Archives West Finding Aid
Table of Contents
- Overview of the Collection
- Content Description
- Administrative Information
- Detailed Description of the Collection
- Names and Subjects
Sylvester Nemes Papers, 1973-2010
Overview of the Collection
- Sylvester Nemes Papers
- 1973-2010 (inclusive)19732010
- 15 linear feet, (35 boxes)
- Collection Number
- The Sylvester Nemes Papers consists of research, notes, drafts and manuscripts of Nemes' books, both his published works on fly fishing, as well as two unpublished works of historical fiction. Also included in the collection are correspondence, a brief biography, miscellaneous personal records, his obituary, business and professional records, photographs, negatives, memorabilia, and slides.
Montana State University Library, Merrill G. Burlingame Special Collections
Montana State University-Bozeman Library
Merrill G Burlingame Special Collections
P.O. Box 173320
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research.
Biographical NoteReturn to Top
Sylvester Nemes was born on April 2, 1922 in Erie, Pennsylvania. His parents, Dominic Nemes and Pauline Angel, were Romanian. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was introduced to fly tying by a friend and mentor, and traveled frequently to Pennsylvania with his homemade flies to fish the rivers and streams there. Nemes enlisted in the Army at age 19 as the U.S. was entering World War II. He was stationed at the Ibsley Air Field in Hampshire, England as a member of the Fighter Control Squadron with the Eighth Air Force. While stationed, he was set up on a blind date with Hazel Mary Barclay, an English nursing student. Nemes landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day, staying there for nine months as part of a team directing fighter aircraft. When he returned to England, he married Hazel on March 17, 1945 in Southampton, Hampshire. After the war, Hazel and Sylvester's first child, Diana, was born in England. The family moved to the U.S. where their second and third children, Eric and Gregory, were born. While the couple raised their family, Nemes earned a bachelor's degree in English from Kent State University. He went on to work as a copy writer and a photographer in Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago. Nemes, Hazel, and their children moved to Crown Point, Indiana in 1961, where Nemes worked as a photojournalist and continued to cultivate his love of fly fishing.
Nemes published his first book in 1975 through Chatham Press. The Soft-Hackled Fly championed wet fly fishing and the beauty and utility of flies tied with bird feathers in an era when dry fly fishing was the dominant trend. In the book he details the history of the soft-hackled fly and gives instruction on tying them and using them in fishing. Nemes went on to become a prolific author on the subject of fly fishing, writing Learn How to Fly Fish in One Day (1986), Soft-Hackled Imitations (1991), The Soft-Hackled Fly: A Trout Fisherman's Guide (1993), The Soft-Hackled Fly Addict (1993), Spinners (1995), Six Months in Scotland: an American View of its Salmon Fishing (1998), Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies: a Survey of the Literature With Original Patterns, 1747-Present (2004), and The Soft-Hackled Fly and Tiny Soft Hackles: a Trout Fisherman's Guide (2006). He wrote two unpublished novels: "Goodbye, Crown Point," about John Dillinger, the Depression-era bank robber, and an unnamed manuscript about World War II-era P38 fighter aircraft pilots. Hazel and Sylvester moved to San Francisco in the early eighties before settling in Bozeman, Montana, at the base of the Bridger Mountains, in 1984. Nemes continued to fish, create his own fly patterns, and write books. He had admirers as far-flung as Japan, where fans of his started a fly fishing club devoted to the use of the soft hackle, and a Nemes-branded fly fishing rod was produced and sold. He was honored by Trout Unlimited in Bozeman in 2008 with their Legends of the Headwaters award. Nemes died at home on February 3, 2011 outside of Bozeman.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The Sylvester Nemes Papers primarily contain research, notes, drafts and manuscripts of Nemes's books, both his published works on fly fishing, as well as two unpublished works of historical fiction. His research materials include typed pages and handwritten notes in spiral-bound notebooks, as well as galley proofs and artwork. The collection also contains a large amount of correspondence from readers and fans who expressed the admiration for Nemes's work, and submitted orders for his books and hand-tied flies. A small amount of biographical material is also included in the collection, and includes family correspondence, a brief biography, miscellaneous personal records, and his obituary. Nemes's business and professional records mostly consist of correspondence with publishers, book and fly orders and invoices, and other records related to the writing and publishing of his books. In the final series there are photographs, negatives, memorabilia, and several binders of slides taken by Nemes of flies, landscapes in the West and in England and Scotland, fish and rivers, and friends and family.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Series 1 Biographical material
Series 2 Business and Professional Records
Series 3 Correspondence
Series 4 Book Manuscripts, Drafts, and Book-Specific Research
Series 5 General Research and Notes
Series 6 Photographs, Slides, and Memorabilia
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
1: Biographical materialReturn to Top
Nemes's biographical materials include a small assortment of personal items and descriptions of his life. They include a portrait of Nemes, family correspondence, a short biographical sketch written in the mid-1980s, and his obituary from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Miscellaneous personal records consist of an international driver's license, receipts, and loan paperwork from the 1990s.
|1||3||undated; 1995; 1997|
Miscellaneous Personal Records
2: Business and Professional RecordsReturn to Top
Nemes's professional records document his publishing career and related business ventures. Records associated with his publications are most prominent and include wholesale book orders, royalty reports, receipts from travels to Europe, publisher correspondence with Stackpole Books and Chatham Press, book publicity materials, and articles written by and about Nemes. His business records also feature legal agreements, including an agreement to produce a Nemes-branded fishing rod in Japan.
Trip to Scotland
Miscellaneous Invoices/Receipts (Incoming)
3: CorrespondenceReturn to Top
Nemes's correspondence contains incoming and outgoing letters related to his publications. The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters to Nemes from his readers, including fan mail, book and fly orders, and questions seeking fishing advice. Some letter writers sent Nemes examples of their hand-crafted flies in addition to their letters. The flies are filed separately and can be found among his collected memorabilia. A small amount of outgoing correspondence contains copies of letters written by Nemes between 1973 and 2008 and relates to his publications and fly and book orders.
4: Book Manuscripts, Drafts, and Book-Specific ResearchReturn to Top
Nemes's book manuscripts, drafts, and book-specific research features pre-publication copies of his books on fly fishing and his non-fiction writings. This series contains drafts, manuscripts, galleys, artwork, notes, and collected articles for his books. Of greatest significance is an early draft (circa 1973) of his most famous book, The Soft-Hackled Fly.
Learn How to Fly Fish - Artwork
[see box 32]
P38 Novel - Articles and Research
[see box 32]
5: General Research and NotesReturn to Top
Nemes's general research and notes consist of handwritten notes and collected articles related to his writings. Notes include research, drafts, and edits of Nemes's books and articles. They also include handwritten book order information, remarks on fly tying, reminders, and stray thoughts. Notes are contained on loose papers, in spiral notebooks, and on legal pads. Several small memo pads also contain dated entries regarding fishing trips and document Nemes's fishing location, weather, and insect hatch descriptions. A small collection of articles on entomology and the history of elementary schools is also included among these materials.
6: Photographs, Slides, and MemorabiliaReturn to Top
Nemes's photographs, slides and memorabilia features visual materials related to his life and career. Photographs include color prints of Nemes with family and friends, readers' photos sent to Nemes, and 3x5 negatives of fly tying. The series also includes binders of slides featuring images of flies, rivers, the English and Scottish countryside, and western landscapes. Nemes used slides as visual aids at speaking engagements and the slides likely relate to publicity events for his books and other public appearances. There is a small collection of flies (mostly sent to Nemes by readers), his Legend of the Headwaters award, and a framed photo with mounted flies from a Japanese fishing club.
Legend of the Headwaters plaque
Framed photograph of Soft Hackles, a Japanese fishing club, along with flies
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Fly fishing
- Fly fishing
- Fly tyers
- Fly tyers--Montana
- Fly tying
- Fly tying
- Military operations, Aerial--American
- Publishers and Publishing
- Publishers and publishing--United States
- World War (1939-1945)
- World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations, American--Fiction
- Nemes, Sylvester--Archives
- Bozeman (Mont.)
- England--Description and travel
- Scotland--Description and travel
- United States
- United States, West
- West (U.S.)--Description and travel
Form or Genre Terms
- Personal papers--Montana--Bozeman