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John T. McCutcheon Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: McCutcheon, John T. (John Tinney), 1870-1949
Title: John T. McCutcheon Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1895-1947
Quantity: 10.83 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American political cartoonist and war correspondent including over 600 original cartoons, writings, biographical material, published material and a scrapbook of clippings from World War I.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

John T. McCutcheon (1870-1949) was an American cartoonist and war correspondent who worked for the Chicago Tribune for over 40 years.

John Tinney McCutcheon was born on a small farm several miles south of Lafayette in Tippecanoe County, Indiana on May 6, 1870. He spent his early childhood on the farm and his youth in neighboring communities. After receiving a B.S. degree from Purdue University in 1889, he joined the staff of the Chicago Morning News as an artist.

During 1892 and 1893, McCutcheon covered the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and in 1895 he first traveled to Europe. The presidential election of 1896 between Republican William McKinley and Democrat William Jennings Bryan provided McCutcheon with the material to open his career as a political cartoonist. While traveling abroad, the Spanish-American War got underway and McCutcheon served as a war correspondent in the Philippines returning home several year later after the Boer War.

After returning to the United States, McCutcheon started working on his first serial cartoons including Bird Center and in 1903 he joined the Chicago Tribune for whom he contributed editorial cartoons, illustrations and feature stories. During the first years of World War I, McCutcheon reported from Europe.

McCutcheon continued to travel extensively. He purchased his own island, Salt Cay in 1916 and went on hunting trips with several U.S. generals. He made several trips around the world and in 1909-1910 he spent over four months in Africa on a big game hunt, all the while contributing articles to the Chicago Tribune.

McCutcheon's cartoons ran the gamut from presidential races and national politics to societal changes and economic hardships. He published illustrations in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and illustrated several books by George Ade, a fellow Indianan and Purdue graduate whose humorous "fables" were popular from the late nineteenth century through the 1930s. His illustrations were also used by several railroads. McCutcheon's autobiography, Drawn from Memory, was published posthumously in 1950.

Purdue University and Notre Dame awarded him honorary doctoral degrees in 1926 and 1931 respectively and McCutcheon also lectured throughout the United States. His cartoons earned him an international reputation and he received a Pulitzer Prize for his 1931 cartoon, "A Wise Economist Asks a Question." He was a member of the Royal Geographical Society of London, the Chicago Zoological Society (of which he served as president for over twenty years), the University Players and Coffee House of New York, the Military Order of Carabao and the Society of Manila Bay of Washington.

Following serious illness, McCutcheon retired from the Chicago Tribune in 1946. John T. McCutcheon died June 10, 1949 in Lake Forest, Illinois. His son, Shaw McCutcheon is an editorial cartoonist.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John T. McCutcheon Papers are divided into five series containing both visual and textual works by McCutcheon as well as biographical information.

Cartoons contains a total of approximately 663 original editorial cartoons (circa 1904-1945) drawn by McCutcheon for the Chicago Tribune as well as two copies. There are 254 dated cartoons. Within the 409 undated cartoons there are approximately 155 items with captions and approximately 254 items without captions.

Of particular interest are two copies of McCutcheon's 1931 cartoon, "A Wise Economist Asks the Question" which won the Pulitzer Prize. Topical subject matter receiving frequent attention by McCutcheon includes World War I and its aftermath (particularly Europe’s war debt), the implementation of the income tax in 1913, the increasing pervasiveness of Henry Ford’s automobile, the decision to join the League of Nations and the Mexican Revolution. While focusing primarily on national and world politics, McCutcheon also documented changes to Chicago’s political and physical landscape in terms of building projects and transportation. Recurring themes include “The Changing World” which compared the past to the present and “Cartoons of the Day” in which McCutcheon divided the image into three separate cartoons.

McCutcheon worked primarily with pen and ink on illustration board and paper but crayon was also used. Captions and pre-production notes with special instructions appear in pen and pencil. McCutcheon frequently wrote extensive text and subtitles on the back of the cartoons. Dimensions vary, although most are at least 14 ½" x 18 ½".

Illustrations and Drawings (1895-1947) includes original artwork and reproductions of McCutcheon's work. Many of these original pieces appeared in Cosmopolitan and others were drawn to accompany serialized stories. Some are pencil drawings. The reproductions include a color railroad dinner menu, work for the Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society and a rough composite of sketches and text reporting on events in the U.S. Senate. Also of interest is a copy of a map McCutcheon drew of the island he purchased.

Biographical material contains three photographs of McCutcheon, his autograph, typed biographies and programs from events he attended.

Writings consists of a diary from 1898 and undated class notes.

Published material (1902-1944) includes copies of articles written by McCutcheon; newspaper clippings of his articles, illustrated features and color artwork that appeared in the Chicago Tribune; as well as a scrapbook with McCutcheon's World War I reporting and drawings.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Dated cartoons are arranged chronologically. Undated cartoons are arranged in alphabetical order by caption where one is present.

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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.

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Related Material

A number of published items have been removed from the collection, cataloged and sent to Rare Books. Please see the inventory for more information.

See the Shaw McCutcheon Cartoons for material related to John T. McCutcheon's son.

Special Collections Research Center has collections of more than 150 cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

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Subject Headings


Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Harding, Warren G. (Warren Gamaliel), 1865-1923 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
McCutcheon, John T. (John Tinney), 1870-1949.
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Corporate Bodies

Democratic Party (U.S.) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Indiana Society of Chicago.
League of Nations -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States. Congress -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Associated Titles

A Boy in Fall-Time.
A Boy in Spring-Time.
A Boy in Summer-Time.
A Boy in Winter-Time.
Chicago tribune.
Cosmopolitan (London, England)


Agriculture -- Caricatures and cartoons.
American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Boxing -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- Illinois -- Chicago.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Editorial cartoons -- Illinois -- Chicago.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Elections -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Great Depression -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Industries -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Journalists -- United States.
Political corruption -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Prohibition -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Strikes and lockouts -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Taxation -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Treaty of Versailles (1919) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
War correspondents -- United States.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
World politics -- 1900-1945 -- Caricatures and cartoons.


Chicago (Ill.) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Europe -- History -- 1918-1945 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Europe -- History--1871-1918 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Mexico -- History -- Revolution, 1910-1920 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1901-1953 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Drawings (visual works)
Editorial cartoons.
Printed materials (object genre)


War correspondents.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John T. McCutcheon Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. John T. McCutcheon , 1964.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: CMV
Date: Nov 1978
Revision history: 30 Oct 2006 - converted to EAD (AMCon); 15 Jan 2010 - added detailed inventory and index (SK); 24 Jun 2011 - added to subject/genre headings and cartoon postcards to inventory (AM)

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Cartoons (665 items)
Click here for a detailed inventory.
Dated - includes 2 copies of an original cartoon (256 items)
Oversize 1, Folder 1 12 Jan 1908, 9 May 1922, 4 Feb 1923, 1908
Oversize 1, Folder 2 1925 Jan, 1925 Jul - Oct
Oversize 1, Folder 3 1925 Nov - Dec
Oversize 1, Folder 4 1926 Jan, 1926 May - Jun
Oversize 1, Folder 5 1926 Jul - Sep
Oversize 1, Folder 6 1926 Oct - Dec
Oversize 1, Folder 7 1927 Jan, 1927 Apr - Jul
Oversize 1, Folder 8 1927 Aug - Nov
Oversize 2, Folder 1 1928 Jan, 1928 May - Aug, 1928 Nov - Dec
Oversize 2, Folder 2 1929 Jan - Feb, 1929 Jul - Dec
Oversize 2, Folder 3 1929
Oversize 2, Folder 4 1930 Jan - Feb, 1930 Apr, 1930 Jun, 1930 Sep - Nov
Oversize 2, Folder 5 1930
Oversize 2, Folder 6 1931 Jun, 1931 Aug, 1931 Oct - includes two copies of McCutcheon's 1931 cartoon, "A Wise Economist Asks the Question"
Oversize 2, Folder 7 1933 Jul, 1933 Sep - Dec
Oversize 3, Folder 1 1934 Jun - Sep
Oversize 3, Folder 2 1935 Jan, 1935 May
Oversize 3, Folder 3 1936 Apr, 1936 Jun - Dec
Oversize 3, Folder 4 1937 Mar, 1937 Jul - Nov
Oversize 3, Folder 5 1938 Feb, 1938 Aug - Sep,1938 Nov
Oversize 3, Folder 6 1939 Feb,1939 Apr, 1939 Jul - Oct
Oversize 3, Folder 7 1940 Mar, 1940 May, 1940 Jul - Aug, 1940 Dec
Oversize 3, Folder 8 1941 Jan, 1941 Sep - Oct
Oversize 3, Folder 9 1942 Mar, 1942 Sep - Oct, 1942 Dec
Oversize 3, Folder 10 1943 Jan, 1943 May,1943 Aug, 1943 Dec
Oversize 3, Folder 11 1944 Jan - Feb, 1944 Jul, 1944 Sep
Oversize 3, Folder 12 1945 Mar
Undated (409 items)
Oversize 4, Folder 1 A
Oversize 4, Folder 2 B-C
Oversize 4, Folder 3 D-F
Oversize 4, Folder 4 G-H
Oversize 4, Folder 5 I-L
Oversize 5, Folder 1 M circa 1912, undated
Oversize 5, Folder 2 N-O circa 1900-1921, undated
Oversize 5, Folder 3 P-R circa 1924, undated
Oversize 5, Folder 4 S circa 1904-1913, undated
Oversize 5, Folder 5 T circa 1916, undated
Oversize 5, Folder 6 W circa 1909-1913, undated
Oversize 5, Folder 7 W undated
Oversize 5, Folder 7 W undated
Oversize 6, Folder 1 Untitled undated
Oversize 6, Folder 2 Untitled undated
Oversize 6, Folder 3 Untitled undated
Oversize 6, Folder 4 Untitled undated
Oversize 6, Folder 5 Untitled undated
Oversize 6, Folder 6 Untitled undated
Oversize 6, Folder 7 Untitled undated
Oversize 7, Folder 1 Untitled undated
Oversize 7, Folder 2 Untitled undated
Oversize 7, Folder 3 Untitled undated
Oversize 7, Folder 4 Untitled undated
Oversize 7, Folder 5 Untitled undated
Oversize 7, Folder 6 Untitled undated
Oversize 7, Folder 7 Untitled undated
Oversize 7, Folder 8 Untitled undated
Oversize 7, Folder 9 Untitled undated
Illustrations and drawings
Original artwork
Oversize 8 "An Heir at Large" 10 Jul, 27 Aug, 3 Dec (3 items)
Oversize 8 Cosmopolitan - color artwork undated (5 items)
Oversize 8 Cosmopolitan- "Happy Endings" 1923 (4 items)
Oversize 8 Cosmopolitan- "O'Malley article" 1920 (4 items)
Oversize 8 Cosmopolitan- "Vacations Then" 1924 Sep (2 items)
Oversize 8 Cosmopolitan- other artwork 1925-1926 (3 items)
Oversize 8 "Crossed Wires" 1926 (7 items)
Oversize 8 "Hints" 1925 (13 items)
Oversize 8 Indiana Society picnic at Cedar Lake undated
Oversize 8 "Mr. J. Raglan Patchmore" 1931 (2 items)
Oversize 8 "Mr. Lugubrious Blue and Mr. Smiley Gladd" 1920, 1925, undated (3 items)
Box 1 Drawings 17 Feb 1899, 1899 Jul, (2 items)
"Burmese Girl"
"Maria's Cousin"
Box 1 "Stories of the Streets and of the Town" 1895-1897 (14 items)
Box 1 "What a Man Sees Who Goes Away from Home" by George Ade 1895 - related to Ade and McCutcheon's first trip abroad (24 items)
Oversize 8 Ink drawings and illustrations undated (3 items)
"The Ocean Liner of the Future"
"Senator Fairbanks"
Oversize 8 Untitled ink drawings and illustrations 1930, undated (5 items)
Oversize 8 Untitled drawings and illustrations 1926, undated (4 items)
Prints and reproductions
Box 1 Dinner Menu- Burlington Route 1947
Oversize 8 Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society Ballet Benefit 1938
Box 1 McCutcheon's Cartoons on Post Cards and Hangers 1903, 1905
A Boy in Spring-Time
A Boy in Summer-Time
A Boy in Fall-Time
A Boy in Winter-Time
Oversize 8 Mr. Harriman's Plans for Reorganizing the Railways of the Country circa 1909
Box 1 Photograph of art inscribed to Howard Gillette circa 1907
Box 1 Reprints undated (5 items)
Oversize 8 Reproductions circa 1905, circa 1907, 1929, 1935, 1940 (8 items)
The Model Wife
The Model Husband
Two Ways of Looking at Things
A Boy in the Springtime
A Boy in Summertime
When a Boy First Discovers the Enchanted Wonderland within Book Covers
Consolation for the Discouraged
The Enchanted City
Oversize 8 The Romance of City Real Estate circa 1925
Box 1 Treasure Island map by McCutcheon undated - map of the island McCutcheon purchased in 1916
Oversize 8 U.S. Senate 7 Dec 1926 8 Dec 1926 - drawings and written account (2 items)
Biographical material
Box 1 Autograph undated
Box 1 Biographical material undated
Indiana Society of Chicago 1910, 1938, 1940
These items have been removed and sent to Rare Books. See below for a list of items.
Sixth Annual Banquet
Invitation to Twenty-Seventh Annual Banquet
Twenty-Ninth Annual Banquet
Oversize 8 Newspaper Artists Baseball game poster undated
Oversize 8 Photographs of McCutcheon undated (3 items)
Sigma Chi Dinner programs 1934, 1937 (2 items)
Box 1 Diary 1898 - 12 typed pages
Box 1 School notes undated - includes notes on "Linear Perspective"
Published material
These items have been removed and sent to Rare Books. See below for a list of items.
Cartoons by McCutcheon (1903)
Dawes Arboretum (1928)
Indiana Society of Chicago series (9 volumes)
Love Sonnets of an Office Boy (1904)
To enter the wars now raging in Europe, Asia and Africa would be an act of national folly from which our country must be spared! ([1940])
Yellowstone Park and how it was named ([1892])
Magazine articles by McCutcheon
Box 1 "Address commemorating the Centenary of Mark Twain's Birth" in Revived Remarks on Mark Twain 1936 - item removed, cataloged and located in Rare Books
Box 1 "The Battle of Manila Bay" from U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings undated
Box 1 "Doing the Grand Canyon" from U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 1909 - item removed and located in Rare Books
Box 1 "Famous Artist Speaks at Banquet of Greek Editors" from Banta's Greek Exchange 1934
Box 1 "General Dawes" from The Century Magazine 1928 May
Box 1 "How Cartoons are Drawn" from The Writer circa 1901
Box 1 "Ingomar in the Provinces" from South Shore Country Club 1918 Jan
Box 1 "The New Zoo" from The Chicago Visitor 1931 Jan
Box 1 "Taking the Right Turn" from Demcourier 1939
"Up the Andes and Down the Amazon" from The Trib 1929 Jun
Box 1 Magazine illustrations 1908, 1926, 1929-1930, undated - from Collier's, College Humor, Purdue Alumnus, Liberty
Newspaper clippings
Box 1 Articles by McCutcheon 30 Jun 1929, 29 Oct 1944
Oversize 9 Chicago Tribune clippings 1917, 1933, 1937-1938, 1941, 1943-1944 - most items are in color
Oversize 9 Chicago Tribune graphic section clippings 22 Oct 1933, 12 Nov 1933, 24 Dec 1933, 31 Dec 1933, 7 Jan 1934, 24 Jan 1934 18 Feb 1934, 2 Jan 1944 - items are in color
Color features by McCutcheon
Oversize 9 "Cruise of the Sun Dog" undated
Oversize 9 "Famous Pirate Stronghold" 9 Jun 1912
Oversize 9 "Morgan's Bluff" 1912, undated
Oversize 9 "Crossed Wires" 1926 - Sunday feature in the Chicago Tribune
Oversize 9 "Pipe Dreamers" 28 Sep 1902, 21 Sep 1902, 7 Dec 1902
Oversize 9 Scrapbook 1914, 1918-1919 - clippings of McCutcheon’s World War I reporting and drawings
Box 1 "So Lonesome for a Letter" undated - song inspired by McCutcheon cartoon
This item has been removed and sent to Rare Books.

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Index to cartoons

The following is a list of predominant people, places and subjects appearing in the editorial cartoons in this collection. The list is not exhaustive. Some subjects may require you to browse with alternative terms.

B= Box, F= Folder. For example: B1F1= Box 1 Folder 1.

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