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 America's foremost political cartoonist. They also include approximately 14,000 original drawings for his celebrated cartoons as well as several thousand additional preparatory sketches which he used to conceptualize his finished pieces.
This exhibition 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 U.S. daily newspaper shortly before the stock market crash in 1929, and drew his last in August 2001. In tens of thousands of drawings published in newspapers during his lifetime, he offered trenchant graphic commentary on virtually every notable incident and public figure from the Depression forward. He caricatured thirteen American presidents from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush, receiving in his storied career three Pulitzer Prizes for editorial cartooning (1942, 1954, and 1979) and a fourth with Washington Post colleagues for public service during the Watergate investigation (1973). A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 1994 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In spring 2000, the Library of Congress named Herb Block a "Living Legend" in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the nation.
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.
For Herbert L. Block (1909-2001)