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Fay Ward Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RC2010-010

Scope and Contents

The Papers contain letters, photographs, publications concerning Ward, rodeo programs and result records, and original drafts of Ward’s articles and unpublished books. The 75 letters in the Papers are generally responses to Ward inquiring about rodeo results. The majority is from his friends and acquaintances from the rodeo world, but there are also replies from different historical and rodeo societies. The rodeo result records are from competitions all around the country and are in spiral notebooks.

The writings and research materials series contains the original drafts of Ward’s articles and unpublished books. It is organized by alphabetical order. Included in the “Rodeo and How” subseries are supplements to each chapter of the manuscript. These supplements are the original drawings by Ward and photographs he wanted included in the final publishing. Some of the photographers images used are Louise L. Serpa, Ben Allen, Frank Milne, and Foxies Rodeo Photography.


  • Creation: undated


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. It is advisable for researchers to discuss their proposed research with staff prior to visiting the Center.

Conditions Governing Use

The Fay Ward Papers is the property of the Donald C. & Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Literary right, including copyright, belongs to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, with the exception of copyrighted artwork images and published literary works, which are the property of the respective copyright holders. It is the responsibility of the researcher, and his/her publisher, to obtain publishing permission from individuals pictured, relevant copyright holders, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Biographical / Historical

Fay Ward was born on October 8, 1887, in Ackley, Iowa. He grew up in foster homes, but at a young age he left the state system to live the cowboy life. He worked as a bronc-breaker, rodeo contestant, and cowboy clothing tailor for years. After reading 1920s western stories in pulp magazines, Ward tried his hand at writing and illustrating. He discovered a passion and talent that would become the focus of the rest of his life. In 1927 he attended the Chicago Art Institute to improve his illustrating skills, and quickly began work on many different articles about western life. Eventually Ward decided to write a book about how to live like a cowboy and The Cowboy at Work was born. He went on to write several other manuscripts for how-to books. These manuscripts include a guide to rodeo events called “Rodeo and How,” and an anthology titled “Cowboy Verse and Song.” Ward also worked toward creating an index of rodeo event results called “Rodeo, Roundup, and Stampede Fact Finder.” In 1975 he was honored as the man of the year by the Museum and three years later the Museum recognized him for his expertise on rodeo history. Fay Ward died from illness on August 12, 1979, in Prescott, Arizona.


1.67 Linear Feet (4 document boxes)

Language of Materials



The Fay Ward Papers contain letters, photographs, publications, rodeo ephemera, and original drafts of Ward's manuscripts and articles, along with associated research materials.

Processing Information

The Fay Ward Papers were found in collections in 2010. They were organized and described in 2012 by the processing archivist.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
  • Cowboy at Work
  • The Cowboy at Work: All About His Job and How He Does It

Repository Details

Part of the NCWHM Special Collections at Dickinson Research Center Repository

1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City Oklahoma 73111 United States