John Tinney McCutcheon (1870-1949) is known as “the Dean of Cartoonists.” He traveled widely and frequently served as a correspondent during those journeys. For example, during the Spanish-American War, he was embedded with the U.S.S. McCulloch in the Philippines. McCutcheon was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1931 for his cartoon “A Wise Economist Asks a Question” and spoke at Journalism Week here at Mizzou in 1939.
Most of the editorial cartoons in this collection are original pen and ink drawings done for the Chicago Tribune between 1903 and 1944. Social issues, economics, politics, the Great Depression, and both World Wars are just a few of the subjects McCutcheon’s cartoons speak to. Click on any of the images below to enter the Digital Library and find out more information about the cartoon.
The originals are located in Special Collections in Ellis Library, thanks to a generous donation from McCutcheon’s widow, Evelyn Shaw McCutcheon, in 1955. For those outside of Columbia, though, the Digital Library makes the collection available to anyone with an Internet connection.
Keep your eye on this digital collection. More images will be uploaded and additional information added soon. Additional details and a collection inventory can be found in the online guide on the Special Collections website.
In a tough economy, it's easy to forget that millions of Americans before our time have struggled as well. Cartoonist John T. McCutcheon's comics show that high unemployment and turmoil in the stock market aren't unique to this generation of Americans.
Our McCutcheon comic collection contains original pen-and-ink drawings that date from 1903 to 1944, many of which were published in the Chicago Tribune. While he covered a range of issues of the day, McCutcheon's wit and biting satire shined in his depiction of economic hardships.
Figure 1 and Figure 2, from 1913 and 1916, both show the depression and struggle of being unemployed. McCutcheon demonstrates his mastery over the medium by using merely a few darker lines to show how isolated and alone his unemployed man is, compared to the happy and joyful families walking down the street.
We've seen a roller coaster ride in the stock market recently, but nothing compares to the Crash of 1929, which led to a decade-long Great Depression. Our last cartoons, Figures 3 and 4, show two instances of men who lost it all on Wall Street, and wonder if they'll ever get it back. Little do they, or McCutcheon know – the worst economic downturn in history is only beginning.
John McCutcheon's comics captured the mood of the day, and sometimes it's surprising how much relevance 100-year old sketches can have to our own time. His entire collection of over 300 cartoons and drawings is available to all patrons.