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Lin J. Searles papers

Identifier: Coll 075

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, tear sheets, financial papers, and books. Material in the collection dated after Searles' death in 1972 includes condolence letters and copyright agreements sent to his wife.

Correspondence is arranged chronologically from 1956-1975 and contains only seven letters written by Searles. Some of the incoming letters are from organizations such as Ace Books, Western Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and several magic shops and mail-order agencies. Other letters concern the compilation of an anthology of western stories, Iron Men and Silver Stars, which Searles helped to organize. Notable correspondents include Arthur Lenniger of the Lenniger Literary Agency and several fellow authors including: Upton Sinclair, Thomas Thompson, Brian Garfield, Elmer Kelton, and John Prescott. Included in the correspondence between Searles and his magician-friends are detailed explanations of magic and card tricks.

The manuscript series is the largest segment of the collection, including published and unpublished, novel and short story length manuscripts. Two of the novel manuscripts, Outlaw Basin and The Doolin Deck Perplex were unfinished at the time of Searles' death. Unfinished short stories include: Bicycle Brigade and Gunsmoke Over Playa Seco. Also included in the manuscript series is the script for a television documentary, How to Lose at Cards, showcasing Searles' card trick techniques.

Following the manuscripts, there is a short series of tearsheets, published in 1955 and 1956. In October, 1955, reprint rights were sold for "Death Deals this Hand" to be included in Bar S Roundup of Best Western Stories. Also in 1956, the television rights were sold to Warner Brothers and the story was used for an episode of Cheyenne.

Financial papers, including contracts, copyright agreements, and royalty statements are arranged chronologically.

Miscellaneous materials include a memorial issue of the Pallbearer's Review which gives biographical information on Searles and direct quotes from letters he wrote explaining card tricks. Also included is a press review of the anthology, Iron Men and Silver Stars, photocopies of explanations of card tricks, a guide to an independent study course on professional writing from the University of Oklahoma, two magic show programs, and magic show publicity.


  • Creation: 1956-1983


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Lynn J. Searles (1914-1972) was born in Fairport, New York. As a youth, he became interested in magic and, at the age of 18, joined the Society of Amateur Magicians in Syracuse, New York, sponsored by Don Ausman and Harris Solomon.

Searles attended Syracuse University, where he performed magic to defray some of the cost of his college education. After college, Searles spent a year of active duty in the military, and later served as an Intelligence Officer in India and Burma. He left the service in 1947, and went on to hold a series of jobs including writer for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and Craps and Twenty-one dealer in Reno, Nevada.

Searles began writing western short stories after he moved to San Francisco. He sold his first television script shortly thereafter, and went on to write and sell over fifty scripts for the television series Cheyenne and Magic Land of Alakazam. In 1958, he changed the spelling of his name from "Lynn" to "Lin", remarking that "too many females had appropriated 'Lynn'."

Searles' published works include several short stories and four novels: Border Passage, Cliff Rider, Saddle the Wind, and Stampede at Hourglass. These novels have been translated into Spanish, Danish, and Swedish and sold abroad. He also co-authored the television documentary How to Lose at Cards with Stanley Ralph Ross.

In addition to his writing career, Searles maintained his interest in magic throughout his career. As a young man, he worked as office manager for the Owen Magic Shop. Later, along with his wife, he ran the Magic Wand, a retailer of magic and theatrical equipment. On December 22, 1972, Searles was murdered in his magic shop by a seventeen year old youth. A few of his works were left unfinished.


3 linear feet (5 containers) : 5 clamshell boxes

Language of Materials



Lin (Lynn) J. Searles (1914-1972) was a professional magician/proprietor of magic shops and writer of Western stories and television series'. The collection consists of his correspondence, manuscripts, tear sheets, and financial documents.


Collection is organized into the following series: Correspondence, Manuscripts: Novels, Manuscripts: Short Stories, Manuscripts: Television Documentaries, Tearsheets, and Personal Papers {Contracts and Copyright Agreements, Financial Materials, and Miscellaneous Materials)

Processing Information

Collection processed by Shelli Wicklund, 1984.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

This collection received a basic level of processing including minimal organization and rehousing.

Description information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection and initial surveys of the contents

Guide to the Lin J. Searles Papers
Complete Description
Austin Munsell and Kira B. Homo
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA