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Cliff Sterrett Cartoons

An inventory of his cartoons at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Sterrett, Cliff, 1883-1964.
Title: Cliff Sterrett Cartoons
Inclusive Dates: 1933
Quantity: 1 item
Abstract: 1 original cartoon from the comic strip Polly and Her Pals.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Cliff Sterrett (1883-1964) was an American cartoonist and the creator of the comic strip Polly and Her Pals. Widely considered an important artistic innovator in the form, Sterrett is cited as a major influence by a wide range of comics artists.

Originally from Minnesota, Sterrett studied art for two years at the Chase School in New York City before starting his newspaper career as an artist with the New York Herald (1904-1908). Sterrett bumped around doing spot illustration work for various papers – the New York Times (1908) and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (1909-1910) – before landing his first comic strip assignment with the New York Evening Telegram (1911). In short order, Sterrett found himself doing four daily strips simultaneously for the Telegram: Ventriloquial Vag, When a Man's Married, Before and After and For This We Have Daughters?

In 1912, Sterrett was signed to William Randolph Hearst's National News Syndicate where his work would receive a wide national distribution. Polly and Her Pals (originally titled Positive Polly) started its run in late 1912 as a daily strip, but soon thereafter a color Sunday page was added. Sterrett did the art on both versions for many years, but in early 1935 he turned the daily strip over to various assistants, Paul Fung and Vernon Greene among others. Without him, the daily strip did not survive the 1940s, but Sterrett continued work on the Sunday version until his official retirement (and Polly's) in 1958.

Sterrett's combination of contemporary graphic styles and "modern girl" themes was highly influential and was the first among a series of related strips like Ella Cinders, Dixie Dugan, Blondie, Boots and Her Buddies and many others. In addition, Sterrett's adoption of abstract geometric patterning and cubist elements gave his work a look that was compelling and unique. Though never hugely popular with the general public, Cliff Sterrett's work is widely admired by other comics artists and has steadily grown in stature among critics and historians over the years.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Cliff Sterrett Cartoons collection contains 1 original daily cartoon from the comic strip Polly and Her Pals.

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Arrangement of the Collection

1 item, individually foldered.

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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.

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Related Material

Additional Polly and Her Pals material is located in the C. D. Russell Cartoons and the Vernon Greene Papers.

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

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Subject Headings


Sterrett, Cliff, 1883-1964.

Associated Titles

Polly and Her Pals (comic strip)


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

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Cliff Sterrett Cartoons,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Rendell, 1968.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: BB
Date: Dec 1968
Revision history: 8 Jan 2009 - biography and inventory added (MD); 8 Jan 2009 - converted to EAD (MD); 9 May 2011 - updated related material (AM)

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Polly and Her Pals (1 item)
Box 1 1933 June 24 (Original daily cartoon. Traces of graphite, pen and ink on illustration board, 8¾ x 27½ in.)

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