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Finding Aid to the Western Television Programs Script Collection MSA.35
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Use
  • Custodial history
  • Preferred citation
  • Acquisition
  • Historical note
  • Scope and contents
  • Processing history
  • Arrangement
  • Related Archival Materials note

  • Title: Western Television Programs Script Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MSA.35
    Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Autry Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 35.75 Linear feet (26 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1950-1982
    Abstract: Western television programming features stories of the American West, usually occurring during the historical period of westward expansion, from 1865-1900, and typically set in the western United States or northern Mexico. Popular series in this genre include Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Rawhide. This collection of 996 Western television program scripts ranges from 1950-1982 and includes final scripts, drafts, notes, and documents from Western television series, mini-series, television movies, and other programming.


    Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit http://theautry.org/research/research-rules-and-application or contact library staff at rroom@theautry.org. An item-level inventory is available from library staff.


    Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Custodial history

    Walter Reuben acquired part of the collection from Douglas Hart in the 1980s and 1990s. Reuben collected the remainder of the collection from various sources, often the editor or cutter of a specific series. The Autry purchased the entire collection from Walter Reuben in 1999.

    Preferred citation

    Western Television Programs Script Collection, 1950-1982, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MSA.35; [folder number] [folder title][date].


    Purchase from Walter Reuben, 1999 July.

    Historical note

    Western is a genre of entertainment that features the American West, typically during the historical period of westward expansion, from 1865-1900. Time periods for these stories can occur during Mexican or American rule of the western United States, and geographical settings are usually in the United States or sometimes in Northern Mexico.
    Western television programs were preceded by Western radio plays and movies, which were popular in the United States in the 1940s, especially with children. As televisions became a staple of American households, Western television programs continued to be successful among young audiences. In the 1950s, programs like Gunsmoke started to change the typical Western format by introducing more complex and sophisticated storylines and themes which had crossover appeal into the primetime market. Western television programs were most popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and included The Big Valley, Bonanza, Cheyenne, The Gene Autry Show, Gunsmoke, Have Gun, Will Travel, The High Chaparral , Laramie, The Lone Ranger, Maverick, Rawhide, The Rifleman, Sugarfoot, The Virginian, Wagon Train, and Wanted: Dead or Alive.

    Scope and contents

    This collection of scripts from Western television programs are from individual episodes of series, mini-series, pilots, and specials from 1950-1982 and have been annotated by their original owners, who were actors, composers, editors, prop masters, and other production staff. Folders include script drafts, notes, rewrites, and final versions. One press kit for the mini-series Centennial is included. Some scripts include name and department ownership information for that particular copy, hand-written notes, and laid-in production documents such as rehearsal schedules, shooting schedules, and budgets.

    Processing history

    Processing and finding aid completed by Holly Rose Larson, NHPRC Project Archivist, 2012 April 12, made possible through grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).


    • Series 1: Scripts, Western television series, 1950-1982
    • Series 2: Scripts, other Western television programs, 1950-1982

    Related Archival Materials note

    David Dortort Collection, 1942-2005, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MSA.23
    John Dunkel Scripts and Papers, 1945-1988, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MSA.37

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Alaskans (Television program : 1959-1960) Barbary Coast (Television program : 1975-1976) Bat Masterson (Television program : 1958-1961) Best of the West (Television program : 1981-1982) Big Valley (Television program : 1965-1969) Bonanza (Television program : 1959-1973) Bret Maverick (Television program : 1981-1982) Bronco (Television program : 1958-1962) Cheyenne (Television program : 1955-1963) Cisco Kid (Television program : 1950-1956) Colt .45 (Television program : 1957-1960) Cowboy in Africa (Television program : 1967-1968) Cowboys (Television program : 1980-1981) Death Valley Days (Television program : 1952-1975) Dirty Sally (Television program : 1974) F Troop (Television program : 1965-1967) Gunsmoke (Television program : 1955-1975) High Chaparral (Television program : 1967-1971) Iron horse (Television program : 1966-1968) Klondike (Television program : 1960-1961) Kung Fu (Television program : 1972-1975) Laman (Television program : 1958-1962) Laredo (Television program : 1965-1967) Little House on the Prairie (Television program : 1974-1983)
    Television -- Production and direction
    Western television programs -- United States