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Caroline and Erwin Swann Collection of Caricature and Cartoon

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540-4730

Collection digitized? Generally, no. Selected images are included here to give a sample of the collection.

Jump to: Background | Access | Ordering Reproductions | Rights | Related Resources | Selected Images from the Collection


The Caroline and Erwin Swann Collection of Caricature and Cartoon contains 2,085 drawings, prints, and paintings related to the art of caricature, cartoon, and illustration. The collection spans the years 1780 to 1977 and includes works by 521 American and foreign artists and illustrators. Most of the images are cartoons, comic strips, and periodical illustrations drawn by American artists between 1890 and 1970.

The Swann Collection features a rich diversity of twentieth-century American and European cartoon drawings and includes images that reflect such aspects of society as political and economic conditions, social mores, employment, domestic life, families and children, relations between the sexes, and superheroes.

In the early 1960s, Erwin Swann, a New York advertising executive started collecting original cartoon drawings of artistic and humorous interest. The Swann Collection came to the Library of Congress in two installments, in 1974 and in 1977, with a fund to maintain, preserve, and develop the collection, and under an agreement whereby a space would be provided for the permanent exhibition of works from the collection and related library holdings. The Swann Gallery of Caricature & Cartoon is located opposite the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building.

The Swann Foundation, which Erwin Swann created in 1968 to promote preservation, exhibition, scholarship and publication of caricature and cartoon, was transferred from New York to the Library of Congress in 1995. The Foundation, now known as the Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon, offers a fellowship to graduate students and those within three years of receiving a graduate degree, working in any field, on a topic related to caricature and cartoon. The Swann Foundation Home Page provides information on the Foundation and on the Library's activities relating to caricature and cartoon.


Apart from newly received acquisitions, a catalog record for each image is available in the Prints and Photographs Division Online Catalog (address: // The online catalog is also available in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room. Some digital images display (generally only small, "thumbnail" versions will display outside the Library of Congress because of rights considerations). An unpublished checklist of items, including artists' biographies and bibliographies, is available in the P&P Reading Room.


Photographic prints or transparencies of items in the collection may be ordered through the Library of Congress Duplication Services, Washington, D.C., 20540-4570. Orders for copies must be accompanied by reproduction numbers for the desired images or, if no reproduction numbers exist, by call numbers for the images. Reproduction numbers and call numbers appear in catalog records for the images. Order forms, price, and order instructions will be provided on request.


All information documented by Prints and Photographs Division staff regarding publication and/or copyright claimants has been recorded in the catalog record. Use of published works created after 1923 or unpublished works created within 70 years of the artist's death may be limited by copyright restrictions. Therefore, patrons are advised to check for copyright prior to publication or other forms of distribution.

When images are reproduced in a publication, the Library requests that the reproduction number be published with the credit, as in the following example: "Library of Congress, Swann Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-111,111 [negative number]."

Related Resources in the Library of Congress

Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington DC 20540-4683

  • Erwin Swann papers, 1949-1976 (bulk 1968-1973), 10,000 items.

See also the Prints & Photographs Division reference aid, "Resources for the Study of Caricature & Cartoon."

Prepared by: Maja Keech, Reference Specialist, with assistance from Sara Duke, Curator, Popular and Applied Graphic Art, 9/27/99 - updated 2008

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  March 25, 2022
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