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Collection Overview

Browne, Robert Sewall, 1866-1904
Robert Sewall Browne Letters on Prospecting
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box B-001198


Consists of letters from Robert Sewall Browne (1866-1904) to his wife Alice E. Gray Browne in Maine, detailing his overland travels and work as a prospector, miner, and rancher in Colorado, Wyoming, and the Yukon Territory from 1896 to 1901.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of twenty-five manuscript letters from Robert S. Browne to his wife Alice Gray Browne in Old Town, Maine, documenting his gold and silver mining activities and other money-making schemes, including ranching and trading goods, and his associated travels in the American and Canadian West from 1896 to 1901. The first ten letters document Browne's overland prospecting trip from Cripple Creek, Colorado, to mining camps at Hahns Peak and nearby ranching colonies at Slater Park, a distance of over 250 miles; from Slater Park to Rawlings, Wyoming; and from Rawlings back to Slater Park and Hahns Peak, covering an eight-month period from May 1896 to January 1897. Following a significant gap, spanning a period when Browne likely returned to visit his family on the East Coast, the other fifteen letters date from December 1899 to November 1901, when Browne was engaged in mining activities at hilltop mining camps near Dawson City in the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Browne's letters express affection for his wife and son at home, as well as confidence in the projected future success of his endeavors, and he often urges his wife to come and join him. The letters provide lengthy and detailed descriptions of his partnerships and individual prospecting activities, the several small settlements and camps in which he stayed or passed through, his encounters with Native American traders, and the successes and failures of his ventures and those of his fellow travelers. Browne's last letters from the fall of 1901 describe finding a promising deposit in the Yukon Territory, which turned out to be a bust.

Some of the letters and envelopes have been annotated at a later date by a different hand. The collection also includes a newspaper clipping reporting on the circumstances of Browne's death in Alaska in 1904.


Arranged chronologically.

Collection Creator Biography:

Browne, Robert Sewall, 1866-1904

Robert Sewall Browne (1866-1904) traveled from Maine to Colorado, Wyoming, the Yukon Territory, and Alaska in the 1890s in order to make a living for his family who remained back in Maine. Browne was the son of Minerva Lydia Meader (b. 1840) and Reverend Sewall Browne, a Baptist clergyman living in East Corinth, Maine. Robert Sewall Browne's wife, Alice E. Gray Browne (b. 1869), was the daughter of C. H. Gray. They had one son named Carle Meader Browne. Robert S. Browne pursued a variety of money-making schemes in the American and Canadian West, including working as a prospector and miner in Colorado, Wyoming, and the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush, a rancher in Colorado, and a wood contractor in Alaska. Browne drowned in 1904 in a boat accident on the Tanana River in Alaska after completing a contract with the Northern Commercial Company to supply wood for river streamers.

Collection History


Purchase, 2018 (AM 2019-1).


No materials were removed from the collection during 2018 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in June 2018. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in June 2018.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Robert Sewall Browne Letters on Prospecting; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box B-001198