New Research Guide: Cartoons and Caricatures

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new guide describing the Prints & Photographs Division’s large and varied collection of cartoon and caricature art. Martha H. Kennedy, now retired Curator of Popular & Applied Graphic Art and author of the guide, describes the appeal of this collection material: “The Library’s vast, diverse collections of comic art contain items that will delight and fascinate generalists and specialists alike, no matter how varied their visual tastes and interests. Among the thousands of political cartoons, caricatures, and drawings for comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, and animation art housed in the Prints & Photographs Division are gems to be discovered among these subgenres.”

The guide includes two galleries of sample images, one for works by artists who were active predominantly before the 20th century and one for those active from the 20th century through the present. The gallery of images made by early masters of political and social satire includes this image from the 1890s by Homer Davenport of two Uncle Sams, one confident and the other dejected, possibly in reaction to efforts by the United States to assert power in the Caribbean.

<em>Lest we forget.</em> Drawing by Homer Davenport, 1893 [i.e., ca. 1899]. //

Lest we forget. Drawing by Homer Davenport, 1893 [i.e., ca. 1899]. //

Another image from the gallery by early masters, made more than two centuries earlier, is this image by Romeyn de Hooghe depicting Jesuit priests engaged in debauchery.

Sic itur ad astra scilicet. Etching by Romeyn de Hooghe after William Loggan, 1681. //

Placing the sample images by artists active predominantly in the 20th century and later directly below those by early masters provides researchers an opportunity to get a quick sense of how cartoon art developed over time. The 20th century and later section includes a number of comic strips, including this one by George Herriman in which a single flea inspires wacky high jinks.

Krazy Kat. Officer Pupp lies somniferous upon his official pallet sweetly adenoiding a haunting melody, torpidly tonsiling a tender tune. Drawing by George Herriman, between 1917 and 1934. //

Krazy Kat. Officer Pupp lies somniferous upon his official pallet sweetly adenoiding a haunting melody, torpidly tonsiling a tender tune. Drawing by George Herriman, between 1917 and 1934. //

This image by Anne Harriet Fish of couples dancing was made for the cover of the March 1921 issue of Vanity Fair.

Dancing couples, no. 2. Drawing by Anne Harriet Fish, 1921. //

Like the sample images, the selected collections featured in the guide are helpfully organized roughly by time period and include material made not only in the United States but elsewhere, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. The searching and viewing section provides tips for finding descriptions of collection material that may be of interest.

The related resources section provides even more avenues to explore by highlighting additional resources. Martha notes that “Online exhibitions of comic art available on the Library’s web site invite further exploration of the rich trove of cartoons and caricature in the division and spotlight exemplary work by talented cartoonists represented in the collections.” Whether interested in getting a small taste of the Library’s collection of cartoon and caricature art, or an expert yourself, this guide is a great launching point.

Learn More:

Reflections on Photochroms

The collections of the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress include thousands of photochroms. These early color prints were photomechanically reproduced so they weren’t photographs in the traditional sense. I spent some time looking through the photochroms, most of which date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, while working on […]

New Year, New to See

The following is a guest post by Hanna Soltys, Reference Librarian, with contributions by Sara W. Duke, Curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Arts, and Micah Messenheimer, Curator of Photography, all of the Prints and Photographs Division. To kick off the New Year, the Prints & Photographs Virtual Orientations for January 2022 look at newly […]

Slice Up the Fruitcake

This week, we’re looking at something I don’t like very much – fruitcake. This seasonal sweet treat has never appealed to me. But while preparing for a recent Flickr album featuring images of butter and baking, I stumbled upon three fruitcake photos that caught my eye and deserved detailed views. First up, a Russell Lee […]

A Bicycle Challenge in the Nation’s Capital

This past year a researcher called to our attention a series of photographs of children posing with bicycles in the National Photo Company Collection. Below is one of the images, which came to the Library with a somewhat mysterious title: “Times girl on bicycle.” Documentation obtained by the researcher through the Library of Congress’s Chronicling […]

Documenting Historic American Landscapes – Challenge Accepted!

The following is a guest post by Ryan Brubacher, Reference Librarian, Prints & Photographs Division.  In late November, the winners of the 2021 HALS Challenge were announced. The announcement offers a good opportunity to highlight the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) collection, including the historical reports found within this collection, as well as the National […]

Ready for Research: Contemporary Photography Donated by the Annenberg Foundation

The following is a guest post by Aliza Leventhal, Head, Technical Services, Prints & Photographs Division. When the Annenberg Space for Photography closed in June 2020, they offered the Library of Congress more than 900 high quality prints from ten of their exhibitions. We responded enthusiastically to this rare opportunity to add work by 329 […]

Through the Eyes of an Angel: New York Photos by Anthony Angel

Earlier this year, the Anthony Angel Collection became available for research. The collection contains around 60,000 black-and-white photographs of New York City, chiefly Manhattan, taken between 1949 and 1967. Angel was born Angelo A. Rizzuto (1906-1967) and listed in the 1910 U.S. Census as Angelino Rizzuto, as Tony Rizzuto in 1920, and as Angelo A. […]

Adding Context: Photographs of Japanese Americans Imprisoned During World War II

The following is a guest post by Mitsuko Brooks, an Archives, History and Heritage Advanced (AHHA) intern at the Library of Congress. Brooks is in her final semester as a student at Queens College (CUNY) working towards a Master of Library Science degree with a certificate in Archives and Preservation of Cultural Materials. This fall […]