Collection inventory

Finding Aids

William Gropper Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: DO
Date: Jul 2004

Revision history:
29 Sep 2006 converted to EAD (AMCon)
29 Sep 2008 "Hammer" additions (MRC)
1 Feb 2011 added framed item, made arrangement, format and style corrections (MRC)
21 Nov 2011 updated Shtetl, Plantation Strut (MRC)
19 Dec 2011 all box types/numbers updated (MRC)
18 Jun 2012 LCSH updates (MRC)
13 Feb 2014 adds P-13-127, fixed index and description (MRC)
6 Nov 2015 adds M14-120, including 8 lithographs (MRC)
6 Oct 2017 lithograph, Headless Horseman (MRC)

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Gropper, William, 1897-1977.
Title: William Gropper Papers
Dates: 1918-1981 (bulk: 1943-1944)
Quantity: 8 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American painter, illustrator, cartoonist, lithographer. Correspondence (1927-1950); original drawings, paintings, and prose by Gropper and others; published material, including cartoons from New Masses, clippings, exhibition lists, and illustrations (1918-1968); and a scrapbook containing birthday congratulations.
Language: Majority in English, some in Czech, French, German, Polish, Russian, Spanish and Yiddish
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

William Gropper (1897-1977) was an American born Jewish cartoonist, painter, lithographer, and muralist. Born in New York City on the lower East side where his parents worked in the garment industry, he attended the Ferrer School and the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts and began exhibiting his paintings in the 1930's. As a cartoonist he worked for the Daily Worker, Morning Freiheit, New Masses, New York Tribune, and several other mainstream and leftist publications. Gropper was known not only for his depiction of social injustice as it played out in the day-to-day life of the common laborer, but also through his satirical portrayal of the elite and powerful and the effects of capitalism and war on American life.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William Gropper Papers, spanning 1918-1970 (bulk 1942-1944), comprises correspondence, artwork, writings, and memorabilia of the artist.

The mostly incoming Correspondence consists primarily of notes and letters presented to Gropper at the 1944 birthday celebration given in his honor. The Birthday Scrapbook was compiled by Gropper's friends and fellow artists, and Edward K. Barsky, M.D., Chairman of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee, in honor of Gropper's 47th birthday. The dinner celebration was hosted by screenwriter and producer Edward Chodorov (opening remarks are included). Speakers included Carl Sandburg, Frederick Myers, and Norman Corwin with tributes by Dean Dixon, Dorothy Parker, Henry Varnum Poor, Captain Orest Shevsov, and Margaret Lombardo Toledano. Sponsors included Leonard Bernstein, Van Wyck Brooks, Marc Chagall, Aaron Copland, Louis Lozowick, W. Somerset Maugham, Anton Refregier, Louis Slobodkin, Moses Soyer, and Margaret Webster, among others. Cards, letters, telegrams, signatures, and artwork from Ella Reeve "Mother" Bloor, Earl Browder, Carreño, Theodore Dreiser, Howard Fast, Joseph Hirsch, Langston Hughes, Harold Ickes, Rockwell Kent, the Kukryniksy artists, Luis Quintanilla, Paul Robeson, Bodo Uhse, and Max Yergan are included. Labor unions, artist and political associations, and newspapers are also represented.

Correspondence from various U.S. government departments and offices include: the U.S. Coordinator of Information, inviting Gropper to contribute cartoons that will be sent abroad for propaganda purposes; the U.S. Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs regarding a pamphlet on Lidice, Czechoslovakia; the U.S. Federal Works Agency in connection with Gropper's Lidice drawings and exhibitions of Gropper's artwork; the U.S. Office of War Information regarding government war posters, the Lidice book(let), and a memo to Archibald MacLeish, Director of the Office's Office of Facts and Figures, about a meeting of artists MacLeish called to discuss how they might contribute to the war effort; and the U.S. Treasury Department concerning war bond posters, an exhibition on war cartoons, the Lidice drawings, and a trip to visit the Parker and Grand Coulee dams in preparation for his mural in the U.S. Department of Interior building.

Note: Some of the items have been removed from the scrapbook for conservation purposes and placed in the correspondence file folders. The details and an index to all correspondence are given at the end of this finding aid.

Artwork includes original and reproductions of cartoons, drawings, etchings, and sketches for publications such as Freiheit and the New Masses. Mediums include charcoal, pastel, pen and ink, and pencil. Printed materials, such as a calendar and other publications Gropper illustrated, are also included, along with clippings of published artwork appearing in journals and newspapers.

Writings include an outline of Gropper's life and handwritten statements and comments regarding his testimony before Senator Joseph McCarthy's House Un-American Committee in 1953.

Memorabilia comprises an award from the U.S. Treasury Department for services rendered on behalf of the National War Savings program; book reviews and publicity for Gropper's book, Alay-Oop; cartoons by J. Sennep (Jean Pennes); exhibition materials such as announcements and invitations, catalogs, and publicity and reviews; financial and legal material encompassing a voucher from the U.S. Treasury Department for the materials, painting, and installation of the mural in the Department of Interior building; from the U.S. Office of Emergency Management for illustrations included in a booklet on the Lidice (Czechoslovakia) massacre, sketches for war-themed posters depicting Hitler and Mussolini; a contract with the Philosophical Library to provide illustrations and a jacket drawing for Shaw's Crime of Punishment (Crime of Imprisonment); publicity (general) including New Masses and Art Editions ads for Gropper's lithographs and a New Currents ad for a reproduction; sketches of Gropper drawn by others; theater programs (in Russian); and writings by others (two poems by Gladys Oaks). Miscellaneous items include football and concert programs (in Russian), the constitution and by-laws of the American Artists' Congress, invitations, award committee lists, the 1944 birthday program, stationery, lists, handwritten notes, and newspaper clippings.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Refer to the index to correspondence at the end of this inventory for a detailed list. Artworks is subdivided into originals and reproductions, and within that arranged alphabetically by media. Printed material is arranged alphabetically by type of materialand within that alphabetically by title of the publication. Writings are also arranged alphabetically by title, while Memorabilia is arranged alphabetically by form of material (e.g., exhibit catalogs).


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


Gropper, William, 1897-1977.

Associated Titles

New masses.


Art -- Political aspects.
Art, American -- 20th century.
Art, American.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Heroes -- Folklore -- Pictorial works.
Illustrators -- United States.
Lithographers -- United States.
Painters, United States.
Painting, American -- 20th century.


United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.
Programs (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

William Gropper Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of William Gropper, 1964, 1969.

Framed item, gift of Bert Boyson, 2010.

Original pen and ink sketch, purchased 2013.

Lithographs of American folk heroes and personal photographs, gift of Dawna (Gropper) Snyder, 2014.

Headless horseman lithograph, purchased 2005.

Table of Contents

Biographical material

Correspondence files


Artwork - printed material



Index to correspondence


Biographical material
Box 1 Biographical material
See also Memorabilia for additional material about Gropper and his artwork.
Correspondence files
Box 1 A-Z circa 1931-1951, bulk 1942-1944 (31 folders)
See also Birthday scrapbook for additional correspondence
Box 1 Unidentified
Box 1 Greeting cards from Groppers, with Gropper's artwork
Box 2 Charcoal drawings
Box 2 Etchings
Box 2 Oil and wash/watercolor paintings - includes negatives for reproductions
Oversize 1 Lithographs, American folk heroes - Paul Bunyan, Davy Crockett, etc. (8 items)
Gift of Dawna (Gropper) Snyder, 2014.
Box 2 Pastel drawing
Box 2 Pen and ink drawings (5 folders)
Oversize 9 Pen and ink drawing - 9-panel illustration on wage slavery; note on back suggests it may have been for the Soviet magazine Krokodil
Purchased 2013.
Box 2 Pencil drawings
Box 2 Sketches
Box 2 Linoleum cut
Box 2 Pen and ink drawings
Box 2 Photograph of a painting
Box 2 Photograph of a sculpture
Box 2 Photographs of pen and ink drawings - includes negatives (4 folders)
Artwork - printed material
Oversize 9 Invitation to "Playboys' Plantation Strut and Mississippi Steamboat Jubilee" (Playboy: A Portfolio of Art and Satire)
Oversize 1 War bonds
Oversize 1 Alay-Oop - book jacket, front cover
Oversize 1 Down There (La Bas) by J.K. Huysmans - illustrated by Gropper; book jacket
Oversize 1 Whither, Whither, or, After Sex What? by Walter S. Hankel - illustrated by Gropper; book spine
Oversize 1 Russian War Relief Inc. Sep 1942
Oversize 1 "Victory 1942, a Calendar and Sixteen Prints for Democracy" (United American Artists)
Oversize 2 The American Commentator Oct 1934, undated
Oversize 2 Arts & Decorations Mar 1923
Oversize 2 The Bookman undated
Oversize 2 The Fight for Peace and Democracy Feb 1938, Mar 1939
Oversize 2 Folio 10 Feb 1924, undated
Oversize 2 Judge 6 Apr 1929
Oversize 2 KEN 7 Apr 1938
Oversize 2 The Liberator Jan 1919
Oversize 2 The Literary Review 28 Oct 1922
Oversize 2 Look 12 Apr 1938
Oversize 2 The Medical Quip undated
Oversize 2 Motion Picture Magazine undated
Oversize 2 The Nation circa 1932-1947
Oversize 2 The National Financial News Jun-Jul 1923
Oversize 3 New Masses 1927-1946 (12 folders)
Oversize 2 The New Pearson's Feb 1923, Jun 1923, Jul 1923
Oversize 2 The New Republic circa 1947-1948
Oversize 2 PIC May 1948
Oversize 2 Playboy: A Portfolio of Art and Satire (New York) undated
Oversize 2 Shadowland undated
Oversize 2 Tennis Jun 1931
Oversize 2 Vanity Fair May 1934, Aug 1935, undated
Oversize 2 Vogue 1 Apr 1934
Oversize 2 The Working Front undated
Oversize 2 The Younger Set Feb 1924
Oversize 2 Unidentified 1948, undated (4 folders)
Oversize 4 The Advance circa 1922-1923
Oversize 4 The Capital Times 11 Feb 1940
Oversize 4 Daily News 2 Nov 1942
Oversize 4 Daily Worker 1927-1947, undated (2 folders)
Oversize 4 Fur & Leather Worker Aug 1944
Oversize 4 New York American 1934, undated - includes Robert Benchley columns (2 folders)
Oversize 4 New York Evening Graphic Magazine Aug-Sep 1929
Oversize 4 New York Evening Post Literary Review 1924, undated (2 folders)
Oversize 4 New York Times Book Review circa 1931-1947
Oversize 5 New York Tribune 1918-1919
Oversize 5 New York Herald Tribune Books 14 Sep 1930 (2 folders)
Oversize 5 The New York World 1925-1926, undated (2 folders)
Oversize 5 PM's Weekly 24 Aug 1941; Sep 1941
Oversize 5 The San Francisco News 20 Feb 1937
Oversize 5 Sunday Worker 1939-1940
Oversize 5 The Young Worker 3 Dec 1927
Oversize 5 Ring Lardner columns circa 1926
Oversize 5 Unidentified 1924, undated (5 folders)
Newspapers and journals
Oversize 5 Clippings from scrapbook, disassembled
Newspapers, foreign language
Oversize 6 Czechoslovakian (tvorba) 1948
Oversize 6 French 1930, undated
See also Memorabilia: Cartoons by J. Sennep (Jean Pennes)
Oversize 6 German circa 1920-1928, undated
Oversize 6 Polish 1950, undated
Oversize 6 Russian circa 1927-1938, undated (3 folders)
Oversize 6 Spanish 1938, undated
Box 3 Yiddish (Morning Freiheit) circa 1924-1948, undated
Oversize 7 Yiddish (Morning Freiheit) circa 1924-1948, undated - oversize items
Oversize 9 Framed piece with three Gropper items 1971, 1930 - anti-racism first day cover with Gropper cartoon, signed, and a Gropper illustration from Pionier-Kalendar; also a small candid photo of Gropper
This item gift of Bert Boyson, 2010
Box 3 Portraits of American Ecclesiastics undated
Cover art (journals)
Oversize 1 The American Stockholder Sep 1934
Oversize 1 Caravan Sep 1945
Oversize 1 China Today Dec 1934
Oversize 1 Direction Jan 1940
Oversize 1 Echo: The Rocky Mountain Magazine Apr 1927
Oversize 1 The Fight for Peace and Democracy Mar 1935, Nov 1936
Oversize 1 Der Hammer (Yiddish) Oct 1926, Aug 1927, Feb 1934, Mar 1934, Oct 1934
Oversize 1 The Liberator Aug 1922
Oversize 1 Magazine of Art Aug 1937
Oversize 1 New World Review Nov 1951
Oversize 1 Pagan May 1921
Oversize 1 The Revolutionary Age Jul 26, 1919
Oversize 1 TAC (Theatre Arts Committee) Jul 1938
Oversize 1 What's New mailing envelope undated
See also Artwork - Printed material: Clippings: Journals: New Masses.
Oversize 1 "In Gold We Trust" by Larry Harr - illustrated by Gropper
Oversize 1 "The Last Mile" - playbill cover illustrated by Gropper
Oversize 1 "A Noon-Hour Talk on the Communist Party" by Harrison George - illustrated by Gropper
Oversize 1 "12 Cartoons Defending WPA" - American Artists' Congress
Oversize 1 "12 Etchings" - foreword by Alan Fern
Oversize 1 "Unity" - in Polish, illustrated by Gropper
Oversize 9 Headless horseman
Purchase, 2005.
Oversize 9 Shtetl
Oversize 10 Shtetl
Box 3 "Anyone who thinks a witness gets a fair hearing at the hands of McCarthy..."
Box 3 Gropper's life - outline
Box 3 Paul Bunyan
Box 3 Statement of William Gropper [before HUAC] 6 May 1953
Box 3 "When an American Artist whose work is in the permanent collections of the most important museums throughout the country..." - re: Sen. McCarthy and the House Un-American Committee (HUAC)
Box 3 Articles about Gropper 1930-1963, undated (5 folders)
Box 3 Articles about Gropper Aug 1935, undated - re: Gropper's depiction of Emperor Hirohito in Vanity Fair (6 folders)
See also Artwork - Printed material: Clippings: Journals: Vanity Fair
Box 4 Award 27 May 1942 - U.S. Treasury Department
Box 4 Book reviews and publicity for Alay-Oop circa 1930-1931 (4 folders)
Box 4 Cartoons by J. Sennep (Jean Pennes) circa 1935 - in French
Box 4 Exhibition announcements and invitations circa 1950-1970
Box 4 Exhibition catalogs 1921-1971 (4 folders)
Box 4 Exhibition publicity and reviews circa 1930-1957
Box 4 Financial and legal material circa 1938-1945
Box 4 Photographs, personal 1964, 1981
Gift of Dawna (Gropper) Snyder, 2014.
Box 4 Publicity, general circa 1943-1944
Box 4 Sketches of Gropper drawn by others circa 1949
Box 4 Theater programs (in Russian) circa 1948-1949
Box 4 Writings by others undated - poems by Gladys Oaks
Box 4 Miscellaneous circa 1927-1950 (2 folders)
Oversize 8 Birthday scrapbook, inscribed "To Bill Gropper from his friends December 4, 1944"

Index to correspondence

All correspondence contained in the Gropper Papers is filed alphabetically under Correspondence or contained in the birthday scrapbook. Loose correspondence from the scrapbook was removed and filed alphabetically under Correspondence. These items are so noted in the index and the scrapbook, and on the back of the correspondence item. Some signatures were difficult to read. Partially readable names are indexed and include a "?" while unreadable names are indexed under the heading "unidentified correspondence/signatures."

Page numbers are designated "B1" for correspondence filed in Box 1 or "S" followed by the page number for correspondence found in the scrapbook (page numbers have been assigned and are not original). Bold "S" numbers indicate a drawing is included while italicized numbers indicate signatures only. For loose correspondence removed from the scrapbook and added to Box 1, the designation "B1" appears first, followed by the "S" number in parentheses, to indicate original placement.