John T. McCutcheon negatives collection


Finding Aid for the Collection at the Chicago History Museum, Research Center

By Diane Ryan, 1985; rev. by D. Rinder, 2008; rev. by Katie Angeli and Dana Lamparello, 2015; revised by Dana Lamparello, 2017.


Copyright 2017, Chicago Historical Society, 1601 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614-6038


Main entry: McCutcheon, John T. (John Tinney), 1870-1949, photographer.

Title: John T. McCutcheon negatives collection [graphic]

Inclusive dates: ca. 1890-1919

Size: 3338 negatives : cellulose nitrate negative ; 9 x 16 cm. (3 1/2 x 6 in.) or smaller.

3 negatives : glass photonegatives ; 5 x 7 in.

Accession #: 1985.0385 and 1991.474.3.1-.42

Call #: 1985.0385 PNN

1985.0385 PGN-558


Restriction: To consult the glass negatives in this collection in the Research Center it is necessary to make an advance appointment (email:

Nitrate negatives restricted from access, see reference copies instead.

Alternative format available: Nitrate reference copies available online


This finding aid includes:

Biographical sketch,

Description of the collection,

Description of some related materials,

Provenance statement,

List of online catalog headings,

Container list of box and folder numbers and titles.


Biographical sketch:

John Tinney McCutcheon, Chicago newspaper cartoonist, journalist, author and illustrator, was born on a farm eight miles south of Lafayette, Indiana, on May 6, 1870. He was the son of John Barr and Clara (Glick) McCutcheon and a descendant of John McCutchen who emigrated from Scotland to Virginia in 1720. He was brother to the novelist George Barr McCutcheon, to Ben F. McCutcheon--also a writer, and to Jessie McCutcheon Raleigh Nelson, creator of the statuette, "The Good Fairy."


During college John McCutcheon became interested in art and journalism. He illustrated college publications and occasionally wrote for the Lafayette newspapers. He graduated from Purdue University in 1889. Later that year he joined the staff of the Chicago Morning News (later the Record) as an artist. There he did general illustration under the direction of William Schmedtgen. During this time he encouraged George Ade, a Purdue friend and budding journalist, to join him in Chicago. Starting with their coverage of the World's Columbian Exposition for the Chicago Record in 1892, they formed a brilliant writer/artist alliance which lasted several years. By 1895 McCutcheon's cartoon illustrations regularly appeared on the Record's front page.


In 1897 McCutcheon was invited to make a six month trip around the world on the U.S. Revenue Cutter McCulloch, recently built in Philadelphia for service on the Pacific coast. Upon arrival in Malta, the company learned of the sinking of the U.S. Maine in Havana harbor. The McCulloch was dispatched to Manila for the initial naval battle of the Spanish American War allowing McCutcheon voluntary participation. During the next two years he served as a war correspondent, providing the United States with reports and sketches of that war and the subsequent Filipino insurrection. On his return to the States, he stopped briefly in the south African Transvaal to witness Boer War activity.


McCutcheon's experience in thee Philippines was a prelude to further global travel. In 1906 he made a five month tour of the Crimea, Caucasas, Persia, Russian and Chinese Turkestan and Siberia. In 1901-1911 he spent four and a half months in Africa on a big game hunt, while contributing illustrated articles to the Chicago Tribune. In 1914 he represented that newspaper at the border struggle near Vera Cruz, Mexico. Following, he covered the early months of World War I from the German front in Belgium. Later in 1914 and 1915 he reported from the Balkan front in Serbia and Greece. In 1917 he married Evelyn Shaw Wells, daughter of the architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw. They spent their honeymoon on Salt Cay, an island which McCutcheon bought in the Bahamas, near Nassau. Thereafter, the McCutcheons made Salt Cay their winter home.


In his cartoon work McCutcheon followed political and human interest lines. He developed the human interest cartoon into episodic stories which combined test and cartoons in innovative ways. These stories include "Congressman Pumphrey, the People's Friend," "Dawson '11, Fortune Hunter," "The Restless Age," "An Heir at Large," "Crossed Wires," and "The Master of the World." Among his better known cartoons are the series of "Boy" cartoons, the "Bird Center" series, and the "Mysterious Stranger." His seasonal cartoons, "The Colors," "Jack Frost," "The Hunter's Moon," and the often reprinted, "Injun Summer," brought him further acclaim. in 1932 he won the Pulitzer Prize for "A Wise Economist Asks a Question," a cartoon treating the bank failures of the Depression.


McCutcheon was the author of several books and cartoon anthologies, including Stories of Filipino Warfare (1900), Cartoons by McCutcheon (1903), Bird Center Cartoons (1904), The Mysterious Stranger and Other Cartoons (1905), Congressman Pumphrey (1907), In Africa (1912), and his autobiography Drawn From Memory (1949).


His public life included memberships in the Chicago Club, the Commercial Club, the Chicago Athletic Club, the Onwentisia, Shoreacres, the Saddle and Cycle, and the Cliff Dwellers. He was a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society (England) and President of the Chicago Zoological Society during the organization of Brookfield Zoo.


He officially retired from the Chicago Tribune in 1946. He spent most of his later years on his island. After a few years of failing health, John T. McCutcheon died on June 10, 1949.


Description of the collection:

The John T. McCutcheon Collection consists of approximately 3,344 flexible nitrate negatives. The negative collection documents his travels during the period of his life just after his arrival in Chicago through the end of World War I (1890's-1919). Though McCutcheon travelled widely - throughout his life, this was his most intense period of travel--prior to his purchase of Salt Cay. The negatives document his role as both overseas correspondent and tourist. The three glass photonegatives show McCutcheon with a plane belonging to Orville Wright before its flight in the first aviation meet held in Chicago, August 15, 1911.


The collection of negatives is organized chronologically according to notes on the original negative wrappers. Missing dates were supplied from McCutcheon's autobiography, Drawn from Memory (Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1949). Titles of groupings were taken from wrapper notes with some adjustment for the sake of consistency. As of December 1985, no prints have been made from any of the negatives in the collection.


Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include the John T. McCutcheon cartoon collection, the John T. McCutcheon photograph collection (1986.0488), and the John T. McCutcheon manuscripts. There also is a John T. McCutcheon manuscript collection at the Newberry Library (Chicago, Ill.).


Gift of the McCutcheon family, 1965-1975 (.0385).


Storage: Box Lot (17 5 x 7 in. negative boxes, 1 5 x 7 in. glass negatives box)


Processing note: Box 5 is missing folders 4 and 9-12; box 9 is missing folder 21 as of 6/30/17.


List of online catalog headings:

Ade, George, 1866-1944 -- Portraits.

Akeley, Carl.

Akeley, Delia.

Atkinson, Charles T.

Brice, Kirk.

Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925

McCutcheon, John T. (John Tinney), 1870-1949

Stephenson, Fred

Wells, Ort.

Chicago Tribune (Firm) -- Employees.

Versailles, Treaty of, June 28, 1919 (Germany)

Armistices -- France.

Military maneuvers -- Greece.

Ocean Liners.

Safaris -- East Africa.

Travel -- Central Asia.

Travel -- India.

Travel -- Japan.

Travel -- United States.

California -- Photographs.

Chicago (Ill.) -- Photographs.

Africa, East -- Photographs.

Grand Canyon (Ariz.) -- Photographs.

Greece -- Military relations -- Yugoslavia.

Iran -- Photographs.

Santa Fe (N.M.) -- Photographs.

Asia, Central -- Photographs.

Veracruz (Veracruz-Llave, Mexico) -- History -- American occupation, 1914


Cellulose nitrate negatives.


Container list of box and folder numbers and titles:

Box 1 1890's | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-3 Chicago: Schiller St., Astor St., Lake Shore Drive

4 Chicago: Loading dock, boat on Chicago River

5 Chicago: Unidentified people

6 "Manhunting with dogs" [a hunting trip]

7-14 Sante Fe, California [with Mother], 1892

15 Chicago: Mother, Jess, unidentified people

16-18 Havana, Palm Beach, 1897


Box 2 1900-1905 | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1 Boer War, Machadodorp, 1900

2-7 Asheville, North Carolina

8-9 Empress of Asia voyage, 1901

10 Motor trip with Harry Gordon Selfridges, 1905


Box 3 Central Asia, 1906 | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1 Notes on reprinting negatives

2 Black Sea

3 Black Sea to Batum

4 Poti, Causasas, Mme. Schmidt's garden

5 Train - Batum to Tiflis

6 Near Mt. Ararat, Armenia

7 Armenia to Etchmiadzin

8 Tiflis?

9-10 Tiflis to Vladikavkaz, Georgian military road

11 Baku, oil wells, riot results, Caspian Sea

12 Krasnovodsk, train to Askhabad, Turkestan desert

13 Askhabad

14-15 Askhabad to Meshed

16 Askhabad to Meshed by carriage; Meshed - Mr. Fairly's

17 Meshed: Mr. Fairly's

18 Merv

19-20 Bokhara, pool, Emir's palace

21 Unidentified streets, bazaars


Box 4 Central Asia (con't.) | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-5 Samarkand

6 Samarkand: Tamarlane's tomb

7 Samarkand: Bibi Kharum, horse market

8 Samarkand: Sart dancing girls

9 Khokand

10 Osh, Audizhan

11 Osh, Throne of Solomon

12-14 Caravan - Osh to Kashgar

15 Kashgar

16-17 Kashgar north across Siberia to Semipalatinsk and Irtisk River

18 Northward to Naryu and Semipalatinsk

19 Unidentified


Box 5 1907-1908 | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1 Chicago women: Mrs. McCrea, Mrs. Roswell Field?, Helen A.

2-3 Chicago women: Rose Chatfield-Taylor, Hazel Lavery, Lucy [Luin?] Louise Gaylord

4 Lady Hazel Lavery [missing as of 6/30/17]

5 Louise Gaylord, Toleraine

6-7 Rose Chatfield-Taylor, Ferry Camp, 1907

8 Mother, Winnetka

9 Unidentified girls with dogs [missing as of 6/30/17]

10-11 [Lake Geneva?] [missing as of 6/30/17]

12 Grand Canyon, 1908 [missing as of 6/30/17]

13-19 Oceana cruise, West Indies, 1908


Box 6 Africa, 1909 | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-3 On the Adolphe Woermann

4-9 People

10-19 Natives


Box 7 Africa, 1909 (con't.) | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-12 Safari


Box 8 Africa, 1909 (con't.) | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-9 Safari

10-14 Camps

15-20 Scenery


Box 9 Africa, 1909 (con't.) | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-4 Scenery

5-7 Places

10 Special - Carriage, fire

11 Return from Africa, 1910 - Through India, etc.

12 Return from Africa, 1910 - Through India, etc. [missing as of 6/30/17]

13-18 Return from Africa, 1910 - Through India, etc.


Box 10 1912-1913 | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1 Bryan (William Jennings) in Florida [ca. 1912-1919]

2-18 Heather "pirate" cruise, 1912

19-26 Arizona, 1913 - Apache hunt, Grand Canyon


Box 11 1913 | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-7 Tolofa cruise

8-18 Indiana Society Picnic, 1913


Box 12 Vera Cruz, 1914 | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1 Biplanes

2-12 U.S.S. Wyoming


Box 13 Vera Cruz, 1914 (con't.) | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-9 U.S.S. Wyoming

10 Camp at El Tejar, outposts at Legarto?

11-12 Outskirts of Vera Cruz


Box 14 1914-1915 | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-8 With the German army, 1914

9-13 Paris, [1915 or 1919?]


Box 15 Salonika, Serbia, Greek Islands, 1915-1916 | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1 Cruise of the Elene

2-6 Greek Islands, November 1915

7-14 Unidentified views

15 Air field and aerial views

16-19 Salonika [1915?]


Box 16 Salonika, Serbia, Greek Islands, 1915-1916 (con't.) | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-8 Salonika

9-14 Serbian front, 1916

15-17 At the French front outside of Salonika

18 The Serbian consulate where King Peter lives

19 Serbian women soldiers


Box 17 | Call#: 1985.0385 PNN

1-3 France: Unidentified views

4-6 France: Bonn-Rhine outposts with General Mitchell

8-9 France: Strasbourg, Metz with Wilson, Clemenceau, Nungesser

10-12 France: Chateau Thierry, Belleau Woods, Argonne

13 France: Return on the Pueblo

14-15 Mexican border with Joe Patterson, 1919

16-18 Hammond/Wrigley flight, 1919

19 Unidentified home with seaplane [Harold McCormick's?]

20-21 Unidentified


Box 18 | Call#: 1985.0385 PGN-0558

1-3 Glass Photonegatives