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Collection Overview

Walker, William Henry, 1871-1938
William H. Walker Cartoon Collection
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
43 boxes and 29 oversize folders
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpph): Box 1-43


The William H. Walker Cartoon Collection reflects the political climate of America during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. Specifically, the cartoons were drawn between 1894 and 1922 for Life Magazine. While the earlier years did not encompass the quantity of cartoons of the latter years, Walker's satirical style is ever poignant. Through the use of humor, Walker directs attention towards such topics as war, immigration and domestic politics. These themes are related to the reader through the synergistic relationship of ink on paper and intellectual wit. In turn, this relationship generated a light, but serious message for all to appreciate.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of approximately 1000 pen-and-ink drawings for cartoons which Walker published in Life magazine between 1894 and 1922. Walker’s images touch on topics including the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the invasion of the Philippines, the rise of the railroads, voting rights, political corruption, isolationism, xenophobia, World War I, women’s rights, child labor, strikes, and colonialism. Walker’s largest topic of satire revolved around domestic political policy. The melting pot theory became a major area of Walker’s exploration.


The cartoons are arranged chronologically by date of drawing.

Collection Creator Biography:

Walker, William Henry, 1871-1938

William H. Walker was born on February 13, 1871 in Pittston, Pennsylvania to Reverend Ira T. Walker and Orcelia A.Barnes. Walker entered Kentucky University in the Fall of 1888, but after a year transferred to the University of Rochester where he received a Bachelor of Science in 1891. On June 25, 1900 he married Adelaide Miller.

After the turn of the century, the volume of Walker's cartoons increased. One style Walker frequently used to drive home a particular viewpoint was to play upon the stereotypical analogies between good and evil. For example, he used such stories as the hare/tortoise, farmer/snake and little red riding hood to portray the destructive and rippling effects of war. A considerable number of cartoons concentrated on the increasing diversity of the American population. While immigration was on the rise, the melting pot theory became a great area of Walker's exploration. Finally, the largest topic of satire revolved around domestic political policy. The struggle for power between Republicans (elephant) and Democrats (donkey) often involved such prominent figures as Uncle Sam, Hughes, President Wilson, and Taft.

Walker started drawing cartoons for Life in 1894, but it was not until 1898 that he joined the staff. Life had only been in existence since 1883 when it was founded by a Harvard graduate -- John Ames Mitchell. Mitchell targeted a higher class of people than the already popular humor magazines which included Puck and The Judge. The ultimate success of Life partially revolved around Walker's combination of serious politics and humor. However, Life's following waned and in 1936, Time Inc. took over. While ultimately the popularity of Life dissipated, Walker set a precedent for future satirists. On January 18, 1938, at the age of 67, Walker died.

Collection History


The Walker Cartoon Collection was transferred from the Graphic Arts unit in the department of Special Collection to the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, in July 1991 . Five additional cartoons were transferred in May 2012. The accession number for this transfer was ML.2012.025.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Laurie A. Alexander in July 1992. Finding aid written by Laurie A. Alexander in July 1992.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The William H. Walker Cartoon Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

William H. Walker Cartoon Collection; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpph): Box 1-43

Find More

Existence and Location of Copies

FOR DIGITIZED CONTENT: Cartoons in this collection have been digitized may be viewed or downloaded through this finding aid. To view materials, navigate to the item in the left-hand column and open it.

Related Materials

Additional cartoons by Walker are located in the Graphic Arts Collection at the Firestone Library, Princeton University. Search the Princeton University Library website for Collections, Graphic Arts. The Walker cartoons can be located by searching the Visuals Database for Graphic Arts.

Subject Terms:
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States
Political satire, American.
Genre Terms:
Cartoons (humorous images)
Cartoons (working drawings)
Political cartoons -- United States.
United States -- Politics and government -- Caricatures and cartoons.