University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Bill Pickett Collection, 1937-2005

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Sizemore, Deborah Lightfoot
Title: Pickett, Bill, collection
Dates: 1937-2005
Abstract: The Bill Pickett collection consists of research files compiled by Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore. The collection documents the life, work, and impact of early black cowboy Bill Pickett.
Accession No.: 2016-180
OCLC No.: 954150515
Extent: 5 in.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

William (Bill) Pickett was born around 1870 in Travis County, the child of former slaves. Pickett completed the 5th grade, and thereafter found work as a cowboy. In the course of his work, Pickett developed his unique method of “bulldogging” in which he would bite the top lip of a steer in order to control the animal. In addition to his method of bulldogging, Pickett became an accomplished roper and rider. By the early 1900s, Pickett was touring rodeos and fairs throughout the west, performing as the “Dusky Deamon.”

In 1905 Pickett began performing at the 101 Ranch in Oklahoma, and eventually he and his family moved to the Ranch, where he would remain for much of the rest of his life. Through his fame as a cowboy performer, Pickett was featured in several early motion pictures and became known as the first black cowboy star. He died in 1932, after being kicked in the head by a horse. In 1972 Picket became the first black man inducted into the National Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Source: Handbook of Texas Online, Mary Lou LeCompte, "Pickett, William," accessed July 21, 2016,

Scope and Contents

The Bill Pickett collection, 1937-2005, consists of research files compiled by Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore. The files contain biographical descriptions of Pickett, magazine and newspaper clippings pertaining to Pickett and Wild West shows, and images and photos of Pickett and artwork that he inspired. The collection also contains a bibliography of additional sources. A large portion of the collection consists of photocopies of original documents.


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Pickett, Bill, approximately 1860-1932
African American cowboys
Rodeos -- United States

Separated Material

Some material has been separated to the Library unit.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Bill Pickett Collection, 1937-2005, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Esther Kirchner, July 2016.

Detailed Description of the Papers



Short bios, 1967, 1996-2005
Magazine and newspaper articles (photocopies), 1953-1994
Mexico City, 1964-1972
Wild West Shows, 1961-1969, 1993
Tom Mix (photocopies), 1968
Buffalo soldiers, 1968
Bibliography, 1993-1994
Books about Bill (photocopies), 1937-1946, 1994
Hanes, "Bill Pickett, Bulldogger," OU Press (photocopies), 1977
Pickett- National Cowboy Hall of Fame, 1966-1992
Photos and art (photocopies), 1976, 1992-2002
Photos, undated