The Robert Cotton Collection
Story originally ran in Spring 1998 Perspectives
The Robert Cotton Collection is a unique collection featuring the old west, wild west shows, Hollywood and circuses. "It is a remarkable collection of books, articles, posters, movie stills and playbills and correspondence Mr. Cotton had with real life and movie cowboys and circus performers," Heather Lloyd, head of Special Collections and University Archives, says.
She believes it will be of great interest to scholars in Western American history and film studies. Cotton's son, Jim, says, "After my father passed away in 1988 our family discussed what to do with his collection. We didn't want to sell it and we didn't want it to just collect dust. We felt it was his legacy and wanted it to be seen and used by future generations. My mother, my sister (Sara Cotton Rains of Hominy) and I hope that others will enjoy and learn from the historical significance of this collection."
Jim, a 1979 OSU graduate in business who lives in Burbank, Calif., says going through his father's collections has been a very sentimental journey. "I grew up with these items, listening to my father's stories and watching his passion for them."
Cotton wrote in 1986, "Although I am very much interested in the 'stars' of the western movies. My special interest are in the characters and bit players, the little-known facts and relationships."
His wife, Faye, a 1943 OSU graduate in secondary education who lives in Bartlesville, says, "Robert was also considered an expert on lawmen and outlaws and was an excellent speaker and made numerous presentation to all kinds of organizations, clubs and other groups."
This Special Collection opened to the public in October 1999. Access to more than 1800 items is now available. The complete collection inventory can be consulted in Special Collections/University Archives.
Some Local Resources:
View the items from The Robert Cotton Collection
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