Skip to main content

Clifford Berryman Cartoon Collection

 Collection — external hard drive: DIG_00001
Identifier: P008

Scope and Contents

The Clifford Berryman Cartoon Collection contains 108 political cartoons drawn for publication in the Washington Evening Star from approximately 1900 to 1948. Drawn in pen and ink on posterboard, the majority of these oversized cartoons measure either 13.5” x 14.25” or 18” x 15.75”. In general, the subjects of the cartoons pertain to local District of Columbia issues as opposed to national news. The cartoons address community issues, congressional appropriation and District finances, holidays and events, politics, District political representation, weather and nature, and World Wars I and II. The collection also contains a handful of miscellaneous Berryman drawings, cards, and caricatures. A brief description of each cartoon is provided with the box inventory at the end of the finding aid.

Recurring characters in Berryman’s cartoons include 1) “D.C.”, a character resembling Benjamin Franklin who represents the people of the District of Columbia; 2) “Uncle Sam”, representing the country as a whole; 3) “Berryman Bear”,a small, fuzzy bear cub that was the inspiration for the toy teddy bear and appears with either President Theodore Roosevelt or Uncle Sam, usually to depict an emotional response to the situation occurring in the cartoon, or to stand for Berryman’s own views on the matter; and 4) the Squash Center farmers, a group of men that provide various comments and opinions on news.


  • Creation: 1900 - 1948


Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on viewing this collection. Reproductions should appear with the proper attribution indicating that the cartoon is housed in the Clifford Berryman Cartoon Collection. Citations should also indicate that the image appears “courtesy of the DC Public Library, Special Collections”

Biographical / Historical

Clifford Kennedy Berryman was born in Versailles, Kentucky, on April 2, 1867 to James T. and Sallie C. Berryman, the tenth of eleven children. Berryman attended Professor Henry’s School for Boys in Versailles and graduated in 1886.

At the age of 13, Berryman drew a sketch of his idol, Representative (later Senator) C. S. Blackburn of Kentucky. Several years later, Blackburn saw the drawing displayed in Berryman’s uncle’s office, and was so impressed that in 1886 he sponsored the young man to come to Washington, D.C., procuring him a job as a draftsman at the United States Patent Office. Berryman added free hand drawings to illustrate and clarify the pictures accompanying applications for patents. From 1891 to 1896 he also worked as a general illustrator. During this time, he learned how to draw political cartoons by studying contemporary cartoons in Punch and Puck and copying the cartoonists’ styles. Throughout his career, Berryman worked solely in the medium of pen and ink.

On July 5, 1893, Berryman married Kate G. Durfee, a D.C. school teacher. The couple had three children, two of whom survived infancy. Later, son James followed in his footsteps, joining him as a staff cartoonist at the Star, while daughter Florence became the Star’s art critic.

Berryman sold his first series of drawings to the Washington Post in 1889 for $25, which was nearly his whole month’s salary at the Patent Office. In 1896 he joined the Post staff full-time as a political cartoonist, acting as understudy to editorial cartoonist George Y. Coffin. Coffin died less than a year later, leaving Berryman to inherit the position. On February 1, 1907, Berryman moved to the Evening Star as chief cartoonist where he drew a cartoon every day until 1935, when he underwent a serious operation and subsequently reduced his workload from seven to three cartoons a week. Berryman won a Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his August 28, 1943 cartoon entitled “But Where is the Boat Going?” which criticized unorganized manpower mobilization efforts during World War II. He also illustrated nearly forty books during his career, and was the first cartoonist to be accepted into the Gridiron Club.

Berryman’s most famous creation was the “Berryman Bear,” the inspiration for the toy teddy bear. He first drew the bear in a Washington Post cartoon, inspired by an incident in which President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a defenseless bear cub at the end of an otherwise fruitless bear hunt. Berryman depicted the event in a cartoon entitled “Drawing the Line in Mississippi” (November 21, 1902). Thereafter, whenever Berryman drew Roosevelt, the bear also appeared; after Roosevelt left office, the bear became the companion of Uncle Sam, representing the entire country.

Berryman never commercialized his art and frequently gave away originals to anyone who wanted them. He collapsed on his way to work at the Star on November 17, 1949, and died less than a month later on December 11, 1949.


5 Linear feet

Language of Materials



Series 1: Community Issues, 21 cartoons (1900-1946)
Cartoons in this series relate specifically to issues affecting residents of the District. Concerns include crowded schools, high rent, litter, noise, and pollution. A few cartoons address the growing population in D.C. Others deal with sports and recreation. Berryman also exercised his editorial role by drawing cartoons that served as public service announcements, such as ones encouraging participation in Community Chest campaigns, reminding citizens not to harm the dogwood trees, or calling for traffic safety and curfews.

Series 2: Congressional Appropriations and District Finances, 10 cartoons (1929-1940)
Cartoons here deal with a broad array of District financial issues, including Congressional appropriations, budget, spending, taxes, and a general lack of funds. Also included are cartoons reminding citizens of approaching tax deadlines. Many of these cartoons have overtones of Berryman’s recurring theme of “taxation without representation” (see also Series 5: Representation).

Series 3: Holidays and Events, 15 cartoons (1908-1942)
The bulk of the cartoons here show scenes relating to holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Others address important days such as Inauguration and Teacher Appreciation Day, or prominent events in the city such as conferences and meetings. While there is one cartoon in this series relating to the Fourth of July, many more about this holiday as well as Flag Day can be found in Series 5: Representation, because Berryman often used these events as an opportunity to criticize the District’s lack of representation.

Series 4: Politics, 13 cartoons (1909-1938)
Cartoons in this series discuss political figures, events, and controversies in a general manner. This collection does not contain many cartoons that comment on national politics. However, since D.C. is the seat of government, there was always plenty of political news in the city, so there are a number of drawings relating to the President and Congress generally. Most cartoons here deal with politics directly relating to the District government, such as ones commenting on the performance of the District commissioners, or the actions of Congressmen on the District committees.

Series 5: Representation, 22 cartoons (1929-1947)
These cartoons address the need for political representation for the District of Columbia. Berryman was a vocal proponent of full political rights for the District, and often lamented unfair conditions that required Washingtonians to pay taxes but denied them voting rights. The theme of “taxation without representation” appears frequently, often depicted as a ball-and-chain burden on his “D.C.” character. Berryman often used occasions of national holidays to comment on lack of representation; see also: Series 3: Holidays and Events. Here, the Fourth of July, Flag Day, Election Day, and the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party were days when Berryman called for representation for the District. Cartoons also comment on the political developments and progress in the campaign to gain representation.

Series 6: Weather and Nature, 16 cartoons, (1915-1917)
These cartoons mainly comment on the weather in the District and the changing of the seasons. Berryman often laments the frigid winter, windy spring, and sweltering summer. One of his recurring characters here is a young girl depicting Spring, wearing a large hat covered in flowers. A few cartoons also relate problems of nature in the city, such as flies and starlings.

Series 7: World War I, 7 cartoons (1917-1919)
Cartoons here depict issues affecting District residents during the first World War, such as fundraising campaigns for government bonds, food shortages, and the return of war heroes.

Series 8: World War II, 4 cartoons (1940-1945)
This series contains a few cartoons specifically about World War II, which discuss the draft, war loans, and political conferences.

Series 9: Artwork, 24 items (1934-1948)
This series collects the handful of items in the collection that are not full-sized political cartoons from the Star. It contains Christmas cards, an invitation, a sketch, and printed caricatures, all drawn by Berryman.

Custodial History

Clifford Berryman’s daughter, Florence Berryman, most likely donated the cartoons sometime after his death, possibly in the early 1950s. However, the file on this collection does not document the details of this accession.

Related Materials

Washington Star Papers Collection, 061
Wichita State University, Clifford K. Berryman Collection of Political Cartoons, MS 88-01
George Washington University, Clifford Berryman political drawings collection, MS2286
The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Clifford K. Berryman papers, 1835-1976, MS 0523
University of Georgia, Clifford K. Berryman cartoon, ms2420
Library of Congress, Clifford Kennedy Berryman papers, 1814-1965, MSS12559
Smithsonian Institute, Archives of American Art, Berryman family papers, 1829-1984, (bulk 1882-1961), OCLC number 1030335145
University of Wyoming American Heritage Center, James Thomas Berryman papers, 06563
National Archives, Berryman Political Cartoon Collection, 1896 - 1949, 306080

Processing Information

Processing procedures consisted of analyzing the images, sorting them into series according to subject, describing them, performing research to verify dates, and rehousing into Mylar sleeves. Each cartoon is described by 1) a unique ID assigned by the archives, representing its series and its position within the series, on the top right corner of each cartoon; 2) an original number, which usually appears on the back lower left corner; 3) a date, either from the cartoon itself, discovered through research, or an approximated circa date; 4) a caption if given or discovered; and 5) a brief description of the content of the cartoon in terms of characters, dialogue, and topics.

Although the collection is not well documented, there is evidence of some prior archival work. Almost every cartoon is labeled in pencil with a unique number in the back lower left corner, and dates have been written in pencil on the front under Berryman’s signature. It is unknown who added this information, and whether the original numbering system had any meaning; the processing archivist was unable to determine any pattern to the numbers. These “original numbers” are not believed to be from either Berryman or the Star staff, and were probably added around the time the cartoons were received by the archives. Likewise, it is unknown how the dates provided (usually circa dates or date spans) were chosen. Some seem to be very vague guesses, and a few of the specific ones have been determined to be wrong. It is possible that the writer had knowledge of Berryman’s evolving style and thus could approximate dates for some cartoons. However, again, the processing archivist was unable to determine this for sure.

Within each series, the cartoons are arranged chronologically with undated ones at the end of the series according to the original number. The processing archivist tried to determine publication dates for cartoons whenever this was possible, based on the cartoon’s subject and content. Dates appearing in [square brackets] are supplied by the processing archivist; those appearing in {curly brackets} were originally penciled in by an unknown person and have not been verified. If a full date is given without brackets, Berryman wrote it on the cartoon himself. If a full date is given in [square brackets], it has been verified by locating the cartoon as actually published in the Star. Circa dates in [square brackets] designate a guess to the best of the archivist’s ability, and have been inserted into the chronological run with cartoons with verified dates. Cartoons possessing original, unverified dates in {curly brackets} have been treated as undated, and are interfiled with the undated cartoons according to original number at the end of each series.

Captions sometimes appear on the cartoons in either pen or pencil. Those cartoons without a designated caption either were published without one, or the caption was not noted on the original cartoon. Descriptions of the cartoons were written by the processing archivist. Any other additional information and notes provided by the archivist appear in [square brackets].

Clifford Berryman Cartoon Collection
An inventory of the Clifford Berryman Cartoon Collection at DC Public Library
Finding aid prepared by DC Public Library
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001