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Eugene Manlove Rhodes Collection

Identifier: MSS-126-BC

Scope and Content

The collection primarily consists of correspondence from Eugene Manlove Rhodes to Betty Luther of El Paso, Texas, along with Luther's typed commentary in response to Rhodes' letters. One of the letters indicates that Luther was woman's page editor for the Herald-Post. Most of the correspondence includes the original and a photocopy, and because Rhodes' handwriting is so difficult to read, most letters have been transcribed. Discussions of books, authors (such as Dorothy Parker), and Rhodes' health problems dominate the correspondence. The collection was acquired from Betty Luther, however, some miscellaneous correspondence including two photostat letters from Rhodes to T.M. Pearce were subsequently added to the collection.


  • 1916-1972 (bulk 1930)

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publications or distribution.

Biographical Information

"Cowboy chronicler" Eugene Manlove Rhodes was born in Tecumseh, Nebraska on January 19, 1869. He moved to New Mexico with his parents in 1881, and immediately fell in love with New Mexico. By age 13, he was an accomplished well digger; by age 16, he was accomplished as a stone mason, road builder (he built the first road from Engle to Tularosa, over the San Andres Mountains), and horseman. Rhodes was largely self-educated. He was an avid and eclectic reader. In 1888, he was admitted to the University of the Pacific, in California. Financial problems caused him to leave the university after two years; however, it was here that his first published works appeared, unsigned, in the college newspaper. His first signed published piece was the poem, "Charlie Graham," which appeared in Charles Lummis' Land of Sunshine in 1896.

Rhodes married May Louise Davison Purple, a widow with 2 sons from Apalachin, New York in 1899. Shortly after their marriage, Rhodes spent nearly two decades away from and longing for New Mexico. During this time, he wrote his first 7 novels. In 1926, he and his wife returned to New Mexico, living in Santa Fe for less than a year, and then, Alamogordo. When they could not afford to pay their rent in Alamogordo, Albert B. Fall gave them a house at White Mountain, 12 miles from Three Rivers. Eugene's poor health exiled him and May to Pacific Beach, California in 1930. Rhodes died on June 27, 1934. Per his request, he was returned to New Mexico to be buried in the San Andres Mountains.

Rhodes' philosophy, "master of no man, servant of none" permeated his life and his writing. Many of his works appeared in magazines including Land of Sunshine, Out West, McClure's, Redbook, Sunset, and Cosmopolitan, and much of his fiction was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post prior to being published as a book. Ten books by Rhodes were published between 1910 and 1935. Several of his works sold as motion pictures. Bernard DeVoto praised Rhodes' works as "the only body of fiction devoted to the cattle kingdom which is both true to it and written by an artist in prose." Despite his apparent success as a writer, for most of his life, Rhodes was broke or in debt.


1 box (.45 cu. ft.)

Related Material

Thomas Matthew Pearce Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Ross Calvin Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Separated Material

Letter from Rhodes to Ross Calvin in Silver City, N.M.; postmarked Pacific Beach, Calif. 11:30 a.m., June 27, 1934 is in the Ross Calvin collection, MSS 218.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Rhodes, May Davison, Mrs. The Hired Man on Horseback; my story of EugeneManlove Rhodes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1938.
  • Clark, Frank M. Sandpapers: The Lives and Letters of Eugene Manlove Rhodes andCharles Fletcher Lummis. Santa Fe, N.M.: Sunstone Press, 1994.
Finding Aid of the Eugene Manlove Rhodes Collection, 1916-1972 (bulk 1930 )
Processed by B. Silbergleit
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 126 BC::Eugene Manlove Rhodes Collection)//EN" "nmu1mss126bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131