John Rao Jr. Western Entertainers Collection
Scope and Contents
Gene Autry sound recording discs, movie/publicity photographs, book covers, and clippings, ca. 1940s-1970s comprise the bulk of the materials within this collection. Rare sound recording discs from Gene Autry’s earliest recordings and a multitude of publicity photographs underscore this collection’s significance. The collection also includes sound recording discs of Smiley Burnette, Jimmie Rodgers, Eddie Dean, and Tex Ritter dating from 1927 through the 1970s. Reproduced publicity photographs of cowboy movie stars Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, Allan “Rocky” Lane, Fuzzy Knight (John Forest Knight), and Smiley Burnette cover their careers between the 1930s-1950s. The collection is organized into seven series.
- 1900 - 1972
- Rao, John, Jr. (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
The John Rao Jr. Western Entertainers Collection has no restrictions and is available for research. If you are interested in researching the materials, please contact the Dickinson Research Center to make an appointment.
Conditions Governing Use
The John Rao Jr. Western Entertainers Collection is the property of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Materials, even if owned by the NCWHM, may be protected under third party copyright. It is the patron’s responsibility to research and secure any such additional copyright and pay any required fees or royalties. It is not the intention of the NCWHM to impede upon any third party rights, and the NCWHM cannot be held responsible if the patron is involved in legal action due to violation of third party copyright claims.
Biographical / Historical
John Rao Jr. collected singing cowboy sound recordings and memorabilia, particularly items related to Gene Autry.
8.20 Linear Feet (4 document boxes, 6 sound recording boxes, 2 flat boxes, 4 oversized folders)
Language of Materials
Gene Autry sound recording discs, movie/publicity photographs, book covers, and clippings, ca. 1940s-ca. 1970s, compose the majority of holdings within the John Rao Jr. collection. Rare sound recording discs from Gene Autry’s earliest recordings and a multitude of publicity photographs underscore the collection’s significance. The collection also includes sound recording discs of Smiley Burnette, Jimmie Rodgers, Eddie Dean, and Tex Ritter dating from 1927 through the 1970’s. A collection of ca. 1930s-ca. 1950s reproduced publicity stills of cowboy movie stars Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, Allan “Rocky” Lane, Fuzzy Knight, and Smiley Burnette completes the stills photograph collection.
Series 1: Book Covers (ca. 1940s-1950s)
This series includes forty-six Gene Autry comic and book covers and three Smiley Burnette comic book covers.
Series 2: Clippings (ca. 1950s-1972) These clippings document the careers of Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, and John Wayne through a variety of newspaper and magazine clippings.
Series 3: Photographs (ca. 1930s-ca. 1970s) This series contains movie stills and publicity photographs of Gene Autry. Other photographs include those of Rex Allen, Smiley Burnette, Eddie Dean, Hoot Gibson, Tom Mix, Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers, and John Wayne.
Series 4: Posters (ca. 1970s) This series contains reproduced black and white images on poster sized paper of Hopalong Cassiday (William Boyd), Hoot Gibson, Tom Mix, and Tex Ritter.
Series 5: Sound Recording Discs (1927-ca. 1970s) This series includes 146 78 rpm and 4 45 rpm records by Gene Autry. Also included are 10 Smiley Burnette, 5 Eddie Dean, 22 Jimmie Rodgers and 12 Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys recordings. Included in the series are rare original recordings of Gene Autry. “My Alabama Home” on Velvet Tone, and “High Steppin’ Mama,” and “Wildcat Mama Blues,” on Oriole Records. The Conqueror disc #8157, “A Cowboy’s Best Friend” recorded by George Gobel, lists Johnny Dobbs, a pseudonym used by Gene Autry, as the accompanying guitarist. Also notable within the collection are recordings with his original singing partner, Jimmy Long: Conqueror disc # 7910, “Under the Apple Tree and My Old Pal of Yesterday.” In searching for any sound discs of Gene Autry, be aware of the many pseudonyms used: Johnny Dodds, Gene Johnson, Jimmie Smith, Sam Hill, Clayton and Green, Long Brothers, Overton Hatfield, and Tom Long. At least one orf each pseudonym is represented in this collection.
Series 6: Sound Recording Disc Sleeves (1927-ca. 1970s) This series contains the original record sleeves of the records in the Sound Recording Discs series.
Series 7: Sheet Music and Songbooks (1900-1952) This features sheet music and songbooks including Home on the Range, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Your Cheatin’ Heart, and Cowboy Sue.
Accession Information: The collection was accepted in 1982 and stored until formal accessioning in 2001. Catalog numbers were assigned at the time of acceptance and used in the formal accessioning completed by Pam Bell in December of 2001.
Processing Information: The John Rao Jr. Western Entertainers Collection was accepted in 1982 and assigned catalog numbers on acceptance. Series 1: Book Covers, Series 2: Clippings, Series 4: Posters, and Series 6: Sound Recording Disc Sleeves do not contain catalog numbers. Series 3: Photographs, Series 4: Sheet Music, and Series 5: Sound Recording Discs contain individual catalog numbers. Series 3 and Series 5 items missing catalog numbers were assigned at the time of processing.
Series 3: Photographs are divided into artist sub-series, and further organized by movies, publicity and personal sub-series. Series 5: Sound Recording Discs are organized into sub-series by rpm, artist and catalog number.
The container list for Series 5 notates each disc’s catalog number, publisher, publisher number, and artist. The 33 1/3 rpm sub-series container list also contains the titles of all songs recorded on the disc with duration time, if provided by the publisher.
All 45 and 78 rpm record discs sleeves are stored separately from the disc in boxes 3 and 4. The 33 1/3 rpm sound recording discs sleeves are stored inside the record disc cover which if found in the same container box as the disc.
- ARA Records
- Actors -- United States Subject Source: Local sources
- Allen, Rex, 1920-1999
- Autry, Gene, 1907-1998
- Autry, Ina
- Bluebird Records
- Boyd, William, 1895-1972
- Bullet Records (1946-1952) (Nashville, Tennessee)
- Burnette, Smiley (Lester Allen), 1911-1967
- Capitol Records, Inc.
- Cass County Boys
- Columbia Pictures Corporation
- Columbia Records, Inc.
- Conqueror Records (1928-1942)
- Country Music History (Record company)
- Country musicians -- United States Subject Source: Local sources
- Dean, Eddie
- Encore (Record company)
- GRT Records
- Gibson, Hoot (Edmund Richard Gibson), 1892-1962
- Gobel, George
- Gold Seal (Record company)
- Golden Age Records
- Knight, Fuzzy, 1901-1976
- Long, Jimmy
- MCA Inc.
- Majestic Records
- Melotone Records (1930-1938)
- Mix, Tom, 1880-1940
- Music -- Country Subject Source: Local sources
- Okeh Records
- Oriole Records (1921-1937)
- Perfect Records (1922-1938)
- Pickwick Records
- Popular music -- United States Subject Source: Local sources
- Popular songs -- United States Subject Source: Local sources
- Radio Corporation of America. RCA Victor Division
- Regal Records
- Republic Pictures Corporation
- Ritter, Tex, 1905-1974 (Woodward Maurice Ritter)
- Rodgers, Jimmie, 1897-1933
- Rogers, Roy, 1911-1998
- Romeo Records (1926-1938)
- Royal Records
- Sage & Sand Records
- Shore, Dinah, 1917-1994
- Singers -- United States Subject Source: Local sources
- Starday Records (1952-1968)
- Starr Piano Company. Gennett Record Division
- Supertone Records
- The Frontiersmen (Musical group)
- The Pinafores (Musical group)
- The Radiola Company
- The Sunshine Girls (Musical group)
- The Texas Playboys
- United Artists Corporation
- Velvet Tone Records (1925-1932)
- Vocalion Records
- Wayne, John, 1907-1979
- Wills, Bob, 1905-1975
- Zonopone Company (1899-1903)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the NCWHM Special Collections at Dickinson Research Center Repository
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City Oklahoma 73111 United States