C. Ben Ross Papers, 1922-1945

Overview of the Collection

C. Ben Ross
C. Ben Ross Papers
1922-1945 (inclusive)
5 linear feet
Collection Number
MG091 (collection)
Letters, speeches, and memorabilia, primarily dealing with his term as governor.
University of Idaho Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
University of Idaho Library
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 2350
Moscow, ID
Telephone: 2088850845
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Idaho's first native-born governor, Charles Benjamin Ross, was born near Parma, Idaho December 27, 1876. He was one of eight children born to cattleman John M. Ross and his wife Jeanette Hadley Ross. He attended school in Parma, ending his education after grade six. In 1894, at the age of 18, he decided to continue his education by attending business colleges in Boise and Portland, graduating from Portland Commercial College. He returned to the ranch in 1897 where he and his brother W.H. Ross managed the holdings which their father had developed.

On February 14, 1900 he married Edna Reavis, who was a natural politician and a great asset to her husband's career. When Ross became governor she was often referred to as "Governor Edna." Although they had no children of their own, they raised four foster children.

C. Ben Ross was elected county commissioner in Canyon County, a position he held for three terms (six years) resigning it when, in 1921, he moved to Pocatello to manage his father's estate in that town. In 1923 he was elected mayor of Pocatello, and remained in office until he was elected governor in 1930. When Ross took office as mayor, Pocatello had only a few blocks of paved streets, and a few more were gravel; at the end of his term 54 per cent of Pocatello's roads were oiled. He also improved the city's water supply and lowered taxes. His interest in roads and taxes continued into his terms as governor.

He ran for governor five times, the first in 1928 when he was defeated. On May 2, 1930 he again announced his intention of running for governor. This time he was successful, but, as a democrat, was handicapped by a republican legislature. The election of 1932 saw the return of Ross as governor, but this time with a democratic legislature; his unusual bid for a third term in 1934 was also successful. In 1936 he received the democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, but was defeated in the general election by the incumbent William E. Borah. In 1938 he again ran for governor, receiving the nomination in the primary by defeating B.W. Clark by only 2,200 votes. The general election saw his defeat by C.A. Bottolfsen by 28,571 votes.

Following this defeat Ross retired to his farm. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1945, the day of President Roosevelt's death, and lingered as a semi-invalid for almost a year. In mid March, 1946, he had a heart attack and on March 31 he died in St. Alphonsus Hospital, Boise. His wife refused to allow his body to lie in state in the Statehouse and he was buried quietly near his Parma home.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The five boxes of C. Ben Ross papers consist of letters, speeches and other memorabilia, the majority of which deals with Ross's tenure as governor of Idaho, 1930-1936. There are also items relating to the Ross Plan and miscellaneous items of campaign material.

There is also a collection of reports, some published by private organizations such as the Fraternal Order of Eagles, some are typescripts of articles and others are government reports.

Series V contains newspaper clippings, and occasionally complete newspapers, dealing primarily with Ross and Idaho politics, There are a few articles on W.E. Borah in the 1935 and 1936 folders.

Among the more interesting items of personal memorabilia is a collection of photographs. Unfortunately very few have been dated, and often there is no identification for Ross's companions in group photographs. There are a number of identification badges, ribbons, and souvenir programs for functions Ross attended, as well as magazines with articles about Ross.

The more personal items include farm leases, a Quit Claim Deed, check registers, correspondence with the Federal Land Bank of Spokane regarding the loans for S.S. Powers and E. Stemper, and property tax records.

The contents of each section are outlined in full in the following Description of Series.

In addition to the five boxes of Ross papers herein described, the Special Collections Department of the University Library has the book C. Ben Ross and the New Deal in Idaho by Michael P. Malone (Seattle, University of Washington Press, 1970).

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The papers of Governor C. Ben Ross have been arranged by keeping like material together. The correspondence is arranged chronologically by year, then alphabetically by correspondent within each year, thus the outgoing and incoming letters are kept together. Letters from local, state, and federal agencies or organizations are arranged under the name of the person signing the letter rather than the agency.

Reports and newspaper clippings are in chronological order. The items of personal material are sorted according to type. Property tax notices are arranged by county, then by date. There is no arrangement in the photograph portion of the collection.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I. Correspondence , 1922-1945Return to Top

The correspondence included in the Ross papers contains original incoming letters, carbon copies of outgoing letters and copies of correspondence between third parties with a copy sent to Ross for his information.

Letters written in election years deal with campaign arrangements, election results, and include many letters or telegrams of congratulations, or, as in 1936 and 1938, condolence. Throughout this series are letters from people wanting jobs. Some letters can be called "tattle-tale letters," others are responding to specific questions concerning individuals in government work. There are a number of letters from A.A. Steel which deal with Ross's farm in Parma. Some letters deal with Pocatello politics, some with national policies which will affect Idaho. Beginning in 1933, Ross's friends were urging him to run against Senator W.E. Borah, and these continue through Ross's unsuccessful campaign to "retire Borah to private life" in 1936.

In the 1935 file there is a 103 page typed manuscript by Paul Davis entitled "Sales Tax."

Following the folder of undated correspondence is one labeled "J.C. White." White was maintenance engineer in highway district #5 (Coeur d'Alene) and the correspondence in this file, dated 1932-33, deals with the excessive cost of maintaining the roads in the district.

Most years have a miscellaneous folder, the contents of which are described following the alphabetical list of correspondents. There are also, for several years, extra folders with specific labels, the contents of which are included in the following list and are identified by the following codes: RP - Ross Plan (1933), NP - Nominating Petition (1934), CP - Candidacy Petition (1936), CAEG - Campaign Advertising Expenses (Governor, 1934), CAES - Campaign Advertising Expenses (Senate, 1936).

Series II. Campaign Materials Return to Top

Description Dates
Handbills and Ads
31/2" x 2" cards "Ross for Governor"
Ross Saves Taxpayers Money. Booklet
Broadsides. Campaign for Senate
Poster. Campaign for Senate
You have heard the arguments, here are the facts. Booklet
Newspaper ads. Campaign for Senate
Poster: Canyon County Democratic Ticket
Several amateur poems
Travel Itineraries
1934 campaign
1936 campaign
A Challenge to taxpayers, Typed sheet
Defenbach's speech made at Boise
Typed. 12 p.
November 2, 1932
Feeney dubious of Ross' claims. Idaho Statesman
October 30, 1934
Fish and Game. 2 p. typed. Bannock County Sportsmen's Assoc.
5 p.
Voters Attention. Endorsement of Young Men's Democratic Club
Printed letters from Frank Martin
May 15, August 1, 1934
Opposition, Frank Stephan
A Gentleman for Governor. 1 p. typed
Speech made at Emmett, Idaho
14 p. typed
October 10, 1934
Record of Frank Stephan in the 18th session of the Idaho legislature
1 p. typed
Stephan attorney fees - includes copies of legal papers
Other Democratic Candidates
Alfred E. Smith (reprinted from Oregon Journal, June 30)
Chase A. Clark (reprinted from Mackay Miner)
J.M. Hartley. County Commissioner, 1st district
John Knox Coe. Lieut. Governor
James F. Ailshee. Justice of Supreme Court
Dave C. Hally. State Senator
Paul H. Reiniger. County Commissioner, 3rd Dist. Kootenai Co.
George M. Servick. Clerk of District Court
I.B. Horne. Sheriff of Benewah County
Meyers, Cohn. County Commissioner, 1st Dist. Bannock Co. 192
Albert W. Fricke. County Auditor
Election Returns
1934 incomplete state returns
1944 state ticket
1914-1932 votes for governor
1932 Canyon County returns
1934 Bannock County nominating ballot returns
1930 printed table of returns

Series III. Political Materials Return to Top

Description Dates
Speeches (1)
November 4, 1936
October 22, 1936
Inflation and Expansion of Currency. 3 p., typed
Pro Defenbach speech (speaker unidentified)
12 p. typed
Ross Speech
3 p. typed
Facts given out by Gov. Ross in his speech at Middleton
3 p. mimeographed
Oct. 1, 1932
Gov. Ross's address at Lewiston
8 p. mimeographed
Oct. 12, 1932
Transcript of conversation between Ross and L.D. Cox regarding potatoes
4 p. typed
Speech in Canyon County regarding state expenditures
4 p. typed
Fish and the game
Governor's message to the 23rd session of the legislature of the State of Idaho
11 p. typed
Speeches (2)
Governor's message to the 22nd session of the legislature of the State of Idaho, 1933. 12 p. typed. (various drafts)
Radio Addresses
Idaho Falls
6 p.
November 1, 1934
Twin Falls
4 p.
October 24, 1936
5 p.
November 2, 1936
Twin Falls
9 p.
Telephone Conversations (Typed transcripts)
Between Gov. Ross and D. Worth Clark
January 23, 1935
Between Gov. Ross and D. Worth Clark
March 19, 1935
Between Gov. Ross and Albert Goss
December 18, 1934
Between Robert H. Hinckley and P.C. Meredith
November 26, 19--
Between Gov. Ross and Harry L. Hopkins
April 1, 1935
Between Gov. Ross and Aubrey Williams
August 31, 1934
Between Aubrey Williams and P.C. Meredith
November 10, 1934
Between Gov. Ross and Aubrey Williams
January 15, 1935
Between Gov. Ross and Aubrey Williams
January 17, 1935
Between Gov. Ross and Aubrey Williams
January 31, 1935
Between Gov. Ross and Aubrey Williams
March 1, 1935
Between Gov. Ross and Aubrey Williams
March 18, 1935
Between Gov. Ross, A.E. Duke and Mr. Rich
Press Releases
Facts given by Gov. Ross in his speech at Middleton
Oct. 1, 1932
Address of James A. Farley, Pocatello
August 1, 1934
B.W. Clark begins campaign
September 1936
Ira J. Taylor seeks re-election as state chairman
September 10, 1936
Ross Plan
An analysis of the Ross Plan by Earl Bunting
typed. 5 p.
Federal unemployment relief program of Gov. C. Ben Ross of Idaho
Outline of a plan for a national public works program in the United States War Dept. by Pierce Williams
4 p. typed
Program of Gov. C. Ben Ross of Idaho, for National Economic rehabilitation
The Ross Plan
4 p. mimeographed.
Six fold plan: an immediate national necessity
13 p. typed
Van Polen, H. The master plan

Series IV. Miscellaneous Reports Return to Top

The reports contained in Series IV represent a great diversity of subject matter. Some reports are published in the form of booklets, some are mimeographed sheets and others are typescripts. Some of the reports are contained in notebooks which appear to have been used by Ross in his campaign speeches. These are usually single sheets and are not listed separately in the following list.

Series V. Newspaper Clippings Return to Top

The clippings deal with Ross's activities as governor and also include both political reports of campaigns and paid political advertising. In 1932 there is a series of clippings on Byron Defenbach. The two folders for 1934 contain articles on prayers for rain, the State Board of Equalization, the Highway Department, state finances state Automobile Association, Pardon Board, relief, IERA, FERA, CWA, NRA, and Idaho Wool Growers in addition to articles on Ross's bid for a third term as governor.

Ross's attempt to gain Borah's Senate seat is the primary interest in the 1935-1936 folder, while his decision to run for a fourth term as governor is the subject of clippings in the 1937 file. The remaining clippings are concerned with Idaho politics. There are two articles in 1946 written upon Ross's death.

The newspaper clippings are arranged chronologically and occupy eleven folders; the last folder contains undated clippings, most of them from the years 1930-1936. The majority of the clippings are from Idaho papers, with occasional articles from Salt Lake City or Portland papers.

Series VI. Personal Return to Top

The final series in the papers of C. Ben Ross is comprised of eight folders of personal items, notebooks, souvenir programs, photographs, legal and financial documents

Description Dates
The notebooks appear to have been used by Ross in his 1930 campaign tour and include the itinerary, lists of democrats by county, lists of state committeemen, and lists from each county of the democratic nominees for office.
Most of the photographs in this collection are of C. Ben Ross. File cards have been prepared for the photographs and these cards are interfiled with the cards for the library's photograph collection. Most of the photographs are undated, and unfortunately Ross's companions in group photographs are also unidentified.
Programs, Souvenirs
Identification ribbons: Annual Governors' Conference, 1931; Governors' Conference, 1933; I.O.O.F. 51st Annual Session, 1933; American Legion 17th Annual Convention, 1935; Caldwell Pioneer Celebration, 1540. Souvenir of Conference of Governors of the United States, held at French Lick, Indiana, 1931. Music: Twilight on the River Salmon. Music by J. Chas McNeil, words by Lee Muckensturm. Autographed by Lee Muckensturm. Invitation and passes to the White House, January 18, 1934 Bowers, Claude G. "Back to the fundamentals." An address delivered at the Jackson Day Dinner, Washington, D.C., January 12, 1938 Third Annual Governor's Day, Boise High School. Program. Aims and Purposes of Western Range and Sheep Association. Dairymens News Bulletin. II:6, February 15, 1929 Several amateur poems
Copper. I:12, December 25, 1931. There is a picture of C-Ben Ross on the Cover The Improvement Era. XXXVI:6, April 1933- "Governor C. Ben Ross, a crusader" by Lamont Johnson, pp. 332-334, 360 The Sheriff. IV:2 April 1945. Article on John F. Ross, p. 21; IV:3, August 1945. Picture of John F. Ross on cover Psychiana Quarterly. December 1932. "Democratic" p. 25 mentions Ross
Yandel Springs Project
Two blueprints
Legal Documents
Consolidated Mine and Dredge Co. Certificate for 100 shares
Farm lease between C. Ben and Edna Ross and O.J. and Dora English
October 3, 1927
Crop Mortgage between Henry Y. and Suyeyo Otani and Ora J. and Dora English
November 18, 1937
Farm Lease between C. Ben and Edna R. Ross and W.G. and Nancy J. Sparks
January 1, 1934
Chattel Mortgage between Helen Usadel and Denver Hickox and T.F. Nakamura
April 17, 1929
Chattel Mortgage between Helen Usadel and Denver Hickox and Jack Takogi
April 17, 1929
Contract between Helen Usadel and T.F. Nakamura
Quit Claim Deed between Florence Bartlett and William F. Hutchinson and Charles B. Ross
July 15, 1925
Check registers
January 1938-July 1939
Federal Land Bank, Spokane. Correspondence regarding loans for S.S. Powers and E. Stemper
February 1928-December 1940
Sudler, Wegener & Co., Investment Securities. Statements
September 1933-March 1935
Canyon County
1907, 1909-1913, 1925, 1930, 1931, 1940-1946
Power County
1920, 1921, 1542, 1945, 1946
Bannock County
1919-1922, 1924-1927, 1931-1941
Twin Falls County
1930, 1933-1935
Ada County
Federal Income Tax
Estate Taxes--Edna R. Ross
1956, 1957
Federal Income Tax of Helen Usadel

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Corporate Names

  • Idaho. Governor (1930-1936 : Ross)
  • Pocatello (Idaho). Mayor

Geographical Names

  • Idaho -- Politics and government


  • Mayor of Pocatello, 1923-1930; Governor of Idaho, 1930-1936

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Ross, Charles Benjamin, 1876-1946--Archives.