Dec
22

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Montgomery Ward Department Store “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Book, National Museum of American History

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first appeared in 1939 when the Montgomery Ward department store asked one of its copywriters, 34-year-old Robert L. May, to create a Christmas story the store could give away to shoppers as a promotional gimmick.

The retailer had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas every year; and it was decided that creating its own book would save money. In the first year of publication, 2.4 million copies of Rudolph’s story were distributed by Montgomery Ward.

May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, decided to adapt the story of Rudolph into song. Marks’ musical version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949.

This object is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection.



Posted: 22 December 2010
About the Author:

Jessica Porter Sadeq has worked in the Central Office of Public Affairs since June 2007. In August 2008 she joined the Internal Communications department as an internal communications coordinator.