University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Bill Boyd Papers, 1930-1966

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Boyd, Bill, 1910-1977.
Title: Bill Boyd Papers
Dates: 1930-1966
Abstract: This collection contains the personal archives of Bill Boyd (1913-1977) the "Cowboy Rambler," Texas radio and film personality.
Extent: 4 ft.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Bill Boyd was born September 29, 1913, and grew up on a ranch in Fannin County, Texas. He began his radio career as a teenager at radio station WRR in Dallas, Texas, performing as a "Lone Singing Cowboy and His Guitar," until he formed a band, "Bill Boyd and His Cowboy Ramblers." The group performed a very popular live program for the station and made frequent personal appearances at dances, concerts, and fairs throughout Texas.

In 1934, Boyd contracted to record on RCA's Bluebird label and later on the more prestigious Victor label. He eventually made over 300 records for RCA alone. He published hundreds of songs,usually with the M.M. Cole Publishing Company. Collaborators included Leon Payne and Bill Nettles.

Boyd's popularity as a singer led to the contract with Producers Recording Corporation for thirty-six films, of which only six were produced before the advent of World War II. Casts in these "B" Westerns included Charlie King, Kermit Maynard, Glenn Strange, and Eddie Dean.

Bill Boyd enjoyed the height of his popularity in the 1940's. When television became popular and live radio performances were eliminated, Boyd disbanded the Cowboy Ramblers and worked as a popular disc jockey on WRR, KTER and KSKY. A stroke ended his radio career, which had spanned forty-four years, from 1932 until 1976. Boyd died in 1977 in Dallas.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the personal archives of Bill Boyd (1913-1977) the "Cowboy Rambler," Texas radio and film personality. Most material in the collection covers Boyd's most successful years from about 1940 until the end of the 1950s. Materials include business and professional correspondence, publicity material, legal and financial documents, scrapbook material, sheet music trade journals, and song books. The collection also includes numerous newspaper clippings and photographs as well as handbills, broadsides, and posters. The arrangement of the Bill Boyd Papers as established by Mr. Boyd has, for the most part, been retained. Some folder titles have been changed or clarified for the benefit of the researchers.

Boyd's classified files comprise the largest group of materials. They include correspondence with his musical collaborators as well as with his publisher, M. M. Cole, and his record producer, RCA. Sheet music usually appears with materials related to the co-writer but miscellaneous scores can be found with "Recording material" and with "Song books, sheet music, and scores." Boyd's files also contain his legal records, including royalty agreements and receipts, and Library of Congress copyrights.

The collection includes about six hundred lead sheets, or lyrics without music, as well as some miscellaneous correspondence regarding Boyd's guitar school, and a radio show script. The financial records document Boyd's involvement in various business enterprises as well as his more mundane household expenditures and travel expenses.

Boyd's music collection consists of song books and sheet music published by other artists between 1930 and 1960. Boyd's own published music is included in his classified files, with "Song books, sheet music, and scores." Most of the scrapbook material includes loose material from Boyd's scrapbooks as well as miscellaneous memorabilia. A scrapbook contains newsclippings documenting Boyd's wartime efforts in bond sales.

The collection contains numerous photographs, mostly 8 X 10 black and white movie stills as well as a few snapshots and publicity photos. A few photos are attached to dummy copies of Boyd's fan magazine. A large blown-up photograph of Boyd on posterboard as well as an autographed photograph of Boyd's friend, William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd, are located in 3S158.

Other materials in the collection include broadsides, posters, press books, and an architectural rendering of Boyd's Dallas home. Various artifacts such as a cloth pennant embroidered by a fan and Boyd rubber stamp and metal printing plates are also present in the collection.


Access Restrictions

Unrestricted access.

Use Restrictions

Unrestricted use.

Index Terms

Boyd, Bill, 1910-1977 -- Archives.
Boyd, Jim, 1914-1993.
Grant, Murray
Nettles, Bill
Payne, Leon
Subjects (Organizations)
Producers' Releasing Corporation
Radio Corporation of America.
M.M. Cole Publishing Co.
Cowboy Ramblers (Musical group)
Actors and actresses -- United States.
Bill Boyd and his Cowboy Ramblers
Country music -- To 1951.
Western swing (Music)
Radio programs -- United States.
Western films.
Western films -- Movie stills
Sheet music
Songs and singing

Separated Material

Some material has been separated to the artifact collection.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Bill Boyd Papers, 1930-1966, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sandra Young, May 1984.

Detailed Description of the Papers


Classified files, 1934-1960, undated

4Zb1 Barton, Lynn, 1947, 1953, undated
Bill Boyd Ranch House News, 1943-1948, undated
Biographical material, 1943, undated
Casares, Fred, 1947-1951, undated
M. M. Cole Publishing Co.
General, 1942-1960, undated
Royalty agreements, 1943
McRight, Leonard, 1948-1950, undated
"Negatives on brief case material", undated
4Zb2 Nettles, Bill, 1944, undated
Payne, Leon, 1941-1942, undated
Perkins, Wilson, 1950, undated
Personal appearances, 1944-1946
Producers Releasing Corporation play dates, 1942-1943, undated
Publicity, 1943-1951, undated
RCA Bluebird, 1934-1942, undated
RCA publicity- Advertising expense, 1946-1950
RCA record releases, undated
RCA recording material, 1939, 1942, undated
RCA Victor, 1946-1956
Recording material, undated
4Zb3 Royalties Received, 1940-1963
Slimp, Kenneth, 1957-1958, undated
Song Agreements, 1941-1949
4Zb4 Song Agreements, 1941-1949
Song books, sheet music and scores, 1931-1948
Southern Music contracts for publish [sic], 1941-1946
Lead sheets, 1942, undated
Radio and guitar school, 1942, undated


Lead sheets, undated

4Zb5 Radio and guitar school, undated
Financial records, 1943-1966, undated
Bettes, T. J. Company, 1948-1955, undated
Bills paid, 1944, 1947


Financial records, 1943-1966, undated

4Zb6 Bills paid, 1946-1956
Boyd, Clyde, 1946
Building account, W. L. Boyd, 1950-1951
Expenses, Home (4310 Camden), 1948-1950, undated
Expenses, receipts, etc., 1949
House furniture and furnishings; Studio garage, 1947-1955, undated

    Personall (Tax, insurance, and wage forms, etc.), 1943-1953
4Zb7 Plano Lumber Company, 1964-1966, undated
Tex State Company Inc. financial statements, 1948-1949, undated
Vickery Lumber Company, 1955-1956, undated


Music Collection, 1930-1960, undated

4Zb7 Song books and sheet music, 1930-1960, undated
4Zb8 Song books and sheet music, 1930-1960, undated
4Zb9 Song books and sheet music, 1930-1960, undated
Trade journals 1957-1960, undated



4Zb9 Scrapbook materials, 1942-1943, undated
3S159 Scrapbook 1942-1943, undated



3S26 Photographs, ca. 1930s-1940s
3S158 Oversize photographs, ca. 1930s-1940s


Oversize materials, ca. 1930s-1940s,

3S139 Broadsides,
Press books
Music scores
Architectural drawings