HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — You know Dasher and Dancer and the rest of the gang. But do you recall, the most “Perfect Christmas Crowd-Bringer” of all?
That’s how executives at Montgomery Ward originally described Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, who first appeared in a 1939 book written by one of the company’s advertising copywriter and given free to children as a way to drive traffic to the stores.
Peter Carini holds a first edition of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer", part of a special collection at Dartmouth College, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011 in Hanover, N.H. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Curious to know more about how Rudolph really went down in history? It’s all in the pages of a long-overlooked scrapbook compiled by the story’s author, Robert L. May, and housed at his alma mater, Dartmouth College.
May donated his hand-written first draft and illustrated mock-up to Dartmouth before his death at age 71 in 1976, and his family later added to what has become a large collection of Rudolph-related documents and merchandise, including a life-sized papier-mache reindeer that now stands among the stacks at the Rauner Special Collections Library.
But May‘s scrapbook about the book’s launch and success went unnoticed until last year, when Dartmouth archivist Peter Carini came across it while looking for something else.
“No one on staff currently knew we had it. I pulled it out and all the pieces started falling out. It was just a mess,” Carini said.
The scrapbook, which has since been restored and cataloged, includes May‘s list of possible names for his story’s title character – from Rodney and Rollo to Reginald and Romeo. There’s a map showing how many books went to each state and letters of praise from adults and children alike. MORE>>>>>>>>