Creator: Proper, Datus C.

Provenance Note: The Datus C. Proper papers were donated to Montana State University by Anna Collins-Proper of Belgrade, Montana in January 2009. Addtional materials were added April 2019.

Historical Note: Datus Carryer Proper was born in Des Moines, Iowa on April 18, 1934, the son of William Glisan Proper and Marjorie Carryer Proper. His extended family ancestors included Ida Sedgwick Proper, an early suffragist and New York artist, and Datus DeWitt Proper, an Iowa Civil War veteran and Baptist preacher. Datus C. Proper grew up in Iowa, Nebraska, Northern Minnesota, and Yellowstone National Park, where his father worked as a personnel officer for the Park from 1946 to 1955. Proper attended secondary school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and earned a BA degree in English from Cornell University in 1956. He began a career with the United States Foreign Service and served in Washington D.C., Angola, Brazil, Ireland and Portugal as a political analyst. He also earned a MA degree from George Washington University in 1978 and completed the course of study at the National War College during the same year. His longtime interest in fly fishing and pheasant hunting were sharpened during his government career, and he experienced success in publishing sporting articles along with his first book, What The Trout Said, prior to his retirement from the State Department in 1987. Proper then moved with his family to the Gallatin Valley near Bozeman, Montana where he began a full time career as a writer, mostly on outdoor subjects. He wrote three more books during his time in Montana and hundreds of articles for outdoor and regional magazines, especially Field and Stream where he became a regular contributor. He married Anna Therese Collins in 1975 and had two sons prior to his death on July 27, 2003.

Content Description Note: The Datus C. Proper papers consist of journals, correspondence, family history documents, literary manuscript drafts, galley proofs, research notes, publisher correspondence, photographs and other memorabilia which document Proper's life as a student, United States Foreign Service officer, and outdoor writer. The family history documents include materials pertaining to Proper's extended family ancestors, including notes and clippings about Ida Sedgwick Proper, and the Civil War diary of Datus DeWitt Proper, corporal, 19th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. Datus Proper's own journals document his early interest in fly fishing and hunting, containing both diary-like entries and miscellaneous notes that he later used in his published writings. The manuscript drafts encompass many, but not all, of Proper's articles for such magazines as Field and Stream, and his four full length books. A research vertical file of clippings and miscellaneous notes maintained by Proper for reference purposes has also been preserved within this collection, along with a small collection of photographs, some of which were used to illustrate Proper's published articles. The subjects of Proper's writings encompass the full spectrum of fly fishing for trout, from stream side entomology to the ethics of catch and release angling. Hunting, particularly pheasant hunting and the training of dogs for the sport, is another subject heavily represented. Proper also wrote on Portugal, a country in which he had served during his career with the State Department, and in addition to his writings he saved some letters and documents written in Portugese. Correspondents found in this collection include Vince Marinaro, Nick Lyons, Paul Schullery, and other prominent fly fishing and hunting writers. The entire collection has been organized into nine series consisting based primarily on document type. Oversize material from all series has been placed in Box 17 and includes topographical maps marked with locations of Proper's hunting and fishing trips, certificates and awards, and a series of tracings done from from fish that Proper caught and measured.

Restrictions: All literary copyright to the Datus C. Proper papers are the property of Anna Collins-Proper of Belgrade, Montana and permission to publish any material must be granted by her, her heirs or assigns.



Series 1 Journals, 1951-2002
Series 2 Correspondence, 1985-2002
Series 3 Family papers, 1864-2000
Series 4 Magazine articles, 1965-2002
Series 5 Book publication files, 1992-2002
Series 6 Unfinished book manuscript
Series 7 Subject vertical files
Series 8 Memorial service materials, 2002-2003
Series 9 Photographs


Series 1: Journals, 1951-2002

Journals kept by Proper as both a record of his hunting and fishing experiences as well as a repository for ideas intended for future articles and books. The earliest fishing journal documents Proper's trout fishing while still a student in school in New Hampshire. The balance of the journals coincide with the dates of Proper's active writing career and detail his experiences fishing and hunting in Brazil, Portugal, Ireland, Montana and elsewhere in the United States. The inclusive dates for each journal are appoximate, and many diaries have laid-in notes placed by Proper in reference to his magazine article compositions.

Box 1
1. 1951
2. 1967-1978
3. 1978-1980
4. 1980-1981
5. 1981-1983
6. 1983-1984
7. 1984-1985
Box 2
1. 1985-1988
2. 1988-1989
3. 1990-1992
4. 1992-1994
5. 1994-1995
6. 1995-1998
7. 1998-2002
8. 2002-2003

Contents | Special Collections

Series 2: Correspondence

Letters written to and from Datus Proper to publishers, readers, reviewers, family, friends, and other sportsmen. Most of the letters pertain to professional matters, such as feedback from readers and editors, hunting and fishing tips exchanged with friends and colleagues, and information requests from Proper to other writers and sportsmen. This series only represents those letters that Proper kept in a separate file sequence. Other letters specifically related to individual writings by Proper can be found interfiled with his various manuscript drafts in series 5-9. The letters have been arragned alphabetically by correspondent's name, with more substantial groups of letters, or those with enclosures that would be confused in a a group arrangement, assigned to individually named folders.

Box 3
1. A
2. Alberda, Rudi van
3. B
4. Bachman, Robert A.
5. Behnke, Robert J.
6. Bramley, Alan
7. Brandabur, Jack
8. Burger, Knox
9. C
10. Club Francais des Pecheurs a la Mouche
11. D
12. E
13. F
14. Field & Stream editors, etc.
15. G
16. Gaertner, Susanna
17. H
18. Heddon, Jack
19. I, J, K
20. Kelly, William H.
21. L
22. Lyons, Nick
23. M
24. Maguire, Nan
25. Marinaro, Vince
26. Martin, Darrel
27. Montana, State of
28. N, O
29. Outdoor Writers Association
30. P
31. Parks, Richard
32. Parry, Joseph
33. Pequegnot, J. P.
34. Pereira, Carlos
35. Pride, Ralph
36. Q, R
37. S
38. Schullery, Paul
39. T
40. Tapply, William G.
41. Umpqua Feather Merchants
42. W
43. Wellington, Herb
44. Zinn, David

Contents | Special Collections

Series 3: Family Papers, 1864-2000

Genealogy charts, school papers, essays, and miscellaneous documents pertaining to the early life of Datus C. Proper and the extended Proper family. The materials include: autobiographical sketches created by Proper on the request of publishers and government agencies; a baby record book kept by Proper's parents documenting his first years; early school records of Proper's education at Exeter Academy in Vermont; family letters written by Proper or relatives pertaining to school and family history; genealogy information on the Proper, Sedgwick, and Carryer familes; and documents tracing Proper's career with the United States Foreign Service. Proper's State Department records include documentation on a 1970 protest regarding the Vietnam War and the attempted retaliation by the government on employees who raised the issue. School essays written by Proper while a student at Exeter Academy and while working towards his master's degree at George Washington University are the earliest examples of his writing and pertain to both fishing and United States foriegn relations. Also included are several files on Proper's ancestors: Ida Sedgwick Proper (1876-1957), a New York artist whose career included service for the military in World War I; Datus DeWitt Proper (1844-1922), the father of Ida S. Proper and a Civil War veteran of the 19th Iowa Infantry Volunteers; Datus Edwin Proper (1896-1965), the grandson of Datus DeWitt Proper and a Texas engineer whose career included management of a San Antonio, Texas brewery. The Civil War diary and three letters of Datus DeWitt Proper are included in this series and document his service following his 1864 release from a Texas prisoner of war camp and subsequent combat operations in Mobile Bay, Alabama.

Box 4
1. Autobiographical information
2. "Babyhood Days" record book
3. Term grade reports, 1948-1952
4. Report cards, 1948-1952
5. Miscellaneous elementary and high school papers
6. Exeter Academy printed ephemera
7. Family letters, 1946-1987
8. State Department performance evaluations and correspondence
9. State Department-Vietnam protest, 1970
10. Student essays
11. Genealogy charts
12. Genealogy notes
13. Datus Edwin Proper
14. Ida Segwick Proper
15. Datus DeWitt Proper-diary, 1864-1865
16. Datus DeWitt Proper-letters, 1864-1865
17. Datus DeWitt Proper-"Pioneer and Missionary Experiences."

Contents | Special Collections

Series 4: Magazine articles, 1965-2002

Manuscript drafts, galley proofs, notes, publisher correspondence, research letters, and a partial physical bibliography of Proper's magazine publications. While composing his articles for Field & Stream and other magazines, Proper kept his work in three different ways. His first method was an arrangement by topic. For example, a folder heading such as "Pheasants," Proper would place several different compositions which bear various working titles such as "The Chase at Pheasants," "Following Pheasants," "Pointers and Pheasants," and "Runners." Along with the various drafts Proper placed handwritten notes, letters of submission to publishers, galley proofs, and occasionally tear sheets of printed articles using material from the manuscript drafts that may or may not bear any of the aforementioned titles. All of the subject labeled files bear the title Proper originally assigned to them. The next group of manuscript files were orignally unorganized and have been arranged by working title, whether or not that title was chosen for the final published version. In this group the files generally contain only the draft manuscript, but in a few exceptions publisher correspondence can be found. Obviously there is a great deal of duplication between this group and the first, but the various draft versions often bear handwritten corrections and alterations making the retention of both necessary to demonstrate the author's composition process. Finally, Proper kept a small collection of tear sheets of his various published articles that is far from complete, along with a few clippings that mentioned him as a writer and outdoorsman. A prolific writer, Proper did not maintain a comprehensive list of his publication output, making the task of reconstructing his bibliography difficult at best. The articles have been grouped in alphabetic folders representing the titles. All of the folders in this series have been alphabetically arranged, with the sequence repeated for each of the three groups.

Box 5
Manuscript Drafts by Subject
1. Airguns
2. Beepers
3. Blue Grouse
4. Brook Trout
5. Brown Trout
6. Cooking/Pheasants
7. CRPs
8. Dog Ideas
9. Doves
10. Early Stories
11. Field & Stream Surveys
12. Fishing Questionaire
13. Flops
14. Fly Design Presentation
15. Fly Tying and Flies
16. Gambel's Quail
17. Game Guns
18. Grouse
19. Hooks
20. Huck
21. Hunting Philosophy
22. Inter-Fluve, Inc.
23. Marinaro
Box 6
1. Miscellaneous Hunting and Dogs
2. Mearns Quail
3. Ortega Foreword
4. Pheasants
5. Pheasants
6. Quail in Arizona
7. Read My Nose
8. Right Brain
9. Robertson/Venison Choke Cherries
10. Rock Creek
11. Scotty's Story
12. Sharptails
13. Shorts
14. Shunning Books
15. Snipe
16. Spanish Fly
17. Splash/Stoneflies
18. Wendy Schweizer
Manuscript Drafts by Title
19. Adriano and the Rattlesnakes
20. Angloholism
21. Another Time and Place
22. Artist With a Fly Rod
23. Bailey's Secrets
24. Beavers
25. The Best of It
26. Big John
27. Big Sky Carvers
28. Brown Partridges and Blue Winged Olives
29. Catch and Release
30. Change Levels
Box 7
1. Dai-Riki Tippet Material
2. Dark Hollow
3. Deer and Pheasants in Montana
4. The Dry Fly in Portugal
5. Escaping Gravity
6. Faith in a Fly
7. Farming
8. Feeding Frenzy
9. Fishing the Geology
10. Fishing Thompson's Spring Creek
11. Fishing With The Ouzels
12. Floating Down The River
13. Happy Birthday Nymph
14. How I Trained Patch
15. Inside the Hidden Hatch
16. Introduction-Dry Fly Code
17. Leave a Kid Home Today
18. The Long Hunt
19. Lunch by the Stream
20. Managing Eden
21. The Mayfly Murders
22. Nature Shock
23. The Nature of Life
24. The News From Mount Olympus
25. Nobody Tells You To Sit Still
26. A Place of Our Own
27. The Rattlesnake Hole
28. Respect
29. Run Free, Yellowstone
30. Scoring
31. Something Old, Something New
32. Tender Venison
33. Tools for the Outdoors
34. Trout Management in the United States
35. Two Kinds of Trout Fishing
36. Up the Mountain and Into the Woods
37. Water and the West
38. Wet and Dry
39. Yellowstone Cutthroats
Box 8
Physical Bibliography (incomplete)
1. Articles "A"
2. Articles "B"
3. Articles "C"
4. Articles "D-E"
5. Articles "F"
6. Articles "G-K"
7. Articles "L-M"
8. Articles "N-P"
9. Articles "Q-R"
10. Articles "S-U"
11. Articles "T-Y"
12. Articles about Datus C. Proper

Contents | Special Collections

Series 5: Book Publication Files, 1992-2002

During his lengthy writing career, Proper published four full length books: What the Trout Said (1982; rev. ed. 1989); Pheasants of the Mind (1990; rev. ed. 1994); The Last Old Place (1992); Running Waters (2001). Each work partially combined essays he had prviously used for magazine articles along with original compositions. The materials in this series combine fragmented manuscript drafts, publisher correspondence, published book reviews, reader's letters, and miscellaneous notes pertaining to each particular title. The folders have been arranged in the same order in which Proper published his books.

Box 9
1. What the Trout Said - reviews, first edition
2. What the Trout Said - reviews, second edition
3. What the Trout Said - reviews, second edition revsions
4. What the Trout Said - reviews, leftovers
5. What the Trout Said - contracts, misc.
6. Pheasants of the Mind - reviews
7. Pheasants of the Mind - contracts, misc.
8. The Last Old Place - reviews and letters
9. The Last Old Place - Contracts, etc.
10. The Last Old Place - Excerps
11. The Last Old Place - Illustrations
Box 10
1. Running Waters - title and introduction
2. Running Waters - Part 1
3. Running Waters - Part 2
4. Running Waters - Part 3
5. Running Waters - Part 4
6. Running Waters - contract, misc.

Contents | Special Collections

Series 6: Unfinished book manuscript

Towards the end of his life, Proper began work on his most ambitious book, a look at his own unique relationship with nature and how his chosen lifestyle had been effected by the land and the elements. Titled variously as "The Home Place" or simply "Home," Proper's book was organized into twelve chapters named after the months of the year. Within each "month" Proper explored various themes such as home building in an environmentally sensitive area, hunting, fishing, and mankind's ever-changing relationship with nature. Proper intended to use many of his earlier magazine articles as a base when constructing each chapter and would often label the various drafts with the name of the month at the top. Then he would mark up the composition with instructions on where to cut certain passages, add other passages, and even consider other chapters where the composition might be better placed. During his long work on the lengthy manuscript, Proper would ask for feedback from his agent, Knox Burger, and other readers, and then place their letters of suggestions in with the drafts. As a result, there is a great deal of repetition between the contents of this series and series 5, Manuscript Articles. The arrangement of these folders begins with Proper's initial inquiries on the project and introduction, and then a month by month listing of the work he did on the individual chapters. The folders bear the original labels assigned by Proper, and no attempt was made to consolodate materials that were kept in duplicate titles in order to preserve evidential value.

Box 10 (cont.)
7. Introductory
8. January
9. January
10. February
11. March
12. March
13. March - Dogs
14. March - Streambed Repair
15. April
16. April
Box 11
1. May
2. May/June - Utopia
3. May/June - Church and State
4. June
5. June - Romanticism
6. July
7. July
8. August
9. September
10. September
11. September - Prairies
12. October
13. October
14. November
15. November - Pheasants at Home
16. December
17. December

Contents | Special Collections

Series 7: Subject Vertical Files

In the composition of his many articles and books, Proper kept an extensive vertical subject file of clippings, notes, and ephemera for research purposes. The files were organized alphabetically under broad subject headings conforming to Proper's primary interests of: Dogs; Flies-Natural and Artificial and Other Trout Foods; Fly Fishing Methods; Fly Tackle; Fly Tying; Guns and Shooting; Hunting; Other Fish and Fishing; Outdoor and Miscellaneous; Places; Resource-Streams and Lakes; Trout. Although most files contain little more than printed materials, occasionally Proper would place letters or notes he felt relevant to the folder's title. In addition to the original folders in this series, several pertaining to books and book collecting found in the Outdoor and Miscellaneous division were created during processing from materials that were loose or laid in books of Proper's extensive personal library. Processors have identified the volumes from which these various scraps were taken in order to assist researchers in placing the material in context. The present arrangement preserves the original order of these files, arranged alphabetically under the major subject divisions

Box 12
1. Field Trials, Collars
2. Scent, Confirmation and Coat, Origin and History
3. Temperment, Breeds, Care
4. Testing, Puppies
Flies-Natural and Artificial and Other Trout Foods
5. Alders, Craneflies, Black Gnats, Moths
6. Damselflies, Dragonflies
7. Insect Habitat and Behavior
8. Mayflies - Natural and Imitation
9. Midges
10. Miscellaneous Species - Sinking
11. Miscellaneous Species - Wet
12. Montana Hatches
13. Sedges
14. Stoneflies
15. Terrestrials - Ants, Beetles, Etc.
Fly Fishing Methods
16. Dry Flies - Methods
17. Fly Casting
18. Nymph Methods
19. Vince Marinaro
20. Wet Flies - Methods
Fly Tackle
21. Fly Rods
22. Fly Rods - Care and Construction
23. Fly Rods - Technical
24. Fly Tackle - Pezon et Michel
25. Fly Tackle - William Mills and Son, Inc.
26. Hooks - Design, Strength, Etc.
Box 13
1. Leaders
2. Lines
3. Reels
Fly Tying
4. Dubbing
5. Fly Behavior and Designs
6. Fly Tying - Notes
7. Hackles
8. Origin of Old Fly Designs
9. Salmon Fly Tying
10. Streamers, Fly Rod Lures
11. Trout Fly Tying - Technical
Guns and Shooting
12. Guns
13. Guns - American
14. Guns - English
15. Guns - Purchases
16. Shotguns
17. Big Game - American
18. Big Game - Foreign
19. Bird Habitat and Cover - Articles
20. Bird Habitat and Cover - Letters and Notes
21. Grouse
Box 14
1. Hunting - History, Reasons, Etc.
2. Non-Game Species
3. Partridges
4. Pheasants
5. Quail
6. Snipe, Woodcock, Rails, Doves
7. Upland Game Management
8. Virginia Hunting Maps
9. Waterfowl and Other Birds
Other Fish and Fishing
10. Angling Humor
11. Bait and Lures
12. Bass
13. Ethics
14. Fishing
15. Fishing - History
16. Fishing - Miscellaneous
17. Fishing - Philosophy
18. Rapidan TU Project
19. Yellowstone Area Fishing
Outdoor and Miscellaneous
20. Boating, Float Tubes
21. Books
22. Books - Collection
23. Books - Laid in Materials
Box 15
1. Camping and Gear
2. Flyfisher's Classic Library
3. Honey Dun Press
4. Knives, Axes, Etc.
5. Nature Misc. - Weather
6. Optics, Photography
7. Outdoor Clothing and Boots
8. Stream Access
9. Waders, Vests, Floatants, Nets, Etc.
10. Writing
11. Africa, Asia, Pacific
12. Canada
13. Europe
14. Midwest
15. Montana - Hunting and Fishing
16. Northwestern U.S.
17. Portugal
18. South America and Carribean
19. Southern U.S.
20. Washington D.C. Area
Resource - Streams and Lakes
21. Fishery Management
22. Lakes
23. Stream Chemistry
24. Stream Ecology
25. Stream Plants
26. Streams and Lakes
27. Trees and Plants
Trout and Other Salmonids
28. Color
29. Fish Vision
Box 16
1. Grayling, Whitefish, Etc.
2. Rise Forms
3. Trout Behavior, Selectivity, Etc.
4. Trout Species
5. Salmon, Steelhead, Sea Trout

Contents | Special Collections

Series 8: Memorial Service Materials, 2002-2003

Proper's many friends and colleagues were dismayed by his untimely passing and sent his widow letters of condolence as well as attending the funeral. In addition, letters from people who had never met Proper and had enjoyed his books also felt moved to write. This series documents the memorial service, obituaries, testimonials, and the letters of condolence received.

Box 16 (cont.)
6. Memorial service documents
7. Letters of condolence
•   Funeral Service [VHS]

Contents | Special Collections

Series 9: Photographs

In support of his writing career, Proper kept a selection of 35mm slides which could be used to illustrate his articles and books. A few of these images were used, but the bulk were not. The slides were kept in plastic pocket carrier sleeves which (in about half the cases) were topically labled. The balance of the slides were simply inserted with no particular discernable order. The subjects of these slides are primarily fly tying, trout stream fishing, and hunting dogs. A very small collection of childhood and adult portraits is included in this series, along with two groups of photographic prints that pertain to Proper's Portugal book and his intended book documented in series 6. Finally, one folder of images of Proper and his dogs hunting that were published in Field & Stream and other publications is included.

Box 16 (cont.)
8. Slides, topical
   The Best of It
   British Mayfly
   Dogwood Run
   Hellroaring Creek
   Humility Creek
9. Slides, topical
   Humility Creek
   Fishing for Shadows
   Jack Heddon, letter of August 3, 1988
   A Perfect Stream
   A Place of Our Own
   Portugal, Trout
   Vince Marinaro
   What The Trout Said
10. Unclassified slides
11. Unclassified slides
12. Photographs 1-11
   1. Datus C. Proper (DCP), ca. 1934-1935
   2. DCP, ca. 1934-1935
   3. DCP, 1936
   4. DCP, 1936
   5. DCP, 1936
   6. DCP, November 1935
   7. DCP, 1940
   8. DCP and friend, 1940
   9. DCP and siblings, December 2, 1942
   10. DCP 1944
   11. DCP 1945
13. Photographs 12-22
   12. DCP, 1977
   13. DCP, ca. 1990s
   14. DCP, ca. 1990s
   15. DCP and colleagues, 1998
   16. DCP and colleagues, 1998
   17-22. Portugal photographs
14. Photographs 23-31
   23-29. Home place photographs
   30-31. Vince Marinaro
Box 17 Oversize materials (maps, tracings, certificates and awards)

Contents | Special Collections

Updated: 10/26/10