Earle Forrest collection, 1881-1971

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Earle Forrest collection, 1881-1971


Overview of the Collection

Creator: Forrest, Earle R. (Earle Robert), 1883-1969
Title: Earle Forrest collection,
Inclusive Dates: 1881-1971
Quantity: 2112 photographic images (2106 prints, 279 glass-plate negatives, 980 nitrate negatives, 355 safety negatives), 94.3 cm textual material, 13 journals, 1 flag
Identification: MS-143
Repository: Museum of Northern Arizona
3101 N. Fort Valley Rd.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
928-774-5211 ext. 256 or 269

Biographical Note

Author and historian Earle Robert Forrest was born in the Forrest family home in Washington, Pennsylvania on June 20, 1883. As a young boy Forrest was interested in ornithology and zoology and he made an extensive collection of bird eggs of Washington County, which he enlarged through exchange with collectors from other states. As a young man he became a particularly enthusiastic photographer and his collection of negatives reached over 8,000 by the end of his life. After graduating from high school, Forrest took three years off from studying. During that time he worked as a messenger in the local Western Union Telegraph office. He also spent two summers at his uncle’s farm in northwestern Missouri. It was there that he first witnessed cowboys, outside of a Wild West show.

In the fall of 1900 Forrest enrolled in the Washington Business College, graduating in 1901 and entering Washington and Jefferson Academy. During the summer break of 1902 Forrest traveled west to see if he could find what was left of the Old West. He spent several months at Trimble and Morgan’s cow camp in the mountains of southwestern Colorado in Dolores County. It was there that Forrest received his first cowboy education. Around the cow camp Forrest heard much talk about Indians and decided to go on a photographing expedition. He made his way to a Navajo Indian trading post in New Mexico, and stayed there for a month taking photographs of the Navajos. It was during this expedition that Forrest took what is believed to have been the first photograph ever of Ship Rock on the Navajo Reservation.

Forrest returned home to Pennsylvania in the fall of 1902 and spent the next school year in Washington and Jefferson Academy. He had trouble with “running ears” and a doctor advised him that the dry climate of Arizona might cure his ailment; and it did. But the main reason Forrest went to Arizona was his desire to go west again. The doctor’s advice provided the perfect opportunity. In September of 1903 Forrest traveled by train to Tucson, Arizona. He spent the winter in the Santa Catalina Mountains working for the Bayless’ home sheep ranch at Oracle and the Bayless Ranch at Redington, where he was put in charge of a large field of wild and half wild hogs. Working with sheep and hogs was quite dull to Forrest so he and another boy about his age, Frank Dow, left the Bayless Ranch. The pair ended up at an Adobe house in Cherry Valley owned by Frank Daily of Tucson. The boys spent that winter breaking horses for a dude hotel in Oracle. In March of 1904 the two parted ways, Forrest traveling to Flagstaff and Dow returning home to Oregon. In Flagstaff Forrest went to work riding for the CO Bar Outfit owned by the Babbitt Brothers. He was first at Cedar Ranch, then Buckler Ranch on Hart Prairie in the San Francisco Mountains. He spent most of the summer out with the wagon punching cattle. He returned to Pennsylvania in the fall of 1904 to keep a promise he had made to his father to attend college. However, he never failed to return west any chance he got.

Forrest spent the summer of 1905 and part of the fall at Still Huling’s cow camp in the Gallatin Mountains of Montana, about a mile from the northwest corner of Yellowstone Park. He returned home by way of San Francisco and saw the city before the big earthquake and fire of 1906. In the summer of 1906 he traveled around Mexico, wandering from Mexico City to Oaxaca, and then back to the United States via El Paso and spent some time at the Long Ranch in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Durango. In late August, on his way back to Pennsylvania, Forrest stopped in Albuquerque and learned that the Hopi Snake Dance at Oraibi had been postponed until September. Wanting to see the dance, he stayed in Flagstaff and went to Oraibi with a party taken by Fred Volz, of Canyon Diablo.

In the summer of 1907 Forrest was back riding for the C.O. Bar at Flagstaff. Bill Babbitt, the field manager, told Forrest to go to the Snake Dance and take Louis Akin, an artist living in Flagstaff, with him. The two went to a snake dance at Mishongnovi and then to a Flute Ceremony at old Oraibi before returning to Flagstaff. During all these and previous travels Forrest had a camera with him. Prior to 1906 he had a 4x5 glass plate Kodak, but in 1906 he switched to an Eastman film Kodak postcard size camera. He took hundreds of pictures on the cattle ranges and at the Hopi villages with that camera. In the summer of 1908 Forrest again worked for the C.O. Bar, but quit just before snake dance time. He went to work as a cook for Harry Evans who had an outdoor school for boys and spent his summers in Flagstaff. Besides cooking Forrest corralled the boys on a trip to the Grand Canyon and Hopi Villages.

Forrest received a B.S. from Washington and Jefferson College in 1908, although he later said it was a mystery how he graduated since he was away so much. He then went on to study forestry at the University of Washington from 1908 to 1909. For the next four years he was employed on the road and bridge engineering corps of Washington County. Early in 1913 he began work as a forest ranger on the Deerlodge Forest, Montana. However, the high altitude did not agree with his wife Margaret Bingham, whom he had married on June 29, 1909. They returned east just before Christmas of that year. The two had a daughter, Margaret (Peggy) Isobel, in 1915.

In April of 1914 Forrest got a temporary job at the Washington Record, a newspaper that was just starting up at the time. The temporary position turned into a lifelong career for Forrest who worked in the newspaper business the rest of his life. He was court house reporter for the Washington Record for six years. When that paper folded in 1920 he went to work for the Washington Reporter. He worked as a court house reporter until 1955 when a hearing defect made it impossible for him to cover court cases. In addition to court work Forrest was a feature writer specializing in historical subjects. In 1925 the editor of the Reporter suggested that Forrest write a daily column of news gathered from the old files. Forrest enjoyed bringing long forgotten items of historical interest to light and continued the daily column until he retired from the paper in 1960. In addition to the hundreds of special features Forrest wrote for the Reporter over the years, he was also a contributor to Travel Magazine, Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, The Curio Collector and others, as well as an annual contributor to the Westerner’s Brand Book. Forrest was a well known writer of local Pennsylvania history, publishing A History of Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1926. He was also a nationally known author of books on the Old West publishing six fiction and non-fiction works related to the southwest. Late in life Forrest split his time equally between the west and east coasts, much as he had as a young man. He loved both equally and was a student of each regions unique history.

While a student at Washington and Jefferson College Forrest won the Dr. Hazzard gold medal in Natural History for a collection of eggs of Washington County birds in 1906 and in 1908 for a collection of serpents of Washington County. In 1913 he became a member of Sunset Lodge 623, Free and Accepted Masons. For many years Forrest was a member of the Washington County Historical Society and in 1947 he became president, holding the office until 1951 when he retired. At that time he was made honorary president for life. He was also a member of the Quivira Society, the Westerners Corral of Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and New York; the Historical Society of New Mexico and the Historical Society of Montana. On June 11, 1955 he received the Award of Merit from the Washington County Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. Forrest passed away August 25, 1969 at the age of 86 in Washington, PA.

Scope and Content

The collection contains personal and professional papers of Earle R. Forrest dating from 1898-1969. The records relate to Forrest’s travels in the west during the first half of the 20th century. The bulk of the collection is comprised of negatives and prints depicting the life of a cowboy, old west cow towns, Hopi, Hopi villages and ceremonies, Navajo, Navajo Hogan and artifacts, and the southwest landscape. Also included are manuscripts and articles by Forrest, and a small amount of correspondence, clippings, and biographical information.


This collection is arranged in the following series:


Conditions Governing Access

This collection contains culturally sensitive images. Advance permission is required to view restricted materials. Please contact the MNA Archivist for more information and to obtain permission for viewing these materials.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduced must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Related Material

University of Arizona Special Collections Senator.

John Heinz History Center, Pennsylvania

Controlled Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Akin, Louis, 1868-1913
Buffalo Bill, 1846-1917
Forrest, Earle R. (Earle Robert), 1883-1969
Geronimo, 1829-1909

Corporate Name(s)
Daughters of the American Revolution

Geographic Name(s)
Albuquerque (N.M.)
CO Bar Ranch (Ariz.)
Flagstaff (Ariz.)
Grand Canyon National Park (Ariz.)
Meteor Crater (Ariz.)
Montezuma Castle National Monument (Ariz.)
Montezuma Well (Yavapai County, Ariz.)
Monument Valley (Ariz. and Utah)
Oak Creek Canyon (Ariz.)
Painted Desert (Ariz.)
Petrified Forest National Park (Ariz.)
Prescott (Ariz.)
Santa Fe (N.M.)
Sunset Crater (Ariz.)
Tombstone (Ariz.)
Tucson (Ariz.)
Walnut Canyon National Monument (Ariz.)
Wupatki National Monument (Ariz.)

Acoma Indians
Apache Indians
Cowboys – Arizona
Flags – Japan
Havasupai Indians
Hopi Indians
Hopi dance
Jemez Indians
Navajo Indian Reservation
Navajo Indians
Paiute Indians
Ranching – Arizona
Snake dance
Taos Indians
Western Apache Indians

Physical Access

Negatives 121A-819 are originally glass-plates (Boxes GP-A 65 to GP-A 74). Negatives 947-2996 are originally nitrates (nitrate freezer). Negatives 5814-8192 are originally safety-based (Earle Forrest collection, Box 16). Prints of all the above are in the Earle Forrest collection, Boxes 13-15.

There are six broken glass-plate negatives (99, 513, 525, 617, 718, unidentified) that are mounted in sink mats, stored next to GP-A 74.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

University of Arizona Special Collections

Preferred Citation

Earle Forrest collection, MS-143 [Box Number]. Museum of Northern Arizona. Flagstaff, Arizona.

Acquisition Information

Earle Forrest donated three small accessions (MS-9 in 1962, MS-53 in 1965, MS-123 in 1968) prior to his death in 1969. The bulk of the collection was bequeathed to the Museum of Northern Arizona from his estate in 1969 (MS-143).

Processing Information

Processed in March of 2010.

Other Finding Aid

A detailed inventory of Forrest's original negatives and prints is available upon request

Container List

Series 1: Photographs 1896-1968 2108 photographic images (2102 prints, 279 glass-plate negatives, 980 nitrate negatives, 355 safety negatives)
Series consists of photographs either created or collected by Earle Forrest throughout his travels, predominantly in Arizona, but also in New Mexico, California, and Missouri.
This series is arranged in the following subseries:
Subseries 1.1: Earle Forrest Images
Subseries 1.2: Collected Photographs
Subseries 1.1: Earle Forrest Images 1900-1968 1903 photographic images (1910 prints, 279 glass-plate negatives, 943 nitrate negatives, 355 safety negatives)
Subseries consists of original photographs (prints, negatives) taken by Forrest. Each photograph correlates with a detailed autobiographical inventory that is available upon request. Subseries also consists of large photographic prints of Forrest's original negatives (484, 659A, 660A, 849, 900, 908, 917, 1026, 1031, 1144, 1182, 2811, 2862, 5469, 5503, 6154, 6155) that are meant for display.
All nitrate negatives are in the nitrate freezer
13-16GP-A 65-74 Original Negatives and Prints, 1900-1968
124 Large Format Prints, 1902-1956
Subseries 1.2: Collected Photographs 1896-1963 205 photographic images (192 prints, 37 nitrate negatives)
Subseries consists of images collected by Forrest throughout the years from various friends and photographers, as well as a file of postcards, many of which are from the Fred Harvey Company. A file of photos of Native Americans includes images of the Ute, Navajo, Apache, Papago, and a number of images of Geronimo.
105 Jim Bingham photographs, 1913
106 Dewey J. Brown photographs, 1920
107 Thomas P. Brown photograph, 1963
108 Iron Eyes Cody photographs, 1911
109 C.M.F. Foulke photographs, 1907
1010 John Gilchriese photographs, undated
1011 James C. Harvey photographs, undated
1012 O.L. Jackman photographs, 1907
1013 A. Merritt photographs, 1907
1014 Phil Rasch photographs, circa 1901, 1947
1015 Ola and Betty Young photographs, 1947
1016 Miscellaneous photographs, 1960s, undated
111 Collected photographs of Native Americans, 1896-1908
112 Commercial Post Cards, undated
Series 2: Biographical Information 1893-1969 13 journals, 5.1 cm textual material, 4 photographic images (4 prints)
Series consists of materials collected and created that are related to Forrest and his family
This series is arranged in the following subseries and sub-subseries:
Subseries 2.1: Earle Forrest Materials
Sub-Subseries 2.1.1: Personal Diaries
Sub-Subseries 2.1.2: Associations and Memberships
Sub-Subseries 2.1.3: Collected Biographical Material
Subseries 2.2: Forrest Family Materials
Subseries 2.1: Earle Forrest Materials 1893-1969 13 journals, 2.6 cm textual material, 4 photographic images (4 prints)
Subseries consists of materials related to Forrest's personal life, and include personal diaries, documents confirming his involvement with various associations, and other collected biographical information.
Sub-subseries 2.1.1: Personal Diaries 1893-1960 13 journals
Sub-subseries consists of Forrest's personal journals, predominantly related to several decades of his travels across North America.
63 Points of Interest and Historical Places Visited, Number One, 1893-1904
64 Note Book No. 2, 1904-1905
65 Time Book, Deerlodge National Forest, 1913
66 Trip Notes: Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, 1926
67 Diary, Miscellaneous Notes, 1929
68 Notes of a Trip Through New Mexico, Arizona, and California, 1929
71 Trip to Michigan, Mackinas Island, Pennsylvania, 1893-1904
72 Diary of Trip From Pennsylvania, New York, Quebec, 1938
73 Quebec Trip Diary, 1948-1950
74 Diary of a Trip to Mexico, 1959-1960
Sub-Subseries 2.1.2: Associations and Memberships 1898-1958 0.6 cm textual material
Sub-subseries consists of Forrest's involvement with various associations and memberships, such as the Denver Posse of the Westerners, the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association, l'Institut Littéraire et Artistique de France, Washington and Jefferson College, the Rotary Club, and the WM. F. Templeton Post. Also included is Forrest's 1917 vehicle registration
113 Denver Posse of the Westerners certificate, undated
125 Oversized Association and Membership documents, 1898-1958
Sub-Subseries 2.1.3: Collected Biographical Material 1925-1969 2 cm textual material, 4 photographic images (4 prints)
Sub-Subseries consists of Forrest's collected biographical information on himself. Sub-subseries also includes a detailed inventory of a 1965 personal gift to the Citizens Library.
25 Earle Forrest gift of books and relics to the Citizens Library, 1965
28 Earle Forrest Biographical Information, 1925-1969
Subseries 2.2: Forrest Family Materials 1902-1928 2.5 cm textual material
Subseries consists of collected family material, including certificates from the Daughters of the American Revolution, a poem written by Joshua Rhodes Forrest, and biographical notes on multiple generations of Forrest's family.
29 Family records compiled by Earle R. Forrest, undated
126 Certificates and Poetry [oversized], 1902-1928
Series 3: Professional Writings 1881-1971 87.1 cm textual material
Series consists of Forrest's unpublished and published manuscripts, as well as his research notes and correspondence created and collected prior to – and upon completion of – his various writings.
This series is arranged in the following subseries:
Subseries 3.1: Manuscripts
Subseries 3.2: Research Materials
Subseries 3.1: Manuscripts 1900-1968 51 cm textual material
Subseries consists of complete manuscripts and publications (unpublished and published) written by Forrest, including bound volumes of journal and newspaper articles written for various publications, including Arizona Highways, Travel, and the Pony Express Courier.
27 Books, Stories, Articles written by Earle Forrest, 1900-1961
510 Books, Stories, Articles written by Earle Forrest, circa 1915
123 Magazine Stories by Earle Forrest, 1921-1944
122 "Pony Express Courier" submissions, 1935-1950
75 "Benavides' Memorial," extra illustrations, 1939
44 "Lone War Trail of Apache Kid" original notes and manuscript, 1947
31 "Louis Akin, Artist of Old Arizona", 1948-1956
81 "Fabulous Sierra Bonita Ranch," "Riding for the Old C.O. Bar", 1948-1966
83 "Adventures in Navajo Land", 1949
32-3 "Adventures in Navajo Land" original manuscript and notes, circa 1955
91 "Cowboy Days", 1953
92 "Hopiland", 1955
101 "Pueblo Indians of New Mexico", 1956
57 "Snake Dance of the Hopi Indians" draft, circa 1961
54 "Riding for the old C.O. Bar, Arizona" second draft, 1963
53 "Riding for the old C.O. Bar, Arizona" original manuscript, 1963-1964
82 "Riding for the C.O. Bar", 1964
23-4 "With a Camera in Old Navajoland" carbon, circa 1968
Subseries 3.2: Research Materials 1881-1971 36.1 cm textual material
Subseries consists of Forrest's research materials and correspondence created and collected in anticipation of his various publications, including some correspondence with individuals created shortly after his death in 1969.
11 Old Check of John W. Young from Fort Rickerson, 1881
12 Arizona Cattle Company poster, 1886
61 Articles collected on the Hopi Indians, Notebook 1, 1906-1907
62 Articles collected on the Hopi Indians, Notebook 2, 1892-1907
52 "Missions and Pueblos of the Old Southwest" correspondence, 1928-1930
14 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground:" Letters Received, Volume I, 1889-1904, 1931-1937
15 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground:" Letters Received, Volume II, 1935-1941
16 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground:" Letters Received, Volume III, 1888-1896, 1934-1961
17 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground:" Source Material, Notebook 4, Section 1, 1887, 1924-1935
18 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground:" Source Material, Notebook 4, Section 2, 1887, 1924-1935
21 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground:" Source Material, Notebook 5, 1885-1888, 1927-1936
22 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground:" C.P. Owens appointment certificate, 1896
35 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground" press reviews, 1936-1943
36 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground" photograph captions, circa 1936
37 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground" negotiations correspondence, 1947-1958
42 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground" correspondence post-publication, 1932-1959
43 "Arizona's Dark and Bloody Ground" press reviews for British edition, 1951-1958
45 "Lone War Trail of Apache Kid" research correspondence, 1940-1956
51 "Lone War Trail of Apache Kid" correspondence post-publication, 1947-1959
34 "Adventures in Navajo Land" correspondence, 1928-1958
55 "Snake Dance of the Hopi Indians" research notes, circa 1961
56 "Snake Dance of the Hopi Indians" photo indeces, bibliography, circa 1961
58 "Snake Dance of the Hopi Indians" reviews and clippings, 1960-1963
59 "Snake Dance of the Hopi Indians" correspondence, 1959-1963
13 Descriptions of Wupatki and Snake Dance, 1962-1964
26 Correspondence with Frank Nivert, National Archives, 1953-1970
210 Correspondence with Ruth Rutherford, 1964-1971
102 Photos of Flagstaff for various publications, undated
103 Photos from "Memoirs of the Cattle Range", undated
104 Photographs to illustrate "Tucson of the Last Frontier", undated
Series 4: Collected Ephemera undated 2.1 cm textual, 1 flag
Series consists of various oversized items that Forrest collected. This includes a grouping of oversized photographs (Earle Forrest, Old Fort Rickerson, Buffalo Bill, a buffalo hunt, General George Rogers Clark, an individual on horseback, San Francisco Peaks, a small bridge, Old Fort Mackinac, a ship at a harbor, an old toll gate on the National Pike in Washington PA), a photographic sketch of a group of Native Americans, an illustrated letterhead, and a Japanese national flag.
114 Forrest Bookplates, undated
121 Oversized Ephemera, undated