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M-505 Tom Engelhardt Pictorial Research Collection

ABSTRACT: Pictorial research collection created by political cartoonist Tom Engelhardt.

SCOPE: This collection includes Tom Engelhardt's pictorial research files, including newspaper and magazine clippings and photographs that he used as inspiration for his drawings. Tom Engelhardt was a long time political cartoonist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and a 2018 inductee into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame. From 1962 to 1997, Engelhardt drew more than 8,000 editorial cartoons for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Engelhardt's cartoons cover a broad array of political topics including the civil rights movement, the environment, worker’s rights, poverty, criminal justice, busing, the Vietnam War, healthcare, education, censorship, big business, and Watergate.

EXTENT: 11 linear feet (11 boxes).

HISTORY: Tom Engelhardt was born in St. Louis in 1930 and grew up admiring the drawings of St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial cartoonist Daniel "Fitz" Fitzpatrick. Engelhardt decided to follow in Fitzpatrick’s footsteps and, after graduating from St. Louis University High School, he studied art for a year, then continued his studies at the University of Denver for another year. He then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force where he put his artistic talents to use drawing military maps. After leaving service, Engelhardt used his GI Bill to study at Oxford University's prestigious Ruskin School of Art. During this time, Engelhardt read extensively, traveled, and visited countless museums and historical sites. He eventually returned to the United States to study at the School of Visual Arts in New York City under Tom Gill, the cartoonist behind the Lone Ranger adventure comic. Engelhardt freelanced and worked for the Newspaper Enterprise Association as a cartoonist for a few years, before St. Louis finally drew him home, and he joined the team at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1962.

Engelhardt drew five cartoons a week from the time he joined the newspaper, until he retired at the end of 1997. His work chronicled the tumultuous last four decades of the 20th century, including the civil rights movement, busing, the Vietnam War, poverty, crime, international relations, censorship, and Watergate. Engelhardt’s work attacked the status quo and called out social injustices of the time.

One of Engelhardt’s most famous pieces was a cartoon he drew for the November 22, 1963 morning edition of the paper that depicted President John F. Kennedy peeking out of a jack-in-the box, as Texas cowboy dolls squared off shooting at each other. The cartoon symbolized President Kennedy's ongoing efforts to end infighting among the conservative and liberal Democrats in Texas. In a terrible twist of fate, the president was assassinated two hours after the paper hit the press stands, and the Post-Dispatch had to frantically recall all of the issues.

ACCESS: This collection can be viewed on-site in the Rare Book and Manuscripts Reading Room. The collection is currently housed off-site at the University’s Records Center. Advanced notice is needed to recall boxes to the library for research. Some of the material may be photocopied, digitally scanned or photographed, subject to condition and other access restrictions. Information on conducting research with the archival collections of the Library, including current building hours and reading room policies, can be found on our Research page. The St. Louis Mercantile Library is located on levels one and two of the Thomas Jefferson Library building on the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ north campus. 

PREFERRED CITATION: The preferred citation for this collection is “From the Special Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri – St. Louis."

M-505 Tom Engelhardt Pictorial Research Collection Finding Aid