New Digital Collection of John R. Fischetti Sketchbooks & Cartoons is Cool Site for November 2009

Columbia College Chicago Library is delighted to offer a new digital resource – the John Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Sketchbook Project – showcasing the work of the Pulitzer-prize winning political cartoonist and syndicated cartoonist who drew for such publications as the Chicago Sun, The New York Herald Tribune, Chicago Daily News, Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Times, and Stars and Stripes. John Fischetti (1916-1980) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for political cartooning in 1969. View the collection at:
Through a generous donation from his estate, Columbia College Chicago received the majority of John Fischetti’s sketchbooks in which he worked out ideas for his cartoons. Writing about his sketchbook use in his autobiography, Fischetti said “before 1961 I used to doodle ideas on the backs of envelopes, scraps of paper and yellow copy paper… Since even half-formed ideas are invaluable, I decided to use layout pads for the gestating periods. By dating each page, it turned out to be a sort of log of historical and personal events.” These notebooks offer a detailed, graphical history of the period from 1962 to 1980. Shortly after Fischetti’s death, Mike Alexandroff, then president of Columbia College and close friend of John Fischetti, established the Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Competition in 1982 at the college in the cartoonist’s honor. Today it is a nationally recognized award for political cartooning.

Digitizing and cataloging the drawings facilitates access to Fischetti’s work for educational purposes and for scholarly research. And the new digital collection will serve as a valuable source of primary research and study material, especially as it captures and illustrates the process of creativity. Scholars, who often employ a thematic approach to political cartoon research, will be able to search the collection based on subjects the artist addressed and iconographic tropes he used, lowering an historical barrier to detailed research and study of the political cartoon as an art form. The detailed level of cataloging includes the capture of all text associated with an image (captions, dialogue, and notes) and the addition of standardized and searchable subject headings, names, and iconographic elements, providing a number of rich access points to the collection.
Columbia College Chicago is pleased to make this rich collection publicly accessible to scholars, educators, and the public for personal research and classroom use. Funding for this grant was awarded by the Illinois State Library (ISL), a Department of the Office of Secretary of State, using funds provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), under the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).