How do I find historical political cartoons?

Modern American political cartoons have been around since the nineteenth century. The increase in newspaper and magazine circulation in the 1800’s provided a rich environment for the rise and use of political cartoons.  Symbols, caricature, drawings, and exaggerations drawn by the cartoonist, point out the themes and problems of a historical era. There are many sources that you can use to find historical political cartoons.  Check out the resources below to get started.

Political Cartoons in Books

Below are some examples of searches that you can do in the Library Catalog to locate books that contain political cartoons.

Keywordcartoons and caricatures and politic* (the * serves as a truncation symbol and therefore will pick up politics as well as political)

Keywordcartoons and caricatures and Bush (here you can replace Bush with an event or another individual’s name to determine if there is book material on your topic)

Subject: United States — History — Caricatures and cartoons

Political Cartoons in Newspapers

Locating political cartoons in newspapers will often require consulting the print or microfilm version of the newspaper.  While many article databases contain the full-text of newspapers, the full-text is often in an HTML format and images, including political cartoons, are not included.

If you have a date/approximate date of an event, you can look through newspapers that were published several days before or several days after the event.

We also have a number of online historical newspaper databases.  For example, the New York Times (ProQuest Historical Newspapers) – with Index has a search option to limit to Document Type: Editorial Cartoons.  You can get to this search option by clicking on More Search Options link. This type of search can be difficult though because many of the cartoons do not have captions or titles.

To see the complete list of online historical newspapers, look under Databases on the library’s homepage and choose the category Newspapers, Historical.

Digital Collections of Political Cartoons

Universities, the Library of Congress, and other cultural organizations have created digitized collections of their holdings to make them available for research to scholars from around the world.  There are digital collections that focus on political cartoons and below are several examples.  For a longer list of editorial cartoon sites, please this guide by the Association of College and Research Libraries.

Created by the Library of Congress, this collection highlights editorial cartoons created by Herb Block. His cartoons have been featured in the Chicago News, the Washington Post, and other publications.

Clifford H. Baldowski created editorial cartoons for the Augusta Chronicle, Miami Herald, and Atlanta Constitution. This collection is provided by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political and Research Studies at the University of Georgia.

Over 50 cartoonists are represented with most cartoons created in the 1960s and 1970s. This collection is created and maintained by the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries.

The Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature contains more than 36,000 original cartoon drawings with the online exhibit containing 102 drawings selected as examples of the collection. These reflect Wood’s primary collecting interests including political illustrations, comic strips, and caricature.
Berryman was a staff political cartoonist for the Washington Post and the Washington Evening Star for the first half of the 20th century. The online exhibit features cartoons that appeared on the front page of Washington papers from 1898 through 1948, and gives a picture of the entire election process.

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