Charles Wallace Collins was born April 4, 1879, in Gallion, Hale County, Alabama, to Robert Wood Collins and Ann Bates (Allen) Collins. He graduated from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1899 with a B.S. in Agriculture and then spent two years reading law privately in Birmingham. He was admitted to the Alabama bar in 1901. He earned an M.A. in Archaeology from the University of Chicago in 1909 and briefly studied economics at Harvard from 1910 to 1911. He married Sue Steele Spencer in Gallion on July 12, 1933. Mrs. Collins was born August 13, 1895, to William Micajah Spencer and Bertha Gracey Steele.
Collins's professional activities included a private law practice and a number of positions in the Federal government. He directed the Economic Section of the Legislative Reference Service at the Library of Congress between 1918 and 1920, and in addition served as legal advisor to the select committees of the U.S. Senate and House from 1919 to 1920. From 1920 to 1921 he was Librarian of the Supreme Court and also Law Librarian for the U.S. Congress. He served as General Counsel for the Bureau of the Budget from 1921 to 1923, General Counsel in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency from 1923 to 1925, and Deputy Comptroller of the Currency from 1923 to 1927.
After 1927, Collins left the government to concentrate on his private law practice, his writing, and his consulting activities. He officially retired in 1947 but continued his relationship with several clients almost until his death. As an authority on banking law, Collins served as counsel to many leading American financial institutions and bank holding companies, of which the most prominent was the Bank of America. He also served as special counsel for the American Bankers Association in 1933.
Throughout his life, Collins devoted considerable time to writing. He authored books and articles on branch and rural banking, budget theory and practice, constitutional law, and states's rights. From 1920 to 1923, he served as a contributing editor to the Commercial and Financial Chronicle. His book Whither Solid South? a pro-segregation treatise published in 1947, rallied the Dixiecrat Party in the presidential election of 1948. Other significant works included "Plan for the National Budget System" (House Document No. 1006, 1918), Rural Banking Reform (1931), a pamphlet titled "The South Must Not Surrender" (1948), and The Race Integration Cases (1954).
For many years Collins's principal special interest was Harmony Hall, his home near Broad Creek in southern Prince George's County, Maryland. John Lane built the house sometime around 1723 for Mr. William Tyler. At that time, the estate was known as Battersea; the name Harmony Hall did not come into use until 1792, when brothers John and Walter Dulaney Addison lived there with their wives. The quartet had such a happy experience that they called the place Harmony Hall. The name found its way into legal records by 1850.
Charles Wallace Collins died at Harmony Hall on December 14, 1964, at the age of eighty-five. He left the house to the National Park Service, with the condition that his widow be permitted to live out her life there. It is unclear how long Sue Spencer Collins remained in Maryland after her husband's death. She died in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 28, 1983, at the age of eighty-seven.