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Background about Ohio State Cartoon Library & Museum

The Ohio State Cartoon Library & Museum's primary mission is to develop a comprehensive research collection of materials documenting American printed cartoon art (editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, sports cartoons, and magazine cartoons) and to provide access to these collections. The library does not collect materials about animation.

The Ohio State Cartoon Library & Museum (formerly the Ohio State Cartoon Library & Museum) was established in 1977 in two
converted classrooms in the Journalism Building with the gifts-in-kind of the Milton Caniff Collection and the Jon Whitcomb Collection. The largest single gift-in-kind to date is the Robert Roy Metz Collection of 83,034 original cartoons by 113 cartoonists. It was appraised at $9.1 million and donated by United Media in 1992.  The Cartoon Research Library is currently the largest and most comprehensive academic research facility documenting printed cartoon art in the United States. Administratively it is one of five special collections libraries that are part of Ohio State University Libraries. The library moved to its current state-of-the-art quarters in 1990.

Current holdings include more than 400,000 graphic materials, including 240,000 original cartoons; more than 20,000 books; more than 13,000 serial titles; and more than 2,800 linear feet of manuscript materials. The papers of Milton Caniff, the Walt Kelly Collection, the Robert Roy Metz Collection, the Woody Gelman Collection of Winsor McCay cartoons, and the Will Eisner Collection are the most notable cartoon art collections. Archival collections related to the profession of cartooning include the records of or the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, the National Cartoonists Society, and the Newspaper Features Council, as well as extensive files on more than 3,000 cartoonists; and the library also maintains a clipping file organized by cartoon related topics.

The collections of the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art were acquired from its director, Bill Blackbeard, in 1998. The addition of these materials gives the library the largest collection of newspaper comic strip tear sheets and clipping files in the world. With the support of the Getty Grant Program, these materials are being cataloged and archived.

International materials related to printed cartoons are collected when possible. The Cartoon Research Library includes a large collection of manga which have been obtained through purchases and gifts. The Japan Foundation endorsed this initiative through a 1998 Library Support Program grant for acquisitions.

The library has been active in supporting programming related to cartoon art by mounting numerous exhibits on campus, lending for exhibits elsewhere, and hosting seminars, workshops, and conferences.  The Festival of Cartoon Art has been held triennially since 1983 and attracts participants from around the world.

Exhibits in the reading room gallery highlight treasures from its collections and are changed on a quarterly basis.  Several exhibition catalogues are available for purchase.

The library also holds collections of more than 125,000 film posters and stills, and The Ohio State University's collections of photographs.  The Richard E. Teichert Collection documents the silent film era while the Philip Sills Collection covers the period from 1927 to 1964.  The Rico Long Collection features press books from recent films.

Ohio State University's collections of photographs are available here.  Of special importance is the Floyd and Marion Rinhart Collection of nineteenth and early twentieth century images.  Other collections include Farm Security Administration photographs, dye transfer prints by Harry Callahan, and work by Bernice Abbott, Harold Edgerton, Anne Noggle, Aaron Siskind, and Weegee (Arthur Fellig).  The Ohio News Photographers Collection represents the best of photojournalism achieved by Ohioans each year.

In addition to the Jon Whitcomb Collection, the history of magazine illustration is documented by the Will Rannells Collection.  A small but interesting variety of posters, especially those issued during the two world wars, is available.

Because it is an archival facility, items from the library's collections are available only at the library. None may be borrowed for personal use outside the reading room. The library's stacks are closed. Tours of the stacks are available with special advance appointments. The library's holdings are described in OSCAR, Ohio State University Libraries' Web accessible catalog, where they are identified by the Cartoon Research Library's code of CGA. A database of original cartoons and paper finding aids are available in the reading room.

Researchers are encouraged to make advance arrangements prior to visiting the library. The library may be visited on the web at lib.ohio-state.edu/cgaweb/.


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