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Dee Brown papers

Dee Brown papers

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Finding aid for the Dee Brown papers


Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
100 Rock Street
Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201
(501) 320-5700

September 30, 2015

Repository: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Creator:Brown, Dee Alexander, 1908-2002
Title: Dee Brown papers
Dates: 1931-2011
Quantity: 134.34 Linear feet
Abstract:This collection contains the literary and personal records of author and librarian Dorris Alexander (Dee) Brown, and covers the time period 1931-2002.
Identification: BC.MSS.11.157
Language: English
Permanent URL:


The papers are arranged topically and chronologically. They are divided into five series: published and unpublished books; general correspondence; other writings by Dee Brown; personal papers and additional research; and artifacts. Series I consists of 47 subseries; in addition to published and unpublished books, there is a subseries containing oversize material and another containing information about book royalties. The largest division in series I is subseries XVII, the published book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Series II correspondence is arranged chronologically by year. Series III includes articles, short stories, encyclopedia entries, reviews, book introductions, and forewords written by Dee Brown. Articles and short stories include published and unpublished works. Series IV contains general material, both business and personal, as well as research not linked directly to a book or other writing by Brown. Series V includes artifacts like an Underwood typewriter used by Brown, and a handcrafted drum of wood and leather.

Scope and Contents

The Dee Brown Papers contain the literary and personal records of author and librarian Dorris Alexander (Dee) Brown. The bulk of the collection consists of material directly related to Brown's published and unpublished books, articles, and short stories and includes preliminary research, notes, holograph and typewritten drafts, and galleys related to those works. Also in the collection is personal, literary, and business correspondence covering several decades (1931 to 2002) and includes substantial correspondence from readers of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee expressing the impact the book has had on them.

Biographical Information

Dorris Alexander (Dee) Brown, is best known as the author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. The book, called an "eloquent, meticulously documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the nineteenth century" by OCLC, was number one on the New York Times best-seller list, and was cited by The New York Public Library's Books of the Century as one of the "most significant works of the past 100 years." Brown is one of Arkansas's most notable literary figures whose first book, Wave High the Banner: A Novel Based on the Life of Davy Crockett, was published in 1942 and whose last book, The Way to Bright Star was published in 1998, when the author was 90.

Brown, who lived most of his childhood and retirement years in Arkansas, was a renowned author of fiction and non-fiction books about the 19th century American West. Born in Alberta, Louisiana, he and his family moved to Stephens, Arkansas, when he was five years old. Brown graduated from Arkansas Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas at Conway), and later from George Washington University, with a degree in library science. During World War II, Brown was stationed in Washington, D.C., where he met another librarian Martin Schmitt, with whom he wrote three of his earlier works: Fighting Indians of the West, Trail Driving Days, and The Settlers' West.

After the war, Brown accepted the position of agricultural librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and held that position until his retirement in 1973. While working as full-time librarian, husband to Sarah (Sally) Stroud, and father to Linda and Mitchell, Brown continued to write. Grierson's Raid: A Cavalry Adventure of the Civil War was published in 1954, followed by the novel Yellowhorse, in 1956. By the end of the 1950s, he had published nine books, and by the end of the 1960s, another eight.

Using research he had accumulated for decades and writing the book from the perspective of an aged American Indian of the Plains, Brown began work on his best-selling non-fiction work, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1971). Neither he nor his publisher anticipated the book's popularity and were surprised when it topped the New York Times bestseller list in early 1971 and stayed there for most of the year. To date, the book has been translated into at least 17 languages and served as the inspiration for an HBO film that debuted in 2007.

In 1973, Brown and his wife retired to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he continued to write. In his 1977 controversial history of the western railroads, Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow: Railroads in the West, Brown wrote of the romance as well as the unscrupulousness involved in the building of the U.S. rail system. And in 1980 in his best-selling novel Creek Mary's Blood, he wrote of an Indian family's journey from the frontier westward. Brown died in Little Rock in 2002 and was buried with his wife Sally in Urbana, Illinois.

Visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture for more information about Dee Brown (http://

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Authors -- Arkansas
Brown, Dee Alexander, 1908-2002
Brown, Sarah (Sally) Stroud
Indians of North America -- Wars -- West (U.S.)
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
West -- U.S. -- Fiction
West -- U.S. -- Non-fiction


Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Restrictions on Use

Non-circulating, in-house use only. The researcher must contact the rights holder for permission to reproduce material from this collection.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Dee Brown papers, MSS.11.157, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Studies Institute

Acquisition Information

Donated by Linda L. Brown on behalf of The Dee Brown, LLC, December 14, 2011

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