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Emerson Hough Papers

Identifier: MsC0628

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Scope and Contents

The papers of Emerson Hough consist of essays and articles written by and about Hough, photographs, advertising and promotional materials, several letterpress books, and miscelleneous materials.


  • Creation: 1902-1975


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Emerson Hough was born in 1857 in Newton, Iowa where his parents, Joseph B. and Elizabeth Hough had moved from their native Virginia in 1852. After graduating from Newton high school in 1875 Hough taught in a rural school and then entered the State University of Iowa. He received a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1880 and pursued the study of law with a firm in Newton. Looking for a new start, Hough moved west to White Oaks, New Mexico where he opened a law firm and worked as a reporter for The Golden Era, the White Oaks newspaper. After returning to the Midwest in 1886 Hough worked on newspapers in Iowa, Kansas, and Ohio as well as contributing freelance articles to hunting and fishing magazines. He was hired by Forest and Stream in 1889 and later worked for Field and Stream and the Saturday Evening Post. Hough became known as an avid outdoorsman and was dedicated to conserving Western wildlife. After spending time in Yellowstone in 1893 and seeing herds of buffalo decimated, Hough wrote several articles influencing Congress to take action. In 1897 Hough secured the reputation of being a Western author with the publication of The Story of the Cowboy. Hough would eventually become the author of more than twenty-one works focused on frontier life and the American west. Hough served as a captain in the Army Intelligence Division during World War I and became engaged in regular correspondence with President Roosevelt, a fellow conservationist and outdoorsman. Two of his novels, The Covered Wagon (1922) and North of Thirty-Six (1923), were turned into screenplays by Hough and became enormously popular silent films, making him one of the first Western authors to enter into the motion picture industry. Hough died in 1923 from heart failure following an operation. He is buried in Evanston, Illinois.

A. Neville, August 2005


0.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Journalist, editor of Forest and Stream, and novelist of the West. Includes letterpress book, 1902-1912 and 34 letters 1912-1923 to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bigelow.

Related Materials

See Emerson Hough's American West by Carole M. Johnson.

There are seven letters from Hough to Alice Applegate Sargent, dated March 1, 1920 through Mary 4 1921 in the Southern Oregon Historical Society in Jacksonville, Oregon.

A. Neville, August 2005
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)