John Van Cleve Phillips (1819-1890) settled in Galena, Illinois in 1844, and there learned to prospect for lead mines. After eight years of prospecting, Phillips left Galena to study geology at Princeton University during the 1850s before accepting a job with a copper mining company in St. Louis. Phillips later acted for parties in the sale of mines, was President of the Dry Mountain Gold and Silver Mining Company, wrote scientific articles, and produced a number of maps and surveys, mainly of areas in Missouri. Phillips' geological reports were not only highly regarded by others in the field for their thoroughness and attention to detail but also considered invaluable by those who operated mines in the areas that he surveyed.
This collection contains Phillips's correspondence, personal and business papers, geological and literary works, and publications. Of particular note are Phillips's diaries, which contain personal and geological notes on Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Mexico, 1878-1885. The collection also includes Phillips's unpublished reports on mines and claims across the United States and his collection of geological atlases, surveys, maps, and charts.
The Library acquired the collection in 1957.