Buffalo Billís Wild West in Scotland 


The original purpose of the Scottish National Buffalo Bill Archive was to retrieve and preserve as much of the historical record as possible in connection with the visits of Buffalo Billís Wild West show to Scotland, in the form of both photographic and documentary materials. It is also intended to facilitate further research and to extend material assistance to museums, archives, historical societies, exhibitions, and representatives of the media. It also goes without saying that any contributions to the existing substantial archive will be very gratefully received!

Copious amounts have been written on the life of Colonel William Frederick Cody, known to millions in his own time and in ours as Buffalo Bill. Much written material also exists on the subject of his tours of the USA, as well as his various London seasons. It has generally been assumed that Codyís tours of other parts of the UK were no more than a footnote to his sojourns in the English metropolis, but even a casual study of the Scottish visits reveal that this is very far from being the case.

The discovery of the ĎGlasgowí ghost shirt of Wounded Knee provenance as an exhibit at the Home of the Brave exhibition at the cityís McLellan Galleries in 1992 and its subsequent repatriation to South Dakota in the summer of 1999, following a decision taken by Glasgow City Council on 13th November 1998, provided a very substantial impetus for a serious study of Buffalo Billís visits to Scotland and Glasgow in particular, together with a realisation of the hopeless inadequacy of existing scholarship on the subject.

The Wild West show came to Scotland twice.

In 1891-92, Buffalo Billís Wild West undertook a lengthy residency at the East End Exhibition Buildings at Dennistoun, in the city of Glasgow. The show opened on Monday, 16th November 1891, and closed on 27th February 1892.

Cody returned in 1904, with an expanded version of the show, Buffalo Billís Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World. This followed the addition of novel elements - primarily though not exclusively equestrian - such as ĎCossacksí (actually ethnic Georgians), Gauchos, Arabs, English Lancers and Imperial Japanese Cavalry, to supplement the perennially popular Wild West features.

Visitors may care to note that the information and images on display here represent just a sample of available resources. A far fuller published account is available in ĎYour Fathers the Ghostsí - Buffalo Billís Wild West in Scotland.

Research into Buffalo Billís Wild West in Scotland remains a work in progress. Fresh materials are still being uncovered and further publications will continue to appear. In the hope that even more of the story can eventually be brought to the light of day, this site will continue to fulfil its purposes as a focus for mutually beneficial discussion and as an authoritative repository of information for all interested parties.

Substantial work also remains to be done on the English and Welsh venues in 1891-92. Lengthy tours, involving large numbers of venues, most of them for one night only, were undertaken in 1902-03 and 1904. The identification of all English and Welsh venues remains a long-term aim and all information on the subject will be gratefully received.

It is envisaged that the Scottish National Buffalo Bill Archive will eventually evolve into the British National Buffalo Bill Archive.

All original materials on this site © Tom F. Cunningham 2016

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Buffalo Billís Wild West in Scotland