Since 2005, the fourth Saturday in July has been observed as the National Day of the Cowboy. It's a day devoted to the pioneers who settled the American West, and to the preservation of cowboy culture. We honor the day with items from our collection that celebrate various aspects of cowboy life.
|When we think of cowboys, we most often think of the western United States in the decades following the Civil War. Christopher Knowlton's Cattle Kingdom offers a history of "the cowboy west" -- the boomtowns, the great cattle drives, the larger-than-life figures -- and how it shaped the modern United States. Cattle Kingdom is available as an e-book at OverDrive.|
|Music is so strongly associated with cowboys that there was an entire genre of "singing cowboy" movies in the 1930s and 1940s. Several of those singing cowboys -- Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry -- are among the many artists heard singing on Essential Cowboy Classics, which includes such songs as "I'm an Old Cowhand," "A Pair of Silver Spurs," and (because cowboys weren't entirely a United States phenomenon) "Je Suis Un Cowboy Canadien" (I'm a Canadian Cowboy). Essential Cowboy Classics is available for streaming or download at Freegal.|
|In modern America, the rodeo is one popular representation of old-fashioned cowboy life and skills.The first professional rodeo competition was held in 1888 in Arizona, and by the early 20th century, rodeos were a popular form of entertainment. The first gay rodeo was held in 1976, and it eventually led to the founding of the International Gay Rodeo Association, whose archives are currently held by the Autry National Center in Griffith Park. The documentary Queens and Cowboys follows five competitors through a year of IGRA competition; it's available for streaming at Hoopla.|