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.
From the guide to the Vaux family papers, Bulk, 1912-1932, 1708-1995, (Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections)