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John T. McCutcheon papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-McCutcheon

Scope and Content of the Collection

Editorial cartoons and drawings, literary works, correspondence, scrapbooks, clippings, photographs, personal records, and family records documenting the life of John Tinney McCutcheon, primarily from his college days at Purdue University through the time of his death in 1949. The largest portion of the collection is his cartoons and illustrations, both originals (mostly on large card stock board) and reproductions, which come in a variety of formats. McCutcheon’s main output, the editorial cartoons for the Chicago Tribune, are represented completely in a set of 33 volumes of scrapbooks (including the Chicago Record as well), clipped from the newspapers. There are approximately 650 original drawings of Tribune cartoons; this is an incomplete set, as McCutcheon and the family donated original cartoons to various people and institutions over the years (see the Special Collections Department’s Information File for details on the disposition of the other original cartoons). McCutcheon is not as well known for his essays, articles, and memoirs, but he was a prolific writer as well as artist, and his published and unpublished writings are an impressive portion of the collection.

McCutcheon’s life, his family and friends, and his travels and adventures are well-represented in the remaining series of the collection. Through correspondence, travel souvenirs, biographical information, family correspondence and records, and information about his Bahamian island, the researcher will be able to discover an artist and character who led a very unique and interesting life.

There is a large overlap of the materials in the scrapbooks series with the materials in every other series in the McCutcheon papers; the researcher is advised to consult both the loose materials and the scrapbook materials for information, photographs, and drawings.


  • Creation: 1834-1996
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1889-1950



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The John T. McCutcheon papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The John T. McCutcheon papers 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 John T. McCutcheon

Artist, illustrator, reporter, editorial cartoonist, and adventurer who traveled the world from the 1890’s through the 1930’s, both for his own pleasure and to report on events for the Chicago Record and the Chicago Tribune newspapers. He was The Chicago Tribune’s editorial cartoonist from 1903-1946, and won a Pulitzer prize for one of the cartoons in 1931.

John Tinney McCutcheon was born May 6, 1870, near South Raub, Tippecanoe Co., Indiana. In 1889 he graduated from Purdue University, and moved soon after to Chicago to work for the Chicago Morning News (later to be known as the Chicago Record, and then the Chicago Record-Herald.) His first trip abroad was in 1895 with his good friend and fellow Purdue alumnus George Ade. After getting a taste of travel in Europe he decided to expand his horizons, and in 1898, acting as an artist-reporter for the Record, he embarked on a world tour aboard the naval ship McCulloch. Because of the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, however, McCutcheon instead spent almost two years in the Philippines, covering the conflict for the newspaper. In a short break in those two years McCutcheon was also sent to the Transvaal, South Africa to cover the Boer War. When McCutcheon left the Chicago Record to work for the Chicago Tribune on Jul. 1, 1903, he continued to travel widely, covering World War I events among others while still drawing front-page editorial cartoons on an almost daily basis. His long tenure at the Tribune, from 1903 to 1946, helped to win him the title “Dean of American Cartoonists.” He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1931 editorial cartoon captioned, “A Wise Economist Asks a Question,” and his cartoon entitled “Injun Summer”, first run in 1912, was so popular it was occasionally reprinted by the Tribune, as well as other papers, for decades.

McCutcheon married Evelyn Shaw, daughter of Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, on Jan. 20, 1917. They honeymooned on an island in the Bahamas that McCutcheon had recently purchased, called Salt Cay (informally renamed “Treasure Island.”) They had three sons (John Jr., Shaw, and Barr) and one daughter, Evelyn (called Shirley in one letter) who died while still a small child. The McCutcheons settled in Lake Forest, Illinois, and were members of many prominent social clubs around Chicago. John T. McCutcheon retired from the Chicago Tribune in 1946, and died Jun. 10, 1949. Evelyn Shaw McCutcheon died in 1977.


95.2 Linear Feet (116 boxes, 1 oversize folder, and 47 volumes)


Collection of correspondence, works, drafts of works, subject files, and personal information by and about John T. McCutcheon, editorial cartoonist and newspaper correspondent for the Chicago Record and the Chicago Tribune.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Works - Drawings - Originals, 1889-1949
Boxes 1-29
Series 2: Works - Drawings - Reproductions, 1894-1962
Boxes 30-32
Series 3: Works - Writings, 1888-1950
Boxes 33-49
Series 4: Works - By Others, 1902-1972
Boxes 50-51
Series 5: Biographical/Personal Files, 1885-1980
Boxes 52-54
Series 6: Outgoing Correspondence, 1894-1947
Box 55
Series 7: Incoming Correspondence, 1895-1954
Boxes 56-71
Series 8: Legal / Financial Files, 1834-1971
Boxes 72-75
Series 9: Subject Files, 1892-1950
Boxes 76-81
Series 10: Salt Cay Series, 1886-1987
Boxes 82-88
Series 11: Family Papers, 1837-1996, bulk 1895-1978
Boxes 89-95
Series 12: Photographs, 1870-1949
Boxes 96-112
Series 13: Scrapbooks, 1881-1975
Volumes 1-41, Box 113

Collection Stack Location

1 25 1-4, 1 30 3, 1 30 5-7


Gift, Mrs. John T. McCutcheon, 1958; with subsequent donations from family members.

Processed by

Alison Hinderliter, Pamela Olson, and Monica Petraglia, 2005.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Inventory of the John T. McCutcheon papers, 1834-1996, bulk 1889-1950
Alison Hinderliter, Pamela Olson, and Monica Petraglia
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023-01-28: Additional materials integrated into the collection, including Evelyn Shaw McCutcheon correspondence.

Repository Details

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

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States