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Raymond Smiley Spears papers

Identifier: Coll 156

Scope and Contents note

The Raymond Smiley Spears Papers consist of correspondence, diaries and journals, manuscripts, tearsheets, research material, newspaper clippings, printed material, scrapbooks, and books.

Correspondence is both personal and professional and is arranged chronologically. Spears' extensive travels around the country are documented in his diaries and journals.

Manuscripts comprise the bulk of the collection and include both fiction and non-fiction works. Fictional work consists mainly of western adventures and Mississippi River lore, although many romances and mysteries are included as well. In addition to his numerous short stories, Spears wrote a number of novels which are part of this series. Articles about travel, recreation, and animals comprise the non-fiction material. Some of the manuscripts are incomplete and others have never been published. Novels, short stories, and articles are arranged alphabetically by title within each section.

Short stories, articles, and advice columns comprise the tearsheet series. Spears' work was published under a variety of pseudonyms, among them (but not inclusive): DeAlton Valentine, William Wells, Cliff Campbell, James Terry, Hiram Vermont, Charles E. Shepard, Jim Smiley, and Smiley Ironbaker. Within each section, the tearsheets are arranged alphabetically by title. The newspaper clippings consist of Spears articles about the Adirondacks as well as editorials and letters to the editor he wrote.

The series of printed material consists of entire issues of magazines such as Boys' Life and Scribner's. All contain stories or articles by Spears. The magazines are arranged alphabetically by title with various issues in chronological order. Raymond Spears stories appearing in pulp publications have been removed from the collection and are housed with the Pulp Collection; a list of these follows at the end of the inventory. Three of Spears' published novels are part of the free-standing volumes which complete the collection.

There is one box of photographs.


  • Creation: 1897-1948


Conditions Governing Access note

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 note

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 note

Raymond Smiley Spears, author of western and adventure stories, was born in Belleview, Ohio, in 1876. His father, John R. Spears, was a U.S. naval historian and reporter for the New York Sun; his mother, Celestia Colette Smiley Spears, was a teacher. Raymond Spears was educated in Philadelphia in a village school until he was fifteen, when it was discovered he had a throat ailment. He was sent to the Adirondack Mountains to recuperate. During this period, he acquired a strong love of the outdoors--fishing, hunting, and trapping.

A few years later, Spears moved to New York City where he spent the next five years as a reporter for the New York Sun. He tired of city life and returned to the country where he began free-lancing for newspapers and magazines. Spears wrote several accounts of various cross-country trips he had made which were published in Forest and Stream. In fact, he was hailed as "America's best-known automobile tourer," having travelled by car and motorcycle across the United States. These trips provided many ideas and much background information which Spears used in his fiction and non fiction articles.

His love of the outdoors helped secure his next job, that of a fire patrol worker with the New York Forestry Department. Spears advocated strict enforcement of game laws which he felt would not only protect wildlife, but also increase revenue from the sales of furs and skins. He continued to write about fishing, hunting and trapping and, in 1913, was approached by the editor of Hunter-Trader-Trapper to do a question/answer column. The column also included inquiries related to woodcraft, conservation and outdoor sports and recreation.

Spears published two novels, The River Prophet and Diamond Tolls, and an Argosy serial entitled "The Flying Coyotes" was later published in book form. He used no less than eight pseudonyms; of these Jim Smiley was the one used most frequently. His stories appeared in slicks like Collier's, but Spears built his reputation on the numerous pieces he wrote for pulp magazines such as Adventure, West, and Argosy. An outspoken proponent of prohibition in the 1920's, newspapers often published his opinion on that subject as well as on other local, state, and national issues.

During the 1930's, Spears was president of the American Trappers' Association. Prior to his presidency, he served as the organization's conservation director.

Spears married C. Eleanor Shepard of Long Island in 1904. They had two children, John and Charles. Raymond Spears eventually settled in Inglewood, California, where he died in 1950.


15 linear feet (24 containers, 5 packages, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Raymond Smiley Spears was an American author of western and adventure stories. Collection comprises personal and professional correspondence; diaries and journals; manuscripts of books, short stories, and non-fiction articles; tearsheets of stories, articles, and advice columns published under a variety of pseudonyms, Jim Smiley most frequently; research material; whole issues of magazines containing his stories or articles; and copies of his published books.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Series: Personal correspondenceSeries: Professional correspondenceSeries: Biographical materialSeries: Diaries and JournalsSeries: Manuscripts Subseries: Book lengthSubseries: Short story lengthSubseries: Article length Series: Tearsheets Subseries: Short StoriesSubseries: Articles Series: Advice columnsSeries: Research materialsSeries: Newspaper clippingsSeries: Printed material containing articles and stories by Spears Subseries: All OutdoorsSubseries: Associated Writers WorkshopSubseries: The Author and JournalistSubseries: Boys LifeSubseries: Forest and StreamSubseries: The Heart of the Mohawk ValleySubseries: Hunter-Trader-TrapperSubseries: Little Blue BookSubseries: Scribner'sSubseries: Sports AfieldSubseries: The Trapper Series: ScrapbooksSeries: Packaged MaterialSeries: PhotographsSeries: Broadsides

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Bruce Whowell. Photographs processed by Megan Dazey.

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

Guide to the Raymond Smiley Spears Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Bruce Whowell
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

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

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA