UCLA Gets Kahn Political Cartoon Collection

The UCLA Library received a donation of “A world-class collection of political cartoons and caricatures created between 1690 and 2022” from Michael and Susan Kahn (Michael Kahn co-wrote May It Amuse the Court: Editorial Cartoons of the Supreme Court and Constitution and What Fools These Mortals Be! The Story of Puck).

From the UCLA news release heralding the addition to their Special Collections:

The Michael and Susan Kahn Political Cartoon Collection encompasses more than 1 million political cartoons and caricatures, from 11,000 drawings, prints, ephemera, bound and unbound periodicals, books and research, in 30 languages and from 59 countries. The collection is valued at $4.2 million.

above: Congressional Decorum 1798 – the Griswold/Lyons fight; artist unknown (the Michael and Susan Kahn Collection)

The news release describes some highlights of the collection:

One of the Kahn collection’s particular strengths is its caricatures of American presidential candidates from the elections of 1828 to 2020, with an emphasis on the period between 1840 and 1908. One gem is the first known caricature of Abraham Lincoln in print, which was published in the journal Momus less than a week after Lincoln was nominated as the Republican candidate for president on May 18, 1860 [part of which is the featured image for this Daily Cartoonist post].

The collection also features work from nearly 200 unique American newspapers and magazine titles, including early American political cartoon journals like Scraps (circa 1837–1849), Yankee Notions (1852–1864), The Light (1889–1891) and Puck (1876–1918). Puck, an influential satire magazine, was one of Kahn’s early inspirations; he began collecting political cartoons 40 years ago after UCLA professor D.B. Hardeman pointed out that a cartoon by Bernhard Gillam that appeared in Puck helped swing the 1884 presidential election for Grover Cleveland.

above: original art to Rollin Kirby’s third Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoon (the Michael and Susan Kahn Collection)

Researchers will also have access to extensive or entire runs of numerous 19th and early 20th century American periodicals, including Harper’s Weekly (1857–1888), the Civil War era of Vanity Fair (1860–1863), Life (1883–1936), Saturday Globe (1898–1907) and Cartoons magazine (1912–1921).

Also included are international publications, such as extensive runs of the British journals Punch (circa 1841–1940), Judy (1867–1894) and Vanity Fair (1868–1914), as well as the German magazine Simplicissimus (1896–1967), the French journal La Caricature (1830–1831), and The Delhi Sketchbook (1855), published in India, and El Ahuizote: Semanario Político de Caricaturas (1911 to 1913), a weekly political satire magazine published in Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution. 

The UCLA Library provides a small early, annotated gallery from the collection.