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Harold R. Heaton political cartoons

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Heaton

Scope and Content of the Collection

Sixty original cartoons, each measuring approximately 13 x 14 inches, produced for the Chicago newspaper the Inter-Ocean between 1909 and about 1913. Twenty of these are dated; possibly some were never published. The drawings primarily are commentaries on Chicago politics of this period, and depict such figures as Chicago Mayor Fred Busse, "Shale Rock Judge" A.C. Barnes, William Lorimer, Charles E. Merriam, and State's Attorney John E. Wayman. Chicago, during Fred Busse's administration (1909-1912), endured a number of scandals involving graft and corrupt political payoffs to businesses Busse was connected to, such as the "Shale Rock Scandal," the "Cummings Foundry Affair," and the Chicago Fire Appliance Company outrage. Also, Heaton produced strong and often humorous comments on the so-called "Lorimer Case," which concerned the bribery scandal surrounding the appointment of Illinois Senator William Lorimer.


  • Creation: 1909-approximately 1913



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Harold R. Heaton political cartoons are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum (Priority II).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Harold R. Heaton political cartoons are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Harold R. Heaton

Little is known about the life of Harold R. Heaton, except that he was a newspaper cartoonist of some skill, an actor, and a failed playwright.

Called "a forgotten cartoonist" in a short article in the Chicago Daily Tribune on October 8, 1942, Heaton joined the Tribune staff an illustrator in about 1885, gradually rising to the position of front-page cartoonist, signing himself as "H.R.H." By 1892 his drawings were a popular feature of the Sunday edition and in 1893 he produced weekly commentaries on the World's Columbian Exposition. In 1897 Anderson's Art Galleries in Chicago mounted an exhibition of Heaton's work which included 190 Tribune illustrations and cartoons and 19 watercolors of his travels abroad.

Despite his success as an artist, in 1899 Heaton quit the Tribune and joined the theatrical company of William Gillette, appearing in productions of Sherlock Holmes and then several other dramas. In 1906 he wrote a play called Lady Jim, but apparently he wasn't very successful as a playwright or an actor for in 1908 he returned to his artistic career as a political and editorial cartoonist for the Tribune's arch competitor, the Inter-Ocean.

Now signing his pictures "Harold Heaton" and appearing daily on the front page beginning in mid-1908, at first Heaton' subject matter consisted mainly of state and national politics or commentaries on international topics. However, by the end of 1909 he had narrowed his scope to concentrate on lampooning Chicago Mayor Fred Busse and his cohorts and appointees, and State's Attorney John E. Wayman. By 1913, Heaton's cartoons were no longer featured on the Inter-Ocean's front page, but on inside pages he continued to express opinions on issues of the day, with such topics as prison reform, the activities of Teddy Roosevelt or unrest in Ireland.

When the Inter-Ocean folded in 1914, Heaton apparently returned to a theatrical life, for he acted on Broadway between 1920 and 1932, starting with The Guest of Honor and finishing with The Boy Friend in 1932. He died about 1940, although it is not known exactly when or where.


3.8 Linear Feet (3 oversize boxes)


Sixty original political and editorial cartoons by Harold R. Heaton for the Chicago newspaper Inter-Ocean, drawn between 1909 and approximately 1913.


The cartoons are arranged alphabetically by the artist's titles.

Collection Stack Location

1 21 3


Gift of Joel and Patricia Dryer, 2002

Processed by

Virginia H. Smith

Inventory of the Harold R. Heaton political cartoons, 1909-approximately 1913
Virginia H. Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States