.
Use copies of the communications contained in this box are located in Box 1 for researcher use.
Electronic records in this series have been migrated to a library server and digital use copies can only be accessed onsite in the Rubenstein Library Reading Room. To request access, please contact Research Services before coming to use these records.
The file includes contains some of correspondence and memoranda between Arthur Burns and presidents, vice-presidents, politicians, and prominent economists, and the letters were imaged with a digital camera.
The file also contains Arthur Burns resume and Wesley Mitchell eulogy.
Arthur Frank Burns, economist, policy maker and diplomat, was born into an Austro-Hungarian Jewish family in Stanislau, Galicia (now part of Ukraine) in 1904. His family immigrated to the United States in 1914 and settled in New Jersey. In 1925 Burns received A.B. and A.M. degrees in economics from Columbia University. He worked under renowned economist Wesley Clair Mitchell and received his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia in 1934. Between 1926 and 1944 he taught at Columbia and Rutgers. He was named full professor at Rutgers University in 1943. Burns's economic thought was inspired by Keynes, yet he believed that the Keynesian model was simplistic and totalistic as, according to Burns, each industry had its own cycle, hence government intervention should be taken selectively and upon detailed statistical analysis. Burns joined the National Bureau of Economics as Research Associate in 1930; in later years he served as the Director of Research (1945-1953), President (1957-1967), and Chairman (1967-1968) of this institution.
Burns's political involvement with the Republican Party began with his support for Eisenhower in the 1952 election. Burns acted as the Chairman of the Council of Advisors to the President (1953-1956), Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Small Business (1956), and as member of U.S. Advisory Council on Social Security Financing (1957-1958).
Burns was also an economic advisor to Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign and acted as the White House economic advisor from 1969-1970. He was appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve on Jan. 31, 1970, and held the position until March 1978. Meanwhile, he also served as the Head of the Committee on Interest and Dividends (1971-1974), a committee founded as part of Nixon's Economic Stabilization Program; as the U.S. Alternate Governor to the International Monetary Fund (1973-1978); and as a member of Emergency Loan Guarantee Board (1971-1978). The Nixon administration took over an economy in crisis, and Burns proposed a recovery program, which in the early days seemed to be effective. This period and Burns's reactions to its crises are well-documented in the correspondence and personal journals found in this collection. Between 1977-1981 and 1985-1987, Burns served as a distinguished scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, where he taught and wrote. In 1981, Ronald Reagan appointed him U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, a position he held until May 16, 1985. Burns passed away on June 26, 1987 in Baltimore, Maryland. Burns's theories have inspired many economists, including his renowned student Milton Friedman.
Production Trends in the United States Since 1870. New York: National Bureau of Economic Research
Measuring Business Cycles. New York: National Bureau of Economic Research, with Wesley Mitchell
Wesley Clair Mitchell: the Economic Scientist. New York: National Bureau of Economic Research
Frontiers of Economic Knowledge. Princeton: University of Princeton Press
Prosperity without Inflation. Buffalo: Smith, Keynes & Marshall
Full Employment: Guideposts and Economic Stability. Washington D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, with Paul Samuelson
Business Cycle in a Changing World. New York: Columbia University Press
Reflections of an Economic Policy Maker: Speeches and Congressional Statements, 1969-1978. Washington D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Burns, Arthur F. (Arthur Frank), 1904-1987
- Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)
- Bush, George, 1924-
- Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
- Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
- Ford, Gerald R., 1913-2006
- Friedman, Milton, 1912-2006
- Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973
- Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
- Mitchell, Wesley C. (Wesley Clair), 1874-1948
- Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
- Ambassadors -- United States
- Currency question -- United States
- Elections -- United States -- History
- Economists -- United States
- Economists -- Correspondence
- Fiscal policy -- United States
- Inflation (Finance) -- United States
- Monetary policy -- United States
- Presidents -- United States -- Correspondence
- Recessions -- United States
- Unemployment -- Effect of inflation on -- United States
- Watergate Affair, 1972-1974
- United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989
- United States -- Economic conditions -- 1945-
- United States -- History -- 1945-
- United States -- Foreign policy
- United States -- Economic policy
The Arthur F. Burns Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift from 2006-2012.
Processed by Yektan Turkyilmaz, December 2009; Elizabeth Shesko, December 2010.
Encoded by Yektan Turkyilmaz and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, December 2009, and Elizabeth Shesko, December 2010
2011 addition interfiled by Alice Poffinberger. 2012 addition processed and encoded by Levi Crews. Finding aid updates and edits by Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, October 2013.
Digital materials were processed by Hyeeyoung Kim, September 2017.
Accessions 2006-0050, 2007-0027, 2007-0144, 2008-0013, 2008-0031, 2008-0096, 2009-0004, 2009-0171, 2010-0210, 2011-0116, and 2012-0261 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.
Some of the autographed original letters were photographed with a digital camera before the collection was acquired by the library. Digital image files were provided to the library on CD-Rom. Files from those CD-Roms were migrated to a library server. To request access to these electronic copies, please contact Research Services in the Rubenstein Library before coming to use this collection.General
National security classified materials were reviewed and declassified by the Information Security Oversight Office of the National Archives in 2015. Declassified documents are clearly marked as such.