Guide to the Famous Amos Collection
NMAH.AC.0112

Summary Information

Repository
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Creator - Donor
Amos, Christine
Creator - Donor
Amos, Wally
Creator
Famous Amos Cookie Company..
Title
Famous Amos Collection
ID
NMAH.AC.0112
Date
1975-1996
Extent
7.0 Cubic feet (11 boxes, 1 oversize folder)
Language
English
Abstract
The Famous Amos Collection consists primarily of business records, photographs, and newspaper clippings documenting the career and life of Wally Famous Amos and the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie company he created.

Preferred Citation note

Title and date of item, Famous Amos Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, box number X, folder number XX, digital file number XXXXXXX

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Biographical/Historical note

Wallace "Wally" Amos, Jr. (born July 1, 1936) is the founder of the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie brand. Amos grew up in Tallahassee, Florida before moving to New York City at age twelve. He initially attended the Food Trades Vocational High School, but dropped out to serve in the United States Air Force from 1953-1957. After serving in the military and being honorably discharged, he moved back to New York and began working at the William Morris Agency, where he became the company’s first African American talent agent.

In March of 1975, upon the suggestion of a friend, he opened up his first cookie shop in Los Angeles, California. The Famous Amos company was financed with the help of philanthropist celebrities, including Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy. The cookies became nationally renowned and were sold throughout the United States. As Famous Amos cookies grew in popularity, so did Amos’ significance as a celebrity figure. He appeared at book signings alongside entertainers and authors such as Bill Cosby, and he appeared as himself in a 1981 cameo on the television series Taxi.

In 1979, Amos began focusing his attention on advocating for child and adult literacy. He worked with the Literacy Volunteers of America and libraries, and he hosted a television series, Learn to Read, that encouraged literacy and taught children to read. Amos wrote a number of self-help and autobiographical books, including  The Power in You, 1988 and  The Famous Amos Story, 1983. During this time he also worked as a motivational speaker.

Facing financial difficulties, Amos sold both the Famous Amos Company and the trademarked "Famous Amos" name in 1985. In 1994, Amos started a new muffin business, initially called Uncle Noname Gourmet Muffins, which has since been renamed Uncle Wally's Muffin Company. Wally Amos currently lives in Hawaii.

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Scope and Contents note

The Famous Amos Collection consists primarily of business records, photographs, and newspaper clippings documenting the career of Wally Famous Amos and the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie. The bulk of the collection consists of newspaper clippings.

Series 1, Biographical Materials, 1970-1994 and undated, documents the professional life of Wally Amos. This series includes background information about the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie, awards, newspaper clippings describing Amos receiving his high school diploma, and drafts and published versions of Amos’s writings the  The Famous Amos Story and  The Power in You.

Series 2, Advertising and Marketing Materials, 1975-1994 and undated consists of materials relating to the marketing and advertising of Famous Amos cookies. This series contains his marketing plan, promotional materials, press releases, posters, advertising mock-ups, and packaging samples.

Series 3, Photographs, 1975-1980 and undated, includes a variety of photographic prints, most of which are 5” x 7” or smaller. The series contains professional and publicity photographs of Wally Amos and Famous Amos products as well as personal photographs of Amos’ family and friends. Film negatives and color slides of people are also included in this series.

Series 4, Press Materials, 1975-1996 and undated, is comprised of three subseries: Subseries 1, Clippings, 1975-1995 and undated; Subseries 2, Articles, 1976-1996; and Subseries 3, Scrapbooks and Wall Art, 1977-1981 and undated. The publicity materials in this series are primarily about Wally Amos, Famous Amos cookies, and his literacy efforts. The scrapbooks were assembled by Amos and contain additional clippings. Included in this subseries is a mounted 32" x 15” hand embroidered and appliquéd corduroy fabric panel that reads “Have a very brown day!”

Series 5, Correspondence, 1975-1985, includes postcards, business and personal letters, and drawings from young fans of Famous Amos cookies. This series also contains three guest registers in which visitors to the Famous Amos stores wrote comments.

Series 6, Literacy Activities, 1978-1984, includes promotional materials, articles, clippings, and a scrapbook related to Amos’ literacy campaign.

Series 7, Community Service, 1978-1981, includes a scrapbook and correspondence from members of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Club and the Aliis Pintos Little League team of California.

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Arrangement note

The collection is arranged into seven series.

Series 1, Biographical Materials, 1970-1994 and undated

Series 2, Advertising and Marketing Materials, 1975-1994 and undated

Series 3, Photographs, 1975-1980 and undated

Series 4, Press Materials, 1975-1996 and undated

Subseries 1, Clippings, 1975-1995 and undated

Subseries 2, Articles, 1975-1996

Subseries 3, Scrapbooks and Wall Art, 1977-1981 and undated

Series 5, Correspondence, 1975-1985

Series 6, Literacy Activities, 1978-1984

Series 7, Community Service, 1978-1981

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History 2011

P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
Phone: 202-633-3270
archivescenter@si.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use note

Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no gurantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Accruals note

Additional materials (approximately 9 cubic feet) were donated by Wally Amos through Rosica Mulhearn & Associates in July, 2000.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Collection donated by Wally and Christine Amos in November, 1980.

Processing Information note

Processed by Erin Molloy (volunteer), Nancy Beardsley (volunteer), Nancy Mulry (volunteer), and Theresa Worden (volunteer) in August, 2011. Finding aid authored by Erin Molloy.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Materials at the National Museum of American History

The Division of Work and Industry holds artifacts (Panama hat, an Indian gauze shirt, a tin cookie container, and two paper cookie bags) related to this collection. See accession #:1980.0886.

Materials in Other Organizations

Chicago Public Library, Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature. Wally Papers Amos Papers, 1978-1996 (Accession #1979/01). The collection consists of correspondence, draft copies of manuscripts, memorabilia, awards and books.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookie Company.

Genre(s)

  • Advertisements--1980-2000

Geographic Name(s)

  • Hawaii

Subject(s)

  • Advertising--Food--1970-1990
  • African American entrepreneurs
  • Cookies
  • Hats
  • Shirts, Men's

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Collection Inventory

Series 1, Biographical Materials, 1970-1994 and undated 

Release of levy, 1970 


  Box Folder
Text   1 1

Background information about Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie, 1976 


  Box Folder
Text   1 2

Awards, 1976-1994 


  Box Folder
Text   1 3

Awards, 1981-1987 


  Box Folder
Text   10 1

Famous Amos Story, final draft manuscript, 1983 


  Box Folder
Text   1 4

The Famous Amos Story, pages 116-240, 1983 


  Box Folder
Text   1 5

The Famous Amos Story, pages 241-319, 1983 


  Box Folder
Text   1 6

The Power in You, 1988 


  Box Folder
Text   1 7

The Power in You, 1988 


  Box Folder
Text   1 8

Printed media, 1994 and undated 


  Box Folder
Text   1 9

Food Trades High School event, 1983 


  Box Folder
Text   1 10

The Real Me undated 


  Box Folder
Moving Images   1 11

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Series 2, Advertising and Marketing Materials, 1975-1994 and undated 

Packaging, undated 


  Box Folder
Text   2 1

Advertising and promotional materials, 1975-1982 and undated 


  Box Folder
Text   2 2

Press releases, 1977-1994 


  Box Folder
Text   2 3

Marketing plan, 1988 


  Box Folder
Text   2 4-7

Corporate identity and logo, undated 


  Box Folder
Text   2 8

Advertisement mock-ups, undated 


  Box Folder
Text   2 9

Smithsonian, 1980 


  Box Folder
Text   2 10

Advertisement mock-ups, 1978 


  Box Folder
Text   10 2

Advertisement mock-ups, 1975-1978 and undated 


  Box Folder
Text   12 1

KRLA radio sign, 1976 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   13 1

Posters, 1975 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   13 2

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Series 3, Photographs, 1975-1980 and undated 

Cookies, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   7 1

Slides, 1976-circa 1980s and undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   7 2

Negatives, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   7 3

Negatives, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   7 4

Photo album, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   7 5

Bakery, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   7 6

Postcards, Chuck Cassell, 1975-1980 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   7 7

Wally Amos, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   8 1

Wally Amos, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   8 2

Wally Amos, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   8 3

Miscellaneous, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   7 8

Miscellaneous, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   11 7

Miscellaneous, undated 


  Box Folder
Graphic materials   12 2

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Series 4, Press Materials, 1975-1996 and undated 

Subseries 1, Clippings, 1974-1995 and undated 

Clippings, 1974 


  Box Folder
Text   10 3

Clippings, 1975 


  Box Folder
Text   2 11

Clippings, 1976 


  Box Folder
Text   2 12

Clippings, 1977 


  Box Folder
Text   2 13

Clippings, 1977 


  Box Folder
Text   10 4

Clippings, 1978 


  Box Folder
Text   2 14

Clippings, 1978 


  Box Folder
Text   10 5-6

Clippings, 1979 


  Box Folder
Text   2 15

Clippings, 1980 


  Box Folder
Text   2 16

Clippings, 1981 


  Box Folder
Text   3 1

Clippings, 1982 


  Box Folder
Text   3 2

Clippings, 1982 


  Box Folder
Text   10 8

Clippings, 1983 


  Box Folder
Text   3 3

Clippings, 1983 


  Box Folder
Text   10 9

Clippings, 1984 


  Box Folder
Text   3 4-7

Clippings, 1985 


  Box Folder
Text   3 8-11

Clippings, 1985 


  Box Folder
Text   4 1-2

Clippings, 1985 


  Box Folder
Text   10 10-11

Clippings, 1986 


  Box Folder
Text   4 3

Clippings, 1987 


  Box Folder
Text   4 4

Clippings, 1988 


  Box Folder
Text   4 5

Clippings, 1990 


  Box Folder
Text   4 6

Clippings, 1991 


  Box Folder
Text   4 7

Clippings, 1992 


  Box Folder
Text   4 8

Clippings, 1992 


  Box Folder
Text   11 1

Clippings, 1993 


  Box Folder
Text   4 9

Clippings, 1993 


  Box Folder
Text   4 10

Clippings, 1995 


  Box Folder
Text   4 11

Clippings, 1995 


  Box Folder
Text   11 2

Clippings, undated 


  Box Folder
Text   4 12

Clippings, undated 


  Box Folder
Text   11 3

Clippings about Baltimore Mayor William Schaefer, 1981 


  Box Folder
Text   10 7

Subseries 2, Articles, 1975-1996 

Articles, 1975 


  Box Folder
Text   4 13

Articles, 1976 


  Box Folder
Text   4 14

Articles, 1977 


  Box Folder
Text   4 15

Articles, 1978 


  Box Folder
Text   4 16

Articles, 1979 


  Box Folder
Text   4 17-18

Articles, 1979 


  Box Folder
Text   5 1-2

Ebony, 1979 September;  Interview, 1979 Summer 


  Box Folder
Text   11 4

Articles, 1981 


  Box Folder
Text   5 3

Articles, 1982 


  Box Folder
Text   5 4

Articles, 1983 


  Box Folder
Text   5 5

Articles, 1984 


  Box Folder
Text   5 6

Articles, 1985 


  Box Folder
Text   5 7

Articles, 1988 


  Box Folder
Text   5 8

Articles, 1993 


  Box Folder
Text   5 9

Articles, 1996 


  Box Folder
Text   5 10

Subseries 3, Scrapbooks and Wall Art, 1977-1983 and undated 

Newspaper clippings, 1980 March  


  Box Folder
Text   5 11

Newspaper clippings, 1980 April  


  Box Folder
Text   5 12

Newspaper clippings, 1980 May  


  Box Folder
Text   5 13

Newspaper clippings, 1980 June  


  Box Folder
Text   5 14

Newspaper clippings, 1980 July  


  Box Folder
Text   5 15

Newspaper clippings, 1980 August 


  Box Folder
Text   5 16

Newspaper clippings, 1980 September  


  Box Folder
Text   5 17

Newspaper clippings, 1980 October  


  Box Folder
Text   5 18

Newspaper clippings, 1980 November 


  Box Folder
Text   5 19

Newspaper clippings, 1980 December  


  Box Folder
Text   5 20

Newspaper clippings, 1981 January 


  Box Folder
Text   6 1

Newspaper clippings, 1981 February  


  Box Folder
Text   6 2

Newspaper clippings, 1981 March 


  Box Folder
Text   6 3

Newspaper clippings, 1981 April  


  Box Folder
Text   6 4

Newspaper clippings, 1981 May  


  Box Folder
Text   6 5

Newspaper clippings, 1981 June  


  Box Folder
Text   6 6

Newspaper clippings, 1981 July  


  Box Folder
Text   6 7

Newspaper clippings, 1981 August  


  Box Folder
Text   6 8

Newspaper clippings, 1981 September 


  Box Folder
Text   6 9

Newspaper clippings, 1981 October  


  Box Folder
Text   6 10

Newspaper clippings, 1981 November  


  Box Folder
Text   6 11

Newspaper clippings, undated 


  Box Folder
Text   6 12

Babson College, 1982-1983 


  Box Folder
Text   11 5

Smithsonian donation, 1980 


  Box Folder
Text   11 6

Wall art, 1977 


  Map-case Drawer Folder
Mixed materials   XX XX 1

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Series 5, Correspondence, 1975-1985 

Correspondence, 1978-1985 


  Box Folder
Text   6 13

Guest register, 1975 


  Box Folder
Text   9 1

Guest register, 1975 


  Box Folder
Text   9 2

Guest register, 1976 


  Box Folder
Text   9 3

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Series 6, Literacy Activities, 1978-1984 

Literacy activities, 1978-1980 


  Box Folder
Text   6 14

Literacy activities, 1983-1984 


  Box Folder
Text   6 15

Scrapbook, 1981-1982 


  Box Folder
Text   11 8

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Series 7, Community Service, 1978-1981 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Club, 1978-1979 


  Box Folder
Text   6 16

Little League Sponsorship, 1981 


  Box Folder
Text   6 17

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