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Gerald W. Williams Collection on Smokey Bear, 1933-1995

By Trevor Sandgathe

Collection Overview

Title: Gerald W. Williams Collection on Smokey Bear, 1933-1995

Predominant Dates: 1993-1995

ID: MSS Smokey

Primary Creator: Williams, Gerald W.

Extent: 1.2 cubic feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The Gerald W. Williams Collection on Smokey Bear is comprised of two series: Series 1. "Happy Birthday Smokey" 50th Anniversary Campaign, 1993-1995 and Series 2. Wildfire Prevention Promotional Materials and Memorabilia, 1933-1995.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]

Abstract

The Gerald W. Williams Collection on Smokey Bear is comprised of materials collected by U.S. Forest Service historian Gerald Williams relating to Smokey Bear, the Forest Service mascot for wildfire prevention. The collection includes records from the 50th "birthday" of Smokey and materials documenting the history of the Smokey campaign. Included are promotional materials, a design guide, slides and photographs, video recordings, and memorabilia.

Scope and Content Notes

The Gerald W. Williams Collection on Smokey Bear documents the history of the Smokey Bear mascot and the related United States Forest Service wildfire prevention campaign from 1944-1994. The bulk of the collection is comprised of materials documenting the 1994-1995 "Happy Birthday Smokey" traveling exhibition and campaign which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Smokey mascot. Included is promotional literature (brochures, a poster, and an activity book), a brief history of Smokey Bear, an exhibit manual, a guest book, a photograph album, loose photographs and slides, video recordings of news coverage of the 50th anniversary event, two short films, and a "50th Birthday" patch.

The collection also includes more than 100 slides of posters featuring Smokey, a design and clip-art guide, photocopies of the "Smokey Says..." graphics from Guardian of the Forest (1971), a radio kit from a 1991 wildfire prevention campaign, and several other photographic prints, negatives, and slides. The collection also contains one videocassette featuring several Smokey Bear public service announcements produced by the Advertising Council and another videocassette with three episodes of The Smokey Bear Show, a cartoon aired from 1969-1971. Also included are two patches and twelve pins/buttons featuring wildfire prevention messages.

Biographical / Historical Notes

The Smokey Bear character and campaign were conceived as part of the United States Forest Service's wildfire prevention efforts during World War II. The first Smokey Bear poster was illustrated by Albert Staehle and debuted in August 1944. Later that year, Rudy Wendelin became the official artist for the campaign and further developed the character's physical appearance. In 1947, Smokey's now famous saying, "Remember...only YOU can prevent forest fires" was introduced. The Smokey image gained popularity in 1950 when a black bear cub rescued from a New Mexico wildfire was given the name "Smokey" and housed at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. as a living symbol for fire prevention.

To date, the Smokey campaign has resulted in thousands of informational items designed to warn against the dangers of wildfires and to teach fire prevention techniques. Products include posters, songs, clothing, children's toys, television specials and televised public service announcements, and even a cartoon show.



Author: Trevor Sandgathe

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 4 boxes, including 6 videocassette tapes, 233 slides, 3 contact sheets, and more than 650 photographic prints and negatives

Statement on Access: This collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: These materials were acquired in 2007 by the Oregon State University Archives as part of the Gerald W. Williams Collection (MSS WilliamsG). They now reside independently in the Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center.

Related Materials: Other materials relating to the history and work of the United States Forest Service include the the Forest Service Equipment Development Center Photograph Album (P 311), United States Forest Service Video Workshop Videotapes (FV 264), the Gerald W. Williams Papers (MSS Williams), the C. C. Hall Photograph Album (P 301), the George W. Peavy Papers (MSS Peavy), and the Jason S. Elder Forest Service Diary (MSS Elder).

Preferred Citation: Gerald W. Williams Collection on Smokey Bear (MSS Smokey), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Processing Information: This collection was accessioned as part of the Gerald W. Williams Collection (MSS WilliamsG). It has since been separated from that collection and processed independently.

Finding Aid Revision History: This finding aid was revised on 12/12/2016 to include the "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibit Photograph Album and again on 8/16/2018 to include "The Story of Smokey Bear" and the Advertising Council radio kit. These items were located in the Gerald W. Williams Collection after the initial publication of this finding aid.

Creators

Williams, Gerald W.
Advertising Council
United States. Forest Service

People, Places, and Topics

Natural Resources
Smokey Bear.
Traveling exhibitions.
United States. Forest Service
Wildfires--United States--Prevention and control.

Forms of Material

Contact sheets.
Film negatives.
Information artifacts.
Photograph albums.
Photographic prints.
Slides (photographs).
Video recordings (physical artifacts)


Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: "Happy Birthday Smokey" 50th Anniversary, 1993-1995
Series 1 is comprised of materials documenting the 1994-1995 "Happy Brithday Smokey" campaign and traveling exhibition. The campaign celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Smokey mascot and attempted to spread wildfire danger awareness through a cross-country traveling exhibit. Materials include an activity book, a poster, and several pamphlets; a brief history of Smokey Bear; an exhibition manual; an exhibit guest book; two short video recordings celebrating Smokey; recordings of television news coverage of the 50th birthday event; and an interview with Smokey artist Rudy Wendelin. The series also includes a photograph album containing more than 450 photographic prints, 100 slides, and 3 contact sheets featuring photographs of the exhibition and events in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Las Vegas, Denver, Seattle, Cody (Wyoming), Portland (Oregon), and Phoenix. Additionally, more than 200 loose color photographic prints and negatives are included in the collection, many of which duplicate the content found in the album.
Box-Folder 1.1: Smokey Bear 50th Birthday Commemorative Pamphlets and Activity Book, 1993
Box-Folder 1.2: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition Manual, circa 1993
Box-Folder 1.3: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition Guest Book, 1994
Box-Item 4.1: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition Photograph Album, 1994-1995
Box-Folder 1.4: Photographic Prints and Negatives: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition, Phoenix, Arizona, circa 1994
Box-Folder 1.5: Photographic Prints and Negatives: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition, Los Angeles, California, circa 1994
Box-Folder 1.6: "The Story of Smokey Bear," Gladys D. Daines and Elsie Cunningham, 1993
Box-Folder 1.7: Photographic Prints and Negatives: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition, Atlanta, Georgia, 1994
Box-Folder 1.8: Photographic Prints and Negatives: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition, Chicago, Illinois, circa 1994
Box-Folder 1.9: Photographic Prints and Negatives: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition, Las Vegas, Nevada, circa 1994
Box-Folder 1.10: Photographic Negatives: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition, Seattle, Washington, circa 1994
Box-Folder 1.11: Photographic Negatives: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition, Portland, Oregon, circa 1994
Box-Folder 1.12: Photographic Prints and Negatives: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition, Washington, D.C., circa 1994
Box-Folder 1.13: Photographic Prints and Negatives: "Happy Birthday Smokey" Traveling Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, 1995
Box-Folder 2.6: Smokey Bear 50th Birthday patch, 1994
Box-Item 3.1: Videocassette: "Fifty Years with Smokey Bear," United States Forest Service, October 1993
A short film produced by the United States Forest Service celebrating the 50th anniversary of the genesis of Smokey Bear.
Box-Item 3.2: Videocassette: "Smokey the Bear", 1994
A short film depicting the real life Smokey Bear and scored by a musical narrative.
Box-Item 3.3: Videocassette: News interview with Rudy Wendelin, 1994
An interview with Smokey Bear artist Rudy Wendelin in celebration of Smokey's 50th brithday. Aired on News Channel 8 in Pennsylvania.
Box-Item 3.4: Videocassette: Smokey's 50th Birthday news stories, Atlanta, Georgia, 1994
Recordings of several television news stories covering the Happy Birthday Smokey event in Atlanta, Georgia, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the genesis of Smokey Bear.
Series 2: Wildfire Prevention Promotional Materials and Memorabilia, 1933-1995
Series 2 is comprised of materials generated by the United States Forest Service and the Advertising Council promoting wildfire prevention. The series includes a radio kit from the Advertising Council, Inc.'s wildfire prevention campaign; color slides of fire prevention posters (including several predating the Smokey campaign and one featuring Woodsy Owl); a Smokey Bear graphic art guide; photocopies of graphics used in the book Guardian of the Forest; and wearable pins, buttons, and patches. The series also contains photographic prints, negatives, and slides depicting the mascot's appearance at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, a photo-op with Lady Bird Johnson, the original living Smokey bear, a promotional drawing for the National Zoo, and other images featuring Smokey.
Box-Folder 2.1: The Advertising Council, Inc. Forest Fire Prevention Campaign radio kit, 1991
Box-Folder 2.2: Fire Prevention Poster Slides, 1933-1994
Box-Folder 2.3: "Smokey Bear Graphic Art Guide and Fire Prevention Clip-Art" Booklet, 1995
Box-Folder 2.4: "Smokey Says..." Graphics from Guardian of the Forest (1976), 1995
Box-Folder 2.5: Assorted Photographs and Images, undated
Box-Folder 2.6: Smokey Bear pins, patches, and buttons, circa 1980-1994
Box-Item 3.5: Videocassette: Smokey Bear PSAs, circa 1950s
A collection of public service announcements created by the Advertising Council featuring Smokey Bear.
Box-Item 3.6: Videocassette: "The Smokey Bear Show", circa 1969
Includes three episodes of The Smokey Bear Show including "The Founder's Day Folly," "The Ol' Club House," and "one Born Every Second."

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