University of Texas at Austin

Burl Ives:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Ives, Burl, 1909-1995
Title: Burl Ives Papers
Dates: 1944-1963
Extent: 20 document boxes, 10 oversize boxes (osb), 4 galley files (gf), 2 framed items (17.92 linear feet)
Abstract: The Burl Ives Papers consist of manuscript and typescript drafts, proofs, correspondence, legal and financial documents, publicity, contracts, scripts, and scrapbooks of press clippings that document Ives’ published and recorded works as well as his concerts and personal appearances.
Call Number: Performing Arts Collection PA-00047
Language: English
Access: Open for research. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials. Part or all of this collection is housed off-site and may require up to three business days’ notice for access in the Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room. Please contact the Center before requesting this material:
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Centers' Open Access and Use Policies.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin. Burl Ives Papers (Performing Arts Collection PA-00047).
Acquisition: Gift and purchases, 1963-1966
Processed by: Valerie Burns, 2002; Helen Adair, 2006; Helen Baer, 2012; Daniela Lozano, 2017

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Folk singer, actor, and author Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives was born on June 14, 1909 in Hunt, Illinois. He attended Eastern Illinois State Teachers College for three years but left school to hitchhike around the United States. He wrote about his hitchhiking adventures in the autobiographical The Wayfaring Stranger (1948).
In 1945, Ives performed his first folk concert at Town Hall in New York City. Some of his best-known renditions of folk ballads and songs include "Big Rock Candy Mountain," "Frosty the Snowman," and "I Know an Old Lady (Who Swallowed a Fly)." He made his first film appearance in Smoky in 1946. Future notable roles include Big Daddy in the Broadway play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955) which he reprised in the 1958 screen version; and a feuding landowner in The Big Country (1958) for which he was awarded an Academy Award for best supporting actor.
Ives recorded more than 100 albums and appeared in 13 Broadway productions and numerous television shows. He died on 14 April 1995 at the age of 85.


The editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Burl Ives."  Encyclopaedia Britannica, (accessed 26 October 2017).
Barnes, Bart. "Singer, Actor Burl Ives Dies."  The Washington Post, (accessed 26 October 2017).

Scope and Contents

The Burl Ives Papers document Ives’ published and recorded works as well as his concerts and personal appearances. The collection is arranged in the following four series: I. Works, 1946-1963, undated; II. Concerts and Personal Appearances, 1944-1954; III. Personal and Career Related, 1947-1959, undated; and IV. Scrapbooks of Press Clippings, 1944-1962.
Series I. Works includes manuscript and typescript drafts, proofs, correspondence, legal and financial documents, publicity, and other related documents for book and recording projects. Works represented include The Wayfaring Stranger (1948), Historical America in Songs (1950), The Burl Ives Song Book (1953), Tales of America (1954), Song in America: Our Musical Heritage (1962), The Wayfaring Stranger’s Notebook (1962), and The Burl Ives Sing-Along Book (1963). The works are in alphabetical order by title. The original folder labels and arrangement were retained. A few folders were empty and are indicated as such in the container list.
Series II. Concerts and Personal Appearances is made up of correspondence, contracts, itineraries, programs, publicity, schedules, and financial and legal documents pertaining to performances by Ives. United States venues are predominantly represented, although tours to Australia, England, Ireland, New Zealand, and Scotland are included. There are two groups of files – group I consists of Ives’ files for performances in the United States; group II files originated from Ives’ concert representative’s office and includes performances in the U.S. and abroad. Both groups of files are arranged in chronological order.
Series III. Personal and Career Related consists of financial files, legal files, itineraries, programs, and radio scripts that were separated into format categories according to past Ransom Center Theater Arts Department processing procedures. Other files in this series retained their original labels and were arranged during processing for this finding aid to better reflect the creator’s original order. These include clippings, lists and an invoice, and the text of a guest of honor speech. Also included in the series are two framed portraits of Ives – one by Jan Hoowij from 1961 and an undated one by John Falter.
Series IV. Scrapbooks of Press Clippings is made up of scrapbooks containing press clippings related to concerts, radio, and several publications.

Related Material

The Library of Congress has a collection of materials received from Ives in 1965 primarily concerning his career in radio and television.

Separated Material

Published works were transferred to the Ransom Center’s Library. Commercial audio recordings were transferred to the Ransom Center’s Sound Recordings Collection.

Container List