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Russell Roth Papers

Identifier: Mss064

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains many of Roth’s writings, both published (e.g. Muddy Glory, Modern Medicine articles, Ski-U-Mah) and unpublished. There is also a large correspondence, containing both business and personal letters, with many letters from Frederick Manfred and Dan Brennan as well as a large amount of letters from Roth to his wife during WWII. There are also folders of lyrics and sheet music from the musical Roth co-wrote in the 50’s and there is material from Roth’s participation in “Veteran’s for Peace” (against the Vietnam War.) The library contains primarily published works of Roth and Frederick Manfred, research materials about Faulkner, the Philippines, jazz, etc. and books related to Roth’s time spent in the Pacific during WWII.


  • 1900-1994
  • Majority of material found within (Bulk 1941-1994)


Language of Materials


Restrictions on Access

Personal papers and diaries are restricted until the year 2008. In addition, there are other documents upon which other time limits have been placed. Please consult archives for further information.

Restrictions on Use

Permission is required to publish from the materials.

Biographical Note

Russell Frederick Roth was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1921. He later moved to Minneapolis with his parents. Roth attended the University of Minnesota and as a student he wrote for both the Minnesota Daily and Ski-U-Mah, a student-produced humor magazine. After earning his bachelor’s degree in journalism and his marriage to Virginia Budde, he entered an Army training program to become an engineer. After his completion of the program, he was sent to Southeast Asia. His time spent there, mostly in the Philippines, led to his membership in the military’s Order of the Carabao and sparked a lifelong interest that eventually led to a book and many articles.

After returning from Japan in 1946, he earned his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota and taught there for four years. Between 1952 and 1954, Roth worked for the Minneapolis Tribune both as writer and editor. He then worked for 3M, where he wrote advertisements and press releases for newly-developed items such as Scotchguard and videotape. Roth worked for Campbell-Mithun, a Minneapolis advertising agency, during the 1960’s. Two of their major clients, the Hong Kong Tourist Association and Singapore’s Tourist Promotion Board sponsored a trip Roth took there in 1965.

Roth became very active in “Veterans for Peace” in opposition to the Vietnam War. From 1967 to 1978, Roth wrote for the magazine, Modern Medicine. He won several awards, including the Jesse H. Neal Editorial Achievement Award in 1974, for an article he co-wrote on the shameful treatment and medical neglect the Vietnam Vets were receiving from the Veteran’s Administration. Throughout his life, Roth was also a freelance writer. He co-wrote a [never-performed] musical, “Easy Water” with Keith D. Kennedy. He studied and wrote a great deal about Ambrose Bierce and William Faulkner and was widely regarded as an expert on them. After in-depth research, his book on the Spanish-American War in Philippines, Muddy Glory, was published in 1981. From Roth’s research came an undertaking to have one of the few still-living soldiers from that war, Herman Miller, granted the Medal of Honor he had been refused many years before. [Through Roth’s work, the medal was eventually granted posthumously.]

Roth was befriended and corresponded with other known writers through his life such as Frederick Manfred, Dan Brennan and Sinclair Lewis. Roth was also friends with Doc Evans and other jazz musicians and was a lifelong jazz fan, drummer and critic.


32 boxes (16.5 linear feet)


Collection includes correspondence, jazz recordings, lyrics and sheet music for “Easy Water”, a small library of research, and Roth’s writings, both published and unpublished.

Organization of the Collection

The collection is organized into the following series:

  1. Correspondence
  2. Personal
  3. Music
  4. Research
  5. Original Writings
  6. Scripts
  7. Publications
  8. Library

Physical Location

AV (R2, D7, S5); Mezz (R79, D5, S5-7)


Gift of Russell and Virginia Roth, 1990.

Processing Information

The collection was processed and the finding aid written by Kjerstin Bell, 2004.

Russell Roth Papers
Leslie Czechowski and Kjerstin Bell
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Upper Midwest Literary Archives Collecting Area