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Nellie Caroll Papers

An inventory of her papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: [Summit record]
Date: 3 Feb 1994

Biographical History

Nellie Caroll (1923-2005) was a California-based artist known for her studio greeting cards.

Caroll was born as Jean Dobrin on April 3, 1923 in Zillah, Washington. She attended the Mar-Ken School in the Los Angeles area, a school for children in show business, and she also studied at the Art Center School. Caroll moved to New York City and opened an art gallery but later returned to Los Angeles.

Nellie started the Nellie Card Company to produce the studio cards, an emerging type of greeting cards. In the 1950s, Caroll was hired by Box Cards which was headed by Bill Box and Bill Kennedy. Hallmark also used Caroll's greeting card designs. In addition to greeting cards, Caroll worked in commercial art, illustration and in television. Caroll also created several panel cartoons. Her Lady Chatter panel was distributed by the Los Angeles Time Syndicate from 1965 to 1966. Her cartoons and caricatures frequently focused on women.

In 1968 Caroll filed for bankruptcy. She died on May 18, 2005.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Nellie Caroll Papers are arranged in four series and consist of artwork, correspondence, memorabilia (mostly about Caroll's personal life) and writings. The collection documents Caroll's family: particularly her relationship with her only daughter, Amy, who died in 2001 and Caroll's husband.

The Artwork (1956-1998) series consists of Caroll’s creative work and encompasses the variety of genres in which she worked. Included are original drawings, proofs, reproductions and finished products. Caroll's original artwork typically appears on translucent paper. The bulk of the cartoon material is original artwork and proofs for her panel cartoon Lady Chatter distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate from 1965 to 1966. There are smaller amounts of material related to her other cartoons. Caroll's work typically depicted female attitudes (sometimes stereotypical in nature) about life and relationships.

There are also roughs (contained in spiral bound notepads) of children’s books written and illustrated by Caroll in the 1970s, designs, and illustrations for the book Big Al Sports from the Laugh-In television show. Samples of Caroll’s commercial artwork for retail stores and businesses in the Los Angeles area are also included. Greeting card material includes primarily printed studio cards for her own Nellie Card Company, Box Cards, Buzza Cardozo and Hallmark. Worth noting is an inflatable greeting card in the shape of an iron. Caroll's television work includes costume designs for the Laugh In television show and work for Sid and Marty Krofft and Chuck Barris Productions. Examples of Caroll's textiles include designs and finished products for aprons, pillows, clothing and accessories.

Correspondence (1920s-2004) consists primarily of incoming correspondence. Included in the business correspondence are rejection letters for Caroll’s various projects and terms of her agreements with the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and the McNaught Syndicate. There are also letters from Hallmark and a letter regarding a staff position at American Greetings. Of interest is a folder of correspondence with Mattel which includes sample Barbie doll clothing. There is also personal correspondence that was exchanged within Caroll's family, particularly with Caroll’s daughter Amy. The personal correspondence documents Caroll's friendships with actor Jack Larson and musician Michael Franks. Of interest is a cassette tape with a label indicating the recording is of Franks regarding Amy Caroll's death and Larson regarding Ira Gershwin's wife.

Memorabilia (1993-2001) contains a variety of material, much of which relates to Caroll’s family, including her daughter and husband. There are photographs, clippings, bankruptcy records and items reflecting Caroll's interest in mysticism, spirituality, tarot and astrology. Of interest may be a videotape of a documentary in which Caroll appeared.

Writings includes typed stories and also poetry exchanged between Caroll and her husband. Of interest is a history of a particular building's occupants and uses on Sunet Boulevard.

Arrangement of the Collection

Alphabetical by type of material; within that, alphabetical by name or title. Note that Oversize 6 no longer exists; it contained Les Carroll material, which, along with some material from Oversize 5, was misidentified as being part of this collection. They have been transferred to their own collection, Les Carroll Cartoons.


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.

Related Material

Four books have been removed from the collection and transferred to Rare Books for cataloging:

Burn This, a compilation of Box Cards studio cards
Edith Head : the Life and Times of Hollywood's Celebrated Designer
Litter Poems (illustrated by Caroll)
Studio Cards: Funny Greeting Cards and People Who Created Them

Special Collections Research Center has collections of over one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Caroll, Nellie.
Krofft, Marty, 1937-
Krofft, Sid, 1929-

Corporate Bodies

Chuck Barris Productions.

Associated Titles

Lady Chatter.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc., -- United States.
Illustrators -- United States.
Television -- Art direction.
Women -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Women artists -- United States.
Women cartoonists -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Children's books.
Family papers.
Greeting cards.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Nellie Caroll Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

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