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Elmo Scott Watson papers

Identifier: Ayer-Modern-MS-Watson

Notice of Culturally Sensitive Indigenous Materials

This collection contains content identified by the library as Culturally Sensitive to Indigenous People(s): Box 42, Folder 643 contains images of human remains. For more information, please see the Newberry Library’s policy on Access to Culturally Sensitive Indigenous Materials.

Scope and Content of the Collection

Papers dating primarily from 1920-1951 document Elmo Scott Watson's career as a journalist, western historian, and teacher of journalism. They consist mainly of newspaper clippings, published articles and manuscripts, notes, photographs, and correspondence in extensive subject files on the history of journalism and such western topics as frontiersmen, wars, explorers, Indians, artists, photographers, and writers. Watson's own manuscripts, published writings, and files relating to his teaching and research are also included.


  • Creation: 1816-1951
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920-1951



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Elmo Scott Watson papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Elmo Scott Watson papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Elmo Scott Watson

Professor of journalism (University of Illinois, Northwestern University, University of Denver) and western / frontier historian.

Elmo Scott Watson was born on a farm near Colfax, Illinois. He attended Colorado College, where he began his journalism career writing for the school newspaper. For a short time Watson worked as a journalist in Colorado Springs and also managed a local rodeo. In 1918, he was appointed instructor of journalism at the University of Illinois. By 1924 Watson had joined the faculty of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern and remained there until 1950. From May, 1950, until his death the following year, Watson was chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Denver. He obtained a master's degree at Northwestern and a doctorate in letters from Illinois Wesleyan University.

Watson was editor of the Publishers' Auxiliary (1932-1945) and contributed a regular column, "Dear Ed.," to the magazine. He also served as president of Sigma Delta Phi (1939-1940) and was an active member of the Chicago "Corral" of the Westerners, serving as editor of their journal, the Westerners' Brand Book (1940-1949), and as Sheriff (1949-1950).


20.4 Linear Feet (49 boxes)


Personal papers of journalist, professor of journalism, and western / frontier historian Elmo Scott Watson, consisting mainly of topical files on western subjects and journalism. Also included are Watson's manuscripts and published writings, and his correspondence and teaching-related files.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Elmo Scott Watson's Writings, 1913-1941
Boxes 1-5
Series 2: Correspondence, Research and Teaching Files, 1910-1951
Boxes 5-8
Series 3: Journalism Subject Files, 1862-1951
Boxes 8-11
Series 4: Western History Subject Files, 1816-1951
Boxes 11-49

Collection Stack Location

3a 57 8-9



Processed by

Jeffrey Makala, 1998.

Inventory of the Elmo Scott Watson papers, 1816-1951, bulk 1920-1951
Jeffrey Makala
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States