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Robert Woodruff Papers (MS-00455)

Abstract

The Robert Woodruff Papers (1927-2001) are comprised of materials documenting Woodruff’s career and family life in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, as well as his travels around the United States and abroad. Materials include newspaper clippings, photographic prints and transparencies, personal correspondence, and publications such as Las Vegas tourist brochures and pamphlets dating from the 1930s and 1940s. Visual materials include portraits, city scenes, and landscapes throughout Nevada and the United States, as well as some photographs of international travels.

Finding Aid - PDF
Date
1927 to 2001
bulk 1937 to 1989
Extent
6.12 Cubic Feet (16 boxes and 1 oversized box)
8.83 Linear Feet
Resource Type
Papers
Creator/Contributor Links
Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be protected by copyrights and other rights. See Reproductions and Use on the UNLV Special Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permissions to publish.

According to the deed of gift between UNLV Special Collections and Archives and the collection donor, permission to publish photographs must be given by Kay W. Bigglestone until her death.

Collection Type
Scope and Contents

The Robert Woodruff Papers (1927-2001) are comprised of materials documenting Woodruff’s career and family life in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, as well as his travels around the United States and abroad. Materials include newspaper clippings, photographic prints and transparencies, personal correspondence, and publications that include a number of rare Las Vegas tourist publications dating from the 1930s and 1940s, such as Woodruff’s self-published newsletter, the Town Crier (1939). The collection provides insight into Las Vegas’ early development as a tourist destination due to Woodruff's work as a guide for Riddle Yellow Cab and Scenic Tours Company, and his persistent photographic documentation of various city scenes, portraits of people, and landscapes in the area. The visual documentation includes not only Las Vegas and Henderson, but also other Nevada cities such as Goodsprings, Boulder City, Searchlight, Tonopah, and Rhyolite, as well as other states including Arizona, California, Utah, Colorado, Ohio, Kansas, and Nebraska.

Biographical / Historical Note

Robert Woodruff (1914-1992) was born in Akron, Ohio to Althea Rowland and Clarence Merle Woodruff. He moved from Akron to Oberlin, Ohio with his family in 1923, and attended Oberlin College in the 1930s, where he played football, ran track, and worked as the yearbook photographer. Woodruff first visited Nevada during his summer vacations, staying with his sister, Eleanor, and her husband, Robert Hiller, in Boulder City. During these summers, Woodruff worked as Hiller's assistant in the x-ray lab of Babcock and Wilcox, the company in charge of manufacturing and installing the Hoover Dam's penstock system water pipes.

After graduating from Oberlin College in 1937, Woodruff moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where he worked for the City Recreation Department as the Assistant Recreation Director of Las Vegas. He spent his time managing the Municipal Plunge (later renamed the Mermaid Pool) where he met Mabel Koehler, whom he married on August 11, 1938 and had four children with: Kay Althea, Ann Elizabeth, Cynthia Merle, and Pete Worthing Woodruff. In 1938, Woodruff took a new job as a guide for Riddle Yellow Cab and Scenic Tours Company. The following year, Woodruff and Mabel started a free, weekly mimeograph newsletter, the Town Crier, that contained editorials, political analysis, and poetry. In the spring of 1944, the military drafted Woodruff into the Army Signal Corps and subsequently sent him to Fort Shafter, Hawaii where he worked as a cryptographer for the remainder of World War II.

In 1947, Woodruff started working for Sears, Roebuck and Company as the head of the photography department. By 1949, he purchased a small photography store in Henderson and renamed it Woodruff’s Basic Photo after the Henderson Basic Magnesium plant. Basic Photo provided regular services such as selling photo supplies and developing film, and Woodruff established himself as a portrait, wedding, and industrial photographer. He also contributed photographs to community services such as the police and fire departments and news outlets including Henderson Home News, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Las Vegas Sun. Between photographing community events such as Helldorado and Henderson Industrial Days, Woodruff also wrote a photography advice column called “Picture That” for the Henderson Home News.

While living in Henderson and Las Vegas, Woodruff participated in the community as an occasional preacher at the Henderson Community Church, volunteered at St. Rose de Lima Hospital, sponsored youth bowling leagues, worked for the Chamber of Commerce, became a member of the Lions and Rotary clubs, and served as the scout leader for Boy Scout troop 65.

In 1973, Woodruff sold Basic Photo to Robert Shiles and moved to Sedona, Arizona with Mabel in 1974. Woodruff worked part-time at Rollie's Camera Shop and continued his interest in community service by working with the Junior Chamber of Commerce, becoming an elected official, maintaining an active role in the Rotary Club, and being appointed to the Sedona Fire Board and Board of the Sedona Racquet Club.

Robert Woodruff died in Sedona, Arizona in December 1992.

Sources:

Bigglestone, Kay. Mabel Koheler Woodruff and her Family. Tucson, Arizona, 2001. Box 13. Robert Woodruff Papers, 1927-2001. MS-00455. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Photographer dies; founded lab at Sears." Las Vegas Sun, 2B, December 29, 1992. Box 01. Robert Woodruff Papers, 1927-2001. MS-00455. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into three series:

Series I. Personal papers, 1930-2001;

Series II. Publications, 1930-1983;

Series III. Visual mMaterials, 1927-1991.

Preferred Citation

Robert Woodruff Papers, 1927-2001. MS-00455. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

EAD ID
US::NvLN::MS00455
Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials were donated in 2001 by Kay Woodruff Bigglestone; accession number 2002-025.

Processing Information

Material was processed by Crystal Aubuchon-Mendoza in 2004.

In 2014, as part of a legacy finding aid conversion project, Kayla McDuffie revised and enhanced the collection description to bring it into compliance with current professional standards. Subsequently Kayla McDuffie entered the data into ArchivesSpace. In 2019, as part of an archival backlog elimination project, Billy Marino rehoused and arranged the materials and revised the collection description to bring it into compliance with current

professional standards.

Separated Materials

Some of the photographs in this acquisition were removed from the collection and placed in the Robert Woodruff Photograph Collection, 1900s-1970s. PH-00340. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

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