Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (5/22/13): Finding political cartoons FROM the day...

From Wikimedia.  Political cartoon from 1807. A political cartoon about the US embargo of England and France during the Jefferson administration.

This is the first of our SRS user-contributed challenges.  I'll be using these on and off over the next few months.  The ones sent in were just great, and have me scratching my head trying to solve them!  

Regular Reader StephanieW writes in:  

I am a high school librarian currently working on a Social Studies project with two teachers in my school.   
Students pick an event from U.S. History that happened anywhere from 1945-2010 and they analyze it from a political, social, economical, and historical points of view.  One of their tasks is to find a political cartoon from the period and analyze it as well.    
Recently, two students told me they couldn't find any political cartoons for the concepts "Freedom Riders" or "Lunch Counter Sit Ins."  I was surprised and just thought they couldn't "search" correctly.   
So I started going into Google Images and there is very little out there.  I thought about my word choice (political cartoon, editorial cartoon, cartoon, civil rights cartoon).  I also thought about a specific date range, I also tried black and white, line drawing.   I tried searching through .gov (Library of Congress) and newspapers, all to no avail.  It took a lot of searching to find something that would work.  There were lots of nods of current political cartoons with references to the past, but finding something from the actual time period of these events was difficult!  

Is there something that I am just overlooking?  I'd love to know, as political cartoons are a big piece of our history and capture the sentiments of a time in a very visual way. 

Can you solve Stephanie's question?  Our Search Challenge for today is: 

1.  Can you find a political cartoon about the Freedom Riders that was published during the time of the Freedom Riders?  
2.  What advice can you give young searchers about how to solve this search challenge?  

As usual, please let us know HOW you solved the problem, and please give us an estimate of about how long you took to find an answer.  

Search on! 


  1. Actually, this has me scratching my head if the Web is the correct medium for anything…
    Anyway, not being from the US, I'd do the following: In Germany, Anthologies of a cartoonists work are common, especially if he has worked for decades and got famous. So, I'd assume the same to be true for the US. Thus: Go to find all cartoonists with any newspaper from the South (were freedom rides were a news topic), and see if they already worked with the papers during the early 60s. If they did, find the nearest library with their works. You can also try to find any work regarding this in the national newspapers (don't know if it's already been the NYT and the Post back then), or in magazines (maybe the black community had some).

    But I think this will only work with leaving the desk…

  2. Answer 1 - yes

    Did some basic searching for [ political cartoons ] and several variations. I caught a different term also being used "editorial cartoon".

    So did [ "editorial cartoon" "freedom riders" bus ] in books.

    Freedom's Main Line: The Journey of Reconciliation and the Freedom Rides By Derek Catsam

    In a footnote he mentions a political cartoon by Herblock published on May 20, 1961

    Searched [ herblock "may 20 1961" ] and found a PDF "Riding Jim Crow: The Pivotal Role of the Students in the Freedom Rides of 1961" by Kendra Bertschy

    Searched the paper for [ herblock ] where she had information about the cartoon she had seen on the Library of Congress web site. The link to the cartoon is above.

    2. Synonyms are your friend.

    Also, Google Image is great but the images you are looking for might not be in a corpus that Google Images uses or has access to. Think about where the images would have originally appeared. In this instance it would most likely be newspapers and magazines. Know what archives your school and public libraries offer.

    Last thing - what I learned from this search. Sometimes what you think might be in a political cartoon, in this instance "bus" might not be anywhere in the cartoon due to perspective and metaphors. Don't forget to use fewer search terms to help get the results you were looking for. I just got lucky.

  3. I suspect that my search method will be similar to that of other SRS-ers for this one.

    1)First I had to re-familiarize myself with the Freedom Riders. A Wikipedia search [Freedom Riders]
    provided me with basic background and - importantly, some years and even specific dates to focus on. (May 4, 1961)

    2) Expanding on the question-submitters search terms, I performed a web search for [political commentary cartoons 1960s]

    The first result highlighted the work of Herb Block, an important cartoonist who's work has recently been donated to the Library of Congress.

    I'm already familiar with the LoC's Digital Collections (for old photographs of Washington DC, there are very few resources like it). I looked at their Print and Photograph collections and quickly found a link to the Herb Block collection. A search [Freedom Rider] provided two results:

    However as with many of the LoC Digital resources, full size images are sometimes not available through the web interface.

    A few different approaches yielded promising paths, but I didn't go too far since I had some initial results.

    Variations on the term Riders (Rider, Ride, etc.) was helpful: a web search on Freedom Ride editorial cartoon showed the cover of a book that looked pretty authoritative. "Freedom Riders: 1961 and the struggle for racial justice"

    Amazon had a brief preview of the book as did Google Books, but I didn't come across any additional illustrations in those previews. (Authors writing on contemporary historical topics will often add editorial cartoons to their texts, so its a good place to look for this type of search)

    What *was* helpful was the bibliography. It provided a long list of resources that the would be searcher could follow up on.

    So my main bit of advice for searchers is to familiarize yourself with the taxonomies and metadata that were used to characterize data and information before the web (and continue to be used). Especially when researching academic topics, be familiar with the ways in which other researchers identify and cite works they've used. That means, ***be familiar with the MLA citation guidelines and formatting***. ( ) For this example, cartoons (and illustrations) have a specific format that authors will use when citing them - the term Illustration will used in the citation.
    So for this chalenge, Ctrl+F searching a bibliography from a book covering the Freedom Riders or Civil Rights movement for the term "Illustration" should point the way to more resources.

  4. First search:
    "freedom riders" which led me to the wikipedia page and information on the time frame.
    Then "1960s Editorial Cartoons" which led me to the library of congress webpage []. I selected for images that were available digitally but I didn't see any specific to freedom riders, though there were some that addressed segregation. I then searched within the image search for freedom riders, which led me to a list of freedom rider images, among which were a few editorial cartoons on freedom riders by Herb Block [here: and here:]. From there I imagine one could search among Herb Block's works or among the editorial cartoon archives of the Washington Post, which was the paper Herb Block worked for during the time period in question.

  5. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


    define:Freedom Riders. 1961 and following years. Found:

    freedom riders political cartoon. Search tools time

    Found. Cartoon by Laura Gray, The Militant Feb. 13, 1956. This was the only one I could find so far.


    "freedom riders" ~cartoon 1961..1964

    Until now, I haven´t been able to find Images from that date. I used custom range in search tools image and noticed that I can not find any image. It will be great to learn how this challenge is solved.

    1. civil rights movement political cartoons. Tried using Search Tools time before 1965. No results. I now know that I dont´know how to use that tool.

      civil rights movement political cartoons may 1, 1961..june 1, 1961

      FIND: Cartoonist Herb Block 1961 Cartoon "They´re not Americans."

      Tried the same query adding "Freedom Riders" not good results.

      Herb Block AROUND(3) Freedom riders

      Found: in there format Editorial cartoons 1960..1970

      I'll keep searching, now that reading other post helped me.

  6. Question 1: Yes I found one. [Historical cartoons] and variation weren't too productive. So I went to New Yorker's Cartoonbank catalogue of all its cartoons. Nothing. Aha Library of Congress has to be a source and indeed it is: [freedom riders]
    produced 2 hits and this is the best one:
    "We don't want no troublemakers from the United States" Published in the Washington Post, May 23, 1961.
    You will need a magnifying glass to see it !

    Time 5 minutes

    Question 2: The topics mentioned "Freedom Riders" or "Lunch Counter Sit Ins." are particular items from something much larger namely civil rights so I kept this higher level theme in mind. I also went specifically to cartoon sources because they are tools for specific items. Then to LOC which of course has all kinds of resources including cartoons.

    LOC also has a great guide for studying cartoons

    I was in my late teens in 1961 and I remember what went on so my first thought when reading the Challenge was that there could not be anything funny about the Civil Rights Movement so the challenge was doomed. Then my other brain cell woke up and reminded that 'funny' was not the only aim of cartoons.

    Another great Challenge


    Anti freedom rider cartoon
    I too found the Herblock items eventually.
    This was tough and took a good 30 mins.
    Didn't know about freedom riders - being British! So had to look that up first.
    initially I tried [database political cartoons USA] and then [archive political cartoons] and variations thereof.
    This took me to various university cartoon archives but none seemed to have relevant cartoon. and there,s a British cartoon archive - who knew?
    The wikipedia page mentions a book on the riders, a quick visit to Google books for it and the search inside book mentions cartoon by famous cartoonist Herblock. I've seen this name before, a search for Herblock archive finds the LOC archive and search for freedom in this finds this cartoon.
    wipes brow in relief, this was hard but fascinating and I kept being distracted by the other cartoons available.
    Lessons - persistence required, the invisible web is often best for these things, library digitised collections are the key.

  8. What does this term mean? Students have some knowledge about the subject but not visual journalism. I started at terminology.
    Time 1961 Southern USA Alabama
    Our contributor has already checked "cartoon" angles so need to approach differently. I chose to focus on cartoonists, news articles, activist websites and books

    Cartoonists of the 1960's
    Query [editorial cartoonist] John Firth Australian
    “Cartoon” image by John Firth from Melbourne Herald 1965 (International perspective may be useful).
    Cartoonist of the 1960's Herbert Block
    Contains cartoon and reference to the Freedom Riders.
    Other Cartoons by Herbert Block known as "Herblock" who worked for the WashingtonPost.
    -Label "We don't want no trouble makers" with brief desciption
    -Label "a lot of people down here..."
    -Label "you are supposed..."
    -Label "in this boat..."
    Link to more cartoons depicting racial/segregation

    Query [archive newspaper editorial cartoons]

    Digital Library of Georgia Provides a list of cartoonists and the time periods for their cartoons

    Clifford H. Baldowski 1946-1982
    Use keywords freedom, racial, and segregation and you will find several cartoons created by Baldy as he's known. Nothing specific to the Freedom Riders.

    Alternative Sources I know you didn't ask for other sources however these may provide relevance to the use of editorial cartoons. As well provides references to newspapers, books, and activist websites.

    #2 Editorial Cartoon Awards 1922-1997
    By K. G. Saur Verlag GmbH & Company
    Provides history of editorial cartoons including images.

    #3 Newspapers in Education/Cartoons for the classroom

    Freedom Riders:1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice By Raymond Arsenault

    #5 Martin Luther King Global Freedom Struggle on Freedom Riders

    #6 Freedom Rides of 1961Articles & Documents

    What did I learn that I would pass on to students-
    When you search for something specific that is part of a larger subject, back up and search more general terms. Use terms related to the subject like racism, segregation, freedom.
    Have an understanding of the place and time so you can focus in on dates and places in newspapers for example.
    We won't always be able to find the exact result we want so think outside the box and use other sources.
    While this was a challenge if you are like me you will learn about the issue. As well you can learn about people related to the issue, find information you never expected but one day will find very useful in future searches.
    Time 2 hours more/less

  9. This well-documented publication has a Feiffer lunch counter cartoon from 1963 -

    I tried so many different places that I am not sure how I found it.