A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of special significance and legend.
Portrait of a cowboy from 1887
A subtype, called a wrangler, specifically tends the horses used to work cattle. In addition to ranch work, some cowboys work for or participate in rodeos.
Here is an amazing collection of colorized pictures that shows cowboys from the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
A man sits at the frontage of buildings in Atlanta, Georgia, 1864
A cowboy in a saloon bar, Wyoming, circa 1888
Getting ready for a cattle drive, circa 1889
A King of the Plains, circa 1898
A round-up in Colorado, 1898
Ready to go, circa 1898
Australian bullock drivers, circa 1900
Cowboys in a saloon bar, circa 1900
In a Deadwood bar, South Dakota, 1900
Portrait of a young cowboy, circa 1900
A cowboy stands in front of his cabin, Hot Springs, Arkansas, circa 1901
Man on a knoll overlooking the grazing herd at LS Ranch, Texas, 1907