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Collection Overview

Rollins, Philip Ashton, 1869-1950
Philip Ashton Rollins Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1887-1950 (mostly 1900-1930)
25 boxes and 14 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-23; 25; B-000089


Consists of personal papers and material related to the American West collected by Philip Ashton Rollins (1869-1950).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Supplementing his collection of printed Western Americana, these papers comprise manuscripts, correspondence, documents, photographs, and miscellanea relating to Rollins's interest and involvement in the American West. Included are typed manuscripts-of articles, stories, and a poem, including some variant copies and revisions; of Gone Haywire (1930), his fictionalized autobiography; and of The Journey and Travelling Memoranda of Robert Stuart . . ., edited by Rollins and published in 1935 as The Discovery of the Oregon Trail: Robert Stuart's Narratives. Correspondence of Rollins (Princeton Class of 1889), of his wife, Beulah, and of her assistant, Elizabeth Shields, consists primarily of responses from libraries, historical societies, and other sources in connection with his research and collecting.

In addition, there are papers of others, including transcripts of 19th-century journals, an autograph manuscript of a diary of an overland trip, and letters from goldminers to their families giving vivid narratives of their experiences; approximately 840 silver gelatin and albumen photographs and postcards (including one photograph album), either taken or collected by Rollins, depicting rodeos, Western towns, gold prospecting, fauna, cattle ranching, and frontier life and travel in such states as Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, etc. and including images by R.R. Doubleday, J.E. Stimson, W.S. Bowman, and Major Lee Moorhouse; printed material and miscellaneous clippings; and memorabilia/objects, including a lariat and spurs.

The following standard abbreviations, or their variations, are used to identify materials in this collection: Ms = manuscript, AMsS = autograph manuscript signed.


The contents of each series are grouped more specifically by the items' natures; and, when possible, they are arranged alphabetically, either according to author or subject.

Collection Creator Biography:

Rollins, Philip Ashton, 1869-1950

Philip Ashton Rollins was born on January 20, 1869, in Somersworth, New Hampshire. Rollins spent a good deal of time during his youth out West, where he developed a fascination with a culture and lifestyle that would last his entire life. He attended Princeton University and graduated in 1889. He and his wife, Beulah "Pack" Rollins, settled in New York City, where he practiced law. Despite their East Coast home, Mr. and Mrs. Rollins spent much of their time traveling through the western United States. Rollins died in 1950.

Throughout his life, Rollins was known as a gentleman scholar, as equally adept at providing a comprehensive look at the world of the cowboy as he was at telling an engaging story. His best known book, The Cowboy, An Unconventional History of Civilization on the Old-Time Cattle Range, was first published in 1922. It was an immediate success, and it has gone through countless editions and printings. The Cowboy has been praised as capturing the tools, trade, and life of American cowboys in a remarkably honest and accurate manner. Another book that brought Rollins fame was Jinglebob, published in 1928. Geared towards a younger audience, Jinglebob told the story of life on the ranch for one cowboy out west. In addition to these well-known works, Rollins edited and wrote several pieces and books that dealt with the Oregon Trail and the overland narratives of early western settlers, as well as other articles that dealt with cowboys and the American West.

Rollins was not only a lawyer and a scholar, he was also a benefactor of Princeton who remained closely tied to his alma mater throughout his life. From 1911 until 1913 he served as the president of the Princeton Club in New York City, and he gave a memorable address memorializing Isabella McCosh at the opening of the new McCosh infirmary. He was the chairman and co-founder of the Friends of the Princeton Library in 1930. In 1947, Rollins and his wife presented the Princeton Library with a valuable collection of Western Americana, consisting of a series of imprints and manuscripts that encompassed overland narratives, the western cattle trade and industry, and the Rocky Mountain West. This collection formed the basis for the Western Americana collection at Firestone Library, and it helped to attract the donations of many other Western Americana collectors, making it one of the finest collections of Western Americana in the country.

Collection History


Likely gift of Philip A. and Beulah Rollins, 1947 . (AM 14436A, AM 2016-51)


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Jessica Dye in 2004. Finding aid written by Jessica Dye in 2004. Updated by Valerie Addonizio in 2009.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

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:

Philip Ashton Rollins Collection; 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): Boxes 1-23; 25; B-000089