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Charles M. Russell papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS P 269

Scope and Contents

Collection includes 15 photographs, 74 sketches, 124 postcards, four pamphlets, two newspapers, and 13 placemats with images of cowboys, animals, and scenes of Western life. Dated approximately 1880-1929.


  • approximately 1880-1929


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research. Items kept in cold storage; access requires 24 hours advance notice.

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 / Historical

Charles Marion Russell born on March 19, 1864, in St. Louis, Missouri to Charles Silas Russell and Mary Elizabeth Mead. He grew up on a large farm and adopted a love for art and the west at a young age. By the age of 16, he moved to Montana. His first job was as a sheep herder but did not enjoy it. He learned outdoor skills while living with his friend, Jake Hoover, in Judith Basin in Central Montana. Eventually he found a job as a cowboy which he worked at until he was 30. Russell worked with Jesse Phelps in the rough winter of 1886. When Phelps asked in early spring for a report on his stock, Charles sent his now famous sketch of the lone steer surrounded by coyotes, with the legend, "Waiting for a Chinook." Russell wintered with the Bloods of Canada in 1888-1889, then returned to Montana with a wagon freighting outfit. Harper's Weekly had published his "Caught in the Act" in 1888, and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper on May 18, 1889, printed a full page of his drawings. A portfolio came out in 1890, and an article about him appeared in New York in 1891. His fame grew steadily from then forward. He married Nancy Cooper on September 9, 1896. They settled the following year in Great Falls, where he established the studio where he would work for the remainder of his life. Nancy appreciated his unique talent and caused him to place more value upon his work. After two trips to New York, he was established as a major artist, if unique and specialized, and he held his first one-man show on Fifth Avenue in 1911. By 1920 he had reached the peak. He produced more than 2,600 pieces of preserved artwork in all. His first Rawhide Rawlins book was published in 1921 with the second published in 1925. Charles died on October 24, 1926, in Great Falls, Montana.


6 oversize folders (0.5 linear ft.)

7 folders (0.3 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Materials were purchased by the L. Tom Perry Special Collections from Fred Rosenstock in 1978 and 1982.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased; Fred Rosenstock; 1978, 1982.


Photographs (Photograph Archives).

Related Materials

See also the Charles M. Russell papers (MSS 1651).

Processing Information

Processed; Anne Ashton; June 2022. Updated finding aid for DACS compliance and accuracy. Rehoused photographs to plastic sleeves for preservation.

Register of Charles M. Russell papers
Under Revision
Rose Frank
2011 November 23
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