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Jack Jurden political and editorial cartoons

Identifier: GRA 0134

Scope and Contents

The Jack Jurden political and editorial cartoons contains original sketches, reference materials, newspaper clippings, and related artistic material from the long career of Delaware-based cartoonist Jack Jurden. This collection spans nearly the entirety of Jurden’s multi-decade career (1960s-2010s). Much of the collection is related to Delaware, although there are some cartoons and reference materials related to national elections and issues. Some of this collection features nudity; notes on which folders contain nudity can be found at the folder level scope and content notes.


  • Creation: circa 1960-2012


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Jack Jurden

Jack Jurden was an American political cartoonist with a career spanning over six decades. Born in 1926, Jurden grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He joined the U.S. Army (77th Division in the Pacific) during World War II, where he served from 1944 until the end of the war. Jurden was an expert in photoengraving, a skill he learned in Allentown, where he began his career. He moved to Wilmington, Delaware, in 1952, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. During the photoengraving phase of his career, Jurden worked for The Morning News and Evening Journal. Jurden was a self-taught artist. After impressing the editors of the newspapers, Jurden was granted space to run daily editorial cartoons in The News Journal in the early 1960s. Jurden went on to do further freelance work as a commercial artist.

Throughout his career, Jurden remained interested in Delaware politics in particular. His special interest in regional politics made him many friends on the Delaware political scene. Jurden’s drawings frequently featured his trademark frog, making his drawings easily identifiable on many politicians’ office walls. Amongst his admirers was former president Lyndon Johnson, who featured one of Jurden’s political cartoons in his Presidential Library. Jurden has been featured in books, newspapers nationwide, and the United States National Archives in Washington, D.C. He was also an officer of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

"Delaware cartoonist Jack Jurden dies at 88”. (accessed October 2019). "Godspeed Jack Jurden”. (accessed October 2019). "John R. “Jack” Jurden”. (accessed October 2019). "Jack Jurden, 1926-2015”. (accessed October 2019). "Jurdy”. (accessed October 2019).

Political Cartoons

Political cartoons were first drawn in England in the 18th century, and have since become a staple of newspapers. In the modern age, many political cartoons are conceived, drafted, colored, and edited on smart tablets or computers. However, for most of the 20th century, political cartoons were drafted using a series of techniques, detailed below.

In the traditional methodology of editorial cartoon drawing, everything begins with reading. Jurden and other prominent political cartoonists from all around the world cite their extensive following of global, national, and local news stories. Through constantly reading the news, cartoonists are able to collate major themes of the day, week, or month – depending on the newspaper or website for which they work.

After settling on an idea, cartoonists go through their existing reference materials or search for new reference materials. These often involve photographs, magazines, advertisements, or even other cartoonists’ depictions of people, places, or objects. Reference materials assist the cartoonist in two ways. First, they allow the cartoonist to reference a real-life depiction of whatever they are trying to draw, which improves accuracy. Second, they allow the cartoonist to keep their depictions of a particular person, place, or object consistent through time. For example, the Jurden collection features numerous cartoons relating to former vice president Joe Biden (D) throughout his career. Jurden drew Biden from the 1970s through his vice presidency, always in a similar style so that Biden was identifiable over time in all of Jurden’s cartoons.

After consulting reference materials, cartoonists will often sketch a first draft on either thin, cheap paper and/or tracing paper. These early sketches are often done in either blue or light grey pencil. This allows the cartoonist to draft the basic forms of the people, work with the subject matter within the physical space of the paper, and test different concepts.

Political cartoons like Jurden's, are created through a unique process. The first draft is then reworked until the cartoonist is happy with the design. This can take a myriad drafts. Once the cartoon’s underlying design is complete, the artist will switch to heavier, higher quality paper and a darker, more defining ink. The original draft may be drawn on directly with the darker ink if the artist feels it is appropriate. More commonly, the cartoonist will using tracing paper and a light board to clean up one of the drafts before it is sketched more completely.

Finally, they can add color, which is often done with watercolor. The cartoon is then resized and/or digitized for resizing and final printing.

"The Sketching Process: Learning from a Cartoonist”." (accessed October 2019). "The Cartoon Caveman at Work…”." (accessed October 2019). "Ask a cartoonist: how do you draw?”." (accessed October 2019). "The Making of an Editorial Cartoon, Patrick Chappatte”." (accessed October 2019).


3.5 linear foot (4 boxes)

7 oversize box


Jack Jurden was a political and editorial cartoonist who drew national and local politicians over his six-decade long career (1960s-2010s) in Wilmington, Delaware. The Jack Jurden political and editorial cartoon collection contains Jurden's reference files, practice drawings, drafts and completed cartoons.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Jan R. Jurden, 2018-2019

Related Materials in This Repository

Items from the collection appeared in the exhibition “Trail to the Voting Booth: An Exploration of Political Ephemera,” lauched online September 2020, University of Delaware – Morris Library. The exhibition can be viewed online at

Physical Description

Most of the material in Series I, Reference materials and tracing paper sketches, is fragile and should be handled with care because the tracing paper has deteriorated. Most of the material in Series II, Completed cartoons, is in good condition.

Shelving Summary

  1. Boxes 1, 5 and 8: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center carton
  2. Boxes 2, 6, 7 and 9: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize (18 inches)
  3. Boxes 3 and 10: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize (17 inches)
  4. Box 4: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize (24 inches)
  5. Box 11: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center carton (6 inches)

OCLC Number

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Sarah A.V. Ellington, December 2019.

Finding aid for Jack Jurden political and editorial cartoons
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2019 December 5
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA