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Major Bowes and the Original Amateur Hour

Overview of the Collections

The Library of Congress has materials related to the Original Amateur Hour in a variety of formats and in several divisions. These materials include recordings of the radio program hosted by Bowes, photographs, administrative materials, contestant applications, and film reels of the television program hosted by Ted Mack.

Radio Broadcasts of the Amateur Hour

The Recorded Sound Section holds radio broadcasts of Bowes' Original Amateur Hour from its beginnings in 1935 through Bowes' decline in health and subsequent retirement in 1944, as well as broadcasts of Ted Mack's continuation as emcee from 1948 through 1952.

Although the show was broadcast on both NBC and CBS stations, our recordings come from NBC broadcasts.

Recordings of the Amateur Hour can be discovered in several ways. A small number of the broadcasts can be found in the Library's Online Catalog. The Recorded Sound Section maintains a separate catalog called SONIC for sound recordings only, and a fair number of Major Bowes recordings can be found there. Finally, through the hard work of a Junior Fellow in the summer of 2013, there is thorough documentation of the performers and performances captured on these recordings in the form of a searchable dataset. It is possible to search across the dataset for particular performers, for demographic information where available, as well as for particular songs or types of performances. Recorded Sound reference staff can search this data if you do not find what you're looking for in SONIC or the general catalog.

See the Using the Collection section of this guide or contact Recorded Sound reference staff for more information about the Original Amateur Hour recordings.

Amateur Hour Collection in the Music Division

The Amateur Hour Collection in the Music Division consists of three parts: show applications, photographs, and administrative materials.