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Charles Henry Sykes cartoon collection

Identifier: M 169

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 297 original cartoons, 4 unfinished sketches, a U.S. war Bond poster, and a U.S. Victory poster by Sykes that were acquired 1980-82. Many of the cartoons appeared in the Philadelphia Evening Ledger and illustrate the events of the1940s. A number of them represent the American reaction to the aggressions of the Axis powers before the U.S. entry into World War II. Other issues represented include: John L. Lewis, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania politics, Turner-Kilroy Bill, coal miner strikes, weather and baseball.


  • Creation: 1930-1942


Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Biographical Information

Charles Henry "Bill" Sykes (1882 1942) graduated from Drexel Institute in 1904. For a short time he did free lance art work and then was employed by the Philadelphia North American, the Williamsport News, and the Nashville Banner. In 1911, he returned to Philadelphia to work for the Philadelphia Public Ledger. In 1914, he became the first and only editorial cartoonist employed by the Evening Public Ledger, which ceased publication in 1942. Until he died later in that year, Sykes, who smoked four packages of cigarettes a day, received a commission to draw a series of anti-smoking advertisements. From 1922 to 1928, he was the regular editorial cartoonist for Life, producing full-page weekly editorial cartoons. In addition, during that time, Skyes inherited the weekly and annual cartoon roundup of news subjects upon the death of F. T. Richards. His most famous cartoon "Madonna and Child A. D. 1940" depicts the ugliness of war; the image shows a mother and child wearing gas masks.

Skyes created his early cartoons using the unusual patterns of coquille board for the shading effect. His later works were created with a crayon and wash technique. He was well known for his amiable style of cartooning. His cartoons were usually funny, filled with delightfully distorted figures while offering his unique perspective on the current news events.


303 Items

Language of Materials



The cartoons are arranged in folders in the oversize drawer 36.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Mr. John M. Sykes on 20 December 1980.

A Guide to the Charles Henry Sykes Cartoon Collection, 1930s-1940s
A Collection in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, M 169
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 901 Park Avenue
Richmond Virginia 23284 USA US
(804) 828-1108