Evelyn J. Cameron and Ewen S. Cameron papers, 1893-1929

Overview of the Collection

Cameron, Evelyn, 1868-1928
Evelyn J. Cameron and Ewen S. Cameron papers
1893-1929 (inclusive)
6.5 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number
MC 226
Evelyn J. Cameron was a pioneer photographer and rancher in eastern Montana. Her husband, Ewen S. Cameron, raised polo ponies and studied and wrote about wildlife, particularly birds, of eastern Montana. Collection consists of letters, postcards, and greeting cards (1903-1929); 35 diaries (1893-1928) kept by Evelyn; a journal (n.d.) kept by Evelyn containing notes, copied poems and sayings, and clippings; clippings removed from Evelyn's diaries and journal; a scrapbook (1900-1915) containing clippings on wildlife; 7 articles (1905-1914) written by Ewen; various manuscripts (1904-1912) written by Ewen; and homestead papers (1903-1917). There are also typed transcripts of the diaries.
Montana Historical Society, Library & Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 4064442681
Fax: 4064445297
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Original diaries are restricted due to fragility. Typed transcripts are available for use.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Evelyn Jephson Flower was born August 26, 1868, near Streatham, England. The Flower family was tied to England's elite--her half brother Cyril Flower became Lord Battersea in 1892. Ewen Somerled Cameron was born in 1854 in Scotland, to a genteel, but penniless family.

Evelyn and Ewen Cameron were married in the fall of 1889 and spent their honeymoon in Montana. Both were avid hunters and were lured to Montana by English magazines that boasted of the abundant wildlife, the ease of living on the plains, and the fiscal rewards of polo pony raising. The Camerons moved to Montana in 1893 and established the Eve ranch near Terry to breed and train polo ponies. The horse breeding venture proved disasterous, however, as the ponies were difficult to transport--many dying on the boat to England. The animals that survived the trip were too wild for English riders who were not accustomed to "breaking" horses. Although Evelyn's family provided her with an annual allowance, the Cameron's were unable to make a profit and by 1897 were forced to abandon polo pony raising and find other sources of income. They took in wealthy boarders, who they tried to convince to invest in the ranch, and Evelyn sold her garden produce and photographs. The Cameron's took their first trip back to England in 1901, and remained for a year. In 1902 they returned to Montana and bought land outside of Terry near the Yellowstone River. They remained at that location until 1907 when they moved to a ranch near Fallon, Montana.

In addition to the polo pony business, Ewen Cameron was interested in Montana wildlife, especially birds. He became a noted ornithologist, with several articles being published in various British science magazines, including The Auk. He worked for many years on a book describing birds of the western United States. He was also a skilled and enthusiastic hunter.

Evelyn Cameron, in addition to her work on the ranch, took a keen interest in photography. In 1894 she purchased her first camera, and learned basic photographic techniques from one of her boarders. Photography served many purposes for Evelyn, it relieved some of the loneliness of living on the plains, provided much needed income, allowed her to work with Ewen on his wildlife studies, and provided an avenue for meeting and learning about her neighbors. She was especially fascinated with the strength and perserverance of the Russian-German immigrants. Her photographs captured the experiences of men and women on the plains of Eastern Montana in starkly vivid and candid terms. Cowboys, women, ranchers, farmers, children, itinerant workers, sheep herders, and the stark landscape all found their way into her photos. Her work was carried in magazines throughout the country. Unlike Ewen, whose wildlife interests took him farther and farther from the ranch, Evelyn was facinated with the ranching lifestyle. She developed close friendships with their neighbors, the Williams family. Janet Williams became her dearest lifelong friend, to whom she bequeathed all her diaries, photos and belongings after her death.

In 1914 Ewen Cameron became ill and had to be taken to Pasadena, California, to receive cancer treatments. He died the following year and was buried in California. Evelyn, contrary to the requests of her family, returned to Fallon to run the ranch by herself. She continued her photography for the remainder of her life. She died in 1928 following an operation for appendicitis. She was buried in Terry, Montana.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection consists of two subgroups: Evelyn J. Cameron Subgroup, and Ewen S. Cameron Subgroup.

Evelyn J. Cameron's Papers consist primarily of diaries (1893-1928) that chronicled her daily life including books she read, chores, lists of letters written and received, local and national events, photographs taken, social activities, verbatim copies of special letters, and weather. The diaries also include innumerable tidbits of information that reveal the fabric of her life--the number of eggs gathered and chickens killed per month; notes on the amount of butter she churned; methods of skinning a coyote or breaking a horse; accounts of money made from her photos and garden produce; lists of supplies; and Evelyn's favorite poems and quotes. In addition to the diaries, this subgroup also contains letters (1903-1929, 1974) both to and from Evelyn Cameron. The letters, especially those written to her family, are particularly valuable because they provide more insight into Evelyn's personality, and are more detailed than the diary entires. Also included are legal documents (1916-1917) regarding land purchases; miscellany (1893-1928) including lists of books and ranch animals, Christmas and sympathy cards, and notebooks; and clippings (1893-1923) removed from the diaries.

Ewen Cameron's papers consist of incoming correspondence (1908-1914), and legal documents (1903-1914) primarily related to property ownership and water rights. Also included in this subgroup are typescript and handwritten copies of various articles written by Ewen Cameron concerning Montana wildlife (1898-1914).

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The Montana Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library before any reproduction use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


by subgroup and series

Location of Collection

MC 226

Acquisition Information

Acquisition information available upon request

Separated Materials

Evelyn Cameron photograph collection is in Photo Archives

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Evelyn J. Cameron Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Biographical Material
1 / 1
Obituaries (Evelyn)
General Correspondence
1 / 2
Chronological (including one letter to and one from Janet Williams; postcards from friends; several letters re her protography and ranch business)
Miscellaneous Correspondence
1 / 3
Chronological (including telegrams from Janet Williams to Evelyn's relatives in England informing them of her death; letter from the attending physician describing the circumstances of her death)
Diaries [fragile originals restricted, please use transcripts.]
2 / 1-5
Diary transcripts
3 / 1-5
Diary transcripts
4 / 1-7
Diary transcripts
5 / 1-5
Diary transcripts
6 / 1-5
Diary transcripts
7 / 1-4
Diary transcripts
8 / 1-5
Diary transcripts
9 / 1
Diary transcripts
10 / 1-3
11 / 1-4
12 / 1-6
13 / 1-6
1919-1923, 1925-1928
Financial Records
14 / 1
Receipts and hand-written notes on amounts owed
Legal Documents
14 / 2
Certificate of purchase of homestead and receipt, 1916; letter, 1917 (from Land Office Register re filing on adjacent land); several plat maps showing the location in T 13 N, R 53 E, Sec. 26
14 / 3
Business and calling cards
1900-1915, n.d.
14 / 4
Christmas and other greetings
1903-1924, n.d.
14 / 5
Lists of and notes on the ranch's livestock
14 / 6
Notebooks (containing notes by Evelyn; poems and articles that she hand-copied; clippings)
1884-1914, 1920-1923
14 / 7
Photography (includes Kodak Graflex camera pamphlets; a notebook listing photographs taken by Evelyn and notes on exposures, etc.; pages proofs of Evelyn's photographs published in journals)
1911-1913, n.d.
14 / 8
Miscellaneous ephemera (including directions for tanning a hide with hair on it; lists of books; medicine prescription; pen and ink sketch by Evelyn; a poem written by Evelyn; sympathy cards and note; target shooting diagram; invitation to wedding of Hilda Flower and Frank Edwards)
1895-1923, n.d.
14 / 9-13
Removed from diaries (including clippings about Evelyn and Ewen; friends and neighbors in Montana; relatives and friends in England; farming and ranching; home remedies; obituaries and wedding announcements; World War I; poems and sayings; advertisements, especially re photography)
14 / 14-15
Removed from notebook
14 / 16
Removed from scrapbook
14 / 17
Scrapbook (mainly clippings about wildlife)

Ewen S. Cameron Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Biographical Material
15 / 1
Obituaries (Ewen)
Incoming Correspondence
15 / 2
Chronological (re two of Ewen's articles; reply to Ewen's inquiry about becoming a naturalized citizen)
1908,1912, 1914
Legal Documents
15 / 3
Notice of appropriation of water right; bill of sale and description of the property; notice of allowance
1903,1907, 1914
15 / 4
"Antelope in Montana" (typescript)
15 / 5
Auk [magazine] reprints
15 / 6
Buzzards (typescript and hand-written)
15 / 7
Grouse (typescript and hand-written)
15 / 8
"Montana Birds" [hoot owl and marsh hawk] (typescript with hand-written annotations)
15 / 9
Mountain sheep (typescript)
15 / 10
Mule deer (typescript and hand-written)
15 / 11
"Sheep and Coyotes in Montana" (hand-written)
15 / 12
"Sheep in a Montana Blizzard" (hand-written)
15 / 13
"Sport in the Badlands of Montana U.S.A." (typescript)
15 / 14
Wild swans (typescript, notes, and drawings)
15 / 15
"Wolf in Montana" (typescript with hand-written annotations)
15 / 16
Untitled [Missouri Breaks?] (hand-written)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Ranches--Montana--Prairie County
  • Women Homesteaders--Montana--Prairie County

Geographical Names

  • Prairie County (Mont.)--Biography
  • Terry (Mont.)


  • Ornithologists --Montana
  • Photographers --Montana