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Alvah Posen Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Posen, Alvah.
Title: Alvah Posen Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1919-1959
Quantity: 3.5 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American comic strip cartoonist. Original artwork for product advertising for Pepsi-Cola and Wheaties, comic strips (proof sheets and clippings), correspondence, his idea file for comic strips (1922-1951), memorabilia and photographs. Correspondents include Milton Caniff, Al Capp, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Rube Goldberg, Vernon Greene, Fred Harman, W. Averell Harriman, National Cartoonists Society, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., Charles M. Schulz, and Fred Waring.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010
http://scrc.syr.edu

Biographical History

Alvah "Al" Posen (1895-1960) was an American cartoonist best known for his long-running strip Sweeney and Son.

Born in New York City, Posen served in the Army during World War I and then traveled in the Orient as a member of a geological and mining expedition. Although he had no formal training in art, Posen sold his first comic strip, Them Days Is Gone Forever (later renamed Them Days Are Gone Forever, to United Features Syndicate in 1921. The strip featured a short tune accompanied by a limerick-style rhyme. Within a year the strip was running daily in one hundred newspapers. Posen discontinued it in 1927.

His second comic strip, Ella and Her Fella, while employing the same limerick format, ran only a short time. In 1933 Posen began Sweeney and Son for the Chicago Tribune - New York News syndicate, which ran for 25 years; for many of those years it ran in conjunction with a four-panel four-word rhyming gag strip called Jinglet, also by Posen. In 1949 he revived the scheme of Them Days Is Gone Forever and renamed it Rhymin' Time. While engaging in political and social satire in his comic art, Posen was most interested in portraying the humanly amusing side of life.

Al Posen was a co-producer of the first Marx Brothers motion picture, a silent short which was a financial flop. As a member of the National Cartoonists Society, he originated the idea of cartoonists' shows for American servicemen overseas. Posen died June 10, 1960.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Alvah Posen Papers consists of artwork, comic strips, correspondence, ideas for comics, memorabilia and photographs.

Correspondence consists of letters from newspaper and advertising clients, the Treasury Department, admirers requesting original drawings, and fellow cartoonists, among them Rube Goldberg, Al Capp, and Milton Caniff. A large part of the miscellaneous correspondence from 1955-1959 concerns Posen's role as Director of Overseas Shows for the National Cartoonists Society. Also included are a number of carbons of Posen's replies to letters received. A letter of 7 Jul 1948 from Posen to Richard Clarke of the Chicago Tribune gives a history of Them Days Is Gone Forever.

Ideas for comics consists mostly of letters received from fans, with suggestions and ideas for Jinglet and Them Days Is Gone Forever.

Memorabilia includes a report and test of a commercial strip for Wheaties cereal and National Cartoonists Society materials.

Original artwork contains pieces by Posen. There are sketches for commercial art pieces (some of which incorporate his strips, such as a rough for Them Days Is Gone Forever incorporating an ad for Ingram's Shaving Cream) and miscellaneous other pieces, such as an original colored strip of "The Roundies and the Squares."

Photographs contains portraits of Posen, portraits of others inscribed to Posen and images of cartoonist related events.

Printed material consists of proofs and newspaper clippings of Jinglet, Rhymin' Time, Sweeney and Son, Them Days Is Gone Forever. Some of these were originally pasted into scrapbooks which have been disassembled. In some cases two different strips were printed on the same sheet or pasted on the same page in a scrapbook, so there is some overlap of titles and dates in this section.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Artwork is subdivided into commercial and non-commercial. Comic strips are arranged alphabetically by title and within that chronologically. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent; miscellaneous items at the end are arranged chronologically. Ideas for comics are arranged alphabetically by title. Memorabilia is arranged alphabetically by type or topic.

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Restrictions

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

A eulogy for Al Posen and correspondence with Posen are located in the Vernon Greene Papers.

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

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Subject Headings

Persons

Caniff, Milton Arthur, 1907-1988 -- Correspondence.
Capp, Al, 1909-1979 -- Correspondence.
Goldberg, Rube, 1883-1970 -- Correspondence.
Greene, Vernon Van Atta -- Correspondence.
Posen, Alvah -- Archives.
Schulz, Charles M. (Charles Monroe), 1922-2000 -- Correspondence.
Waring, Fred, 1900-1984 -- Correspondence.

Corporate Bodies

National Cartoonists Society.
Pepsi-Cola Company.

Associated Titles

Jinglet.
Rhymin time.
Sweeney and son.
Them days are gone forever.

Subjects

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

Genres and Forms

Awards.
Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Comics.
Commercial art.
Correspondence.
Photographs.
Proofs (printed matter)
Scrapbooks.

Occupations

Cartoonists.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Alvah Posen Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Barbara Greene; transferred from the Vernon Greene Papers, 1972, 2010; transferred from the C.D. Russell Cartoons, 1967, 2011.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: -
Date: circa 1965
Revision history: 12 Mar 2007 - converted to EAD (MRC); 17 Dec 2009 - updated, corrected (MRC); 4 Oct 2010 - added items to inventory (SK); 9 Feb 2011 - added items to inventory (AM); 26 Jul 2011 - minor corrections (MRC)

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Inventory

Correspondence
Box 1 Amarillo Globe 1949 - about a Jinglet contest
Box 1 American Theatre Wing 1946-1948
Box 1 Caniff, Milt 1946, 1949, 1956-1958
Box 1 Capp, Al 1958
Box 1 Coogan, Jackie 1923 - letter on Coogan's behalf asking for an original cartoon
Box 1 Eisenhower, Dwight D. 1955
Box 1 Family 1919-1920, undated - to and from Posen's mother and sister
Box 1 Fisher, Bud 1944, undated - includes three Mutt and Jeff Christmas cards
Box 1 Goldberg, Rube 1946, 1956-1957, undated
Box 1 Greene, Vern undated
Box 1 Harman, Fred 1957
Box 1 Harriman, Averell 1959
Box 1 Knox Reeves Advertising 1944-1947, 1950 - mostly concerning the Wheaties campaign
Box 1 McCoy, Wilson 1957-1958
Box 1 National Cartoonists Society 1951, 1957-1958, undated
Box 1 Polumbaum, Ted and Nyna undated
Box 1 Roosevelt, Franklin D. 1949
Box 1 Schulz, Charles 1956
Box 1 Thompson Koch Advertising Company - mostly Bristol Myers, regarding Ingram shaving cream and other ads
La Roe, Cap
See Thompson Koch Advertising Company.
Hopkins, Howard
See Thompson Koch Advertising Company.
Cox, Blake
See Knox Reeves Advertising.
Box 1 Trachet, Don 1958, undated
Box 1 United Feature Syndicate 1922 - includes letter regarding the Kansas City Star's first-ever purchase of a comic strip for its paper: Them Days
Box 1 United States Treasury 1942, 1949-1951, 1955, 1957, undated - most relating to Posen's work on Savings Bond campaigns; includes photos
Box 1 Walsh, J. Martyn - regarding illustrations for Walsh's book1952
Box 1 Waring, Fred 1948-1949 - includes photos
Box 1 Zaroubin, Georgi N. 1958 - Soviet ambassador
Miscellaneous
Box 1 1921-1946 (2 folders)
Box 2 1958-1959, undated (2 folders)
Ideas for comics
Box 2 "Jinglet" 1926-1935
Box 2 "Mr. Bingo" 1925
"Mr. Garz, the Man from Mars" (missing as of 12/17/09)
Box 2 "Rhymes of Second Childhood"
Box 2 "Rhymin' Time" 1922-1951 (3 folders)
Memorabilia
Box 2 Awards 1942-1958
Box 2 Biographical material 1949 - printed material
Box 2 Clippings 1922-1951
Box 2 Comic strip promotional materials 1942-1949
Box 2 Development and test of advertising strip 1945
Box 2 National Cartoonists Society 1948-1954 - printed material, savings bonds (2 folders)
Box 2 Photographs
Box 2 Programs and invitations 1927-1959
Original artwork
Box 3 A Word About Colgate undated
Box 3 A Word About Ex-Lax undated
Box 3 A Word About Ingram's and Vitalis undated
Box 3 A Word About Lifebuoy undated
Box 3 A Word About Old Gold Cigarettes undated
Box 3 A Word About Palmolive undated
Box 3 A Word About... (miscellaneous) undated
Box 3 Beech Nut Gum undated
Oversize 3 Chickie & Choosie / Ingram's Shaving Cream undated
Box 1 El Producto (cigars?) (missing as of 12/17/09) undated
Oversize 3 Good Old Ben Bromo Selzer undated
Box 3 It's Wheaties Every Morning undated
Box 3 Lifebuoy undated
Oversize 3 Mr. Garz the Man from Mars undated
Oversize 3 Nature's Awakening undated
Oversize 3 Pepsi Cola undated
Oversize 3 Wheaties undated
Oversize 3 Works by others 1956, undated - Charles Payne and drawing of Posen by unidentified
Box 3 Wrigley's undated
Box 3 Miscellaneous undated
Box 1 Miscellaneous undated - Jinglet, Them Days, Sweeney & Son Christmas card (missing as of 12/17/09)
Photographs
Box 3 Bond Tour- Des Moines, Iowa 1949
Box 3 Detroit Christmas party 1946
Box 3 Library of Congress Oct 1949
Box 3 Metropolitan Group- the National Newspaper Network 1952
Box 3 Metro Sunday Comics party circa 1952
Box 3 Portraits undated
Box 3 Police headquarters lineup; Wilkenson, Albert 1949, 1951
Box 3 Tennis undated
Box 3 Miscellaneous undated - some portraits inscribed to Posen
Printed material
Oversize 3 Call for Mr. Bingo undated - proofs
Oversize 3 Ella and Her Fella / Jinglet 1931-1932 - color tearsheets
Box 1 Jinglet 1935 - clippings
Oversize 3 Pepsi Cola undated
Map-Case 1, Drawer 107 Promotional material 1920s, undated
Box 1 Rhymin' Time 1950 - clippings
Oversize 3 Rhymin' Time 1949-1950 - daily proof sheets
Oversize 1 Rhymin' Time 1949-1950 - proof sheets
Oversize 3 Sweeney & Son 1943-1944 - color proofs tearsheets
Box 1 Sweeney & Son 1935 - clippings
Oversize 4 Sweeney & Son 1941-1943, 1946-1948 - clippings (2 scrapbooks)
Sweeney & Son, oversize 1934-1955, 1958-1959 - clippings; (missing as of 12/17/09) (2 folders)
Oversize 2 Sweeney & Son / Jinglet 1936-1941, 1948-1949 - proof sheets (7 folders)
Box 1 Them Days Are Gone Forever 1921-1925, 1944 - proof sheets
Box 1 Them Days Are Gone Forever / Jinglet 1935 - clippings
Box 3 Thompson's Malted Milk undated - proofs
Box 3 Wheaties undated - proofs
Box 3 Willie Mite comic strip 1945, 1948-1949 - proofs
Box 3 Miscellaneous undated - negative proofs

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