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Don Freeman Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: [Summit record]
Date: Jun 1967

Biographical History

Don Freeman (1908-1978) was an American painter, printmaker, cartoonist, children's book author, and illustrator. Freeman is perhaps best known for the Corduroy books about the toy bear and for Norman the Doorman, the tale of a mouse who works as a doorman at a New York City art museum but longs to be an artist himself.

Born in San Diego, Freeman studied briefly at the San Diego School of Fine Arts and then at the Art Students League in New York, where he filled dozens of sketch books with drawings of New York characters, focusing particularly on Broadway and the theatre. His cartoons appeared in magazines and newspapers, among them the New York Times and Herald Tribune. After William Saroyan asked him to illustrate several children's books, Don began writing and illustrating his own work, which soon became his full-time occupation.

"I love the flow of turning the pages, the suspense of what's next. Ideas just come at me and after me. It's all so natural. I work all the time, long into the night, and it's such a pleasure. I don't know when the time ends. I've never been happier in my life!" [Penguin Books author page for Don Freeman]

Freeman's wife, Lydia, was also an artist and collaborated with him on two of his books, Pet of the Met and Chuggy and the Blue Caboose. In addition to writing and illustrating children's books, Freeman was widely known for imaginative, illustrated chalk-talks, some with musical accompaniment.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Don Freeman Papers consists primarily of artwork relating to Freeman's books, with a small amount of miscellany.

Books contains material related to 23 of Freeman's books, including Chuggy and the Blue Caboose, Cyrano the Crow, Norman the Doorman, and Space Witch. Types of material include original illustrations, rough sketches, cover layouts, dummy books, printers' proofs, acetates, and published books.

Miscellaneous contains a poster encouraging reading.

Arrangement of the Collection

Materials are listed alphabetically by book title in the inventory below; material is arranged physically by title and based on physical size.


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

The collection originally contained signed copies of many of Freeman's books. These have been transferred to Rare Books for cataloging. Please refer to the Classic Catalog to locate these items.

Special Collections Research Center has made a concerted effort over the years to ensure that its manuscript and rare books holdings complement each other. As a result, many of our manuscript collections are supported by books, pamphlets, serials and other items which are cataloged in the Rare Books Collection. Please be sure to search the Classic Catalog for these related materials.

Subject Headings


Freeman, Don, 1908-1978.


Authors, American.
Children's literature, American.
Illustrated children's books.
Illustrators -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Color separations.
Dummies (printed matter)
Manuscripts for publication.
Proofs (printed matter)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Don Freeman Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

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