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Identifier: CONS22


Lois Crisler kept journals while her husband, Herb "Cris" Crisler, filmed wildlife during the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Lois' journals date from September 1948 to May of 1963. These journals are her original field notes and observations not just of wolves, but of all the wildlife she observed. In addition, the collection contains a small amount of correspondence and book reviews of Arctic Wild.

The locations in the journals are not always clearly identified but can be surmised from their travel dates:

  • 1948-1950 Olympic Mountains
  • April 1951 Rocky Mountains of Colorado
  • Fall of 1952 Denali National Park in Alaska
  • April 1953 Brooks Range, Alaska
  • 1954 Terryall Mountains, Colorado
The book, Arctic Wild, is a direct culmination of Lois’ journals which she kept while on assignment in the Brooks Range. While in the Arctic, the Crislers attempted to raise several litters of wolf puppies. Lois’ journals document much of that experience and formed the basis for her second book Captive Wild. This book is a narrative of the years Lois spent rearing a litter of arctic wolf pups, which the Crislers brought with them when they moved to the Tarryall Mountains of Colorado near Lake George.

In the foreword to Arctic Wild, A. Starker Leopold wrote, “The Crislers’ observations of wolves went beyond merely watching them chase caribou. In each of the two summers of their stay, they raised a litter of wolf pups taken from wild parents. A substantial part of this book is comprised of Lois’ intensely interesting observations of these captives. In fact this volume probably includes the most meticulous and complete description of wolf mannerisms and behavior that has been written.”

One folder of photographs of wolves complete the collection.

Olympic Mountains
April 1951
Rocky Mountains of Colorado
Fall of 1952
Denali National Park in Alaska
April 1953
Brooks Range, Alaska
Terryall Mountains, Colorado


  • TBD


The collection is open for research.


The Lois Crisler Papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


Lois E. Brown Crisler, born August 9, 1896, was raised in Spokane, Washington. She became an English teacher and taught at the University of Washington where she met Herbert B. Crisler, born July 23, 1893. They were married on December 7, 1941. The Crislers made their home deep in the Olympic Mountains on the old Humes Ranch, or Humes Brothers Homestead, seven miles within the Olympic National Park on the Elwha River. During World War II, they volunteered to occupy the Hurricane Hill lookout to watch for enemy aircraft.

In June 1949, Lois began writing a weekly column for the Port Angeles (Washington) Evening News, titled Olympic Trail Talk, which ran through the spring of 1951. Her column detailed life in the mountains, her observations on wildlife, the history of the Olympic Peninsula, and the Crislers’ lecture tours, which resulted from Herb’s filming of wildlife.

Herb Crisler became associated with the Disney Studios in 1950 to film the elk herds of the Olympic Mountains, and in 1952, the Studio released the True-Life Adventure Film, The Olympic Elk. In April 1951, the Disney Studios sent the Crislers to Colorado to film bighorn sheep and in the fall of 1952, they continued on to Denali National Park in Alaska to film grizzly and brown bears. The Crislers moved on to the Brooks Range within the Arctic Circle in April 1953 for 18 months, where Herb filmed the caribou and Lois kept journals of her observations of the wildlife and her surroundings. These observation resulted in her book, Arctic Wild (1958). In 1962, Lois received a one year Guggenheim Fellowship to study the wilderness behavior of certain North American mammals.

The Crislers relocated to the Tarryall Mountains near Lake George, Colorado, where they continued to care for the wolves they had raised. Lois’ book Captive Wild (1968) relates the story of her relationship with the wolves, especially the wolf she called Alatna. Lois died in Seattle, King County, Washington on June 3, 1971. Herb Crisler died on December 15, 1985 at Puyallup, Pierce County, Washington.


1 Boxes


The papers of this collections were donated to the Denver Public Library.


Number of Boxes: 1




Ruth E. Boyd

December 1991


Claudia Jensen

June 2007


Ellen Zazzarino

June 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States