Written by Lauren Kime
Edited by Sereen Suleiman and Gabrielle Bates
Tucked away on the premises of The Ohio State University is a little known collection dubbed The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. This special collection library, museum and archive was established in 1977 thanks to the generous donations of the cartoonist Milton Caniff who, in the decade before his passing, gifted his collections of original art, letters, research, photographs, memorabilia, regalia, awards, audio/visual materials and scrapbooks to his alma mater in several installments. Today, what originally started out as an estimated 696 cubic foot collection, has now grown to include “300,000 original cartoons, 45,000 books, 67,000 serials and comic books, 6,300 boxes of archival materials, and 2.5 million comic strip clippings” donated throughout the years from various artists and cartoonists. Though it is worth noting that the library has a strict policy of exclusively collecting newspaper comic strip cartoon memorabilia, not animations. Some renowned cartoonists whose collections are housed at the library include Charles M. Schulz, Bil Keane and Edwina Dumm.
As stated on their About Us page, The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum’s primary mission is to develop a comprehensive research collection focusing on American printed cartoons, to organize these materials, and to provide access to all of their resources. The library supports their mission through a variety of special programs centered around these collections, several of which have gone digital. If The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum has piqued your interest, you can check out their digital collections and exhibitions for free online. A large amount of their collections, however, is yet to be digitized and as a result, many of the research collections can only be accessed by physically visiting the library or making an appointment. So next time you travel to Ohio, make sure to stop by and check out The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum!