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Charles Werner Papers

An inventory of his Papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MD
Date: 20 Oct 2008

Biographical History

Charles George Werner (1909-1997) was a Pulitzer Prize winning American cartoonist who worked for the Indianapolis Star for 47 years.

Charles Werner was born March 23, 1909 in Marshfield, Wisconsin to George and Marie (Tipelt) Werner. Werner attended Oklahoma City University but had no formal training in art. He worked as a staff artist and photographer for the Springfield, Missouri Leader and Press from 1930 until 1935. He joined the staff of the Daily Oklahoman in 1935, becoming editorial cartoonist in 1937.

Werner won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1939 for a cartoon he did for the Daily Oklahoman titled “Nomination for 1938” which appeared on October 6, 1938. The cartoon commented on the Munich Agreement which allowed for the transfer of the Sudetenland to Hitler's Germany. At age 29, Werner was the youngest person to win the Pulitzer in that category.

Werner left the Daily Oklahoman to be the Chief Editorial Cartoonist at the Chicago Sun in 1941 before leaving for the Indianapolis Star in 1947 where he stayed until his retirement in 1994. Werner received a Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism in 1943 and seven Freedom Foundation Awards from 1951 to 1963. At the 1969 International Salon of Cartoons in Montreal, he won an award as one of the world's six best cartoonists. In 1959 and 1960, Werner served as the president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

Throughout his nearly sixty year career, many U.S. Presidents expressed interest in Werner's cartoons. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson requested over a dozen original cartoons from Werner for his personal collection. Former President Harry Truman also requested a cartoon for his presidential library.

Charles Werner died on July 1, 1997 from cancer.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Charles Werner Papers consists of five series: Cartoons (1947-1965), Proofs (1959-1964), Correspondence (1938-1964), Biographical material and Printed material.

The bulk of the collection is 909 editorial cartoons drawn by Werner for the Indianapolis Star located in the Cartoons series. Werner considered himself a conservative and often depicted the influence of big government as evidenced in his portrayal of President Harry Truman continuing on the liberal, tax and spend path of predecessor Franklin Roosevelt and the problems of too over involvement in foreign affairs. He also used sports motifs to portray political issues. Werner frequently commented on high rates of automobile accident deaths. His attention to this issue won him an award from National Foundation for Highway Safety.

Dimensions vary but most of the cartoons are approximately 11 1/4 x 13 3/4". Some of the original cartoons have newspaper clippings of the cartoon taped on the back. The cartoons were drawn on coquille board with ink and graphite.

Several years of proofs are included in the collection.

Correspondence contains incoming and outgoing correspondence. Correspondents included: professional organizations, elected officials including Barry Goldwater and Harry Truman (the letter is undated but is from after Truman's presidency), fans and fellow cartoonists including Carey Orr and Milton Caniff.

The biographical material and printed material series contain assorted information related to Werner's career and awards; articles and clippings about Werner; a handful of photographs and examples of his work syndicated outside of the United States.

Arrangement of the Collection

Cartoons and proofs are arranged in chronological order by month. Correspondence is arranged and foldered by year.


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.

Subject Headings


Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Werner, Charles George, 1909-1997.

Corporate Bodies

Indianapolis star.
United Nations -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States. Congress -- Caricatures and cartoons.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Cold War -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Communism -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Editorial cartoons -- Indiana.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Political cartoons.
Taxation -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Traffic fatalities -- Caricatures and cartoons.
World politics -- 1945-1989 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

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



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Charles Werner Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Charles Werner, 1965 and 1967.

Table of Contents




Biographical material

Printed material

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.