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Identifier: WH1702


The collection spans 1864 to 1944 with Walter Mason Camp's research notes and correspondence comprising the bulk of the material. Records include interview notes, field notes, research correspondence and Camp's hand-written transcriptions of original source documents. Additional records include Robert S. Ellison’s personal and research-related correspondence, reference materials and manuscripts.

Three libraries contributed material for the field note transcripts. Robert S. Ellison purchased the bulk of Camp’s notes following Camp’s death. Ellison, in turn, stipulated that, upon his demise, a substantial portion of his collection, including numerous Camp notes, be donated to Indiana University’s Lilly Library. Fred Rosenstock, noted Denver book dealer, purchased much of Ellison's remaining material, including additional Camp notes. Rosenstock sold these records in several installments to the Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. Professor Kenneth Hammer prepared transcripts of the Camp notes housed at the Denver Public Library, the Lee Library and the Lilly Library between April and August 1974 during preparation of his book Custer in '76: Walter Camp's Notes on the Custer Fight. The bulk of this material relates to the Battle of Little Bighorn. However, numerous other battles and topics are also included. Finding aids for the Harold B. Lee Library and Lilly Library transcripts are available from the respective institutions.


Robert S. Ellison's personal and research-related correspondence comprises the bulk of the series. Ellison maintained personal correspondence with Horace M. Albright, director of the National Park Service and William H. Jackson, one of the West's premier photographers. Other personal correspondents include anthropologist George Bird Grinnell and Luther H. North, one of the famed leaders of the Pawnee Scouts.

Ellison had a deep interest in the Red Buttes Indian fight and the Battle of Platte River Bridge, both of which occurred near Casper, Wyoming. Research correspondents include Charles Bates, William Devine and J.W. Shrader who participated in the Platte River Bridge Fight. Captain Henry C. Bretney was stationed briefly at Fort Casper. Alson B. Ostrander served at Fort Phil Kearny where he obtained first-hand knowledge of the Fetterman Massacre and the Wagon Box fight. William E. Morris fought in Major Marcus Reno's battalion during the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Other correspondents include Lieutenant John Furay, who served in the frontier Army with the 11th Ohio Cavalry, Agnes Wright Spring, noted Western historian and author, Finn Burnett, a civilian contractor at Fort Phil Kearny at the time of the Fetterman Massacre and Clarence Reckmeyer, a Nebraska historian who worked with Luther North to mark the Summit Springs battlefield. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, then chronologically.


Copies of orders, maps and drawings of Camp Collins, Colorado Territory comprise the bulk of the series. A newspaper article about Marshall Thomas Wilkinson is also included


Manuscripts of two papers that Ellison presented to meetings of the Casper, Wyoming Literary Club comprise the series.


Interview notes, research correspondence, field notes and field note transcripts comprise the series. Fourteen documents contained within the interview notes also include correspondence and hand-written document transcriptions. Interview notes were microfilmed in their original order on microfilm (C MSS Mflm 35) under Papers, Diaries, Interviews and Comments. These fourteen documents also comprise the Denver Public Library portion of Professor Kenneth Hammer's transcripts. The series is arranged in its original order. Researchers must use microfilm (C MSS Mflm 35) or the Hammer transcripts to view these records.

Camp's inquiries and the responses comprise the bulk of Camp's research correspondence. Records were originally filed as letters in one hundred twenty-four folders arranged approximately in chronological order and were microfilmed in this sequence. The correspondence appears on microfilm (C MSS Mflm 35) as W.M. Camp, Letters 1910-1920, 7th Cavalry. The series maintains this original order. Also included is correspondence between Camp and Herman P. Ashkey, participant in the Sibley scout of July, 1876. This correspondence appears on microfilm (C MSS Mflm 35) under Letters by Herman P. Ashkey. Correspondence is numbered F1-F5 and includes one letter from Camp to Ashkey. Researchers must use microfilm (C MSS Mflm 35) to view these records.

Field notes include material Camp originally filed in thirty-three labeled envelopes. The contents of each envelope have been retained in a single file folder. Therefore, some folders contain multiple subjects. The folders comprising this series are arranged alphabetically by the principal subject contained in each folder. The bulk of these field notes are hand-written on small scraps of paper. Numerous notes describe inquiries to which Camp sought answers. Additional material includes correspondence, interview notes and bibliographic references. These field notes have not been microfilmed.

SERIES 5 OVERSIZE 1895, 1913 OvFF1

Two township maps showing the area around Sitting Bull's Standing Rock Reservation cabin and a hand-drawn map of Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming Territory, comprises the series. Township maps accompanied correspondence in Box 2, Folder 16. The Fort Phil Kearny map accompanied correspondence in Box 1, Folder 134

SERIES 6 MICROFILM 1873-1925 C MSS Mflm 35 Reel 1

One original, one backup copy and one negative copy comprise the series. Reel 1 includes 936 pages of Walter Camp's interview notes and research correspondence as identified in Series 4. The title W.M. Camp, Letters 1910-1920, 7th Cavalry on Mflm 35 is incorrect. Documents span 1865-1920. Not all of these documents are letters, and not all relate to the Seventh Cavalry. Additional material includes reports and interview notes related to numerous other battles. Also included is a portion of George Bird Grinnell's correspondence with Ellison from Series 1, Box 1, File Folder 11; and Herman Ashkey' s correspondence as described in Series 4.


  • TBD


The collection is open for research. However, researchers must obtain Professor Kenneth Hammer's permission in order to copy his Denver Public Library, Harold B. Lee Library or Lilly Library field note transcripts. Additionally, because of the fragility of the papers, microfilm (C MSS Mflm 35) must be used for the records in this collection that have been microfilmed.


Robert S. Ellison, Walter M. Camp 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.


Robert Spurrier Ellison (1875-1945) was born in Rushville, Indiana. After graduating from Indiana University in 1900, Ellison studied law. He was admitted to the Colorado bar in 1903 and specialized in mining litigation with the Colorado Springs law firm Schuyler and Schuyler. In 1911, Ellison was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives. He moved to Denver in 1915, and to Casper, Wyoming in 1919. While in Wyoming, Ellison became vice-president of the Midwest Refining Company. He helped to found Wyoming's Historical Landmark Commission and served as regional director of the Oregon Trail Memorial Association. Ellison also compiled and financed a history of the Pawnee nation, for which the Pawnee Supreme Council named him a tribal chief. In 1930, Standard Oil of Indiana bought the Midwest Refining Company and transferred Ellison to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Ellison returned to Colorado Springs following his retirement in1940, where he was elected president of the Bank of Manitou, mayor of Manitou Springs and director of the Boy Scouts of the Pikes Peak Region. Ellison wrote several books on the American West, and was considered Colorado's greatest book collector. His Western Americana collection was once said to be the second largest in the United States. Ellison died at his home in Manitou Springs August 16, 1945. Ellison married Vida F. Gregory of Colorado Springs in 1907.


Walter Mason Camp (1867-1925) was born in Camptown, Pennsylvania. Camp entered the railroad business at the age of sixteen as a track walker and maintenance worker. In 1887, Camp began his studies at Pennsylvania State College. He graduated in 1891 with a degree in civil engineering and conducted post-graduate studies in steam and electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin. In 1897, Camp became editor of the Railway and Engineering Review, a position he held for twenty-eight years.

Camp is known today for his passionate interest in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. In 1903, Camp determined to interview every known survivor of the battle and to write a history of the Seventh Cavalry. Later, Camp expanded his research to include all of the Nineteenth Century Indian wars. His field notes, interview notes and correspondence remain one of the most respected resources in the study of the Indian wars, though his death in Kankakee, Illinois precluded him from writing the Indian wars history that he had labored so long to compile.


2 Boxes

1 folder

1 reel ilm


The Denver Public Library purchased a portion of this collection from Jack Miller (Grandma's Attic), Littleton, Colorado [1965]. Professor Kenneth Hammer prepared transcripts of Walter Camp's notes archived at the Denver Public Library, at the Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University and at Indiana University's Lilly Library in 1974 while conducting research for his book Custer in '76 : Walter Camp's notes on the Custer fight. Each of the three host libraries received copies of these transcripts. William G. Griffin donated William H. Jackson's correspondence in 1978. The Denver Public Library purchased thirty-three envelopes of Walter M. Camp's field notes from Paul Harbaugh (Primitive Art and Photography), Denver, Colorado, March 8, 1991.


Number of Boxes: 2

Oversize: 1 folder

Microfilm: 1 reel




Dennis Hagen



Ellen Zazzarino

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Repository Details

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

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