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Robert Spurrier Ellison papers

Identifier: MSS 782

Scope and Contents

Materials include correspondence, genealogical notes, diaries, business records, drafts of writings, speeches, and collected research and reference materials including manuscripts, letters, legal documents, maps, photographs, and newspaper clippings. The materials pertain primarily to the history and settlement of the American West, the American Indian Wars and American Indian culture, and the preservation of western historical landmarks. Dated 1833 to 1951.


  • 1833-1951


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to use material from this collection must be obtained from Reference Services at

Biographical History

Robert Spurrier Ellison (1875-1945) was a prominent Colorado lawyer, businessman, politician, historian, and author.

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. Ellison married Vida F. Gregory of Colorado Springs in 1907.

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 in 1940, 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.


10 boxes (5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Materials are arranged in nine series: 1. Biographical, date of production not identified. 2. Genealogical, 1917-1928. 3. Robert Spurrier Ellison mementos, 1916-1946. 4. Robert Spurrier Ellison general correspondence, 1906-1945. 5. Robert Spurrier Ellison journal, 1893. 6. Robert Spurrier Ellison business career, 1906-1930. 7. Robert Spurrier Ellison writings, 1924-1940. 8. Robert Spurrier Ellison research and reference file, 1833-1951. 9. Oversize, 1850-1935.

Other Finding Aids

Finding aid available in repository.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online.

Custodial History

Purchased from Fred Rosenstock of Denver, Colorado in 1978.

It is believed that the 2013 accession is also from the same purchase.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased; John Rosenstock; 1978.


Utah and the American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (20th century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.VII, 2007).

Related Materials

Walter Mason Camp (MSS 57), Fred Rosenstock, William A. Carter (MSS SC 490), William Henry Jackson (MSS 1608 and Mss P66), John Hunton (MSS SC 103), Charles Kuhlman (MSS 1401), William Carey Brown (MSS 1474), and Earl Brininstool (MSS 1412). Significant collections of Ellison's papers also are preserved in the Denver Public Library and in the Lilly Library of Indiana University along with the bulk of his library of Western Americana.

Processing Information

Processed; Margaret Weddle, student manuscript processor; and John M. Murphy, curator; 2014.

Register of Robert Spurrier Ellison papers
In Progress
Garrett Schroath
2011 September 2
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States