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Pick Temple papers

 Collection 0043-MMC-LAB
A folk singer turned television cowboy, Lafayette Parker "Pick" Temple was best known for his show Pick Temple's Giant Ranch (also known as The Pick Temple Giant Ranch) which ran from 1952 through 1961 and made him a local celebrity in the Washington D.C. area. The collection documents both Temple's career as a folk singer and as a children's television personality.


  • 1918-1991
  • Majority of material found within 1948-1961

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


4.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The Pick Temple papers span the years 1918 to 1991, with the bulk of the material dating from between 1945 and 1962. This collection includes photos (approximately 300), correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings, promotional material, film, sheet music, research material for songs, clothing, and other items.


Lafayette Parker Temple, known as "Pick" Temple, was born in the Washington D.C. area in 1911. A World War II navy veteran, he started his career working for the United States Census Bureau in 1934. He loved folk music and became a scholar of folk music and railroad songs and was asked by the Library of Congress to record some folk songs for their Archive of American Folklore in 1947.

Pick began appearing on television in 1948 on a part-time basis while still working for the census bureau, writing, producing and performing weekly TV shows about folk music. In 1951, Temple began a series of TV shows on WTOP-TV, Washington D. C., as a cowboy Master of Ceremonies, as well as folk singer. In 1952, the show Pick Temple's Giant Ranch began running seven days a week and Temple began full-time work with both the show as well as public relations for his sponsor, Giant Food Inc.

The show was enormously popular in the D.C. area with both children and adults. Temple appeared in many parades and at other events in the area, receiving multiple certificates and honors from various organizations.

In 1961, Temple appeared in an episode of the Hollywood TV show The Rifleman. That year he also helped plan and organize a "western Frontier Town amusement park" called "Old Virginia City."

However, in 1962, Giant Food, Inc. took Pick Temple's Giant Ranch off the air due to the heavy expense, and the decision to change their advertising approach. Temple moved to Philadelphia and tried out a similar show there, but was unsuccessful and retired from television in 1963.

After his retirement from television, Temple resumed his career as a civil servant, working for seven years as an audiovisual information officer with the Office of Economic Opportunity. He retired altogether and moved to Sun City, Arizona, in 1972. He passed away at the age of 80, on December 21, 1991, in Sun City.


The Pick Temple oollection hav been divided into three series.
Series 1
Television Career
Series 2
Series 3

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Pick Temple Papers were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries by L. Parker Temple through Bob Bell in 2007 and an addendum was donated by through Tom Buckley in 2010.

Processing Information

Metal fasteners were removed and replaced with archival-quality plastic clips. Photographs were removed from sticky album pages and placed in acid-free folders. Acidic newspaper clippings were photocopied onto acid-free paper.
Guide to the Pick Temple papers
Processed by Tiffany Draut
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742