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Alvah Posen Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: -
Date: circa 1965

Biographical History

Alvah "Al" Posen (1895-1960) was an American cartoonist best known for his long-running strip Sweeney and Son.

Born in New York City, Posen served in the Army during World War I and then traveled in the Orient as a member of a geological and mining expedition. Although he had no formal training in art, Posen sold his first comic strip, Them Days Is Gone Forever (later renamed Them Days Are Gone Forever, to United Features Syndicate in 1921. The strip featured a short tune accompanied by a limerick-style rhyme. Within a year the strip was running daily in one hundred newspapers. Posen discontinued it in 1927.

His second comic strip, Ella and Her Fella, while employing the same limerick format, ran only a short time. In 1933 Posen began Sweeney and Son for the Chicago Tribune - New York News syndicate, which ran for 25 years; for many of those years it ran in conjunction with a four-panel four-word rhyming gag strip called Jinglet, also by Posen. In 1949 he revived the scheme of Them Days Is Gone Forever and renamed it Rhymin' Time. While engaging in political and social satire in his comic art, Posen was most interested in portraying the humanly amusing side of life.

Al Posen was a co-producer of the first Marx Brothers motion picture, a silent short which was a financial flop. As a member of the National Cartoonists Society, he originated the idea of cartoonists' shows for American servicemen overseas. Posen died June 10, 1960.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Alvah Posen Papers consists of artwork, comic strips, correspondence, ideas for comics, memorabilia and photographs.

Correspondence consists of letters from newspaper and advertising clients, the Treasury Department, admirers requesting original drawings, and fellow cartoonists, among them Rube Goldberg, Al Capp, and Milton Caniff. A large part of the miscellaneous correspondence from 1955-1959 concerns Posen's role as Director of Overseas Shows for the National Cartoonists Society. Also included are a number of carbons of Posen's replies to letters received. A letter of 7 Jul 1948 from Posen to Richard Clarke of the Chicago Tribune gives a history of Them Days Is Gone Forever.

Ideas for comics consists mostly of letters received from fans, with suggestions and ideas for Jinglet and Them Days Is Gone Forever.

Memorabilia includes a report and test of a commercial strip for Wheaties cereal and National Cartoonists Society materials.

Original artwork contains pieces by Posen. There are sketches for commercial art pieces (some of which incorporate his strips, such as a rough for Them Days Is Gone Forever incorporating an ad for Ingram's Shaving Cream) and miscellaneous other pieces, such as an original colored strip of "The Roundies and the Squares."

Photographs contains portraits of Posen, portraits of others inscribed to Posen and images of cartoonist related events.

Printed material consists of proofs and newspaper clippings of Jinglet, Rhymin' Time, Sweeney and Son, Them Days Is Gone Forever. Some of these were originally pasted into scrapbooks which have been disassembled. In some cases two different strips were printed on the same sheet or pasted on the same page in a scrapbook, so there is some overlap of titles and dates in this section.

Arrangement of the Collection

Artwork is subdivided into commercial and non-commercial. Comic strips are arranged alphabetically by title and within that chronologically. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent; miscellaneous items at the end are arranged chronologically. Ideas for comics are arranged alphabetically by title. Memorabilia is arranged alphabetically by type or topic.


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

A eulogy for Al Posen and correspondence with Posen are located in the Vernon Greene Papers.

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

Subject Headings


Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988 -- Correspondence.
Capp, Al, 1909-1979 -- Correspondence.
Goldberg, Rube, 1883-1970 -- Correspondence.
Greene, Vernon Van Atta -- Correspondence.
Posen, Alvah -- Archives.
Schulz, Charles M. (Charles Monroe), 1922-2000 -- Correspondence.
Waring, Fred, 1900-1984 -- Correspondence.

Corporate Bodies

National Cartoonists Society.
Pepsi-Cola Company.

Associated Titles

Rhymin time.
Sweeney and son.
Them days are gone forever.


Advertising -- Food.
Advertising -- Soft drinks.
American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Commercial art.
Proofs (printed matter)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Alvah Posen Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Barbara Greene; transferred from the Vernon Greene Papers, 1972, 2010; transferred from the C.D. Russell Cartoons, 1967, 2011.

Table of Contents


Ideas for comics


Original artwork


Printed material