Finding Aid for the Roy Vernon Sowers Collection, 1940-1996

Processed by Jamie Henricks.
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
University of California, Los Angeles
2520 Cimarron Street
Los Angeles, CA 90018
Phone: (323) 731-8529
Fax: (323) 731-8617
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Roy Vernon Sowers Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1940-1996
Collection number: MS.1997.006
Creator: Burford-Mason, Roger
Extent: 1 box (.25 linear feet)
Repository: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.
Los Angeles, California 90018
Abstract: This collection is the research material collected by Roger Burford-Mason for his book, Roy Vernon Sowers : a life in rare books (1997).
Physical location: Clark Library
Language of materials: Collection materials in English


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Clark Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Roy Vernon Sowers Collection, MS.1997.006, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1997.


Roy Vernon Sowers was born in Brantford, Ontario on August 7th, 1897. He spent most of his youth in the nearby town of London, Ontario, where he had a variety of odd jobs. Sowers attended the University of Toronto and graduated in 1921 before attending St. John's College at Oxford. Limited finances caused him to leave Oxford and travel to Germany before returning to Ontario.
He later moved to Pasadena, California and worked for Mrs. Willard, an antiquarian book dealer who lived in one of the area's Frank Lloyd Wright homes. Sowers eventually moved on to work at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. He later moved to San Francisco after marrying, but divorced his first wife and built a home in the mountains near Santa Cruz, California. Sowers was familiar with the owners of the Grabhorn Press and set up one of the first exhibitions about their press. He operated a rare book and fine print business out of his personal library until the late 1960s before his death in 1970.

Scope and Content

This collection is the research material collected by Roger Burford-Mason for his book Roy Vernon Sowers : a life in rare books (Toronto : Subway Books, 1997). It contains biographical material and requests for information about Sowers by Burford-Mason. The correspondence includes letters and interviews of individuals who knew Sowers, including his daughter and son.
The collection is arranged in thematic order.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Sowers, Roy Vernon, 1897-
Antiquarian booksellers--California--20th century
Antiquarian booksellers--Canada--20th century

Container List

Box 1, Folder 1

Book Club of California -- Quarterly Newsletter 1953, 1964, 1969

Box 1, Folder 2

Photocopies of Prospectuses

Scope and Content Note

Includes covers of catalogs, a short biography of Sowers, and invitations to various events held by Sowers.
Box 1, Folder 3

Typed Memoir of Roy Vernon Sowers early 1940s

Box 1, Folder 4

Photocopy of "An Excerpt from the Book Catalogues of Roy Vernon Sowers" 1980

Box 1, Folder 5

Correspondence 1996

Scope and Content Note

Includes a letter and memoir by Sowers' daughter, Lucia Frances Bridge Sowers Hyde, and other correspondence sent to Burford-Mason including a typed interview of Anthony Sowers (a son of Sowers).
Box 1, Folder 6

Biographical material about Sowers

Scope and Content Note

Includes photocopies of material from multiple sources.
Box 1, Folder 7

Correspondence 1996


Includes letters asking about Sowers' mentors and place of death.
Box 1, Folder 8

Copy of Sowers collection finding aid from Stanford University ca. 1996

Box 1, Folder 9

Letter and two pamphlets 1996

Scope and Content Note

Includes a letter from Glen Dawson to Bruce Whiteman about Sowers. Also includes a brochure from the Huntington Library and a publications list from Dawson's Book Shop from 1905 to 1972.
Box 1, Folder 10

Sowers List 1972

Box 1, Folder 11

OCLC Printouts

Scope and Content Note

Includes a list of books about the Huntington Library and the Pasadena area.
Box 1, Folder 12

Correspondence 1996

Scope and Content Note

Includes letters to and from Burford-Mason inquiring about holdings at various libraries for books and information about Sowers, his wife, and other people related to Sowers.
Box 1, Folder 13

Correspondence and photocopies of catalogs ca. 1996

Scope and Content Note

Includes photocopies of catalogs of Sowers' books, and correspondence from Burford-Mason to and from individuals inquiring for information about Sowers.