Collection inventory

Finding Aids

Wood Cowan Papers

An inventory of his Papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: 1977

Revision history:
6 Jan 2009 converted to EAD (MD)

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Cowan, Wood
Title: Wood Cowan Papers
Dates: 1928-1955
Quantity: 18 linear ft.
Abstract: Original cartoons, illustrations, sketches, proofs, clippings, published material, scripts and correspondence.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Woodson Messick Cowan (1889-1977), commonly known as Wood Cowan, was an American cartoonist, illustrator and painter.

Originally from Algona, Iowa, Cowan attended the University of Iowa before pursuing art studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. Cowan started in the newspaper business as a sports writer and cartoonist for the George Matthew Adams Syndicate in New York City (1920-1927). During this period he produced sports cartoons and worked on a number of various comic strip titles including Vivian the Vamp, Them Were the Days and Mom 'n' Pop. In 1946, Cowan briefly worked on George Ahern's comic strip Our Boarding House, featuring the popular Major Hoople character. Beginning in 1949, Cowan served as editorial cartoonist for the Bridgeport (Conn.) Evening Post (1949-1959), and then for the New Haven Register (1960-1969).

Wood Cowan was also a prolific illustrator and painter throughout his career. He contributed work to a wide variety of popular magazines including the New Yorker and Argosy, and illustrated numerous book publications. In addition, his paintings were featured in gallery exhibitions in Westport, Conn. (1964), Darien, Conn. (1968), Norwalk, Conn. (1970) and Jekyll Island, Ga. (1972).

A long time resident of Connecticut, Cowan served two terms in the state legislature there (1953-1957) and did a single term as First Selectman for the town of Weston (1957-1959).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Wood Cowan Papers consists primarily of original cartoons and cartoon proofs. The entire range of Cowan's cartoon work is represented including approximately 50 original sports cartoons, 300 original editorial cartoons and hundreds of original cartoons from many of the comic strip titles that Cowan worked on—Vivian the Vamp, Carrie and Her Car, Them Were the Days, Mom 'n' Pop, Sissy, and others. The collection also contains a broad sampling of Cowan's magazine and book illustration work (original sketches, drawings, proofs and clippings). This work includes his Teen Tips series, Flying (A) Andy panels, Western Greats panels and sketches for Iowa Cracker Barrel, his tribute to his Iowa prairie roots. In addition, the collection includes some pieces of correspondence, two typed scripts related to Keen Trailer stories, and many other miscellaneous sketches, drawings and cartoons.

Arrangement of the Collection

Comic strips and titled illustration work are grouped together by title and arranged in chronological order. Sports and editorial cartoons are grouped separately and arranged in alphabetical order by title. There are multiple packages that contain loose groupings of miscellaneous materials. Please note that a complete inventory and reprocessing of the collection is pending. Contact the Repository for more information.


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

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

Subject Headings


Cowan, Wood.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States.
Editorial cartoons -- United States.
Illustration of books -- 20th century.
Illustrators -- United States.
Sports -- Caricatures and cartoons.
World politics -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Editorial cartoons.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Wood Cowan Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Wood Cowan, 1966 and Thaddeus Cowan, 1977.

Table of Contents

Package 1

Package 2

Package 3

Package 4

Package 5

Package 6

Package 7

Package 8

Package 9

Package 10

Package 11

Package 13

Package 13

Package 14

Package 15

Package 16

Package 17

Package 18

Package 19

Package 20

Package 21

Package 22

Package 23

Package 24

Package 25


Package 1
Miscellaneous cartoons [8 cartoons]
1928, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1937, 1939 (2), n.d.(1)
Package 2
Wanted Dead or Alive [posters, 63 copies]
Package 3
Western Greats [64 cartoons, 1 book]
Package 4
The Berry's Family Album
69 cartoons - 1942
29 cartoons - 1942
12 newspaper proofs - 1942
Package 5
Miscellaneous drawings and cartoons [39 items]
Package 6
Major Hoople - drawings and proofs
Cradled on Main Street - drawings
Some People Can't Remember Names
Miscellaneous cartoons
Cracker Barrel - sketches
Package 7
Puppet Show
Package 8
Keen Trailer (late 1940s) [14 panels and 2 typewritten scripts about stories]
Dr. Merrywell - Family Doctor (early 1950s) [7 page proofs, 5 negative photocopies]
Marty McGee (1940s) [14 cartoons]
Package 9
Oh, Diana!
12/17/1948 - 01/08/1949 [10 cartoon panels]
10/06/1947 - 12/20/1947 [25 page proofs]
Package 10
Miscellaneous cartoons (1940s) [1 scrapbook]
Package 11
Miscellaneous cartoons [5 cartoons]
Package 13
Windy Winters (circa 1930) [1 scrapbook]
Package 13
Miscellaneous cartoons (early 1920s) [40 cartoons]
Athletic Al [1 cartoon]
Auto Bugs and Buggies [14 cartoons]
Bonehead Bowlers [3 cartoons]
The Busy Bowlers Club [1 cartoon]
Carrie and Her Car [2 cartoons]
The Stove League [4 cartoons]
Such is Golf [10 cartoons]
Vivian the Vamp [54 cartoons]
Package 14
Sports cartoons (1922-1923)
Baseball reduces crime [1 cartoon]
Big league recruits [4 cartoons]
Coach Rockne [1 cartoon]
Come back champions [1 cartoon]
Gameness [1 cartoon]
I'll tell the world [1 cartoon]
In the spotlight of sport [22 cartoons]
The 'J' Fighters of the Squared Circle [1 cartoon]
The kick off [1 cartoon]
The left hand in sports [1 cartoon]
Legs [1 cartoon]
Making the fans laugh [1 cartoon]
Nobody home [1 cartoon]
Out for a home run record [1 cartoon]
Passing of the pop bottle [1 cartoon]
Playing against a stacked deck [1 cartoon]
University football captains [12 cartoons]
Weight vs. speed [1 cartoon]
Package 15
Teen Tips (late 1940s)
225 panels
3 panel proofs
Package 16
Flying (A) Andy (1940-1950s)
130 magazine clippings
3 panel proofs
Package 17
Sports Thrills [40 items]
Baseball's biggest boner
First American to win a British golf title
McGovern lost but he won
When a horse's nose was worth a million
The last charge of the old polo brigade
Package 18
Editorial Cartoons A-L [99 cartoons]
A tap now—or 'The rap' later?
All the old pump needs is a little priming
An expert on our biggest problem
—and he'll take off bag and baggage!
And this isn't even the first team!
Any New Haven street corner
Anybody's ball?
Anything else we can do for you fellows?
April shower
Are other nations going to make our laws?
Are there gonna be any parks, Mister?
At the campaign crossroads
Barnum Festival
Beat the drums!
Better make those two threads stronger
Better not go too far, boys
Big shots in the dark
Boiling water was then poured in the trough from kettles hung on poles nearby
Build that dam higher!
But, Mother! We'd rather do it ourselves
Buying thru highways on the installment plan, or 'Give and Take'
Can't hold back progress
Checking the children on next year's route
Come on, step into line
Congressman Al Morano:
Count your blessings
Cruel and inhuman treatment
Dangerous curve ahead—
Design for health
Dig deeper
Dig those dollars!
Does Westport want this forever?
Don't kill Santa Claus!
The end of a successful voyage
Every accommodation-always a warm welcome here
Fence him out
Fill for the thruway means deep water for shipping (One hand helps the other)
Fill it and push it over the top
Five reasons
Flyin' high
For this I give thanks
A forward pass that should be declared out of bounds
Fruit of the tree
Future spending
Gates open to link Connecticut and New York
Get in step-join the Big Parade
Get rid of these extra gadgets. All we need is a car that'll take us places
Get your ammunition here, folks!
A gigantic sponge
Give him protection
Give him the full treatment
The gobblins will get you
Good advice
Has anyone got a peace-pipe?
Headlines and haircuts
He coming bag and pocket book(?)
He looks pretty healthy
Heh! One of you guys grab that string!!
He's been a good boy
He's in for another surprise, too
He's in the high income bracket
Hey! Open the door, it's Richard again!
The Hoarder
He's loaded!
Help keep her hands filled
Hey, take it easy! Remember my life is in your hands
How Connecticut highways are built
Hum-m-m. How does that sound?
I could pay for it
If I had t'find a place t'park in this town I'd never be able to make deliveries
If you fellows don't get your work done, you'll have to stay after school
I'll take him in the first round
In the past year
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
It means a lot to him
It was ever thus
It's a late planting season
It's been cold outside
Just a sprinkle
Keep 'em dancing
Keep on rolling motor wheels
Kick off to a winning goal
Last year's skate just won't fit
(the above two are Kowalski's senatorial ambitions)
Leading the parade
Let Grand-paw decide
Let's do a little horn tooting
Let's do some selling ourselves
Lets get some real use out of it
Let's get that relief road built
Let's join the parade
Let's leave the hole to the bulldozers
Let's ring that bell
The life and achievements of Igor I Sikorsky
The light that You must not fail
Log jam
Log jam in our Federal Courts
Looks like brighter days ahead
Package 19
Editorial Cartoons M-Y [94 cartoons]
Making it hard to deliver the goods
The modern Simon Legree
More at home would help
More elbow room
Move over, boys
The moving finger writes—
Must we come to this!
My, how you've grown!
New Year's resolutions
New Year's taxes
No more poultry on the highway
Now for the House and Senate!
OK'd all around
One more reason to hurry the construction of the Nutmeg Turnpike
One way traffic
Our own coronation
Out to make friends and influence people
Over the river—or through the woods?
Propaganda platform
Putting Connecticut on the international map
The red carpet for the Vice President
(the above two are Quit triffling, boys, there's work to be done)
Retrieving the Old Skimmer
Riding a pot-holder, or a magic carpet?
Same tangle
Scenic Housatonic route would solve this problem
Send old toys to the Westport Junior Womans Club
She just keeps traveling along
The ship and the bottle-neck
Sit down! The majority oppose
Sifting 'em out - Running 'em through the sieve
Smoke rings the school bell
Something's got to be done about this!!
Something's got to give and soon
The sooner we have it the better
Sounds like a reasonable request
Speaker Sam Rayburn
Special this week —polio shots
Special this week—polio shots - only 50t
Start planning now
A step in the right direction
Step inside gentleman let me show you what New Haven has to offer you
Step right up boys, it's your money I'm passing out
Step up and—ring the bell
Stepping into the picture
Stop the run
Take your choice
Teeing off at Jekyll
Thanks, pal!!
That arm has a lot of muscle
That taxi's at the door
They both hold the same amount of water
They're both loaded
Time for rebuilding—all around
Time to start the sweeping
Time to trim his sails
Things look purty peaceful across the river
This is REALLY spooky!
This happens—and who is to blame?
And this was to be a spring clean-up job?
The thundering herd
To Helen, with affection from Wood Cowan
Two big improvements for the South End
An unseasonal dream
Up—and away!
Water over the dam [2 cartoons]
We aren't going to let anything stand in our way to get you down here—and quick!!
We do need that thruway bridge
We must fill in the valleys
We need the thruway for traffic relief, and YOU back the highway commissioner ... OR ELSE!!
We'll all reap the harvest
Welcome City Hall
A welcome shot in the arm
Welcome Stranger
Welfare chiseler
We'll bet on the horse
Well, where DO you want the expressway to go?
Were going places!
Westport schoolmarm
Westport traffic puzzle
What next, little man?
Without your help someone gets left out
Which one reflects the good student
Women of Connecticut
Wood Cowan sketches some of those attending the G.O.P. Convention
Wrapping the Christmas packages
Ya-hoo, school's out!
You are now entering New York
You are the people I want to talk to!!
You can't lose your shadow
You have TWO years to solve these
The youngsters want a ride in Daddy's car
Package 20
Untitled Editorial Cartoons [99 cartoons]
Package 21
Mom 'n' Pop [214 cartoons]
March 2, 3, 5, 7-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-31
April 2-7, 9-14, 16, 17, 28, 30
May 1-4, 28-31
June 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11-15, 19-23, 25-28
July 2-7, 11-14, 16-21, 23-28, 30, 31
August 1-4, 6-11, 13-18, 20-25, 27-31
September 1, 3-8, 11-15, 17-22, 24-29
Oct 1, 2, 4-6, 8-13, 15-18, 20, 22-27, 29-31
November 1-3, 5-10, 12-14, 21, 27-30
December 1, 3-7, 10-12, 14, 15, 17-20, 22, 24-27
May 25
July 26
Sept. 15
April 1-3, 6,7
Package 22
Sissy (1942-1945?) [88 items]
April 28, 29
May 1-5, 8-13, 15, 18-20, 23, 25-27, 29-31
June 2, 3, 5-10, 12-15, 17-22, 24, 27-29
July 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10-15, 24-29
August 1-5, 8, 9, 12, 14-18, 22-26
March 17 [Sunday 1945?)
Proofs [5 pages]
Package 23
Women with a Gun [painting]
Package 24
Miscellaneous drawings and cartoons [7 items]
Package 25
Them Were the Days