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Fred A. Rosenstock collection

 Collection — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 2265

Scope and Contents

Contains records of the personal life and business career of Fred A. Rosenstock, one of the most prominent and successful collector/dealers of art and books in the twentieth century American West. A large percentage of the papers are routine, especially the early business files, but the letters of individuals prominent in the fields of Western art and books--names such as J. Frank Dobie and Ramon Adams occur regularly in the later files. The bulk of the papers document Rosenstock's years as a book collector and the owner-operator of the Bargain Bookstore of Denver, as well as his personal life with Frances, his wife and business partner.


  • 1915-1985


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research, except for a folder of negatives, which are restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Fred A. Rosenstock collection must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical / Historical

Fred Asher Rosenstock, a Jewish immigrant originally from Austria, grew to be of the most significant dealers and collectors of Western Americana in the United States.

Rosenstock was born 29 November 1895 in Biala Potol, Austria, and was named Selig Usher Rosenstock. At the age of nine yeas he immigrated with his family to America where he took the name Fred Asher Rosenstock. The family settled in Rochester, New York.

Rosenstock's youth was spent in Rochester. Following his elementary schooling, Fred entered secretarial training where he became extremely proficient in shorthand. He entered the army in 1917 and served during World War I as a stenographer to the Surgeon General of the United States Army in Washington, D.C. Following his release from the army in 1919 Fred was employed in Wahington, D. C., in an advertising firm, but his health began to fail as a result of the severe Washington D.C. climate. He was advised by his doctor to go to a drier climate such as Arizona or California.

In 1920, he boarded a train for California, but due to the untimely loss of his glasses, he was forced to stop in Denver until he could procure a new pair. After a week's stay in the "Mile-High City," Rosenstock determined not to proceed on to California, but to make Colorado his permanent home. In Denver, while pursuing his interest in business, he frequented book stores as he had done from his youth, adding to a growing collection in the fields of history and literature. In 1922, he opened his own bookstore. As a bookman, he specialized in literary first editions, school books, selected books of general interest, and Western Americana. He was able to locate, through great personal effort and diligence, original diaries and manuscript collections of considerable historical treasures made more widely available led him into the publishing business. Rosenstock married Francis Goodman, a native of Denver, born 19 April 1905. During all the years in the book business in Denver, Francis was a full partner in business and collecting ventures, as well as his wife, working in the bookstore side by side with Fred.

His Old West Publishing Company became a trademark for source materials relating to the history of the West as well as for fine workmanship in printing, illustrating, and binding. Rosenstock himself, through personal drive and study, became a nationally recognzied scholar in the field of Western Americana. Rosenstock assisted hundreds of Western historians and authors in their attempts to secure historical information and background data to help them describe and accurately convey the spirit of the West.

Rosenstock also developed an interest for western art and began a serious collection of the works of Charles M. Russell and other western artists. In 1976, two weeks after the sale of his book stock to a firm in Lincoln, Nebraska, not being content with retirement, Rosenstock opened a gallery of western art.

The BYU Library's association with Fred A. Rosenstock commenced in 1953. Director of Libraries, S. Lyman Tyler began to call at the Bargain Bookstore and make a few selections in the field of Western Americana and Mormonism. It was in discussions with Fred Rosenstock that Tyler became aware that Rosenstock planned to dispose of all his general books except Americana. As they became friends and as a new library building was under construction at BYU, Rosenstock proposed that BYU acquire his general stock. In 1961, his collection of literary first editiions and over 100,000 volumes from his general stock were acquired by the Harold B. Lee Library.

From this time on Fred Rosenstock became a major source in the growth of the BYU Library. A close personal relationship developed between the Rosenstocks, Lyman Tyler, and Dean Larsen. Rosenstock began to give the BYU Library first refusal on all items he acquired and also began to make selections from his personal library in his home. He also began a practice of making periodic gifts to the Library. In August 1961, Rosenstock was invited to serve on the Council of the Friends of the Library. To recognize the Rosenstocks' contributions a reception to honor Fred A. and Francis Rosenstock was held on 13 June 1965 in the Friends Room of the J. Reuben Clark Jr. Library.

In recognition of his expertise in the book world and for his significant contributions to the historical record of Western Americana and the development of the BYU Library, Fred A. Rosenstock was awared the degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa, at BYU commencement exercises held on 28 May 1971.

The Rosenstocks were the parents of one daughter: Marilyn. Francis died in Denver on 31 July 1972. After the death of Francis, Fred remained active in the business until he had a stoke in 1984. He died in Denver, 15 February 1986 at age 90.


61 boxes (30.5 linear ft.)

1 half box (0.25 linear ft.)

2 oversize boxes (1.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in four series: 1. Bargain Bookstore and book collecting business records, 1922-1984; 2. Art dealer business records, 1940-1985; 3. Old West Publishing Company records, 1947-1984; 4. Personal and general correspondence, 1915-1985.

Custodial History

Donated by Fred A. Rosenstock when he sold the book portion of his business.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Fred A. Rosenstock.


Western American business and labor history (20th Century Western and Mormon Americana II.B.5.II, October 2009.)

Processing Information

Processed; H. Christine Swindler and John M. Murphy; 23 May 2008.

Register of the Fred A. Rosenstock collection
LeGrand Baker, Jason Combs, Tom Spackman, H. Christine Swindler and John M. Murphy
2008 May 22
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