The University of Iowa now has an on-line digital collection of the works of the state’s most famous editorial cartoonist. Sid Huttner, head of Special Collections at the U-I Libraries says they’ve been working for some time to create the digital library of the works of Jay "Ding" Darling.
Huttner says Darling thought he had drawn about 15,000 cartoons, and the university has about six thousand of the original drawings, along with proof sheets and microfilms. Huttner says Darling’s grandson started the work of digitizing the cartoons, and then the school took over. He says they have another 500 or so ready to put on-line once they get the records ready so they can be searched.
Huttner says you can go to the U-I library digital website and once you get there, there’s information on how to search for the type of cartoons you’re looking for. Darling began his career in 1900 and retired in 1949, and drew at least one cartoon almost every day.
Huttner says, "To have a single, critical, intelligent person looking at the world…and drawing an image and relating it to words every day for that long a period, is an enormous research tool. Not only for scholars, but for students at all stages of their career. And certainly we think a lot of members of the general public would be amused, entertained and educated, looking back at American history through Darling’s eyes."
Huttner says Darling was one of the first cartoonists to be syndicated, and his work appeared in newspapers across the country. Darling’s commentary on politics and other events came long before radio, TV, and the internet.
Huttner says Darling’s editorial cartoons were always carried on the front page, not page 16 like today’s editorial cartoons. "So the first thing you did when you hauled your paper in off the porch in the morning was to see what Ding had to say about the day’s news," Huttner explains.
Darling was a two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for syndicated editorial cartoons. In 1934 he became head of what is now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Darling is also credited with the creation of the Federal Duck Stamp Program, and in 1936 founded the National Wildlife Federation.