Lin J. Searles papers , 1956-1983

Overview of the Collection

Searles, Lin J., 1914-1972
Lin J. Searles papers
1956-1983 (inclusive)
3 linear feet, (5 containers)  :  5 clamshell boxes
Collection Number
Coll 075
Lin (Lynn) J. Searles (1914-1972) was a professional magician/proprietor of magic shops and writer of Western stories and television series'. The collection consists of his correspondence, manuscripts, tear sheets, and financial documents.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

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Paper finding aid with additional information is available in Special Collections & University Archives.

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.

Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Lynn J. Searles (1914-1972) was born in Fairport, New York. As a youth, he became interested in magic and, at the age of 18, joined the Society of Amateur Magicians in Syracuse, New York, sponsored by Don Ausman and Harris Solomon.

Searles attended Syracuse University, where he performed magic to defray some of the cost of his college education. After college, Searles spent a year of active duty in the military, and later served as an Intelligence Officer in India and Burma. He left the service in 1947, and went on to hold a series of jobs including writer for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and Craps and Twenty-one dealer in Reno, Nevada.

Searles began writing western short stories after he moved to San Francisco. He sold his first television script shortly thereafter, and went on to write and sell over fifty scripts for the television series Cheyenne and Magic Land of Alakazam. In 1958, he changed the spelling of his name from "Lynn" to "Lin", remarking that "too many females had appropriated 'Lynn'."

Searles' published works include several short stories and four novels: Border Passage, Cliff Rider, Saddle the Wind, and Stampede at Hourglass. These novels have been translated into Spanish, Danish, and Swedish and sold abroad. He also co-authored the television documentary How to Lose at Cards with Stanley Ralph Ross.

In addition to his writing career, Searles maintained his interest in magic throughout his career. As a young man, he worked as office manager for the Owen Magic Shop. Later, along with his wife, he ran the Magic Wand, a retailer of magic and theatrical equipment. On December 22, 1972, Searles was murdered in his magic shop by a seventeen year old youth. A few of his works were left unfinished.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, tear sheets, financial papers, and books. Material in the collection dated after Searles' death in 1972 includes condolence letters and copyright agreements sent to his wife.

Correspondence is arranged chronologically from 1956-1975 and contains only seven letters written by Searles. Some of the incoming letters are from organizations such as Ace Books, Western Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and several magic shops and mail-order agencies. Other letters concern the compilation of an anthology of western stories, Iron Men and Silver Stars, which Searles helped to organize. Notable correspondents include Arthur Lenniger of the Lenniger Literary Agency and several fellow authors including: Upton Sinclair, Thomas Thompson, Brian Garfield, Elmer Kelton, and John Prescott. Included in the correspondence between Searles and his magician-friends are detailed explanations of magic and card tricks.

The manuscript series is the largest segment of the collection, including published and unpublished, novel and short story length manuscripts. Two of the novel manuscripts, Outlaw Basin and The Doolin Deck Perplex were unfinished at the time of Searles' death. Unfinished short stories include: Bicycle Brigade and Gunsmoke Over Playa Seco. Also included in the manuscript series is the script for a television documentary, How to Lose at Cards, showcasing Searles' card trick techniques.

Following the manuscripts, there is a short series of tearsheets, published in 1955 and 1956. In October, 1955, reprint rights were sold for "Death Deals this Hand" to be included in Bar S Roundup of Best Western Stories. Also in 1956, the television rights were sold to Warner Brothers and the story was used for an episode of Cheyenne.

Financial papers, including contracts, copyright agreements, and royalty statements are arranged chronologically.

Miscellaneous materials include a memorial issue of the Pallbearer's Review which gives biographical information on Searles and direct quotes from letters he wrote explaining card tricks. Also included is a press review of the anthology, Iron Men and Silver Stars, photocopies of explanations of card tricks, a guide to an independent study course on professional writing from the University of Oklahoma, two magic show programs, and magic show publicity.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Card tricks
  • Magic--United States
  • Magicians--United States
  • Western stories--Authorship

Personal Names

  • Garfield, Brian, 1939-
  • Kelton, Elmer
  • Prescott, John, 1919-1999
  • Searles, Lin J., 1914-1972
  • Searles, Lin J., 1914-1972
  • Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968
  • Thompson, Thomas, 1913-1993

Corporate Names

  • Ace Books
  • Lenniger Literary Agency
  • Mystery Writers of America
  • Western Writers of America

Form or Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Financial records
  • Manuscripts for publication
  • Novels
  • Short stories
  • Tear sheets
  • Television scripts
  • Western stories