One of playwright Herb Brown’s favorite political cartoonists is Herb Block. The Herblock cartoons greatly influenced how Herb Brown approached writing the play, YOU’RE MY BOY. The Library of Congress has a wonderful on-line collection of Herblock cartoons.
Unless otherwise noted, all items are preserved in the Prints and Photographs Division
The Library of Congress has recently acquired by gift the entire personal archives of editorial cartoonist Herbert L. Block, better known to the world as "Herblock." Editorial cartoons are a vital form of political commentary, representing the freedom of expression inherent in American democracy, and the Library of Congress is proud to maintain one of the world's premier programs in the study and preservation of cartoon art.
Herblock's archives have been
donated to the Library by the Herb Block Foundation, established by the
artist's estate following his death in October 2001. The archives include
voluminous files of records, correspondence, clippings, and photographs related
to his unparalleled tenure as
celebrates the gift of the Herb Block Foundation and features a selection of
original cartoons spanning the artist's remarkable career. He published his
first political cartoon for a major
Herb Block's original drawings were his life and his legacy. They are now at the heart of a new relationship between the Library and the Herb Block Foundation that will provide comprehensive conservation treatment and unprecedented access to his life's work. The Herb Block Foundation will carry on the artist's lifetime devotion to social justice by providing financial aid to causes that reflect his ideals, including scholarships for deserving students and support for cartoonists who follow in his footsteps. The gift to the Library of Congress, where his work will be preserved in its entirety for us all to share, is the first step in that continuing journey.
The Cold War
revived the anti-communist hysteria that had gripped the
During the postwar anti-communist campaign hundreds of elementary and high school teachers were investigated and lost their jobs, sometimes as a result of being named by proliferating "anti-subversive" groups and individuals. Some individuals compiled and circulated their own blacklists, which were accepted by frightened employers and casting directors who feared being blacklisted themselves if they sought facts and fair play. The motives of some self-serving or vindictive accusers were summed up by Herb Block in a phrase: "If you can't crush the commies, you can nail a neighbor."
Herb Block's "Mr. Atom" personification of "the bomb" in many cartoons has reminded readers of the threat of nuclear annihilation. Here, a new international "atomic clock" developed by using atomic waves to provide a world standard of measurement gives its own reminder, as the great powers fail to reach agreement on the control of atomic energy.
Marshall Plan, the
Senator Joseph McCarthy's continued string of reckless charges of communism in government created such a sensation that the Senate appointed a special committee under Millard E. Tydings to investigate his "evidence." McCarthy managed to turn the hearings into a circus, each new charge obscuring the fact that earlier accusations weren't backed up. Despite a final report by the committee discrediting McCarthy's tactics and evidence, he emerged with more general support than ever. And "anti-subversive" hearings by other committees of Congress, particularly the Senate Internal Security Committee headed by Senator Pat McCarran (D-Nevada), continued treating rumors and unsupported charges as "evidence."
As Senator Joseph McCarthy's campaign against State Department and Justice Department officials continued, President Harry Truman spoke against "scaremongers and hatemongers" who "are trying to create fear and suspicion among us by the use of slander, unproved accusations, and just plain lies."
McCarthy's irresponsible tactics were endorsed by many voters who felt that the
communist threat was such that the means justified the ends. A non-combat
veteran, he had used the nickname "Tail-gunner Joe" to win a Senate
seat after the war. He then latched on to anti-communism as a winning tactic
for re-election. Other politicians, recognizing pay dirt when they saw it,
jumped on his tar-barrel bandwagon. The attacks on the Truman Administration
continued even as President Harry Truman was fighting a war against communist
political career, Dwight Eisenhower refused to take a public stand against
Senator Joseph McCarthy's aggressive anti-communist campaign. Eisenhower even
struck from a 1952 campaign speech in
Even with Senator Joseph McCarthy on the wane, the general hysteria continued in many forms by assorted super patriots. In the summer of 1954, a branch of the American Legion denounced the Girl Scouts, calling the "one world" ideas advocated in their publications "un-American."
Richard Nixon had discovered the power of smear attacks in his early campaigns for the House of Representatives and Senate years before Senator McCarthy began to use them. In 1954, during his vice-presidential campaign for re-election, Nixon traveled the country to charging previous Democratic administrations and current Democratic members of Congress with being soft on communism. His targets included some of the most respected members of the Senate. Herb Block's 1954 depiction of the emerging campaigner would stick with Nixon throughout his career.
The Suez Crisis
of 1954 raised the specter of increased Soviet interest in the oil-rich
Herblock on the Civil Rights Movement
"Cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them"
During the 1948 presidential election, Southern Democrats rebelled, protesting President Harry Truman's civil rights program, while left-leaning Democrats split off to form the Progressive Party under the leadership of Henry A. Wallace. This prompted Herb Block to invoke the heroic, if ill-fated warrior in Alfred Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade. Truman surprised almost everyone by winning the election in November.
to right of them, cannon to left of them," February
Ink, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing on layered paper
Published in the Washington Post (19)
"Tsk Tsk -- Somebody Should Do Something About That"
President Dwight Eisenhower was frequently accused of failure to provide leadership on domestic problems. Among Herb Block's criticisms of the administration was Eisenhower's lack of support for the Supreme Court's 1954 ruling for desegregation. Eisenhower said we all have opinions and lamented that "you can't change the hearts of men by laws." The leadership vacuum persisted long after the Court's ruling, which allowed time for the organization of White Citizens councils, of "massive resistance" and confrontations that continued beyond Eisenhower's term. In 1956, two years after the Court's ruling, Eisenhower's view on integration was that it should proceed more slowly.
"Tsk Tsk -- Somebody Should Do
Reproduction of original drawing
Published in the Washington Post (145)
"Pray keep moving, brother"
As the civil rights movement heated up in the 1960s, black Americans cultivated the technique of peaceful protest, using it in dignified and disciplined demonstrations against segregation at lunch counters and other places. Here Herb Block focuses on the ultimate irony of segregation in places of worship preaching the brotherhood of man.
F. Kennedy called for southern governors to assure "a friendly and
dignified reception" for foreign diplomats visiting the
The Herblock Book: Text and
Cartoons by Herbert Block.
Herblock's Here and Now.
Herblock's Special for Today.
Herblock's State of the
Herblock Special Report.
Herblock on All Fronts: Text and Cartoons.
Herblock Through the Looking Glass.
Herblock at Large: "Let's Go Back a Little . . ." and
Other Cartoons with Commentary.
Herblock : a Cartoonist's Life.
Bella and Me: Life in the Service of a Cat.