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Brooks Bowman Papers


This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University. Library. Dept. of Rare Books and Special CollectionsSeeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library.Princeton University Archives.65 Olden StreetPrinceton, New Jersey 08540 USA. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

Princeton University. Library. Dept. of Rare Books and Special CollectionsSeeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library.Princeton University Archives.65 Olden StreetPrinceton, New Jersey 08540 USA
Creator - cre:
Bowman, Brooks, 1913-1937.
Brooks Bowman Papers
Date [inclusive]:
Call Number:
4.91 linear feet (11 boxes)
Brooks Bowman '36 is best remembered as the composer of the songs "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and "Love and a Dime." The Brooks Bowman Papers consist of correspondence and photographs that document his school years and his foray into the music industry. The bulk of the papers consist of Bowman's correspondence with his mother, sister, and numerous friends.
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Brooks Bowman '36 is best remembered as the composer of the songs "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and "Love and a Dime." Bowman was born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 21, 1913 to George H. and Mary Augusta Brooks Bowman. He attended the University School in Cleveland, Ohio, then the Asheville School in Asheville, North Carolina for his first three years of high school. Bowman then returned to the University School to finish high school. At the University School he participated in football, drama, and the Glee Club.

Bowman entered Stanford University in 1932, choosing to attend school in California primarily for health reasons, having dealt with a severe form of diabetes from childhood. He transferred to Princeton in the fall of 1933 as a member of the sophomore class. A philosophy major, he was a member of the Tiger magazine editorial board, Glee Club, Theater Intime, and Triangle Club. During his senior year, he was vice-president of his class, president of Tower Club, and vice-president of Triangle.

It was in the Triangle Club that Bowman truly made his mark at Princeton and earned his reputation as "Princeton's Cole Porter." Bowman wrote the music for Stags at Bay, notably the songs "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and "Love and a Dime." In a letter to Bowman, former Triangle Club member F. Scott Fitzgerald '17 called Stags at Bay "the best in ten years" and thought Bowman's work "both as actor and composer the brightest spot in it." Both "Love and a Dime" and "East of the Sun" were hits beyond Princeton, but it was the latter song that made its way into the American songbook, especially after 1940, when Tommy Dorsey recorded the song with Frank Sinatra on vocals. Bowman's best-known work has been recorded countless times, with versions by artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Billie Holliday, and Stan Getz.

After graduating from Princeton in 1936, Bowman lit out for Hollywood, and in June 1937 signed a contract with David O. Selznick and Selznick International Pictures as a composer and songwriter. In September, Bowman was released from the contract. Though his tenure with the motion picture industry was brief and relatively unfruitful, while in Hollywood Bowman did manage to collaborate with Hoagy Carmichael on lyrics for a song entitled "You and Romance and Me." In 1937 he reunited with a Triangle Club friend, Bill Borden '37, and the pair returned east as a songwriting team--Bowman as lyricist and Borden on piano. Bowman also had plans to enter Yale Law School. Based in part on the success and popularity of "East of the Sun" a New York City publisher offered the two a contract. Tragically, the weekend before Brooks Bowman was to sign the contract, he was killed in a car accident near Poughkeepsie, New York, returning from the Yale-Army game.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Princeton University Library. Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.,  2007

Revision Description

Run through PULFA 2.0 normalization routines. 2012-05-02T15:41:01.886-04:00

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[Digital Version]

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)
  • Asheville School (Asheville, N.C.)
  • Princeton University.
  • Princeton University. Triangle Club.
  • Stanford University.
  • University School (Hunting Valley, Ohio) -- History.
  • Correspondence.
  • Photographs.
Personal Name(s)
  • Bowman, Brooks, 1913-1937.
  • Princeton University

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: Correspondence, 1923-1971. 3.75 linear feet (9 boxes).

Scope and Contents

The Correspondence series primarily documents Bowman's childhood and young adulthood, from his stay as a boy at a sanitarium in Kansas City for diabetes treatment through his years at Stanford and Princeton. Correspondence between Bowman and his mother, Mary Augusta Brooks Bowman, is particularly rich in part because they wrote each other almost daily and in great detail. Bowman's letters to his mother from Stanford and Princeton, in particular, are lively and quick-witted and reveal his myriad social activities, impressions of college life, and opinions on subjects of all sorts, from family matters to politics to popular films and actors. Correspondence with his father, sister, and brother can be equally revealing but does not match the sheer volume of correspondence between mother and son. Letters from Bowman's friends are also worth noting for their vivid evocations of private school and college life in the 1920s and 1930s. Bowman corresponded with several young women, including a cousin, Edith Brooks, who was traveling in the car with Bowman at the time he was killed. The young women's letters, in particular, contain a vivaciousness and convey their own and Bowman's very active social lives. Bowman also maintained a correspondence over many years with a member of the crew he met on a Cunard Lines voyage he took as a boy with his family. The crew member sent Bowman many letters and postcards from his voyages around the world.

Of particular interest with regard to Bowman's musical career are his letters from Princeton between 1933 and 1936. In between reports on football games and weekend trips, Brooks discussed matters such as Triangle Club work, royalty agreements, and musicians of the day, including Guy Lombardo, who performed his songs "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and "Love and a Dime," as well as his hopes and plans for Hollywood and New York songwriting contracts.

The series includes a letter, from March 1937, in which Brooks details his experiences in Hollywood in his typically spirited manner. The series also contains copies of letters from F. Scott Fitzgerald '17, who wrote to Bowman praising his work on Stags at Bay, and from Cole Porter, who penned a letter of introduction for Bowman to New York theatrical producer Dwight Deere Wiman. This material was collected by Fred Fox and is maintained, along with correspondence between Fox, Bowman's sister Mary, and some of Bowman's Triangle Club colleagues and classmates, in a folder at the end of this series. A copy of the original manuscript of "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and a copy of "You and Romance and Me," a song Bowman wrote with Hoagy Carmichael, are also located in this folder.


Arranged by correspondent and then chronologically.

Brooks Bowman to Mary Augusta Brooks Bowman, 1926 July-1936 May. 2 boxes.

1926 July, 1926 July. 1 folder.

1926 August, 1926 August. 1 folder.

1926 September-December, 1926 September-December. 1 folder.

1927 September-1928 January, 1927 September-1928 January. 1 folder.

1928 February-December, 1928 February-December. 1 folder.

1929 January-November, 1929 January-November. 1 folder.

1929 December, 1929 December. 1 folder.

1930 January-1931 August, 1930 January-1931 August. 1 folder.

1932 January-December, 1932 January-December. 1 folder.

1933 January-October, 1933 January-October. 1 folder.

1934 January-December, 1934 January-December. 1 folder.

1935 January-June, 1935 January-June. 1 folder.

1935 September-December, 1935 September-December. 1 folder.

1936 January-May, 1936 January-May. 1 folder.

Mary Augusta Brooks Bowman to Brooks Bowman, 1923 December-1937 February. 4 boxes (1 partial).

1923 December-1926 August, 1923 December-1926 August. 1 folder.

1926 September-October, 1926 September-October. 1 folder.

1927 February-October, 1927 February-October. 1 folder.

1927 November-December, 1927 November-December. 1 folder.

1928 January-March, 1928 January-March. 1 folder.

1928 April-September, 1928 April-September. 1 folder.

1928 November-December, 1928 November-December. 1 folder.

1929 January-May, 1929 January-May. 1 folder.

1929 June-October, 1929 June-October. 1 folder.

1929 November-1930 February, 1929 November-1930 February. 1 folder.

1930 March-August, 1930 March-August. 1 folder.

1931 March-August, 1931 March-August. 1 folder.

1932 February-October, 1932 February-October. 1 folder.

1932 November-December, 1932 November-December. 1 folder.

1933 January-April, 1933 January-April. 1 folder.

1933 May-October, 1933 May-October. 1 folder.

1933 November-December, 1933 November-December. 1 folder.

1934 January-May, 1934 January-May. 1 folder.

1934 June-December, 1934 June-December. 1 folder.

1935 January-May, 1935 January-May. 1 folder.

1935 June-December, 1935 June-December. 1 folder.

1936 January-June, 1936 January-June. 1 folder.

1936 August-December, 1936 August-December. 1 folder.

1937 January-February, 1937 January-February. 1 folder.

Brooks Bowman to George H. Bowman, 1922 October-1934 January. 1 folder.

George H. Bowman to Brooks Bowman, 1923 March-1935 January. 1 folder.

Brooks Bowman to Mary Bowman, 1926 August, 1928 September, 1926. 1 folder.

Mary Bowman to Brooks Bowman, 1924 March-1934 June. 3 folders.

1924 March-1929 December, 1924 March-1929 December. 1 folder.

1930 February-1933 August, 1930 February-1933 August. 1 folder.

1933 September-1934 June, 1933 September-1934 June. 1 folder.

George H. Bowman, Jr. to Brooks Bowman, 1922 July-1933 October. 2 folders.

1922 July-1929 October, 1922 July-1929 October. 1 folder.

1930 March-1933 October, 1930 March-1933 October. 1 folder.

Edith Brooks to Brooks Bowman, 1936 July-1937 March. 2 folders.

1936 July-December, 1936 July-December. 1 folder.

1937 January-March, 1937 January-March. 1 folder.

Judith Brooks to Brooks Bowman, 1926 September-1930 March. 1 folder.

Brooks Bowman-Miscellaneous Family Correspondence, 1932 December, 1935 May, 1932. 1 folder.

Mary Augusta Brooks Bowman-Miscellaneous Family Correspondence, 1929 December-1936 April. 1 folder.

Charles Brooks to George and Mary Augusta Brooks Bowman, 1926 August-1933 January. 1 folder.

Letters from Friends to Brooks Bowman, 1923 September-1935 May. 3 boxes (2 partial).

Marianne Beaumont, 1927 October-1928 October. 1 folder.

Marion Cope, 1929 October-1930 March. 1 folder.

Eddie Davens, 1930 May-1932 April. 1 folder.

George Fisher, 1929 June-November. 1 folder.

Nancy Hine, 1931 June-1935 May. portions of 2 boxes.

1931 June-August, 1931 June-August. 1 folder.

1932 January-1932 June, 1932 January-1932 June. 1 folder.

1932 July-1933 April, 1932 July-1933 April. 1 folder.

1933 May-1935 May, 1933 May-1935 May. 1 folder.

Babe Stamue(?), 1928 July-1929 October. 1 folder.

Genevieve Teachout, 1928 January-1932 August. 1 folder.

Betty Turney, 1933 February-May. 1 folder.

Fanny Wintner(?), 1928 October-1932 April. 1 folder.

Richard Worthington, 1929. 1 folder.

Herbert Cooper, 1923 September-1933 March. 5 folders.

1923 September-1925 October, 1923 September-1925 October. 1 folder.

1926 February-October, 1926 February-October. 1 folder.

1927 January-1928 December, 1927 January-1928 December. 1 folder.

1929 April-1930 December, 1929 April-1930 December. 1 folder.

1931 March-1933 March, 1931 March-1933 March. 1 box.

Frederic Fox '39 and Others Correspondence, Etc, 1934-1971. 1 folder.

Series 2: Photographs, 1914-1934. 1.16 linear feet (2 boxes).

Scope and Contents

The Photographs series contains a small number of photographs of Bowman family members and friends, many of which are not labeled or dated. The series also contains over one hundred negatives, also of Bowman family and friends. The negatives have been maintained in the order in which they were housed in their original envelopes. Most are unidentified and undated, but some envelopes contained notations as to place or date and these notations have been transferred to the appropriate groups of negatives. Several of the negatives have been made into photographs, which have been placed with the photographs in this series.


Arranged by location and/or date where possible.

1914-1934, , Undated, 1914-1934,. 1 folder.

Negatives, 1929-1930. 1 box.

Series 2: Photographs, undated. 1 item.