Artist in the Archive: In a Haystack

For this assignment, we had the broad task of locating something of interest in the vast collections of the Library of Congress. Initially, I poked through the featured digital collections, but soon came to fear the prospect that everyone would take this tack. After poking through some old insurance maps and I decided to just use the search feature at I’ve been really interested in the McCarthy Era lately, so I decided to search for “Senator McCarthy.”

This search brought me to an exhibition at the Library of Congress called “Pointing Their Pens: Herblock and Fellow Cartoonists Confront the Issues”. One of the artists featured in the exhibit was Herbert Block (or Herblock). Block had worked as an editorial cartoonist for nine decades and won four Pultizer Prizes. I noticed this comic and decided to look into its provenance:

The comic first appeared in the Washington Post in January 2, 1953. It appears with the following description in its MARC record: “Editorial cartoon drawing shows President Eisenhower as the engineer of a locomotive labeled “Ike” and flying a banner that states “Look Ahead, Neighbor”, passing a marker labeled “1953” as he races into the future; Eisenhower looks worried as another railroad car labeled “Proposed Congressional Investigations into the Past” carrying legislators dressed like detectives, rumbles into the past, intent on rooting out communists.” Its materials are described as follows: “India ink, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing.”

The piece belongs in the Herbert L. Block (Herblock) Collection, which was donated to the Library in 2002 by the Herb Block Foundation. The rights and restrictions for the cartoons in the Herblock collection can be found here. (Hopefully, the cartoons appearance on this site counts as “fair use” rather than publication…).