Collection inventory

Special Collections home page

F. O. Alexander Papers

A description of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: -
Date: Nov 1966

Biographical History

Franklin Osborne Alexander (1897-1993), commonly known as F.O. Alexander was an American cartoonist.

F.O. Alexander was born in St. Louis, Missouri on November 3, 1897. During World War I, Alexander served with the Camouflage Engineers in the American Expeditionary Forces. Alexander studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and at Northwestern and also pursued night and correspondence courses. While in Chicago in the 1920s, Alexander worked in commercial advertising and operated a cut service.

Alexander took work at the Western Newspaper Union and produced Finney of the Force, a comic strip about a police officer. He later drew the strip, The Featherheads after the departure of creator Van Zelm. During this time, Alexander worked from his home in Oklahoma. In 1931, Alexander moved to Philadelphia to draw Hairbreadth Harry for the Ledger Syndicate, replacing C.W. Kahles. Alexander worked on Hairbreadth Harry until 1939.

In December 1941, after a stint drawing editorial cartoons for the United Features Syndicate, Alexander became the staff cartoonist at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin where he remained until his retirement in 1967. His editorial cartoons were also syndicated

A member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Alexander received many awards. He was honored several times by the Freedoms Foundation and received the National Safety Council Award as well as the National Headliner’s award (1945), Christopher Award (1955) and an award from National Council of Christians and Jews (1956). Active in his church, Alexander also contributed cartoons to several religious publications.

F.O. Alexander died on January 17, 1993 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Franklin O. Alexander Papers are divided into one main series of cartoons and five smaller series.

Cartoons (1943-1966) contains approximately 1,048 original editorial cartoons as well as two proofs of cartoons that were published in the Philadelphia Bulletin. Alexander's work typically focuses on national and international politics. Like other editorial cartoonists, Alexander frequently used an everyman character in his work; Alexander's character appears under the name of "Joe Doakes".

Dates, captions and notes appear on the front in different colors of pencil and pieces are numbered on the back. Works were drawn in ink and crayon on Glarco brand pebble board made. Overall dimensions are 11 1/2" x 13" with image sizes of 9 3/4" x 10 3/4".

Within Correspondence there is one letter from the Times Chronicle Company dated November 18, 1959.

Photographs consists of five black and white photos of Alexander including one related to the Boy Scouts and another to the National Foundation for Highway Safety as well as portraits of Alexander at his drawing table. All but one photograph is undated.

The Exhibition Catalogs series contains catalogs for three exhibitions of Alexander's work held in the Philadelphia area.

There is one VHS tape, "Conversation with F.O. Alexander" from June 1990 located in the Video recordings series. This tape was donated by Bill Alrich who worked on exhibitions of Alexander's cartoons.

Published material contains newspaper clippings and examples of Alexander's cartoons that were printed in periodicals.

Arrangement of the Collection

Cartoons are arranged in chronological order.

Other Related Finding Aids

A partial set of worksheets containing titles, dates, captions, condition and remarks about cartoons from January-August 1961 is located in the finding aids folder. It appears to have been completed at some point prior to Alexander's death, possibly by a student or intern.


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.

Related Material

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

Additional copies of exhibition catalogs are located in Rare Books as well as a published compilation of Alexander's religious cartoons. Please refer to the Classic Catalog to locate these materials.

Subject Headings


Alexander, F. O. (Franklin Osborne) -- Archives.
Castro, Fidel, 1926- -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970 -- 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.
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Corporate Bodies

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

Associated Titles

Philadelphia Bulletin.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Civil rights movements -- United States -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Cold War -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Editorial cartoons -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Farmers -- Political activity -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Peace -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Taxation -- Caricatures and cartoons.


United States -- Economic conditions -- 1945- -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Video recordings.
Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Editorial cartoons.
Exhibition catalogs.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

F. O. Alexander Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

All material gift of F.O. Alexander, 1966, except videotape, gift of Bill Alrich, 1990.

Table of Contents



Exhibition catalogs


Published material

Video recordings

Index to cartoons


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.