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Don Wright Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: –
Date: 1982

Biographical History

Donald Conway Wright (1934- ), professionally known as Don Wright, is an American editorial cartoonist who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1966 and 1980.

Don Wright was born January 23, 1934, in Los Angeles, California. When he was a child, his family moved across the country to Florida and he graduated from Miami Edison High School in 1952. Wright's interest in cartoons began when he took a job as copyboy with the Miami News (1952-1956). Although the News refused to move Wright to the art department, on the grounds he probably would be drafted from that job, they did allow him to become a photographer. Wright was subsequently drafted, served in the U.S. Army as a photographer and ultimately returned to the Miami News as graphics editor in December 1958.

Shortly after his rejoining the News, Wright resigned. Not wishing to lose Wright however, the News offered, as a compromise, to publish some of his cartoons. By 1963 Wright had transformed the original one or two cartoons per week, on local issues, into a regular appearance on the editorial page.

Wright won his first Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1966 for his cartoon titled "You Mean You Were Bluffing?". He won the award again in 1980. Wright has also been recognized with the National Headliners Club Award (1969, 1972, 1980, 1982) and is a two-time winner of the Distinguished Service Award from Sigma Delta Chi. Wright has won five awards from the Overseas Press Club and he received a Robert F. Kennedy journalism award in 1983. The National Cartoonists Society named Wright the best editorial cartoonist in 1985. His work has been collected in the books Wright On! A Collection of Political Cartoons (1971) and Wright Side Up (1981).

His work has been syndicated by the Washington (DC) Star Syndicates and the New York Times Syndicate. In 1989, Wright moved to the Palm Beach Post, where he remained until his retirement in August 2008. As of 2009 he continues to draw cartoons distributed by Tribune Media Services.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Don Wright Papers are divided into two series. Cartoons contains approximately 527 original editorial cartoons. Some cartoons are dated (1964-1965) while the remainder are undated and from approximately 1963 to 1968.

The cartoons were drawn with ink and crayon on illustration board. Traces of pencil are visible. The majority of the captions are typed on paper and taped onto the cartoons. Generally, the cartoons are two sizes. The majority are approximately 11" x 14" although there are some smaller cartoons. There are also 38 oversize cartoons with image sizes of 8 ½" x 11 ½" mounted on board measuring 16" x 20".

Prevalent in the collection are Wright's caricatures of president Lyndon B. Johnson and 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater as well as cartoons focused on the Republican Party, the Vietnam War, and the civil rights movement in the American South. Wright routinely criticized the actions of Southern segregationists and offered bold depictions critical of the Ku Klux Klan and the anti-communist John Birch Society. Cartoons about local issues and Florida governor Haydon Burns are also included.

Correspondence (1963-1965) contains primarily incoming letters from readers (including several children), politicians and representatives of various publications and organizations. Typical subjects are requests for copies of cartoons and notes of praise and criticism.

Controversial cartoons discussed in the correspondence include those related to the John Birch Society, Barry Goldwater and the law enforcement involved in the civil rights movement. Of particular interest are several items from readers alleging that Wright's work supported communism as well as clippings of cartoons from the paper on which the readers drew and/or voiced their disagreement in ink. Several letters in this tone stemmed from a controversial cartoon (March 9, 1965) in which Wright criticized the Alabama State Troopers for their treatment of civil rights activists.

There is also one signed letter from Barry Goldwater (1963) and a note from cartoonist Syd Hoff.

Arrangement of the Collection

Dated editorial cartoons are arranged in chronological order and foldered by month. Undated cartoons are arranged in alphabetical order by caption. Correspondence is arranged in chronological order.


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


Burns, Haydon, 1912-1987 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Goldwater, Barry M. (Barry Morris), 1909-1998 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Spock, Benjamin, 1903-1998 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Wallace, George C. (George Corley), 1919-1998 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Wright, Don, 1934- -- Archives.

Corporate Bodies

John Birch Society -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Ku Klux Klan (1915- ) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States. Congress -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Associated Titles

Miami news.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- Florida.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- Florida.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Civil rights movements -- United States -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Editorial cartoons -- Florida.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Pulitzer Prizes.
Southern States -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Space Exploration -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Caricatures and cartoons.
World politics -- 1945-1989 -- Caricatures and cartoons.


United States -- Politics and government -- 1963-1969 -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Editorial cartoons.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

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

Acquisition Information

Gift of Don Wright 1964, 1968.

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