There are two Special Collections exhibits currently in the Library: author Ruth Gipson Plowhead, and of her brother James Gipson, who founded Caxton Printers and published all of Plowhead’s books.
Ruth Gipson Plowhead entertained readers for more than three decades with her children’s stories about life in the Western United States. Born in 1877 in Greeley, Colorado, Plowhead moved with her family to Caldwell, Idaho, when she was 15, where she lived for the rest of her life. Although she began writing stories at a young age, Plowhead’s first book wasn’t published until she was 53. Besides writing eight books, her stories also appeared in children’s magazines and journals, including Child’s Life and Junior Home.
Plowhead’s first book, Lucretia Ann on the Oregon Trail (1931), garnered much attention and numerous favorable reviews. The book, in fact, is still available in print. Its popularity led Plowhead to write two more books featuring Lucretia Ann. Plowhead’s later books drew on her own experiences as a child as well as the lives of her own children. (Plowhead and her husband, Edward, had two daughters, Ruth and Eleanor, pictured above.) Caxton Printers published all of her books. Located in Caldwell, Caxton was founded and run by Plowhead’s brother, James H. Gipson. In addition to writing fiction, Plowhead cared much about her family and wrote a genealogical history of the Gipson family. At her passing in 1968 at the age of 90, Plowhead left behind several unpublished stories as well as an unpublished manuscript of her memoirs, On Silver Heels: A Memory Book of Pioneering in the Far West, which is available in the archival papers of her brother, Lawrence Henry Gipson, housed at Lehigh University.
The materials in this exhibit come primarily from the Ruth Gipson Plowhead Papers (MSS 237) in Boise State’s Special Collections and Archives. Special thanks to the public libraries of Caldwell and Nampa for loaning three of the books used in this exhibit. The Ruth Gipson Plowhead exhibit will be on display until March 21.
Archivist/Librarian & Assistant Professor