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Finding Aid to the International Gay Rodeo Association Institutional Archives, 1982-2009 MSA.26
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Arrangement
  • Processing History
  • Scope and Contents
  • Administrative History note
  • Acquisition
  • Access
  • Preferred citation
  • Other finding aids
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Use

  • Title: International Gay Rodeo Association Institutional Archives
    Identifier/Call Number: MSA.26
    Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Autry Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 59.0 Linear feet (96 document boxes; 1 oversized portfolio; 130 rolls of posters)
    Date (inclusive): 1982-2009
    Abstract: The International Gay Rodeo Association Insitutional Archives consist of administrative records, memorabilia, posters, publications and clothing from 1982-2009. Most of the materials are regarding the planning, production, and reviews of regional chapter rodeos as well as the final rodeo for the International Gay Rodeo Association.
    creator: International Gay Rodeo Association.
    creator: Ragsdale, Phil


    • Series 1: Administrative files, 1982-2009
    • Series 2: Clothing, memorabilia, and other materials, 1982-2009
    • Series 3: Posters, 1983-2005

    Processing History

    Original inventory completed by Stephanie Kowalick. Historical research and some processing performed by Cody White. Additional processing and cataloging was performed by Holly Rose Larson, Project Archivist, funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) in 2011.

    Scope and Contents

    The collection consists of administrative records and documents that relate to the operations and functions of the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), especially rodeos produced by the different associations under IGRA. Administrative records include correspondence, financial records, meeting notes, by-laws and handbooks, press clippings, photographs, and event planning files.
    Also included in the IGRA Institutional Archives are rodeo materials consisting of publications, ephemera, promotional material, and memorabilia such as posters, programs, and clothing. There are also awards given and recieved by IGRA, including an IGRA belt buckle which is located in Box 92.

    Administrative History note

    The International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), an umbrella organization which currently encompasses 27 member associations with 34 chapters, was officially formed in 1985 but had its genesis ten years earlier. The first gay rodeo was organized by Phil Ragsdale in 1976 under the banner of the Comstock Gay Rodeo Association and was held in Reno Nevada. Conceived a year earlier, in 1975, Ragsdale encountered initial local resistance to the idea, despite a charitable aspect that carries on through today. The ensuing National Reno Gay Rodeos, as they were called, grew in popularity. Not only featuring the traditional amateur rodeo fare of horsemanship and bull riding, the National Reno Gay Rodeo also hosted entry level events as well as a country western dance competition and a royalty pageant, all of which are still carried on today at the many IGRA member association rodeos.
    In the early 1980s, other states began to form associations and while still traveling to Reno to compete, made plans to host their own rodeos. By 1984, which would be the last year for the National Reno Gay Rodeo due to internal issues, newly formed associations in Colorado and Texas had put on their own rodeos and within only two years after the formal incorporation of IGRA in 1985, groups in California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and New Mexico had all started rodeos in their respective states. While the number of sanctioned rodeos has fluctuated throughout the years, it reached a peak in 1995 with 22 events spanning the United States and Canada. The IGRA rodeo year goes from November through October, culminating in the World Gay Rodeo Finals, which up until 2009 was named the IGRA Finals Rodeo. Charitable giving has been a part of gay rodeos since the beginning, with the Muscular Dystrophy Association being the first major benefactor. As the AIDS epidemic spread across the United States, AIDS foundations became an increasingly larger beneficiary of the rodeo’s fundraising efforts.
    IGRA is responsible for establishing and enforcing the standardized rodeo rules for sanctioned events and the certification of rodeo officials. IGRA holds an annual convention, convened in various cities, as well as the annual IGRA University Academy of Rodeo Arts, designed to train members in organizational management as well as rodeo operation. IGRA is directly run by a president who is assisted by a vice president, a treasurer, and a secretary, all of whom are elected to one year terms. This executive board is also augmented by an administrative assistant and public relations spokesperson. Member associations are represented through the Board of Trustees and Board of Directors.


    Donated by the International Gay Rodeo Association, 2009 September 9.


    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.

    Preferred citation

    International Gay Rodeo Association Institutional Archives, 1982-2009, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MSA.26; [folder number] [folder title][date].

    Other finding aids

    Folder list available.

    Related Archival Materials

    Collections 93.31, 94.79, and 2010.12, Autry National Center, Los Angeles.


    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.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    belt buckles
    Clothing and dress.
    Gay rodeos -- Arizona.
    Gay rodeos -- California.
    Gay rodeos -- Canada.
    Gay rodeos -- Colorado.
    Gay rodeos -- Kansas.
    Gay rodeos -- Missouri.
    Gay rodeos -- Nevada -- Reno.
    Gay rodeos -- New Mexico.
    Gay rodeos -- Oklahoma.
    Gay rodeos -- Texas.
    Gay rodeos.
    Handbooks, manuals, etc.
    Receipts (financial records)
    Reno (Nev.) -- History