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Earl and Carla Harris Papers

Identifier: MSS123

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the Earl and Carla Harris Papers contains evidence of their donations, primarily receipts, itemized lists, and thank you letters. The collection also contains some event programs, clippings, and photographs.


  • 1974 - 2000


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Biographical / Historical

Carla Nusbaum Harris was born in 1920 in Detroit, Michigan and was raised in Chicago and rural Wisconsin. She attended the University of Chicago and studied art and literature in Chicago, New York, and Indianapolis. At 19, she went to work for the Black Cat Press: her book The Man in the Smock: From the Memoirs of an Ex-Girl Friday details her time working there. She wrote radio scripts for the American Women's Voluntary Services during the Second World War. She married Earl Harris in 1946.

Earl Harris was born in Detroit Michigan in 1917, and attended Knox College and John Marshall Law School. In the Second World War, he served as a B-24 radio gunner with the 8th Air Force. His first marriage (to Adele Deutch Harris) ended with his wife's death in 1946. He married Carla Nusbaum Harris in the same year.

With Gerald Paul, Earl and Carla Harris founded the clothing store Paul Harris in 1952 in Plainfield, Indiana. Eventually focusing on women's apparel, the store became successful and famous for attention-getting displays in mall locations. Earl Harris retired from Paul Harris in 1985 to start his own consulting business.

The philanthropic giving of Earl and Carla Harris has had a significant impact in Central Indiana. In addition to giving significantly to the Central Indiana Community Foundation, they used the Earl and Carla Harris Philanthropic Fund to donate to a variety of arts and relgious organizations, as well as the United Way. Much of their giving was done under the auspices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis. However, they may be best known for the I Have a Dream Foundation - Indianapolis, a local implementation of the I Have a Dream Foundation created by Eugene Lang in the mid 1980s. Along with their partner Bart Kaufman, they pledged to pay full college tuition for any of the 6th grade students of IPS School 42 to graduate high school and be accepted to college. Although the foundation was not as successful in helping students to overcome a variety of economic and social obstacles, they did see 22 of 62 students graduate high school, 10 of whom began their college educations.

Earl Harris died in 2007, ending the Harrises 61-year marriage; Carla died in 2009.


.4 Cubic Feet (1 letter-sized document case)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Jill Meisenheimer in 2008. A2009/10-028.

Related Materials

MSS083, I Have a Dream Foundation - Indianapolis Records, 1988-1998 contains more information about this part of the Earl and Carla Harris' philanthropy. This collection is restricted until 2073 due to the sensitive information about students contained in the collection.


  • "Earl B. Harris." Indianapolis Star, March 26, 2008.
  • "Carla N. Harris." Indianapolis Star, January 2, 2010.
  • Paul Harris Stores, Inc. Collection, 1971-2001, WIlliam Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Indiana.


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Earl and Carla Harris Papers, 1974-2000
Angela White
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Philanthropic Studies Archives Repository

IUPUI University Library
755 W. Michigan St.
Room 0133
Indianapolis IN 46202 USA