Preserving the Legacy of Black Press Cartoonists

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The Ohio State University Press

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The comics and cartoons featured in twentieth-century Black Press newspapers are particularly important as historical documents that offer insights into Black experiences in the United States and as works of art that recover the voices of artists from traditionally marginalized communities. Yet clear, high-quality versions of these cartoons and comic strips are difficult to find. Physical copies of newspapers like the Chicago Defender and the Pittsburgh Courier were discarded by libraries and replaced with microfilm, which was subsequently digitized and made available through databases like ProQuest Historical Newspapers and These versions can be inadequate for comics studies scholars due to poor image quality and other factors. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum has uncovered physical Chicago Defender newspaper pages and volumes from 1943–47 and 1950. They have also acquired some physical Pittsburgh Courier issues and sections that include comics and cartoons. Howard University has also launched the Black Press Archives Digitization Project, which may eventually digitize physical newspaper pages directly. It is important for libraries to preserve the remaining physical copies of these newspaper comics and cartoons and to digitize them directly, perhaps as part of a large, cross- library cooperative project.



Black Press, Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier, microfilm, digitization, newspaper comic strips, cartoons, Jay Jackson, Ollie Harrington, Garrett Whyte, Jackie Ormes


Robb, Jenny. "Preserving the Legacy of Black Press Cartoonists." Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society 7, no. 1 (2023): 74-89.