Coolidge, Dane (1873–1940)

By: Carolyn Hyman

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 11, 2019

Dane Coolidge, naturalist and writer of western novels, the son of Francis and Sophia (Whittemore) Coolidge, was born in Natick, Massachusetts, on March 24, 1873. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1877, and Coolidge subsequently grew up on his father's orange farm at Riverside, California. He received his B.A. from Stanford University in 1898 and studied at Harvard University in 1898–99. During the summers Coolidge collected animals for Stanford University, the British Museum, the United States Biological Survey, the United States National Zoological Park, and the New York Zoological Park. In 1900 he worked as a field collector for the United States Natural History Museum.

After returning to the United States Coolidge became a western wildlife photographer specializing in desert animals. He also spent a good deal of time in mining towns, on Indian reservations, on round-ups, and with Texas Rangers on the Rio Grande, collecting material for stories. He wrote some forty novels of Western life and was considered an expert on Indian and cowboy lore. His novels with a Southwest or Texas setting include The Texican (1911), The Law West of the Pecos (1924), Lorenzo the Magnificent: The Riders from Texas (1925), Jess Roundtree, Texas Ranger (1933), and Ranger Two-Rifles (1937). Coolidge also contributed about a hundred short stories to such magazines as Harper's Weekly, Leslie's Weekly, Red Book, and Sunset. His nonfiction works, many illustrated with his own photographs, included Fighting Men of the West (1932), Texas Cowboys (1937), Death Valley Prospectors (1937), Arizona Cowboys (1938), Old California Cowboys (1939), The Navajo Indian (1930), Navajo Rugs (1933), and The Last of the Seris (1939), the last three written with his wife.

Coolidge married Mary Elizabeth Burroughs (Roberts) Smith, a sociologist, on July 30, 1906, in Berkeley, California. He served for thirty-five years as director of the San Francisco Boys' Club. He was a Unitarian and belonged to the American Society of Mammalogists, the Authors League of America, and the California Writers Club. Coolidge died in Berkeley on August 8, 1940. His wife survived him.

American West, November-December 1977. Dane Coolidge Collection, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Dane Coolidge Pictorial Collection, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 35. Jon Tuska and Vicki Piekarski, eds., Encyclopedia of Frontier and Western Fiction (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983). Twentieth-Century Western Writers (Detroit: Gale Research, 1982; 2d ed., Chicago: St. James Press, 1991). Who Was Who among North American Authors, 1921–1939 (2 vols., Detroit: Gale Research, 1976). Who's Who in America, 1933–34.

  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Dramatists and Novelists
  • Fiction

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Carolyn Hyman, “Coolidge, Dane,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 11, 2019