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Clifford K. Berryman cartoon collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS2024
The collection consist of cartoons (209), Christmas cards (12), and facsimiles of cartoons (3), all drawn by Clifford K. Berryman. The cartoons with identified dates span the years 1899-1949, thus exemplifying Berryman's work over much of his career. Berryman was employed as a cartoonist by the Washington Post from 1891-1907 and by the Washington Star from 1907-49. There are only a handful of cartoons which were composed before 1907, when Berryman left the Washington Post to draw for the Washington Star. Conversely, a substantial portion of the cartoons (at least 50) date from the last 3 years (1946-1949) of Berryman's long career. About 135 of the items have been date-identified while the remainder are undated.

In large part, Berryman's subjects are American Presidents and political figures, as well as political events and controversies of national import. There are a number of cartoons depicting former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman, as well as presidential candidates like Alfred E. Smith. Congressmen and state government leaders also make frequent appearances in Berryman's work. The cartoons broach nationally debated problems and interests such as: drought, farm relief, and food prices; representation of the District of Columbia in Congress; labor strikes and legislation; campaigning and elections; political patronage; European coronations; the America's Cup; and the Atomic Bomb.

Florence Berryman was an alumnae of The George Washington University (class of 1924), and her father received an honorary MA from the University.

Berryman drew thousands of cartoons, often giving them away to libraries and political figures who requested or exhibited them. Substantial collections can therefore be found in a number of cultural institutions in Washington D.C., where Berryman lived and worked for more than 50 years including the Library of Congress and National Archives. American chief executives from Grover Cleveland to Harry Truman were known to collect Berryman's work, so archives documenting the presidency are also likely to own some Berryman cartoons.

Dates

  • 1899-1949

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Some records may be restricted.

Restrictions on Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Extent

13 Linear Feet

Abstract

Collection consist of cartoons (209), Christmas cards (12), and facsimiles of cartoons (3), all drawn by Clifford K. Berryman. The cartoons with identified dates span the years 1899-1949, thus exemplifying Berryman's work over much of his career. Berryman was employed as a cartoonist by the Washington Post from 1891-1970 and by the Washington Star from 1907-49. There are only a handful of cartoons which were composed before 1907, when Berryman left the Washington Post to draw for the Washington Star. Conversely, a substantial portion of the cartoons (at least 50) date from the last 3 years (1946-1949) of Berryman's long career. About 135 of the items have been date-identified while the remainder are undated.

Historical or Biographical Note

In April 1949, around his eightieth birthday, Clifford K. Berryman received a letter from then-President Harry S. Truman. Though Berryman had been vice president of the Association of Oldest Inhabitants of the District, Truman found Berryman to be truly "ageless and timeless." In an often-quoted passage, Truman went further to write that "Presidents, Senators, and even Supreme Court Justices come and go but the [Washington] Monument and Berryman stand." Only seven months later, the "Dean of American Cartoonists" collapsed in the lobby of the Washington Star, on his way to work. On December 11, 1949 he passed away at home, at 2114 Bancroft Place, NW, of a heart ailment. He was buried in Glenwood Cemetery.

Clifford Kennedy Berryman was born in Kentucky on April 2, 1869, one of James Thomas and Sallie (Church) Berryman's eleven children. James Berryman was a commission merchant, farmer, and/or grain dealer who entertained family members and neighbors with sketches of "hillbillies" in their hometown. Clifford inherited his father's talent, and after he graduated from Prof. Henry's School for Boys in Versailles, KY, he was appointed as a draftsman to the United States Patent Office in Washington, D.C. From 1886 to 1891, Berryman delineated patent entries for $30 per month. He began to submit cartoons to the Washington Post, and in 1891 he became an understudy to the Post's cartoonist, George Y. Coffin (some of whose cartoons are also at Gelman Library). When Coffin died in 1896, Berryman replaced him. Berryman stayed with the Post until 1907, when he was hired by the Washington Star, which had a larger circulation at the time. Clifford Berryman drew political cartoons for the Star for the next 42 years, up until his death.

Commenting on Clifford K. Berryman's work, politicians, artists, and reference books note that Berryman cartoons lack the maliciousness that has been a part of American politics throughout the twentieth century. Himself a Democrat, Berryman satirized political figures from both the Democratic party and the G.O.P.. Though he is best known for the November 16, 1902 Washington Post cartoon "Drawing The Line In Mississippi" which portrayed a "teddy bear" for the first time, Berryman's copious work has earned recognition in many venues. In 1944, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning for "But Where Is The Boat Going?", which showed then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt and various government officials trying to steer, in opposite directions, the "USS Manpower Mobilization". The magazine Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, in its Spring 1998 issue, listed Clifford Berryman (along with Thomas Nast and Pat Oliphant) as some of ten cartoonists who have made an "outstanding contribution to American journalism".

In July 1893, Berryman married Kate Geddes, the daughter of engraver George Washington Durfee. The couple had three children: Mary Belle, who died as an infant; Florence Seville (an art critic), and John Thomas (also a Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist). Alongside his work at the drawing board, Berryman was an active member of the Washington Heights Presbyterian Church at 1862 Kalorama Road. He was also the first cartoonist to become a member of the Gridiron Club, and was its president in 1926.

Acquisition Information

In 1977, Berryman's daughter, Florence Seville Berryman, donated this collection of Berryman cartoons to The George Washington University. 1983, Ms. Berryman also donated Gridiron Nights and Report from Tokyo (illustrated by Berryman), and other art books.

Related Materials

The following collection contains a George Washington University bookplate designed by Clifford Berryman, University Historical Materials RG0031 Series 13 Oversize Box 1.

Collection note

Other than the Christmas cards, nearly all of the Berryman cartoons range in size from 13 x 15" to 16" x 20" and except for the Christmas cards and cartoon facsimiles
Title
Guide to the Clifford K. Berryman cartoon collection, 1899-1949
Status
completed
Author
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Date
2006
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

Contact:
2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America