Phillips Family Papers
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Born in Saline, Kansas, Edward (Ed) Harford Phillips (1868-1944) moved west in 1882 to pursue cattle ranching. He primarily worked as a horse handler on multiple ranches, including James B. Kempton's XIT ranch near Terry, Montana, one of the largest cattle ranches in eastern Montana. A skilled horseman and steer roper, Phillips joined the cast of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show in New York in 1900 as a stunt horse rider. In 1902, Phillips married Mary (Marie) N. Kempton (1881–1946) with whom he had two children: Jean Sarah Phillips (1908–1985), who also performed in Wild West shows, and Joseph Edward Phillips (1913–1972).
Marie Kempton Phillips, an accomplished horsewoman and relay rider, joined her husband as a performer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. The couple celebrated their honeymoon in London while touring with the show during its four-month run at the Olympia Building beginning in December 1902. Over the next couple of years, the Phillips traveled back and forth from Montana to New York working various jobs at cattle ranches, farms, and race tracks, and performing in rodeo and horse-racing contests, and a Wild West show in Coney Island. From 1906 to 1912, the Phillips family lived at Cross L. ranch in Medora, North Dakota before moving back to Terry, Montana.
In 1919, the family moved to Los Angeles, California, and Ed Phillips joined Tom Mix's stock acting company. He left after a year to work with cowboy stars such as Buck Jones, Harry Carey, Fred Thompson, William S. Hart, and Hoot Gibson, and others. From 1922 to 1930, the Phillips family lived and worked a farm in Merced before returning to Los Angeles where Ed again worked as a film actor and consultant for westerns. During his Hollywood career, Phillips was in movies made by Leo D. Maloney (1888-1929) and had minor roles in the movies "Gun Play" (1935) and "In Old Chicago" (1938), among others. His movie career ended with Columbia Studios (1939-1942). Phillips was an honorary member of the Chuck Wagon Trailers.
Photographs and some information about Ed Phillips and the Kempton ranch can be found in Mark H. Brown and W. R. Felton's book, Before barbed wire; L. A. Huffman, photographer on horseback (New York, Holt ). The Kempton ranch and family, including Ed and Marie Phillips, were also documented by photographer Evelyn Cameron whose farm sat adjacent to the Kempton's property.
This collection consists of photographs, manuscripts, diaries, and ephemera relating to Edward Phillips, his wife Marie Kempton Phillips, and their daughter Jean Phillips that document the family, in particular Edward Phillips' career as a cattle rancher, Wild West show performer, and Hollywood actor. Notably, there are over 550 negatives (available in digital form) taken by Marie Kempton Phillips with a hand-held camera dating from circa 1904 to 1938, many of which depict life on a Montana ranch, novelty steer riding and rodeo scenes, horse races and other performances, branding, cattle, wagon trains, horse-breaking, and more.
Also of special interest are Marie's diary for 1904 documenting the period when her and her husband traveled back and forth from Montana to New York working various jobs at cattle ranches and performing in contests and a Wild West show in Coney Island; photographs of Kempton family members (some with stamps from Miles City, Montana, the studio of frontier photographer L. A. Huffman); a letter from Ed and Marie Phillips and a short diary written while on board the U.S.M.S. "St. Louis," describing the voyage to England with the cast of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show; a draft of an unpublished autobiography by Ed Phillips and his daughter Jean; and Jean Phillips' 1939 diary that documents her father's time working for Columbia Studios.
Also included in the collection are research materials about the Phillips family, the Kempton family and ranch, and related topics.
Purchase, 2010. (AM 2011-104).
This collection was processed by Faith Charlton in May 2015. Finding aid written by Faith Charlton in May 2015.
Published materials were removed from the collection during 2015 processing.
- Kempton family
- Phillips family
- Phillips, Edward Harford, 1868-1944
- Phillips, Jean Sarah, 1908–1985
- Phillips, Marie Kempton, 1881-1946
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Author
- Faith Charlton
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Marie Kempton Phillips and Jean Phillips' negatives are closed to researchers.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
Primarily includes over 550 negatives as well as some photographic prints that document the Phillips and Kempton families; cattle ranching and farming; Ed Phillip's career as a Hollywood actor; and the Phillips family's involvement in Wild West Shows and similar events. Other materials relating to Marie include a diary (1904), school books and autograph books, as well as a some correspondence and ephemera.Physical Description
Over 550 nitrate and acetate negatives, available in digital form, mostly taken by Marie Kempton Phillips with a hand-held camera. Some of the more recent photographs may have been taken by her daughter, Jean. Photographs show life on a Montana cattle ranch, including novelty steer riding, rodeo scenes, branding, horse-breaking; and also document Wild West shows--one of the photographs relates to the Colonel Jim White Wild West Show--horse and rodeo contests, parades, and carnivals in which the Phillips family was involved. The Phillips and Kempton families and others--likely neighbors and friends--are also documented. There also appear to be a few photographs of Cuba.
Some of Marie's negatives may also be found in the Miscellaneous Photographs file group.Physical Description
Most likely taken by Marie Kempton Phillips, these include photographs of the Phillips family; a few of Ed Phillips in costume and on set; two of Ed and other cattle ranchers, including Frank Murphy; and a few photographs of others, some of which are identified, including one of Mrs. Lena Strong, known as "Bounding Fawn."
Some of Marie's photographic prints may also be found in the Miscellaneous Photographs file group.Physical Description
Documents the period when Ed and Marie Phillips traveled back and forth from Montana to New York working various jobs at cattle ranches, farms, and race tracks, and performing in rodeo and horse-racing contests, and a Wild West show in Coney Island.Physical Description
Items were also used and belonged to Marie's daughter, Jean.Physical Description
Consists of brief notes from friends and family, including Western Normal College classmates.Physical Description
Includes a letter from Marie and Ed written while on board the U.S.M.S. "St. Louis," describing the voyage to England with the cast of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (December 10, 1902).Physical Description
Includes a transcription of six pages from a diary written in December 1902 en route to England, likely transcribed by Marie Kempton Phillips; a notebook documenting Ed Phillips' work with Columbia Studios (1939-1942); Pennsylvania Railroad Company documents for shipments of horses (1904); and a few other pieces of ephemera.Physical Description
Includes a handwritten and typewritten autobiography drafted by Ed and his daughter Jean.Physical Description
Includes 44 nitrate and acetate negatives that are primarily of Jean, her parents, and other family members.
Some negatives may also be found in the Miscellaneous Photographs file group.Physical Description
Some of what Jean documents in her diary includes information about her father's time working for Columbia Studios.Physical Description
Includes a couple of letters from Ed Phillip's friend and colleague, Harry E. Webb (1887-1984). Webb was a writer, actor, and one of the original members of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. Another letter includes a fair amount of information about the Phillips family.Physical Description
Primarily includes photographic prints, cabinet cards, studio prints, and some photo postcards of the Phillips and Kempton families, movie sets and actors, ranch and farming scenes, competitions and Wild West shows, as well as photographs of friends and acquaintances, most likely. Some were likely taken by Marie Kempton Phillips; some photos of Kempton family members were taken by the photographer L. A. Huffman.Physical Description
Includes a photo pf Ed and Marie on their honeymoon in London while touring with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show; a couple of class photographs with Marie Kempton Phillips, including one of the Wind and String Instrument Department of Western Normal College.Physical Description
Includes group and individual portraits, including a couple from photographer L. A. Huffman's studio.Physical Description
Includes studio and press photos; photos of Jack King and Henry Myers; and possibly photographs of Buffalo Bill Cody as well as photographs of Mary Pickford and crew at a film site.Physical Description
A few photographs depict bullfighting with matadors; there are also a couple of photos of Ed, Marie, and Kempton family members on horseback; there are a couple of photographs by Bob Wallace of Ed Phillips and others roping a steer.Physical Description
Most are likely of family, friends, and neighbors. A few are identified.Physical Description
Photo includes Ed Phillips and Frank Murphy; caption reads "Old Time Cowboys in Reunion by Stevenson, Miles City, Mont."Physical Description
Includes 31 nitrate and acetate photographs, most likely taken by either Marie or Jean Phillips, that primarily document the Phillips family.Physical Description
Includes clippings and ephemera, many of which were likely part of a scrapbook kept by Ed Phillips.Physical Description
Includes some press clippings relating to Ed Phillips as well as clippings on Hollywood and Wild West shows.Physical Description
2 issues of the newspaper, including one with James B. Kempton's obituary (August 26, 1910); the other issue is a fabric copy.Physical Description
Includes Ed and Marie Phillips' marriage certificate; greeting cards and post cards; a few unidentified manuscripts, including one entitled "The Last of the Riders" about Pony Express riders, Ed Phillips, and fellow cattle rancher Frank Murphy; and some event programs and souvenir items, including a brochure of Earl Carroll's "White Cargo" starring Patricia Saunders.Physical Description
Includes research materials on Ed and Marie Phillips; the Kempton family and their ranch as well as other cattle ranches; photographers Evelyn Cameron and L. A. Huffman who documented the Kemptons and Ed Phillips; and illustrator Charles Russell. Includes notes, photocopies of original materials found in the collection, articles and other secondary sources, and contact prints of some of Marie Kempton Phillips' negatives.Physical Description