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MS Thr 586

Wild west show collection, 1876-1932: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Harvard Depository
Call No.: MS Thr 586
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Title: Wild west show collection,
Date(s): 1876-1932.
Quantity: 1 collection (.25 linear feet (1 box)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English and German.
Abstract: Playbills and programs for American wild west shows.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

No accession number. Source unknown.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.
This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Wild West Show Collection, 1876-1932 (MS Thr 586). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

Wild west shows were traveling vaudeville performances in the United States and Europe. These shows introduced a romanticized version of the American Old West to a wide audience.
Buffalo Bill's Wild West show was formed in 1883 and lasted until about 1913. Pawnee Bill's Wild West show was assembled by G.W. Lillie (Pawnee Bill) in 1888. In 1889 it was reorganized as Pawnee Bill's Historical Wild West, Indian Museum and Encampment. The show travelled throughout the United States and Europe and in 1906 reorganized as Pawnee Bill's Great Far East show. In 1908 Lillie bought interest in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and in 1909 combined to become Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Great Far East. It went bankrupt in 1913. The Miller Brothers and Arlington 101 Ranch Wild West show had a variety of names, ran from 1908 to about 1930.


Arranged into the following four series:

Scope and Contents

Includes programs, playbills, a few newspapers, and clippings for American wild west shows. Includes one program in German. Companies include: Buffalo Bill s Wild West Show, Miller Bros. & Arlington 101 Ranch Real Wild West (Organization), Pawnee Bill's Historic Wild West Show, and others.


This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Container List