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Eldon Pletcher Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Pletcher, Eldon.
Title: Eldon Pletcher Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1951-1966
Bulk Dates: 1959-1965
Quantity: 18.6 linear ft.
Abstract: Over 1,500 pieces of original artwork for editorial cartoons drawn for the Sioux City Journal, proofs, correspondence and clippings and reprints. Includes one magazine article in French.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Eldon Pletcher (1922- ) is an American cartoonist best known for his editorial cartoons.

Eldon Pletcher was born in Goshen, Indiana on September 10, 1922 and while in high school, submitted his cartoons to contests. Pletcher studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts for a year under cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker before serving in World War II with the Combat Engineers Battalion. While in the military, Pletcher drew gag cartoons that he submitted to Yank. He also studied at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and the John Herron Art School in Indianapolis. After getting married, Pletcher moved to Kansas City, Missouri where he worked construction jobs and at an automobile manufacturing plant.

In 1949, Pletcher became the editorial cartoonist for the Sioux City Journal, replacing Roy Justus. Pletcher left Sioux City in 1966 and in December of that year, began drawing cartoons for the New Orleans Times Picayune following Keith Temple's retirement. During the 1970s, Pletcher created First the Good News, a panel cartoon distributed by Rothco Cartoons.

Pletcher was a member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. The Freedoms Foundation honored Pletcher with over a dozen awards, and in 1955, Pletcher won the Christopher Award. Pletcher’s cartoons have appeared in the Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year series and magazines including Time. His work is in the permanent collections of the Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson presidential libraries.

Pletcher retired from the Times Picayune in August 1984.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Eldon Pletcher Papers are divided into four series.

Cartoons (1956-1966) contains approximately 1,590 pieces of original artwork for editorial cartoons published in the Sioux City Journal.

There are 1,080 dated cartoons that are arranged chronologically as well as 510 undated cartoons that are arranged alphabetically by caption. Topics of interest are the Cold War and the spread of communism to the western hemisphere, efforts by John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower to curb economic recessions, the United States’ relationship with Nikita Khrushchev (including his visit to the United States which included a trip to Iowa), the 1960 presidential election, the U-2 incident and pushes for civil rights legislation as far back as 1960. Within Pletcher’s depiction of the 1960 election is the issue of farming, likely reflecting Pletcher’s Midwestern readers. Many cartoons deal with Berlin and the division of East and West Germany.Later cartoons address the United States' increasing involvement in the Vietnam War.

Only a handful of cartoons are Iowa specific. Those that are typically depict the Iowa Legislature and occasionally the Sioux City government.

Original artwork was produced with pen, brush, ink and crayon on paper of varying weights and textures. Traces of blue pencil are visible. This collection reflects changes in Pletcher's style. Early cartoons feature high contrast crayon shading, while cartoons from approximately 1963 onward have zipatone dot screening in addition to shading. Captions appear at the top in ink. Publication dates appear in ink as days of the week and specific dates are also stamped on the front. Artwork measures approximately 15"x 20".

Correspondence (1951-1966) contains primarily incoming correspondence sent to Pletcher or forwarded on to Pletcher by the Sioux City Journal. There is a handful of copies of outgoing carbon responses from Pletcher or at times his editor. Frequently Pletcher’s name is mistaken for Fletcher on the correspondence.

Letters include: those written by political figures including Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, Hubert Humphrey and Harry Truman (as well as the director of Truman's presidental library); a thank you note from Jimmy Hoffa; inquiries from magazine and book publishers about reprinting Pletcher’s work and letters from readers including an 83 year old Omaha woman who writes Pletcher several times in the early 1950s. Subjects include opinions on Pletcher’s work, requests for original cartoon artwork and notifications from organizations and awards committees, particularly the Freedoms Foundation. There are also pieces of correspondence from other cartoonists: Dan Dowling, D.R. Fitzpatrick, Scott Long, Jack Bender, Bill Boynansky and Newton Pratt.

Proofs (1958-1966) contains engraver’s proofs of Pletcher's editorial cartoons printed in black and white on glossy paper. Dates are stamped on the top next to captions written in ballpoint pen.

Clippings and Reprints contains several miscellaneous items (some of which are undated), namely clippings of Pletcher's cartoons as they a appeared in magazines such as Time. There is also a magazine article in French with cartoons about international politics, promotional material from the National Newspaper Syndicate and a newspaper clipping about a Freedoms Foundation award and a photograph of an award.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Original artwork is arranged chronologically where dates appear and alphabetically by caption where undated. Correspondence and proofs are arranged chronologically.

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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 booklet, Albert T. Reid Cartoon Collection: a description and listing of contents has been removed from the collection and sent to Rare Books.

See also the Roy Justus Papers for additional editorial cartoons from the Sioux City Journal.

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

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Subject Headings


Castro, Fidel, 1926- -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Goldwater, Barry M. (Barry Morris), 1909-1998 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Hoffa, James R. (James Riddle), 1913- -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Pletcher, Eldon -- Archives.
Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich), 1908-1979 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Corporate Bodies

Democratic Party (U.S.) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United Nations -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States. Congress -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Associated Titles

Sioux City Journal.


Agriculture -- Caricatures and cartoons.
American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Arms race -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- Iowa -- Sioux City.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Civil rights movements -- United States -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Cold War -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Communism -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Editorial cartoons -- Iowa -- Sioux City.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Elections -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Industrial relations -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
World politics -- 1945-1989 -- Caricatures and cartoons.


Berlin (Germany) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Cartoons (humorous images)
Editorial cartoons.
Engraver's proofs.



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Eldon Pletcher Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Eldon Pletcher, 1964-1966.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: [Summit record]
Date: 2001-01-01
Revision history: 12 Mar 2007 - converted to EAD (MRC); 23 Apr 2010 - added bio, scope and inventory (SK)

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Dated (1,080 items)
Click here for a detailed inventory.
Oversize 1 1959 Apr, 1959 Sep-Oct, 1960 Jan-May
Oversize 2 1960 Jun-Nov
Oversize 3 1960 Dec-1961 Jun
Oversize 4 1961 Jul-Dec
Oversize 5 1962 Jan-May
Oversize 6 1962 Jun-Dec
Oversize 7 1963 Jan-Jun
Oversize 8 1963 Jul-Dec
Oversize 9 1964 Jan-Jun
Oversize 10 1964 Jul-Dec
Oversize 11 1965 Jan-Aug
Oversize 12 1965 Sep-1966 Mar
Oversize 13 A-C circa 1957-1960 (84 items)
Oversize 14 D-G circa 1956-1960 (67 items)
Oversize 15 H-L circa 1958-1960 (96 items)
Oversize 16 M-P circa 1956-1960 (93 items)
Oversize 17 R-Thi circa 1956-1960 (84 items)
Oversize 18 Thr-W circa 1957-1960 (86 items)
Box 1 1950-1951, 1954-1966, undated
Box 2 circa 1958, 1958 Sep-1960
Box 3 1961-1962 Sep, 1962 Nov-1964
Box 4 1965, 1966 Jan-Feb
Clippings and Reprints
Box 1 Freedoms Foundation article and photograph of award 1956, undated
Box 1 French magazine article with cartoons by various cartoonists undated
in French
Box 1 National Newspaper Syndicate promotional material undated
Box 1 Reprints in news magazines 1958, 1960, 1963

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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, For example: B1= Box 1.

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