Robert L. Owen Collection

1913-1946 (bulk: 1935-1942)

2.1 cubic feet

portrait of Robert Owen

Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection

Robert L. Owen was born in 1856 at Lynchburg, Virginia, of Scotch-Irish and Indian ancestry. Educated in the private schools of Lynchburg, he attended Washington and Lee University where he received a Master of Arts degree in 1877. Soon afterwards, he moved to the Cherokee Nation where he practiced law, taught school, and served as secretary of the Board of Education of the Cherokee Nation. In 1885, Owen was appointed agent for the Five Civilized Tribes and functioned in that position until 1887. Owen served as the attorney for the Choctaws beginning in 1890 and later in the same capacity for the Western and Eastern Cherokees. He organized the First National Bank of Indian Territory at Muskogee in 1890 and acted as its president until 1900.

Owen was elected to the United States Senate from the state of Oklahoma in December 1907 and was reelected in 1912 and in 1918. In 1920, Owen's name was submitted as a Democratic candidate for President of the United States. In the end, he ranked fourth among the candidates but declined the nomination for vice president. As a senator, Owen was the drafter of the Federal Reserve Act and the Farm Loan Act. Child labor laws were another of his interests. Owen retired from the U.S. Senate in 1925.

After his retirement, Owen engaged in activities which promoted the interests of Indians, both in the field of legislation and in the courts. He maintained his interest in world affairs and international law and became involved in a goal to enable people all over the world to speak together in a phonetic global alphabet. His later years were spent pursuing this project. Senator Owen died in Washington, D.C., on July 19, 1947.

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Owen collection is 2.1 cubic feet in size and includes material from 1913-1946, with the bulk falling between the years 1935-1942.  

 Series titles include:

  • Correspondence
  • Legislative Record
  • National Monetary Commission
  • Senatorial Publications

The collection contains general correspondence pertaining to the Federal Reserve Act as well as a series of letters from various prominent Washington personalities. In addition, there are a number of documents published by the Government Printing Office. There is also a bound volume of Owen's speeches covering the years 1908-1914. This small collection supplements a larger collection housed at the Library of Congress. Legislative Records consist of Congressional Record Proceedings for the 60th - 63rd Congresses, 1909-1915; Rules and Manuals of the U.S. Senate; and bound speeches by Owen, 1908-1924. Owen was a firm believer in rule by the people and was instrumental in the change to election of senators by direct popular vote. His speech on that subject is one of many included in the bound volumes.

Senate documents published by the Government Printing Office are found in the National Monetary Commission and the Senatorial Publications materials. Most of these documents are reports regarding banking and currency in European countries and Canada; laws of the U.S. concerning money, banking, and loans from 1778-1909; and hearings on the banking and currency from 1910, 1913, and 1935.

An inventory to this collection is available. For more information on the archival holdings, please contact the Carl Albert Center.

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