Collection inventory

Special Collections home page
printer friendly version

Wood Cowan Papers

An inventory of his Papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Cowan, Wood
Title: Wood Cowan Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1928-1955
Quantity: 18 linear ft.
Abstract: Original cartoons, illustrations, sketches, proofs, clippings, published material, scripts and correspondence.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Woodson Messick Cowan (1889-1977), commonly known as Wood Cowan, was an American cartoonist, illustrator and painter.

Originally from Algona, Iowa, Cowan attended the University of Iowa before pursuing art studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. Cowan started in the newspaper business as a sports writer and cartoonist for the George Matthew Adams Syndicate in New York City (1920-1927). During this period he produced sports cartoons and worked on a number of various comic strip titles including Vivian the Vamp, Them Were the Days and Mom 'n' Pop. In 1946, Cowan briefly worked on George Ahern's comic strip Our Boarding House, featuring the popular Major Hoople character. Beginning in 1949, Cowan served as editorial cartoonist for the Bridgeport (Conn.) Evening Post (1949-1959), and then for the New Haven Register (1960-1969).

Wood Cowan was also a prolific illustrator and painter throughout his career. He contributed work to a wide variety of popular magazines including the New Yorker and Argosy, and illustrated numerous book publications. In addition, his paintings were featured in gallery exhibitions in Westport, Conn. (1964), Darien, Conn. (1968), Norwalk, Conn. (1970) and Jekyll Island, Ga. (1972).

A long time resident of Connecticut, Cowan served two terms in the state legislature there (1953-1957) and did a single term as First Selectman for the town of Weston (1957-1959).

Return to top

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Wood Cowan Papers consists primarily of original cartoons and cartoon proofs. The entire range of Cowan's cartoon work is represented including approximately 50 original sports cartoons, 300 original editorial cartoons and hundreds of original cartoons from many of the comic strip titles that Cowan worked on—Vivian the Vamp, Carrie and Her Car, Them Were the Days, Mom 'n' Pop, Sissy, and others. The collection also contains a broad sampling of Cowan's magazine and book illustration work (original sketches, drawings, proofs and clippings). This work includes his Teen Tips series, Flying (A) Andy panels, Western Greats panels and sketches for Iowa Cracker Barrel, his tribute to his Iowa prairie roots. In addition, the collection includes some pieces of correspondence, two typed scripts related to Keen Trailer stories, and many other miscellaneous sketches, drawings and cartoons.

Return to top

Arrangement of the Collection

Comic strips and titled illustration work are grouped together by title and arranged in chronological order. Sports and editorial cartoons are grouped separately and arranged in alphabetical order by title. There are multiple packages that contain loose groupings of miscellaneous materials. Please note that a complete inventory and reprocessing of the collection is pending. Contact the Repository for more information.

Return to top


Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Return to top

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has collections of over one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Return to top

Subject Headings


Cowan, Wood.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Illustration of books -- 20th century.
Illustrators -- United States.
Sports -- Caricatures and cartoons.
World politics -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Editorial cartoons.



Return to top

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Wood Cowan Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Wood Cowan, 1966 and Thaddeus Cowan, 1977.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: --
Date: 1977
Revision history: 6 Jan 2009 - converted to EAD (MD)

Return to top


Package 1
Miscellaneous cartoons [8 cartoons]
1928, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1937, 1939 (2), n.d.(1)
Package 2
Wanted Dead or Alive [posters, 63 copies]
Package 3
Western Greats [64 cartoons, 1 book]
Package 4
The Berry's Family Album
69 cartoons - 1942
29 cartoons - 1942
12 newspaper proofs - 1942
Package 5
Miscellaneous drawings and cartoons [39 items]
Package 6
Major Hoople - drawings and proofs
Cradled on Main Street - drawings
Some People Can't Remember Names
Miscellaneous cartoons
Cracker Barrel - sketches
Package 7
Puppet Show
Package 8
Keen Trailer (late 1940s) [14 panels and 2 typewritten scripts about stories]
Dr. Merrywell - Family Doctor (early 1950s) [7 page proofs, 5 negative photocopies]
Marty McGee (1940s) [14 cartoons]
Package 9
Oh, Diana!
12/17/1948 - 01/08/1949 [10 cartoon panels]
10/06/1947 - 12/20/1947 [25 page proofs]
Package 10
Miscellaneous cartoons (1940s) [1 scrapbook]
Package 11
Miscellaneous cartoons [5 cartoons]
Package 13
Windy Winters (circa 1930) [1 scrapbook]
Package 13
Miscellaneous cartoons (early 1920s) [40 cartoons]
Athletic Al [1 cartoon]
Auto Bugs and Buggies [14 cartoons]
Bonehead Bowlers [3 cartoons]
The Busy Bowlers Club [1 cartoon]
Carrie and Her Car [2 cartoons]
The Stove League [4 cartoons]
Such is Golf [10 cartoons]
Vivian the Vamp [54 cartoons]
Package 14
Sports cartoons (1922-1923)
"Baseball reduces crime" [1 cartoon]
"Big league recruits" [4 cartoons]
"Coach Rockne" [1 cartoon]
"Come back champions" [1 cartoon]
"Gameness" [1 cartoon]
"I'll tell the world" [1 cartoon]
"In the spotlight of sport" [22 cartoons]
"The 'J' Fighters of the Squared Circle" [1 cartoon]
"The kick off" [1 cartoon]
"The left hand in sports" [1 cartoon]
"Legs" [1 cartoon]
"Making the fans laugh" [1 cartoon]
"Nobody home" [1 cartoon]
"Out for a home run record" [1 cartoon]
"Passing of the pop bottle" [1 cartoon]
"Playing against a stacked deck" [1 cartoon]
"University football captains" [12 cartoons]
"Weight vs. speed" [1 cartoon]
Package 15
Teen Tips (late 1940s)
225 panels
3 panel proofs
Package 16
Flying (A) Andy (1940-1950s)
130 magazine clippings
3 panel proofs
Package 17
Sports Thrills [40 items]
"Baseball's biggest boner"
"First American to win a British golf title"
"McGovern lost but he won"
"When a horse's nose was worth a million"
"The last charge of the old polo brigade"
Package 18
Editorial Cartoons A-L [99 cartoons]
"A tap now—or 'The rap' later?"
"All the old pump needs is a little priming"
"An expert on our biggest problem"
"—and he'll take off bag and baggage!"
"And this isn't even the first team!"
"Any New Haven street corner"
"Anybody's ball?"
"Anything else we can do for you fellows?"
"April shower"
"Are other nations going to make our laws?"
"Are there gonna be any parks, Mister?"
"At the campaign crossroads"
"Barnum Festival"
"Beat the drums!"
"Better make those two threads stronger"
"Better not go too far, boys"
"Big shots in the dark"
"Boiling water was then poured in the trough from kettles hung on poles nearby"
"Build that dam higher!"
"But, Mother! We'd rather do it ourselves"
"Buying thru highways on the installment plan, or 'Give and Take'"
"Can't hold back progress"
"Checking the children on next year's route"
"Come on, step into line"
"Congressman Al Morano:"
"Count your blessings"
"Cruel and inhuman treatment"
"Dangerous curve ahead—"
"Design for health"
"Dig deeper"
"Dig those dollars!"
"Does Westport want this forever?"
"Don't kill Santa Claus!"
"The end of a successful voyage"
"Every accommodation-always a warm welcome here"
"Fence him out"
"Fill for the thruway means deep water for shipping (One hand helps the other)"
"Fill it and push it over the top"
"Five reasons"
"Flyin' high"
"For this I give thanks"
"A forward pass that should be declared out of bounds"
"Fruit of the tree"
"Future spending"
"Gates open to link Connecticut and New York"
"Get in step-join the Big Parade"
"Get rid of these extra gadgets. All we need is a car that'll take us places"
"Get your ammunition here, folks!"
"A gigantic sponge"
"Give him protection"
"Give him the full treatment"
"The gobblins will get you"
"Good advice"
"Has anyone got a peace-pipe?"
"Headlines and haircuts"
"He coming bag and pocket book(?)"
"He looks pretty healthy"
"Heh! One of you guys grab that string!!"
"He's been a good boy"
"He's in for another surprise, too"
"He's in the high income bracket"
"Hey! Open the door, it's Richard again!"
"The Hoarder"
"He's loaded!"
"Help keep her hands filled"
"Hey, take it easy! Remember my life is in your hands"
"How Connecticut highways are built"
"Hum-m-m. How does that sound?"
"I could pay for it"
"If I had t'find a place t'park in this town I'd never be able to make deliveries"
"If you fellows don't get your work done, you'll have to stay after school"
"I'll take him in the first round"
"In the past year"
"It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"
"It means a lot to him"
"It was ever thus"
"It's a late planting season"
"It's been cold outside"
"Just a sprinkle"
"Keep 'em dancing"
"Keep on rolling motor wheels"
"Kick off to a winning goal"
"Last year's skate just won't fit"
"(the above two are Kowalski's senatorial ambitions)"
"Leading the parade"
"Let Grand-paw decide"
"Let's do a little horn tooting"
"Let's do some selling ourselves"
"Lets get some real use out of it"
"Let's get that relief road built"
"Let's join the parade"
"Let's leave the hole to the bulldozers"
"Let's ring that bell"
"The life and achievements of Igor I Sikorsky"
"The light that You must not fail"
"Log jam "
"Log jam in our Federal Courts"
"Looks like brighter days ahead"
Package 19
Editorial Cartoons M-Y [94 cartoons]
"Making it hard to deliver the goods"
"The modern Simon Legree"
"More at home would help"
"More elbow room"
"Move over, boys"
"The moving finger writes—"
"Must we come to this!"
"My, how you've grown!"
"New Year's resolutions"
"New Year's taxes"
"No more poultry on the highway"
"Now for the House and Senate!"
"OK'd all around"
"One more reason to hurry the construction of the Nutmeg Turnpike"
"One way traffic"
"Our own coronation"
"Out to make friends and influence people"
"Over the river—or through the woods?"
"Propaganda platform"
"Putting Connecticut on the international map"
"The red carpet for the Vice President"
"(the above two are Quit triffling, boys, there's work to be done)"
"Retrieving the Old Skimmer"
"Riding a pot-holder, or a magic carpet?"
"Same tangle"
"Scenic Housatonic route would solve this problem"
"Send old toys to the Westport Junior Womans Club"
"She just keeps traveling along"
"The ship and the bottle-neck"
"Sit down! The majority oppose"
"Sifting 'em out - Running 'em through the sieve"
"Smoke rings the school bell"
"Something's got to be done about this!!"
"Something's got to give and soon"
"The sooner we have it the better"
"Sounds like a reasonable request"
"Speaker Sam Rayburn"
"Special this week —polio shots"
"Special this week—polio shots - only 50t"
"Start planning now"
"A step in the right direction"
"Step inside gentleman let me show you what New Haven has to offer you"
"Step right up boys, it's your money I'm passing out"
"Step up and—ring the bell"
"Stepping into the picture"
"Stop the run"
"Take your choice"
"Teeing off at Jekyll"
"Thanks, pal!!"
"That arm has a lot of muscle"
"That taxi's at the door"
"They both hold the same amount of water"
"They're both loaded"
"Time for rebuilding—all around"
"Time to start the sweeping"
"Time to trim his sails"
"Things look purty peaceful across the river"
"This is REALLY spooky!"
"This happens—and who is to blame?"
"And this was to be a spring clean-up job?"
"The thundering herd"
"To Helen, with affection from Wood Cowan"
"Two big improvements for the South End"
"An unseasonal dream"
"Up—and away!"
"Water over the dam [2 cartoons]"
"We aren't going to let anything stand in our way to get you down here—and quick!!"
"We do need that thruway bridge"
"We must fill in the valleys"
"We need the thruway for traffic relief, and YOU back the highway commissioner ... OR ELSE!!"
"We'll all reap the harvest"
"Welcome City Hall"
"A welcome shot in the arm"
"Welcome Stranger"
"Welfare chiseler"
"We'll bet on the horse"
"Well, where DO you want the expressway to go?"
"Were going places! "
"Westport schoolmarm"
"Westport traffic puzzle"
"What next, little man?"
"Without your help someone gets left out"
"Which one reflects the good student"
"Women of Connecticut"
"Wood Cowan sketches some of those attending the G.O.P. Convention"
"Wrapping the Christmas packages"
"Ya-hoo, school's out!"
"You are now entering New York"
"You are the people I want to talk to!!"
"You can't lose your shadow"
"You have TWO years to solve these"
"The youngsters want a ride in Daddy's car"
Package 20
Untitled Editorial Cartoons [99 cartoons]
Package 21
Mom 'n' Pop [214 cartoons]
March 2, 3, 5, 7-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-31
April 2-7, 9-14, 16, 17, 28, 30
May 1-4, 28-31
June 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11-15, 19-23, 25-28
July 2-7, 11-14, 16-21, 23-28, 30, 31
August 1-4, 6-11, 13-18, 20-25, 27-31
September 1, 3-8, 11-15, 17-22, 24-29
Oct 1, 2, 4-6, 8-13, 15-18, 20, 22-27, 29-31
November 1-3, 5-10, 12-14, 21, 27-30
December 1, 3-7, 10-12, 14, 15, 17-20, 22, 24-27
May 25
July 26
Sept. 15
April 1-3, 6,7
Package 22
Sissy (1942-1945?) [88 items]
April 28, 29
May 1-5, 8-13, 15, 18-20, 23, 25-27, 29-31
June 2, 3, 5-10, 12-15, 17-22, 24, 27-29
July 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10-15, 24-29
August 1-5, 8, 9, 12, 14-18, 22-26
March 17 [Sunday 1945?)
Proofs [5 pages]
Package 23
Women with a Gun [painting]
Package 24
Miscellaneous drawings and cartoons [7 items]
Package 25
Them Were the Days

Return to top