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Hal H. Empie Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: –
Date: Jan 1967

Biographical History

Hart Haller "Hal" Empie (1909-2002) was an American cartoonist, illustrator, painter, and pharmacist.

Hal Empie was born outside of Safford, Arizona Territory on March 26, 1909. In 1920, Empie and his family moved to Safford proper where his parents opened a hotel. As a teenager, Empie went to work as an assistant in a drug store. He held this job until he went to study medicine at the University of Arizona in 1927. Empie left the university to get married but became a licensed pharmacist at age 20 after attending the Capitol College of Pharmacy in Denver. Empie is said to have been the youngest licensed pharmacist in Arizona history.

After working for a few years in Solomonville, Arizona and suffering financial setbacks, Empie began to pursue art for extra income and in 1934 Empie moved to Duncan, Arizona to become a drugstore manager. Several years later Empie took over ownership of the store and renamed it the Art Gallery Drug which he would run for the next 50 years while he continued to work as an artist on the side.

Empie depicted life in Arizona in its earliest decades of statehood both in caricature and in landscape paintings. In the 1930s, Empie began producing Western-themed cartoon postcards through Empie Kartoon Kards. But Empie turned his focus to his love of oil painting and Empie worked to promote the creation of Arizona related art by Arizona artists.

Empie left Duncan and closed the Art Gallery Drug and moved to Tubac, Arizona in the 1980s where he opened the Hal Empie Studio & Gallery. In the late 1990s, Empie’s eyesight began to deteriorate but he adapted his tools and techniques so he could continue to paint. Empie, a prolific painter, began selling his paintings as a teenager and was primarily a self-taught artist aside from a few weeks of art courses in the early 1950s.

Empie’s life and work has been profiled in numerous publications and exhibited at regional galleries as well at the Tucson Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. A biography of Empie, Arizona's Hal Empie, His Life, His Times and His Art was published by the Arizona Historical Foundation in 2001 with a foreword by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Hal Empie died on March 26, 2002.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Hal H. Empie Papers are organized into 3 series. The first series, Artwork consists of 2 original drawings and 11 original cartoons. Empie used marker for the drawings and ink for the cartoons. The second series, Photographs contains 8 photographs and 2 sheets of negatives. The final series, Printed Material contains material related to Empie's career as a cartoonist and painter as well as biographical material.

Arrangement of the Collection

The artwork is arranged by medium. The photographs are arranged by subject and the printed material is arranged as it was received.


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

One published book, Way Out West (date unknown) and one exhibition catalog, Echoes of Arizona: Hal Empie One Man Show (Presido Gallery: 1986) have been removed from this collection and sent to Rare Books.

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

Subject Headings


Empie, Hal H., 1909-

Corporate Bodies

Art Gallery Drug Store (Duncan, Ariz.)
Empie Kartoon Kards.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Art, American -- 20th century.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- Arizona.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Illustrators -- Arizona.
Illustrators -- United States.
Painters -- Arizona.
Painters -- United States.
West (U.S.) -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Biography files.
Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Prints (visual works)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Hal H. Empie Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Hal Empie, 1968, 1986.

Table of Contents



Printed Material