Collection inventory

Special Collections home page
printer friendly version

Hal H. Empie Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Empie, Hal H., 1909-
Title: Hal H. Empie Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1937-1986
Quantity: 2.7 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American cartoonist, illustrator and painter including drawings, cartoons, photographs and printed material
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Hart Haller "Hal" Empie (1909-2002) was an American cartoonist, illustrator, painter, and pharmacist.

Hal Empie was born outside of Safford, Arizona Territory on March 26, 1909. In 1920, Empie and his family moved to Safford proper where his parents opened a hotel. As a teenager, Empie went to work as an assistant in a drug store. He held this job until he went to study medicine at the University of Arizona in 1927. Empie left the university to get married but became a licensed pharmacist at age 20 after attending the Capitol College of Pharmacy in Denver. Empie is said to have been the youngest licensed pharmacist in Arizona history.

After working for a few years in Solomonville, Arizona and suffering financial setbacks, Empie began to pursue art for extra income and in 1934 Empie moved to Duncan, Arizona to become a drugstore manager. Several years later Empie took over ownership of the store and renamed it the Art Gallery Drug which he would run for the next 50 years while he continued to work as an artist on the side.

Empie depicted life in Arizona in its earliest decades of statehood both in caricature and in landscape paintings. In the 1930s, Empie began producing Western-themed cartoon postcards through Empie Kartoon Kards. But Empie turned his focus to his love of oil painting and Empie worked to promote the creation of Arizona related art by Arizona artists.

Empie left Duncan and closed the Art Gallery Drug and moved to Tubac, Arizona in the 1980s where he opened the Hal Empie Studio & Gallery. In the late 1990s, Empie’s eyesight began to deteriorate but he adapted his tools and techniques so he could continue to paint. Empie, a prolific painter, began selling his paintings as a teenager and was primarily a self-taught artist aside from a few weeks of art courses in the early 1950s.

Empie’s life and work has been profiled in numerous publications and exhibited at regional galleries as well at the Tucson Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. A biography of Empie, Arizona's Hal Empie, His Life, His Times and His Art was published by the Arizona Historical Foundation in 2001 with a foreword by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Hal Empie died on March 26, 2002.

Return to top

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Hal H. Empie Papers are organized into 3 series. The first series, Artwork consists of 2 original drawings and 11 original cartoons. Empie used marker for the drawings and ink for the cartoons. The second series, Photographs contains 8 photographs and 2 sheets of negatives. The final series, Printed Material contains material related to Empie's career as a cartoonist and painter as well as biographical material.

Return to top

Arrangement of the Collection

The artwork is arranged by medium. The photographs are arranged by subject and the printed material is arranged as it was received.

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

One published book, Way Out West (date unknown) and one exhibition catalog, Echoes of Arizona: Hal Empie One Man Show (Presido Gallery: 1986) have been removed from this collection and sent to Rare Books.

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


Empie, Hal H., 1909-

Corporate Bodies

Art Gallery Drug Store (Duncan, Ariz.)
Empie Kartoon Kards.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Art, American -- 20th century.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- Arizona.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Illustrators -- Arizona.
Illustrators -- United States.
Painters -- Arizona.
Painters -- United States.
West (U.S.) -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Biography files.
Cartoons (humorous images)
Catalogs (documents)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Drawings (visual works)
Prints (visual works)



Return to top

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Hal H. Empie Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Hal Empie, 1968, 1986.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: –
Date: Jan 1967
Revision history: 16 Mar 2007 - converted to EAD (MRC); 6 Oct 2009 - revised inventory, scope and bio (SK)

Return to top


Oversize 1 "Juan's Home" 1950
Oversize 1 "Oscar" 1955
Oversize 1 Life's About Ore 1937
Oversize 1 Greetings from Our Back Yard- Home on the Range 1939
Oversize 1 A La Carte undated
Oversize 1 Land of the Brave undated
Oversize 1 The Local Sunbeam undated
Oversize 1 Man of Distinkshun undated
Oversize 1 Way Out West- With Th' Apache Injuns undated
Oversize 1 untitled (woman with baby) undated
Oversize 1 Am On Maneuvers Will Report Later undated
Oversize 1 Feelin' Our Oats undated
Map-Case 1, Drawer 100 Strange Country Out Here 'Tain't Bubble Gum It's Soap Weed undated
Box 1 Self 1966
Box 1 Art Gallery Drug 1966
Box 1 Paintings 1965-1966
Box 1 Negatives of cartoons undated
Printed Material
Box 1 Empie Kartoon-Kards catalog undated
Box 1 "Gettin' a Mite Chilly" card from Hal Empie Studio with biographical information on inside undated
Box 1 El Presido Gallery announcement of limited edition Empie print undated
Box 1 "'The Robe' part of exhibition by Duncan artist Empie" 1984 Mar - Arizona Daily Star article
Box 1 "Born to Create: Pharmacist Pursues Artistic Yearnings" 5 Dec 1985 - The State of Art article
Box 1 El Presido Gallery catalog, Echoes of Arizona- Hal Empie One Man Show 1986
photocopy of cover and title page. Original located in Rare Books.
Box 1 Way Out West book undated
photocopy of cover and title page. Original located in Rare Books.
Oversize 2 The Grand Canyon in July - South Rim undated - print of Empie's painting
Oversize 2 On Blue River undated - print of Empie's painting

Return to top