Guide to the Vernon D. Speer Papers 1916-1977
Cage 468

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Speer, Vernon D.
Vernon D. Speer Papers
Cage 468
Date [inclusive]
940.0 items.
General Physical Description note
1 linear feet of shelf space.
Correspondence, photographs, documents, newspaper clippings, financial records and other papers of an inventor and businessman.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description]. Cage 468, Vernon D. Speer Papers . Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

Vernon David Speer was born on December 30, 1901, near Cedar Falls, Iowa. Remaining in Cedar Falls, Speer married in 1923 and he and his wife, Ruth, had three children--Virginia, Edna Mae, and Raymond. Speer found employment in Cedar Falls at the Standard Manufacturing Company, Viking Pump Company, and John Deere Tractor Company

Speer had gained experience in aviation mechanics while operating an aircraft repair station as a sideline during his years with John Deere. Learning to fly in 1928, he soloed in 1929 in a plane which featured a radial engine of his own design and construction. Speer patented his engine, and attempted to find a buyer who would put the engine into production. In 1934, after several years of demonstrating the engine for interested but insolvent airplane manufacturers, Speer donated the engine to a company for research purposes. In 1939, the family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where Speer headed the Mechanics' Training Department of Lincoln Aeronautical Institute.

While living in Lincoln, Speer established a factory in his home to manufacture bullets for self-loading cartridges. During the war a scarcity of bullets for hunting and other recreational purposes developed. In response to domestic gun users' demands, Speer expanded his operation, but it remained a home-centered factory. Constrained by the available space in his basement, Speer's production peaked early in 1944 at 8,000 bullets per week. Owing to Nebraska's firearms and munitions regulations, Speer was unable to expand his business as he desired. Attracted by Idaho's more liberal gun and ammunition laws, Speer moved his family to Lewiston in 1944. Following the Second World War, the interest in firearms and hunting provided the opportunity for Speer Bullets to expand; it became a formidable supplier of the world's recreation ammunition. Vernon Speer guided the company until his retirement in 1967. Thereafter, Raymond Speer assumed the corporation's presidency. Vernon Speer remained semi-active in the business, working in an advisory capacity, until Speer Bullets was sold to the Omark Company in 1975.

An avid hunter, flyer, traveler, and fisherman, Vernon Speer was also a member of service organizations such as the Elks, Rotary, and Masonic Lodge. Interested in politics, Speer served on the Lewiston Water Board for a term. He was also interested in recreational land-use planning as it affected Idaho.

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Scope and Contents note

The Vernon D. Speer papers are arranged alphabetically by subject in a single series. Material in this collection covers the years from 1916 through 1977, but bulks largest in the 1960s and 1970s. The papers include newspaper clippings (concerning the Speer family and business interests), photographs (family, friends, and business), correspondence (both personal and business, incoming and outgoing), legal documents, patents, and business materials for Speer, Inc.

The business materials include correspondence, financial records, annual financial reports, articles of incorporation, and advertisements for Speer Bullets. Because of the inter-related nature of Speer's personal and business interests, the business material includes a variety of both business and personal items. The received order of the papers reflected this interrelationship; consequently, there was no attempt to create separate personal and business series. The vast majority of items in the Speer Papers, both business and personal, reflect his interests in aviation, mining, hunting and fishing, guns and ammunition, and wilderness land-use planning.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 1982
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The Vernon D. Speer Papers were donated to the Washington State University Libraries by Raymond G. Speer in May 1979 (MS 79-21).

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Speer Omark Industries--History

Geographic Name(s)

  • Lewiston (Idaho)--Manufacturers

Personal Name(s)

  • Speer, Raymond G., donor. WaPS
  • Speer, Vernon David, 1901- --Archives


  • Ammunition
  • Business, Industry, and Labor
  • Idaho

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

A.D.I., Inc., Speer Mine 1956-1970   5

1 1

Advertising (Foreign) 1960-1961   2

1 2

Big Rams of the Cassiar 1966   20

1 3

Cartoons undated   35

1 4

Documents 1922-1966   35

1 5

Financial Records (Speer Bullets) 1963-1975   20

1 6-7

General Correspondence 1961-1977   100

1 8

Gunson Correspondence 1972-1977   50

1 9


Box Folder

Correspondence 1958-1973   35

1 10

General File 1969-1972   35

1 11

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Box Folder

Lindblad Travel, Inc. 1972-1977   30

1 12

Manuscript and Reprint Articles 1956   3

1 13

Newspaper Clippings 1916-1975   200

1 14

Pamphlets 1965-1970   25

1 15

Personal Accounts 1970-1978   50

1 16

Photographs 1916-1976   250

1 17

Speer Corporation 1967-1975   35

1 18

Voorhees Genealogy 1972   1

1 19

Wilderness Ranches 1966-1967   25

1 20