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DeVere Helfrich Rodeo Photographs

DeVere Helfrich Rodeo Photographs, 1941-1970
John DeVere Helfrich (1902-1981). 37,369 Negatives, 1941-1970
Collection: MS040
Accession: 1981.023


John DeVere Helfrich was a professional rodeo photographer from 1939-1967. He was born on April 16, 1902, in Lamonta, Oregon, and as a child he spent time at his uncle’s ranch working with cattle and horses. In 1926, he married Helen Reed, and they worked as small business owners until World War II rationing forced their stores to close. He became interested in rodeos and photography in 1939, and in 1941 he won the World Championship Rodeo Corporation’s best picture of the year prize. It was for an image of Gene Pruett on Colonel Dean at the Prairie City Rodeo in Oregon. Helen and DeVere spent most of their time traveling to rodeos, and even transformed a travel trailer into a mobile dark room. The Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association used Helfrich’s photograph of Bill Ward on Sea Lion at San Angelo, Texas, as inspiration for their official logo. He retired from photography in 1967, and died September 1, 1981.

Scope & Content Note

The DeVere Helfrich Rodeo Photographs consists of 37,369 negatives and fourteen log books. The negatives range in size from 80x110mm, 62x62mm, and 35mm. The log books, dating 1941-1970, list the negative number, caption or title of image, location or rodeo venue, and date, as well as dark room processing notes. Additionally, there is a small collection of negatives with an associated log book dating between 1951 and 1952 which document horse race finishes and winner portraits at Walla Walla, Waitesburg, Dayton, and Pomeroy in Washington; Pendleton and Union in Oregon; and Red Bluff, California.

Documented in log book 6 are Helfrich’s experimental efforts at the first National Finals Rodeo with different film, speeds, cameras, and processing chemistry and procedures ostensibly to produce quality images without the benefits of a flash. Helfrich documented the activities and events of the National Finals Rodeo from 1959-1966.

Over 5,300 rodeo contestants and personalities are represented in this collection. Over 3,000 horses and over 400 bulls are documented and recorded pictorially. Venues for which there are over 1,000 images include Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Los Angeles, Red Bluff, San Francisco, Denver, Sidney, Klamath Falls, Pendleton, Dallas, Ellensburg, and Cheyenne. Over 400 images have been attributed to Helen Helfrich.

Subject Terms

Abbott, Buck
Adams, Don
Akridge, Eddy, 1929-
Ambler, Jerry, 1911-1958
Armstrong, Dean
Bausch, Jim
Belyeu, Ray, 1939-1966
Beutler, Lynn, 1905-1999
Bishop, Jerry
Blesing, Wag, 1920-
Boag, Bill, 1933-1958
Bothum, Jim
Bride, Tom
Brooks, Wallace
Brown, Freckles, 1921-1987
Brown, Leo
Bruce, Duane
Bruce, Winston, 1938-
Bryant, Dick
Buell, Ralph
Burnett, Boyce
Buschbom, Jack
Carson, Jack
Charles, Jim
Charters, Harry
Chase, Joe
Clennon, Bart, 1910-
Combs, Willard
Condon, Larry
Conway, Ed
Copenhaver, Deb, 1925-
Crump, Pete
Davis, Jim
Davis, Shawn, 1941-
Decker, Tater, 1924-
Dollarhide, Ross
Dygert, Bill
Edwards, John
Eidson, Bob
Enos, Manuel, 1918-
Fedderson, Bill
Federer, Tuffy, 1929-1971
Finley, Frank
Finley, Luther
Flanigan, Dan
Flynn, Sammy
Fore, Lawson, 1920-1995
France, Bert
Fredricks, Pete
Frost, Clyde
Gore, Les
Green, Joe
Griffith, Mac
Hancock, Bill, 1917-
Hand, Billy, 1933-
Hartman, Bill
Hawkins, John
Helfrich, DeVere, 1902-1981
Hill, Clinton
Hixon, Jerry
Hobdey, Daryl
Holmes, Marvin
Horn, Shorty
Howard, Duane, 1933-
Isley, Mike
Ives, Laurel
Ivory, Buster, 1923-
Ivory, June, 1923-
Johnson, Les
Jones, Malcolm
Kane, Larry
Kornell, Bill
Kunkle, Bill
Lancaster, Leonard
Lawrence, Bill
Like, Jim, 1918-
Linderman, Bill, 1920-1965
Linderman, Bud, 1922-1961
Linderman, Walt
Lowe, George
Maddox, Dwight
Madland, Jim
Madland, Kenny
Martin, Tex
Martinelli, Bill
Mason, Walt
May, Harley, 1926-
Maynard, Bob, 1928-
Mayo, Don, 1939-
Mayo, Paul, 1942-
McCoin, Numa
McCravey, Leonard
McKenna, J. D.
McLean, Kenny
Melinda, Mickey
Mendes, Carl, 1919-1996
Menkenmaier, George, 1927-1958
Miles, Gene
Mitchell, Johnnie
Myren, George
Nafzger, Carl
Nelson, Alvin
Noble, Harry
Oliver, Dean, 1929-
Peak, Buddy, 1933-
Peth, Wick, 1931-
Plaugher, Wilbur, 1923-
Pruett, Gene, 1917-1987
Ragsdale, Bob
Rambo, Gene, 1920-1988
Raymond, Ronnie Wayne, 1940-1994
Reidhead, Dave
Reiners, Dennis
Reynolds, Benny, 1936-
Rinestine, Bill, 1934-
Roberts, Gerald, 1919-
Robinson, Bob
Robinson, Bob A.
Rockabar, Rocky
Roddy, Jack
Rodriguez, Jim, Jr., 1941-
Roeser, Jim, 1933-1997
Rossen, Ronnie, 1937-1991
Rosser, Cotton, 1928-
Rutherford, Buck, 1929-1988
Schricker, Mark, 1939-
Schumacher, Jim
Seeley, Buzz
Sharpe, Bud
Sheppard, Bob
Sheppard, Chuck, 1916-
Sherman, Jack
Shoulders, Jim, 1928-
Smith, Bill, 1941-
Smith, Dale, 1928-
Smith, Lyle
Spurling, Jack
Stanton, Kenny
Stephanson, Slim
Sublette, Joel
Sullins, Walt
Swaggert, Cecil
Swaim, Bob
Templeton, Paul
Tescher, Jim
Tescher, Tom
Thommason, Ike
Tibbs, Casey, 1929-1990
Toelle, Don
Tompkins, Harry, 1927-
Travis, Bud
Tureman, Sonny, 1918-1995
Tyler, Gene
Tyler, Glen
Vamvoras, Clyde
Vold, Wayne
Walker, Enoch, 1932-1979
Ward, Bill, 1923-1992
Warhol, Ted
Watts, Bill
Weeks, Billy, 1926-1988
Weeks, Guy, 1932-
Wegner, Bob, 1934-
Williams, Corinne
Williams, George
Wilson, Don L., 1930-1996
Wise, Jim, 1934-
Wood, Marty, 1933-
Wright, Jackie
Wyatt, Larry

Processing Information

The Helfrich Rodeo Photographs were purchased by the Museum in 1981.

Preferred Citation

DeVere Helfrich Rodeo Photographs, 1941-1970, MS 040, Box # Folder #, Donald C. & Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Container List

All Series

The images and data in this collection are searchable on theĀ Image Archive Database.

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